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James Carmack
March 22nd, 2007, 08:52 PM
I've been offering to workshop a lot of people's stuff lately and I thought it'd be a good idea to lay out my terms. If nothing else, I can direct people to this thread when I make my offers.

"Who are you and why should I care?"

My handle and my name are one and the same. Makes it pretty easy, don't you think? I'm just a simple author who likes to help his fellow wordsmiths. Whether you want my help or not is up to you.

What I'm offering is intensive workshopping. That means I'll be going through your work line-by-line, doing my darnedest to catch errors syntactical, grammatical and typographical. I'll also be checking continuity, weeding out non sequiturs and doing what I can to ensure your narrative and dialog are both naturalistic and consistent.

The "profit" in the thread's title is a touch misleading. I'm not so venal that I'd charge for lending a helping hand. The profit will be on your end. Even the best writer needs a good second set of eyes to comb through his work. No matter how good you are, there's always something you miss.

If you want me to workshop your piece, all you need to do is ask. I do have a full-time job and projects of my own, but I'll try to get the job done as soon as possible.

The first step is to ask for my help. I'm not likely to turn you down, no matter how green you are or how much your manuscript might make my eyes bleed.

The second step is to submit your manuscript to me in RTF (that'd be Rich Text Format) at james@palidormedia.com.

The third step is to consider my edits and suggestions once you get the manuscript back and vigorously defend anything you disagree with or think I'm misunderstanding.

When I workshop a manuscript, I used a color-coded system to make things go smoother. Blue text is additions I've made. These include punctuation marks you've missed, capitalizations, suggested replacements, etc. Red text is deletions. This means unnecessary words, extra spaces, what have you. Green text is for highlights. Sometimes it's to comment on awkwardness. Other times I'll simply be singling out a piece for commendation or humor. (Yes, I'll crack jokes here and there. Keeps you sane [somewhat].) Purple text is my notes, various commentaries, pointers and so on.

Repeated issues will refer back to the first citation. For instance, if you use four periods for ellipses on Page 5 and I see you do it again on Page 12, you'll see the note on Page 12 say "Page 5."

I grant a fair degree of poetic license, but I'll usually make a note of conventions for your benefit. In all likelihood, you'll be facing a more conventional viewpoint when you start courting agents and publishers. At very least, you'll have some idea what to expect.

I'm doing this free of charge and expecting nothing in return. Consider it an act of good will. It's up to you whether you take advantage of my perspective or not. Operators are standing by.

March 22nd, 2007, 09:30 PM
I tried editing for free...it was called being an independent literary agent...ugh.

I don't mind making comments on snippets authors post here on the site when I feel I have something to contribute, but I'm not going to be making any offers (not that anyone was asking!) like James is here.

I am however, open to specific requests for limited assistance/guidance through Private Messaging here at this site. Feel free to PM me if you think I can be of assistance. If I can't help, I'll let you know right off. I have a number of ongoing projects + a day job, but I will help if I can.

I'm no longer in the agenting business, but I can provide some guidance on agents and publishing if you don't want to post those questions publicly here for KatG to answer (her answers are pretty damn good, by the way).

If you are lookng for a line by line detailed critique by someone who is pretty damn good writer, take James up on his offer.

aka Agent Rusty Bones

James Carmack
March 23rd, 2007, 01:45 AM
Thanks for the endorsement, Rusty. I also second his praise of KatG's bottomless well of knowledge. You can learn quite a bit on these boards. Cheers all around.

Now, if anyone's wondering why I'm going to such lengths, the answer is simple. I'm a masochist. Pathologically masochistic, my friends. ^_^;

March 23rd, 2007, 10:44 AM
You should think about joining our ongoing sff workshop that a few of us have started. We take turns submitting short stories or novel chapters and critiquing them. Your advice there could be quite valuable. At present our group only numbers 8. ;)

March 23rd, 2007, 01:04 PM
You're a generous boy, James.

The third step is to consider my edits and suggestions once you get the manuscript back and vigorously defend anything you disagree with or think I'm misunderstanding.

If you were going to be their writing instructor, this might be workable, but I'd firmly suggest dropping the "vigorously defend anything you disagree with or think I'm misunderstanding" part, if you're just critiquing. An author doesn't have to defend or explain anything about their work, and the arguments that are likely to develop from such a discussion would be a waste of your time and the author's. Instead, the author could feel free to ask you questions about any of your notes and get more specific information, if you can provide it, and to possibly bounce ideas for revisions, changes or new material off your head. Then the author can go on from there.

But do consider the workshop idea. They seem to be well-organized, and that way you get some feedback for your work as well.

Tony Williams
March 23rd, 2007, 10:14 PM
I'm doing this free of charge and expecting nothing in return. Consider it an act of good will. It's up to you whether you take advantage of my perspective or not. Operators are standing by.

That's a very generous offer, James. I don't have a full-time job any more, but I couldn't easily find the time for that. I have occasionally done a similar job on other people's novels on an exchange basis, and it takes me a very long time...

James Carmack
March 24th, 2007, 05:49 AM
Well, I'll look into that workshop. I like the one-on-one approach, but I'm definitely not opposed to group work.

As for my comment about my charges defending their work, I said it because I want to encourage the authors to be assertive. I'm afraid a novice will be too inclined to slavishly submit to everything the editor says. Now, absent commas and subject-verb agreement is one thing, but when it comes to fuzzier aspects of our craft, things get pretty subjective. If you really think you've got a good idea, you should have the confidence to stand up for it. I just don't want to see anyone getting all walked over. Especially for the newbies, I'd like to encourage that happy middle ground where you listen to and consider suggestions while retaining the ability to stick up for yourself when you need to.

March 24th, 2007, 03:35 PM
Well that's a philosophy I espouse, but it also might teach them to start arguing with book reviewers, which is a bad strategy. :) But it sounds like you'll be a very good workshop pal.

James Carmack
March 25th, 2007, 03:16 AM
I see your point. Yeah, getting into spats with the critics could get real ugly real fast. Might have some entertainment value for third-parties, but I'm sure there's a circle in Hell reserved for those who delight in the trials and travails of others. ^_^;

Tony Williams
March 25th, 2007, 04:59 AM
Yes, I made that mistake soon after my first book was published. I wouldn't object to people who just said they didn't like my writing, but this guy posted on a forum, criticising "errors" in the plot which were not in fact there - he just hadn't read it thoroughly. When I pointed this out to him he got angry and abusive and, I'm sorry to admit, I got sucked into an unedifying argument. Never again....