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Shaping Your Writing: Does a Lack of Feedback Affect Yours?

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I have never had my work pre-edited. Honestly, I’ve never even really had a beta reader. My fandom stuff is too obscure for most people, and I’d need to find a beta who’s willing to read original fic that might be MM, or maybe MF, possibly fantasy-based, post-dystopian, alternate historical, or just plain controversial. I’m all over the place as far as settings and content.

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15 minutes ago, Desiderius Price said:

And I’ve got those [minor1] tags, so I’d have to be a bit cautious in any editor search.

You might have to self-publish, since that’s controversial even for the more fetish-oriented publishers.

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Just now, BronxWench said:

You might have to self-publish, since that’s controversial even for the more fetish-oriented publishers.

I even have to be careful on the self-pub sites, some of them restrict minor1 too.  Its annoying because I want my stories to have realism to them, however, people like raising pitchforks when it’s even suggested that everybody’s a perfect angel before their 18th birthday*.  This will factor in the editor search because I’d need someone able to read it. 

* I’m aware that some jurisdictions have puritanical legal standards not distinguishing between fictional stories and picture taking, fortunately, not where I reside :)

 

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Quite frankly, I was in Minor2 territory when I discovered sex. When you’re talking about 16 and 17 year old kids having it off, no one really gets out a pitchfork. But I think the 13-and-under set will  always be something publishers, and even some distributors, will treat with caution. That’s not to say a great many mainstream fiction novels don’t have scenes of child abuse, including sexual abuse, and that’s not to say there haven’t been novels which had consensual sexual contact with or between children 13 or younger. But that will bring out the pitchforks faster than anything, and get the novel dropped like a ball of hot lava.

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One possibility that might be available for some is to take a “Creative Writing” class at their local community college.  This will at least enhance your core writing skills as well as potentially give you a “pool” of “peer-reviewers.”  If the Professor is a good one, and likes your work, you may also find at least some editing help, provided the Professor believes his time is not being wasted.

Desiderius Price, with all the pure muck, trash, and hell that comes “over the transom” at any good literary agency or publishing house, an author needs whatever advantage they are able to find to “make the cut” to their editors.  While actually hiring and paying an editor would be a substantial if not extreme commitment to the quality of your work, finding fellow writers who are willing to invest the time into YOUR work, and whose work is at least as good as if not better than yours can also get the quality up high enough.  Of course, your work may not be “accessible” enough for commercial publishing, but that is a separate issue.

BronxWench, You have made it.  You have been published on the merit of your writing alone, without having to pay MONEY on top of the work of writing itself.  As an author, you spend as much time promoting your work as you do creating and editing it.  The biggest difference between a “vanity” publisher and a “conventional” one is who owns the three cases of books in the back of your car as you go from bookstore to swap-meet to convention trying to get people to buy your book.  The publisher always pays themselves first.

 

Since I don’t have a “signature file” handy, I guess I’ll put something amusing below manually.

“Tito’s Vodka—because everyone knows you drink vodka for the flavor.”

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2 hours ago, BronxWench said:

Quite frankly, I was in Minor2 territory when I discovered sex. When you’re talking about 16 and 17 year old kids having it off, no one really gets out a pitchfork. But I think the 13-and-under set will  always be something publishers, and even some distributors, will treat with caution. That’s not to say a great many mainstream fiction novels don’t have scenes of child abuse, including sexual abuse, and that’s not to say there haven’t been novels which had consensual sexual contact with or between children 13 or younger. But that will bring out the pitchforks faster than anything, and get the novel dropped like a ball of hot lava.

Exactly.  I would guess that part of the issue would depend on how much of the “action” is portrayed directly, and how it’s presented. 

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41 minutes ago, Wilde_Guess said:

One possibility that might be available for some is to take a “Creative Writing” class at their local community college.  This will at least enhance your core writing skills as well as potentially give you a “pool” of “peer-reviewers.”  If the Professor is a good one, and likes your work, you may also find at least some editing help, provided the Professor believes his time is not being wasted.

Desiderius Price, with all the pure muck, trash, and hell that comes “over the transom” at any good literary agency or publishing house, an author needs whatever advantage they are able to find to “make the cut” to their editors.  While actually hiring and paying an editor would be a substantial if not extreme commitment to the quality of your work, finding fellow writers who are willing to invest the time into YOUR work, and whose work is at least as good as if not better than yours can also get the quality up high enough.  Of course, your work may not be “accessible” enough for commercial publishing, but that is a separate issue.

BronxWench, You have made it.  You have been published on the merit of your writing alone, without having to pay MONEY on top of the work of writing itself.  As an author, you spend as much time promoting your work as you do creating and editing it.  The biggest difference between a “vanity” publisher and a “conventional” one is who owns the three cases of books in the back of your car as you go from bookstore to swap-meet to convention trying to get people to buy your book.  The publisher always pays themselves first.

 

Since I don’t have a “signature file” handy, I guess I’ll put something amusing below manually.

“Tito’s Vodka—because everyone knows you drink vodka for the flavor.”

I’m no longer in the class-taking mindset (kinda got burned out after finishing that masters).  And I still have trepidation because of the content that I am writing, be it a writers group, an editor, or a publisher; those under-18 tags and some religious bigotry too.  Of course, my material’s not yet to that publishing point, so there’s that.  (I need to revise and get the main story moving along before I’m confident on all the points where my various stories intersect.)

40 minutes ago, Wilde_Guess said:

Exactly.  I would guess that part of the issue would depend on how much of the “action” is portrayed directly, and how it’s presented. 

There are countries where the mere fact it’s “under-18” is illegal.  Others will decline it’s because its sexual.  So, some publishers just outright ban under-18 for those reasons.  Some will avoid it for philosophical/religious reasons.  And that’s before we get to portrayal/presentation/taste.

 

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4 minutes ago, Desiderius Price said:

There are countries where the mere fact it’s “under-18” is illegal.  Others will decline it’s because its sexual.  So, some publishers just outright ban under-18 for those reasons.  Some will avoid it for philosophical/religious reasons.  And that’s before we get to portrayal/presentation/taste.

 

You would know your personal circumstances far better than I.  You should also be as “comfortable” with your publisher as they are with you, at least in my opinion.  If your publisher does not want your work for the reasons you described, their printing your work might actually be WORSE for you than not.  If your work was published by such a publisher, and the Westboro Baptists or others of their ilk came after you, you would truly know what “loneliness” feels like when they “cut and run.”

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14 minutes ago, Wilde_Guess said:

You would know your personal circumstances far better than I.  You should also be as “comfortable” with your publisher as they are with you, at least in my opinion.  If your publisher does not want your work for the reasons you described, their printing your work might actually be WORSE for you than not.  If your work was published by such a publisher, and the Westboro Baptists or others of their ilk came after you, you would truly know what “loneliness” feels like when they “cut and run.”

Yep, definitely, that’s why I generally scope out the publishers/self-pub sites, looking at everything, to see if they’d even fit on content.  Based on what I’ve seen, self-pub is likely the best option, but that means hiring an editor.  Well, when it’s time to move into that, I’ll be doing my research to find good editors that aren’t too picky (or open minded).

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I love the idea of a creative writing class, just for the pure educational value of it. Learning is always valuable. But for me and people like me, it’s not an option for feedback for two reasons. Price is the first one. Personal interest classes generally run $100 and up. Actual programs will run a lot more than that (where I am). There are online free options, but those are best for independent learning rather than getting any honest feedback. Second reason is simply the subject matter. If I were to write a story for a class, I would not write the sort of things I prefer to write. I wouldn’t write anything close, because gay-themed smut does not seem like an appropriate subject matter for a creative writing class. I certainly wouldn’t have the balls to put one of my stories forward even in an open-minded university environment, much less in a very conservative small town lol. So the class could be awesome for honing skill if one can afford it, but perhaps not ideal for the sort of feedback we’re griping about lacking. 

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6 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

I love the idea of a creative writing class, just for the pure educational value of it. Learning is always valuable. But for me and people like me, it’s not an option for feedback for two reasons. Price is the first one. Personal interest classes generally run $100 and up. Actual programs will run a lot more than that (where I am). There are online free options, but those are best for independent learning rather than getting any honest feedback. Second reason is simply the subject matter. If I were to write a story for a class, I would not write the sort of things I prefer to write. I wouldn’t write anything close, because gay-themed smut does not seem like an appropriate subject matter for a creative writing class. I certainly wouldn’t have the balls to put one of my stories forward even in an open-minded university environment, much less in a very conservative small town lol. So the class could be awesome for honing skill if one can afford it, but perhaps not ideal for the sort of feedback we’re griping about lacking. 

You know, writing gay smut for a creative writing class in a conservative small town might prove to be an effective fitness program when you’re trying to outrun the hordes of pitchforks ...

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8 minutes ago, Desiderius Price said:

You know, writing gay smut for a creative writing class in a conservative small town might prove to be an effective fitness program when you’re trying to outrun the hordes of pitchforks ...

It might also make an interesting plot-line for a story in its own right, too.  “Alvin and his boyfriend Buford thought they were hiding their torrid relationship while going to Wacko State in Texas.  Until Alvin grabbed the wrong thumbdrive for his creative-lit class and uploaded the story to the school server without reading it first...

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10 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

You know, writing gay smut for a creative writing class in a conservative small town might prove to be an effective fitness program when you’re trying to outrun the hordes of pitchforks ...

This is Canada, DP. Our angry mobs favour the hockey stick.

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On 1/12/2018 at 8:15 PM, Desiderius Price said:

Yep, definitely, that’s why I generally scope out the publishers/self-pub sites, looking at everything, to see if they’d even fit on content.  Based on what I’ve seen, self-pub is likely the best option, but that means hiring an editor.  Well, when it’s time to move into that, I’ll be doing my research to find good editors that aren’t too picky (or open minded).

Having an editor or several betas is an ideal, but the world doesn’t seem to provide as many of them as are wanted. The college bud who ‘did freelance editing’ never really responded to a heya to catchup, before I could sound her out about professional help. So it’s more ghosting.

I find editing short and flash stories to be less wrenching in editing. I haven’t invested as much and criticism is less painful. Paid editing would be cheaper for short works, too, if I went that route. As a reader, I’ve noticed far fewer grammar and usage issues in shorter stuff than longer.  That seems to hold for pro and fanfic.

Some genres, the short story was the traditional gateway for new writers. That starts pro contects and lets some bootstrapping work for you. Once established as a short writer, the publisher may offer editing like for BW, or you will have acquired some fans for betas. A LOT of recent books list multiple betas in the forwards.

But it still comes down to grabbing your readers, enough to give reviews, enough for editors want to acquire the story, and enough for buyers to throw money.

Edited by Anesor
typos and phrasing

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And then, once you think you have the basics of editing yourself down, the Chicago Manual of Style releases a new edition and you find yourself relearning the correct use of commas. :bash:

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Heh, I doubt most of my readers are aware  of this.  Guess my just acquired copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves may be obsolete...

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On ‎1‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 5:36 AM, BronxWench said:

One factor I don’t think really matters is the notion of allowing anonymous reviews. It’s an account-wide choice here, so you can’t cherry-pick which stories on which to allow anon reviews. Allowing them opens you to trolls and flamers, and disallowing them discourages readers who aren’t logged in, or who might not even have archive profiles. But I think it is probably the least relevant factor in getting feedback.

Hm – I have to challenge this a little bit. It does create another barrier because in order to leave a review, a person without an account must sign up for one, log in, find the story again, and then leave a review. That is a lot to ask for someone that might not be in the habit of reviewing fiction. I’ve only had two reviews, and for one of them, I am sure the person created an account just to leave the review. They have no work on AFF, and created the account the day they left the review. That is impressive to me that they went to the trouble – of course, I have no way to thank them except via the review thread on the forum, but who knows if they would even know to look for that or see it. I would need to advertise within the text of the document, which I didn’t quite understand for posting a first story. We are all sort of working against the limitations of the website (no fault there, just maintaining this database on a shoe-string budget is impressive).

Anyway, I realized most of the dragon prints are likely from people without accounts and no desire to sign up for one. I don’t judge them for that.

More on topic: Lack of feedback means I’ll keep doing how I do. It doesn’t de-motivate me not to get it, but skilled, constructive feedback would likely improve my writing. However, I have no expectations that I should get such feedback unless I hire an editor or get a beta reader.

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40 minutes ago, swirlingdoubt said:

Hm – I have to challenge this a little bit. It does create another barrier because in order to leave a review, a person without an account must sign up for one, log in, find the story again, and then leave a review. That is a lot to ask for someone that might not be in the habit of reviewing fiction. I’ve only had two reviews, and for one of them, I am sure the person created an account just to leave the review. They have no work on AFF, and created the account the day they left the review. That is impressive to me that they went to the trouble – of course, I have no way to thank them except via the review thread on the forum, but who knows if they would even know to look for that or see it. I would need to advertise within the text of the document, which I didn’t quite understand for posting a first story. We are all sort of working against the limitations of the website (no fault there, just maintaining this database on a shoe-string budget is impressive).

Anyway, I realized most of the dragon prints are likely from people without accounts and no desire to sign up for one. I don’t judge them for that.

More on topic: Lack of feedback means I’ll keep doing how I do. It doesn’t de-motivate me not to get it, but skilled, constructive feedback would likely improve my writing. However, I have no expectations that I should get such feedback unless I hire an editor or get a beta reader.

In my time here, I’ve seen very few instances of severe trolling or flaming. I really believe it occurs in certain subdomains more than others (and in some not at all) and generally revolves around someone daring to write something other than the OTP of the reader, or in some way bashing (or failing to bash) a specific character. Think Weasley-bashing in the harry Potter subdomain, or the fixation on Sasuke cuckolding Naruto in that subdomain. Aside from those instances, the flaming and trolling has been minimal here, maybe because we tend to moderate actively and we deal with flamers and trolls quickly.

We do have limitations here that other sites don’t have, such as not allowing authors to reply to review on their review board, but one advantage to our forums is that only the author needs to be a member to create a review reply thread. Non-members can read and reply freely, and we’ve completely fine with including the url to your review reply thread in the story. I sometimes include it as a footnote AN, just a quick lime letting readers know (right above that handy link) that I do like reviews, so please drop me a line. I do allow anonymous reviews, and I’ve never really regretted doing so, even given that I’m sure to piss people off on a regular basis as a moderator who might have warned their story or even hidden it.

But concrit?  Good solid concrit is my favorite thing in the world, and I still haven’t forgiven Shadowknight12  for vanishing and not leaving me his wonderful, and very useful concrit. Snarky paladins aren’t what they used to be, that’s for damned sure.

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