13-Line Critiques

May 17th, 2006

Back in the days of the late, lamented GEnie online service, Damon Knight opened a topic in which people could post the first thirteen lines of a short story they had written, and he would critique it. When we were planning this blog site, I thought it would be a nice tribute to his memory to do the same in this new site. We will be polite about your work here, but we are not cheerleaders. Speaking just for myself, Katharine Kerr, I can be quite fierce about bad prose.

I am also getting quite fierce about people who do not read the guidelines before they submit! NO NOVELS. JUST SHORT STORIES. If you can’t take the time to read the guidelines, why should we take the time to read your submission?

Make sure you have read the guidelines. before you submit your story’s opening. (If you need extra explanation and advice, please read this page.)

The Submissions

How to Submit Your 13 Lines

If you still wish to post lines, and if one of your goals is to write professional prose, then please read the guidelines.

If you still want our critique, send your opening lines to:

13 lines email address

(No attachments or fancy formatting necessary. Just paste the ASCII or DOS or RTF text straight into the body of the e-mail.) Please start your Subject heading with “13-line critique” followed by the name you wish the submission to be listed under and use that exact heading format–We sort our email and if it doesn’t have that heading, it’s easier to overlook or misplace. Really. We mean it. If you put a title in the subject heading instead, your submission will look like the word salad spammers use to fool spam filters, especially given the odd titles people pick for their stories. Besides which, we don’t want to see a title. Your first thirteen lines should be evocative enough on their own.

Also, while we’re not sticklers, please try to limit yourself to one submission per week and take a look at other folks’ submissions as well. Similarly, while we don’t care if you use your real name or a pseudonym, please use the same one consistently when submitting, ideally with first and last name. After all, the author is still the same, and it’s the author we’re trying to help with his or her craft.

Further, while we don’t mind you revising a sample and submitting the revision for critique, please do so yourself in the comments to the original submission. We’d prefer not to clutter up the main page with links to multiple revisions of the same thirteen lines. Only resubmit if the original post has been archived or is obviously overdue for archiving. Submissions are archived in blocks of twenty five, typically done when the most recent submission is ten past, though sometimes later, if we’re busy or there have been a large number of recent submissions. Revisions will be noted with a “.5″ to differentiate them from the fresh submissions.

Finally, since the comments are meant as an instructional aid, the comments and samples will be archived in perpetuity en toto. No exceptions. We’re doing this for free, and it’s enough trouble to post new submissions without having to edit the archive and in the process destroy the context and thus instructional value of the critiques. If you don’t like this policy, simply don’t submit.

P.S. Due to automated comment spam from aging porn queens and other annoyances, archived topics are in the process of being locked. However, if you place a story whose first thirteen lines were workshopped here, please let us know, both so we can reopen the topic for congratulations and also provide a notation as to where the story has placed. Please title your subject heading “13-line Critiques — Critique #X” where X is the number of your critique and your name.

2 Responses to “13-Line Critiques”

  1. [...] know not whether the 13-Line Critiques are still going, but the archives are [...]

  2. [...] http://www.deepgenre.com/wordpress/damon-knight – Submit 13 lines of your short story, get a critique. What could be better? Katherine Kerr’s site. [...]

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