Sam Hidaka (samhidaka) wrote,
Sam Hidaka
samhidaka

Class, Claaaaaasss? . . . Is anyone paying attention?

Over in the Baen's Universe Slush forum, I'm conducting a writing clinic.

One of the members of the editorial board was quite taken with a story.

The writer of this story did, in fact, create an emotionally compelling tale. However, she wrote it in an omniscient POV, showing the perspectives of the two main characters (sometimes for only a line or two before hopping back), which was causing POV whiplash.

I told the writer that I'd forward her story for a purchase decision, but I'd like her to revise the story, recasting it into third person limited POV, keeping tightly focused on the female protagonist.

She agreed, and revised.

The new version worked much better. But in reading the new version, I found that I didn't much care for the line-level writing quality. (I hadn't noticed the clunky writing in the previous version -- I had attributed the jerkiness to the head-hopping POV.)

Well . . . the underlying story is compelling enough that I still want to forward it. But I can't stamp my approval on a story that doesn't meet my standards for writing quality.

So I'm doing a very detailed critique of the writing. I'm analyzing just about every paragraph, deconstructing every sentence within the paragraph and pointing out the clunkiness and showing how to say the same thing in a way that reads smooooooth.


I had undertaken this particular very long critique (the whole critique, when completed, will probably be five times longer than the story) for two reasons.

1. The underlying story really is quite good. It succeeds in putting me "in the story," so that I as I read it, I participate in the events as the character -- instead of just riding along as a passenger. When a story does that, everything else (like some clunky writing) is fixable.

2. I thought, and my managing editor agreed, that this would be a good writing/revising teaching lesson for the folks in the Universe Slush forum.


So . . . if you want to read the critique thread, some of you might learn some stuff -- or it might reinforce stuff you already know.

It may also illustrate the difference between writing that competent enough to grab and hold a reader's attention versus writing that brilliant enough to get my approval.


Here are two different views to that thread (you need to be registered to Baen's Bar to view this):

http://bar.baen.com/WB/default.asp?action=9&read=102620&fid=66

http://bar.baen.com:8080/read?1028355,66e#1028355


Sam
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