Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lite Slush and Beginner Mistakes

So I've been working in a few fiction workshops.

For a while, I've been disappointed. Good feedback is difficult to come across, even in a forum dedicated for feedback. I wanted more people to look at MY stories. Give ME feedback.

In the meantime, I've been looking at other people's stories and developing my own ability to critique. Now I'm starting to think that the true value is not in getting solid critiques for my stories, although these are helpful.

The true value is developing a critical eye.

I read an article about how getting a job as a slush reader can make you a better writer. I looked into it, and discovered an average slushie is expected to read at least 10-20 stories PER WEEK!

Reading all these workshops subs, I'm probably looking at an above average slush pile. After all, workshop submitters care enough about their work to ask for feedback. What has popped out at me are two common beginner mistakes (which I make as well).

The first is underwriting:

The cowboy walked into the bar.

While gramatically correct, there are no vivid images here to spark the imagination. I read this and all I see are words. This could be any cowboy anwhere in the world, at any time from 1800 to the distant future.

The second is overwriting:

The weather beaten, road weary gunslinger curled his lip, a scar connecting the corner of his eye to the end of his chin, as he shoved through the vented, swinging, wooden doors to the saloon and put his road dusty leather boots on the polished hardwood floor.

Too much! I'm overwhelmed and confused. I don't know what's going on now.

I think we're looking for some sort of happy medium. I don't know what that medium is yet, but when I find it, I'll let everyone know.

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