The Perfect Story
This has been a rather surreal week of ups and downs, confidence and nerves, ego-boosting praise and near-puke-inducing slams.Â Wolf Bait was up for critique at my online writers workshop, Critters.
The critiques ranged the spectrum from telling me how easy it should be to get it published because it was so great, all the way to how convoluted the story is and that it just doesn’t work.Â Suggestions were large in scope (do they have to be brothers?) to very small (you missed an Oxford comma).Â A great many of the comments are useful.Â There are some questions I know I skirted over without answering (is the main character a pedophile?) and some plot logic I can see needs a little tightening up.
I still have two more days before my story’s time is up.Â I woke up this morning to the two most scathing critiques so far, and four more (much more encouraging) have followed through the day.Â The count is currently up to fifteen.Â I asked for this.Â I wanted to polish and perfect this story before sending it out.Â But in the name of the unknown god of wombats, can we call it good two days early?Â I’m no longer obsessively reloading to see if I got a critique.Â I’m studiously ignoring my inbox in case another batch has shown up.
In the first five critiques or so, I was able to pinpoint the problems that need to be tweaked.Â After that it was either repeats of the same stuff or off the wall stuff from people who didn’t get it at all.Â I’d think it was the story, but seriously, most people at least liked it and many praised it.Â I’ll tighten it up, but I’m not doing a full rewrite.Â Several said it should sell as-is.
The entire process taught me something I should already know at my age: there is no “perfect story.”Â The vast difference in opinions among fifteen strangers has proved that everyone has different tastes, expectations, and levels of intellectual ability.Â Wolf Bait is not going to appeal to everyone, nor is it going to be understood by everyone.Â I shouldn’t try to make it so.
On Wednesday’s Drink-Expensive-Coffee-and-Look-Like-a-Pretentious-Writer Night, I’m going to take all the useful comments and revise the story as necessary.Â I know which comments were dead on.Â I felt myself agreeing as I read them.Â As for the rest, well, if the story isn’t for them, that’s okay.Â Â I’m not writing the Perfect Story for everyone.Â It simply doesn’t exist.
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