(I did mention that I don’t do April Fools’ Day, right? Yeah. So everything in this post is as real as anything in a post on any other day. There will be sarcasm and such, but I won’t lie to you any more than I do anyway.)
I deleted a quartet of old blog posts yesterday…
Y’see, I had a conversation with my clone-sibling this past weekend (the way one does) about our various works of fiction and about how some of them could just possibly, someday, get noticed by people looking for written stories to adapt for movies or television. And Paul commented that he thought “Finder’s Fee” could easily be adapted for screen fiction, because that story is fairly self-contained, plus it’s not the sort of science fiction that requires expensive special effects.
So I decided this was a good time to remove my blog posts that go into a lot of detail about “Finder’s Fee.” Just in case. 🙂
The primary purpose for those posts had been to discuss both the giving and receiving of critiques, and in particular to demonstrate that, although an author should be willing to listen to any constructive criticism offered by someone who has actually read the story, the person giving the critique is not always right about anything but their own opinions of what they’ve read.
A discussion of these topics seemed necessary, based on some of my own experiences.
Exhibit A, a snippet of “constructive criticism” on a short story by yours truly:
I’m getting the impression the narrative is male. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, though I think if you could make it more emotional (in the bedroom females are more emotionally lead, where is males are more physically turned on, maybe you can apply this kind of concept to some of the details you’ve given — for example ‘Time to time, I even found people.’ How, emotionally, does this make the narrative feel? Instead of ‘I even’ maybe ‘I was pleased/excited/relieved’. Maybe mention something about what it’s like being female in the profession (which would work well in a predominantly male career).
(Argh! Even at this distance, I can’t write about that critique without wanting to start on a new tirade…)
My thoughts on that bit of critique:
Concerning how to show a difference in personality to show that the protagonist is female… I do not accept any all-or-nothing generalization about cognition or personality when it relates to sex/gender. People are people. I don’t have Alandra say anything about what it’s like to be a woman in that profession because it’s no different from what it’s like to be a man in that profession. I’m trying to make a point of some kind by not making a point about the narrator’s gender, and in the story’s setting, men and women aren’t seen as effectively being from different planets. [The person giving this critique had suggested I read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus to help me, a male person, understand how women think, ’cause it’s totally unlike how men think, obviously, and I’ll never be able to write a realistic female character if I don’t read books about how totally different men and women are. *rolls eyes*] I’m annoyed that the critiquer wanted information that would allow her to make assumptions about the character based on gender. The supposed difference between men and women “in the bedroom” isn’t even relevant, since the story contains exactly zero actual or implied sex scenes, vague hints that someone is thinking of kissing someone, etc. I suspect the critiquer was annoyed by this lack of “sexytimes” in a sci-fi mystery and was trying to demand the inclusion of same.
<sarcasm> Perhaps, in a story of fewer than four thousand words, I should have interrupted the main plot to include a detailed scene in which Alandra meets some stranger at a bar and goes home with him to “do it human-style.” </sarcasm>
Maybe you don’t see it. Maybe you think I’m completely out of line for suggesting that a critiquer who says, ‘You should read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, because your female protagonist isn’t girly enough yet,’ wasn’t paying attention to what the story actually is and was instead trying to badger the author into making it something the critiquer would write. Maybe you think I should have expressed effusive gratitude toward someone who told me that I, as a male person, am utterly incapable of writing a story with a female protagonist because I, as a male person, feel only lust instead of emotional connection. (I’m ace, dumbass; I don’t feel lust. Or sexual attraction of any sort. Or romantic attraction, for that matter. When I fall in love, it’s the kind of love one brilliant person on the internet expressed as, “I would friend you so hard.” I know that feeling; I know head-over-heels “just friends” love… And I can tell you this only because I know you won’t remember later that I said it.) Maybe you think I should have agreed with someone who insisted that any use of repetition in, say, the first words of sentences within a paragraph is a sign of Very Bad Writing, because no one ever does that on purpose, right?