Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Open topics on the Contest itself, to include results-watch threads and other items of note.
Wulf Moon
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:57 am

Thanks for sharing M.H. Lee and Tracy! "Perfectly publishable as is" and "the writing is excellent" are great things to hear from an NYT bestselling author. Well done! May you find good homes for your stories!

On heightening emotion, and the need to not only have a plot story arc, but an emotional arc for your protagonist, I recommend Don Maass' THE EMOTIONAL CRAFT OF FICTION. He drills down on the importance of making readers feel the emotion our characters are experiencing. It is very important, and critical in writing a breakout story, which is what you need to do to win WotF. It's deep, but you need to go deep to win this contest. It's a good investment.

On pacing, I think of Hollywood movies. You pick up the DVD, look on the back, and the only review it has is that it's "a rollercoaster thrill ride." You watch it, and it's full of explosions and car chases and it keeps your heart pounding, so much so you never get time to reflect on the feelings the characters are experiencing. There is no lull in the storm, there is no tender moment hugging the kids, there's just the careening from one disaster to the next until the dramatic explosive conclusion. When you get to the end credits, your adrenaline is pumping, but your heart is not. Without some quiet moments, some character reflection and expressions between other individuals within the story that show us what's going on inside the hero, you never get the opportunity to truly care for the hero and what they are going through. Better pacing can solve that, but it seems many in Hollywood are fascinated with getting in their next special effect instead of their next emotional moment with their hero.

Writing is the same, same, but different. A writer can create tempo without any explosions by the way sentences are constructed. Very short sentences convey immediacy and impact. Longer sentences are slower and more reflective because you have to consider more thoughts. There is one other thing I notice among professional writers--some use short, stand alone sentences constantly to pump up the space taken without filling it with words. They can write 70,000 words and make it fill 80,000 words or more in novel page space, pumping out novels faster, but not writing better stories. This gimmick stands out like a sore thumb, and when I spot it, I never buy those writers' novels again.

But back to us new writers. In my SUPER SECRETS I have one on formatting your stories to test how they appear in a book. Single space, smaller indents on new paragraphs and such. After you set it up and print out some sample pages, if you see a lot of pages that look like the following, something is wrong with your pacing:

Mica stood in the Walmart aisle.

So many selections!

She picked up the jar of Gerber baby food.

Cute baby!

But it had to be nutritious.

Focus, Mica! This is your firstborn you're feeding!

Mica chose Peas and Carrots.

It would be a healthy first meal for her baby girl.

____________________

All those one liners are HIGHLY DRAMATIC! Heh. But the scene does not call for it. It's a new mother, in a store, picking out a jar of food for her baby. Save the dramatic short sentence and stand alone sentence pacing for when the baby gets botulism and her temp is 104 and momma's car just got repossessed. It will have more impact.

Again, listen to Dave's critiques whenever you get them, apply the personalized knowledge, send it out, and go write your next.

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:29 am

My Q2 did not in fact end up selling yet, but I've gotten personals from both places I've sent it after WotF so far (Diabolical Plots and F&SF). Gonna keep making the rounds.
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:42 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote:My Q2 did not in fact end up selling yet, but I've gotten personals from both places I've sent it after WotF so far (Diabolical Plots and F&SF). Gonna keep making the rounds.


Good work, Liz. That's pro.

Best,

Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Michael Kingswood » Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:41 am

Well, this is a new one. Apparently it's another HM for me, based on the results press release on the blog. Never did get an email from Joni, though. wotf017

Oh well.

Quarter three, here we come!


Congrats, everybody. wotf013
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:11 pm

Michael Kingswood wrote:Well, this is a new one. Apparently it's another HM for me, based on the results press release on the blog. Never did get an email from Joni, though. wotf017

Oh well.

Quarter three, here we come!


Congrats, everybody. wotf013


Mistakes happen. I've had the reverse, where I got the email and certificate, but got missed on the official announcement. Be sure to write and ask her for your certificate.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Helge Mahrt » Sun Aug 18, 2019 11:53 pm

Wulf Moon wrote:Mistakes happen. I've had the reverse, where I got the email and certificate, but got missed on the official announcement. Be sure to write and ask her for your certificate.


Kinda glad to see that I'm not the only one who that happened to. wotf001
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby AlexH » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:21 am

Speaking of sentence length, does anyone remember “Purposes Made for Alien Minds” by Scott R. Parkin in volume 31? Every sentence was 5 words. It's the only WotF story I found unreadable, and I didn't reach the end, which however extreme, I think reinforces the point about varying sentences. There was obviously a reason it was picked though - maybe I should read it to find out! And no offence intended to Scott, of course. There are exceptions to every rule.

Thanks for the great advice Wulf. I'll be ordering that Don Maass book.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:34 am

I adored "Purposes". I'll admit I was a Scott Parkin fan before that came out, but I found it fascinating. I think you have to suspend your disbelief ahead of time. Don't let the structure overwhelm. If you can get into the cadence of it, the story subsumes and you may wish it were longer.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby AlexH » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:56 am

Wulf Moon wrote: Remember Heinlein's rules.

How seriously do you take those rules? Do you never rewrite your stories?
35: R R R | 36: R HM R ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:56 am

AlexH wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote: Remember Heinlein's rules.

How seriously do you take those rules? Do you never rewrite your stories?



Do you seriously think that Heinlein never did any rewriting? But perhaps he didn't. That may have just been his particular way of writing. He could've been possessed of such genius that he didn't need to rewrite because it came out perfect the first time he put his words and sentences on paper. I believe one needs to develop their own personal set of writing rules tailored to their own styles.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:11 am

AlexH wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote: Remember Heinlein's rules.

How seriously do you take those rules? Do you never rewrite your stories?


Alex,

I can't speak for Heinlein and his method on producing a manuscript before sending it out. I am sure, like any writer, he read what he wrote and made necessary corrections, whatever might have been needed. Fact is, the more you write, the less corrections you have to make because you instinctively do it right the first time. But based on his rules, I am certain Heinlein didn't doubt his story and rewrite it every time it came back. I'll quote the rule. "Rule 3: You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order."

When you read rules four and five, it's obvious he didn't rewrite, but kept sending stories and novels out until they sold. Nothing about a Rule 6: Rewrite when it gets rejected because you must have screwed it up somewhere.

I can say this about my writing. I make sure I send out a clean, professional product, as error-free as I can possibly make it. That means I have my wife read it, and my writing partner read it. My wife is not a writer, but she's a prolific reader and is great at spotting doubled word echoes and typos and clunky sentences. My writing partner is great at letting me know where the story might need a little more detail to clarify something that's clear in my head, but obviously didn't transcribe to the page. These aren't major rewrites, they are touch ups to the paint job when you peel back the tape and find something didn't quite fill in to the edges. They ensure I am sending out a clean, professional product.

Here's an example of when I DID do a rewrite. David Farland gave me the suggestion on a semifinalist critique to "kill my darlings." He said I wrote beautiful prose, but I had to trim it down. Even if it was beautiful, if it wasn't completely necessary to the story, he said to take it out, painful though that might be. I listened. I was brutal. I trimmed that story down to the bone, from 14,000 words or so to about 7,000. It was a little too lean for my tastes, and I brought it back up a few hundred words to get my style back into it. Still, for the size of the tale, a very lean story. I sent it out. It came back from a pro editor with a rejection and the comment that he/she thought I "had opened the story in the wrong place." Like hell I did! I did NOT do the rewrite--the editor did not say if I did so, he/she would buy it (see Heinlein's Rule 3). So I kept sending it out. BAM! Fish on. DEEP MAGIC said they would likely buy it if I changed a few words to fit their clean fiction guidelines. I was happy to do so, because they weren't asking me to change my story, they just knew their readership and needed my product tailored to their market. And it sold--pro pay for that SFWA period--and you can read it in about a month in DEEP MAGIC's Fall issue.

But I will say this. My WotF winner? "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler"? That was absolutely a first draft, except for fixing typos fifteen minutes before the year end submission portal closed. You can produce near perfect finished product on your first draft, I discovered. You just have to write A LOT to get the skills in place necessary to do that. So keep writing, and keep doing what you need to do to make a good finished product. But be very careful about rewrites, because in the beginning, we usually don't have a clue, and because later on, we won't need to rewrite.

I suspect it was only after Heinlein had achieved some proficiency in his writing that he wrote those rules. They are EXCELLENT rules for professional writers. And a good model toward achieving professional status and freeing yourself from useless rejectomancy. Or slaving over one story for years, when you could have been building a list of stories and growing in your practice sessions...which are always the next story you will write.

All the beast,

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

Corbin Maxwell
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:26 am

Wulf Moon wrote:
AlexH wrote:
Wulf Moon wrote: Remember Heinlein's rules.

How seriously do you take those rules? Do you never rewrite your stories?


Alex,

I can't speak for Heinlein and his method on producing a manuscript before sending it out. I am sure, like any writer, he read what he wrote and made necessary corrections, whatever might have been needed. Fact is, the more you write, the less corrections you have to make because you instinctively do it right the first time. But based on his rules, I am certain Heinlein didn't doubt his story and rewrite it every time it came back. I'll quote the rule. "Rule 3: You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order."

When you read rules four and five, it's obvious he didn't rewrite, but kept sending stories and novels out until they sold. Nothing about a Rule 6: Rewrite when it gets rejected because you must have screwed it up somewhere.

I can say this about my writing. I make sure I send out a clean, professional product, as error-free as I can possibly make it. That means I have my wife read it, and my writing partner read it. My wife is not a writer, but she's a prolific reader and is great at spotting doubled word echoes and typos and clunky sentences. My writing partner is great at letting me know where the story might need a little more detail to clarify something that's clear in my head, but obviously didn't transcribe to the page. These aren't major rewrites, they are touch ups to the paint job when you peel back the tape and find something didn't quite fill in to the edges. They ensure I am sending out a clean, professional product.

Here's an example of when I DID do a rewrite. David Farland gave me the suggestion on a semifinalist critique to "kill my darlings." He said I wrote beautiful prose, but I had to trim it down. Even if it was beautiful, if it wasn't completely necessary to the story, he said to take it out, painful though that might be. I listened. I was brutal. I trimmed that story down to the bone, from 14,000 words or so to about 7,000. It was a little too lean for my tastes, and I brought it back up a few hundred words to get my style back into it. Still, for the size of the tale, a very lean story. I sent it out. It came back from one of the best editors in the business that "pacing seemed off" and the editor thought I "had opened the story in the wrong place." Like hell I did! I did NOT do the rewrite--the editor did not say if I did so, he/she would buy it (see Heinlein's Rule 3). So I kept sending it out. BAM! Fish on. DEEP MAGIC said they would likely buy it if I changed a few words to fit their clean fiction guidelines. I was happy to do so, because they weren't asking me to change my story, they just knew their readership and needed my product tailored to their market. And it sold--pro pay for that SFWA period--and you can read it in about a month in DEEP MAGIC's Fall issue.

But I will say this. My WotF winner? "Super-Duper Moongirl and the Amazing Moon Dawdler"? That was absolutely a first draft, except for fixing typos fifteen minutes before the year end submission portal closed. You can produce near perfect finished product on your first draft, I discovered. You just have to write A LOT to get the skills in place necessary to do that. So keep writing, and keep doing what you need to do to make a good finished product. But be very careful about rewrites, because in the beginning, we usually don't have a clue, and because later on, we won't need to rewrite.

I suspect it was only after Heinlein had achieved some proficiency in his writing that he wrote those rules. They are EXCELLENT rules for professional writers. And a good model toward achieving professional status and freeing yourself from useless rejectomancy. Or slaving over one story for years, when you could have been building a list of stories and growing in your practice sessions...which are always the next story you will write.

All the beast,

Wulf Moon



I guess my point was that for me, this particular rule doesn't fit into my writing style. For instance, I'm spending this morning rewriting a few paragraphs that I wrote on Friday which I feel are true crap. And though I have a gnarly headache, and feel like seven different kinds of terrible, they seem to be coming out better. There's also a little bit of rule out there that says to just get it down on paper no matter how cruddy it is; you can always fix it. Tolstoy rewrote War and Peace five times. In handwriting. Now that's a project! But what a beautiful piece of literary fiction.

As for kill your darlings: writing them feels great, but once your piece gets to an editor who's paying for it, then it's really not yours anymore and so you (in my opinion) cut and rewrite it the way they want it; unless of course it goes completely against your beliefs as a writer or how you want to write.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:48 am

An exemplar of the rewriting that I spoke of earlier:

Original paragraph, written Friday afternoon: Billy nodded and clenched his eyes tightly shut against the visions of war trying to invade his mind. Yet the images slipped through. The furnaces where the N.A.E. Nazis were burning the kids’ bodies smoked day and night. A thousand cities were in flames.

This morning's rewrite of that paragraph:

Billy nodded and clenched his eyes tightly shut against the visions of war trying to invade his mind. Yet fragments of his dementia slipped through. He stood before a forest of iron smokestacks from where black smoke flowed night and day and into which poured the burnt remains of children whose only crime was the internet. And into the ovens ran a conveyor belt loaded with comatose bodies upon whom the fires of holocaust burned once more. By the hundreds they were fed to the flames, their flesh and bones transformed into ashes that drifted down from the sky like snowflakes and by the hour were reducing the future of humanity to nothing better than gray dust.

He ascended above the smokestacks, high enough so that the iron pipes looked like gunbarrels aimed at the sky. Below him cities burned as if they were campfires. A thick layer of black haze was forming over the North American lands which stretched thinly beneath his body to the limits of each horizon.
###



...Three hours later, and I'm still working on it because it doesn't quite feel right to me.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby AlexH » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:09 am

I was thinking "rewrite" meant no editing (or touch-ups, as Wulf put it) at all. Dean Wesley Smith mentioned writing stories without any rewriting (which I took to mean editing) - just sending them out straightaway.
35: R R R | 36: R HM R ?

Probably free for critique swaps, but double-check in case I'm away.
If you're a new writer and concerned about giving a critique, you're welcome to send me something anyway. :)

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:25 pm

AlexH wrote:I was thinking "rewrite" meant no editing (or touch-ups, as Wulf put it) at all. Dean Wesley Smith mentioned writing stories without any rewriting (which I took to mean editing) - just sending them out straightaway.



You should do what works best for you. Try all the rules then break all the rules then follow some and break some and ignore some. It's a process of finding what fits you the most effectively.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby DoctorJest » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:33 pm

Yeah, I can't do the write without edit thing. I tried it, and don't doubt some folks can, but my mind just doesn't work that way. I get my first version out, and in doing so, discover more about the story, its themes, ideas, and world, which I build on in my first revision; then my next is cleaning, tightening, culling. The first draft I put down is rarely something that should be sent out anywhere.
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Currently working on entry for Q1.v37...

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:50 pm

AlexH wrote:I was thinking "rewrite" meant no editing (or touch-ups, as Wulf put it) at all. Dean Wesley Smith mentioned writing stories without any rewriting (which I took to mean editing) - just sending them out straightaway.


Alex,

Dean Wesley Smith does cyclical writing, so he definitely does touch-ups and typo corrections. He writes flat out for a session, and when he returns, he reads over what he wrote last and does his cleanup, and then he does another flat out session. Think of a plane doing a full loop in the sky, flying straight for awhile, then doing another full loop, and so on until he's done. When done, he doesn't go back and reread, he doesn't go back and think about starting the story in a different spot in the timeline, he doesn't rework paragraphs--he sends it out and moves on to his next. So he's always moving forward, but he does check his work and correct typos and such in his system. But when he types THE END, it is the definitive end for him. The story is finished, and he moves on to the next. This is Dean's way. It doesn't mean it is THE way for you or I. Dean has a great following, and you can't argue with his success. But it doesn't mean you can't get to the destination you seek using other methods.

I think the confusion is in the definition of the term rewrite. Rewrite means different things to different people. Dean defines what he means in his book on Heinlein's rules. He is doing text corrections when he does his loop back before he starts another session. But he is not using that loop back to restructure his plot, choose the perfect wording for a scene, introduce a more interesting side character--he's just checking it over to clean up obvious mistakes. Dean is always moving forward, on to the next, but he is imperfect just like the rest of us and has to clean up his mistakes. But because he has written many millions of words, it's safe to assume he makes less mistakes than a new writer.

In the end, it's healthy studying Heinlein's rules. It's fun getting insight into Dean's technique. Bradbury, Terry Brooks, Stephen King--they've all put out books on how they write (or wrote), and sometimes they tell you how YOU should write in them. If what they tell you makes sense, use it. If not, think of their rules like the Pirates Code in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. "They're really more like guidelines."

Learn all you can. Knowledge is power. And with that knowledge, keep charting your own course. When you start seeing results--that can even mean a nice personal rejection or an HM from this contest--it means something you've been doing is working. Hold fast, keep writing, and don't give up!

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:50 pm

Corbin wrote: 'As for kill your darlings: writing them feels great, but once your piece gets to an editor who's paying for it, then it's really not yours anymore and so you (in my opinion) cut and rewrite it the way they want it; unless of course it goes completely against your beliefs as a writer or how you want to write."

Writing beautiful prose does feel great, but if it doesn't add to the plot, it has to go. Gone are the days where you could write about every acorn and twig like Nathaniel Hawthorne. In today's market, you really do have to get to the point in short stories (novels are different animals), and dense prose can bog the story down and keep it from selling. It doesn't mean you can't get some beauties in there, but Dave's point was to be more sparing. I started selling when I listened to and applied his advice.

Also, the story is always yours (unless you sign a really horrible contract). The publisher is just buying certain rights for a certain period of time. Before they buy it, they may suggest changes, but it's always up to you whether you want to make those changes or not. Of course, if you don't make those changes, they may not buy it. With good editors, I've always found the majority of their suggestions acceptable, and some are simply house styles in grammar choices. With DEEP MAGIC, the editor obviously had a different definition of PG than I had, and I was happy to comply because, 1. the editor knew what his readers expected to read in the stories in his magazine, and, 2. the changes didn't change the story I wanted to tell.

I've always found the editors I've sold stories to, including Dean Wesley Smith, to be highly respectful that the work belongs to the author, and that the suggestions are just that, suggestions. I've had a few things I've had to negotiate on that were no goes for me--including one with Dave in "Super-Duper Moongirl..."--and he even agreed with me when I made my case (but the rest were spot on and I readily agreed). Good editors respect that it's the work of the writer, and they are just offering suggestions they feel would strengthen the story. Most of their suggestions do just that--they strengthen the story, and you are happy for it.

That said, you know your work best, you know your characters, and sometimes an editor will ask you to change something you know will take your story down the wrong path or force a character to do something you know they would never do. So you politely explain why you can't go with the suggestion, and hopefully they bend. If they don't, and the change is too big for you to stomach, you say thank you very much for the suggestion, but I simply can't change that and stay true to the story I wished to tell. You may lose the sale, but you might not. In the end, it's your name on the story when it gets published. It's your reputation. Don't agree to something you will always regret. This is why Ellison amended Heinlein's Rule about editorial rewrites to say: "And then, only if you agree with it!" I don't know if he put an exclamation mark in there, but it's Ellison, I think I'm safe to assume. : )

Finally, there are some bad editors. If you stay high enough up on the food chain, you won't likely have to deal with them. I haven't had to deal with them, but I've heard plenty of stories. These are the ones that think they do have the right to change your story into something entirely different than what you wrote, and seem to think they own your story and can now make it into whatever they want it to be. When you recognize you are dealing with someone like that, run. No sale or publication credit is worth that. Say thank you very much but no thanks and get out of there.
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Q4 Vol 35 "Super-Duper Moongirl..."
Critters Readers Award: #1, "War Dog," Best SF&F Short Story of 2018
NEW! "Weep No More..." DEEP MAGIC Fall 2019 http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:01 am

Yes, money over artistry at all costs. Because God forbid we push aside Harry Potter to read Moby Dick.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




SF x 1
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Aug 20, 2019 10:43 am

Corbin Maxwell wrote:Yes, money over artistry at all costs. Because God forbid we push aside Harry Potter to read Moby Dick.


Well, one can decry the current state of popular literature in our times, or one can figure out how to write stories that will sell in today's market, while still reflecting our own personal style. And there is still a place for dense literary prose, and many a Pullitzer has been won with it. But in speculative fiction, unless you become a giant like Brandon Sanderson or Patrick Rothfuss, it's going to be a hard sell, especially for those that are not giants and don't have millions of followers ready to snap up anything written. Figure out how to become the dragon. Then, you can do anything you want, as long as you continue to please those that love what you do.

Ken Liu said something very interesting at Norwescon a couple years back. He got a third place in WotF, and then nothing sold and he quit for many years, and only by a fluke did he return, but return he did, and went on to win many prestigious awards. Ken said he believed if he wrote the kind of stories he wanted to write, he also had to believe there would be an audience out there for those stories. That there had to be others just like him that would enjoy his kind of tale. He kept that faith, fought for it when people said what he wanted to do could not be done, and in the end, his faith was rewarded. It did take him many years, and he did have to write some short works and garner some prestigious awards to make his publisher believe he could do it. He didn't sell out his belief...he simply figured out a plan to work toward his belief and what he ultimately wished to write.

So back to Dave's advice to "kill your darlings." Dave was trying to help me. He was telling me I needed to scale back if I hoped to sell in today's marketplace. I listened, while still staying true to who I am as a writer. And I started selling, including the very story he told me to kill my darlings on. It's interesting when I sold that story to DEEP MAGIC, the editor said they normally don't buy such literary stories for their issues, and yet, he wanted mine. For me, his comment was as big a reward as getting paid for my writing. In this bestselling author/editor's opinion, I had written something literary. More than that, he considered it outside the literary parameters of what he normally purchased for his readers, and yet he still chose to publish it.

Like Ken Liu, I believe my type of readers are out there. I believe the day will come when I can write the huge stories I wish to write, and they will be published, and my reader will be there, longing for the very type of tale that is unique to me. But before I can make that happen, before I become the dragon and the publishing world bends to me, I must bend to it. Not sell off my writing soul like a prostitute. But adjusting my course and easing back on my style until I can gather the power in my sails to head to my ultimate destination.

Winning this contest will aid you greatly toward that goal. Listening to Dave will aid you greatly toward winning this contest.

All the beast!

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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:12 pm

I think I'll write what I want and in the manner that makes me happy. And if nobody likes it, oh well. I guess it wasn't meant to be. I can live with that.



And please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that reading Harry Potter is a bad thing. But one shouldn't stop at that level; one should strive to discover the beauty in classical works of literature. Read Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games and all those other children's stories that are so popular. But at least try David Copperfield and The Cossacks and the Aubrey/Maturin Novels. The Sun Also Rises and the Great Gatsby, The Haunted Bookshop and so many others of which I won't take up your time listing.



Which brings me to a situation I'd put to all who'd like to participate. Pick from your bookshelves the one book you'd like to have with you on a deserted island where you'll stay for the remainder of your life.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby DoctorJest » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:28 pm

I am enthusiastic in my dislike of Moby Dick, though I did at least read it in its entirety. I like bits of it, but don't like the way it's written or structured overall.

(I'd note that I'm generally in a minority group on this one though--some of my other friends adore it. But I dislike the idea that we're supposed to abandon personal taste on the merits of a book's influential status or reputation.)

That being said, for the purposes of this, does a single installment of a series count as a book, or the series as a whole? I'd be unlikely to pick book two of almost anything if I only get to have that part divorced from the whole.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:44 pm

DoctorJest wrote:I am enthusiastic in my dislike of Moby Dick, though I did at least read it in its entirety. I like bits of it, but don't like the way it's written or structured overall.

(I'd note that I'm generally in a minority group on this one though--some of my other friends adore it. But I dislike the idea that we're supposed to abandon personal taste on the merits of a book's influential status or reputation.)

That being said, for the purposes of this, does a single installment of a series count as a book, or the series as a whole? I'd be unlikely to pick book two of almost anything if I only get to have that part divorced from the whole.


I only use Moby Dick as an example. I guess a person must find their own personal taste in books. But at least you read it, even though you didn't enjoy it. I didn't like the part in Moby Dick where it speaks of the process of killing and stripping down the whale carcass for oil. Very long and drawn out. I do read books that I end up not liking very much, if only to try and capture that writer's words and sentences and style in my head if I can. I'm currently reading The Plumed Serpent by D.H. Lawrence. It's okay. The prose is pretty strict word-wise, not a lot of flamboyant Faulknerian sentences, which I like, but more akin to Hemingway or a 19th century Russian writer. But I continue on in hopes that I will benefit somehow by the experience and knowledge within the book.

I meant to include a series as a whole in the category. So I guess you should pick one with many volumes. A series that might take years and several readings to learn every small detail.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Peter Glen » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:10 am

Corbin Maxwell wrote:Which brings me to a situation I'd put to all who'd like to participate. Pick from your bookshelves the one book you'd like to have with you on a deserted island where you'll stay for the remainder of your life.


It's tempting to choose The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, but it is just a collection of sketches and notes so perhaps not a great work of literature ... Instead, I'd select The Fellowship of The Ring ... it was the first book I read ... is fitting that it would also be my last ;)
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby storysinger » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:50 am

Corbin Maxwell wrote:I meant to include a series as a whole in the category.


In that case I'll take a full set of encyclopedias.

But joking aside I'd have to consider Robert Jordan's/ Brandon Sanderson's Wheel Of Time, all fifteen volumes.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:21 am

I have a 3500 page, annotated, collected works of Shakespeare of which I’ve only read a few of the plays. So I think that would fulfill a lifetime of study.
For there is death in the sound of it, and a glamorous fatality, like silver pennons downrushing at sunset, or a dying fall of horns along the road to Ronceveaux.

The only easy day was yesterday.




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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby thegirlintheglasses » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:05 pm

About two years ago I took an online writing class and the first thing we did was define our WHY. Why do you write? To see your name in print/literary journals, to write a best-seller, to inspire others, to get noticed by an agent, to win awards, to be esteemed by writing peers, to start important conversations, to change the world, for the sheer joy of putting pen to paper, etc…

There were many, many whys the class came up with, but each of our whys made us consider different “stepping stone” goals--and our “stepping stone” goals often took different routes. Everyone has to choose their own writing path and that's okay. There's nothing morally inferior about writing stories to *heaven forbid* sell them and put food on the table. That's not prostitution. That's supporting your family...and supporting your family IS a worthy why. Creating a solid career by winning awards IS a worthy why. There’s also nothing wrong with writing a story you love, the way you want, and who cares if it sells because you want to start a conversation, educate others, or perhaps radically change the writing world. Those are ALSO worthy whys. Rock on. We don’t need to spit on each other’s whys—or on the different paths people take--or the stories others have produced while on their path. Your path or his path or her path isn't mine. (Though it sure is nice when someone hands out a map, if their "why", or stepping stone goals, happen to line up. We all have people whose advice rings true).

So my online writing class left me with this: I will write MY stories. Chart MY path. Make MY goals--and make sure those stepping stones line up with MY why. Because that’s the only why that really matters anyway.

And about that question…
Deserted island? Harry Potter, boxed set. I'd also like to bring my light-up magic wand, Ravenclaw sweatshirt, and fuzzy socks.
Last edited by thegirlintheglasses on Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby chuckt » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:54 pm

DoctorJest wrote:I am enthusiastic in my dislike of Moby Dick, though I did at least read it in its entirety. I like bits of it, but don't like the way it's written or structured overall.

(I'd note that I'm generally in a minority group on this one though--some of my other friends adore it. But I dislike the idea that we're supposed to abandon personal taste on the merits of a book's influential status or reputation.)

That being said, for the purposes of this, does a single installment of a series count as a book, or the series as a whole? I'd be unlikely to pick book two of almost anything if I only get to have that part divorced from the whole.


I didn't much like either until I got to "Call me Ishmael." I thought those beginning prologues were horrid. I should re-read it though. Haven't read it since I was in college I think.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby disgruntledpeony » Wed Aug 21, 2019 9:04 pm

Personal writing reasons: I love writing for writing's sake, but a big part of what's pushed me this year is the desire to support my family. (Being a stay at home mom is a hard transition after a decade and a half of employment. Plus, money's been tight lately.)

Book series I'd want with me on a deserted island: Hard to pick just one. When I was a kid, it would have been the Chronicles of Narnia. When I was a teenager, it would have been everything related to Ender's Game. Now? Possibly Chuck Wendig's series of Miriam Black books. The individual books aren't terribly long, but there's six of them, and they held my attention very thoroughly on the first read. Feel like I'd pick up on more subtle notes with subsequent readings.
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Re: Discussion: Q2, Volume 36

Postby RSchibler » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:07 am

I started dreaming about a character (cliche I know) and decided I had to write her story. Then I found out I wasn’t all that good at writing - so I wrote a short story to practice. That was also terrible. So I wrote another one, finished the book, edited it, wrote another story. Somewhere along the way, writing just became something I did, and something I very much want to succeed at. To me, success would be pro short story sales, an agent, and books on the shelf in brick and mortars. And I’m working hard to make all that happen.

Books: would it be cheating to bring the Riftwar Cycle by Raymond Feist? They’re my favorites and there’s only 30 of them. Or so.

Happy Writing friends. One month and some change to deadline!
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