May 2008

Critiquing is the way to learn to edit.

This is what I’m learning right now.

I’m doing a critique right now of an epic fantasy (with the associated epic length). Every time I critique a novel, I learn something new, and today several things that were rolling around inside my head came together.

A novel has a heart, a core truth that the rest of the story hangs on, that every part of the novel relates to, focuses the energy of the story towards. You might call it the theme, but it might not be related to the theme. The heart of Lord of the Rings, for example, isn’t really related to the Good Triumphs Evil theme, rather to the truth that you can’t go home again, that change changes everything, including you. Neither Frodo nor Bilbo nor the Elves nor the Orcs nor even Aragorn could return to the lives they once led, as much as they wished to.

Your job as an editor/critiquer (should you choose to accept it) is to find the heart of the story in front of you. Like JRR Tolkien showed us examples of how each character in his trilogy couldn’t go home again, couldn’t take up like what happened hadn’t changed him or her, everything in your story should circle around its heart, like planets in a solar system circle the sun.


Robert Lynn Asprin passed away last night, at the age of 61. He will be missed.

Been real busy lately, what with school coming to a close and the garden ramping up. It’s satisfying to be able to literally put food on the table (that you grew yourself).

I got a rejection on “Kythera”, and sent it out again. Been doing an interesting class on FM, studying openings to novels and having the others in the class analyze your own.

Also working on a fantasy novel crit for a friend. Put up “Heart of a Demon” for crit on this new short story crit circle I joined, also on FM. Love that place.

Anywho, that’s what’s been happening here. What’s up with you?

My spouse, after coming home from work, always brings in the mail. Today, a package sat on the counter.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Oh, that got sent to us by mistake, it’s for someone else.”

(Guess I forgot to tell the spouse what my pen name is, cause it’s addressed to me. From Tobias Buckell.)

So after explaining it to the spouse (who by this time is curious as to why I’m getting mail to another name and btw, who’s Tobias Buckell?) I open it and

it’s an Advance Uncorrected Proof for Sly Mongoose!

Which does not come out until August.


(I emailed Tobias just to make sure I was really supposed to have this.)

Now, you know how much I have been waiting for my paperback copy of Ragamuffin to get here … I’m about ready to go to the library and get a copy just so I can read it. No, I’m going to B&N. My daughter’s been begging to go for a couple weeks now. Amazon won’t send my copy until June 3rd and this is serious business now.

I just got hold of Page-Turning Scenes by Holly Lisle, which will be available at her site tomorrow. I’ve had a chance to look at a few excerpts and so far so good!

Hopefully I can get a review up here in the next day or two.

1400 words today.

This involved a lot of research, and I don’t like this story as well as yesterday’s, but I got it done.

The hail came back last night, but nothing seemed to be damaged, other than our rain gauge (which got its top knocked off).

The boys have a band concert tonight, the last one of the year. They’re signed up for band next year, and I hope they’ll continue in it. The band teachers are excellent in this school system.

The Story a Day is going over at FM. It’s where you use online prompts and try to write a story a day.

Wrote around 1800 words for today’s story.

Had a bit of a scare with a tornado that passed a mile or two north of us, and 3 cm hail. All in a day’s work.