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Poorly Communicated

October 7, 2016
Posted at 4:48 am

This is why I use editors.

My previous post was not meant to suggest that I plan to depart the site in the near future, nor was it meant to suggest that criticism isn't an integral part of learning to write fiction.

It was meant solely to temper the expectation of the readership - a point it seems I failed to make.

Too many readers log onto a FREE site thinking they're going to be able to read a story worthy of the New York Times Best-Seller List.

That is a silly notion.

Let's be honest: There are some good stories on SOL; there are some bad stories on SOL.

Most stories fall somewhere in the "decidedly average" range. If you've come to the site expecting something better than average, you're deluding yourself and you're going to be disappointed nine times out of 10.

It is ridiculous for a reader to express dismay at the lack of "professional" quality stories here. The mistakes and flaws are why the stories are being given away in the first place!

I tried to use an example of a talented writer that quit SOL rather than have every sentence dissected and every punctuation mark questioned all the while receiving the princely sum of - zilch.

The man who posted under the name Brendan Buckley is a nationally syndicated columnist. He has, the last I spoke to him, three highly-paid, highly-trained editors that go through his writing to fix the mistakes before it gets published. He is compensated handsomely for his writing skill.

On political matters, he is a "professional" writer.

He also is an "amateur" writer when it comes to fiction. But he no longer posts it here or anywhere else for the public to read because he got one too many emails detailing the litany of flaws in his story.

He forwarded some of them to me and most were accurate. There were problems with his stories. There are problems with every story here.

He knew there were errors when he decided to post them. A few of the emails were unjustly harsh - not because of what was said or even how it was said.

There were unfair because of what the readers were complaining about. They failed to understand that they could find his fiction on SOL _because_ of the errors in them.

Criticism, even harsh criticism, is what helps a writer improve. It might come from an editor or a proofer or it might come from a reader.

Sometimes the writer doesn't agree with the assessment; sometimes he or she will find a way to do something better the next time.

Most of the time, at least in my case, he knew it was a problem and decided he could live with it - because he was giving away the story for FREE.

It is exceedingly unfair to hold the writers on this site to the same standard as someone who does this for a living.

The writers here are unpaid; the editors and proofreaders are volunteers. The stories are FREE (and the errors are thrown in for no cost to the reader).

SOL is not the place to find polished works.

There will be missed words, misused words, poorly developed plots and uninteresting characters.

It is an ongoing writer's workshop where those brave enough to post their stories learn and improve as they go along through feedback (positive and politely negative).

Let us always remember what this site really is: a repository for amateur fiction.

It is that and it is nothing more.

Best wishes,
Jay C.