The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

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lanceschaubert
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Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 5:57 am

The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby lanceschaubert » Mon Sep 22, 2014 6:09 am

Hey guys, I'm going to make this easy on everyone.

For one, to make it easy on the moderators I'm not going to post any currently submitted stories here per the rules – however these are all stories I submitted in past quarters and I'm interested in any critique. It seems like the rules apply only to current submissions.

So to make it easy on the reader, I'm including links to them online. I double-checked the rules and am pretty sure I'm within my bounds since all of these were rejected.

First the map of my world.

And the stories:


Thanks guys – looking forward to your feedback.

Sam Hidaka
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby Sam Hidaka » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:42 pm

Lance,

You're probably not going to like what I have to say, but I am trying to help.


There is a huge difference between writing a story . . . and writing commercial fiction.

To have a chance in this contest, you have to write the kind of stories that would sell to professional-level science fiction and fantasy publications. That is, professional-quality commercial fiction.


From the opening paragraph of your stories:

Fortune had favored Stede Bonnet with a black beard that filled his young, twenty-one-year-old jowls to brimming. ...


The Weaver walked right in sight of the town and no one noticed. None of the folk there had actually seen a Weaver before, not even in one of those high-priced pictures from city books, the ones made for little girls. ...


... None could hear her then and had there been a one to hear her, she may have been mistaken for a nymph in heat.


In each of the three stories, you have the equivalent of Rod Serling walking onstage to tell stuff to the audience.

In other words, you're telling the reader about the story . . . instead of just presenting the story.

Each story is an instant rejection in the first paragraph. Sorry.

(Note that I am not connected to the contest. But I do have a bit of experience assessing story submissions.)


Lesson 1:

For each story, pick a POV (point of view) character. And then, present the story from that POV character's perspective.

Portray what the POV character sees and hears (along with any other sensory input is relevant), and occasionally share with the reader what that character thinks. And also important, put the reader into that character's emotional space.

And get rid of everything where the author intrudes into the story and impersonates Rod Serling telling stuff to the audience.


Good luck.

Sam


P.S. You put this post in the "Story Critique Exchange" area. What are you offering in exchange for the feedback you get.

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E.CaimanSands
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Re: The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby E.CaimanSands » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:15 am

Yeah, as Sam says, this is pretty basic. But don't be discouraged! I had a look at your website, you look blessedly young so there's plenty of time. Just now a few of us old forum dinosaurs were comparing our respective ages on the "welcome" thread, many of us are 40+ I think you'll find. Learning to write well can be a long, indeed life-long process but never fear, there's plenty of books, websites, podcasts and courses, out there to learn from. And plenty of sage advice from people who think they know it all. wotf019

The real reason I'm replying though is to just make sure you're aware that by posting stories on your blog they are considered "published." So I wouldn't advise on doing that for any you're hoping to sell.
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lanceschaubert
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Re: The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby lanceschaubert » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:43 am

Thanks guys!

You're probably not going to like what I have to say, but I am trying to help.


Actually, I like it a lot – primarily because (1) I think [hope] this feature is lacking in much of my current work – even in other stories on my site (even potentially later on in one or two of these stories). If true, this means I'm improving, (2) I don't know that I've defaulted to that in my literary fiction, which is where I've spent more of my time recently.

I also like what you have to say because it's honest and I don't care about middling in critiques.

You put this post in the "Story Critique Exchange" area. What are you offering in exchange for the feedback you get.


I mean, I'd trade like-for-like for any story on my site. At this point that means opening line/paragraph critiques for your stories, if you'd like that in return.

The real reason I'm replying though is to just make sure you're aware that by posting stories on your blog they are considered "published." So I wouldn't advise on doing that for any you're hoping to sell.


Thanks. Yeah, I'm aware of that. But I'm also aware of the difference between print and digital rights – many of the stories/articles on my site I've either already sold to print and reserved archive rights or have tired of trying to sell and have put out there for critique and as free content for my growing readership. I've already sold too many stories to be eligible for this contest, so I figured I'd come back for critique exchange.

In any case, I'm grateful for you both.

lazywisehorse
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Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:41 am

Re: The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby lazywisehorse » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:25 am

Hello all,
I disagree with Sam's 'Lesson One.' I don't think he's wrong that your stories have problems, or even that the paragraphs he quotes are problematic. Sentence one of The Dust-Cloaked Weaver -"A man in a dust-gray cloak, long hair clumped from weeks without wash, his grip clenching a metal flask." -is ungainly. It leads the reader to expect a verb. Wait, what man? Where is he? What is he doing? You explain these things in the next sentence, but it still causes a momentary confusion -best avoided unless there is an over-riding reason, which I do not see here.
But I don't think 'telling the reader about the story', need be a bad technique. I don't even think it need be an uncommercial technique. Limited third-person narration, keeping tight inside one viewpoint character's head, is powerful, but it's only one of a suite of available options. Ursula Le Guin's classic 'The Rule of Names' includes direct exposition from an intangible narrator:

"(It was of course bad luck to wish anyone a good morning; a simple statement of the time of day was quite enough, in a place so permeated with Influences as Sattins Island, where a careless adjective might change the weather for a week.)"

And yet this story, not only popular in itself, gave rise to the six Earthsea books -the first of which begins in a similar narrated style. What that says about the technique itself is up for argument, but it seems to demonstrate its commercial viability.

Corbin Maxwell
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Re: The map of my fantasy world and some past submissions.

Postby Corbin Maxwell » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:43 pm

If I may offer my two cents, which may not actually be worth that much. But I've found that placing your MC in the beginning paragraph, in some type of conflict or tension, and have him want something works pretty well. That's pretty basic stuff.

And now I will ask the Zen writing question of all time: Can you tell me everything that's going on in this Stephen King sentence?

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.


Quite possibly the best beginning sentence in all literature (in my opinion), but certainly it's a good example of what I'm trying to say.
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