1. GeorgiaMasonIII

    GeorgiaMasonIII Member

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    What is the longest novel excerpt you'd be willing to read?

    Discussion in 'Editing' started by GeorgiaMasonIII, Jan 26, 2017.

    I am working on editing a novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and since I was going for word count, I feel like the draft needs some hacking and slashing. I particularly want help with chapter one, which is hella long; my chapters are about 10,000 words. (I have never in the history of my attempts to write been one for short chapters.) I'm not about to ask people to read 10,000 bloody words in one sitting, but I'm wondering what the longest excerpt that is comfortable for a writingforums audience to read and critique is so I can pick a section of that length that I feel needs hacking and slashing.
     
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  2. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    1500 words...for me.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    yeah, 1500 to 2500 is good... anything more than that is pushing it...
     
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  4. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    Agreed. I'd try to keep it below 2000.
     
  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    For the workshop, 2000.

    When I had 10k I wanted feedback on, I posted to ask if people would be willing to read over PM and I got several kind offers.

    What genre is it? If it's something I can help with I'm happy to read 10k (and include the positives in the critique ;) )
     
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  6. GeorgiaMasonIII

    GeorgiaMasonIII Member

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    It's an urban fantasy deconstruction of the superhero genre. I might post asking if people will read an entire chapter; thanks for the idea!
     
  7. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Georgia,

    Since I Primary look at story structure and plot (I also look at imagery and Theme pretty heavy as well), I prefer the whole thing.
     
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  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

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    3200...final offer.
     
  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Ah, I'm no good on fantasy. :( But lots of people on the forum are, so I'm sure you'll get some interest if you post.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it depends entirely upon the quality of the writing. If the writing quality is high and the story is entertaining, I'll just want to keep reading. In fact, I'll be dumped that there isn't more.

    The more you include, the more people can concentrate on story structure, character development, etc. Too short an excerpt and all we can do is niggle sentence structure and word choice.

    That being said, a huge wad of clunky prose will put me off reading more than a couple of lines. If the excerpt contained only three or four paragraphs, I'd probably persevere. But if it's much longer, I'd just stop and move on to something else.

    I know not everybody agrees with me, but it helps a lot (especially if the excerpt is not from the beginning of the novel) if you can give us a bit of background before we start. (A notion of who the characters are and what they are doing in the scene or scenes you want critiqued.) It's also helpful if you can ask for specific feedback. Such as: Do you think the transition works between these two scenes? Do you think my dialogue sounds realistic? Have I spent too much time describing that building?

    I always find it annoying when the writer says things beforehand like "I know this is really crap." or some similar self-deprecating remark. If you really think it's crap, see if you can pinpoint why you think that, and ask for specific help. I am always suspicious when I see that kind of remark. I tend to think the person may be fishing for a compliment instead. No, no, no, of course you're not crap. This is great writing, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
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  11. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    I tend to shy away from this sort of thing nowadays. All too often, it's a prelude to a response to your critique saying "Well, I was going to fix all that SPaG nonsense later, stop being a @*!ing grammar Nazi!".

    If I can't get past that "SPaG nonsense" I really can't see whether there's a story here, or good characterization, or decent dialogue.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Thinking SPaG errors are trivial (when they aren't just a typo that got missed during an edit) is a mistake.

    I have always maintained that being proficient in spelling, punctuation and grammar, along with understanding sentence structure and knowing what words mean, is basic to becoming a writer. You won't be a good writer (without help) if you don't have these basics down. They aren't trivial. They're the foundation of what you do. If you don't want to bother with them, go make a movie.
     
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  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I also won't critique anything that's prefaced with, "I wrote this in five minutes when I was drunk lol" or "I scribbled this all down and haven't checked it for typos or anything." You're not paying me as an editor so why should I spend my time fixing things you've put no effort into?

    I don't mind when someone is self-deprecating about their work if I think it's genuine. I remember how nervous I was when I first put stuff up for critique, and I really did feel like my writing was terrible. But if it seems to be fishing for compliments then yep, total turn off.
     
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  14. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think genuine self-deprecators usually say what makes them think their work is terrible, or give some notion of how they react to thinking it's terrible. ("I get so depressed when I look at what I've written, etc." Or: "This is the first time I've ever showed anybody my work, and I'm scared shitless that it's not very good.") That makes the statement feel more genuine. But anything that ends in lol? Or a confession that it hasn't already been self-edited and corrected? I'm likely to hit the trail before looking any further.
     
  15. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I can only crit up to about 1,000 words at a time if I feel the need to crit a lot of the work. If I'm really into the story and there's not much to crit, I can go further. I usually try to push myself, but if I can't finish the entire segment the OP's asking about, I'll tell them where I stopped and why.

    That said, when I see 3,000+ words I usually don't even open it--way too intimidating. Hopefully some day I'll be able to do that much, but for right now I'll stick to fewer words.
     
  16. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I usually read the whole thing, but I stop critiqueing when I'm repeating myself.

    Edited to add: "read the whole thing" assumes that it's correctly formatted and in the form of paragraphs. For whatever reason, an unbroken sequence of one-line paragraphs tends to make me click away if it's more than even one screenful.
     
  17. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    2k or a little more. I've found out your less likely to get much crit for larger than about 2k.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    1500 or less in the workshop - I'm critiquing an entire book for a critique partner though, and I've done chapters for people before.

    I tend to disagree about SPAG - for me thats an editting function, what i'm looking for from my critiquers (and what i tend to give when i critique) is focus on the story, plot, exposition eetc what works imo and what doesnt... end of the day i'd rather see as well plotted tightly written story with spag errors , than an imaculatedly punctuated and spelt dirge
     
  19. Darkless

    Darkless New Member

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    I'm fairly new here, but I will reply to your question.

    In my opinion, the word count shouldn't be a problem for any good feedbacker who's willing to help out. I mean I, myself, am just like you. I write pretty long chapters, maybe not all are in the 10K word count, but most are long nonetheless, and the reason for my long chapters is because what must be said in that chapter has to be said, no matter the length. My friends and fans complained about my chapter lengths, so I have started working on delivering shorter chapters in my recent stories. Here I really don't know how people feel about length, but from what I can gather, most won't offer any feedback if your chapter has more than 3K words. I'd say keep it under that number and you should be fine, really. I will also take this into account when presenting something for critique.
     
  20. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I can't look past significant SPAG issues to see the story etc underneath. I notice every error like a neon flash, and it's kinda hard to read when neon flashes are going off in your eyes every few seconds. For me to give useful critique on non-SPAG elements, the SPAG has to be at a certain level--I can cope with a few typos and errors.
     
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  21. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    To enlarge on this...where the SPaG is so bad that the sentence doesn't make sense unless one translates it into English, can I be sure that my knowledge of the original language was good enough for it to be an accurate translation? Was the story that I've just written as a translation what the author intended? It's not inconceivable that I'm going to spend the next 80k words believing that the killer was the one who died, and that the victim is actually the killer!
     
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  22. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Well yes there are limits - but with for example my writing the spag arrors are likely to be limitted to thinks like the incorrect spacing of commas , like that , or the spurious use of ... to imply pauses ... or lack of capitalisation of i, and similar issues. My point was that i'd rather the critiquer focussed on critique rather than editing.
     
  23. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    But SPAG is part of critique, and many of us can't critique other things if we're so distracted by SPAG. It's well worth taking half an hour for a proof read (and to remove spurious uses of ellipses) before posting for critique, if you want to get the best out of it. :)
     
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    This is where I fundamentally disagree - critique is about what the writer asks for (within the confines of it being readable) - if the request is tell me whwether this story , characters, plot, setting etc work and what the holes are then the critique giver has no business marking SPAG errors as though its a piece of english language homework.
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I generally only read the first few paragraphs, regardless of how long the posted excerpt is, and then skim the rest. If I'm actually enjoying what I'm reading I'll read all the rest, of course, but if I'm reading as critically as I have to to give good feedback, the piece would have to be really good for me to enjoy it. And work is rarely that good at the critique stage.

    So it doesn't really matter to me how long the excerpt is--I stop reading when I run out of steam, regardless.
     
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