The First Sixteen Lines

Sixteen.

That’s the number of lines of text appearing on the first page of a book. After the book jacket blurbs, it’s that first page that must compel the reader onward or the book is put back on the shelf.

There is a site that critiques those first lines; it’s called Flogging the Quill and it’s done by Ray Rhamey and commenters.

Two months ago I sent FtQ the opening to my WIP–Into Dark Woods. My opening is now up for the world to see. I can’t look quite yet.

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Somewhat Self-Indulgent

One of last month’s reviews on YouWriteOn.com accused my story of being a “somewhat self-indulgent piece…”

I let a month go by to see if this review still rankled. It does. My feelings have festered. It seems that it’s time that I lanced this sucker and cleaned out the wound.

As I understand “somewhat self-indulgent” that means I ‘somewhat excessively’ indulged my own ‘appetites and desires.’ Or perhaps—according to the Oxford English Dictionary— my creative work is “lacking economy (careful use of words) and control (the power to restrain).”

Let’s skip what ‘somewhat excessively’ might mean for the moment. What would disturb anyone about such a characterization is that it’s just that—a characterization, bordering on psychoanalysis. If I need therapy, I’d prefer that it be from someone with credentials. I’m funny that way.

Now, if one were to do a better job of reviewing, one would review the piece and not resort to divining the writer’s motives for creating it.

Call the piece, “preachy,” “somewhat excessively laden with argot, bombast, buzzwords, cant, clichés, doublespeak, drivel, gibberish, and jargon,” or call it “heavy-handed,” and I’m fine with that. Review the story.

My reasons for writing the piece are that I believe this story needs to be told in a different way.

After all, as Kingsley Amis said, “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

Let the healing begin.

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