Category Archives: the craft of writing

Immortalization & Manuscript Critiques

As I write this, the Worldbuilders fundraiser is at $82,000 dollars. That can buy a lot of families a lot of goats, or chickens, or even cows….

But sometimes what people need isn’t materials. One of the other essential things Heifer provides is straight-up training and education. Specifically, sustainable agriculture training of the sort they gave to people like Lotale Chatayika.

Lotale is the sole breadwinner for his household (Which consists of his parents, wife, brother, and two sisters). He has worked hard for many years on his farm, but wasn’t able to produce enough food to feed his family. Because of this, he’s forced to find other temporary labor work (which is notoriously inconsistent and low paying) in order to afford enough food for everyone.

But in 2015, he was selected to participate in the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Programme with Heifer. They trained him in sustainable agriculture technologies like pit planting, fertilization techniques, and mixed cropping. (Pit planting is making pits on your plot for water to collect and be retained, as well as to reduce erosion.)

After his training, Lotale made 1560 pits on his quarter-acre plot. He added compost and manure to his maize and soya fields for fertility.

Before joining Heifer and receiving training, Lotale was able to produce 50 pounds of maize in a season. Now the same plot yields more than 880 pounds of maize a season. A 1600% increase. Enough so that he can feed his family with plenty left over to sell.

Heifer estimates that training of the sort that Lotale recieved costs about $72. (Bountiful Harvest Training) Since y’all have already donated over $82,000 that means they now have the resources to train over 1,100 people like Lotale. Changing their lives and the lives of their families. Forever.

And we’re only 5 days into the fundraiser….

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Today’s blog continues two of my favorite Worldbuilders traditions, professional critiques of manuscripts and people getting to make guest appearances in upcoming books.

Let’s jump right in.

  • Manuscript Critiques

This is something I would’ve killed for when I was first sending the book off to publishers. The opportunity to have your manuscript read by a skilled editor, agent, or author is huge. It doesn’t just have an impact on your book, this sort of feedback can help you develop your craft as well.

We always put a bunch of these up for auction, and this year is no exception.

But even better, this year we have critiques available in the lottery, too. Back when I was in college I couldn’t have afforded an expensive auction. So now I’m delighted to give unpublished writers a chance to win a professional critique by donating to the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page.

For every $10 you donate, you’ll get the chance to win a critique, as well as all the other goodies in our prize lottery.

So, if you want to jump in on that option in the lottery, donate right here. If you’d like to be a little more certain that you’ll get a critique, then this next section is for you. We have FOURTEEN different critiques going up in the auction.

A NOTE BEFORE YOU DIVE IN: We’ve made each critique expandable here, so if you’re interested in one, you can click on it to expand out more information. PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY.

Everyone is offering something a little different. Each author, editor, or agent is handling their auction in their own way…

  • Everyone has different skills, and they’re each offering something different.
  • Critiques are for different lengths of manuscript. From 7,000 to 150,000 words.
  • The professionals below are busy people. Critiques will have to fit in their schedules.
  • When auctions mention “X pages” of a manuscript, that’s standard manuscript format.
  • Most importantly, it’s important to realize that what you’re getting here is a critique. You’re not buying an introduction to someone’s agent or editor. You’re not winning representation with an agent. Or a foot in the door with an editor. That’s not what’s on the block. You’re getting writing advice from a professional.

Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s get to the auctions.

Professor Eric Dahl: A Real-Life Physicist will review your worldbuilding for consistency and realism.

Whether you just want to do away with the pesky speed-of-light limit or are inventing an entirely new reality, there are some ways to do physics that just feel more real than others.  This auction gets you one physics professor’s critique of your world building — what laws are broken, what is or is not consistent, and what crazy inventions your ever-attentive readers might create for your universe….

The winner should submit no more than 7k words describing their world (plus figures if you’d like). Eric will give feedback on this submission.

This is such a weird and cool opportunity to make sure the worldbuilding and magic system in your series FEELS real. If you want to bid on it, click here.

 

Laura Anne Gilman: Publishing Industry and writing talk with a veteran editor and author.

Laura Anne Gilman was excited to provide something for our critique this year, but wasn’t sure she could commit to a full manuscript critique. Instead, she’s offered up a 30-45 minute Skype call where she’d discuss anything publishing-related you’d like. It could be plot ideas, career worries, or anything else.

Laura worked as an editor for over  15 years, and has published more than twenty novels, so she clearly knows her stuff. If you have burning questions, or need plot advice, you can bid on this auction here.

 

Holly Black: 1-hour plot brainstorming session with Holly based on up to 10,000 words of story material.

Holly has offered up something truly awesome here. Before you get too deep into writing, Holly is offering to spend an hour on the phone (or Skype) plotting/brainstorming with you, based on 10,000 words of story material you send to her whether it be outline, chapters, or anything else.

On the phone, she’ll help you try to figure out what you’re stuck on, and where you can go with the story overall.

If this sounds perfect for you, you can bid on it right here.

 

David Pomerico: Critique and commentary of the first 50 pages of your manuscript.

David Pomerico is an Executive Editor at Harper Voyager, so he’s got a lot of experience with critiques, especially of sci-fi/fantasy manuscripts.

He’s offering a detailed critique and commentary (but not a line edit) for the first 50 pages or so of your manuscript (double­spaced, please—and no margin shenanigans!), which he will get back to you within three months of receiving the manuscript. Although it doesn’t need to be science fiction, fantasy, or horror (he reads pretty much all genres), those are his areas of expertise. And while he could possibly be blown away and want to make an offer on your book, this isn’t guaranteed.

If you want to get this critique, you can bid here.

 

Jennifer Azantian: Critique and commentary of your entire submission packet.

Jennifer Azantian is offering a detailed critique and commentary of your submission packet (query, synopsis, and first three chapters up to 15,000 words). She’ll include her thoughts on pacing, impact, characterization, world-building, and more with in-line notes and an editorial letter within three months of receiving your submission. Though she makes no promises, she would be a fool not to consider representing a project if it truly blows her away.

Critiques of submission packets are key to getting your work picked up by agents and publishers. If you’re ready for that step, bid on the auction here.

 

Brad Beaulieu: Critique of up to 12,500 words of your story.

Bradley P. Beaulieu is pleased to offer one story or chapter critique of up to 12,500 words. Brad will draft a formal review that will cover such things as how well the story opens, complicates, and closes, how well the characterization works, dialogue, tone, pacing, tension, and a host of other issues. Essentially, he’ll provide a formal review on the positives and negatives found in the story.

If this sounds good to you, you can read more about Brad and bid right here.

 

Jeffe Kennedy: First chapter and synopsis critique.

A first chapter & synopsis critique, along with genre analysis – particularly apropos for anyone writing in romance/romantic elements crossover novels in SFF.

She is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

If you want to get your synopsis critiqued by an award-winning author, you can bid here.

 

Joe Ducie: Critique of up to 100,000 words of any manuscript.

Joe Ducie will critique up to 100,000 words of any manuscript, with an eye toward YA, Urban Fantasy, or Spy/Thriller. If you’ve read his The Rig or Reminiscent Exile series, you know what you’re getting into. He’s got a knack for writing books that read like an action scene. If you’re writing a thriller or other lean, fast-paced fantasy, Joe’s opinion will help quite a bit!

Joe was kind enough to offer us TWO critiques, so one is up for auction right here, while the other is in the lottery on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page!

 

Sherwood Smith: Critique of up to 150,000 words of your fantasy manuscript.

Sherwood Smith is the author of the Inda series, the Crown & Court series, and co-author with Rachel Manija Brown of the brilliant YA series Change. She will read your fantasy manuscript, up to 150,000 words, and critique it, giving you her opinions on everything from character and pacing to plot and more. She’s a brilliant writer who creates memorable characters and intricate worlds. She’s also been workshopping for years, and teaching at the Viable Paradise science fiction and fantasy writers’ workshop.

Thisa is an amazing opportunity you won’t want to miss, so if it’s at all tempting to you bid here.

 

Joshua Palmatier: Critique of up to 7,500 words of your short story.

Joshua Palmatier (co-­editor of the DAW Books anthologies AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR­BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY and the Zombies Need Brains anthologies CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS, TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, ALIEN ARTIFACTS, WERE-, ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERORS, and SUBMERGED) will read and evaluate your short story (up to 7500 words in standard manuscript format) within six weeks of submission. He will write a general evaluation of the story and mark up the manuscript using comments and track changes in the document itself, although this will NOT be a formal line or copy edit, simply commentary at specific points in the short story.

It’s hard to find people with so much experience with short stories, so if you have one you’d like critiqued you should bid here.

 

Jaime Lee Moyer: Read and Critique of the first 75 pages of your manuscript.

Jaime Lee Moyer has offered many critiques over the years, and we’re always grateful. This year’s critique is for the first 75 pages (double spaced) of your manuscript, where she’s comment on plot, character arc, voice, pacing, and other overall, general impressions of the story.

PLEASE NOTE: Jaime has a very tight schedule this year, so she’s requested that the winner be ready to send the manuscript to her within four months of auction end (by March 2018 at the absolute latest). So this is for someone who’s ready to hand over their manuscript soon.

If that someone is you, head over here and bid.

 

Richard Shealy: A Professional copyedit of your fantasy or science fiction manuscript.

Richard is offering a copyedit of novel-length manuscript (or short story and its pitch). Includes typo correction, continuity observation, voice/character consistency, context-appropriate grammar adjustment, fact-checking where needed. This copyedit will be completed sometime in 2018, since Richard is a pro and booked solid for the remainder of 2017.

For a list of works he has copyedited, visit http://sffcopyediting.com/index.php/what/ and scroll down until you see the wall of cover images!

A copy edit is a really big deal, and honestly something that most people don’t think about. Most authors don’t get this chance until their book has already sold, but it makes a huge difference in the readability of a manuscript. If you’re ready to take this on, you can bid right here.

 

Seth Fishman: Critique of up to 25,000 words of a sci-fi/fantasy novel.

Seth is a literary agent who has worked with Worldbuilders before to bring folks critiques, and he’s also done two different livestreamed Q&As about the industry as part of previous fundraisers. He did one on how to write an effective query letter (with one of his clients, Django Wexler) that you can watch right here, and one on the publishing industry as a whole from his perspective as an agent, which you can watch here.

Needless to say, he knows his stuff. If you want his advice on your novel, you can bid here.

 

Patrick Rothfuss (me): Critique of the first 20,000 words of your manuscript.

Patrick Rothfuss (international bestselling author, lover of women, and hirsute iconoclast) will read the beginning of your manuscript and give you critical feedback. (Up to, say, 20,000 words.) We’ll schedule this based on when your manuscript will be ready and the endless madness of my own schedular constraints.

I’ll read through your manuscript, scrawling notes and dirty words in the margins, then I’ll call you on the phone and we can discuss it.

If you want this, you should bid on it quickly. My schedule has become such that I really had to fight my team so that they’d let me do this.

You can Bid right here.

 

That’s all of the critiques for this year, but don’t forget that we have a few more up in the lottery on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page.

Maybe you could bid on your favorite option (or options) and then if you don’t manage to win on Sunday night, you put the money you were willing to spend on it into the team page. After all, all of the money will be going to Heifer International, and they can do a lot of good with it.

But maybe you don’t have a manuscript. Maybe a tuckerization is more your speed…

  • Tuckerizations

What is a Tuckerization, you may ask? Well, it means different things to different people. Historically, it’s called a Tuckerization because Wilson Tucker used so many of his friends’ names as characters in his stories that it became something of an in-joke. Nowadays, it’s the chance to make a cameo appearance in a story. An author will take your name, or maybe your personality, or your physical description, and use it for a character in their story.

Maybe it’s not your name. Maybe it’s a sister’s, or a friend’s, or that kid you spent a lot of time with in kindergarten before he moved away. Maybe you only *start* with your name, but the author changes it a bit to fit in with the culture of the world you’re being put into. If that happens, you collaborate with the author and reach a solution you both like.

Whatever the case, it’s a chance to be a part of something really cool. It’s a chance, in some ways, at literary immortality.

We have NINE tuckerizations available below for auction, but they’re all a little different, so read carefully.

Brian McLellan will include you in a POWDER MAGE Novel, and maybe even kill you.

Brian McLellan has offered up the opportunity to be a minor character in a new POWDER MAGE novel, his awesome fantasy series. Brian’s a fantastic author, and a generally great guy to begin with, so working with him on this will be a dream.

He’ll work with you to make sure the name fits well in the world, and says that “violent death is optional.”

Fans of the series, or those who are eager for the option of violent death, can head over here and bid.

 

Elizabeth Bear: Get tuckerized into a galactic medical rescue novel + a signed first edition of the book.

Elizabeth Bear is working on a new novel called Machine, a space opera about medical rescue and a galactic hospital, and she’s offering up the chance to tuckerize a Worldbuilders supporter in it. To make things even cooler, she’s included a signed, first edition copy of the book to be sent to you upon release, so you’ll have a collectible to brag about to your friends, in addition to naming a character.

A signed first edition might be enough on its own for some people, so if you want to get your hands on this you’ll have to bid over here.

 

William Alexander will include you in a road trip novel that brushes up against The Wild Hunt and more.

 

William Alexander has been supporting Worldbuilders for a while now, including a give a spirited, Kermit-voice performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year. This year he jumped in with an opportunity to appear in the next novel he’s writing.

His current work in progress is a road trip novel featuring the Wild Hunt, the trolls of Vermont, and your name. Maybe.

Bid now for the chance.

 

Joe Ducie will tuckerize you in a spy-thriller novel.

Some of you may remember Joe Ducie from the before-times. He’s our very own Captain Joe, winner of a previous photo contest and all-around awesome person.  Since his first claim-to-fame here on the blog, his YA novel won the 2012 Young Writers Prize, and Joe’s been writing ever since.

Joe Ducie was kind enough to offer us TWO opportunities for fans to be included in his upcoming work! This auction is for an appearance in his upcoming spy-thriller titled THE DARK WINTER. The winner would be on a team of spies/soldiers off to save the world. It’s due to be published around this time next year, and you’ll have the chance to chat with Joe about which member of the team best fits you (or a loved one) and he’ll make sure that character does you proud.

If you’ve always wanted to be a spy, you can bid for the chance hereyes.

 

Joe Ducie (AGAIN) will tuckerize you in his YA time-loop novel.

Joe’s second offering for a tuckerization is in his upcoming urban fantasy novel, THE ONLY REAL PLACE, a YA story featuring an intense time-loop situation.

The novel is still in very early drafts, so there’s going to be a lot of flexibility to the character you’ll be. You will have the chance to chat with Joe about the best way to include you (or a loved one) as a cameo in his book.

You can bid on this one right here.

 

April White will include your character in her new Sherlockian mystery time-travel series.

This isn’t the first time April White has offered a tuckerization, and we’re always so grateful for her offer.

April is offering the chance to name a character (and provide an identifying characteristic or two) in book two of her new fantasy series. In the event the winning bid is higher than $250, that character will have a significant interaction with Ringo, the main character. If it goes higher than $400, that character will become a major contributor to the story.

To read more about the series, and to bid, head over to the auction and read up!

 

Tim Pratt will name a character in his upcoming space opera after you.

Tim Pratt’s novel The Dreaming Stars will be coming out around this time next year, and he’s offering up the chance to be a part of it by naming a character after yourself or a loved one. Space opera means that there’s going to be tons of options for him to make your character fun or interesting, so this is an awesome opportunity.

Plus, last time he let someone name a whorehouse in his books. So Tim’s a pretty cool dude.

If you want to be in a space opera, bid here.

 

Jeffe Kennedy will tuckerize you in the first novel of her new fantasy romance trilogy.

Jeffe Kennedy’s novel The Orchid Throne will be released in 2019, and she’s offering you the chance to name a character in it, at the beginning of a new trilogy.

It’s going to be a great series, and you can bid on the chance to be a part of it right here.

 

Bradley P. Beaulieu will incude you in his brand new epic fantasy series, and the more we raise the cooler you'll be.

Brad is a Wisconsin native, and longtime supporter of Worldbuilders. He’s offering up the chance to be in the fourth novel of his Arabian Nights-inspired epic fantasy series, THE SONG OF THE SHATTERED SANDS. He’ll work with you to make sure the name you provide can be tweaked and adjusted to fit into the world seamlessly.

As a bonus, the more money the auction raises, the more important your character will be to the overall plot. The series will have SIX books in it, so your character may very will live beyond the pages of the fourth.

If the auction raises $500 or more, the character will be elevated from a minor character to one that has a real interaction with one of the main characters, and Brad will work with you to adopt some specific personal characteristics to the character. If it raises $1,000 or more, your character can either die in a spectacular way or perform some other heroic, selfless act.

There’s a ton being offered here, and you can bid for the chance to make it yours here.

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All of the money from auctions also goes to Heifer, so bidding on and winning auctions will go to help people who need it, like Lotale and his family. And, as a reminder, there are critiques available in the lottery as well, as long as you donate on the Professional Manuscript Critiques team page, and every $10 donated there is another chance.

Auctions will be ending on Sunday nights, and the first round of auctions ends THIS Sunday for things like the Dresden Force Ring that Jim Butcher wore while writing Skin Game, or the limited-edition Caesura sword with a custom, one-of-a-kind scabbard, or one of every book published by Subterranean Press for 2017. To check them out, click on AUCTIONS below.

Happy bidding…

Also posted in a billion links, the business of writing, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat2 Responses

Fee Fie Faux

So I stumbled across this thing recently…

Even if you’re not a fan of Neil Gaiman, it’s worth watching. If you are a fan, it’s hugely funny. And if you’ve listened to Neil’s Audiobooks as much as I have (Which is to say obsessively) the above video is AMAZING.

My third time watching it, I started wondering, “Could we do something like this, but for my writing?”

At first I dismissed the thought as silly. For one thing, I don’t have Gaiman’s gorgeous voice and accent. I don’t think my writing style is as distinctive as his, either.

But the idea kept tickling at me. And the truth is, when I go to conventions, or events, or signings, I’m always looking for fun, bite-sized things I can read in front of a crowd.

So I’m finally saying “What the hell” and giving it a try. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t. But if it does work, this could be a lot of fun. I could read a couple on the JocoCruise next week, or when I’m out at Gencon. If nothing else, I’ll read the best of them on my twitch channel so everyone can see them, then upload them to youtube later for archival purposes.

So… yeah. If this is something that appeals to you, give me your best Bad Rothfuss style piece of writing in the form below. It should be NO MORE THAN 1800 characters (which is around 300 words).

I know. I know. How can you satirize my effluvient verbosity in only 300 words? Well… I don’t know. Maybe you’ll just have to pick some other element of my style to lovingly satirize. All I know is that if I don’t put a cap on these, we’ll end up with several hundred thousand words submitted and this will go from a fun little activity to a horrifying millstone around my neck. (And by my neck, I mean Amanda’s neck. Because she’s one of the folks who will be helping to winnow these down.)

Anyway. Be aware that the form is set to cut you off before you start to bloviate. What’s more, I let Amanda write her own sassy response that will pop up as an error if you go over the character count.

We’ve included a place in there for your name and e-mail, too. That way, I can give you credit if I read yours….

So… yeah. Here you go. I’m curious to see what comes in, and read some of them in my best audio narrator voice….

Take care of each other,

pat

Also posted in Consistent Verb Tense Is For Bitches, cool things, dicking around, fanfic, talking shit, The difference between 'slim' and 'slender' | By Pat57 Responses

Professional Critiques of your Manuscript

Today we’re launching one of my favorite parts of Worldbuilders. It’s something that I would have killed for back when I was struggling to get published. Something that I’ve never seen offered anywhere anywhere else.

This year, we have many big-hearted authors, editors, and agents are offering up their services for the good of the charity. (I’m doing it too, though my heart is a small, bitter thing.) We’re making ourselves available to read your unpublished manuscripts and give you our professional opinions on it.

Before, we’ve always auctioned these off, because that was the best option we had available to us. But it always bugged me a little, because I know that a lot of aspiring authors don’t have 500 bucks to spend on a critique, even it’s worth twice that much in terms of professional development.

This year, we’re still auctioning off a bunch. But we’re also making some available lottery style to anyone who donates on the WriMos for Worldbuilders team page.

WriMosforWorldbuildersTeam

(Witness the high quality graphics we get when Amanda does them instead of Brett…)

That’s right. If you donate specifically via that page, not only will you be entered into the general lottery (which currently has nearly $30,000 worth of prizes, and that number will only go up), you’ll also be entered into this special, secondary lottery for a manuscript critique.

There are stretch goals for more critiques, including one from a literary agent if the page raises $1,500. So share the news with your friend who has been slaving over their book for years. Let your friends who are doing NaNoWriMo know about it.

In addition to donating, we have critiques available for auction, for those of you who don’t want to just leave it to chance. If you don’t win one of these, you can always go in and donate to the WriMos page and still have a chance.

We’ve got them separated into the 3 categories, which can slightly correlate to the stages of your manuscript as well.

A NOTE BEFORE YOU DIVE IN: We’ve made each critique expandable here, so if you’re interested in one, you can click on it to expand out more information. PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY.

Everyone is offering something a little different. Each author, editor, or agent is handling their auction in their own way…

  • Everyone has different skill sets, and they’re each offering something slightly different.
  • Some critiques are for 15,000 words of a manuscript, others are for 150,000 words.
  • The professionals below are busy people. Critiques will have to fit in their schedules.
  • When auctions mention “X pages” of a manuscript, that’s standard manuscript format.
  • Most importantly, you’re not buying an introduction to someone’s agent or editor here. You’re not winning representation with an agent. Or a foot in the door with an editor. That’s not what’s on the block. You’re getting writing advice from a professional.

Enough preamble. Let’s get to the auctions.

  • Critiques from Authors

authors

Authors tend to have a good sense for a story, since that’s what they spend a lot of their time thinking about. If your manuscript is in a pretty good place, but you’re not sure about some aspects of your story, or the pacing, or something like that, these are the people you should talk to.

Brad Beaulieu - up to 10,000 words.

ConFusion 2012 cropped

Bradley P. Beaulieu is pleased to offer one story or chapter critique of up to 10,000 words. Brad will draft a formal review that will cover such things as how well the story opens, complicates, and closes, how well the characterization works, dialogue, tone, pacing, tension, and a host of other issues. Essentially, he’ll provide a formal review on the positives and negatives found in the story.

Bradley P. Beaulieu is the author of The Lays of Anuskaya, which begins with The Winds of Khalakovo, continues in The Straits of Galahesh, and concludes with The Flames of Shadam Khoreh. Brad’s new epic fantasy series, The Song of the Shattered Sands, has been sold to DAW Books in the US and Gollancz in the UK. The first book, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, was released in September of 2015. In addition to being an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award winner, Brad’s stories have appeared in various other publications, including Realms of Fantasy Magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Writers of the Future 20, and several anthologies from DAW Books. Brad is also one half of the dynamic duo who run Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans. Mailing details and contact with Bradley will be set up following the auction.

Brenda Cooper - up to 12,000 words of a SF/F short story.

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Award-winning Pacific Northwest writer Brenda Cooper will read and critique a science fiction or fantasy short story up to 12,000 words. Her novel-length work is primarily science fiction written for nine to ninety year old readers, and her short stories range across genres and age-groups.

In addition to the critique, Brenda will provide a copy of her latest collection, Cracking the Sky.

Brenda Cooper writes science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Her most recent novel is EDGE OF DARK, which came out in March of 2015. Brenda is also a technology professional and a futurist.

Cassie Alexander - first 15,000 words.

Copy of Picture

Cassie Alexander is offering a read and critique of the first 15,000 words of someone’s novel. You’re welcome to include your query letter and synopsis on top of that word count.

She’ll be critiquing for plot, pacing, readability, character arcs, voice, how well the opening works, and give overall, general impressions of the story.  All critiques will be done in MSWord via track changes, and will be done in under a month.

Cassie Alexander is the author of the five book Edie Spence urban fantasy series, comprised of Nightshifted, Moonshifted, Shapeshifted, Deadshifted, and Bloodshifted, and has been published in Germany, France, and the Republic of Czech. She’s an experienced workshopper, having attended Viable Paradise and Clarion West, and frequently is a writing workshop professional at conventions she attends.

Jeffe Kennedy - First chapter & synopsis critique.

JeffeKennedy1

Jeffe Kennedy is offering a first chapter & synopsis critique, along with genre analysis – particularly apropos for anyone writing in romance/romantic elements crossover novels in SFF.

She is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Robert Redick - up to 20,000 words.

Rob_Worldbuilders

Back in the states after two years in Indonesia, Rob is the author of The Chathrand Voyage Quartet, described by Locus as “one of the most distinctive and appealing epic fantasies of the decade.” The series began with The Red Wolf Conspiracy and concluded in February 2013 with The Night of the Swarm. He is also a seasoned international development worker and writing teacher, with an MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers in Asheville, NC. He loves all good storytelling but has a soft spot for the literary end of the SF/fantasy spectrum.

Rob is offering a critique of the beginning of your novel (to a maximum 20,000 words), and will also be glad to assess a pitch letter or brief summary of the same. He generally includes some line edits, but concentrates on providing no-nonsense, no-attitude feedback concerning structure, clarity, consistency, pacing and other fundamentals of narrative. Most importantly, Rob is always careful to search for your intentions and aspirations for the story, rather than imposing his own.

Michael J. Martinez - up to 25,000 words of a SF/F work.

MJM-author pic

Michael J. Martinez is the author of the DAEDALUS trilogy, the most recent of which, THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT, came out in May and earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He’s also the author of the upcoming “spy-fi” series MAJESTIC-12, with MJ-12: INCEPTION due out next fall from Night Shade Books.

Michael will critique up to 25,000 words of your SF/F novel (or a shorter work), including both an overall opinion on the strength of the work, thoughts on individual sections, and ideas on direction and ways to improve. This doesn’t include line edits, but he’s willing to answer questions and engage in a dialogue to help make your work better!

Brett Hiorns - up to 150,000 words.

Copy of Monkey Picture

Brett Hiorns will read and critique your manuscript (up to 150,000 words).

Brett has been one of Pat’s go-to beta readers since the beginning, and was even called in as an alpha reader for Wise Man’s Fear (the book really didn’t make sense at that stage). He’s currently the voice behind a lot of the Worldbuilders website content and auction descriptions, and has done webcomic work, amusing movie reviews and plenty of longer-form horror fiction. Pat keeps pestering him to publish a book or two, but apparently he’s afraid of success.

His preferred genre is horror, but he’ll tackle fantasy and science fiction, or anything that sounds interesting. He also enjoys young adult fiction for its brevity and creativity.

Brett can help you with character voice and dialogue, concise writing, and the nuts and bolts of grammar and punctuation.  He’ll also analyze pacing and the consistency of world building, and he’ll do his best to poke holes in the book’s internal logic.

The critique will include reading up to 150,000 words, marking up the margins with suggestions, corrections, and random comments.  He will also type up a detailed explanation of the manuscript’s strong points and possible weaknesses, as well as clarifications and expansions of his marginal notes.

Pat Rothfuss - up to 150,000 words.

PatSigning - Color

Patrick Rothfuss (international bestselling author, lover of women, and hirsute iconoclast) will read your manuscript and give you critical feedback. (Up to, say, 150,000 words.) We’ll schedule this based on when your manuscript will be ready and the endless madness of my own schedular constraints.

I’ll read through your manuscript, scrawling notes and dirty words in the margins, then I’ll call you on the phone and we can discuss it. Or we could do a Google+ hangout. Or, if you live close, we can get together and chat over coffee.

I won’t write you up a detailed critique because that’s not how I roll. But we’ll chat for a couple of hours discussing the various strengths and weaknesses of the book, your writing craft, and I’ll offer any suggestions I might have. Then I’ll mail you back the manuscript with my notes on it.

 

  • Critiques from Editors & Agents

editors

Editors and Agents are equally good at story, but they’re also good at marketability and editing. This is the “I feel pretty confident in my manuscript, and I’d like to see if it can be taken to the next level” level.

Joshua Palmatier - up to 7,500 words of a short story.

Copy of Picture-3

Joshua Palmatier (co­editor of the DAW Books anthologies AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR­BAR and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY and the Zombies Need Brains anthologies CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK vs ALIENS and TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER) will read and evaluate your short story (up to 7500 words in standard manuscript format) within six weeks of submission. He will write a general evaluation of the story and mark up the manuscript using comments and track changes in the document itself, although this will NOT be a formal line or copy edit, simply commentary at specific points in the short story.

Joshua Palmatier (www.joshuapalmatier.com) has had six dark, epic fantasy novels published by DAW, most recently SHATTERING THE LEY, five short stories in various anthologies, and has co­edited four anthologies with Patricia Bray, including TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER. He is also founder of the small press Zombies Need Brains (www.zombiesneedbrains.com), which focuses on producing quality SF&F­themed anthologies.  His experience is mostly with all forms of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. His intent will be to offer editorial advice on how to improve your novel and to use his experience as both author and editor to make it the best it can be.

 Joshua has requested that you send him your manuscript no later than July 1, 2016.

David Pomerico - first 50 double-spaced pages.

pomerico4

David Pomerico is an Executive Editor at Harper Voyager, where he acquires and edits fantasy, science fiction, and horror while also overseeing the day-to-day direction of the imprint. Before joining Voyager, he was at Bantam Spectra, Del Rey, and 47North, working with a diverse group of authors and projects. His focus, editorially, is to help authors hone and polish their stories so that something he’s already committed himself to can reach the widest popular audience. He believes editing is a process of collaboration, and ultimately wants to work with authors who are looking not simply for a publisher, but a publishing partner.

You can probably Google him if you want to find out a bit more about him.

He’s offering a detailed critique and commentary (but not a line edit) for the first 50 pages or so of your manuscript (double­spaced, please—and no margin shenanigans!), which he will get back to you within three months of receiving the manuscript. Although it doesn’t need to be science fiction, fantasy, or horror (he reads pretty much all genres), those are his areas of expertise. And while he could possibly be blown away and want to make an offer on your book, this isn’t guaranteed (otherwise this might be a really pricey auction!).

Mike Braff - Approximately first 50 pages (rounded up to end of the chapter).

Copy of Picture-4

Mike Braff is an editor at Del Rey Books and has been part of the editorial team there for the past six years. He is in charge of the merciless slaying of enemies by battleaxe, the boarding and capturing of space craft in zero-g, and the management of a sect of magic users that secretly runs the paranormal underground in New York City. Not true, sadly, but he does love to read and acquire books about these things and other related sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy topics.

Though he’s from New York originally, Mike once went to Canada for a few years to study Comparative Religion and World History at McGill University (BA ’07). Much to everyone’s surprise (including his own) the course of study proved useful when acquiring and editing fantastic stories for Del Rey, where Mike has been lucky enough to work with the likes of Pierce Brown, Kevin Hearne, Jason M. Hough, Matthew Stover, Ted Kosmatka, Alan Smale, and newcomer Indra Das, among many other talented authors. He lives in Brooklyn with a rescued pit bull named Ruby, adorable pictures of whom will be provided in abundance upon request.

 He’s offering a detailed critique and commentary for the first 50 pages or so of your manuscript (rounded up to the end of the last chapter). This is not a line edit, but Mike will get back to you within 90 days of receiving your manuscript with an editorial letter detailing his thoughts and suggestions.

Jaime Lee Moyer - first 75 pages.

Copy of Picture-5

Jaime Lee Moyer is a speculative fiction writer, poet and editor. Jaime is the author of Delia’s Shadow (Tor, September 2013),  A Barricade In Hell (Tor, June 2014) and Against A Brightening Sky (October 2015). Delia’s Shadow won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for Fiction, administered by Thurber House and funded by the Columbus Art Council, and is nominated for the Salt Lake County Libraries Reader’s Choice Award. She doesn’t take herself nearly as seriously as those credits imply. Jaime’s short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Lone Star Stories, and two of the well-respected Triangulations anthologies. She was the editor of the 2010 Rhysling Anthology for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and a poetry and short fiction editor for a semi-pro zine for five years. Jaime is the current editor for the Online Writing Workshop For Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror monthly newsletter. For a short period of time she read slush for a literary agent, and has critiqued more novels and short stories than she wants to count.

Jaime Lee Moyer is offering a read and critique of the first 75 pages of your finished novel. While she won’t line edit for grammar, she will comment on plot, pacing, character arc, voice, how well the “hook” or opening works, how well the story sustains her interest, and give overall, general impressions of the story. Critique will be done in MSWord via track changes, but please use a readable font and double-space your work. The critique will be returned to you within three months, edit letters and deadlines allowing.

Matt Bialer - up to 20,000 words.

Copy of Copy of Matt-Bialer

Matt Bialer (literary agent) will read and evaluate the opening chapters of one manuscript (up to 20,000 words) within three months of submission, not including the last few weeks of December. He will read and critique, and help the author think about the issues that could be raised by editors at publishing houses.

He will write a general evaluation of the book, both strengths and weaknesses, but line editing is NOT included. If the book is fantastic or has the potential to be fantastic then offering representation is not out of the question — but representation is not a guarantee.

 

  • A Manuscript Copy Edit

new avi

This is something completely new this year. A copy edit is a really big deal, and honestly something that most people don’t think about. Most authors don’t get this chance until their book has already sold, but it makes a huge difference in the readability of a manuscript.

Richard Shealy - Either a novel-length copyedit, or short novel & pitch copyedit.

Richard Shealy has been a reader of SF/F as long as he can remember, and he finally figured out he might make a living from that by combining it with his horrifyingly enormous word-nerdery. In his still relatively new career (he started in this racket less than three years ago), he already has had the enormous pleasure and honor to work with a number of authors and editors from across multiple spectra, not to mention becoming completely certain that he has found his dream job (seriously, people pay you to nitpick their babies?). He tweets occasionally via @SFFCopyediting but far more prolifically in the guise of his alter ego,@SheckyX. Caveat: Taking anything seriously from the alter ego is a massive waste of time.

Richard is offering a copyedit of novel-length manuscript (or short story and its pitch). Includes typo correction, continuity observation, voice/character consistency, context-appropriate grammar adjustment, fact-checking where needed. For a list of works he has copyedited, visit http://sffcopyediting.com/index.php/what/ and scroll down until you see the wall of cover images!

There you have it folks. You can bid on one of the 15 auctions we have going, or you can contribute to the WriMos for Worldbuilders page to be entered into the second lottery for other critiques.

Good luck…

pat

Also posted in the business of writing, Worldbuilders 2015 | By Pat12 Responses

Professional Manuscript Critiques

Edit: If you’re still hoping to get a manuscript critique, there’s a WriMos for Worldbuilders page with some available in a special lottery this year that you should really check out…

As I write this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $92,000 for Heifer International.

So here’s a video. I could claim I’m posting it because it explains what we’re doing here at Worldbuilders, but that would be a lie. I’m posting it because my kids are in it, and my kids are seriously adorable.

So there you go. That’s what we’re doing. You can donate directly to Heifer International on the Worldbuilders team page, making the world a better place while (hopefully) winning fabulous prizes.

Or you can check out the Read-And-Critique auctions below….

*     *     *

Today we’re auctioning off professional manuscript critiques from authors, editors, and agents.

This is an exceptionally rare opportunity. Authors occasionally read a manuscript for a friend, or do a quick critique at a convention. But if you want this sort of professional attention you usually have to attend a pretty serious workshop, like Clarion. Or you have to be a student at one of the rare universities that takes sci-fi and fantasy seriously enough to bring in a professional to teach a class.

You’ll notice that I personally don’t have a critique in today’s blog. That’s because if you win the favor auction I’m running, you can cash in that favor for a read-and-critique. Any manuscript. Any size. I’ll read the whole thing, mark it up, then call you on the phone and talk about it with you.

Now, before I list all the read-and-critique auctions, I’m going to have to put on my Dad Voice: a voice which contains all the baritone authority of my teacher voice, with an added subharmonic that implies if you screw this up, I’m going to be *really* disappointed in you.

“Please read the auction descriptions carefully.”

Each author, editor, or agent is handling their auction in their own way…

  • Everyone has different skill sets, and they’re each offering something slightly different.
  • Some critiques are for 15,000 words of a manuscript, others are for 150,000 words.
  • The professionals below are busy people. Critiques will have to fit in their schedules.
  • When auctions mention “X pages” of a manuscript, that’s standard manuscript format.
  • Most importantly, you’re not buying an introduction to someone’s agent or editor here. You’re not winning representation with an agent. Or a foot in the door with an editor. That’s not what’s on the block. You’re getting writing advice from a professional.

Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s move on to the awesome….

jaimeLeeMoyer_logoFinalJaime Lee Moyer is a speculative fiction writer, poet, and editor. She’s been offering up a read-and-critique with us for years, and we’re thrilled to have her back. She’s willing to comment on plot, pacing, character arc, voice, how well the “hook” or opening works, how well the story sustains her interest, and give overall, general impressions of the story. This will seriously help your story.

If you want to bid on this, head over here.

CassieAlexander

We’re always really grateful when people offer critiques that include feedback of the query letter and synopsis too. Because honestly, my lack of ability to write a decent query letter probably slowed down publication of The Name of the Wind by two years.

That’s what Cassie is offering here: a full critique includes your query letter, synopsis, and the first 15,000 words of your manuscript.

Here’s what a previous auction winner said of her critique:

“It was definitely worth it, and was probably the thing that’s helped with my writing the most. You were hard hitting on points that needed to be said, but still really supportive and complimented the things I did right. People couldn’t ask for a better person to critique their work.”

If you want to get your work critiqued by Cassie, bid over here.

Jen

Jennifer has been a literary agent since 2011, and is offering up a critique of your query letter, synopsis, and the first 15,000 words of your manuscript. She’s helped us out a in the past, and as an agent, she’s seen a *lot* of these, and has some valuable experience to share.

Bid on it over here.

  • David Pomerico will give a critique and commentary of the first 50 pages of your manuscript.

David Pomerico

David has been throwing his hat into the ring for these auctions for years, and is now the Executive Editor at Harper Voyager. He’s worked with some big names, including some New York Times bestsellers. (If you want more details, check out his auction listing).

He’s willing to read and give a detailed critique of the first 50 pages of your manuscript. You can head over here and bid.

josh

Josh is a fellow DAW author, and he’s kicked in critiques in the past. This year, he’s willing to read the first 100 pages of your novel and give you detailed notes and a general evaluation of the opening as well.

If you want this critique, there are more details over here.

josh

Not everybody writes novels. So Josh is offering up a read-and-critique of your short story. It will including a general evaluation of the story as well as some detailed notes and comments.

If you’ve got a short story, this is the guy for you. Bid on this critique over here.

  • Michael Braff will read and critique the first 50 pages of your manuscript.

Mike Braff

Michael is an editor at Del Rey, and has been for six years. He’s thrown in his critiques more than once in the past, and we’re happy to have him on board again. He’s willing to give a detailed critique and commentary of the first 50 pages of your manuscript, rounded up to the nearest chapter, which is generous.

If you want this one, bid here.

  • Michael Martinez will critique up to 25,000 words of your SF/F novel or shorter work.

Mike Martinez

Michael Martinez is an author, and is willing to read up to 25,000 words of any sci-fi or fantasy work you bring to him. He’ll give you an overall opinion, his thoughts on individual sections, and ideas on direction and ways to improve. He’s said that he’s happy to engage in a dialogue with you, which is definitely worth something.

Bid on this one over here.

  • David B. Coe will critique up to 15,000 words of your manuscript.

DavidBCoe

David B. Coe (also known as D.B. Jackson) is willing to critique some short fiction or the early chapters of your novel. He’s a prolific writer (he has 3 books coming out in 2015 alone), and he’s supported Worldbuilders for a good long time, so we really like him.

If you want a novel or short story critique, head over here and bid.

Bradley P. Beaulieu

Bradley P. Beaulieu graciously offered one story or chapter critique of up to 10,000 words. Brad’s offered critiques in the past, and everyone at Worldbuilders was glad to see him back again for more. Apart from writing a ridiculous amount of epic fantasy, Brad also kicked in a stretch goal last year, because he’s cool like that.

If you would like to bask in the coolness, by all means bid over here.

  • Michael R. Underwood will critique your submission packet AND have a Skype consultation on the feedback.

Michael R. Underwood

Mike writes a lot about geekiness, which is always a bonus in our book. This year, he’s willing to critique your query letter, synopsis, and the first 10,000 words of your manuscript. He will then have a Skype conversation with you to discuss the feedback, which we think is extra cool.

If you want your entire packet critiqued, head over here and bid.

  • Matt Bialer, my agent, will read up to 20,000 words of your manuscript.

Matt Bialer

Matt kicks in this critique every year. And my book would not be as good as it is today without him and his help.

He’s offering up a general evaluation of the book, with the perspective of the issues that could be raised by editors at publishing houses. It’s a really great perspective to have.

Matt also managed to jump in with us this morning, so his auction will be live later tonight. You’ll be able to bid on this one over here as soon as it’s live.

  • Worldbuilders Monkey Brett will read and critique your manuscript.

Brett Monkey

Brett has been one of my longest standing friends and readers. He’s given me invaluable feedback on all my books, Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

What’s more, he’s a great writer in his own right. Not only is he currently the voice behind a lot of the Worldbuilders website content and auction descriptions, he’s done webcomic work, amusing movie reviews, and plenty of longer-form horror fiction. He also has a brilliant novel waiting in the wings that I keep pestering him to publish, too….

Suffice to say, he does great critique. If you want to get his advice on your work, bid here.

* * *

Lastly, a success story.

Back in 2010, Gabriel Squailia won a read and critique in a Worldbuilders auction. He got it from my agent, Matt Bialer, and Matt was impressed enough to offer to represent Gabriel.

In spring of 2015, Gabriel’s first book is going to be published.

DeadBoysCover

We here at Worldbuilders think this is pretty awesome.

Now let me say it again. We’re not in any way claiming that this sort of thing will happen if you win one of the auctions. You’re buying a critique, and that’s it. Even so, this is proof that these critiques can lead to good things. It could happen. It has happened.

So there you go. Here’s a link to all the auctions Worldbuilders is currently running. Keep in mind that there’s enough of them that they spill onto a second page.

Keep being awesome people.

pat

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, Oot, the business of writing, videos, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat16 Responses

Interview: Triangulation

I did an interview about a week ago over on Triangulation.

A good time was had by all. You can watch it over here if you like.

pat

P.S. I think this might be my shortest blog ever….

Also posted in Interviews, videos | By Pat29 Responses

Punctuation

So earlier today I took a break from catching up on my e-mail. There were sounds of intense tickling happening in Sarah’s bedroom, and Oot was doing one of his best laughs: sort of this helpless throaty chortle that means you’ve *really* got him going.

I don’t know if Sarah realizes, but he gets that laugh from her. When something happens that strikes Sarah as really funny, she does this deep, throaty laugh. It’s like the sound a donkey would make if it was suddenly turned into an cartoon stereotype of an overweight geek. It goes heah heah heah.

It is in no way a dignified sound. But it is my favorite laugh ever. It’s full of genuine amusement. And whatever it lacks in dignity it makes up in honesty. True laughter is rarely dignified.

Anyway, Oot is doing his version of this laugh, which means she’s probably managed to get his ribs. She’s good at the ribs, I’m a leg man myself.

Best tickle

(Dramatic Recreation)

I would like to digress slightly to say that I’m a master-class fucking tickler. Seriously. I’m amazing. I could teach a class on tickling. I could do a TED talk.

Anyway, I come in to Sarah’s bedroom and lay down on the bed all casual-like, ready to produce some bespoke tickling.

Then Sarah looks at me with lust in her eyes and says, “You smell so good. It’s making me stupid.

To understand her statement, you have to realize that I am the next stage in human evolution. My pheromonic musk is developed to the point where it’s practically a weapon. In the best of circumstances, I smell masculine. And on a day when I’m staying home and have skipped my morning shower…

Well…. suffice to say that you know there’s a man in the house, even if you can’t see me.

On top of that, I’d been writing. I don’t know why, but when I’m writing, my man-smell gets particularly strong. It’s like my body is trying to establish its dominance over reality itself.

The effects of this pheromonal cocktail vary, but with a select section of the female populous it has two profound, complimentary effects.

1. It delivers a message directly to the woman’s hindbrain, saying: THERE IS A MAN NEARBY, AND YOU MUST MATE WITH HIM.

2. It immediately drops the woman’s intelligence anywhere from 10-50 IQ points, which makes it hard for them to realize that mating with me is *obviously* a bad idea, while at the same time rendering them more vulnerable to my not inconsiderable charm.

You have to admit that evolutionarily speaking, this is a winning combo.

Anyway, Sarah says that, and we laugh. Then, after giving Oot a good tickling, I ask her if I can post her comment up on facebook.

She agrees, and I go to amuse the internets.

But here’s the problem. I can’t find a way to accurately portray what she said.

It should be easy. I know exactly *what* she said. Eight words. Two independent clauses.

But it’s not easy. The trouble lies in the punctuation.

Let’s start with the most generic way of doing this.

  • “You smell so good. It’s making me stupid.”

Punctuated like this, her statement feels choppy and wooden. More importantly, the statement feels matter-of-fact and emotionless.

But if you try to spice it up with an exclamation mark….

  • “You smell so good! It’s making me stupid.”

There’s a reason exclamation abuse is a crime. Punctuated this way, Sarah seems hopelessly manic. Like she was hopping up and down, excited. That’s not right at all.

You can’t do it the other way, either….

  • “You smell so good. It’s making me stupid!”

Then it seems like she’s excited that she’s stupid, which gives the wrong impression on every conceivable level.

And neither of those options address the other problem, that having a full stop in the middle makes it feel like she’s making two separate, unconnected statements. That’s simply not the case, she’s making one complex statement.

Here’s how I’d like to punctuate it…

  • “You smell so good, it’s making me stupid.”

But that’s a comma splice. I’m not opposed to them entirely, I’m no slave to grammar. But when you’re relaying one line of dialogue and it’s grammatically incorrect…. That’s just not classy. It’s sloppy writing.

Technically, you could fix this with a semicolon….

  • “You smell so good; it’s making me stupid.”

In some ways this is the right thing to do. A semicolon is the official way to show two independent clauses have a close relationship to each other.

Here’s the problem: Semicolons are for wankers. Seriously. You can go your whole life without ever needing to really use a semicolon.

Unless you’re an academic, of course. If you’re an academic, you’ve got to use semicolon to impress other wankers with how much of a wanker you are so you can get your paper published. You know, that paper you wrote detailing your in-depth Marxist interpretation of the last eight lines of John Donne’s “The Flea?” The paper where you used the word “moreover” twenty-seven times in eleven pages?

Most importantly, a semicolon looks really strange in a piece of casual dialogue. People don’t speak using semicolons. Unless they’re wankers.

A lot of time, I’ll default to an ellipsis. Because I love ellipses.

  • “You smell so good… it’s making me stupid.”

But it implies too much of a pause in the middle of the statement.

What about an em dash?

  • “You smell so good— it’s making me stupid.”

Nope. Just looks weird.

And don’t even think about using an en dash, you little fuckers. That’s *not* what an en dash is for….

In the end, the only way to make this piece of dialogue “sound” right to the reader is through use of interstitials.

  • “You smell so good,” she said, looking at me with half-lidded eyes. “It’s making me stupid.”

That’s not quite right either. We need some foregrounding *and* an interstitial….

  • Sarah looked at me lustily. “You smell so good,” she said, her eyes half-closed. “It’s making me stupid.”

There. That’s just about right. That conveys her tone and mood in the appropriate way.

What’s my point?

Well, first off, let me say that I never promised there would be a point here. Sometimes I just idly muse about shit. Sometimes I just tell stories. Sometimes there’s no point.

But if there *is* a point it’s probably this: When you’re writing, there are no small choices. Or perhaps it would be better to say that writing is nothing *but* small choices. And all of them have the opportunity to effect your story in a disproportionately large way. Punctuation can change the tone of a sentence. The tone of a sentence can change the feel of a scene. And the feel of a scene can change your impression of a character’s personality.

A secondary point is that this is why my revision takes so long. When you think all these little things to death, you tend to fidget with a text a *lot.*

More cool stuff this week. Stay tuned.

pat

Also posted in Oot, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat151 Responses

Ira Glass on Art

Sick as a dog right now. A throwing up dog.

So rather than try and come up with any cleverness of my own, I’m going to bring in someone else’s.

pat

Also posted in videos | By Pat27 Responses
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