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Work Room - Week 31

Congratulations to our Top 25! http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/814597.html

Before you start getting into this week's topic: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/814969.html
just stop and celebrate that for a moment. Let it sink in.

Jack Foster sent along comments for a couple people - and if you are one of them I will include that bit in with your "in danger" "safe" or "very safe" standing in the Gatekeeper round. I should probably note here that only *2* of you were "very safe".

Which brings me to something else he had in that email - which is always good advice and something that I've been pushing here and in the Killing Floor. But it's never a bad thing to hear it from a stranger:

"Hi and thank you for inviting me to your party. This was a lot of fun.

One note in general: you guys should be editing each other; the comment section is great for that. To be clear, I don’t mean critiquing, but editing. Some of you are very tight and you should be helping the other ones out. No need to be pedantic, just “hey, how about a semicolon after that second sentence” or “perhaps that line would read better as two independent clauses”. The more you watch for it in other people the better you get at seeing it in your own; I, for example, love to comma splice, I’m doing it now, I’m all but blind to them. A good edit is always best from a second pair of eyes and this is a great place for that. Just do it kindly J"

elledanger added something of her own in her email: "I really enjoyed the entries that opened strongly and within the first two paragraphs were able to demonstrate an economy and precision in their story telling. Unlike entries that used that same space for world building or pre-ambles; if you're going to tell me it gets better 500 words in, please, you need to cut those first 500 words. This is because the good entries have already gotten my attention and good will in the same amount of time that I've gotten distracted and bored with those I didn't enjoy. And it takes spectacular writing to win me around once I'm bored."

If you take a look at the Gatekeeper comments http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/814499.html there are themes there. Things you SHOULD be doing. Things you SHOULD NOT be doing. Listen to them. Take them to heart and then follow the one biggest piece of advice you are hearing: Your Work Needs to Take Risks. This isn't the time of the competition to play it safe. It's the time to knock that door down and declare "I'm going to win this thing and here's why".


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:23 am (UTC)
What an awesome collection of gatekeepers. It's really kind of them to put in the time not just to read and vote, but to also offer their feedback and advice.

Quick question... are we top 25 or top 24? My count puts us at 24 now, but I've been wrong before...
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
*checks again* It's 24.

But that doesn't have an icon.

25 does: http://ljidol.com/pic/top25-icon.gif

Edited at 2014-12-12 04:26 am (UTC)
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:23 am (UTC)

Even though I'm not going to write time travel for it, I think. The world has enough time travel by Jenn. :)

(Do we have to e-mail you for our standing?)
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:26 am (UTC)
Yes. Email me for your standing.
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
Thanks. :D
Dec. 12th, 2014 04:42 am (UTC)
Hmm, kind of glad I don't have to bother writing this topic, LOL.

But if anyone wants a Beta reader, feel free to email me at Pandria@aol.com.
Dec. 12th, 2014 05:57 am (UTC)
Yes! I made my goal! If I do any better, I'll beat my Exhibit B standing. (Although Exhibit B was a smaller competition, so I've already done better, in the technical sense.) Congratulations, everyone.
Dec. 12th, 2014 06:02 am (UTC)
I once made reference to the future being a person who leans on things and looks at you like you're a jackass for thinking you could outwit them.

Gonna be so hard not to touch on that here.
Dec. 12th, 2014 06:26 am (UTC)
I will echo Elle about getting things started quick. Unless I have a really strong starting point I often ends up cutting the first third of my piece and starting in media res. Once I had to cut the first five bloody chapters from a book, and it's still too slow paced and stuck in editing limbo because I can't decide on the world. So many unfinished books... that's why I love short fiction.
Dec. 12th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC)
Agreed, it's vital to hook them early. First paragraph for a story (first sentence if possible), first page for a novel. Readers forgive a lot, but they don't forget having been bored.

Shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I prefer writing novels, though ... and I find myself adding chapters to continue the build of suspense and flesh out the world at large. But I always have a concrete end toward which to work -- climax and denouement. (Some novels take me longer to get there than others.)

I'm curious -- why five chapters? Did you rip them apart and reinsert them elsewhere? Or were they just the chaff?
Dec. 15th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
I had a beginning already, but that beginning dumped us in the middle of the story with no background, and I was worried that one of the choices made by one of the characters might be hard to understand if you didn't have the background.

However, once I had rewritten I felt that the additional five chapters slowed the whole tjing down instead, and that lack of background was not the issue. The chapters are now cut, but there are grave issues in the book, so currently it is on ice until I decide to revisit one day.
Dec. 15th, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC)
That makes sense. Decisions shouldn't be a total surprise, but that sounds like a lot of set-up for one fork in the road. One wonders how much of that could be interspersed in advance vs. explained after?

--but then, if the book itself is on hold, probably not as urgent. (Speaking as someone who has two books stewing on the back-burner, I know that feeling ... sometimes it's not worth trying to force the issue, not when there's so much rework required.)
Dec. 12th, 2014 12:39 pm (UTC)
... but I thought writing serialized heavy allegory deep sci-fi non-linear vignettes *was* a risk. :-p (Actually, given the polls over the past couple months, I think it's like drinking a bottle of Jack and then square-dancing by the controls in a nuclear missile silo.)

Maybe we need to redefine what "risk" is? I mean, there's being safe vs. being staid, and taking risk vs. taking unacceptable risk. It's a finer line to walk than one might think. (Of course, I've been expecting to get voted out since Week 2 of Exhibit B, so I must be a lucky drunk with fantastic balance.) (Metaphorically speaking.)
Dec. 12th, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
I literally just commented in another post about this exact thing! Think of it less as taking a risk and doing something wacky or shocking, and more about having confidence to follow your instincts and be critical of your own work. (You, plural, not singular).

The risk might be that you choose to bin 6 hours of work and rewrite because you can't shake a naggling feeling that something's not working.

The risk might be that you cover a topic you already have but approach it from another direction in another style, or just in a form that you have polished to perfection.

If you think of it a bit like cooking, and at some point you have to stop adding ingredients and you just have to make it as good as possible and make all the flavours work in harmony.

And keeping things simple but well formed is often a risk in itself.

(Okay my favourite pizza is a margherita, because there is nothing more amazing than a perfect margherita).

Dec. 12th, 2014 06:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I just saw you and Allison had both posted on that, over in the other thread. :-) Figured I'd link over as I saw the posts, just for anyone who comes in here later, but you beat me to it!

The cooking metaphor's a good one. In keeping with Idol, I do think about The Next Iron Chef whenever I write an entry, and judges yelling at people for making a muddled mess by trying to do too much instead of doing one thing clearly and brilliantly.

... clearly, this doesn't stop me sometimes, but lord I try to resist the urge.

(FWIW, I lean toward spinach and feta on pizza. Or occasionally pear and walnut.)
Dec. 12th, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC)
Actually, I'll refer folks over to whipchick's no-nonsense breakdown on this, over in the Gatekeepers post. (It's on Page 2, so the casual reader might have missed it, and I think it's as excellent as one would expect.)


... and elledanger posted right after:


Edited at 2014-12-12 06:56 pm (UTC)
Dec. 12th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah... just reading these comments makes me feel inadequate. Have a great day.

Dec. 13th, 2014 10:36 am (UTC)
It's a sign that you're a writer of great potential that you find this discouraging :)

Writers who are never going to get any better look at critical feedback and think "Well, they just didn't get my work," or "I'm writing in a way people can't understand." Or even, "that doesn't apply to me."

Good writers, and writers who are going to be good, look at critical feedback and think "Oh shit I bet every bit of that applies to me my work is shit how will I ever get better when I suck so bad." And then they mope for awhile, and then they roll up their sleeves, pick the one piece of feedback they think they can handle, and work on their next piece with that in mind.

Feeling shitty about one's own work is a sign of self-awareness, and one must have that self-awareness to get better.

Your work has already taken great strides (see my other comment in Gatekeepers) and there's no reason in the world why you shouldn't continue to get better and better and better. Please keep writing, I'd like to keep reading.
Dec. 13th, 2014 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you A. I appreciate that, immensely. I want to be the best writer that I can be. I do! I do! I do!

I won't stop writing. It's in my DNA.

Thank you again for the kind words, advice and being an all around good egg. :-)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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