Saturday, December 29, 2007

Being Reviewed

In my quest to attract readers to Scary Mary, I submitted my story to Pages Unbound. I'm not sure when this site began. It seems fairly new, but it appears to be growing very quickly with a pretty passionate crew. Pages Unbound allows users to review the stories listed, which I had not seen on other directories, like Free Online Novels. I submitted SM only a couple of days ago and have already gotten my first review. It wasn't unadulterated praise, but a very honest review which pointed out flaws that I thought were there, but well, nobody ever wants to think ill of her creation.

I'm always interested in what people liked about the story. This reviewer was the first to point out one particular bit of Mary's ability being a double edged sword that he found interesting. He's the first to point that out. And overall, he was complimentary of the story.

But onto his criticism, he sited length, or rather the lack thereof, as being the primary issue. SM is only about 35,000 words. Too little for most pro publishers. I have struggled with how slim SM is for a long time. Early in the writing/editing, I cut out half the book because it was a storyline I didn't particularly like or wanted to pursue. I also had a lot of flashbacks that I thought bogged down the story such as the memory of Mary's parents dieing. The reviewer said he wanted to know how they died. I think I only have a sentence now detailing what happened to the parents. (Drunk driver killed both while Mary was young. In the flashback, she is in the car as well, and the ghost of her mother stays with her until the paramedics arrive. It is her first ghostly experience.) I don't know if I want to add that in now, if I even can, or if it is that interesting, seems kind of movie of the week now. But his comment may make me flesh out that information in the sequel (even if the sequel is only a speck on the horizon). He says Vicky is a cardboard character, well she seems much richer to me, but in the current incarnation of the story, she may seem a little one dimensional. She's the damsel in distress in the sequel so we definitely see more of her and through her interactions with Mary, she becomes more 3-D.

Anyway, I may only have gotten a 7.3 out of 10, but I'm still pretty happy. The written comments are very helpful. But I don't know really what 7.3 means. I guess it's something like a 'C' in letter grades or possibly a high 'D'. And I should stop analyzing the number. I'll take it.

I'll be very interested in any other comments/reviews people make on the site.


Alexandra Erin said...

Hi, I'm the founder of Pages Unbound (yes, I follow links back... like you, I'm interested in seeing what people say about my work.)

The site is pretty much brand new, to the point where I couldn't tell you what 7.3 means, other than it's better than 6 and less than 8... it'll need a lot more reviews before any kind of "average" trend forms. At this point, I'd pay more attention to the words than the numbers.

Anyway, about the stuff you'd cut: I'd just like to share my observation that when people read a story online, it seems to change things... a lot of stuff that conventional wisdom about stuff that's "extraneous" or "bogs down the story" gets turned on its head.

To use a parallel example, there's webcomics out there that have spent seven months getting through the events of a single day. I don't recommend taking prose to such an extreme, but the same reasons readers accept that kind of slow pacing in webcomics also apply to online fiction.

I don't know what your plans are for the sequel--if you're going to publish it in the same fashion or not--but if so, I would definitely encourage you to expand rather than contract where possible.

I mean, if it did somehow end up being a "clunker" you can always trim it down after the fact, right? That's an advantage of online publishing... nothing's ever set in stone.

Windvein said...


Thanks so much for stopping by. I just became aware of you recently and I can't believe I hadn't known about you previously. You have such a huge presence in this niche of ours.

I understand that Pages Unbound is still pretty new, though it seems to be growing fairly quickly, and I've gotten two more reviews to balance with the first. Each gives me a new perspective to consider. Congratulations on Pages Unbound's success.

I'm not sure about editing after posting. I think it would confuse current readers. That's why I'm not currently posting stuff that's in progress. I would hate to have an epiphany three months after beginning and need to revamp the entire story.