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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


DEAR REVIEWER, I HAPPENED TO COME BY YOUR luke-warm review today. Your comments came as somewhat of a surprise. In terms of your tastes (or tropes, which was one of your quibbles), you're entitled to your opinion. I'm also entitled to mine.

I was curious about you, so I looked you up - thanks for leaving your name and making it easy for me to do that. The thing is, I may not agree with your assessment, but I do like to know with whom I'm dealing. Let's be clear - I wanted to see if you had any 'cred'. I see you're also a writer, and you have several of your books for sale. I took a look at the first few pages of Chapter One of one of your novels. I've been an SF & F editor for over twenty years, so I can tell pretty quickly if a writer knows her stuff.

I felt somewhat better after reading your work. You see, I debated writing this post. I know it will make me look like I have this huge ego and that I can't take a little criticism (actually, I can. My editor can attest to that, as I've just been through a lengthy revision of the last book in my trilogy. It took months, but the book is so much better as a result). I have to admit, your comment did annoy me initially. And damn it, it's just too tempting not to respond to you, so I will! I hope you find the following comments helpful.

Your opening in ------------ doesn't work. It's clunky. You need to smooth out your prose and not be so obvious. As for tropes, the slick guy with pointy teeth is one. Don't even get me started on eyes 'boring into your soul'. In your first two pages, you  point out his curling lips twice. His hands also seem to wander - to the desk, to the book, he takes off his gloves, etc. Think about your own logic - if you're confronted with someone who seems dangerous, do you close your eyes to try to remember where you've seen them before? (No, you don't. Not even for a 'brief' second, and a second is already pretty brief.) Then we get into a big swath of exposition and back story where you 'tell' us who your protagonist is. Telling is so much easier than showing, isn't it?

I'll stop now, because I'm well into passive aggressive territory (a uniquely Canadian trait). Might I point you to my ABC's of How NOT to Write Speculative Fiction, which I feature here on my blog? It's just chock-a-block full of helpful hints from A to Zee. If you read and apply them, your writing will improve tremendously.

YOU'RE WELCOME. Happy writing. (No need to thank me.)

- Susan.


  1. Anonymous7:41 PM

    Zed. Just sayin'!
    Good post.

    1. Oh, all right. Zed for my Canadian friends. Thanks for the comment. :-)

  2. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Hello cousin Susan. Have you ever noticed how those H. clan feisty, intellectual, fighting Irish genes always squelch the competition? Grandpa would be proud. Make sure you wipe the entrails off your keyboard.
    Cousin J

  3. Dear J, do you think he would be? Gee, I hope so! Big hug, and sorry about the mess. (Okay, not really. The hug yes, the mess, no.) ;-)