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December 2nd, 2002, 11:21 AM
I have been told (by several publishers who took the time to do something more than send me a form letter) that my stories are fresh and interesting, but that I need to continue working on my craft. I have, and have recieved feedback that my writing is okay, but still not up to publishing standards without editorial help.
So here is the question. I have to believe that there are clearly more people out there who are excellent technical writers that simply struggle with stories and creativity. Clearly there are more english majors than published writers!
So, how does one go about finding a writing partner and combining writing capabilities with story telling capabilities? Better yet, how do those lucky folks who end up co-publishing with well known authors manage to do that (must be the brother in law program or something...).
Anyhow, I am curious to know if there are 'great writers' out there who would love to write a novel in the fantasy area, but simply find that they lack the story to tell...

I, Brian
December 2nd, 2002, 01:55 PM

I've had to do a lot of research in the area myself, with also submitting for publication.

It does appear that lack of third-party editorial input is the key reason for work being rejected.

Having third-party editorial input not only makes your story more polished - it also shows your determination to compromise personal ego to acheive a professional business standard.

IF what you're really looking for is input on how perhaps to improve, then I highly recommend you join the Hatrack Writers Forums, post a bit of general discussion, and only then post a sample first chapter in the Fragments and Feedback forum.

Be aware - it is a proper writers group - which means they won't sit around comparing you to so-and-so, or simply nod and say "that's nice". If they see something wrong, they'll tell you. Not in a demeaning way - but taking criticism objectively is one of the hardest things for a writer to do.

Here's a direct link to the writers group at Hatrack [which by the way, is Orson Scott Card's site - though he doesn't post]:


I found their crits so useful that I always recommend serious aspiring authors - especially fantasy/sci-fi - go there.

Hope that helps,


December 2nd, 2002, 02:14 PM

I, Brian is correct, hard and sometime brutal critiques do help. I have had my teeth kicked out on one or more occasion. It helped and in someways hindered. Often the person critiquing your work does not "get" the dream. They are so stuck on the grammar, that the story gets lost.

I was lucky my latest full length effort caught the eye of a friend, who offered to edit it. (he does this for part of his living) It was a special favour for a me as a friend, but that does not mean I had an easy time of it...

My work was pulled apart, re-written hammered, twisted and shaped for nearly 6 months. Back and forth the e.mails went sometimes late into the night and early morning.

The result, far beyond I hoped it would be. It is gathering rejections, but the personal letters for submission editors far out weigh the standard forms...

I think finding an editor is like finding someone to took after achild, you have to have trust in them and they must believe in what you are producing.......

December 2nd, 2002, 02:40 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I have absolutely zero ego involved in my writing. Frankly, I have a very good day job... What I want is to make it the best I can. I published POD recently primarily to get a copy in print so that I could actually read the thing, like I would read any other book. Sort of enjoyed that, but see the opportunity to improve. I will try out the sites mentioned and see if there is some opportunity to improve there.

December 3rd, 2002, 04:20 AM
I highly recommend the Writers Association. It is run by Penumbral, a very wise and helpful writer who wants to help all writers, who frequented these forums a while back. He, myself, a few others from sffworld and others there are dedicated to giving honest, helpful critiques and edits. Check it out and see if it's for you.


I, Brian
December 3rd, 2002, 08:07 AM
er, milamber...you may want to be aware that in the MSN Terms of Use, by posting in MSN communities you give full Microsoft full distribution rights over whatever you post. This is includes literary material.

Although this was perhaps intended as a safeguard against claims of copyright, the actual TOU wording is far more reaching than that. True, the poster retains copyright - but they have agreed to give up all distribution rights to Microsoft.

I'm with another writing group with MSN [1000+ members], and they are looking to set-up anew on the wider wibe, to protect the rights of those posting work. I'm designing a new website for them as we speak.

December 3rd, 2002, 08:35 AM
for the 145th time in these forums ;), I recommend the Online Writing Workshops of SFF at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com

That workshop has produced more than one published writer (though, of course, it could be more accurate to say that more than one writer destined for publication joined the workshop in the past ;))

I, Brian
December 3rd, 2002, 10:04 AM
$40 to join?

I'll stick to Hatrack.

December 3rd, 2002, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by I, Brian
$40 to join?

I'll stick to Hatrack.

Have to agree - I used to have stuff there but when they tried to blackmail me by saying my sample works would be removed unless I paid the annual fee they had just introduced, I let them them take it away. Paying for a pubic domain workshop is definitely not the way to go IMO.

Re the MSN copyright stuff: Posting your work ANYWHERE on the web constitutes commercial publication, just as it does by posting in our story section here at SFFW, or indeed, on discussion boards. (And yes, Microsoft assumes full ownership of anything on their sites, which is why I have not posted any unpublished material there.) You should only ever post samples, regardless of where it is, and never a full or completed work, unless it has aready been published and you have the right to do so, or if you don't intend selling the work later. The chances of getting the work sold/published are greatly jeopardised if you do, and while some publishers may take the work on by insisting all other web postings are removed first, many will take the line that the work has already been published and quickly lose interest. For those who aren't aware of the fact, having your work on a web site does in fact constitute publication, something which was pointed out to me a couple of years back.

I, Brian
December 3rd, 2002, 01:57 PM
You raise an important point - but I think it's one specifically of electronic rights rather than overall distribution rights - both of which should be considered as separate, with distribution rights generally referring to specific media, such as public print - whereas electronic rights are not defined in any clear-cut legal sense - as yet.

The general advice is to keep work given out to a minimum. For crit groups, that means only one of two sample chapters of a novel online, and for short stories a general rule of thumb is around 13 lines to be posted.

So they said at Hatrack, anyway ;)

[though Kathleen did give some links to info on the electronic rights issue].