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18 August 2005 @ 01:51 pm
Today's discussion features my own personal Achilles Heel. I will always struggle with the "Show, Not Tell" gremlin, partly because I have never quite understood the concept.

What I've read counsels toward being more descriptive, to be concrete rather than abstract. Rather than say the dog is brown, the advice says to say the dog is a shabby, mangy brown, the color of mud dried under a blazing summer sun.

My problem? I detest writing that goes into *that* much detail! It's one of the reasons I've never read Tolkein's work.

So, folks, rather than a long-winded entry from me today for the discussion topic, I'm turning it over for discussion. What's the best advice for writers who dread hearing "Show, Not Tell" in an editor's rejection letter?
We've all done it in our writing. We've all read a book or ten that did it as well.

The Perfect Character. Beautiful, flawless, never makes a mistake. In some extreme cases, the character is the fairy tale perfect reflection of the writer - the "Mary Sue" so lamented in fanfiction and pbems.

Physical description is often the first area this happens. The character is usually beautiful (or handsome), far beyond any other character in the book, particularly rivals. Sexuality is usually tied to the physical description.

If female, the character frequently has red hair, violet eyes, a figure to make a Playboy model die from envy, and soon has every male character swooning at her feet. Her physical characteristics are emphasized over and over, especially their effects on the opposite (and sometimes same) sex.

If male, he is the ultimate protector. Gorgeous and tall - either dark and brooding or blond and shining. All the women flip their skirts up the second he approaches, and he skillfully seduces them all with his dashing good looks. If the tale ventures into actual sex scenes, his physical endowments have to be described in detail, and are generally above average.

Granted, physical characteristics and character sexuality are just part of the overall characterization, but it's a very large slice than can often turn a reader away from having any sympathy or liking for that character.

So folks... got any characters who are guilty of being so utterly perfect they give you cavities? Any violet eyed redheads or tall dark and handsomes lurking about?

Which fictional characters drive you batty? Which ones seem so real you wish they were yours?

(Public Post, by the way)
11 August 2005 @ 04:04 pm
All activities are voluntary as far as participation. The moderators will not toss you out for being a lurker.

Mechanics of Writing
I will be posting a Writing Discussion topic every Thursday for members. If for some reason I have NOT posted a topic by 6 p.m. CST, anyone can volunteer a topic of their own if they wish. (Sometimes I lose track of the day of the week...)

Applause and Sympathy
On Mondays, I'll start a post for members to report the previous week's writing progress (or lack thereof), submissions, rejection slips, or other writerly needs for applause or sympathy. This may provide encouragement (and cattle prods) to members to keep active with both writing and submitting.

Book Reviews
Please review any non-fiction writing books you wish, whether to tell others not to waste their time/money or to rave that everyone should have one. If possible, try to use an LJ-tag to tag it as a "review" so that they are semi-linked together for easy searching.

Writing Prompts
There are plenty of active prompt communities and websites, but occasionally I will post some sort of writing challenge or prompt, probably tied to issues that come up in Writing Discussions. Example: if members are fighting POV problems, I'll find an exercise to concentrate on that area, whether created by me or another member or taken from a book or website dealing with the issue.

Member Profiles
I'd like to do a "quickie profile" for each member on the Info page for this group. If you're willing, please reply to this post with the following info: Any published materials (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc), genres written, genres preferred to critique. This will help newcomers to decide if we're the group for them. I believe we are currently strongly slanted towards the speculative fiction range, especially horror.

This is the SLUSH pile after all. Stories (or chapters of larger works) can be posted anytime, by any member. Just follow the rules on the Info page. For critters: if a short story reminds you of a certain market you're familiar with, please let the author know. Not everyone has access to all the magazines and such out there, nor the funds to buy sample copies of them all.

NOTE: The default setting for the community is to friends-lock each post. Any post you want to make "public", you will have to change the settings manually (you have to post, then go back and edit the security level). This is to protect stories that are posted for critique.

Other activities to be added as members suggest them.
04 August 2005 @ 01:07 pm
I discovered today that there were pending members for theslushpile. I am rather ashamed to say I had not checked the membership list for quite some time, since none of the original group had been posting here. I authorized all the pending members for now.

So here's my "kickstart" post. What does everyone want to do with the community? Writing comes in fits and spurts, depending on our muses and dread Real Life stress intervening. Should we consider other ideas, such as prompts, writer discussions (such as this rather informal one about villains, or other ideas?

Let me know and I'll see about getting some things in motion.

And just FYI for new members - the mods are myself and writernici. Yes, we do bite...but not often. ;-)
17 December 2003 @ 02:59 pm
Getting your voice heard in a larger community, long established, can sometimes be hard. Cliques exist, after all. But The Slush Pile tries to avoid that sort of interaction, and the moderator (arkiewriter) guarantees that you'll get at least one critique on anything posted here.

The community is meant for stories you intent to actually publish, to get input on the story itself and potentially suggestions for a market to submit to. The stories should be posted "friends only" to the critique group, as posting them openly might be considered "first publication".

However, if you want to announce you've sold a piece (or gotten a rejection letter), feel free to make that a public entry.

Currently the community is open for anyone to join, but to post, you have to have moderator approval. Membership list is checked daily... welcome!