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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Post by David Farland on WotF rejections

   
Author Topic: Post by David Farland on WotF rejections
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Am editor friend shared this on Facebook, and I thought you all might find it helpful.

By the way, the editor indicated that items 3, 5, 6, and 10 show up in that editor's reading pile all the time.

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extrinsic
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What ho! Farland delves now into what most doesn't work for him as Writer's of the Future coordinating judge? About time. Valid points all, much discussed here and there, too. Unfortunately, by and large, the ten points list shortfalls more so and less, if at all, how to mitigate those. Accomplished writers often forget what they'd struggled to overcome on the sacred journey and how so, which sharing thereof would be of great benefit.

Each of the ten points could be expanded at least tenfold to further detail and identify their shortfalls and offer guidance for how to treat them. Ambitious writers yet sidelined at waypoints on the journey would appreciate such advices.

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walexander
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Number six about "Implying" is one I sometimes struggle with. I tend to reread sentences to make sure of their clarity and usefulness. It's easy to miss that you have already written a similar sentence in an earlier paragraph also.

It's easy to want to over-explain, especially in fantasy. Undeveloped sentences can also easily plague you too.

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Turbulent Flow
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That's an outstanding resource, Kathleen Dalton Woodbury! I recognize the opening point as all too common in non-fiction writing as well. I really should be sweating right now over a gaggle of keyword-stuffed visitor-bait pages, but this article is too tempting. I'll read it now, probably chortling and sighing at the insights. Yes, I'm a clown with the silly red nose and the squirting lapel flower. ^_^

BTW, I don't much mind the lack of explication on likely solutions, extrinsic. Just being aware of the problem is half the solution. I'm already enlightened and amused after reading the first three points. [Wink]

"Little Danny, sorrowing over his loss of innocence on more than one single, solitary occasion, found a magic frog. Suddenly, Danny's continual, incessant, and unending travails and problems with looming, menacing, plug-ugly bullies vanished as his nascent, awesome powers erupted into reality, enabling him to totally rule the world with a mere thought, whim, or even casual wave of the finger!"

Okay, I'll stop writing that ridiculous, painful, and absurd prose before I grow hair in unexpected places. ^_^

P.S. Yeah, and I'm looking at the fifth point as a major problem. I've always wondered what critical components I've been routinely omitting from my poor attempts at fiction. To judge from the thundering horde of concepts that all seem to be utterly necessary, my prose almost certainly is a flat soufflé of words that would have an editor reaching for a baseball bat. I don't yet have a clue how to fix this. -_-

[ May 10, 2017, 06:52 PM: Message edited by: Turbulent Flow ]

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tesknota
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Thanks Kathleen!

I think the sneakiest problem I might face is #9 for non-formed stories. Piecing together long scenes that form a high-quality short story is really challenging for me. It's very likely an issue of focus, and I really admire writers who can tell a solid story from beginning to end.

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Grumpy old guy
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My response to David Farland’s laments:

1. The story is unintelligible.

I’ve read a couple of these, thankfully on another site, and I can’t believe these people are still walking about. I would have thought angry mobs would tear them to pieces the moment they opened their silly mouths.

2. The story is unbelievable.

Truth is stranger than fiction, and also less believable. Perhaps they were writing a ‘true’ story and let the facts get in the way. A pun on the old journalists jibe, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

3. The author leaves no noun or verb unmodified.

Cor blimey, strewth! Idiom is such a adjunct to quality flowery prose.

4. Nothing’s happening.

Sorry, I wasn’t reading.

5. A major element is left out.

“Hero! Has anyone seen my Hero?” Is he serious?

6. The author is unable to “imply” information.

Every single one of my sentences implies something, whether I know it or not. But seriously, a lot of subtle implication goes unnoticed by readers, even editors.

7. There simply isn’t a story.

>>?????????<<

8. Oily tales.

Purple prose and prurience, bodily fluids and bile. Wash your hands after reading.

9. Non-formed stories.

This one has challenged me. My submission for the current writing challenge is a flash-fiction story (about 1,000 words) that has everything David laments is lacking in such things. Perhaps I now have a submission for the next WotF.

10. The tale is out of chronological order on the micro-level.

Effect follows on from cause. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Phil.

PS: A thought intrudes, perhaps I'm ineligible for WotF.

[ May 11, 2017, 06:56 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

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Disgruntled Peony
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quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
PS: A thought intrudes, perhaps I'm ineligible for WotF.

The rules read, and I quote:

quote:
The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.
They also don't count flash fiction toward those four pro-rate published stories, so there's that.
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by Disgruntled Peony:
quote:
Originally posted by Grumpy old guy:
PS: A thought intrudes, perhaps I'm ineligible for WotF.

The rules read, and I quote:

quote:
The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits.
They also don't count flash fiction toward those four pro-rate published stories, so there's that.
Speaking of Farland's No. 6, implication (an H.P. Grice essay topic, "Implicature," by the way), I infer an implied subtext between the literal and figurative declarations of Grumpy Old Guy's WotF eligibility. Ineligible, open to interpretation due to prior professional publication; self-disqualified due to deviation from Farland's stated bęte noires, valid though those are and valid though Grumpy Old Guy's subversive bent is. And a third-space irony; that is, a pendent decision that is self-defeating. Ms. Joni Labaqui, W&IotF contest coordinator with Author Services, contest administration, answers eligibility queries.

And a personal amusement per moi at a whole other level: it's a Schrödinger's cat of uncertainty which is reconcilable by opening the can of worms. Not an indictment, really, just a shared hesitation about the rejection and acceptance conflict stakes on which publication culture thrives -- how ironic that a dramatic essential is part of the culture's centripetal and centrifugal social customs!?

Yet to encounter Farland bęte noires to the degree of K.D. Wentworth's immediate decline of any entry with the word orb, likewise stygian and obsidian. Ursula K. Le Guin's are, among many, just used for an intensifier and individual used as a noun to mean a person or the like. Another of hers is negation constructs of the not un- variety -- "not uncommon," "not too unnecessary," "not really unusual," yada, ironies, actually, litotes and an irony trope and scheme family that includes paralipsis, antiphrasis. Hemingway agrees.

My bęte noires? Among many, as used as a coordination conjunction, and unnecessary and flat -ing and -ly words, of course; everyday idioms and idiolects that are offhand shorthand shortcuts, clichés, really, and dead metaphors, meaningless for their outworn dilutions of what once were vivid and lively expressions; any use of the word trope when actually about a topos or motif or such. For that matter, offhand use of any of the two thousand or so most common words of the language, the core diction vocabulary of interactive expression.

[ May 12, 2017, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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H Reinhold
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
My bęte noires? Among many, as used as a coordination conjunction, and unnecessary and flat -ing and -ly words, of course[...]

Of course. Thanks (no thanks?) to you, I've developed an aversion to such words, this kind of 'as' in particular. Some of my old favourite reads are now unbearable; some new works, which everyone tells me to read, I can't force myself beyond the first chapter. There are too many -ings and -lys and instances of 'as' misused, and my eyes slide off the text. Is it just me? Is it just coincidence, and the same stories that misuse these words also, for other reasons, bore me? I'm not sure. But it's interesting.

And, as ever, it's one thing to notice an issue in other writers, and another thing to fix it in one's own writing.

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LDWriter2
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I believe he passed these along in his daily kicks

But the thing is I know my story passes most of those. It is the more subtle problems that do my stories in. Or so I think.

There is number five of course. I can see how I might leave an element out especially when I have reworked the opening about twenty times. A problem I seem to be having lately for WotF. Not so much for other markets.

There is number two too. He has mentioned that one in more detail in another Kick.

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by H Reinhold:
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
My bęte noires? Among many, as used as a coordination conjunction, and unnecessary and flat -ing and -ly words, of course[...]

Of course. Thanks (no thanks?) to you, I've developed an aversion to such words, this kind of 'as' in particular. Some of my old favourite reads are now unbearable; some new works, which everyone tells me to read, I can't force myself beyond the first chapter. There are too many -ings and -lys and instances of 'as' misused, and my eyes slide off the text. Is it just me? Is it just coincidence, and the same stories that misuse these words also, for other reasons, bore me? I'm not sure. But it's interesting.

And, as ever, it's one thing to notice an issue in other writers, and another thing to fix it in one's own writing.

Like Farland's list points up common mistakes he reads too often, these bęte noires and all like them are matters dedicated writers come to realize soon or late on their own. Like grammar is distinguishable from craft though inextricable, weak grammar clues readers craft probably is lame too. If grammar and craft are off, expression and appeal are as well. Weak grammar, too, is an easy screener decline decision.

However, grammar is many splendored; what works for one writer and the writer's readers might not for others. -ing and -ly diseases are well-established idiolect conventions, and as coordination conjunction splices. Those and similar glitches are invisible to many readers, more so semi-literates and inexperienced readers and writers. The nuisance accumulates, though, if not at last intolerable from this narrative, the next like it; if not this year, the next, or the decades passed from a lifetime of passionate reading and writing. Each anthill sand grain, in time, becomes a mountainous speed bump. Or is this "The Princess and the Pea"?

Bęte noire lists proffered by experienced writers inform less experienced writers and readers this or that are not best expression practice, alert to subtle cues of convenient habits that are from blissful unawareness. Woe lost innocence for personal growth gain at great cost! Yet not a zero-sum scenario. From innocence lost costs and growth gain rewards comes exponentially fuller writing and reading satisfactions -- and life.

On the other hand, greater satisfaction comes from self-realization than pointers handed out from near or afar by others. Me, Le Guin, Farland, whoever, though, we would save us all from the struggles of problematic trivial trifles and would offer tidbits that encourage sooner realization and, ergo, faster, farther progress growth upon the sacred Poet's Journey.

[ May 12, 2017, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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