Writer’s Log: 2014 Criticism

Take this you worm!

Your writing lacks… Everything. You use too many adverbs. You use handicapped dialog tags. You coat your characters with pointless attributes. You head-hop. You write in passive mode. You inject author-speak. You divert the action with inane description. Jeezus-bloody-christ, but you wear me OUT with your failure to focus on your own gottdamned story.

Truer words were nev… I hear it everyday. Or rather, I used to. You see, I had crippling criticism dog me after I wrote my first novel. And so far, it’s made all the difference.

Sure, we all like a dollop of praise now and then. But since when did attaboys ever teach you a damn thing? Learn from your mistakes? How about getting brain-branded by your catastrophes… Fuckin-A, I’ll never do that again.

The problem is — well, there are two problems. 1) Getting quality criticism; and 2) Taking said criticism as constructive attenuation of behavior rather than as debilitating castigation. (I think my gonads just shrunk to the size of hazelnuts. Nutella anyone?)

It’s the second that is all down to you. Don your shark-skin suit and deal.

It’s the first that is the reason for this post.

Finding someone who is willing to provide poignant advice yet cut you to the bone, muzzle thrown to the curb, teeth bared and menacing — is a rarity. If you’re lucky, you may happen across one or two in your writer’s lifetime. Once located they are agony and ecstasy entwined. Do you shoot them in the face with a sawed-off or buy ’em a bottle of Glenfiddich? Both perhaps.

The point is, I’ve had a few acerbic son’s-o-bitches who’ve bothered to do me the honor of their opinion — one a very polite woman from Utah whose comments bitch slapped me until I vowed off of the passive voice forever. There was Duncan from Bend and now Phil from the burning fires of Hades itself.

Learning to write — it hurts so good.

Without them my 2014 hours spent thus far would have been, on the whole, wasted.

12 thoughts on “Writer’s Log: 2014 Criticism

  1. Here’s one of those reality checks – Think about this and the way “we” write without professional consultation. Would you buy an automobile “we” manufactured if “we” did it like “we” wrote? If the vidoe doesn'[t work Google 4 chords.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Sin and Syntax,” “The Lie that Tells a Truth” “Revising Prose” “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” “The Canons of Rhetoric” “The Emotional Thesaurus” What writers you admire have to say, what writers you loathe have to say, what Professors and critics and the person on the street have to say leveraged against what story you want to tell and remember that all stories are about people. Not sciences or landscapes. Because right here https://thepulp.net/pulp-info/the-pulp-companion/summer-2003/plots/ is everything from Aristotle to King. How we adpat that is the process. There are no new plots, just new characters. Just like songs. There’s one major hit formula, and a gazillion variations. It’s a matter of doing a good job of it as opposed to wanking in your bedroom.
    Don’t Stop Believing was a great flash fiction, but then…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That Utah woman set me on the write road. She took the time, more than I deserved, and broke my writing down to its crumbly parts.
      I suppose, back in school, had I the mind for it, I could have learned some of this then and not now. I hated school. Funny, I think I could actually benefit from it at this stage.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This post came from me thinking about the process. I realized that at times while I write, I actually picture the advice of others and it helps divert me from my past mistakes. For the longest time I could not see what Duncan saw. The first 5000 words of The Gribble’s Eye contained at least six head-hopping infractions. Hell, I even hopped into the mind of the dog. Read just fine to me. (Frankly, it still does.) My editor mother didn’t catch it. She’d never been exposed to the concept even though she is an avid reader.
      I did learn, eventually. When a character thinks, or realizes, or considers, or imagines, etc. Bingo — head-hopping.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. What he said to me was, “Dave, if what your writing requires no reader’s imagination, then you’re tellin’ not showin’.”

      A. Jessie James was a fine bank robber, if a bit arrogant.
      B. Jessie lifted his pistol so the walnut handle shown obvious above his belt. He tilted his eyes down inviting the teller to follow his gaze. With an astonished look behind round spectacles the teller managed a nickel’s worth of nod. Jessie smiled and gestured toward the drawer. The teller obliged.

      A. No imagination.
      B. Imagination required.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Overwritten by twice requiring nothing from the reader. Somewhere between 1 and 2 is the sweet spot. My .02. Decorate the set and lead them by the nose? Put them in it, make them own it. One of these days you guys will seek professional help.

        Liked by 1 person

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