Forum: The Art of Declining

Discussing: The ones 'in the middle'

The ones 'in the middle'

Anybody who reviews sees them. Most of us avoid them. What can we do about them?

The ones in the middle.

They're not terrible, they may be grammatical, well-punctuated, nicely formatted. But they're just not excellent. And the way they fall short isn't obvious, or is global. I can't just say 'fix xyz and you're there.'

So what makes them in the middle? And what comments can be made that will help?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I don't know, to tell you the truth, because when I see those stories I just can't put my finger on what's wrong with them in the first place. With really bad stories or one's with multiple spelling/formatting/canon errors, it's easy to point out things to fix, but with the mediocre ones it's terribly hard, and I'm really not an easy reader to impress.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I don't know, to tell you the truth, because when I see those stories I just can't put my finger on what's wrong with them in the first place.

I'm still trying to understand more about my own reactions as well.

I'll toss some things out as possiblities -
Boring
Trite
Something that's been done to death and the author has nothing new to bring to it
No problem - resolution arc, and nothing to substitute for it (like a really good character vignette or clever rhyme)
Poor pacing
Confusing - the reader has no idea what's going on

One that I've seen a few times is where there are many hints about Something of Great Significance, whether an event or object. The Something is either never explained satisfactorily, or turns out to be not worthy of the buildup.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

A tendency I have that I'm not sure about is that I think that I'm more likely to give one of the "middle" fics an accept if it's a topic/character/time that isn't written about much. I suppose just because I'm glad to see the unusual stuff taken on (it's what interests me most as a reader anyway), whether the story is stunningly executed or not. I tend to be more jaded and pickier about stories starring the more popular characters. Is this a common tendency? Is it OK to do this a little for "balance" in the archive or is this something I really need to try to not do?

(Mind you, not if it's actually bad. Or even REALLY blah - any interesting subject can be made dull.)

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Well, I think you're right, vulgarweed. I mean, I've seen so many Frodo/Sam, Faramir and Legolas stories that there's really very little new under the sun now. It has to be so unusual, so fresh, to even get me to look at it; in fact, I groan when I see some of these. I mean, I have nothing against these characters, but they've been done to death and I think the movies are in large part to blame.

I immediately go for the more offbeat stuff, such as a Silm fic with lesser known characters, or a Numenor fic, though that doesn't necessarily mean I'll accept it.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

As somebody who is furiously reworking a Gondor brothers fic, you wound me, Granmyr!

Just because some subjects have been done over and over does not mean that they have been done well.

I begin to see a tendancy for silm fics that I find disturbing -- because i've only read parts of the silmarillion and I find it passing tedious. Also the silm fics tend to be incredibly stilted and overdone. Everybody keeps trying to outdo everybody else with their knowledge of all the various elven names and the esoteric geneologies and heritages. Then there is the endless descriptive prose. It is rather like sitting through a really boring history class.

That is why your fic was so refreshing, by the way, as it was none of those things. But I digress.

I begin to mourn the passing of thoughtful fic about the trilogy itself. Everybody seems to be looking for the tiny little bit of the book to 'gap fill', some esoteric paragraph or throwaway line that one can build a story from.

Add into that the tendancy to label such attempts 'trite' and then to yank them on some stupid little departure of canon seems rather harsh. Yes, the current discussion of codifying canon is making me passing nervous.

But we are talking about fics in the middle. I am not even sure that I can truly define a 'fic in the middle'.

to me the middle fic is something I can 'get through'. It is the tv script episode fic. Not offensive, not memorable. this is a sea change for me. I used to think that the well-written, albeit boringly long fics were in the middle. But I have change my mind. Those get declined.

Note I said BORINGLY long fics -- not INTERESTINGLY long fics.

The fic in the middle has the two dimensional characters. It has expected scenes and actions. the fic in the middle would never get an OOC tag because it breaks no new ground.

Lots of fics in the middle make their way into the archive.

I like the capsule review 'BORING" but I would never say that in a review. It never hurts to be polite, even when being anonymous. What we need are kind and helpful ways to tell somebody that they need to pull out their thesaurus and rework their sentence structure and learn the proper use of semicolons.

Because a lot of those fic in the middle writers have potential

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I begin to see a tendancy for silm fics that I find disturbing -- because i've only read parts of the silmarillion and I find it passing tedious.

What tendency are you referring to - to write Silmfics? To submit them to HASA? Nothing new there.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

The fics that make me squirm as a reviewer and which I find hardest to review (so they are my middle ones) are the ones where the writing is ugly. I know ugly isn't the right word but I'm using it as a placeholder. To me ugly is:
* that famed fatty froth of adjectives
* sentences where the word click together like lego bricks instead of either tumbling in the glorious random beauty of rocks in a river's rapids or fitting together with the lovely certainty of a sweat-built stone wall
* cliched, pedestrian, utilitarian
* oh I don't know! *pulls hair out at own inability to describe it* just UGLY!

It makes the backs of my teeth ache - BUT I can't say too many modernisms or grammatical errors or anything concrete.

Something that's been done to death and the author has nothing new to bring to it


I'm probably less likely to say this than others simply because I haven't read enough fanfic.

Boring

This one always worries me (when I'm reviewing,I mean). It's so personal and subjective and how the heck do I knew that my boring isn't someone else's absolutely fascinating? I'm bored by many of the prayer-mat-required-LOTR fanfic classics people rave about - and I know from list discussions that quite a bit of what I really like is seen as without point by others.

Logic errors offer me another thing to worry over - they spoil the story for me but not, from reviews etc, for others - so do I reject or not?

In the end I try to work on the Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations theory and assume that if every review has some different preferences we'll wind up with a well-balanced archive... which still doesn't solve my problem of what to say to the person whose story I've just rejected ;-)

Avon
*Off-task and rambling*

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Well, I think you're right, vulgarweed. I mean, I've seen so many Frodo/Sam, Faramir and Legolas stories that there's really very little new under the sun now. It has to be so unusual, so fresh, to even get me to look at it; in fact, I groan when I see some of these. I mean, I have nothing against these characters, but they've been done to death and I think the movies are in large part to blame.

I immediately go for the more offbeat stuff, such as a Silm fic with lesser known characters, or a Numenor fic, though that doesn't necessarily mean I'll accept it.


IDIC, I guess. I just wish there were more (good) Legolas stories and, yes, Faramir too. This also relates to the nature of fandom and the writing/reading pool - it ain't static. There will always be those of us that haven't read/written the previous million Legolas fics and to whom it will be all new.

Avon

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I'm bored by many of the prayer-mat-required-LOTR fanfic classics people rave about - and I know from list discussions that quite a bit of what I really like is seen as without point by others.

That comment made me laugh! I still haven't gotten to read all of those, though I do want to. But for a new writer, and someone new to fandom, those particular works do become very obvious very quickly and can be quite intimidating, actually.

But, as you say, IDIC. Each person comes to their fanfic from a different perspective, and hopefully the waters of creativity will continue to flow and interesting new stories will continue to be written. 'Course now I've go to go and see which stories *you* recommend! The curiosity is killing me...

~Thevina

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

A tendency I have that I'm not sure about is that I think that I'm more likely to give one of the "middle" fics an accept if it's a topic/character/time that isn't written about much. I suppose just because I'm glad to see the unusual stuff taken on (it's what interests me most as a reader anyway), whether the story is stunningly executed or not. I tend to be more jaded and pickier about stories starring the more popular characters. Is this a common tendency? Is it OK to do this a little for "balance" in the archive or is this something I really need to try to not do?

I immediately go for the more offbeat stuff, such as a Silm fic with lesser known characters, or a Numenor fic, though that doesn't necessarily mean I'll accept it.


I see a fine line here. If you're reading something and really on the fence about how to vote, and the unusual subject matter is the small piece that tips the scales, then it makes sense to me. If it's 'nothing wrong but not really good either' and it happens to tackle a new subject, then I would have a problem with accepting it.

I would love to encourage people to write unusual subjects - some of the challenges have succeeded amazingly at that. But I don't relish the idea of stories that don't really come up to standard being archived simply because of subject matter. In an onlist discussion I wondered if some of stories on the archive were accepted because reviewers like the subject matter and were thus influenced, probably without realizing it. Of course the quality of the stories I'm thinking of is a matter of opinion.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I like the capsule review 'BORING" but I would never say that in a review. It never hurts to be polite, even when being anonymous. What we need are kind and helpful ways to tell somebody that they need to pull out their thesaurus and rework their sentence structure and learn the proper use of semicolons.

I'd love to see someone compile a list of considerate ways to say some of those things. Not that anyone has to use them (in case someone thinks I am suggesting something official) but so those of us lost for a way to say it have some ideas.

I've come up with 'doesn't hold the reader's interest' for BORING, and 'doesn't seem to accomplish what it set out to' for You Promise But Don't Deliver.

What ones can you think of, Lindorien? Or anyone?

Lyllyn

Edit: Thevina, Avon, what does IDIC mean?

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

hi vorondis --

nothing new where?

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

IDIC= Infinite diversity in infinite combination. Star Trek.

I like Vulcans, I really do, but I'm always very suspicious of that. I'm not against writing IDIC style fics, but the more unusual the subject matter or treatment, the more skilled the author has to be to sell it. And in the end, yes, ladies and gents, we are salespeople! Woo! If I want to write the story of Aragorn and Brego's true and undying love, I'd better be able to write it well, either as the funniest parody ever or else as the best examination of bestiality in M-e ever written. That may be unrealistic, but if I don't keep that standard in sight, I have no chance of selling the fic to any reasonable audience.

So write the unusual, but I'm not likely to vote for it just because it is unusual. An author really has to sell me on it. My sense of the jaded runs opposite of Vulgarweed's, I think: I see most such attempts as a simply reactionary. That's not to say I don't also look at the zillionth Legolas fic or the millionth Fingon/Maedhros and sigh. I do. But I won't go the other way simply because of that. Not saying that's what Vulgarweed's doing, but that's how I see most attempts at the 'unusual.'

Middle-of-the-road fic to me is one where the writer may not have a tin ear for sound and sense, but the writing simply lacks smoothness and depth where it's needed. Spotty characterization (sometimes it's on, other times, it's definitely off or off by comparison) or bland, 'going-through-the-motions' characterization tends to make my list of middle-of-the-road fics. A clichéd topic, or a topic that is handled without a sense of depth or reflection without also falling into simple error or obvious misunderstanding of the topics inherent in the subject matter also move a fic towards middle-of-the-road status.

These are the fics which, if I check them out, I have to devote at least an hour to in terms of reviewing, as I try to figure out what to say, how to say it, and how much to say. Again: I just throw words and reactions on a page and start trying to organize my thoughts. I have to write to think it out, so that's what I do.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I think I recently suggested to somebody that they consider turning their sentence structure around. May have been in an email.

For 'boring' but potential writers, for me, at least, I need to find at least one example of what I am talking about. It may be a simple as -- "You are using too many pronouns" to "there are many ways to say 'start', too much repetition of a word that is not used as a specific literary device tires the reader'.

I can honestly say that my writing has improved because of helpful advice such as this from my betas. Often, it does not take much to help a writer who is on the ball.

Yes, review is not a beta process, but before we tell the 'undistinguished writer' their work is boring, would it really kill us to give one example?

I can honestly say that I have closed published fics on this archive simply because the person obviously takes the advice that a paragraph should be no more than 7 or 9 lines long and EVERY paragraph is about that long. It has little to do with the story, it is just that the pace becomes pedantic.

If that is what is bothering me about a BORING fic, then i would feel comfortable telling somebody that.

lindorien

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Things that will bring the ol' Lever of Doom down on a "middle fic":

Phrases, either dialog or narrative, taken directly from either the movies or books

ie, "You have been summoned to answer the threat of Mordor."
Really? I thought it was for the chicks & beer.

Unoriginal ideas

ie, "This is what happens in Bree when Merry and Frodo and Sam and Pippin go to the inn."
I've read that, and I've seen that, and I know how it turns out. Why keep telling me?

the Huh? factor

ie, "Her eyes followed him down the street."
Won't she be blind now?

What I want to know is--what ARE the Shining Pillars of Fanfics, and where do I go to genuflect?

khazar

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Lindorien wrote: I begin to see a tendancy for silm fics that I find disturbing -- because i've only read parts of the silmarillion and I find it passing tedious. Also the silm fics tend to be incredibly stilted and overdone.

You object to HASA archiving fanfiction based on The Silmarillion because you don't personally care for that particular book? Sorry, but I can't particularly sympthize with that view. HASA was created as an archive for Tolkien fanfiction, not simply LotR fanfiction. Personally, I loathe The Hobbit , but if people want to write fanfics based on it and submit them to the archive I'd be more than happy to see their stories getting in, because I know there are other readers out there who love The Hobbit and will probably enjoy those fanfics.

As for Silm fics being "incredibly stilted and overdone" - you've already admitted you dislike those stories' source material. It's not surprising you'd find most of the fanfics based on that material unsatisfying as well. "Stilted and overdone" is, after all, subjective. A person who enjoys The Silmarillion probably has a different view of what qualifies as stilted than you do.

(And from what I can see, there appear to be far fewer Silmarillion fanfics being submitted to the archive these days in any case. I can assure you, HASA's in absolutely no danger of being swamped by Silmfics.)

Ithilwen

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Khazar wrote: What I want to know is--what ARE the Shining Pillars of Fanfics, and where do I go to genuflect?

In far Harad, I think. They use them as oliphant tethers, so be careful where you kneel!

Unoriginal ideas

ie, "This is what happens in Bree when Merry and Frodo and Sam and Pippin go to the inn."
I've read that, and I've seen that, and I know how it turns out. Why keep telling me?


To me, this is they key difference between a HASA-worthy fanfic and a mediocre fic. A HASA-worthy fanfic will find a way to re-invent that "already read/already seen" episode into something fresh and new that surprises the reader. A mediocre fanfic won't.

Of course, what qualifies as "fresh and new" will vary between reviewers. There's never going to be a single, uniform standard for judging literary merit.

Ithilwen

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Phrases, either dialog or narrative, taken directly from either the movies or books

ie, "You have been summoned to answer the threat of Mordor."
Really? I thought it was for the chicks & beer.


This only bothers me when it sticks out. I've read some where Tolkien's dialogue (or occasionally PJ's) is nicely incorporated to work well for the story. For a Movie Challenge story, it would be essential. OTOH if it jumps out at you, it would be jarring.

I do like the phrase 'Lever of Doom'

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

As for Silm fics being "incredibly stilted and overdone" - you've already admitted you dislike those stories' source material. It's not surprising you'd find most of the fanfics based on that material unsatisfying as well.

One of the things I love and admire the most about the Professor's writing is how he was able to adopt entirely different narrative styles for different sorts of stories - contrast The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion: a children's story, a fantasy/action/adventure novel, and a sweeping epic history, respectively. The diction in each is perfectly suited to each. Speaking as an occasional Silmficcer, it seems to me to make sense that an author would want to mimic that Biblical style to make it fit better with the original.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

You object to HASA archiving fanfiction based on The Silmarillion because you don't personally care for that particular book?


Sorry, did not mean for it to sound that way -- although I suppose it does. I was responded to granmyr's assertion that there were no original type LOTR things being done. You are correct, I personally do not care much for silm fics, in large part because they read like the Silmarillion. and are stilted and overdone, BUT i have no objection to HASA archiving them -- the good ones anyway.

If you took that from my post, then I apologize. I was dismayed because I hate to think that people will give up on LOTR fic because its been 'done to death'.

I have actually, recently approved a fair number of Silm fics, but bad writing is bad writing, no matter what the topic and the stilted and overdone ones, I decline.

So cool down -- go back and read my post again in light of this new information.

Peace,
Lindorien

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

When the Lever of Doom is pulled, a trapdoor opens and the offending work is dropped headlong into the Pit of Despair and Rejection, from which there can be no escape.

The Lever got one helluva workout while I was working on the Mithril Awards. I'm afraid to take it to ff.net; the poor thing would probably break under the strain!

Other "middlin" things:

Poetry that would be OK on a greeting card, but doesn't quite have the impact needed to be truly memorable.

The grammar and spelling are good, but there's no plot. At all. You may be able to swing that in a vignette, but in anything longer than a couple of hundred words it's unjustified. The plot doesn't have to be intricate, but it does have to move the reader along.

khazar

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

IDIC= Infinite diversity in infinite combination. Star Trek.

I like Vulcans, I really do, but I'm always very suspicious of that.

I love Vulcans - but IMO they really talk the talk on that one and don't walk the walk. I still think it isn't a bad mantra.

I'm not against writing IDIC style fics, but the more unusual the subject matter or treatment, the more skilled the author has to be to sell it.

I obviously was unclear - my mention of IDIC was because I'm not particularly pro-unusual and I don't think someone should be disadvantaged because it is the 800th Legolas story or whatever - but I figure the way I feel will balance those who equally legimately feel that unusual is a big bonus - so we wind up with a balanced review pool


Cheers,

Avon

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I didn't mean to offend or worry you, lindorien, but like everybody, I have my preferences. I've seen too much of the brothers of Gondor and Legolas to be interested in them anymore, but my tastes aren't the same as other people's and I know you'll have readers for your fic.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

...I know you'll have readers for your fic.<<<

LOL!

From your mouth to Eru's ears! I have decided to call absolutely everything I write AU, however, for the current discussion on the listserv have me in abject fear of the canon police.

I shall continue to read Silmfics also. Yours was such a pleasant eye-opener to the possibility of them actually making good stories.

That's what I come here for -- good stories.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I know you'll have readers for your fic. Yep, me for one. I try to read everything on the Gondor guys -- I may not get a chance to review every one that comes up, but at least I try to read them all with great interest as they come through. I'm sure there are a lot of people at HASA like me who may have been reading Tolkien for a long time but haven't been reading fanfic for long. So none of it's old-hat to me. I think there are always interesting new interpretations, canon or not, of LOTR material. I think 50 people could write the same "situation" and you'd get 50 different stories. That's what's so interesting to me, seeing the characters I love through other people eyes (lives, talents, background, etc). Don't think I'll ever get tired of 'em.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I think 50 people could write the same "situation" and you'd get 50 different stories.

Yep! That's why I love 'tight' challenges - I love seeing what people can do with the same situation/characters. The Boromir teaching Faramir how to swim challenge in the 1st quarter quickies was a classic example. I think four of us did it - Cel, Tay, someone I'm afraid I forget and me (though mine wasn't *in* the challenge because it went over the word limit). It's quite 'tight' - but four very different fics resulted. I suppose that's one of the reasons I regret what happened to the challenge idea I had.

MInd you, I think I could be obssessive about exploring things from diffrent angles - I still want to finish a fic I have where we see the same scene (movie) from four POVs. I figure I'll be its only reader but it still fascinates me.

Avon

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

'Course now I've go to go and see which stories *you* recommend! The curiosity is killing me...

~Thevina


Now you've made me go and see what I've recommended ;-) I'm very slack about remembering to recomend stories so it is a bit of a mixed bag.

Avon

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Whew! Okay, am putting 'Flick' and 'Avon' down on my list of readers. Avon, however, is to stay away from my commas!

guess I better get crackin'

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

nothing new where?

Depends on what you mean... But if you meant to say the number of Silmfics (both written and submitted to HASA) has increased of late, I disagree. It has always been relatively high.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

The Lever got one helluva workout while I was working on the Mithril Awards.

Wow... you must have been on the front end. Wait a minute- I think you are the person I exchanged emails with who said you had read things that "would make your eyes bleed."


 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Yes, I was in the front lines, as it were. There were four of us who ultimately ended up reading almost every single entry. I think I finally read about 300 fics in 7 weeks. Tavia, our Fearless Leader, read them all.

And yes, there were things that made the eyes bleed. And the ears. And every other orifice you can think of.

I think I will ask Tavia for permission to post the final comments I had for the entries as a whole. I suspect that there are quite a few people who don't know why their story didn't make the finals. And there were a lot of stupid errors that can, and should, be fixed before submitting a story to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Pink text on a yellow background, anyone?

Khazar

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I think I will ask Tavia for permission to post the final comments I had for the entries as a whole.

Mmmm. Definitely.

What got me was when chapters weren't linked to each other, and you had to keep on going back to the index page to go to the next chapter. Aaaargh!

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

I just had a 'middle fic' declined -- and with plenty of pithy comments. Of the many declines, I received -- and they were legion -- Only two did not contain more than just a capsule review.

If any of you reviewers wish to come out of the woodwork, I shall post your review, with your kind permission of course,.

To my few acceptors -- thank you, thank you, thank you. If I mess about with humor again, which I fear shall not be for some time as I am, apparently, singularly without talent in that endeavor, I shall know that at least a few of you will enjoy a snicker.

In fact, even a few of you decliners will enjoy the snicker, if your decline comments be true. So -- the next humor I do is dedicated to all of you, the acceptors and to those decliners who admitted to at least cracking a smile over my little silly.

The fic in question is "The Short Version of the LOTR" and it sits in beta, awaiting help with the addition of a line explaining the Istari's presence in M-E.

All help appreciated. Sour comments shall be sweetened with as much sugar as I can stomach.

Thanks,
lindorien

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Yes, preciousssss, I desires very much to read this juicy entry!

Okay, enough channeling of Gollum for now, Precious. I'm sure there was some perfectly dreadful stuff submitted to the Mithril Awards. Too bad there isn't a list of all the nominees out there, so we could see for ourselves (without commens, of course), but I understand why there isn't.

Pink text on a yellow background?! Bleck!! How hideous!!!

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Lindorien, you can go ahead and post my acceptance - I wrote something about inventing another capsule decision - although, if I remember correctly, there was nothing particularly constructive about it. Maybe you'd be better off posting it in the "Request for Review Decisions" forum.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

It's OK with you to post them? Good. Now I have to email Tavia.

I am less bothered by having to return to the index page than by other idiocies. Yahoo, fr'instance, pretty much forces you to do it that way(unless, of course, you want to pay for it.) "Cursed Queen" is on my homepage, and the only way to set it up in anything like a reasonable manner was to have each chapter go back to the index.

But I much prefer the HASA & FF.net way of linking chapters. Much, much easier to do when confronted by thousands of pages!

khazar

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Okay Aerlinnel, thanks. Always glad to oblige a fan. I have had your acceptance embroidered upon a fine piece of linen and, even now, it awaits a frame of fine ebony set with mithril.

* Reviewer #2 - Approved
Capsule Reason: Outstanding reinterpretation/AU
Reviewer Comments: Hmm...if only there were a capsule reason somewhere along the lines of "Indeed, completely AU, but approved simply for the image of Elrond saying 'I drop-kicked his ass into the Cracks of Doom.'" Because that's definitely the capsule reason I would have chosen. A great last line, as well. Thanks for the laugh! :-)


This is a silly thing I dashed off in under a half-hour a hundred years ago or so.

Apparently, it shows.

As far as I can tell, fics that are not dog-eared and stained with the grime and sweat of much toil and anguish are not to be considered.

So I shall not bother anybody in "Request for Reviewers decision."

I was told me there was no point to the fic. I thought that was obvious, but apparently I managed to not even get that across.

I can add find a reason for why the Istari were in M-E even though the ring had been destroyed. That problem is easily fixed.

The further issues of writing such fluffy humor with a 'point' and developing its 'theme' however shall keep me awake long into the night.

Undaunted, I shall sharpen my quill against such speech and endeavor one day to improve my skills in this area. The piece sits in beta and those that would see fit to help me be funnier shall hear my plea.

At least, it is what I hope.

 

 

Re: The ones 'in the middle'

Grading middle ground stories is emotional draining for me! As a teacher, I tended to be an “encourager” and my natural inclination is “pass” (not “fail”) it there is nothing wrong - but this is a different situation entirely, and the guidelines don’t call for that, they call for excellence.

Spotting them: I think it is telling that we can’t always say why we react to them as we do. There just isn’t anything there.

I don’t personally need conflict/resolution from a story. But I do need every piece – prose or poetry – to have * something * to say, and to say it in a complete and satisfying way.

I am not concerned with the word count, but (as Avon has said) haiku to novel “both legs should be long enough to reach the ground.” (I personally would like to see the word “fragment” removed from the decline choice “Fragment/Theme not sufficiently developed” because I think it is being used as a justification for declining for length without consideration for completion. I think “not sufficiently developed” is a complete key.)

I don’t find that I am impressed just because a character/setting is unusual or seldom done – or considered overdone. I am looking for * well * done, and I am as likely to be throttled by Frodo or Legolas – it is the concept that usually gets to me, and the quality of the written words.


I * am * having a slightly (very slightly, but better all the same) easier time declining the “C” list since we started discussing and since I looked harder at the HASA guidelines.

I had a tendency to put down a story that is right in the middle. Now that I understand that HASA asks me to be a firm (though not harsh) judge, I am looking at those stories very hard, trying to spot something that might tip the balance to the good. I am still not always 100% sure why something does not work – but “inoffensive” is not the goal. If I can’t find a reason, I write the most encouraging decline I can. I just needed someone else to pick up the guilt! LOL!

But if I have any question in my mind at all that I can’t be objective – (characterization is the big one for me) – I put still put it down.

 

 

Do you think there is a bias against humour?

Just curious. 90% of what I've had turned down (approved heartily by four reviewers, praised with faint damns by five) has been humorous. And the tone of the comments by the reviewers that declined indicated that they took the stories seriously... missed the humour completely. I am not that subtle. Believe me.

One was an AU where you had to read to the end for the punchline, which was that the story was set in modern times. One reviewer, in all seriousness, said that I should have notified readers in the story summary that the story was set in modern times. This would have destroyed the joke. What to do?

In another story where the hobbits had politely drunk all the drinks thrust upon them by over-enthusiastic guardsmen, I had someone comment that they simply couldn't see Frodo as a "drunken fool". Perhaps I should have said "movie verse" in the summary; he certainly behaved foolishly at the Green Dragon, it looked to me. And in the book, wasn't he a bit foolish in Bree? Perhaps that wasn't drunken foolishness, there, just plain foolishness, rather.

I am feeling very gun-shy about submitting any other humorous stories, to such a "serious", and "quality" archive. (Yes, those words were used in reviews declining my stories. Am gonna go off in the corner and sulk a bit. Drat.)

And then someone else told me they thought I ought to submit my serious efforts instead--this was a reason for declining, in their case--but man, o man, I just don't know. I put a lot of sweat into those, and to have them declined... well, guess I just don't want to find out that I'm a piss-poor writer. Which I don't think I am. But then, I could just be living in a fantasy world, couldn't I? (hmmm, on second thought, not a bad place to dwell...)

Lin

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

And then someone else told me they thought I ought to submit my serious efforts instead--this was a reason for declining, in their case--

Am I reading that right? They said that they declined because they thought you should submit other stories? !!!!????

Avon

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

And the tone of the comments by the reviewers that declined indicated that they took the stories seriously... missed the humour completely. I am not that subtle. Believe me.

**Waves Hand Frantically**

Yes, I got that one also! And I am also not subtle.

As Mr. Savik said in The Wrath of Khan:

"Humor. It is a difficult concept."

well, guess I just don't want to find out that I'm a piss-poor writer.

You are not. I have read your fics.

and with that I leave you.

Lindorien



 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

And then someone else told me they thought I ought to submit my serious efforts instead--this was a reason for declining, in their case--

>Am I reading that right? They said that they declined because they
>thought you should submit other stories? !!!!????

Yes. I was paraphrasing the reviewer's remarks ...and I apologise, dear Reviewer, if I have offended you by bringing this up. I just think that, recognising me by certain key words in my story, you might have bowed out of the review process.

Which brings me to another point. In this "anonymous" review process, say that I recognise a story I have read and enjoyed elsewhere... should I avoid reviewing it? or go ahead and ensure at least one positive vote, since I love that author and most of that author's stories?

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

Lindorien, I heartily thank you for your kind words. I was beginning to wonder, with a string of rejections behind me, after having my early stories approved when I first started submitting.

I was beginning to wonder if I was making negative progress. Wait, does that make sense? Have just started on second cup of tea, and just realised I grabbed from the "decaf" tin this morning.

Yes, that Savik quote comes to me often. Also something from Mork and Mindy...

Mork: Humor. Ar Ar.

(from the sublime to the ridiculous)


Anyhow, thanks.

Lindelea

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

Which brings me to another point. In this "anonymous" review process, say that I recognise a story I have read and enjoyed elsewhere... should I avoid reviewing it? or go ahead and ensure at least one positive vote, since I love that author and most of that author's stories?

If you love that STORY then review and vote positively. Do not render an 'accept' simply because you love the author and most of his/her stories.

Anonymous reviews.

Arwen was a 3,000 year old virgin.

Since so many of the stories are already posted at ff.net and sit in beta for months or are listed in general or part of a challenge, I find the concept of an 'anonymous review' rather disingenuous. MHO, of course.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

Which brings me to another point. In this "anonymous" review process, say that I recognise a story I have read and enjoyed elsewhere... should I avoid reviewing it? or go ahead and ensure at least one positive vote, since I love that author and most of that author's stories?

I've seen this argued elsewhere and the answer seems to be that most people have a personal rule about it and the yes/no votes seemed about even. Personally if I recognise a story I've already read and loved I will review it - but I do reread it to make sure that with my 'reviewer's hat' on I still feel it is good enough. I try to make sure I'm not accepting because I love most of their work but that I'm looking at this particular story. I try not to review stories I've helped a lot with when they were in beta, though, as I suspect I'm too close to really be objective then.

Avon
(Becoming more and more thankful for the exceedingly nice reviewers she has had!)

 

 

Re: Do you think there is a bias against humour?

Sometimes I recognize a particular writer's work, sometimes not. But being anonymous lets me accept or decline and be objective without fear of hurting the writer's feelings.

 

 

Middle of the road stories

I just finished one, and it's not horrid.

It's also not great.

Boring? Well, if it hadn't one of my favourite characters in it, I'd have stopped reading. I read only because I wanted to see how the author handled the character.

(S)he really didn't.

There they were, together, sitting and talking. *nods* Mmm-hmmm....and?

I think if you don't give the reader a feeling for the character(s), make them feel what that character is feeling or give them some insight, and, as has been said...please, for pity's sake! Make it a new insight, or at least not the flavour of the year.

I felt nothing for those characters. No empathy, and this should have been a sad moment, but it wasn't.

Not touched a bit.

Reader envolvement is crucial. Without that first sentence to grab the reader, pull them in and make them want to continue reading, you are sunk.

Doubly so if you want to be published.

Writing what we want is grand, but to expect others to like it simply because you did, or found it funny, that's not going to necessarily be true. Published authors write for audiences. They write to sell. If a person wants gushing reviews or ...what have you, they would probably need to do some of that "c" word.

Concession. Bleh. I hated that word for a long time. Giving in? Bah!

Just thinking through some of those mightily popular stories, and some very good ones even, they did exactly this -- touched on something people really liked, and handled it so deftly, or with such wit, that it garnered a great deal of attention.

Without something in that story that is unique, or touching, or evocative, tugging on the heartstrings, mindstrings, laughterstrings, ....you've lost the reader. Professor Tolkien did a brilliant job at this! He had everthing for everyone, from hobbits who were simply complicated and homey to elves, grand and oh-so-tragic.

I know it's a matter of taste for what we like, but those middle stories.... They just need a little spice, like good chili, to make them yummy.

And that makes me wonder if we have thumped on writers so much that now they fear to think outside the box. And HASA does tend towards boxes, though, thankfully, there are things like challenges to break them.

Interesting subject, Lyllyn!

Levade

 

 

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