Agonizing Mistakes

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VinSev
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Agonizing Mistakes

Postby VinSev » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:51 am

So I just looked back at my finished draft for quarter three for the first time since submitting, and what did I find? In the very first section there are not one, but two words that are slashed-through, that I had intended to delete. Right there, in the manuscript that I submitted!!! How could I have been so stupid?!? How could I have missed them? How could I have been so unprofessional?!?! wotf048

If you can't tell, I'm freaking out a little bit right now. I feel like such an idiot. I did re-write the whole first section the day before submitting, and so yes, it was raw, and yes, I didn't have fresh editing eyes, but still. But there are two major typos in the first section. The first thing that Dave is going to read. The first impression of my whole story. And I look like an unprofessional idiot.

Has anyone else had this happen before? Do you think I really hurt my chances? Or do you think that if the quality of the story is good, those two stupid little demon typos on the first few pages won't matter?

I really just want to know that someone out there had been in my shoes. I'm probably overreacting, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and the agony of these typos in the draft I submitted is killing me.

Sincerely,
A Very Frustrated Vin (Who Feels Like an Idiot and Probably Will for All Eternity)
"The adverb is not your friend."
-Stephen King

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michaeljwyantjr
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby michaeljwyantjr » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:19 pm

Hi Vin,

I'm nearly in the same position. I went to take a look at my Q3 submission and can only find a copy titled v1.

"Hm," I think, opening the doc. "I thought I went to v2 after the last readers looked at it..."

Lo and behold, this copy has all of the reader comments on it as well as a couple notes where I cursed at myself for bad phrasing.

Panicking, I check all my cloud backups (which I'm neurotic about), but strangely, there's only the original doc and this one version from the day before I submit. I tore through both my computers looking for this elusive v2... and it doesn't seem to exist.

The next best part beyond the commentary and the weird little errors (its instead of it's)? If I sent v1, it has my name on it and I'm already disqualified.

wotf027

I *may* have just emailed Joni asking if she can verify I sent an appropriate one... and I might've asked her to send me a copy if it is formatted correctly.

Suffice to say, any writing I planned on doing today is shot.

Commiserating,
Mike
WotF Results:
  • R:2
  • HM:5
  • sHM:0
  • SF:0
  • F:0
  • Last: HM, Q2 v35
  • Pending, Q3/Q4 v35

jficke13
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby jficke13 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:21 pm

I have a couple responses,

1. It certainly doesn't help your submission chances. Them being at the beginning isn't great as you absolutely must grab the editor and keep their attention while the pages turn. DF has made mention that one typo-style error isn't likely to make him reject a story, but more than that might. To that end, if your story were truly of publishable quality, that would almost certainly overshadow a couple typos. At the point where you're in the Finalist/Semi-Finalst/SHM final cut-down pile, it has less to do with quality and more to do with editor's mood/tastes/how-the-antho-is-already-shaping-up because everyone in that pile is technically sound.

2. So you submitted a draft to WotF that lacked polish? It was your first submission? You think there's a chance that a couple struck-through words might deep-six your chances with this story?

I say to that: Good. You've gotten a chance to learn an extremely valuable lesson in a setting where there could almost certainly not be any less downside.

Your submission is anonymous. Even if the editor could remember the one story among thousands that had the struck-through words still in the submission, your name isn't on it. So you're safe.

In the future though, you'll remember this looming dread (I re-read my Finalist and spent a week in a fog of second-guessing, so I don't recommend doing so while a submission is pending), and the next story you submit, to WotF or to F&SF, or to any other market, you'll be dang sure you give it a once over to make sure the strike throughs are struck out.
HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

jficke13
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby jficke13 » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:30 pm

And, Mike, I've developed a pretty hardcore system of version management. Unless guidelines give a formula for submission file name, or are like Daily SF where you copy/paste text into a sub window, I don't sub ANYTHING that isn't [Title] - [Market] - Submission.docx/doc/rtf

Each story gets a folder. Each day's work gets a separate docx (e.g. [Title] 8-17.docx, [Title] 8-18.docx, etc.). When the story's done and formatted for submission it gets saved with the submission file name. That way I can be dang sure that I'm not submitting an early version with all my internal editing notes.
HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

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michaeljwyantjr
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby michaeljwyantjr » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:33 pm

jficke13 wrote:And, Mike, I've developed a pretty hardcore system of version management. Unless guidelines give a formula for submission file name, or are like Daily SF where you copy/paste text into a sub window, I don't sub ANYTHING that isn't [Title] - [Market] - Submission.docx/doc/rtf

Each story gets a folder. Each day's work gets a separate docx (e.g. [Title] 8-17.docx, [Title] 8-18.docx, etc.). When the story's done and formatted for submission it gets saved with the submission file name. That way I can be dang sure that I'm not submitting an early version with all my internal editing notes.


Thanks Jon. I do have a pretty stringent versioning system in place as well (including a market tag whenever I need to make changes to my "main" master file).

I'm almost 100% positive I sent in the correct file... but then, in a fit of idiocy, deleted that file.

Though your post made me think of something...

*scurries off to try and find v2 again*
WotF Results:
  • R:2
  • HM:5
  • sHM:0
  • SF:0
  • F:0
  • Last: HM, Q2 v35
  • Pending, Q3/Q4 v35

vjalrik
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby vjalrik » Fri Aug 17, 2018 3:22 pm

jficke13 wrote:And, Mike, I've developed a pretty hardcore system of version management. Unless guidelines give a formula for submission file name, or are like Daily SF where you copy/paste text into a sub window, I don't sub ANYTHING that isn't [Title] - [Market] - Submission.docx/doc/rtf

Each story gets a folder. Each day's work gets a separate docx (e.g. [Title] 8-17.docx, [Title] 8-18.docx, etc.). When the story's done and formatted for submission it gets saved with the submission file name. That way I can be dang sure that I'm not submitting an early version with all my internal editing notes.

Thanks Jon, this was a really helpful window into your process. I've always relied on Google Docs for my versioning/backups while I'm writing/revising, but I haven't done anything formal to keep my different submissions straight, and it's caused me problems more than once.... I feel kind of stupid for not using an intuitive naming convention like yours from the get-go - I definitely will from now on.
Van Alrik
V33 (-- HM SHM R), V34 (SF R R HM), V35 (HM R Q3-Pending)
Latest sold stories (9 total):
"The Right Decision," Digital Science Fiction, Dec. 21, 2016
"Fossil Fuel," Helios Quarterly Magazine, Dec. 13, 2016

YM Pang
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby YM Pang » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:12 pm

@Vin
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
- Mistakes/typos in the opening lines aren't ideal, but if Dave makes it past those it shouldn't affect how he judges the story overall.
- If Dave doesn't get past the opening lines (i.e. you get an R), then at least you'll know why.
- If Dave does but you still don't win (i.e. you get an HM), then you don't have to blame the opening too much.
- Submissions are anonymous. As Jon said, even if Dave remembers a particularly bad opening (unlikely), he won't know your name or hold it against you in the future.
- The best part: If you know where the story fell down and how to fix it, you can resubmit it in a future quarter. This isn't an option in other markets.

Now, this might not be very good advice, especially for newer writers... But to be honest: I used to be more hung up about mistakes in submissions than I am now. Once I finally started getting acceptances, I realized how "polished" a story is doesn't correlate with how easily it sells.

Two stories I sent off a minute before the deadline sold on the first try; one of them had nearly no editing in the second half plus multiple typos. On the other hand, I've had stories I polished and rewrote and agonized over for years get rejected again and again.

Do read the guidelines, format your story properly, pay attention, ect. Do all those things. But people make mistakes. That's okay. The worst you'll get is a rejection, and then it's just polishing the story and sending it elsewhere.

@Michael
All that being said, your situation does sound worse. If you had your name on it, you probably wouldn't be able to resubmit it either. That being said, all future subs are anonymous, so you still won't have Dave holding it against you. :)
Michelle Pang
http://www.ympang.com
1xFinalist, 9xHM

"The Girl with the Frozen Heart" in The Book Smugglers.
"Final Flight of the PhoenixWing" in The Razor's Edge

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michaeljwyantjr
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby michaeljwyantjr » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:04 pm

YM Pang wrote:@Michael
All that being said, your situation does sound worse. If you had your name on it, you probably wouldn't be able to resubmit it either. That being said, all future subs are anonymous, so you still won't have Dave holding it against you. :)


Good news on that front! I pinged Joni and she was kind enough to confirm everything is formatted correctly!

Now if I can figure out a way to get her to send me a copy of my submission... :p
WotF Results:
  • R:2
  • HM:5
  • sHM:0
  • SF:0
  • F:0
  • Last: HM, Q2 v35
  • Pending, Q3/Q4 v35

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preston
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby preston » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:23 pm

YM Pang wrote:@Vin
Honestly, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
- Mistakes/typos in the opening lines aren't ideal, but if Dave makes it past those it shouldn't affect how he judges the story overall.
- If Dave doesn't get past the opening lines (i.e. you get an R), then at least you'll know why.
- If Dave does but you still don't win (i.e. you get an HM), then you don't have to blame the opening too much.
- Submissions are anonymous. As Jon said, even if Dave remembers a particularly bad opening (unlikely), he won't know your name or hold it against you in the future.
- The best part: If you know where the story fell down and how to fix it, you can resubmit it in a future quarter. This isn't an option in other markets.

Now, this might not be very good advice, especially for newer writers... But to be honest: I used to be more hung up about mistakes in submissions than I am now. Once I finally started getting acceptances, I realized how "polished" a story is doesn't correlate with how easily it sells.

Two stories I sent off a minute before the deadline sold on the first try; one of them had nearly no editing in the second half plus multiple typos. On the other hand, I've had stories I polished and rewrote and agonized over for years get rejected again and again.

Do read the guidelines, format your story properly, pay attention, ect. Do all those things. But people make mistakes. That's okay. The worst you'll get is a rejection, and then it's just polishing the story and sending it elsewhere.

@Michael
All that being said, your situation does sound worse. If you had your name on it, you probably wouldn't be able to resubmit it either. That being said, all future subs are anonymous, so you still won't have Dave holding it against you. :)


I totally agree with Michelle. By far the most important thing is a well-told story with a good idea. A few typos won't make a difference, I think. BTW, my winning story had at least two typos in it--and one was pretty major. I used the wrong name on a character!

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orbivillein
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Re: Agonizing Mistakes

Postby orbivillein » Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:43 am

Overall publication attitudes generally dismiss a few obvious typographical mistakes. Otherwise, common and oblivious grammar faults and errors might litter a typescript, and publication attitudes disparage. Part of those former and latter sensibilities' derivation is due to widespread realization any type writer overlooks obvious mistakes and all benefit from a competent editor's extra review. At the least, a publication editor will repair non-discretionary errors prior to publication debut. If any typescript is important enough, a second review is a by-default consideration, or third review.

How much grammar mistake is tolerable? Dave Farland (Wolverton) notes, if several common and obvious errors arise within a few pages, more than a tolerable level can be expected throughout and will disturb the all-important reading immersion spell -- and he's done except if a story's merits surpass otherwise easily repairable mistakes. That attitude is common across publication culture. Very few discontinue at a first mistake. Very few tolerate all and sundry mistakes. Actually, like much of human existence's processes, publication's grammar attitude data points span a common distribution curve -- the Bell curve. Farland's attitude data point is at the curve's apex: among the majority median and a high median tolerance for mistakes, as well as a median nonzero intolerance for obvious and repeated nondiscretionary mistakes. Few, if any, Farland pet peeves otherwise, though. Several of K.D. Wentworth's explicit pet peeves were inapt uses of "orb," "stygian," and "obsidian."

Misspelled common words, common mispunctuation, common compound word mistakes (e.g., any more [adj], anymore [adv]), common missed contraction apostrophes (Cormac McCarthy's, and other writers who emulate his mannerisms, unconventional and apt uses and similar or other unconventional grammar that suits a story outstood), faulty coordination, parallelism, particle and article agreement, and subject-verb number agreement, dangled or stranded participle clauses or phrases or words, excess and inapt passive voice, faulty diction and syntax, faulty causality, faulty adverbs, faulty tense, excess and inapt grammatical acrobatics and fireworks, common, dead-tired, cliché idioms, and more of the same caliber grammar errors, are all signs of careless composition, impugn appeals, and strongly imply story craft is also a careless lack. More than a few easily repairable mistakes cost writer, editor, publisher, and readers heartache, and strain publication resources and tolerance.


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