Tuesday, September 22, 2009

1000 Words: Here's how it'll work

I'm going to post one or two excerpts a day for the next 2 or 3 days. (How's that for an exact science?) Since these are longer excerpts, I think it will be more manageable for the critters if I do it this way.

So. Leave your tactful, helpful critiques in the comment boxes, as always.

Snark will not be tolerated. I was, frankly, appalled at a few of the comments I had to delete during our last Secret Agent round.

People. If you're having a bad day, please don't stop by. We still love you, but stay home.

If you can't tell the difference between CRITIQUE and CRITICISM, then please don't comment.

And, as always, the vast majority of you don't need these reminders. It's always the lunatic fringe, yanno?

So. Have at it.


  1. I'm going to add my "protective mentor" two-cents worth here: I know that two of the entrants in the last Secret Agent contest were 15 and 17 years old. So those snide comments someone was leaving were being read by teenagers who had written their hearts out. It's like, well, to paraphrase someone regarding a recent incident, stepping on a kitten.

    And isn't very nice - and certainly not helpful - when the entrant is two or three times their age, either.

    Even valid critique can be hard to take - please try to remember it's a very human person reading it who has worked very hard on his or her entry.

  2. The sniping comments I saw come across my email before Authoress deleted them seemed to be from people who perceived lightly-worded non-hooks as personal attacks. Then when they didn't 'win' the contest, they turned around and ripped into the agent and the person who won.

    This is something that happens at all critique sites and it just is disheartening and uncomfortable for people who honestly want to act like grown-ups and have fun.

    I wouldn't put the blame on the 15 and 17 year olds, by the way. At my local critique website, it seems that the majority of people who act the worst are middle-aged or even 'mature' adults, some with teen-aged children who know to behave better.

    I'm posting anonymously to protect the innocent.

  3. Anon,
    The snarky comments I saw before Authoress deleted them were clearly not written by the authors involved and were unrelated to other comments. BTW, the 15- and 17-year-old fared quite well in this contest: once had a partial request and one a full, and one is currently deciding between agents. And yep, both are vastly more mature than many "adults" I know.

  4. Considering the ones I saw were anonymous - like my comments here - it would be difficult to tell whether it was the author making the comments or not. It may even have been friends of the authors or group-mates for all I know.

    I just thought it was shocking how people behaved after the contest was over because they didn't like who won and who didn't.

    Because you mentioned teenagers and I followed up with my comments grumbling about immature snipers, I simply didn't want anyone to assume I was talking about just teenagers behaving badly.

    There are a lot of teenagers at my writing group, some who are definitely going to go farther than some of the adults - because they were open to good advice through critiques, even honest advice.

    I hate to be critical of people, but in particular at my group, there are various cliques which form. Some of the cliques aren't all that bad, but others are pretty protective of their buddies who they think are just wonderful. You criticize one member and everyone jumps in and either criticizes you back are repeat each other's points. You get 'yes men'.

    Again posting anonymously to protect the innocent.

  5. Dear Anon,

    We have to stop meeting like this.

    Oh, yes, there are folks who think critique means "oh, this is so lovely" and "I adore your use of adjectives."

    The ones who think it means slash to ribbons and I won't sign my name are worse, but less cloying. I've experienced those myself, and it still stings. But the fact that particular manuscript is part of my recent two-book deal is immensely gratifying.

    I saw the comments "my" teen writers posted, and if anything, they erred on the side of carefulness. Which is a good side to err on when you don't know the writer. (I once was in a writing workshop with someone I knew from a previous session was suicidal - was I much more careful in my comments? You bet.) I've learned to tailor my critique to the recipient, while still being honest.

    nonAnon (but probably should be if I keep being so outspoken)

  6. Not a problem.

    And the only reason why I'm posting anonymously is because it gives me the freedom to bring up my critique group as an example of what happens when the thin-skins run a critique-patrol and forum monitor. This without causing even more bad blood with the crazies.

    The people posting anonymously while critiquing during the last contest, that did bother me - particularly since I thought it was against the rules.

    As far as what is a nice critique and what is a nasty one - that is generally subjective, particularly for people who haven't really been part of an active and profession critique group. I closed a blog down in the past and went private for a while because I had an irate woman stalking me and psycho-analyzing my posts after I expressed confusion over her submission. I praised the parts of her writing that I liked and encouraged her, even while I gently told her she had to work on a few things. She was quite abusive and turned stalker about it.

    A bad critique and an abusive one is when you tell somebody that their writing is all wrong and you tell them to go back to the drawing board or quit. I had this happen to a friend of mine. What they said was correct, but they were tactless and thoughtless in their delivery. My friend is now in a very good place and I expect she will have good news any day. She is a very busy writing bee.

    Sorry Authoress for clogging your mailbox. I'm just very talkative today. Plus I'm wearing my protective anonymous gear. I'll stop now.

  7. I submitted to the 1000 word but haven't seen my post or many new ones recently. Are you still posting the entries? I believe I was # 64. Thanks again for providing this site!

  8. Jenn,

    The 1000-word critiques are ongoing, with entries waiting in the queue. Sometimes a week will go by, sometimes several months, depending on what else is going on here.

    As you revise your manuscript, you are free to send a newer version; just include your assigned post number in the subject line. =)