Monday, 30 July 2001
I started on revisions for "A Little Empathy." I went through all the mss I had gotten back with critique comments and got all the line-edits entered into the computer. I also set aside the ones that had some specific issues that I wanted to address in the rewrite so that I could re-read them and think about each one.
It's hard to know just what to do with a bunch of critiques. They're great for pointing out the good stuff, so that you can do more of that. And they are often useful for identifying problems--places where nearly everybody got confused, for example. But often you get conflicting critiques: three or four people saying one thing, three or four others in complete disagreement.
Geoff Landis's advice was "Trust the story." I think that's good advice. My opinion in the matter is not so much an evaluation based on actual experience in using critiques to make my stories better, as it is just an evaluation of what I'm trying to do. I had a vision for the story when I started, the story I turned in for critique was the best I could realize that vision in a just a few days. Now I want to try to realize that same vision more perfectly. Where the critiques tell me that I failed to fully realize my vision of the story, I'll try to make it better. But where the critiques suggested that my vision for the story was the wrong vision, I don't think I can do much. Maybe such critiques will influence new visions for new stories, but that's about all.
Tomorrow comes the main part of the rewrite. What's missing (that is, how the story fall short of my vision) is setting. I need to make the reader see, hear, and smell the place. It's a kind of sterile place, so there's not a lot to see, here, and smell. But what there is needs to be described so that the reader knows that.
I'm still busy at work. I've got to get this document finished tomorrow. My boss will have to explain why it's not done the next day, and she's not looking forward to that. It will help a little if it is at least out for inspection.