“Finder” can no longer be found here… but I’ll still talk about it. A LOT.

(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?
















About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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3 Responses to “Finder” can no longer be found here… but I’ll still talk about it. A LOT.

  1. I completely see it, and I love, respect, and use the same stance that you expouse. Generalizations about who we are and how we act predicated on so many factors (such as gender) will shift and shift again, going back to my favorite metaphor, everything is on a spectrum. Saying, “You are here,” has a limited shelf life. I fall back on Alice Sheldon’s advice to write without explaining things and let the readers catch up, if they can. If they need a little side trip to have such outdated constructs such as, “This is what it’s like for a woman in this position,” they’re probably reading the wrong story.

    The suggestion that you can’t write as a woman might think because you’re a man and your female character isn’t girly enough irritates me.

    Grrr. I better stop before this tirade gains momentum.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. M. Oniker says:

    So many comments in my head, and not wanting to write a blog post in your comment section. 🙂
    Well, I learned a new slang term. Yup, had to look up ace, ’cause I’m a dumbass and didn’t suss it out from the context. I could make a grumpy, sarcastic comment about how society views anyone over the age of 45 as ace, or anyone with any kind of handicap. But I won’t.
    I just recently wrote a comment on a Second Life photography site about getting and giving constructive criticism. One of the best things I learned in college was how to participate in a group critique of art work. Oh gawd, it was emotionally daunting! I learned one of my best lessons though: don’t be precious about your work. Take criticism with a grain of salt, take the good, leave the rest. Everyone’s work (I don’t care who you are or how long you’ve been doing something) can be improved. So open your mind to that concept, your precious sketch is just one of many. Kind of like the writer’s thing about kill your darlings. When giving comments, the good rule for all of life is “don’t be an a**hole.”
    I laughed about the suggestion that you can’t possible write from a female perspective. I recall making a comment to someone’s clone in a beta questionnaire…
    How fantastic if something did get picked up for a script!
    Gah, I love your rants. I could really friend your rants so hard. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, in my case, it could be because of my physical disability (I have fibromyalgia). Certainly NOT because of my neurotype, which of course my twin shares (as he does not share this other trait — it could be the way we’re most unlike each other).

      I’m happy to receive constructive criticism (I took art classes, too, as well as writing classes), even if it amounts to ‘You’re not very good at this yet,’ but ‘This story blows goat because it’s not a genre I like, so I didn’t read it’ is not constructive criticism. It’s not even criticism, really, because it doesn’t address what’s in the story. And yes, absolutely, everyone’s work can be improved, but ‘You need to add a sex scene because that’s what everyone wants to read’ isn’t about improving the story. Had that person said — as a few did say — ‘I was really confused/lost at first and didn’t know what the narrating character was talking about or whether I was supposed to know this setting,’ THAT is valid constructive criticism, and I DID act on it.

      Liked by 1 person

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