Forum: The Art of Declining

Discussing: Evolving decline list

Evolving decline list

This is my current list for reasons so I can give authors more precise decline reasons. Any additional suggestions?


Misc.:
Modernisms
Multiple or serious canon errors

Storytelling:
Certain aspects violate common sense
Choppy
Uneven development that is detrimental to the story - some scenes very developed, others only sketched.
Pacing problems

Mechanical/technical:
Multiple punctuation errors
Multiple grammar errors
Multiple spelling errors
Multiple formatting problems

Character:
Flat characterizations
Character's actions not well set up or explained
OOC

Plot:
Trite
Events occur too conveniently - obviously put in only to help the plot, with inadequate effort to explain them to the reader.
Basic plot too unlikely or unreasonable
No resolution, or resolution unrealistic/unsatisfactory/too convenient.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Hi Lyllyn,

I wanted to discuss and ask for discussion on the decline referring to "fragment/theme" If this is not the right place to do so, knock me over the head and maybe you could start a new thread on the topic. Since you are using this thread to come up with a list, might I say that this is one which irks me to high heaven, having been on the wrong end of it way too many times.

I recently spoke with someone who had their quite well-written fic declined for, among other things "fragment/Theme" and "weak plot/weak ending".

To me, these two capsule reasons begin to look like a euphemism for 'short'.

If a piece has a beginning, middle and end, it is not a fragment. An unresolved ending is not necessarily a 'weak ending'.

Perhaps if we could come up with good explanations for what constitutes a 'fragment/theme" issue or a "weak plot/weak ending", then perhaps the reviewer might think twice before dropping the "Lever of Doom" (love that phrase!) on a well-written piece that happens to be short.

As an aside, I wonder if it would be a good challenge to do a 'three paragraph' challenge. First paragraph is the beginning, second the middle and third the end?

Verbose writing is never in short supply, but pithy, terse writing is.

lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

No problem discussing it here, Lindorien. If it gets really lengthy, starting another thread is fine too.

To me, these two capsule reasons begin to look like a euphemism for 'short'.

I don't see these as meaning 'short'. I have accepted very short works that felt complete to me, and declined longer ones when they didn't. I can't speak to how others feel about this, but I see a real distinction between the two.

this is one which irks me to high heaven, having been on the wrong end of it way too many times.

If you are seeing this one too much, then I would venture to guess that what some find pithy, others find insufficient. It may be a matter of taste, but at least consider that a bit more to smooth transitions may be a good addition. For my stories, three different betas since I started writing have all said the same thing - pointing out places where I needed more explanation and/or transition. I believe this is a common problem.

If a piece has a beginning, middle and end, it is not a fragment. An unresolved ending is not necessarily a 'weak ending'.

I agree an unresolved ending is not necessarily a weak ending. But having a beginning, middle, and end does not guarantee it isn't a fragment. The work has to stand on its own, unless it's specifically stated to need another piece along with it. Some very short works stand on their own beautifully. Some don't, no matter what length they are.

I see this as analogous to AU, it can be done very well indeed, but it's harder to do well. Considering some of the onlist 500 or 1000 word offerings, it's harder for those to be complete enough to stand alone unassociated with the challenge, yet some do.

As an aside, I wonder if it would be a good challenge to do a 'three paragraph' challenge. First paragraph is the beginning, second the middle and third the end?

That would be a challenging exercise! Whether any of the results would be complete enough to stand on their own is a good question. If you do it, I'd be very interested in the results.

Any one else have thoughts on the 'fragment vs short' issue?

Lyllyn


 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Any one else have thoughts on the 'fragment vs short' issue?

It's a fascinating question. Personally, I like vignettes (& oblique endings too), but agree that they can take more skill to pull off than longer stories. (Lindorien's comment about 'terse' writing being a relatively rare ability is a good one.) The shorter the piece, the more work each word has to do. While a narrative story can get by with workmanlike prose if the plot and characters are engaging, a truly successful vignette needs to be tightly packed and as near word-perfect as possible; it doesn't have room for verbiage or straying off the main topic. That can be a pretty tall order.

Something I (again, personally) think a vignette needs, is some kind of organizing principle to form the story arc in the absence of direct narrative: a theme, an image, a character tension or problem. If a story lacks this, it can read as though it started/concluded in an arbitrary place, or wandered out of focus.

Another potential fault with vignettes is for the author not to put sufficient context into the story itself. As Lyllyn mentioned, this can be an issue with Challenge stories; sometimes a story doesn't take on independent existence outside the Challenge context (presupposing the reader's interest in 'stories written on the theme of X').

Those aspects seem valid as reasons for declining; the reviewer can make clear that the story is being declined not because it's short, but because the material wasn't developed within the length with quite enough judgement and control.

Does that sound reasonable to anyone?

Gemma

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Any one else have thoughts on the 'fragment vs short' issue?

A vignette that's describing a highly emotional event doesn't have much room, it's going straight for the payoff. The danger with that can be -- is the payoff earned? One of the reasons I don't vote to accept many vignettes is what is they read more as fragments than very short complete stories: the writer has focused in on the climatic scene and didn't -- it seems to me -- choose to do the work of writing the rest of the short story or novellette. Because the rest of the story is missing, the climatic scene reads emotionally flat to me. Granted, fanfic -- as opposed to original fic -- inherantly presumes some amount of shortcutting to not bore the fan reader with overly detailed repetition of what's already known. So it's a balancing act.

Related or additionally: If the purpose of the beginning-middle-end of a story is to say "This was terrible anguish" or "This is beautiful love" -- is there sufficient there to engage the reader, to make him think, to give some insight?

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lyllyn (1st post),
Am I getting you right, that this is a check-off type list for providing commentary? It's certainly a good idea. I've heard a lot of people say that if they're having trouble sorting their thoughts out regarding a fic, they'll go reread the review criteria, to refresh in their minds what's important, unacceptable, ideal, etc.

Anyway, commenting upon your list:

Bearing in mind that writing LoTR fanficiton isn't the same as writing just anything (since in the absence of an AU label, following (some version of) canon is the name of the game), you could probably put 'multiple or serious canon errors' under the 'technical' header. If someone has their character sailing to Numenor in the Third Age, and the story is supposed to be in canon, that's a technical error, as I see it.
I would also say 'modernisms' could go under the 'technical' header, but this might be a matter of opinion. I see things in the books that look slightly modern to me. But I see things in fanfiction that are glaringly modern, and that strikes me as an 'error in style', since writing LoTR fanfiction is writing of a world not our own in a time long past. If you were writing from the PoV of someone in the Victorian era, you wouldn't get away with modernisms either. (This is assuming the aim is not humor.)

Speaking of myself, one of the issues I frequently have is execution, regardless of content. Many people I've reviewed have probably seen me say, "I have no issues with the content, but the execution was too XXX or not YYY enough". That means, I'm not biased about anything or squickable. Sure, have evil!Elrond beat little!Aragorn into a map of bruises, if that's the plot, whatever. Or make assassin!Legolas discover a hidden cave of dragons/balrogs/dinosaurs and have him slay them all. But the execution needs to be a lot of things before the content will pass the test. In other words: do anything - just pull it off.

(Since I learn from my mistakes, I'd like to point out that the above examples were made up, heh.)

So! Here's a little tinkering:

Storytelling:
*Certain aspects violate common sense [or physical possibility within reason]

*(Choppy) [could omit, covered under 'pacing problems']
*(Uneven development that is detrimental to the story - some scenes very developed, others only sketched.) [could omit, covered under 'pacing problems']

*(Pacing problems)
[could specify case-by-case: 'too choppy (fragments of acceptable material but lacking proper transitions)', 'too slow (meandering), 'too fast (insufficient detail throughout)', 'inconsistant/uneven (misbalanced within itself)']

Mechanical/technical:
*Multiple grammar errors
*Multiple spelling errors
*Multiple formatting problems

[*Multiple usage errors (improper case forms, mismatched tenses, etc.)]
[*Multiple misused words (than/then, there/their/they're, accept/except, advice/advise, duel/dual, affect/effect, etc.)]
[*Incorrect punctuation] (this could be changed to 'multiple punctuation errors' if the errors were not found throughout the text (in my experience, punctuation errors are typically consistant))

Character(s):
*(Flat characterizations)
['undeveloped characters (lack of connection with the reader)', 'one-dimensional personalities (static presense)', 'interchangeable mold syndrome (switch the name, character could be anyone)', 'characterizations do not match/reflect the society/race/era in which they are written']

*(Character's actions not well set up or explained)
['character behavior lacks parallel motivation', 'predictable/bland actions/reactions', 'characterization deviates from canon depiction, fic-portrayal warrants further explanation']

*(OOC)
[could elaborate case-by-case: 'OOC considering what we know of Elves', 'OOC considering XXX character's prior conduct in canon']

Plot:
*Trite
*Basic plot too unlikely or unreasonable
*No resolution, or resolution unrealistic/unsatisfactory/too convenient.
*['Unoriginal']

*(Events occur too conveniently - obviously put in only to help the plot, with inadequate effort to explain them to the reader.)
['Overly convenient occurrences; plot feels scripted or forced. Events lack a sense of realism or believability. Advancement from point A to B not smooth enough; no seamless domino effect that sweeps the story along; catalysts for progression too obvious as mere plot devices']


Woo, well, I'm exhausted. Sure is hard picking at what other people have written. ;-D

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Am I getting you right, that this is a check-off type list for providing commentary? It's certainly a good idea. I've heard a lot of people say that if they're having trouble sorting their thoughts out regarding a fic, they'll go reread the review criteria, to refresh in their minds what's important, unacceptable, ideal, etc.

You have it right that this is my personal list for helping me to write better decline comments. Anyone else that wants to use it is certainly welcome to it. Being able to look at a list helps me to focus in on the problem and why I feel something isn't 'right'.

Since I'm using the list that way, I'll be a 'splitter' instead of a 'lumper' and look for as many different categories as I can. I will incorporate some of your suggestions and come up with a new list, probably later today.

Thanks for the additions, particularly some of the character additions. BTW, what is 'parallel motivation'?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I believe "parallel motivation" might be where the character's behavior and motivation aren't working together (i.e. the character wants something yet does something that won't accomplish it or will accomplish the exact opposite. For example, one of Saruman's loyal Uruk-hai has orders to bring Merry and Pippin back alive to Isengard, but ends up all bloodthirsty and axe-murdering them or something.)

Okay, or maybe this one is better: Legolas HATES Mary Sues and yet ends up getting all gushy and romantic and making hot passionate love to-- what? Too much information?

At least that's how I understand the term "parallel motivation."

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

'Character behavior lacks parallel motivation' is probably fairly poorly phrased (pun).

All I meant is that the character's behavior doesn't coincide with their motivation. They jerk the way they do because the author is pulling their strings, not because the author has given the characters motivators that inspire certain actions. (Even if the reason is "voices in one's head", that's still better than nothing... hey, wait, I've used that!)
Or, like Granamyr demonstrated, whatever motivation is there just doesn't match the action. (Of course, if the character is insane, that changes everything.)

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Dear Eru! Am I the only one who is reading this (useful as it is) and swearing never to put pen to paper again? The errors one can commit! The errors I didn't even know existed that I can commit! The errors I undoubtedly do commit! *shudder*

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lindorien: I recently spoke with someone who had their quite well-written fic declined for, among other things "fragment/Theme" and "weak plot/weak ending"… To me, these two capsule reasons begin to look like a euphemism for 'short'.

Lyllyn: don't see these as meaning 'short'.

I agree Lyllyn – they don’t mean “short.” But they are being used that way. I would love to see the “fragment” pull down abolished. Is there anything inherent in fragment that “theme insufficiently developed” does not cover? I think the word fragment encourages certain reviewers to think declining for length alone is acceptable.

On second thought, I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t just adapt to using “theme insufficiently developed” to do the same. It is the prejudging that bothers me.

My own experience came as a sudden bouquet of accepts – all accompanied by versions of ‘when I saw how long your story was, I didn’t think I would like it.’ I am pleased I lucked out and had reviewers who were open minded enough to give me a chance. But I am uneasy about the thought of length being in peoples minds as a pre-judging criteria.

I know I always sound like I am pushing for the vignette and the poem. Truthfully, though I am a pain in the posterior, my cause is not length, but fairness – every piece approached clean, on its own merit. And reviewers taking the time to say what they really mean – (this weeks example: fragment and fragmented are not the same thing at all!!)

Wild Iris mentions the problem of context, and this is another thing I have discussed with friends here. I agree, there is a bigger context to seeing challenge stories all together, the subtext of how they were written, and how they relate to each other. A good thing.

But, there is also the overwhelming weight of a challenge that produced many stories. I don’t really think there are many people reading all fourty entries together – and if they do, some stories are going to suffer just by how far down the list they are placed.

For me, the opportunity to have them presented both ways is a no brainer. Two different experiences. Of course, the story must stand on its own two feet when it hits review.

But I have seen declines simply say – this is a challenge story, and they are not meant to stand alone – or - they cannot stand alone – or – they are worthless alone.

This attitude appalls me. Every story on its own merit. If it does not stand alone, by all means, vote it down. Many of the challenge stories are meant to rely on the challenge framework for support. But “this was written for a challenge” is not a reasonable decline on its own.

Julie says: the writer has focused in on the climatic scene and didn't -- it seems to me -- choose to do the work of writing the rest of the short story or novellette.
Because the rest of the story is missing

Julie, we never seem to be able to agree on this, and I do not want to argue. Since you have had your say, I will have mine - the way you have phrased this sounds very much like prejudging to me. Your language is very condescending and emotionally loaded.

Afterever: In other words: do anything - just pull it off.
Bravo!!

Lyllyn, the list itself is a brilliant idea, and it is helping me focus on writing down my own specifics for examining how I feel about a story – especially those Middle of the Road ones.

Avon: Am I the only one who is reading this (useful as it is) and swearing never to put pen to paper again?

No, m’am. I am too addicted now. Just… never to show it again! LOL!!

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I would love to see the “fragment” pull down abolished. Is there anything inherent in fragment that “theme insufficiently developed” does not cover?

I agree with that. I know I wasn't here when the capsule reasons were being decided and I'm sure they were argued long and earnestly - but I can't see why fragement is needed as well as theme not sufficiently developed. Maybe someone who was there could explain it? I do think it does get seen as a reason to judge stories by length, from what I hear.

After a couple of comments from people (in forums, not in my reviews) I've decided that I will make sure to remove any reference to challenges when anything of mine goes to review. Again, if it doesn't stand on its own then it should be declined but I want someone to decide that on *its* merits not on a prejudgement about challenges. Some stuff *won't* stand on its own. To Sing of War (Remembrance day challenge) is something I'm fond of and proud of - but it isn't a whole enough story to stand on its own for HASA (it does on ffnet, but that's a different standard). I'm fond of Obedience, my Denethor poem, and was happy for it to go public in the challenge and on ffnet - but I wouldn't send it to review; it isn't good enough.

I'd also like to add my appreaciation of Afterever's comment - In other words: do anything - just pull it off.


I guess that's how I see writing - no fences, but lots of highwires to baalnce on ;-)

Avon: Am I the only one who is reading this (useful as it is) and swearing never to put pen to paper again?

No, m’am. I am too addicted now. Just… never to show it again! LOL!!


*grin* I daresay I'll get over it.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

A vignette that's describing a highly emotional event doesn't have much room, it's going straight for the payoff. The danger with that can be -- is the payoff earned?...the writer has focused in on the climatic scene and didn't -- it seems to me -- choose to do the work of writing the rest of the short story or novellette.

As one who is especially partial to vignettes, Julie, I think you're looking at this the wrong way. In a vignette, the payoff is the point. The rest of the story is there, it's already been written - a vignette is designed to get inside and explore the emotions of the moment, as opposed to the action. There's less of a beginning-middle-end than a hanging, unresolved conflict (in those angsty vignettes that I favour, anyway. I'm not too big personally on the "This is beautiful love" stories, as you put it.). It seems to me - and please don't take this as criticism, because it's not intended to be! - that if you go into a vignette expecting less action, you won't be disappointed, and it won't come off as so "emotionally flat".

And of course, this is all IMHO, anyway.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I know I wasn't here when the capsule reasons were being decided and I'm sure they were argued long and earnestly - but I can't see why fragement is needed as well as theme not sufficiently developed. Maybe someone who was there could explain it?

I was there when this whole thing was argued, and at the time as I recall fragment was not challenged. My take on the two capsule reasons is
fragment: this does not stand on it's own or leaves too many 'pieces hanging out'
theme not sufficiently developed: the theme is there, but the author hasn't done much with it, or not enough in terms of the work.
Obviously either of these two can apply to a work of any length. Given that it's harder to do in a short work, I think more of those will fail with this cited as the reason.

Powzie, you were kind enough to say nice things about 'Gift of Rule' - the declines I got for that one were all based not on 'fragment' but on canon issues. (I really need to put in author's notes next time!)

We can argue about what constitutes a fragment, but many of us have seen them come through. One aside (never let the facts get in the way of a good argument) given Ang's situation, it is unlikely that any changes to hardcoded parts of the site will be changed unless something simply doesn't work.

But to get back to the discussion: I really do see echoes here of the AU discussions. People say things, and others interpret it as 'I decline AUs.' Yet that's not what I'm seeing in this discussion.

I'd also like to add my appreciation of Afterever's comment - In other words: do anything - just pull it off.

Well said, and makes the issue very clear.

I don't read Julie's post as 'I decline short works.' I do see it saying that she is more of 'hardass' about what it is sufficient in a short work. I also have to wonder if any of my quickly written declines where I meant 'it didn't stand on it's own' were misinterpreted to mean 'I won't accept it because it's short.' I agree that challenge entries for the 500 and 1000 word challenges that succeed outside the context are limited. Yet I wouldn't want to write a decline comment that said 'you haven't succeeded at this.'

So, given that I'm still assembling useful phrases - how would you phrase this to clearly convey to the author what I mean? That the work, of however length, does not feel 'complete' in it's own context, or does not stand on it's own?

My yardstick, that I try to remember when I review, is the nonmember reading the public archive. I visualize this person as well-informed about Tolkien, but not about the site itself.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

In a vignette, the payoff is the point. The rest of the story is there, it's already been written - a vignette is designed to get inside and explore the emotions of the moment, as opposed to the action.

Aelinnel, I'm so happy you brought this up. I see the word vignette used so often to describe a story, yet I'm not sure everyone understands the distinction between a short story and a vignette.

I know the dictionary definition of a vignette is: "a) a short descriptive literary sketch; b) a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie)"

There's less of a beginning-middle-end than a hanging, unresolved conflict.

I think you got the main distinction between the two with this line.

I'd like to hear how others view this.

~Nessime
*as ever, seeking clarity*

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

fragment: this does not stand on it's own or leaves too many 'pieces hanging out'

theme not sufficiently developed: the theme is there, but the author hasn't done much with it, or not enough in terms of the work.
Obviously either of these two can apply to a work of any length. Given that it's harder to do in a short work, I think more of those will fail with this cited as the reason.


That would be the distinction I would draw as well. I've seen some stories that were 'complete'--they were not fragments--but the theme was just not capitalized on to the extent that was necessary for the story to really stand and shine.

To me, it's like writing a paper--some papers clearly have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they address a theme, have key turning points, etc. The problem is not fragmentation, but that the major theme is not properly handled so as to warrant all the conclusions (even if I think they are correct conclusions, which I can deduce from having read the same works). That's a different problem from the student who turns something in that jumps all over the place and hasn't got the basic necessary connective tissue there; s/he may not even *have* a theme, which is *why* the paper is a fragment (otherwise known as 'notes' or 'sketches' or 'very very rough draft with bullet points disguised as exposition').

I don't know if that comparison helps anyone else here to see the distinction that I see, but there you have it. Perhaps someone will find it helpful.

So, given that I'm still assembling useful phrases - how would you phrase this to clearly convey to the author what I mean? That the work, of however length, does not feel 'complete' in it's own context, or does not stand on it's own?

Theme not sufficiently developed decline: "You've chosen an interesting theme, and I can see how, with sufficient elaboration, you would reach the conclusions you've reached. However, you haven't capitalized on the theme--it's not been articulated clearly enough, or at enough length to justify the characterization/plot/conclusion, even though I can see how you would arrive at this c/p/concl. Consider focusing on [insert appropriate turning point]. I hope that you'll resubmit when you've done some more elaboration on this and other critical points."

Fragment decline: "What you have are several sketches or flashes of insight [assuming this is true], but there is little/no connection between them. Consequences are not drawn out, or even acknowledged to exist; we are given insufficient introduction even for an 'in media res' beginning. The story does not evolve through the middle portion, thus the end is abrupt and surprising/ The story does not evolve through the middle portion and it simply ends. This is clearly a fragment in need of further contextualization. Please resubmit when you have reconsidered what the purpose of each of these scenes is, and how they relate to each other as well as to the original texts/movies/both [if both, I usually suggest the author further consider how book and movie ought to be working together for the story]."

The main difference is that with thematic lack of development, there is a theme, and I can extrapolate to fill in the gaps. With a fragment, there's just not enough there in terms of theme, and I can't extrapolate a logical development from one point to the next. The first case may stand on its own; the second is incapable of doing so. You may view these as more and less severe cases of the same phenomenon, but they deserve different types of criticism, and so I think should be identified when one chooses 'fragment/theme not sufficiently developed.'

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Powzie wrote:
My own experience came as a sudden bouquet of accepts – all accompanied by versions of ‘when I saw how long your story was, I didn’t think I would like it.’ I am pleased I lucked out and had reviewers who were open minded enough to give me a chance. But I am uneasy about the thought of length being in peoples minds as a pre-judging criteria.

I know I was an accept-reviewer for a story of yours, 'Telling the Bees'.
And I believe I did say in the comment box that a) I'm not typically a huge fan of hobbits, and b) that I had my doubts about the story when I saw the (short) length.
But don't misunderstand me! That in no way meant that I had prejudged the story any more than if I were an admitted hobbit-fan who loves short pieces.

Story length, plot content, featured characters, AU premise, what have you... my reaction is ever the same:
"Very well. Convince me."

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Here is the latest version where I have stolen many of the ideas and phrasing others have produced. Suggestions or changes eagerly solicited (meaning I'll steal any good idea of how to put things concisely and politely).

Misc.:
Modernisms
Multiple or serious canon errors

Storytelling:
Certain aspects violate common sense or physical possibility
Pacing problems-
     too choppy (fragments of acceptable material but lacking proper transitions)
     too slow (meandering)
     too fast (insufficient detail throughout)
     inconsistant/uneven (misbalanced within itself)


Mechanical/technical:
Multiple punctuation errors
Multiple grammar errors
Multiple spelling errors
Multiple formatting problems
Multiple usage errors- improper case forms, mismatched tenses, etc.
Multiple misused words - often homophones- than/then, there/their/they're, accept/except, advice/advise, duel/dual, affect/effect, etc.


Character:
Character's actions not well set up or explained -
     predictable/bland actions/reactions
     fic-portrayal warrants further explanation
     character's behavior doesn't coincide with their motivation
OOC
     OOC considering what we know of race/type/society/era
     OOC considering character's prior conduct in canon
     OOC considering character's prior conduct in this story

Flat characterizations
     undeveloped characters (lack of connection with the reader)
     one-dimensional personalities (static presense)
     interchangeable mold syndrome (switch the name, character could be anyone)
     

minor characters lack distinction - in this story all seem the same.


Plot:
Trite
Basic plot too unlikely or unreasonable
Events occur too conveniently - plot feels scripted or forced instead of flowing naturally from prior events, Catalysts for progression too obvious as mere plot devices
Flow - Advancement from point A to B not smooth enough; no seamless domino effect that sweeps the story along;
The story does not evolve through the middle portion, thus the end is abrupt and surprising.
The story does not evolve through the middle portion and it simply ends.

Insufficient context. Even though the work is short, it still needs sufficient context to stand on its own.
Scenes that appear to have no purpose.
Scenes that do not sufficiently relate to each other in the context of the entire story.
Theme not been articulated clearly enough, or at enough length to justify the characterization/plot/conclusion, whether or not I agree with the conclusion.


And I'm sure I've made most errors on this list at some point or another. Thank goodness for betas!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Here’s a question that is non HASA-specific at the moment, but relates to declines, especially for “In The Middles.” I have an e-friend who writes for challenges at a live-journal site. She recently sent me a batch of vignettes/stories that were written around a series of assigned words.

They were all fun, and I really enjoyed the first one, but after the first two, I glazed over. They clearly were Tolkien related - they were all elf stories, I knew all the names – but they also clearly were not. They were all well written, and if she had sent them to me one at a time, I would have enjoyed them all. But they seemed too – homogenized.

I know we have a pull-down for things that are not “Tolkien” enough. Where do stories like this fall for you? I sometimes read a story in review that both does and yet does not feel genra specific to me. I usually put them down. Anyone else have this problem?


--------------------------

Lyllyn: Powzie, you were kind enough to say nice things about 'Gift of Rule' - the declines I got for that one were all based not on 'fragment' but on canon issues.

Indeed, I can see there are many “real” ways to use this, and it is pointless for me to focus on how any decline is misused – it’s a different issue.

I don't read Julie's post as 'I decline short works.' I do see it saying that she is more of 'hardass' about what it is sufficient in a short work

I don’t read it as “I decline short works” either. And “sufficient” is all I hope for. Have you ever seen the T shirt that says “Women have to do twice as much to be thought half as good”? That’s my concern. Pieces of all forms and lengths get declined all the time. (Hopefully on merit) But I never see anyone out in the forums saying “the novel is too damn long …”

My yardstick, that I try to remember when I review, is the nonmember reading the public archive. I visualize this person as well-informed about Tolkien, but not about the site itself.

I read aloud to several people in my life. When I see something I am dying to share, I always think – how much explaining would it take for X to get this? I apply this when I am looking at a short piece in review. So, basically, it looks like our criteria is the same.

Afterever: That in no way meant that I had prejudged the story any more than if I were an admitted hobbit-fan who loves short pieces.

The specific note I was thinking of was not from you, AE. Yours spoke of being willing to give my story a try and see… (YAY!) and I would never think anyone who was open minded enough to try something they don’t normally try had prejudged anything!

But I was surprised to find that so many people thought to mention that they don’t usually (The phrase I am quoting in my head is “waste my time”) on short works. It may have been nothing more than serendipity. It just concerns me to hear it so often.

For Instance, here is an exchange I read in the Mithril Awards forum today -


Question: Also - if someone entered a poem in a category other than Poetry, would the judges eliminate it on that basis?
Answer: No, not because it was a poem. But when this happened, the poems did tend to get overshadowed by longer works, which can say more.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

But I never see anyone out in the forums saying “the novel is too damn long …”

Hey! I say that all the time! Believe me, I have declined fics because they were just too damned long. Too long and overdistinguished gets the Lever of Doom for me.

Of course, I have noticed that those fics always get through and I'll bet dollars to donuts that I am the ONLY one who said that it was just too damned long.

I don't mind a little long, but I read fics that could easily lose every other paragraph and lose nothing.

I must admit, I avoid the long ones. Not all of the time, but often. I will read the first chapter and see if it grabs me. If it's mildly interesting, I will continue. Sometimes, I can tell the author knows the subject and the fic is well-researched, it just has too many names and places frontloaded, or it reads more like somebody's thesis. Those I keep reading, hoping for improvement.

In general, I will look at the summary. If the summary says something like "Merry and Pippin Chop Wood before Dinner" and then I check the fic and find 7 chapters and 20,000 words, I will rarely go further.

I mean, how much can one say about chopping wood, after all? If I do decide to wade on in and I am hearing about chopping the wood in excruciating detail with every smile, flip and tilt of the head, wink, nod, laugh, chuckle, thought, without purpose (main word here being purpose) then I run away.

I also cave on novel length fics. For me, the novel was already written, it is called "Lord of the Rings". I simply do not have the fortitude for a novel length fic.

I read one recently that had PAGES describing the harbor, it seemed. I was like, okay, got it, harbor, cliffs, ships -- move on.

So, I am here, the voice crying in the wilderness crying "IT'S TOO LONG" to the trees.

Whenever I mention things being too long, people start hopping on me.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Girl, you make me laugh. But you should not have given away my plans for a wood-chopping novel. Honestly, it will be drenched in symbolism!

I mean genra vrs specifics here. I hear This novel is too damn long!

I just don't get what has made length a mark of worth.Warehouse Shopping Clubs? Wallmart?

I am not sanguine about fairness when judges use a line like "overshadowed by longer works, which can say more" as though we all accept this as true. Here in the fairness-gulag we do not accept it. But we will be here alone for a long time in the dark. Send mittens.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

This novel is too damn long!


*whispers* I think it, oh, yes, I think it. I just don't say it out loud much because I'm not that brave. ;-)

I just don't get what has made length a mark of worth.Warehouse Shopping Clubs? Wallmart?

I still blame JKK Rowling and her character's need to measure how many inches long their homework essays are.

Here in the fairness-gulag we do not accept it. But we will be here alone for a long time in the dark. Send mittens.

No, I can't say I accept it. A novel length piece of work is no more better than a short story (or even a vignette) than a zebra is better than a koala. They're different beasties with different strengths. All I ask of anything is that its legs reach the ground (to drag back in the Abraham Lincoln principle). As for mittens, well, I've got a slightly snowy pair of Boromir's lying around ;-)

Nessime - Aelinnel, I'm so happy you brought this up. I see the word vignette used so often to describe a story, yet I'm not sure everyone understands the distinction between a short story and a vignette.

I know the dictionary definition of a vignette is: "a) a short descriptive literary sketch; b) a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie)"

There's less of a beginning-middle-end than a hanging, unresolved conflict.

I think you got the main distinction between the two with this line.


Last time vignettes were being debated on the list I went and did some research on what exactly they are considered to be in the wider world - and came up with much the same definition that you've just used. I don't get the impression though that this is what vignette is meant to mean on HASA; it seems to be expected to be a short, short story and is judged on its ability to mimic the story form. The examples of vignettes I found seemed to be more, dare I say it, 'fragments' ;-) I think HASA can define vignette anyway it wants to and can, in fact, say 'These are not something we want to host' but I do think a lining up of terms might be useful.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lindorien, Hey! I say that all the time! Believe me, I have declined fics because they were just too damned long. Too long and overdistinguished gets the Lever of Doom for me. By my dictionary, 'distinguished' means: marked by eminence, distinction, or excellence. So when you say the writing of a story is "overdistinguished" you are saying the writing is "over-excellent". I wouldn't chime in on such a technicality, except that I worry when I see someone who declines story(s) for being 'over-excellent', or as you put it, 'overdistinguished'. (But since I don't think overdistinguished/over-excellent is what you meant, I'm really just giving my dictionary some attention here. ;-) I'm sure there's another word that would convey your meaning more accurately.) Powzie, The specific note I was thinking of was not from you, AE. Yours spoke of being willing to give my story a try and see… (YAY!) and I would never think anyone who was open minded enough to try something they don’t normally try had prejudged anything! Oh, no problem. I was just making sure that I had made myself clear way-back-then. I don't remember precisely what I said, of course, and I was afraid that whatever I had said might have left you with the wrong impression. -AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

So when you say the writing of a story is "overdistinguished" you are saying the writing is "over-excellent".

Actually, I think that is EXACTLY what I meant. I have a dictionary also.

Overly excellent, as in way too much of it. Excellence already suggests a pinnacle, overexcellence now falls in the realm of the pompous, the arrogant, the overdone, the gaudy. How can a writer be any more than excellent?

Such writers are so in love with their own words that they find it impossible to cull through them for the best ones. Whilst there is no sentence which is of particular trouble, or any single paragraph which can be called 'too much', there is the totality of saying in 600 words, what could have been said quite well and just as adequately in 60.

Add to that string after string of such 600 word indulgences and before I know it I am wallowing.

So, yes, I do mean OVERDISTINGUISHED.

LOL
Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list


So, yes, I do mean OVERDISTINGUISHED.


Actually, I think you mean "overwritten" or, to be Tolkienesque, "overwrought" (in the sense of 'over worked'--worked to death... and maybe a little beyond that point).

Those are the words that I would use in that scenario, because at that point, in the reviewer's mind, the work is no longer excellent. It doesn't matter how pretty the language is, it is simply no longer excellent for reason of lack of restraint.

I know we have a pull-down for things that are not “Tolkien” enough. Where do stories like this fall for you? I sometimes read a story in review that both does and yet does not feel genra specific to me. I usually put them down. Anyone else have this problem?

Hm. I guess for me this would be an example of a story that does nothing wrong, but also does nothing right in and of itself. I might call such a work 'formulaic' if I recognized it as such.

To me, it's akin to declining based on too close a similarity to Tolkien's original work, and to me, there is nothing wrong with judging a story in this manner, especially if I *have* seen a particular theme written better before, with more insight and depth. I think that's really the key—that repetitive, formulaic, 'going through the same motions everyone else does' style of writing indicates to me that the author isn't really thinking, but is simply collecting and doing a bit of bricolage, as it were (and it's the *same* bricolage at that).

It is interesting to note that here we have an instance where judging on individual merit simply isn't possible, and I don't know that it should be a standard to aspire to. Even if one judges and cordons off the section of the brain that knows it's seen this five, ten, one hundred times before, that is still an acknowledgment that a fic has a context beyond Tolkien's original works. Isolating it isn't necessarily the right thing to do, I think, because it actually cuts off resources that you, as a reader, have, that you can bring to bear in making a judgment about the merit (or lack thereof) of the story.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Actually, I think you mean "overwritten" or, to be Tolkienesque, "overwrought" (in the sense of 'over worked'--worked to death... and maybe a little beyond that point).

No. Honestly. I mean overdistinguished -- for all the reasons you stipulate in your second paragraph! ;)

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Well, okay, Lindorien. This will be a difference of opinion between us, then, and I'm happy to have my own views and leave you with yours too.

Now, personally, if the writing of a story strikes me as 'pompous', 'arrogant', 'overdone', or 'gaudy', it cannot by the definition of those words also be 'excellent', and least of all 'over-excellent'.
In short, I wouldn't say that something is "so good it's bad", and that seems to be (to me) what you're saying, by perceiving a writing style as 'bad' (i.e. overdone, pompous, arrogant, or gaudy) and calling it 'over-excellent', which indicates 'above excellence' (not 'below excellence', or 'too much excellence').
So it's just a matter of seeing and describing things differently, and I'm fine with that, especially now that I understand what you're doing.

But getting back to Lyllyn's topic:
Since I'm sure everyone here has read a story otherwise on-track, but in need of some editing, how about some suggestions for decline commentary in such a case?

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Here’s a question that is non HASA-specific at the moment, but relates to declines, especially for “In The Middles.” I have an e-friend who writes for challenges at a live-journal site. She recently sent me a batch of vignettes/stories that were written around a series of assigned words.

They were all fun, and I really enjoyed the first one, but after the first two, I glazed over. They clearly were Tolkien related - they were all elf stories, I knew all the names – but they also clearly were not. They were all well written, and if she had sent them to me one at a time, I would have enjoyed them all. But they seemed too – homogenized.


Tay, when you say they were not Tolkien-related to your eye, was it that they were focused around non canon situations? Or that they were all very similar in form? I'm curious as to what caused the effect.


I know we have a pull-down for things that are not “Tolkien” enough. Where do stories like this fall for you? I sometimes read a story in review that both does and yet does not feel genra specific to me. I usually put them down. Anyone else have this problem?

I'm not sure if I understand correctly. Sometimes I'll read something where the character is reasonable, but the situation doesn't strike me as one that relates well to Tolkien's world. The aforementioned chopping wood novel is a good example...why bother? Not that someone couldn't do it as a wonderful metaphor with subtle commentary on Middle-earth, but most of the time it isn't.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I am not sanguine about fairness when judges use a line like "overshadowed by longer works, which can say more" as though we all accept this as true. Here in the fairness-gulag we do not accept it. But we will be here alone for a long time in the dark. Send mittens. Let me try to clarify this. Most judges--heck, most writers--are terrified of poetry. They don't feel they can write it, let alone judge it. So most poems ended up getting sent over to Poetry for final judgment. The only category I had where there was any "stray" poetry was Humor. And for the most part, those failed both as humor & as poetry. There were some novels that had poems in them, but those were considered as integral to the novel. Now, whoever is borrowing my Lever of Doom, be careful with it! It's very delicate & sensitive. It bruises easily, so do not use it to pound nails into walls, elves or Mary Sues. Khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Now, whoever is borrowing my Lever of Doom, be careful with it! It's very delicate & sensitive. It bruises easily, so do not use it to pound nails into walls, elves or Mary Sues.

Aw, just one Mary-sue? A really bad wispy one so it won't bruise the LoD? Pleeeaase?

Lyllyn, who has just read one bad Mary-sue too many.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Well, okay, Lindorien. This will be a difference of opinion between us, then, and I'm happy to have my own views and leave you with yours too.

ROTFL!

Of course, I would never use that term in an actual decline because everybody would know it was me!

So I fall back on 'undistinguished', because once a writer has 'overdistinguished' themselves they have gone full circle and now sit in the realm of 'undistinguished'.

There can be no 'above excellence' . it is a term without meaning. Thus, in an Einstienian universe, we are forced to return to the point of origin -- undistinguished.

Lindorien


 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Avon: I still blame JKK Rowling and her character's need to measure how many inches long their homework essays are.

Eep! I guess I will have to read these little monsters if their hold on popular culture is becoming the accepted norm.

*whispers* I think it, oh, yes, I think it. I just don't say it out loud much because I'm not that brave. ;-)

Email me any time and unburden yourself, my friend. We will dig a virtual hole by the banks of the Anduin, whisper in “Midas has asses ears… and this story is too bloody long” and cover it over with reeds.

I am a huge fan of very, very long historicals. (Plantagenet era) I generally hate it when a book I am reading is over. So when I tell Jim – “this is too damn long,” he falls about laughing, understanding that it is the bottom of a loathsome barrel. (The very opposite of my “seven stars with two raven feathers cluster award)

And I would be happy to have any article of boromir's worn clothing... maybe Faramir's mittens are lying around somewhere?

Lindorien: "overdistinguished" We have a family word for this (not just in writing – think wedding gift here). We call it a “Liberace.”

Dwim: "overwrought" (in the sense of 'over worked'--worked to death... and maybe a little beyond that point).

God, I just loved this description! I will pack it in my reviewers kit!

repetitive, formulaic, 'going through the same motions everyone else does' style of writing indicates to me that the author isn't really thinking, but is simply collecting and doing a bit of bricolage, as it were (and it's the *same* bricolage at that

I think I feel most guilty because these suffered from being together. Would I have been so hard on them separately? Would I even have known to be? (still thinking and learning…)

Lyllyn: Tay, when you say they were not Tolkien-related to your eye, was it that they were focused around non canon situations? Or that they were all very similar in form? I'm curious as to what caused the effect.

I am not sure myself. The first one was very “ordinary day” – which was really interesting in an elf-head. I just soon found myself looking for where she had used the specified words instead of reading the story – that is a bad sign that she was not holding my interest with word or plot. I could not have said “this has nothing to do with Middle Earth.” I just didn’t seem to care.

I guess that answers my own question, eh?

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lindorien: "overdistinguished" We have a family word for this (not just in writing – think wedding gift here). We call it a “Liberace.”

How about an overdistinguished Liberace? (shudder)

Great descriptions, but unusable, as I would cease to be anonymous.

"I am sorry, but this is simply not ready for HASA suffering from 'Overdistinguished Liberace' syndrome. Overdistinguished Liberace or OL, as it is called in reviewers circles, suffers from an abundance of verbosity. Other similar terms include overwritten and overwrought, the net effect being that the reader is overwhelmed.

"Perhaps you could consider removing every third word and fourth paragraph as well as every other chapter. When you are finished, please do so again. Now reread and repeat.

"When you have finished, please consider resubmitting this as an ex-OL (XOL). I would love to see this piece as a shadow of its former self."

tongue planted firmly in cheek and foot planted firmly in mouth,
Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Of course, I would never use that term in an actual decline because everybody would know it was me!

That's certainly your prerogative. Personally, I sign all my reviews so I am made available to the authors; but most people prefer anonymity. Reviewers' choice, that.

So I fall back on 'undistinguished', because once a writer has 'overdistinguished' themselves they have gone full circle and now sit in the realm of 'undistinguished'.

Like I said, I wouldn't describe something as being so good that it's bad (unless I was trying to be silly).
So if I mean 'undistinguished', I wouldn't say 'overdistinguished' (since they're opposites). Or if I mean 'below-excellent', I wouldn't say 'over-excellent' (opposites again). But that's just me, and I generally dislike being misunderstood.

There can be no 'above excellence' . it is a term without meaning.

It's like saying "better than the best" or "worse than the worst"; so yeah, 'over-excellence' or 'overdistinguished' are terms that don't really work, save to exaggerate the meaning of 'excellence' or 'distinguished'.
But an exaggerated/redundant term like 'overdistinguished' or 'over-excellent' still doesn't equal the opposite meaning. 'Over-excellent' may be redundant or exaggerative, but it does not mean the opposite of the word 'over' combined with the word 'excellent'.
At least, that's how I understand it.

Thus, in an Einstienian universe, we are forced to return to the point of origin -- undistinguished.

Not sure I understand what you mean by an 'Einstienian universe'. ('Einsteinium', perhaps?) Anyway, if by that theory 'exaggeration' equals 'opposite meaning', then that would be where our signals are getting blurred.

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lindorien: "overdistinguished" We have a family word for this (not just in writing – think wedding gift here). We call it a “Liberace.”

How about an overdistinguished Liberace? (shudder)

Great descriptions, but unusable, as I would cease to be anonymous.


Well, I use purple prose - but I only write that on my own stuff. ;-) Many years ago a teaching colleague asked me to look at a children's book she had written (primarily for her own class) and help her edit it. You have never seen such a fatty froth of adjectives - you literally struggled to find the nouns among them. Mind you the nouns were as fancy as they could possibly be - no spades, here, mate - they were all wooden and metal-finely edged steel sharp excavation implements. I did try to suggest that less might well be more but she pretty much clutched it to her bossom and hyperventilated. Sad bit was that there was quite a good story under all the verbiage - but it remained a Liberace. ;-)

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Not sure I understand what you mean by an 'Einstienian universe'. ('Einsteinium', perhaps?) Anyway, if by that theory 'exaggeration' equals 'opposite meaning', then that would be where our signals are getting blurred.

Einsteinium is a man-made element off the heavy end of the periodic table made by blasting either uranium or plutonium, or both, I forget exactly.

In an Einsteinian universe all things revert back to its point of origin. If you throw the baseball hard enough eventually before you, eventually it will come up behind you and hit you on the back of your head. That is because the universe is expanding, like a balloon. The theory is that if you look far enough forward, you will see your own backside.

So overdistinguished become undistinguished by its very nature. It's a scientific argument, AE. My mind works in mysterious ways and 'tis best not to delve too deeply.

In other words, you take me far too seriously, although the crux of my argument is sound.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

>>no spades, here, mate - they were all wooden and metal-finely edged steel sharp excavation implements.<<

Yes, well, I seem to be excavating quite a large cavity for myself with this entire discourse and I am not even in possession of a shovel...

Lindorien

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

seeing double

watch this space

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Aw, just one Mary-sue? A really bad wispy one so it won't bruise the LoD? Pleeeaase?

Lyllyn, who has just read one bad Mary-sue too many.


Well, OK. Just this once.

Use it on the Witchking Candleholder MS that's on ff.net right now.
I was afraid I yank so hard I'd break it.

Khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

There are days when, teacher though I am, I think ffnet might just be a great argument against universal literacy.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Use it on the Witchking Candleholder MS that's on ff.net right now.
I was afraid I yank so hard I'd break it.


Gahh! Why did you tell me about that? Now I have to go scrub my brain to get rid of it.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Interesting theory, Lindorien. I hope you can understand the crux of my own argument, keeping in mind that I was talking about your choice of English and not scientific theories. Like I said, my only worry was seeing someone say they decline story(s) for being over-excellent. But since I know you mean undistinguished when you say overdistinguished, and that you're playing opposites purposefully, all's well.

-AE

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

There are days when, teacher though I am, I think ffnet might just be a great argument against universal literacy.

It promotes Literacy? I thought it promoted Illiteracy!

Khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Use it on the Witchking Candleholder MS that's on ff.net right now.
I was afraid I yank so hard I'd break it.

Gahh! Why did you tell me about that? Now I have to go scrub my brain to get rid of it.


Why? Hmmm... Misery loves company? You're in his Fan Club, too, so I wanted to "share the love"?

Don't go scrubbing your brain. Just buy a nice set of thumbscrews to apply to the "author".

At least you didn't break my Lever.

Khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

peeking timidly through my fingers, I ask -- what witchking story??

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

peeking timidly through my fingers, I ask -- what witchking story??

http://www.fanfiction.net/read.php?storyid=1475439

This charming saga is called "The Witchking Candleholder".

I will loan you the Lever of Doom, BUT you must first promise to read the entire story. ALL of it.

Just remember, the Lever is innocent!

khazar

 

 

the Witchking thing

Hey! Khazar!

I really liked that one! I was gonna nominate it for next year's mithrils.

Ain'tcha got no taste?

Its the punctuation, isn't it? You're one of them Excessive Grammar/Spelling/Formatting people, aintcha?

I mean its all in there: Love, death, betrayal, lust, marriage, children, more children, barbecues, family parties, jeolous wives and Suzanne and Frodo and Jenny and Legolas!

Not to mention Ethel and the candleholder.

Its symbolic. Doncha get SYMBOLIC!

You gotta expand your horizons, mate!

harumph,
Lindorien

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

Its symbolic. Doncha get SYMBOLIC!


Now, seriously, I need to use my Literary Criticism skillz:

In this challenging work, LovaofLegolas confronts the eternal theme of good vs evil, and the redemption of evil by love's purification. Here, Ethel, the young protagonist, obtains an enchanted candleholder in the form of a bust of the Witch King of Angmar, one of the most evil characters from Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". When she uses it as a candleholder, however, the bust magically teansforms itself from a static decorative piece into the actual Witch-King. He first strikes Ethel for igniting his head and burning him, thus transferring some of his centuries of pain and frustration to the young woman.

However, when their names are revealed to each other, they immediately recognize one another as "soul mates". This "instant recognition" of the name and identity of the Other is a common theme in Medieval literature; von Eisenbach's "Parzival" is perhaps the best known example of this type of revelatory identification, although there are many others besides.

This scene is closely followed by the sexual consummation of their relationship. However, the Witch-King must suffer if he is to attain a state of sexual bliss. Therefore, when his lips fall off from kissing, he must be healed. It is interesting that the author chose "lips" as a metaphor for penis; by denying her the pleasure of a kiss, it becomes obvious that both of them must be punished for engaging in sexual activity before he is properly cleansed.

Tellingly, the healer they choose to see is Aragorn. The ancient belief that the "hands of a King are the hands of a healer" are well-known in both historical fact and folklore; Tolkien used this throughout "Lord of the Rings". Not coincidentally, Aragorn was called upon to use his healing powers to save Frodo from the near-fatal wound delivered by the Witch-King at Weathertop. Now, in a classic example of doubling, Aragorn must use his skills to save the Witch-King and return him, whole, to Ethel.

The narrative style chosen by LovaofLegolas is equally intriguing. By tossing aside such hidebound restraints as punctuation, she creates a "sea of words" whose impact approaches that of Joyce in "Finnegan's Wake." Such a bold approach subverts the usual plots favored by the literary establishment.

All in all, "The Witchking Candleholder" is a towering acheivement, opening the door to the possibility of redemption through love.



Khazar

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

Now, seriously, I need to use my Literary Criticism skillz:

Well, I an still not completely sure of your literary ciriticism skillz, but I hearby award you the Golden Shovel for bs. lifting and tossing. Congratulations, and remember to use its great power only for good.

Laughing my lips off...
-- fileg

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

All in all, "The Witchking Candleholder" is a towering acheivement, opening the door to the possibility of redemption through love.

Uh, Khazar, u wanna revu my stuf? U cud mak it sound gud im sur. Thanx.

Share the love my foot! You just wanted someone else to share the suffering. You have succeeded. OTOH, it would be a great test for the evolving decline list.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

OTOH, it would be a great test for the evolving decline list.


Might be the *revolving* decline list in this case ;-)

Avon

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

I laughed so hard, I literally could not catch my breath.

My husband thought I was choking, I was on my knees pounding the floor in desperation, trying to draw air into my lungs!

Khazar! 'Tis a shame there is not a secret folder where reviews like this can go.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

OTOH, it would be a great test for the evolving decline list.


Might be the *revolving* decline list in this case ;-)


Actually, I begin to think this is the DEVOLVING decline list.

Lindorien

Just a moment -- I am sucking on oxygen, still cannot catch my breath for the laughing.

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

Crumbs! I've actually read it (sort of) now. She's got to be very very young - or have some learning problems.

Avon

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

It is parody, isn't it? Isn't it?
-- fileg (feeling very naive)

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

That is what one of the reviewers said that he/she was hoping -- that it was a parody.

Avon -- I am not certain if I prefer the author to be young or not -- I mean talking about getting pregnant from kissing and all those intimate references. I prefer her to be a 22 years old who simply cannot write.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

In honesty in teacher mode I don't think it a parody. I reckon it is someone with a learning problem - but I didn't read every word and I could be wrong.

Avon

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

I think Tay's got it right, fundamentally.

Are you familiar with the practice of writing purposely bad parodies just to get a rise out of anyone who has any amount of taste? That's what I'd say this is. The author has no bio, the summary is pithy and 'coy' (i.e., it's not actually a summary, but a command, and it's spelled correctly, properly capitalized, and has none of the ludicrous "omg read this!" Valspeak), and for a really bad fic, it's oddly... 'slick.' The mistakes are too consistent, and almost every formatting mistake that you can make is present in a fic that is a fairly substantial hunk of text. If it were the genuine article, I think it'd be shorter than that, with more chapters.

So my verdict: it's a joke, it's just a really badly executed joke. Hence I'd not dignify it with a review of any sort since I don't see the point in this sort of perversity. Were a badfic parody of this sort to be submitted, I'd review it thusly: didn't make me laugh, perversity rarely is amusing to those who aren't performing it, please come back when you're willing to innovate rather than ape badfic and get laughs at the expense of your (generally outraged) readers. [shrug] Could be me, but I prefer not to have my chain jerked deliberately.

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

Khazar,

I would give a lot to see the author's eyes glazing over as she tried to read that...review.

-Aerlinnel

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

innovate rather than ape badfic and get laughs at the expense of your (generally outraged) readers. [shrug] Could be me, but I prefer not to have my chain jerked deliberately.


Ooooo. I like that, Dwim:

Come back when you can write your own innovative and original badfic and not just imitate the badfic of countless fangirls across the world.

THEN I'll leave you an insulting review.

In all honesty. I thought this was funny. It was so bad, it was funny.

but then, I am a warped individual.

Lindorien

 

 

Re: the Witchking thing

So my verdict: it's a joke, it's just a really badly executed joke. Hence I'd not dignify it with a review of any sort since I don't see the point in this sort of perversity.

For the sake of argument, we'll assume that it's a joke.

As a rule there are two types of writers who create deliberately bad work: Good writers pretending to be bad writers, and bad writers pretending to be good writers pretending to be bad writers.

For an example of the first type, see Tyellas' "Elf Slash Sarcasm". There the skewering of various ghastly slash conventions is masterfully done. "Witchking Candleholder", OTOH, reads like someone trying to imitate a drunk on ice skates.

That's assuming it's a joke. If it is, it has managed to fail at failure, which is an amazing achievement in its own right.

I frankly don't think it's a joke. Managing to get a couple of decent sentences through merely validates the old Chimps with Typewriters theory.

khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I just don't get what has made length a mark of worth.Warehouse Shopping Clubs? Wallmart?

I am not sanguine about fairness when judges use a line like "overshadowed by longer works, which can say more" as though we all accept this as true. Here in the fairness-gulag we do not accept it. But we will be here alone for a long time in the dark. Send mittens.


Having been more-or-less offline and all that for some time now, I'm going to leap boldly and belatedly in and say that I think that "fairness-gulag" thing cuts both ways.

Nope, length is not a sign of virtue, but neither is brevity. And let's be honest - writing a lot of short pieces and submitting them separately for archive consideration is going to make your chances of getting some of them in higher than if you write one longer piece with the same total number of words. Not that anyone is marking notches on their tally, right? I hope not, because that's not the point.

If vignettes and short poems seem to be scrutinized more carefully at times, that is only reasonable, IMO. A few small flaws in a 20,000-word novelette disappear more than the same flaws in a 2000-word short story or a 200-word poem. Longer works can say more - that's the nature of the beast. If there is greater length, there is more space available - I don't see how that can be argued against. It's not to say that they always do say more! If I read something very short in which every word counts, I'm delighted. I've certainly voted to accept some short pieces, including poems, over the months, but I do think that there needs to be some level of context so that the piece doesn't have its posterior hanging out in the wind, as it were. Likewise I've voted against long stories because they don't - to my mind - really say anything or go anywhere. Meaning results from the author's skill at the form, it is not inherent in the form itself.

Cel

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Having been more-or-less offline and all that for some time now, I'm going to leap boldly and belatedly in and say that I think that "fairness-gulag" thing cuts both ways.

I absolutely agree. It does indeed. I have never said anything else, and I am still mystified how I have garnered a reputation for asking for special treatment for the short forms because I have spoken up for equality. I would be just as quick to jump in and defend any form if I was confronted with it being maligned.

I have never asked for special consideration for poems or short prose, or for “separate but equal” standards. Just for each piece on its own merits. Is It whole, worthwhile and worthy? As Avon says - do its legs reach the ground.

In my own mind, short pieces have to do many things better in a tight place- get a whole thought out, make the reader care, use words and placement more carefully...

judge them hard... but fair.

"This poem does not seem to go anywhere” or even “This poem is boring” –not- “this poem would be better off in a story”

Or

“This vignette just stops without a satisfying end” or “This vignette has nothing new to say” -not- “I liked your piece about Elrond and Gil-Galad but I would like it better if it was longer – maybe you could talk about Arwen?” (And most especially not (as a decline) “This was great, and I loved what it did, but it left me wanting even more.” That’s what a good vignette should do.

Longer works can say more - that's the nature of the beast. If there is greater length, there is more space available - I don't see how that can be argued against

Now we disagree. Longer works have room to stretch, grow, delve, and expand. Or, longer works can use more words. They can take up more space. Length has nothing at all to do with how much a piece *can* say. Skill is what counts.

People have different tastes. I am not championing these forms for anything but REVIEW. When people are reviewing a piece here, they have an obligation under the HASA guidelines to do it objectively. That is the complete platform of my crusade.

If I have misunderstood, and the short forms are not welcome here, let's just state that in the guide.

The quality of the writing was what brought me to HASA. This week, I had a clear indication from three writers whose work I admire that they will not send their short pieces to review again. I no longer send any poetry, since I was specifically told I had "sent too much." Is that the intent of the site?

Anyway, everyone knows where I am on this, so I have ceased to even be an effective spokesperson for the cause of objectivity, and it's time I let it go.


 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Longer works can say more - that's the nature of the beast. If there is greater length, there is more space available - I don't see how that can be argued against.

[snip]

Meaning results from the author's skill at the form, it is not inherent in the form itself.

I may be misunderstanding you, but aren't those statements contradictory?

I largely agree with the second, btw - but the first leaves me scratching my head.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

And let's be honest - writing a lot of short pieces and submitting them separately for archive consideration is going to make your chances of getting some of them in higher than if you write one longer piece with the same total number of words. Not that anyone is marking notches on their tally, right? I hope not, because that's not the point.


I think your maths is flawed - I also find the suggestion somewhat insulting but let's start with the maths. Certainly 20 draws from a bag of red and blue marbles is more likely to produce at least one red marble than one draw but surely archive selection involves a little more than random chance? Firstly we would have to assume that the 'lots of short pieces' and the longer piece are of exactly the same standard, then we could consider A few small flaws in a 20,000-word novelette disappear more than the same flaws in a 2000-word short story or a 200-word poem. - which gives the longer piece a slight advantage - then we could add in the suggestion that Longer works can say more - that's the nature of the beast. - which if true should also give this longer piece an advantage.

Moving on to the somewhat insulting - and I know it wasn't meant personally - I found the suggestion that anyone is writing short pieces purely to get some sort of 'score' rather offensive. Cel, perhaps you have some evidence that this does happen but without that it seems like a bit of a smear on those of us who do choose to write shorter pieces. Perhaps I am overreacting - I've been sick for the last week and am still at the feeling like death stage so I apologise if this seems overly defensive - but I'm getting frustrated by reading put downs for people who write short pieces. I don't - and I refuse to believe that I am the only writer this applies to - write short stories and vignettes because (1) I'm lazy (2) I'm desperate to get *more* into the archive (3) I don't know how to write longer stories/novels (4) I'm not a good writer - I write them because they are a legitimate writing form which I enjoy and which matches my inspiration!

I have to quickly add at this point, in fairness, that these are attitudes that have been expressed in forums and on list - not in reviews. I have been exceptionally lucky and virtually all my reviews have been helpful and constructive, whether accepts or declines. I would also like to point out that I'm not being bitter about being declined because so far I've been lucky enough to get what I've submitted accepted.

Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Cel said: Having been more-or-less offline and all that for some time now, I'm going to leap boldly and belatedly in and say that I think that "fairness-gulag" thing cuts both ways.

Powzie said: I absolutely agree. It does indeed. I have never said anything else, and I am still mystified how I have garnered a reputation for asking for special treatment for the short forms because I have spoken up for equality. I would be just as quick to jump in and defend any form if I was confronted with it being maligned.

I have never asked for special consideration for poems or short prose, or for “separate but equal” standards. Just for each piece on its own merits. Is It whole, worthwhile and worthy? As Avon says - do its legs reach the ground.


As I think someone else has said elsewhere - I'll stop worrying about whether the short forms are treated fairly when I start readung these sort of statements:

I always check out novel length pieces particularly carefully.

Writing novellas is great practise for getting ready to write vignettes

It's just that a writer has to work harder with a longer story to make it work.

I think novel-length fic would be better left in the challenges.

This piece of work is too long.

Short stories and vignettes are as worthwhile as a 120, 000 word novel.


Avon

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Want some more coals on the fire?

While length and brevity per se each have a place, depending on the project, concision is always a virtue, IMO, and it's something on which a work of any length can be judged. A novel can be packed and perfect; a 100-word poem can contain 50 words that add nothing.

Agreeing with powzie, I don't think it's necessarily true that longer works can say more. Certainly, longer works can cover more & diverse themes and details of their subject, while a vignette or poem will concentrate on one or two key aspects. But the longer work won't necessarily enlighten the reader more because of that. Indeed, going by the wondrous 'less is more' principle (on which haiku, for instance, are written), there is an argument that accumulation of detail reduces a work's imaginative scope by qualifying the reader's own interpretation. The pared-down detail and generic objects of a poem may state less, but they may resonate more.

The vastest-in-scope poem I know is a six-word haiku:

at the open door
the sky


I don't mean that everything should be written with such brevity as that! But what a piece can 'say' within its length depends very much on its endeavour: length and detail are required for a richly tapestried, multi-layered, plotted story, while spareness is more effective when creating universal images.

Having said that, my first attempt at fanfiction poetry failed by being so spare and generic that there was no explicit reference to the Tolkienverse at all

Gemma

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Avon's list:

I always do check novel length pieces carefully. If I don't think it's worth it, I'll be gone before the last chapter hits.

Writing novellas is not, for me, great practice for writing vignettes, though they may prove to be inspiration for vignettes which I could not justify including in the novel/la for reasons of coherency and concision. On the other hand, writing short stories and vignettes helped me learn the basic mechanics of setting scene, characterization, wording, etc. which I have used in writing longer works. I can safely say that my short fics were publishable before my longer ones were. But on the other hand, just because some of them were viewable by eyes other than my own does not mean that I think they were thereby worthy additions to the genre--it is still hit or miss for me whether I write a really good short story and fully take advantage, in just the right way for the story I want to tell, of the benefits of brevity (relative brevity, in some cases).

I do find that I, as a writer, have to work harder in terms of time investment and tracking plot threads (which are usually more numerous, more fully elaborated, and less allusive in a novel than a shorter story, and *ought* to be, IMO) for a novel. This is why I started publishing short stories when I first began in this fandom--I'd had too much experience of failing to write novels well. On the other hand, I have only suffered 'decompression drainage' from writing short fics; this simply has never happened with a novel, unless I'm in the last few chapters and seeing that light at the end of the tunnel beckoning. Even so, it's not quite the same experience.

I don't think novel length fics are better left for challenges if only because no one seems able to complete them in time! I only think short stories are better left in challenges if they are simply too compressed and derivative (which is not to say that in their derivation, they can't be brilliant, but brilliance occasionally doesn't have enough support to stand alone, just as within a novel, a brilliant chapter does not necessarily have a place). "Derivative" is to short stories what I would say "meandering pointlessly" is to novels--neither gets the job done, despite flashes of brilliance, and so fail.

Some pieces of work are too long for what the material they're covering. I could be wrong, but I suspect most of the novels in this archive were among the first and second round picks, when we didn't even have an archive yet and were trying to find fics to populate the archive. They were accepted as WiPs, some were highly popular, and a number of them I would at this point say I would not have accepted had they been presented to me as finished works. However, at that time, I did and so did others. It's always been understood that we do not remove fics once they have gone into the public archive unless the author specifically requests removal to beta or off the site entirely.

Short stories are as worthwhile as 120,000 words. I can't remember anyone saying they weren't. I do not read Cel's statement as saying that short fics are inherently less worthy than long ones; what I do see is a comment on the nature of writers which is probably the direct result of having been exposed to more bad short fics than to bad long fics. What I would contest is that they do the same thing. Novels exist because short stories cannot do some of the things novels can and vice versa. There is simply no point in contesting that either way, to my way of thinking, or why else would there be a generic distinction between them?

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Longer works can say more - that's the nature of the beast. If there is greater length, there is more space available - I don't see how that can be argued against.

[snip]

Meaning results from the author's skill at the form, it is not inherent in the form itself.

I may be misunderstanding you, but aren't those statements contradictory?

I largely agree with the second, btw - but the first leaves me scratching my head.


*sigh* I'll have one more go at this. Longer story means more words. More words means more chance, more time, to include more meaning. It does not mean that there will be more meaning, only that with more room there is a greater possibility to include that meaning. There is also more room to leave empty. This is why short stories can be wonderful. A short story expanded into a novel purposelessly can feel as if the point of it is rattling around in a lot of air.

Whatever the length, it is the author's skill that makes meaning inhere in the story. But - to me - if every word counts, then more words are probably going to make it more significant. I'm not sure I've ever seen a novel in which every word counted in that way, but if I did, I would consider it more meaningful than a short piece of equal quality. *shrug*

Don't quite understand the offense taken at the suggestion that perhaps a poem would gain significance by being in a story - to me that seems a kinder and more practical suggestion than saying something like "your poem seems totally unconnected to canon as it stands alone, it could belong to any universe, why is it here?" I don't think poetry should be exempt from the requirement to have that kind of connection.

I also didn't mean to insult anyone by suggesting that she is deliberately only writing short pieces in order to have more to submit for consideration - I don't think that anyone does so, I think that people generally write what they want to write without such considerations. But I still say that statistically if you submit more, you have a better chance of getting in, assuming that the work is of similar quality regardless of length.

Cel

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Don't quite understand the offense taken at the suggestion that perhaps a poem would gain significance by being in a story - to me that seems a kinder and more practical suggestion than saying something like "your poem seems totally unconnected to canon as it stands alone, it could belong to any universe, why is it here?" I don't think poetry should be exempt from the requirement to have that kind of connection.

Generic is generic is generic--whether it's a poem, story, or novel. By definition the stories to be included at HASA are to be derived from some aspect of Tolkien's work. When a poem or story is submitted that could be anywhere, at any time, with anyone, it has violated the very reason d'etre of this archive. Therefore, regardless of how fine it is, it is not worthy of inclusion.

But I still say that statistically if you submit more, you have a better chance of getting in, assuming that the work is of similar quality regardless of length.

This is generally called the "shotgun approach". It has some other, less pleasant names, but for now we'll stick with shotgun. It's common in profic, where writers of mediocre talent survive simply by flinging everything they write at editors until something finally hits. To pretend that it isn't tried in fanfic is naive.

khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Don't quite understand the offense taken at the suggestion that perhaps a poem would gain significance by being in a story - to me that seems a kinder and more practical suggestion than saying something like "your poem seems totally unconnected to canon as it stands alone, it could belong to any universe, why is it here?" I don't think poetry should be exempt from the requirement to have that kind of connection.

But the poem (Elanor, if you want to know) was not declined for being unconnected to canon. it was declined for being a poem. (It passed anyway.) I would not have sent this to review myself, but it was requested - it was my first request; I had not considered sending anything to review. I had no idea what to expect, but I guess I expected it to be declined, since there was little poetry on the archive, and this poem is fluffy - I tend to write anvils. But, I was pleased it had been requested. I did expect it to pass or fail as a poem, though. I learned a lot my first time in review!

The quality of Elanor as a poem has nothing at all to do with why I am bothered by this review --

Reviewer #9 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Fragment/Theme not sufficiently developed
Reviewer Comments: The poem was good, but I'd really like to see the backstory for the poem fleshed out in fic form. You hint at it with the summary, but it might be better to actually write it out and then attach the poem to the end.


Too short? Ok, the kyrielle is a very short form. Not a complete thought? Ok, maybe the form I chose does not do the job. But - Put it in a story? excuse me?? "Write a better poem" - not - write a story.

I find it hard to believe you really don't see why it bothers me.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

But I still say that statistically if you submit more, you have a better chance of getting in, assuming that the work is of similar quality regardless of length.

This is generally called the "shotgun approach". It has some other, less pleasant names, but for now we'll stick with shotgun. It's common in profic, where writers of mediocre talent survive simply by flinging everything they write at editors until something finally hits. To pretend that it isn't tried in fanfic is naive.


Apart from finding the suggestion of 'pretending' rather patronizing, I see various problems with these arguments. First, the parallel between a professional author and a fanfiction author is inexact, since a fanfic author doesn't need to publish in order to 'survive'. Or was the implication that acceptance into HASA is to be equated with payment in the pro world? Maybe I am naïve, but I like to think that an author's primary goal in a piece of writing is not 'to get it into HASA'. To believe such would seem more suggestive of HASA's attitudes than those of authors.

There's also an underlying implication that authors who write in short forms are necessarily equally, or more, prolific than those who write extended works; that one author can complete 20 vignettes, and archive most of them, with the same time and effort that another takes to complete a 20-chapter novel. I'm sure this wasn't intended as a blanket characterization, but it could be taken that way. All writers work to their own pace, and a preference for short forms doesn't mean that one is going to flood the market with quick knock-offs. Speaking purely for myself, I write more in short forms because a) I think more in images than in plot strands, and b) the actual process is like pulling teeth. I've submitted, and had reviewed, three single-page stories over the past year. The output of a novel author is a thing to envy

I can see that authors might submit for review a piece they have doubts about, just to see what will happen. It's the suggestion that people are conscious of a success/high output ratio that I have problems with. However, even if that is deemed to be going on, what are the practical ramifications? This thread is about formulating decline comments, yet no clear connections have been made between this 'scattergun approach' and the reviewing of an individual piece. The reviewer has to consider a work in anonymous isolation, even if (in practice) they do know who wrote it. They can't decline it on the grounds that 'you've submitted 10 other fics this month'. (Though powzie's earlier post hinted at such an occurence.) Is a reviewer to deduce the 'scattergun approach' from the mere fact that a story is ropey? But the author may have genuinely believed in its integrity. So I'd be interested to know what practical applications this theory actually has.

Gemma

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I've stayed out of this for the most part, but this one I have to say something about.

Tay, confession time - I had not read this particular poem before - how I managed to miss it I don't know, but I just followed the link and have read it now. And I strongly urge anyone who is even thinking of commenting on this particular issue to go do the same before you say anything.

The poem was good, but I'd really like to see the backstory for the poem fleshed out in fic form.

I'll probably have my head handed to me by someone, but this comment is utterly ridiculous. I will, for the sake of argument, assume by now that those still reading this have actually read Elanor.

HASA is by definition an archive for Tolkien fanfic. I would assume that those who come to read said fanfic on the public side are also fans of the Professor's work. By virtue of being a "fan" I would assume that the visitors to the site have some familiarity with the stories. Actually, if I were to go by the strict definition of the word, readers would have considerably more than a passing familiarity with JRRT's writings.

You hint at [the backstory] with the summary,

For those who still haven't read it, here's the summary: She came from a literate lineage, and became the keeper of The Red Book- she would not have taken for her own a man who could not write her at least one verse… Fastred to Elanor for the 'How Do I Love Thee' poetry challenge.

The summary simply explains whose voice the poem is written in. Do we really need to be beaten over the head with every detail? There is enough "backstory" in this summary for anyone who knows how to read and put two and two together. Can anyone honestly say they cannot figure out who Fastred is (even if they hadn't read the appendicies)? Did Tay have to put it more prosaically? Perhaps if she'd written: Elanor could read and write, so she would probably have married a man who also could read and write. How dull.

Tay has given enough hints within the poem itself, and if a "fan" doesn't understand all of the references, the original work is a great place to find them. Or simply ask someone. If a "fan" won't do that, IMO they're not much of a "fan". Punish them, not the writer of such a lovely and evocative poem. That review was way out of line.

BTW Elanor most emphatically does express a complete thought.

~Nessime
*who has never submitted a poem and most likely never will*

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

If I had had a chance to review this, I would not have checked it out, but I can see where Reviewer9 is coming from. But I would have put it differently.

Your summary is more of an author's note rather than a summary, so I think there's a mismatch. What you have in the summary is an example of the kind of one-sentence novellettes that pepper the Appendicies and which we fanficcers love to gapfill ... or love to read gapfills written by others. The summary more describes the context of the poem rather than the poem itself; Reviewer9 was making a suggestion for how to make the main text better fit the summary.

For a suggestion to make the summary better fit the text, my beta suggestion would be:

Summary: [describe poem: a kyrielle about Eleanor]

Text:

1. kyrielle elanor
[16 lines of poetry]

********

Notes: [1st note, from summary]: She came from a literate lineage, and became the keeper of The Red Book- she would not have taken for her own a man who could not write her at least one verse… Fastred to Elanor for the 'How Do I Love Thee' poetry challenge.

[2nd note, existing]: I don't have much of a grip on hobbits, so this pairing was a challenge. I liked the form of the kyrielle for this, it seemed to fit a Shire poem, breezy yet structured.

-- I can see why Reviewer9's review would be upsetting to read. But I understand his "might be better to actually write it out" as a request to write the story described in the summary. If you move the text in the summary to an author not (it puts the poem in context) and put in a summary a description that emphasises that it's a poem, I think that would work better.

Julie
back online and catching up

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I'd rather NOT comment on Tay's poem here. I'd rather focus on the legitimacy of "would work better in a story" as a reason explaining a capsule decline. Is that ok with everyone? I am not referencing the actual poem as this is not a review forum for individual pieces.

There are poems that do not stand alone well enough to merit inclusion. There are poems which, though they are in-character for the speaker, would never gain admission. Why? Because the character is a terrible poet, and makes eyes bleed. It doesn't matter how 'in character' the speaking of such a poem would be, reviewers would decline it because it wouldn't likely be convincing to say in the summary: X is a bad poet, but he tries his best. That statement requires proof in itself that the character has been properly interpreted in order for the poem to make sense as it is, lumps and all, especially if it's not listed as humor.

There are some poems that are too generic in themselves to merit inclusion, regardless of their excellence. I will once again use Masefield and his evil "Sea Fever" poem which has haunted me since fourth grade: just because it's skippy (in a good way--saying it is like skipping along to me), centered on longing for the sea and ships, and generally good fun (IMO) does not mean that it is therefore about Middle-earth. I need something more.

Whether that 'something more' can be provided by the summary is a matter, I suspect, for how well the summary is done and how well the poem is written. Author's note, summary, whatever. Makes no difference to me. Between the two (if the two exist) or else with just the summary, you should have some notion of the author's intentions, and that's the initial plank upon which judgment ought to rest. Why wouldn' t you take the author at his/her word? So if I see a summary like: "An Elf thinks of the sea" I have to judge the poem that follows (assuming it's a poem) on the basis of whether I am convinced that 'an Elf' would write, say, "Sea Fever" by John Masefield (who has haunted me since fourth grade with that bloody poem). Plagiarism aside, could I be convinced just from a line of summary that the poem, with no further context, is a part of Middle-earth? Perhaps.

If, however, even with the summary, I was not convinced that the poem was really all that elvish in sentiment, and was rather far too generic, I'd have to decline it, even though, perhaps, I recognized its technical and evocative merit. It just wasn't evoking "Middle-earth" as it stood, even with the summary let's say.

If that were the case, I'd not be likely to suggest altering the poem, which I thought was lovely, but to make suggestions about context to explain my drop down decline. I might very well suggest that the author please put it in a story, for context. This isn't a comment on the quality of the poem, nor on its status *as* a poem, it's a comment about what would be sufficient context for me to recognize it as being written within the world Tolkien wrote about. Maybe I need a fuller description of the narrator than simply "An Elf thinks of the sea." Maybe even "One of Cirdan's people celebrates the joy of being a mariner" would be sufficient--it's a more specific Elf at that point than just any old Elf whom even the author can't be bothered to pinpoint more carefully than just "an Elf."

Again, I am not saying that that is what Tay did ("generic hobbit thinks of romance in the Spring" followed by a generic if lovely love poem); I am saying that I do not think that one can object to "might work better in a story" as an explanation of a decline in principle, just as one cannot in principle judge that a poem is always going to need a story. Yes, it can be misused, but so can almost anything; if one uses this specific explanation, then one had best be damned sure one has been sufficiently clear what one is targetting: not the poem as such, nor the fact that it is a poem, but that there's just not enough context to convince you it's a part of Tolkien's universe, and that doing this *might* be one way of convincing the reader it does belong in M-e.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Addendum: I suppose that, in the example given above, whereby even with the summary, a poem fails to evoke Middle-earth sufficiently for me to vote "accept," I suppose I could say one other thing:

"Lovely poem, but it doesn't evoke Middle-earth, even with the summary. The lack of specificity in the summary suggests that the author him- or herself isn't particularly sure of who ought to be given this poem. May I suggest writing a different poem, since I'd not want you to alter this one due to its technical merit?"

I somehow think that this would not be well-received, but it is honest and does not request a story or suggest ill-advised alterations to something that is, in itself, lovely.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I am sorry to have used my own work to illustrate my example. I did it because every time I make a point, it is passed over and specifics that have nothing to do with my concern are addressed, and because I don't have the right to "out" anyone else. I DID try again to say I was not concerned about how my poem was reviewed - I am concerned about the review not being about poetry.

Nessime, you gave me a good laugh with you casting of my voice into prosaic!

But truthfully, I would have rejected this poem. It is not "meaty" enough for the archive. This is an example of something that works only in the framework of its challenge, or perhaps with a group of poems. As I admitted- I was flattered as you can only be the first time you are requested.

So - one more time - getting a decline is not my point. I am hearing in this forum that no one is showing concrete examples of the kind of declines I am bothered by -- declines that do not decline for merit, but for some arbitrary reason that does not reflect on the work up for critique. That was my concrete example. I tried to do this without referencing the poem, but it became a discussion of "Tolkien worthiness" which I never mentioned.



Julie, I am reading your message to mean that you would have declined me for my summary. Not what I am talking about. But do we really decline for a bad summary? Really?


Dwim : again I apologize for referencing my own work, but it was you who said, (though in the context of short stories) "Short stories are as worthwhile as 120,000 words. I can't remember anyone saying they weren't. " That is what this example was meant to address, as I think that is exactly what that review says.

I am saying that I do not think that one can object to "might work better in a story" as an explanation of a decline in principle,"Lovely poem, but it doesn't evoke Middle-earth, even with the summary. The lack of specificity in the summary suggests that the author him- or herself isn't particularly sure of who ought to be given this poem. May I suggest writing a different poem, since I'd not want you to alter this one due to its technical merit?"

I can only speak for myself, but I would be delighted to get such a decline. Even without the last line. It declines for what the poem does not do.

Honestly, that is my one and only point.

I have learned much about my own writing and what I think is good enough for HASA since I have been here. I was excited to be writing again at all when I first came here, and truthfully, I have two poems on the public side I would happily volunteer to take down based on merit, and Elanor is one of them. Is such a thing possible?

It does not change how I feel about declining a work because it does not meet the HASA standard. (I approve, in case anyone is still not getting it) But not because it is not one of the "chosen few" forms.


I have had enough email to make it abundantly clear to me that HASA is not a poetry archive. That's fine with me, too, and I would be happy to move all my poetry off the site. I just think it sould say so, somewhere.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I DID try again to say I was not concerned about how my poem was reviewed

I was actually responding to Nessime's specific use of your poem and to Julie's posting, not to yours. That is why I said at the top that I wasn't going to deal with a specific poem, though I did feel I needed to name you because Nessime had. My apologies, I shall make sure to reference clearly the postings to which I am responding next time, but there were no conveniently clippable bits, so I just went ahead and posted.

But now I'm in a position of not knowing whether you think I'm missing the point or not. Sorry, I've read your posting a couple of times, with careful attention to the part of my posting you cited and your reaction to it and I'm still scratching my head. You'd rather the second decline because it focuses mostly on the poem and its lack of context, yes. But I never said in the first posting that I was asking the person to alter the poem. I suggested a context for it, though perhaps badly. I did not say "I demand that you rewrite this," nor did I suggest that poetry *must* be accompanied by a fic. What I said is: *this* poem doesn't stand on its own and lacks context; *this* poem as it is might work better if contextualized within a story, please do so. Would it be better if I simply said: "I personally think *this* poem is excellent, but it does not evoke Middle-earth as it now stands. Rather than alter it, if you *like* you could write a story to embed it in in order to give it the necessary context. Otherwise, I cannot offer any suggestions as to how to make* this* *specific* poem evoke Middle-earth, because to do so would require me to ask you to change the poem, and it's perfectly good as a poem"?

Is that honestly a poor review to you? To other poetry writers? (And I speak as another writer of sometimes good poetry--I just know that my poetry is by and large generic and not specific to Tolkien's world. Thus I do embed them in fics--habit perhaps makes me immune to finding this criticism offensive.) More to the point to my way of thinking (and going out on the big limb of Insensitive Dwim), so long as I don't imply or state that I would endorse the idea that poetry *only* belongs inside a story, then is it so impossible to brush off a suggestion that doesn't alter the heart of the reviewer's reasoning (that the poem just doesn't stand alone sufficiently)? Does the very suggestion that one way to contextualize the poem to make it (as it currently stands) fit into M-e is embedding it in a story *really* make me an unfit judge of poetry who contributes to making HASA anti-poetry?

And I don't doubt, Tay, that you're not concerned about your specific poems at this point. Really, I don't. I also do not doubt your committment to good fanfiction, and particularly to improving the reception of poetry through education. You are coming through clearly. I do not know that I am coming through clearly to you, however.

I have two poems on the public side I would happily volunteer to take down based on merit, and Elanor is one of them. Is such a thing possible?

As a reminder to all: the ground rule from back before there was an archive in more than beta existence is this: an author has total control over his or her works. You may submit what you like, take down what you like (just e-mail a site admin or tug on the nearest admin sleeve), and refuse to allow an accepted piece of work to be posted, if you like. You need make no excuse or apology for what you do with your own writing. But it is not any member's business to tell an author to take a work out of the public archive, and there are no repeal votes, not even for WiPs.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

This is Julie, still catching up, reacting to several messages:

Powsie message 14662:
Julie says: the writer has focused in on the climatic scene and didn't -- it seems to me -- choose to do the work of writing the rest of the short story or novellette. Because the rest of the story is missing

Julie, we never seem to be able to agree on this, and I do not want to argue. Since you have had your say, I will have mine - the way you have phrased this sounds very much like prejudging to me. Your language is very condescending and emotionally loaded.


Powsie, this is a frustration to me, that you don't want to argue , but you say prejuding and emotionally loaded Your statement is also emotionally loaded.

I'm in an awkward position, since I'd need to bring in specific examples of stories where the rest of the story is missing to defend that my judgement on that was not "condescending". I can think of two "fragment" declines I've made (that didn't make it to the archive) where the author was, for instance, telling not showing: having one character tell another that he knew thus-and-so had always been the case, and the missing development wasn't anything in canon. Another gapfilled in a very angsty way one of LotR terse passages in a way I didn't find emotionally convincing nor supported from the original; writing more of development could have overcome my objection. There was a third OOC decline (a short story, not a vignette) that, after correspondence with the author where she detailed her themes and goals, could have been a "fragment" decline, since the clues that indicated what her theme was were very obliquely sketched and, she concluded that she might have had a better time convincing me if she had started earlier in the relationship, but that wasn't the way she wanted to write the story. Plus enough people voted to accept that the that story got into the archive.

But I can't effectively discuss this if I don't have a concrete example. There's a rather civilized discussion currently happening on the HA mailing list (and also mentioned in the Humor topic in this folder) about an Aragorn slash story that has both supporters and detractors without, as far as I know, the author knowing it's happening. But I don't want to name titles unless an author I've declined wants to talk about it here.

Powsie message 14703:
I don't read Julie's post as 'I decline short works.' I do see it saying that she is more of 'hardass' about what it is sufficient in a short work

I don't read it as "I decline short works" either. And "sufficient" is all I hope for. Have you ever seen the T shirt that says "Women have to do twice as much to be thought half as good"? That's my concern. Pieces of all forms and lengths get declined all the time. (Hopefully on merit) But I never see anyone out in the forums saying "the novel is too damn long"


For the record, I also have declined long stories on the basis of the story being too meandering, that the topic isn't meaty enough to carry the amount of words connected with it. For both long and short stories, if there's enough right about a story, that can outweigh other aspects I have problems with.

Powsie, message 15004:
Julie, I am reading your message to mean that you would have declined me for my summary. Not what I am talking about. But do we really decline for a bad summary? Really?

In my message 14985 I said: If I had had a chance to review this, I would not have checked it out, but I can see where Reviewer9 is coming from. But I would have put it differently. I specifically said I would not have declined you, but, IMO, your summary may have contributed to Reviewer9's decline. That's what I was trying to say. That your summary didn't match the text. For instance, the summary mentioned the "Red Book" and the poem did not. The summary may have given Reviewer9 an misleading expectation of what the submission was about and Reviewer9 was making a suggestion for how to make the main text better fit the summary. I then made a suggestion to make the summary better fit the text, which you didn't respond to.

Do I decline for a bad summary? Not for your poem, but, yes, I have declined where the deciding or a contributing factor was the summary. I don't see why this shouldn't be valid (and it has been discussed before). Submissions are accepted or declined as is. In a few cases the summaries were much too long (taking up more than a fair share of the index page) and the text of the overlong summaries would have been more appropriate for author notes. Misspellings in summaries. I've declined on basis of author notes: in one case, the author was apologized for putting a character through the wringer in a way that made it seem he was embarrassed at what he had written, that the motivation for his writing the darkfic was to see if he could do such a thing. Writer's exercise, OK. But not Excellent. That author's note made the whole correctly spelled and no-errors-in-grammar story was gratuitious violence, and gratuitious hurt-without-comfort. Another deciding reason for a decline was for a coy maybe-it-is-or-maybe-it-isn't-slash author note that I felt ruined the mood of the text with was trying for bittersweet.

Dwim : again I apologize for referencing my own work, but it was you who said, (though in the context of short stories) "Short stories are as worthwhile as 120,000 words. I can't remember anyone saying they weren't. " That is what this example was meant to address, as I think that is exactly what that review says.

In my message, as quoted above, I gave an possible explanation for why Reviewer9 asked for a story to go with the poem. Because I feel that with your exactly above you are reading the comment as indicative of a generalized difficulty with judging poetry, while I feel that it is more a comment about a specific problem with your poem. [To repeat: I don't think it's a serious enough problem that I would have checked out and declined the poem; I'm disagreeing with the this-is-a-serious-problem-with-the-review-process interpretation you are giving to Reviewer9's comment.] Are you willing to comment on my observation that I believe your summary does not match your text?

Parenthetically, I realize don't know if I'm correctly interpreting Reviewer9's intention. I am curious about that. Maybe whoever Reviewer9 is and if he's reading this he'll add to this thread or contact you personally to clarify. However, I believe mine is a valid possible interpretation.

I have had enough email to make it abundantly clear to me that HASA is not a poetry archive. That's fine with me, too, and I would be happy to move all my poetry off the site. I just think it should say so, somewhere.

This is an emotionally loaded statement.

Nessime, message 14984:
The summary simply explains whose voice the poem is written in. Do we really need to be beaten over the head with every detail? There is enough "backstory" in this summary for anyone who knows how to read and put two and two together.

I contend that the existing summary is an author's note rather than a summary; a summary that emphasizes that the text is a poem and doesn't note elements that aren't in the text would be a more accurate summary.

~Nessime
*who has never submitted a poem and most likely never will*


This could be construed as an emotionally loaded statement, since you don't indicate if you do or do not write poetry, or if you have or have not considered submitting poetry.

Powsie message 14963:
Anyway, everyone knows where I am on this, so I have ceased to even be an effective spokesperson for the cause of objectivity, and it's time I let it go.
Powsie message 14662:
Julie, we never seem to be able to agree on this, and I do not want to argue.

These are frustrating comments. I wish you could find a better way to say "I still disagree" that doesn't also say "I don't want to discuss this" because, well, you still are. I suppose you don't want to continue the discussion, but you feel you have to have your say whenever I have my say. But I still find it frustrating.

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

~Nessime
*who has never submitted a poem and most likely never will*

This is an emotionally loaded statement.


Not so. The only intent was to point out that I have no personal stake in this discussion as I have never submitted a piece of poetry, and I doubt I'd ever write any poetry that I would consider submitting.

~Nessime

PS - to quote my father, don't state something as a fact unless you can prove it is factual. My comment may seem emotionally loaded to you, but it was not meant that way.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Not so. The only intent was to point out that I have no personal stake in this discussion as I have never submitted a piece of poetry, and I doubt I'd ever write any poetry that I would consider submitting.

~Nessime

PS - to quote my father, don't state something as a fact unless you can prove it is factual. My comment may seem emotionally loaded to you, but at the time I wrote it, it was not.


Thank you for correcting me when I misunderstanding your statement. It wasn't as clear as it could have been. As you have expanding on your statment, I have modified my comment to the following:

"This could be construed as an emotionally loaded statement, since you don't indicate if you do or do not write poetry, or if you have or have not considered submitting poetry."

I also wrote:
Nessime, message 14984:
The summary simply explains whose voice the poem is written in. Do we really need to be beaten over the head with every detail? There is enough "backstory" in this summary for anyone who knows how to read and put two and two together.

I contend that the existing summary is an author's note rather than a summary; a summary that emphasizes that the text is a poem and doesn't note elements that aren't in the text would be a more accurate summary.


Do you have a comment on this?

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Do you have a comment on this?

Julie, I'm not going to engage in a tit for tat with you or with anyone else. My comment on the summary was made before you posted yours, and mine only referred to the reviewer's comments. You have your opinion, one to which you are entitled. As I am to mine.

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I came to this forum to learn how to improve my reviews. Also, as a writer, I was interested in reading what other reviewers were using as criteria.

Reviewer Comments: The poem was good, but I'd really like to see the backstory for the poem fleshed out in fic form. You hint at it with the summary, but it might be better to actually write it out and then attach the poem to the end.

This is not a clear review. If the reviewer meant that this verse could not stand on its own, that is what they should have said. To me it reads that they wanted more story. That may mean that the poem was not sufficient or it could mean they would simply prefer a story because the summary intrigued them.

I have recently recieved this review:

I liked this story, but I think that it is a little too short and it felt fragmented. Also, the description at the beginning is a little overdone and seems to swamp the story.

The reviewer was kind enough to sign this review. I was concerned about the story being fragmented. I asked for specifics, so I could work on that aspect of the review and was told that she just thought is was too short.

That I can appreciate. However, if fiction/verse is being reviewed. The reviewer has a responsibility to say what they mean clearly. If they are unable to, I would prefer a simple pull down.

I would like to become a better writer. I am here because of the discussions and take comments in the forums and reviews seriously. It can be frustrating to have work declined by a reviewer who is unable to accurately say what they mean.


There was also mention of what constitutes a summary. My impression was that a summary should draw a reader to your piece. Also, here at HASA it is used to provide as many key words for searches. Simply saying a kyrielle about Eleanor or a vignette about Aragorn, is not only boring, it makes me question the purpose of having one to begin with.

Chris

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Julie: re summaries

I understood there were two functions to a summary at HASA, and I would be happy to be enlightened if I am not correct.

1. To make a statement about the work that will encourage readers to read it

2. To leave keywords that might come up in searches (recently we were encouraged on the mailing-list to add our names because people using the archive search this way.)

I am willing to say the summary as it stands may need to be changed. I will change it. Thanks. But I think to use your suggestion:
Summary: a kyrielle about Eleanor]
is a waste of words. Why bother saying anything? It's boring. Am I not even allowed to mention the challenge it belongs to? That seems arbitrary.

You also say:
What you have in the summary is an example of the kind of one-sentence novellettes that pepper the Appendicies... The summary more describes the context of the poem rather than the poem itself;

If you move the text in the summary to an author not [sic] (it puts the poem in context) and put in a summary a description that emphasises [sic] that it's a poem, I think that would work better.

and you add that you have:
Do I decline for a bad summary? Not for your poem, but, yes, I have declined where the deciding or a contributing factor was the summary.

I thought I would look at your own summaries and see how you do it, then. I found dates when stories were written, personal notes/dedications and long questions about what you hope to get from Beta. Surely these should be author's notes as well, for someone so picky they use summaries as a factor in declines??

Where has declining for summaries been discussed before - I would like to catch up and not ask questions that cover old ground. Declining for misspelling in the summary? Author's Notes? Really? This seems excessive to me. I went back to the tutorial, and I didn't find any guidelines about what should go in the summary. Can someone point me at this info? I don't want to keep making the same mistakes when I could be aspiring to new ones.

I suppose you don't want to continue the discussion, but you feel you have to have your say whenever I have my say.

Yup!

But I think this should come off the line, because it has ceased to relate to the forum. Feel free to write me if you want to.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Dwim: But now I'm in a position of not knowing whether you think I'm missing the point or not.

I am hearing you as well.

I didn't address your first example because I had no problem with it. I didn't really address the second, either; same reason.

My comment was specifically directed to the remark:I somehow think that this would not be well-received because I wanted to say that I would receive without any ill feeling.

I would offer to be more careful, (and actually, I will be) but I think I might serve us all better by simply being more quiet.

Thanks for the information about having work taken down. I will think seriously about it while I try to get myself in a more level-headed place.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Where has declining for summaries been discussed before - I would like to catch up and not ask questions that cover old ground. Declining for misspelling in the summary? Author's Notes? Really? This seems excessive to me. I went back to the tutorial, and I didn't find any guidelines about what should go in the summary. Can someone point me at this info? I don't want to keep making the same mistakes when I could be aspiring to new ones.

AFAIK, the only thing the Summary should do is just that: summarize. It should tell enough about the story to make me want to read it. It probably should contain the names of the major characters.

Fr'instance:

Gandalf and Merry lay a trap for Pippin.

This sort of tells me what to expect, but not much more.

Gandalf and Merry use some special mushrooms to trick Pippin into revealing the name of his girlfriend.

This tells me what to expect, and gives me enough information to decide if I'm reading it or not.

That's all the Summary needs to do. Declining a story based on the presence of a spelling error in the Summary seems unneccesarily harsh. After all, if you chose to read the story, the Summary did its job.

khazar

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I'll reply to the shorter post first, and reply to 15014 later.

That's all the Summary needs to do. Declining a story based on the presence of a spelling error in the Summary seems unneccesarily harsh. After all, if you chose to read the story, the Summary did its job.

If "Gandalf" is misspelled I probably wouldn't chose to read the story, though that might cause me to review a story. The other misspelling could have been a grammar error instead, causing the one sentence of the summary to be in both past and present tense. If I'm remembering correctly. And, in both cases, when I read the stories I found them both bland, in the middle, nothing I could point to that was done right that I'd want to recommend the stories to a stranger, and the misspellings in the summary were something done wrong I could decline on.

Julie


 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Julie, you are allowed to decline for blandness. It's called 'undistinguished writing'.

Telling somebody -- you misspelled a word in the summary so you get the ol' Lever of Doom, dearie -- is quite another matter.

If one looks hard enough one will find SOMETHING to decline on. Especially if one's purpose is to find that something come heck or high water.

Lindorien


 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Oops. I skipped some info being terse and didn't explain myself well.

The summary misspellings were deciding factors when I was sitting on the fence wondering whether or not to check out bland stories to vote on, or leave for other reviewers. It's not how I compose notes to the authors, though I gave that impression.

The capsule reasons for the declines were "Undistinguished Writing" and the reviewer comments were "Not ready for HASA", brief plot comment, then approximately "The text needs proofing; for instance, xxx is misspelled in the summary" plus my name & email address.

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

That's better I suppose, Julie.

Lindorien,

Newest Member of the Not Ready for HASA players.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I suppose you don't want to continue the discussion, but you feel you have to have your say whenever I have my say.
Yup!
But I think this should come off the line, because it has ceased to relate to the forum. Feel free to write me if you want to.


I tend to answer questions in the venue where I receive them, especially when are new points are added to the discussion.

You pointed out some spelling errors, argh. I’ll try to proof this reply more carefully.

I am willing to say the summary as it stands may need to be changed. I will change it. Thanks. But I think to use your suggestion:
Summary: a kyrielle about Eleanor]
is a waste of words. Why bother saying anything? It's boring. Am I not even allowed to mention the challenge it belongs to? That seems arbitrary.


Yes that would be boring. The whole thing was in square brackets, I used square brackets three other times in the message, and what I wrote was,
Summary: [describe poem: a kyrielle about Eleanor]
I didn’t try to figure out a description as that should be your words. I’ll try again and I hope I’m more clear --
Summary: [write a new summary that emphasizes the text is a poem, including it’s a kyrielle about Elanor.]
I don’t think mentioning what challenge it belongs to would be a problem. But not keeper of The Red Book if the poem isn’t about being the book’s guardian.

I thought I would look at your own summaries and see how you do it, then. I found dates when stories were written, personal notes/dedications and long questions about what you hope to get from Beta. Surely these should be author's notes as well, for someone so picky they use summaries as a factor in declines??

The one story I have in the public archive is 1.5 lines long … and is boring. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at that; it needs revision. But its problem is being boring, not being too long.

The other three items have 3 or 5 line summaries and are in Beta. I don’t think 5 lines is too long. The two declines I wrote that included, among other reasons, that the summaries were too long were 15 or 20 or 25 lines long. I would revise the summaries when and if I submit the items for review. Specific beta questions are appropriate for the beta list and several other authors also do that. The rest rest of what you listed are short elements, and I try to keep as terse as possible.

Where has declining for summaries been discussed before -

I can’t remember right now. It may have been in a HA discussion. I do remember brining up the example of the decline I made where the author notes for a darkfic made the violence and hurt in the story seem gratuitous. It’s hard to be specific enough and still keep the title sufficiently non-identifiable. The author did indicate a major motivation for writing the story was to see if s/he could write a story that would make readers squirm, and the way s/he expressed his/her pride that s/he had done so made me squirm more than the story did. I'm sorry I can’t be more specific.

Declining for misspelling in the summary? Author's Notes? Really? This seems excessive to me.

Answered message 15026, in my reply to Khazar, who also asked …

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Julie:

you say of my summary: What you have in the summary is an example of the kind of one-sentence novellettes that pepper the Appendicies ... and later

In a few cases the summaries were much too long (taking up more than a fair share of the index page) and the text of the overlong summaries would have been more appropriate for author notes.

and of yours: The other three items have 3 or 5 line summaries and are in Beta. I don’t think 5 lines is too long

I have trouble holding a calm conversation when the rules keep changing.

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

you say of my summary: What you have in the summary is an example of the kind of one-sentence novellettes that pepper the Appendicies ...

Backing up. The reason I used "novelette" in the first statement you quote above was to make a reminder of how a single sentence can envoke a much longer story. And this is something us fanficcers often like to write or read -- expanding an evocative sentence into gapfilling detail. It wasn't a comment about the length of your summary. And I didn't think your summary was horribly bad; I was trying to propose a reason why Reviewer9 might have made his request to "see the backstory for the poem fleshed out in fic form".

and of yours: The other three items have 3 or 5 line summaries and are in Beta. I don’t think 5 lines is too long

I had mentioned that overlong summaries can be one of the reasons that contribute to a decline vote, but I didn't mention how long those overlong summaries were. You checked the length of the four summaries on my author page and commented that I had long summaries. So I clarified that "overlong" was 15 or 20 or 25 lines for the stories that I declined, and that my 5 lines wasn't excessive by that measure.

So I think the two quotes you have made aren't contradictory or "changing rules" because they're addressing different concerns.

Julie

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

I'd like to bring this discussion back to the original point. Gemma had contributed her poetry criteria, and out of that I'm trying to distill some comments that might apply. Given that my knowledge is limited, I'd have to really have one of these hit me on the head to use it.

Please add or suggest modifications!

rhythm flat or choppy
meter and rhyme scheme feel forced, not smooth
Certain words jarring in context

Not appropriately concise
Wordy
Repetition is not sucessful within the context of the poem

Another questions for the poetry mavens among us -
If a poem is using a standard form, like a sonnet, how do you feel about lines that should rhyme, but don't quite? Are there standard times that is acceptable?

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Evolving decline list

Lyllyn,

Might you be entreated to begin another thread to continue this discussion? This current thread loads ever slower. ;)

Because the posts are ever longer. ;)

And my eyes are ever blurring...

I shall retreat to lurk mode again.

Lindorien

 

 

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