Revenge of the Writers!

July 20th, 2007

What is the stupidest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

Let’s get a little of our own back. Review the reviewers! or the person in your writing group who obviously cannot think to save his or her soul! You don’t have to name names if you don’t want to.

Let’s share our dudgeon, high or low.

My example: the fellow over on amazon.com who thought the magical system in Deverry was “obviously” derived from the Star Wars movies. No professional review has ever sunk as low as that, though some have generously if ignorantly credited me with making it all up. :-)

19 Responses to “Revenge of the Writers!”

  1. Glenda Larkeon 21 Jul 2007 at 7:54 am

    I am far too canny to say that any reviewer of mine has been in the least bit stupid. Just imagine what they might say next time!

    One comment from an Amazon reviewer did make me weep though…

    You see, I like to think that my books are many-layered works of subtle brilliance (as well as great stories) and this reader remarked: “There is not the depth like in some fantasy tales but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

    There’s nothing like Amazon readers to keep you from becoming too big-headed…

  2. Maryon 21 Jul 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Nothing any reviewer can ever say can ever overtop some of the bone-heade comments I have gotten from writers’ groups.

  3. Lois Tiltonon 21 Jul 2007 at 3:44 pm

    From the Star Wars movies?!?!?!?!

    That one comes in second to the bone-head who thought Tolkein stole from the Sword of Shanarra

  4. Daniel Woodson 21 Jul 2007 at 6:35 pm

    That one comes in second to the bone-head who thought Tolkein stole from the Sword of Shanarra

    That pretty much made my evening, lol.

  5. Sara Lipowitzon 21 Jul 2007 at 8:26 pm

    When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher required everyone to write in a journal every day. Periodically these journals were collected and graded (!). On one of my entries, my teacher wrote, “Trite.” Which was true, but I was 18 years old and a certain amount of triteness must be gotten out of your system at that age. I was deeply embarrassed and learned to hate journaling from that experience.

  6. Marie Brennanon 21 Jul 2007 at 10:12 pm

    I got at least one review of Doppelganger (I don’t remember where, and won’t bother to go looking) that said the setting was standard medievalism. (Or maybe they said feudalism.) Now, while I’ll be the first to admit it isn’t my most original setting ever, I’d also like to point out to the world at large that the presence of the words “Lord” and “Lady” does not medievalism (or feudalism) make. Look at modern Britain if you don’t believe me.

    But that ticks me off mostly because of a larger gripe: namely, that while there is a lot of pseudo-medieval fantasy on the shelves, there’s also a lot of fantasy being misidentified as pseudo-medieval, on account of people not knowing what medievalism actually is. Titles =/= medieval.

    The truly boneheaded things, though, have come on rejection letters, and have made it blatantly obvious that the editor in question managed to miss components of the story I thought were impossible to miss. Like, referring to the first-person narrator of certain parts of the story as being “some unidentified god-like being,” and failing to notice it’s the guy you see in the third-person scenes. Or praising the dedication and determination of the narrator who, by the end of the story, has been revealed as delusionally attached to a possibility that went away a long time ago.

  7. Leon Staufferon 22 Jul 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I’ve been able to avoid much review by the simple expedient of not publishing. However, in my freshman level English Literature course, we did divide into writing groups. I can’t remember much of what was said in our group, mostly because I deliberately blocked it out after realizing that if even one person in my group had ever had a useful thought, it didn’t occur in that class. Misdirected overenthusiastic praise can be just as annoying as any other kind of stupidity. People show an amazing ability to miss things you thought nobody could possibly miss, thankfully the teacher was good, so the class wasn’t a total waste.

  8. Kate Elliotton 22 Jul 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I will try to come up with better examples, but years and years ago, before I was published, I took a writing course at community college and during the critique portion of my excerpt one guy said that if I was trying to write science fiction shouldn’t I have, like, two suns or something.

  9. Seleneon 23 Jul 2007 at 3:32 am

    the magical system in Deverry was “obviously” derived from the Star Wars movies.

    *wipes tears from eyes* That’s priceless! (Btw, I love your work!)

    Let me see, stupid comments on my writing… Perhaps the one about my writing being morally reprehensible? Or maybe the one about how one novel might have had promise without the MC (it was a first person novel)?

    Selene

  10. Richardon 23 Jul 2007 at 10:23 am

    While I’ve gotten reviews, both good and bad, that made me wonder what story the reviewer was reading, I’ve only gotten one since I’ve been publishing that made me angry. That was when a reviewer accused me of cheating by withholding crucial information, even though, within the context of the story, that information was solely in the hands of a character who had a vested interest in NOT revealing it. I still get ticked when I think of it. Accuse me of bad writing and I’ll shrug it off (de gustibus and all), but one thing I do not do is cheat the reader.

  11. Erin Underwoodon 23 Jul 2007 at 2:24 pm

    I had one instructor (and I won’t say who because y’all know him) tell me that my prose clunks. He then dropped my manuscripted so that it landed with a “thunk”.

    Gulp. Damn him, but he was right! When I dropped the manuscript it thunked, too! ;-)

    Thankfully, the last manuscript that I dropped didn’t thunk so badly. haha…

    I can just picture Nevyn telling Jill to “use the Force”. Yikes! That’s rich!

  12. Katharine Kerron 23 Jul 2007 at 4:14 pm

    Some of the most annoying comments are those by reviewers who think they know what the author was trying to do, such as the one Richard got. They are usually wrong, since they’re not psychic.

  13. Carol Bergon 23 Jul 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I had one contest critiquer long ago, who said I would never possibly sell a story where we didn’t know the first person narrator’s name until the end of the second chapter. (Happily – by the time I received the critique Transformation had already been sold.)

    Carol

  14. Deborah J. Rosson 23 Jul 2007 at 11:29 pm

    One of the biggest challenges in my first published novel, JAYDIUM, was sympathetically portraying a character who was very, very different from me. I worked so hard to get inside her head, only to have Condescending Self-Important Author tell me how autobiographical the work was. Because, of course, I could not possibly have created a character with imagination and literary craft!.

    Then there was the writers-group critiquer who refused to comment on a story of mine, calling it “sentimental trash.” Gardner Dozois published it in ASIMOV’S. It got bandied about for awards.

    You shrug, you go back to work.

  15. David Louis Edelmanon 24 Jul 2007 at 10:23 am

    I had one potential blurber who singled out the fact that one of my characters ran “halfway across London” with a pillow under his arm as utterly ridiculous and implausible. The nanotechnology, teleportation, mental communication, interplanetary colonization, and cheap universal quantum computing she had no problems with.

  16. betsy dornbuschon 24 Jul 2007 at 3:43 pm

    An editor once said one of my short stories was too violent. The setting was on the front line of a war.

  17. Glenda Larkeon 25 Jul 2007 at 1:21 am

    Just had a lovely review today, from a truly lovely man, so this is not a complaint! Only thing is, he began by saying:

    “The final book in Glenda Larke’s second fantasy series is a fitting end to a superb creator of new worlds.”

    Um, maybe the tome fell on my head and thus fittingly ended my career? Lol!

  18. Philippaon 31 Jul 2007 at 12:19 am

    Someone once volunteered to read through a short story I mentioned in conversation. They later commented that they hadn’t liked it, weren’t sure what was happening and didn’t really think anything worked, and then followed this up by saying that, by the way, maybe they were wrong, as they’d never read a short story before and, come to that, weren’t much into my genre. All this while smiling and shrugging apologetically.

    Why they offered to read it and offer comments *in the first place,* knowing that it was a short story in an unfamiliar vein, is beyond me.

  19. Gyp Orienson 10 Aug 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Once I had someone read a story of mine and he said I should “use more metaphors and similes.” When I asked him why, he said, “well, you’re supposed to, aren’t you?”

    The story was written in the present tense, first-person perspective of someone who was injured an an earthquake and dying. I dunno, but when I’m bleeding profusely and probably have broken bones the last thing I’ll be doing is thinking in metaphors and similes.

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