1. drayelya
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    drayelya Member

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    More than one opinion

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by drayelya, Jan 6, 2011.

    Hello everyone and thank you for your time spent reading this.


    I was recently told one of my stories in the review room lacked 'substance' I think was the word used and I have been wondering what they mean by substance. I asked but I want more than one opinion on the matter, so here I am. Can anybody help me out?:confused:
     
  2. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    Foundation and meaning. Plot and conflict. I can't say if that's exactly what that person intended to say though.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one can tell you what it means but the person who said it!

    and without knowing what story you're referring to, or a link to it, we can't offer our own opinions, can we?
     
  4. drayelya
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    drayelya Member

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    It is a story under the Science fiction review area written by myself. It is call "If only I hadn't run away"
     
  5. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    i did not see where anyone said anything about substance.

    Do you mean the comment that said you were overly wordy?
     
  6. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    Well you should just let it go - who cares? If someone said that to me, I'd tell them that their brain lacked substance and to shove off. Everyone isn't going to like, in fact, someone no one ever likes what you wrote, except maybe you, and even then its sketchy.
     
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  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'd recommend that you PM the person who said it to ask what they meant. Clarify that you aren't trying to be angry or defensive, but you'd just like some more specifics in order to learn what to improve on your writing. :)
     
  8. Jonalexher
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    Jonalexher Contributing Member

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    Saying it lacked substance is like saying it lacked "stuff"
    He/she should of been more specific :p
     
  9. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I say a movie or story or other piece of art lacks substance, it's basically my way of saying "Why was this even made?" Like it's kinda empty and pointless. A good one-word equivalent would be "vapid".

    I just watched the movie "CopOut" with Bruce Willis and the black guy from 30Rock; I would probably use that phrase at some point if forced to write a review of that film.
     
  10. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    To the best of my knowledge, there are two cases where the phrase "lacks substance" is used by critics.

    One case, the object either failed to connect with them emotionally, intellectually or artistically. It is commonly used when a story seemingly has the characters "going through the motions" of living their daily lives (Often done by writers in an attempt to create a background for their characters or just make them seem more "real" and less 2 dimensional), but the "motions" do nothing to advance the story, it just eats up time and is quite frankly boring. Alternatively, the opposite could be true as well, where the "hero" only exists to save the world, but otherwise is nothing more than a 2 dimensional card board cut. In reference to plots, it usually means there are too few plot twists or surprises, such as story where 2 guys rob a bank, drive off in a get away car while being chased by the police, the get away car runs out of gas and the crooks are arrested. No twists, no surprises, no complications, everything turns out just as it seems, nothing to make it interesting. It lacks substance.

    The other case is where the critic is just a hack and wants to enhance his own self importance by sounding like he knows what he is talking about. To this end, he just babbles a few of the commonly over used buzz words and phrases, such as "Lacks Substance", "Deep", "Promising", "Unrefined", "Has artistic potential that could be developed" or other comments that don't actually tell you anything specific, but are commonly perceived by the masses to be the ramblings of a serious expert.

    It would be up to you to figure out which case your critic falls into.
     
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  11. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    If I were to say a story lacked substance, I would mean that it was trite. A perfect example of that is the short story I posted in Horror called The Ghost of Atchafalaya Swamp. It really does lack substance. I don't have a problem saying that because it was supposed to be a dark humor pulp horror story.

    So it doesn't talk about anything that anyone would typically care about or that actually affects them personally. It's just supposed to be fun. Hopefully my novel, Caretakers of Eternity (which will be available very soon) is more substantive since it concerns the addictivness of selfishness.

    The problem of lacking substance would come if you were writing about, for instance, gutter rats in New Orleans, and failed to show how miserable that lifestyle can really be. If you made a tale about young adults who leave home to live as tramps in abandon buildings (gutter rats) and made it all funny and carefree, that would be a case of lacking substance.

    I'll go check out your story and see if I can find something more specific.
     
  12. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    I think the review meant that your plot came across as unrealistic and boring, your characters were 2D, had not much personality and acted like robots, and your settings lacked description and that feel of "Wow I'm actually there!" Don't worry too much, just keep practicing and I'm sure you'll learn how to add "substance" to your story.
     

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