Critique SURPRISING

Many of you who visit sfsite are writers or want to be writers. This forum is to share tips about open markets, links to stories you would like critiqued, and any other posts on the subject of writing and selling science fiction.

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Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:23 pm

SURPRISING STORIES, September 2009, has a piece by myself that I would like to see critiqued, a lampoon of STAR TREK's original series. Also I'd like to find out what people think of other stories in the issue. It's at http://surprisingstories.dcwi.com

:o
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:19 am

This comment is going to be a downer, so don't read it if you're already depressed. You've got a bunch of strikes against you. First, a lampoon of the original Star Trek has been done so many times that few people are going to want to read another one. Second, so much fiction is published by major publishers these days that nobody can read it all. It may happen that minor publishers latch on to something great that all the major publishers have let slip through their fingers, but it doesn't happen often. Third, even when you consider stories in the top five or six magazines, or award winning stories, or stories by famous writers, most of them aren't very good. Fourth, it is usually a bad idea for an editor to publish his own writing. I'm both an editor and a writer, and so far at least I've resisted the temptation to self-publish (editorials are an exception, of course). I did give your story a try -- I read the first paragraph. As a general rule, if you're writing humor you need to get a laugh in the first paragraph or few people will read on. For an example of laugh-out-loud funny writing, try Dave Barry, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01343.html
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:36 pm

No downer at all. This is exactly what I'm looking for, honest and straightforward appraisals of the piece. I agree that it's hard to make it these days. I keep trying out new ways.
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John Thiel
 
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana

Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:33 am

Me, too. Looking over the notebook in which I record my stories, I see that in 2008 I only finished one story. This is down from 15 stories in 2007. The reason I wrote so much less last year is that all the rejections get discouraging...in fact, I'd probably give up except that one of the fifteen stories sold, to Analog, and so I keep trying. I've got two stories "in the works", one sf and one fantasy, but I keep seeing all the flaws and find it hard to press on.

On the other hand, I do keep the stories I have written out there, and I only submit to markets that pay at least three cents a word. It's not the money -- I have a good day job -- but I figure if a market doesn't pay then it probably doesn't have many readers, and I write in hopes of being read.

In 2008 I submitted 20 stories (including stories I'd written in 2007 and earlier) to 28 different markets, with 60 rejections and 1 acceptance. I currently have 19 stories out under consideration. One story I've decided to retire as unpublishable (because politically incorrect).

I spent New Year's Day looking over old stories and doing rewrites. I seem to have learned something, because I can now see bad bits that before seemed good. Today I send out one novel querry (three chapters and an outline), one first chapter of a novel to a contest, one proposal for a non-fiction book, and one children's short story. I also sent out a story via e-mail to Cosmos, but it got an instant rejection over the weekend.

A writer's life is not a happy one.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:49 pm

An Analog sale, did you say? What issue was it in? I'd like to look it up.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:54 am

December 2008 (thanks for asking!)
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:18 pm

December Analog to hand (it was right by my desktop); now which story was it? "Aliens", I'm guessing.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:35 am

Yes, "Aliens". By Rick Norwood. Let me know what you think.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:07 pm

Sorry I haven't let you know what I thought as yet, but my net access went down due to a faulty motherboard. I now have a new tower and will let you know as soon as I get through going through my files to see how they're all doing now.
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Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana

Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:11 pm

Egad, sheesh! I just got around to reading that story. Well, it was only published last December--it says.

I found that you handled the humor well. I reckon humor is an essential element in Probability Zero pieces, the title concept being a humorous one. Bet you were glad to see it in print in a hard market like Analog. The piece was very nicely done. It reminds me of the discussion of what to do about the Cylon plague in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but these characters were much more urbane and civilized than Adama's crew and committees, with the result that the discussion was much easier to follow as such. So the basic idea stood out with clarity.

Will we see you in the prozines again?
I Test Well--Hearken!
John Thiel
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana

Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:19 am

I've sold a one page "Curiosities" piece to F&SF. I keep trying. I think what I really need is a good writers workshop, to push me over the top.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Fri Apr 17, 2009 9:53 am

There was a writers' "round robin" workshop started at the Dell forums that I thought was better than most. And by the way, you might want to see the discussion of the December Analog at the Analog forum, as several people had comments on your Probability Zero.

I'll look for your upcoming piece in F&SF. It is always interesting to see a name known elsewhere in an SF mag.
I Test Well--Hearken!
John Thiel
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana

Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby admin » Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:48 am

Thanks for the info on the Analog forum. I didn't know there was one, though I did read the letters about my story in a subsequent issue.
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Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Fri May 01, 2009 8:05 pm

The May 2009 issue of Surprising Stories is up now, and I'd be interested to hear what anyone has to say about it. Your comments are quoted in "Printout".

Still at http://surprisingstories.dcwi.com
I Test Well--Hearken!
John Thiel
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana

Re: Critique SURPRISING

Postby John Thiel » Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:43 pm

By the way, Rick, I see you've joined the Asimov's forum--glad to see you over there.
I Test Well--Hearken!
John Thiel
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 10:43 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana

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