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O | The Online Writing Workshop for SF, F & H Newsletter, May 2007
W | http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com
W | Become a better writer!

| - - CONTENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

Summer weather is upon us in the northern hemisphere and outdoor
activities rightly demand more of our attention, leaving less time for
all online activities, including writing reviews.  Here's a suggestion
for efficiently returning reviews: use the ratings system to point out
strengths and weaknesses in a submission, and then offer just 100 or
so words of comments.

Members tell us they'd like more comments from people who look at
their submissions but don't leave lengthy reviews.  Try giving
shorter reviews in conjunction with the ratings system to keep your
head in the "write" place while you prepare for all your summer
activities.

- Workshop News:
    June writing challenge
    Editor's Choice news
    Membership payment information
- Editors' Choices for April 2007 submissions
- Reviewer Honor Roll
- Publication Announcements
- Workshop Statistics
- Tips & Feedback


| - - WORKSHOP NEWS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |


JUNE WRITING CHALLENGE

His eyes just carefully began to shrug.

This month's challenge is a favorite words challenge.  All of us have
words that we use in our chapters the way some cooks use salt -- to
excess, overwhelming the nuance of the other flavors.  Every one's
words are different.  Mark Twain suggested replacing every "very" with
"damn," so that editors would cut it and readers enjoy the writing
more.  Is you favorite word "very"?  Or "just"? Or "carefully"?  Or
"shrugged"?  I don't know if I could begin to write a chapter without
somebody somewhere shrugging.  Or the helping verb "begin to"!

Pick the six most common overused words and phrases in your writing.
And then edit a chapter or story to get rid of every single instance
of them.

Stretch yourself by picking words you really just depend on to very
carefully begin to write with, and, well, *shrugs*, don't be afraid to
fail.  It's better to fail spectacularly and learn something useful,
than to play it safe and never grow.  Please don't post your challenge
pieces to the workshop until June first. Include "June Taboo Words
Challenge" in your title so you can show off how fancy you are to all
your friends.  In the author's comments, list the words you set out to
avoid.

For more details on the challenges, check the OWW Writer Space at:
http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Challenges


EDITOR'S CHOICE NEWS

Our longtime Resident Editor Kelly Link, editor, author, and winner of
a large pile of awards, is increasingly busy these days and so she is
now alternating with Susan Marie Groppi, editor-in-chief of _Strange
Horizons_, as short-story Editor's Choice reviewer.  We welcome Susan,
who has filled in for us admirably before, as a more frequent
EC reviewer.


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| - - EDITORS' CHOICES - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous
month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of
our Resident Editors.  Submissions in four categories -- science
fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories --
receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well
as the author.

This month's reviews are written by our Resident Editors Jeanne
Cavelos, John Klima, Kelly Link, and Karin Lowachee. The last
four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are
archived on the workshop.  Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and
click on "Editors' Choices."

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editor's Choice, February, Fantasy Chapter/Partial Chapter:
DEAD MEN AMONG THE BONES, Part 3 by Liz Bourke

There is a hinted-at past for the main characters -- Santander and
Jolay -- that I really like.  Bourke does an excellent job of weaving
their past into the current story.  It never feels like it's going to
overwhelm where the characters are now and at the same time it
enhances the reader's knowledge of the world that Bourke has created.
I mention this because something that makes me change from liking a
story to loving a story is a well-developed background.

I always hate reading fiction where it's as if the characters sprang
from the writer's head at the moment the story started and never had a
past.  Everyone has a past; some are just more interesting than
others.  I assume if someone is having their story told, their past is
pretty eventful.  And, as the story progresses, it is Santander's past
that causes him trouble.

Something that caused me trouble was dealing with all the lords and
their titles and names.  Since they can be referred to by the place
they lord over -- Daladier, for example -- or by their actual name --
Gerard Deschain -- sometimes I wasn't sure who Bourke was talking
about.  For example, Gerard's daughter Hilary went to a masque for a
lady who is to be wed to Lord Corstwith's son.  Santander assumes the
masque took place at Lord Jacin's townhouse.  However she's corrected
and told that Lord Corswith is staying at the Fentellon palace, and
that's where the masque was held.  Ease of reading is something that
Bourke needs to keep in mind when introducing new names to the story
line.  The reader should not get lost in the waves of names.  This
could be solved with a list of characters in the story either in the
front or the back of the book.  There could even be charts showing who
is the lord of where and what their titles are.

Similarly, there are a few times when Bourke gives the reader too much
description at once.  When Daladier tells what he knows about the
disappearance of his daughter Hilary, it's given in one long
paragraph.  This would read better if it was broken into a few
paragraphs.  An easy place to break would be where Daladier mentions
that neither Hilary nor the man-at-arms guarding came home.  The next
sentence is basically a new line of thought and it would read
naturally to the reader to start a new paragraph.  Additionally, the
last line, when Santander goes to ask a question, should be a new
paragraph.  It's not in the flow of the previous sentence and should
be broken to indicate a new line of thought.

Earlier in the chapter, Santander ruminates about Hilary and why she
may have chosen to run away.  This paragraph, too, would read better
broken into separate thoughts.  At the very least, the last sentence
of the paragraph should get broken into the several thoughts that it
expresses.  More than half the paragraph is the last sentence, and the
reader can get overwhelmed when there is no place to pause and catch a
breath.  Bourke should go through this chapter and find the few places
where she spends a lot of time on exposition and break it up a little.

I have some problems with how Bourke handles the missing man-at-arms.
I would like some mention that in addition to Hilary and the
man-at-arms not coming home, there are no signs of a struggle, or no
signs of a body, etc.  It may come out in future chapters as Santander
does more investigating into what happened, but I think some mention
should be made of why their disappearance is so mysterious.

When Santander questions Daladier's remaining men-at-arms, they all
speak highly of Joniah, and then they don't and then they do again.  I
realize that these are most likely uneducated men, but it's confusing
to read the men praising how solid Joniah is, and then in the same
breath say something along the lines of 'at least I thought so' or 'or
had been' without an explanation of what's changed their opinions.  I
assume that the fact the Hilary is missing is what makes them doubt
Joniah, but Bourke could have one or several of them say something
along the lines of 'no one else has ever lost a family member.'  It
seems that the men still think highly of Joniah, but doubt is creeping
into their minds since it's so unusual for a member of a lord's family
to go missing.

They also bring up the fact that Joniah is foreign not being a problem
with them trusting him.  This is very important as Santander and Jolay
are foreign, too.  However, there is little in this chapter (and the
previous ones) to indicate that this area of Bourke's world is
xenophobic.  Bourke hints around this fact, but never -- at least to
this point -- comes straight out and explains why foreigners aren't to
be trusted.  This isn't an unusual theme, and because of that, I'd
like to see some explanation for it, rather than to assume the reader
will accept it at face value.  Having problems with foreigners is a
very important subject for this story since Santander and Jolay are
foreigners and therefore face any regional prejudices towards
foreigners as they try to do their work.  This is on top of being
women doing the work of men, at least in the minds of the men of
Bourke's world.  It's not an easy road for Santander to investigate
the missing Hilary Deschain.

The characters are what drive Bourke's story.  They feel real.  When
Santander is frustrated by being talked down for being a woman or a
foreigner (or both), you can feel her frustration.  Bourke also does
an excellent job of representing the different classes in the book and
how they interact.  When Santander talks to the Daladier, she acts one
way, and when she talks to the servants or men-at-arms, she acts a
different way.  She doesn't fit in any of the groups, and is shunned
by them all.  Bourke has built a lot of empathy for Santander, and
this makes the reader want to keep reading about her.

--John Klima
Editor of _Electric Velocipede_ and LOGORRHEA
http://www.electricvelocipede.com


Editor's Choice, February, SF Chapter/Partial Chapter:
WRAITH OF CRYSTALS, Beginnings and Chapter 1 by Rob Campbell

The beginning of your book will likely be the most important part when
you submit your work to an editor. It is your book's first impression
and it had better be a good one.  This month's chapter was chosen
because of the beginning, for good things and for things that could
use some improvement.

The very first part has a wonderful sense of child's point of view,
which immediately intrigued me for being unusual and done well. The
sense that the child -- much more aware than adults sometimes give
them credit for -- being curious about her mother and instinctually
responsive to the news seemed real and elicited a direct sympathy for
the situation and characters. The passage ends with this great hook,
giving us no choice but to read on:

	The girl smiled to her hair. In her mind, a switch tripped. She knew
the answer to that perennial question: "what do you want to be when
you grow up?"
	A spy who kills.
	All the best spies had secrets. This was hers.

But then the narrative switches to a very short paragraph of a
bloodied man struggling to stand. This is a second beginning to the
novel, a new character and situation introduced immediately after the
first.  Technically this passage is still part of some sort of
prologue -- it's called "Beginnings" but it reads like a prologue.
When Chapter One begins we are given yet another point of view
character, this one jarringly different from the two before it. An
author always has to be mindful of how many different situations and
characters are introduced to the reader in the first few pages. You
don't want to throw too many things at the reader when you are just
beginning to ground them, to situate them into your world and story.
The imagery in the second scene is effective, but it goes by so
quickly, and by being sandwiched between the longer opening scene and
the first chapter, it becomes forgettable.

Chapter One, with the third character, carries on for quite a bit
longer than the previous two scenes.   Already the reader will attempt
to make links between the various introductions, but in this case, I
think they find none. By the time the fourth character is introduced,
we almost expect it to carry for only another short few paragraphs or
for a single scene before being taken away once more for another
setting change and character introduction. Goldilocks, the term and
the image mentioned in the first paragraph of the fourth section,
hearkens the reader back to the little girl and that name mentioned in
the first scene, but it is far enough away from this fourth beginning
that the reader almost has to flip back to make sure the connection is
not fabricated in their memory.

This is not a strong beginning.  Building trust with a reader so they
follow you through the narrative is important in the first twenty to
fifty pages, and some of that trust is engendered by letting the
reader invest some time and emotion into your main characters and
their situations. This gives the reader a reason to want to follow
through to page 375. While we live in a culture that tends to like
fast cuts and a deluge of information, books are inherently leisurely
endeavors, things that take more than an hour to do even plowing
through them at high speed, so writers have some opportunity to take
advantage of this medium.

Structure -- when to tell what and in what order -- determines the
pace, logic, and suspense of your narrative.  Some attention to
structure should be paid in revising this beginning: could the second
and third parts perhaps be flipped around, removed completely, or
somehow woven into the next chapter?  They might fit well at the end
of chapter one as a segue to chapter two.  Readers tend to be more
forgiving of new characters and drastically different situations when
there are chapter breaks between them instead of scene breaks,
especially at the beginning of
a book when it's obvious the author is setting up the narrative.

In his notes, the author asks if the story worked, if the characters
were interesting, and the answer to both of these questions is yes.
Despite the somewhat jarring scene splitting, the characters worked
wonderfully within their separate scenes, each imbued with a sense of
a full story behind them.  So the main issue is the author's choice of
when and how to deliver the wider story to the reader.

The rapport in Neelesh's office was clearly setting up one of the
salient story points (or it should be, as that was how it came across
from Margot's point of view) but the obvious tennis metaphor for
Margot being the audience was a little heavyhanded. Rather let the
back and forth conversation between the two leaders speak for itself,
and Margot's interior observations be more to the point of the overall
story. It's an obvious parallel to draw when one is observing two
people in veiled conversation, that of the tennis match; instead,
enlighten the reader in other ways -- what does Margot find
interesting because it pertains directly to the mystery of why *she*
is there?

Overall, the writing itself is more than competent, with great actual
pacing within the dialogue and prose sentence structure. Descriptions
like this show a sure hand with bringing what could be typical and
bland character observations to life:

	Margot labored behind them, ripping her shoes from the floor,
catching up with Neelesh as they entered the underground LIM terminal.
Gleaming and black, the unit that would bear them to Piazzi City
hovered over herringbone rails. It was spotless and comfortable, yet
unbidden, childhood memories returned: tales of a black steed that
carried its riders to destruction.

The book already shows a richness in story and character. Pay
particular attention to overall structure, allow the characters and
the world to shine, and give the readers time to enjoy it bit by bit
before hastening them to the next plot point, and it will be even
better.

--Karin Lowachee
Author of BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD
http://www.karinlowachee.com


Editor's Choice, February, Short Story:
"Fossils" by S. Delacroix

This is a stylishly told, noirish, apocalypse-now piece of work, set in
a quarantined New York where the second-person narrator abandons a
recent love affair, wanders the empty streets, and then meets the
aliens who have vanished the other citizens of the city. Mood matters
here more than the plot, perhaps, and that mood is largely dependent on
the intentionally elongated and comma-bedecked sentences, so let's
begin here by looking at specific language before moving on to more
general issues of story.
 
The first paragraph -- "You're sitting on the edge of bed watching
Allison get dressed and wondering when the television will start
working. Allison is smiling at you, and pulling up her sweatpants, and
asking if you'd like some coffee." -- is a good enough hook, except
that the cue about the television feels out of context and confusing.
It's supposed to signal to the reader that something is wrong, but
instead I just wonder whether he's looking at at a television behind
her, and why he thinks that, given the cataclysm that's apparently
befallen his city, he expects normal service of any kind to resume.
Again, when the narrator asks Allison about the last time the
television was working, I wonder why he's asking, and what her answer
confirms for him.
 
The third paragraph begins "Her apartment smells faintly of mildew and
pine scented aerosol spray." That's good detail, but it's possibly even
more effective in terms of mood if you give us the pine-scented aerosol
spray first, and then the mildew. Along the same lines, later, when
Allison is trying to persuade the narrator to stay, she says, "Maybe
the television will start working. Maybe I can find some more booze."
Again, if you reverse these two so that first she offers booze, then
television, you have a more interesting narrative sequence.
 
Watch out for received language: Allison may look "like a puppy that's
been kicked too many times," but I've seen that simile too many times
for me to understand anything new about either Allison or a narrator
who would think of her in those terms. Also watch out for places where
the narrator begins to seem almost laughably juvenile, such as when he
is "irritated by the blandness and apathy and vapidity of this woman
and this city and these people."
 
The long, elastic rhythms of this story build to this really lovely
ending description of the aliens:
 
"You stare up into the white flesh pressed against the dark black
visors, the facemasks, and you think the faces behind the masks bear a
superficial resemblance to your own, but they're different, more
different than you could imagine, these kings, these black clad
colossi, not like you, but the byproduct of a different plane, beyond
you and your comprehension, these faces, ridged and corrugated like
heads of cauliflower, like horned moons poking bulbous faces through
black seas of cloud and ether, and you think about these pointless
things, mostly, like your parents, and Allison, and empty cities
covered with dust, and silent planets circling their distant suns, and
dead trains and tar pits and fossils, and as you stare back into their
eyes, black and unblinking, fathomless and empty, you realize, it
doesn't matter, it doesn't, not really, because the world is gone, and
it doesn't matter, not when you're the last one to go."
 
I'm not sure that the place where that sentence ends is original or
insightful enough, yet -- and I'm not crazy about the line just before
the section I've quoted, about how "the musty stench of their bodies
fills your nostrils" -- but those descriptions of faces "ridged and
corrugated like heads of cauliflower, like horned moons poking bulbous
faces through black seas of cloud and ether", etc, are peculiar and
gorgeous and I can't possibly tell you how well they work for me. (They
work really, really well.) I'd like to see more of the prose and the
imagery in the story working as well as this section does.
 
One way to do this is with a bit of judicious cutting. In this current
draft there are occasional pileups of visual cues that undercut each
other, rather than building towards heightened effect. Such as here:
 
"You turn and see an old man standing there, bone white, emaciated, and
the fingers brushing the collar of your jacket are gnarled and
disfigured, and his eyes are pale and blue like a vulture's, and this
walking corpse, this fossil, he looks around the room, then at you,
then, 'Careful, young man. You know, they put stuff in the food."
 
All of the dialogue in this story is top-notch. But that preceding
descriptive passage would be more effective with fewer special effects.
Cut out the vulture simile, "bone white", "this walking corpse, this
fossil," and what exactly does it mean that someone's fingers are
disfigured? I can't picture it.
 
Again, a bit later, as the narrator rides a train, compare the current
version to one that's been pruned, just a bit:
 
"The train is sluggish at first, like a beast who has just awakened
from a long period of hibernation, and then it picks up speed, and
rushes along through all the abandoned subway stations, West 4th
Street, Christopher Street, Canal, Spruce, and these tunnels, black and
empty, these rusted machine parts piled up on crumbling station
platforms like broken toys, like animal bones, these graffiti festooned
walls, the murals bright and gaudy like primitive cave paintings; it
all looks surreal to you for some reason, absurd, implausible, like
you're dreaming. These black chasms, these subterranean grottos, they
stretch out before you now, each one the mouth of an enormous cavern,
this train, winding its way through twisting, cavernous crags, plying
the dead along rusted iron tracks like Charon's ferry barreling through
the underworld."
 
"The train rushes through abandoned subway stations, West 4th Street,
Christopher Street, Canal, Spruce: these tunnels, black and empty,
these crumbling station platforms, these graffiti festooned walls, the
murals bright and gaudy like primitive cave paintings. These black
chasms, these subterranean grottos, they stretch out before you now,
each one the mouth of an enormous cavern, this train, winding its way
through twisting, cavernous crags, plying the dead along rusted iron
tracks like Charon's ferry barreling through the underworld."
 
And so on. I'd recommend going through this story and taking a look at
all the places where the description stutters, or otherwise begins to
double up. Where it does, there needs to be a good reason for it to do
so. Consider why it seems like a good idea to compare cars first to
"dinosaurs" and then to "fossilized wreckage" and then to "husks of
dead animals." What's the narrative progression here? What do you gain
by putting so many similar images in close proximity?
 
A couple of non-language-related issues. One is the narrator's age
versus his relative sexual experience. Several times he refers to his
callous ways with Allison, not to mention the many women he has
seduced, used, and then abandoned. And yet he's only twenty-two and up
until the disaster, lived with his parents! Perhaps he did some serious
seducing in his late adolescence, but I was surprised (and not in a
good way) when I was told his age. It just didn't seem to fit. There's
an interesting possibility, however, if this gets cleared up in such a
way that the narrator is still in his early twenties, missing his
parents, while Allison is a woman whose children have disappeared. You
could do some interesting and somewhat creepy things with that dynamic,
and yet still make both Allison and the narrator sympathetic to the
reader. Imbalances of need and desire -- or of any kind, including age,
make for good character dynamics.
 
The other issue is why the narrator does all of the things that he does
-- excluding sleeping with, and leaving Allison. Why does he wait in a
line to be ID'd? (Why is there a woman in a booth taking IDs, for that
matter?) Where, specifically, does he get food, and where is that food
coming from? Why doesn't he just break into empty apartments and steal
canned goods, if everyone is disappearing? Why does he get on a train?
(At the moment, I don't believe in that train at all, as lovely as some
of the description is. Why would it suddenly be running? What's the
narrative purpose, other than to have a chance to describe those black
tunnels?) When we're told that the narrator reads, what does he read?
What is his daily routine? Where are the descriptions of bars and movie
theaters and concerts in the park and church services and all the other
things which might be interesting to describe in such an apocalypse? In
this story, where dialogue is one of the real strengths, it's a shame
that the narrator talks to so few people, and thus gives us so little
chance to get details about what this life is like.
 
Sometimes a story like this feels less like a complete story, and more
like the author wandering around a particular landscape, or inside the
head of a particular character, in order to work their way into the
real story. Sometimes this will be clearer to the editor who reads the
story in the slushpile than to the author. If I were that editor, I'd
say, "Okay, so I'm interested in the setting. You've got voice. I like
the dialogue a lot. I like the creepy aliens. So what's the story with
this guy? What happens with Allison? What's the story?"

--Kelly Link
Editor of TRAMPOLINE and co-editor of YEAR'S BEST FANTASY & HORROR
http://www.kellylink.net/


Editor's Choice, February, Horror:
WATER BLEEDS, Ch. 1 by Brian Freyermuth

The opening chapter of this novel creates a strong, ominous
atmosphere. As Jake undergoes one disquieting experience after another
-- having a nightmare, learning his son and wife are also having
nightmares, finding a bloody message on a mirror -- the reader's
apprehension and dread grow. I don't know where this is going, because
I only read Chapter 1, but I really like the measured way in which the
chapter builds the sense that something bad is going to happen. It
reminds me of the beginning of THE EXORCIST in that small everyday
details and events are used to generate a growing sense of unease.

I have two main suggestions about how the chapter might be improved.

First, the opening nightmare doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the
chapter. The pacing and intensity seem to belong in a different book
-- and to me, a much less interesting book. Opening with a big, bloody
scene has become such standard procedure in horror novels that, for
me, reading a scene like that makes me believe I know what the entire
book will be like, and that it will be like a hundred other horror
novels I've read. This is not the case at all, but I think the opening
scene generally fails to reflect what makes the rest of the chapter
distinctive and interesting.

A further problem is that if you're working at generating growing
dread, and you start with a nightmare in which Jake's wife and son are
killed (and possibly Jake too), with blood spattering all over the
walls, then you have nowhere to go. There's nothing that can generate
more dread than that. After that scene, the pace seemed to go through
a wrenching shift, and the book seemed to become something completely
different, and much more interesting.

Another negative aspect to this opening is that it's a dream, which is
another overused fictional device, and the reader feels cheated and
let down when he discovers this. Oh -- no one is really dead. It was
only a dream.

So you put the reader into the position of being unhappy that your
main characters are still alive. That's not what you want us to be
feeling. You can easily refer to the fact that the characters are
having nightmares without showing the nightmares. It would actually be
more frightening if they couldn't remember the nightmares and were
just left with an oppressive sense of wrongness.

My suggestion is that you open with Jake reading to his son, as you do
now, but make this reality, not a dream. You currently describe the
Styrofoam planets hanging over the boy's bed in a disquieting way, and
I think you can build on that, creating a quiet sense of dread through
everyday details. Nothing dramatic or bad needs to happen to make us
anxious for Jake and his son. Perhaps the black and red moon drops
from the ceiling and lands on the book, leaving a red stain. Or
perhaps the father and son simply interact in a way that reveals they
are anxious about something. This is a more challenging writing task
than the big bloody opening, but I believe that if you devote yourself
to this you can make it powerful and disturbing. This type of opening
would use your skills to better advantage, and allow the dread to
build through the chapter.

Second, the point of view could be strengthened. Right now, you use a
detached, omniscient POV for most of the chapter. On occasion you slip
into Jake's head; the longest of these sections is at the end of the
chapter. But for most of the chapter, I feel I'm standing off to the
side observing the characters, with an omniscient narrator speaking in
my head. This POV, combined with the sense of dread, gives me a sort
of spectator's mindset regarding the characters: Gee, I wonder when
and how they're going to die; I hope it's in some creative and
exciting way. This is not the best mindset to put your readers in. The
chapter would be much stronger if the entire thing was written in a
third-person, limited-omniscient POV, limited to Jake's head. If we're
in Jake's head, experiencing his growing anxiety, then our own dread
will make us sympathetic to Jake. We'll be feeling the same thing as
Jake, and will experience the story more as a participant than a
spectator, worrying for Jake and his family.

Since the current POV shifts in and out of Jake's head are jarring and
distancing, staying in Jake's head will also eliminate this problem
and allow us to become more immersed in the story.

I hope this is helpful. You've got an interesting opening chapter that
promises an atmospheric and involving story to come.

--Jeanne Cavelos
Editor of THE MANY FACES OF VAN HELSING and author of INVOKING DARKNESS
http://www.odysseyworkshop.org


| - - REVIEWER HONOR ROLL - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

The Reviewer Honor Roll area of the workshop recognizes members who
have given useful, insightful reviews.  After all, that's what makes
the workshop go, so we want to give great reviewers a little
well-earned recognition!

If you got a really useful review and would like to add the reviewer
to the Reviewer Honor Roll, use our online honor-roll nomination form
-- log in and link to it from the bottom of the Reviewer Honor Roll
page at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml. Your
nomination will appear on the first day of the next calendar month.

The Honor Roll will show all May nominations beginning June 1.
Meanwhile, here are two advance highlights from this month:

Reviewer: Vince Blackburn
Submission: Tothelea, Chapter 3 by Jason Black
Submitted by: Jason Black
Nominator's Comments: First, he offers great technical,
domain-specific insight as to why an important setup in my story isn't
plausible. That's gold. Second, he points out a spot where the
character's actions don't match what the reader expects the
character's emotional state to be. Nothing kills credibility faster
than characters doing things they wouldn't be in an appropriate frame
of mind to do. Finally, he offers an example of a spot that he thought
did it the right way, to contrast with the spot he had problems with.
I wish all my reviewers were as thoughtful and attentive to these
higher-level issues as Vince.

Reviewer: Crash Froelich
Submission: The Games of Adversaries - Chapter Fourteen by Susan
Elizabeth Curnow
Submitted by: Susan Elizabeth Curnow
Nominator's Comments: One of the things most important to a novel
writer is consistency. Among many brave souls, Crash has stuck with me
from beginning to end, pointing out flaws with a sense of humor and
giving out that all important praise and encouragement on the good
bits. It's been wonderful to see my stories through someone else's
eyes. An invaluable crit partner.

Reviewers nominated to the honor roll during April include: Jesse
Bangs, Alex Binkley, Ruv Draba (3), Charles Coleman Finlay, Bonnie
Freeman (VC), cathy freeze, Brian Freyermuth, Melinda Goodin (w), Tim
Greaton, Victoria Kerrigan, magda knight, Michael McClung, Gene
Spears, and Sandra Ulbrich. We congratulate them all for their
excellent reviews. All nominations received in April can be still
found through May 31 at:
http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/honorroll.shtml


| - - PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENTS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

We can't announce them if you don't let us know! So drop Charlie a
line at support@sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com whenever you have good
news to share.

OWW Member Sales and Publications:

Aliette de Bodard just sold her alternate history novelette "The Lost
Xuyan Bride" to _Interzone_. She writes that "This is my second sale
to them, and I'm amazed it happened all over again."  She sold another
novelette, "The Naming at the Pool," to _Reflection's Edge_ for their
May issue (http:// www.reflectionsedge.com/). And her short story
"Weepers and Ragers" is now up in the Second Quarter 2007 issue of
_Abyss & Apex_ (http:// www.abyssandapex.com/).  Wow -- what a month!

Pat Lundrigan was a member of OWW until January of this year.  He must
have seen something good coming, because his story "Hangar Queen" won
the first quarter 2007 Writers of the Future contest and will be
published next year.  It was workshopped under the title "Shop Queen,"
and Pat sends thanks to reviewers Martin McGrath, Chris Coen, Keith
Pilkinton, Martha Knox, and Robert Haynes. He told us that "Robert had
the foresight to say this in his crit: 'Excellent story, and one that
I think will have an excellent chance at Writers of the Future once
it's revised and polished.' How's that for a prediction?! Those
critiques helped me straighten out a few things in the story and made
it so much better. Thanks again guys!"  Pat entered Writers of the
Future twenty-one times before winning, proving that persistence does
pay off.  He joins numerous other past OWWers in winning this
recognition.  Congratulations!

Karen Miller's novel THE INNOCENT MAGE, which was originally
workshopped on OWW years ago, has been published in the UK by Orbit
and was the #1 bestselling science fiction/fantasy title last month.
It will be released in the US this September.  She's getting used to
those number-one spots: her media tie-in novel STARGATE SG-1:
ALLIANCES was the #1 Gardners UK bestseller for the 4th quarter of
2006. She's currently got 8 novels under contract in 3 different
markets (Australia, UK, and US).  Karen told us: "I've said it before
and I'll say it again -- the OWW gave me the strength and courage to
keep going more times than I can count."


| - - WORKSHOP STATISTICS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |

Number of members as of 5/19:  563 paying, 48 trial
Number of submissions currently online: 402
Percent of submissions with 3 or more reviews:  78.86 %
Percent of submissions with zero reviews:  3.73 %

Average reviews per submission (all submissions): 5.08
Estimated average review word count (all submissions):  639.98

Number of submissions in April: 316
Number of reviews in April: 1384
Ratio of reviews/submissions in April: 4.38
Estimated average word count per review in April: 650.56

Number of submissions in May to date: 123
Number of reviews in May to date: 528
Ratio of reviews/submissions in May to date: 4.29
Estimated average word count per review in May to date: 743.56

Total number of under-reviewed submissions: 41  (10%)
Number over 3 days old with 0 reviews: 3
Number over 1 week old with under 2 reviews: 15
Number over 2 weeks old with under 3 reviews: 23


| - - FEEDBACK - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |


Got a helpful tip for your fellow members?  A trick or hint for
submitting or reviewing, for what to put in your author's comments,
for getting good reviews, or for formatting or titling your
submission?  Share it with us and we'll publish it in the next
newsletter.  Just send it to support@sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com and
we'll do the rest.

This month OWWer Leah Corsaro wanted to share her experience with
receiving reviews:

Remember Why You Write

Shortly after I began receiving reviews of my writing, I lost the
motivation to write.  I had to force myself to do it, to make the
needed edits, to rewrite, and world-build, and care.  One night while
I was nearly in tears over having lost the desire to express myself in
writing, I realized what had destroyed my motivation: the pressure to
make my work fit into what I believed was the publishable framework.
That meant reshaping my stories to fit someone else's idea of perfect,
and then it was no longer my story.

If the reviewing process has ever made you feel like you are not
writer material, then maybe you need to remember why you write.

I do it because I love to invent, to create.  I want to tell stories
that are fun to read so I want to learn to tell them well, which is
why I submit them for reviews.  But I've discovered that when I apply
every suggestion, not only does my story suffer, but I get sick of it
and hate the characters. I had to learn that it's up to me to
determine what stays within the bounds of my concept, what improves my
ability to tell my story, as opposed to what shapes it by someone
else's mold.  And when I begin to lose my joy in the craft, I know I
have stepped away from who I am.

While we learn a great deal from the reviewing process, it can be
painful unless we remember that reviews are a lot like buffets.  There
is plenty of good stuff to choose from, but it doesn't all hit the
spot.

--Leah Corsaro

Until next month -- just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com
support@sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com


| - - Copyright 2007 Online Writing Workshops - - - - - - - - - - - |

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