June 11, 2009

Apes, Aliens, Identical Twins, and Revamping

The following comments were reportedly taken from student manuscripts being workshopped at a “major” university. (Questions about their legitimacy should be directed to Tanya Rey at reytanyaATgmail.com.)
—“I love that everybody in this story has the same name, but it was a bit confusing.”

—“Maybe a little less time should be spent describing the Cheetos in this scene.”

—“It’s your story, your voice, your choices, and I don’t want to question them, but why these words?”


—“The jungle images and alien abduction seem to clash a bit here.”


—“You probably don’t need about half of what’s written here.”


—“This character seems more like a retired librarian than a former terrorist.”


—“Is this a typo or are you being experimental?”

—“You talk about pregnant raindrops and chaos and auditory canals and ‘the passing of time’ as ‘an orifice,’ when you could really just be talking about humidity and ears.”


—“Apes, aliens, then an identical twin romance = too much Sci-Fi. (But I do like what it says about the duality of nature.)”


—“The problem is I have all these questions I don’t necessarily want you to answer for me. I raise these questions to let you know that there were questions, and if you had intended me to perceive the answers to any of them, I didn’t.”
Hey, that reminds me that when I was writing The Big Book of Girl Stuff, my sisters were proofing the chapters. I neglected to make clear the value of specific feedback, however, which resulted in this message from an unnamed sibling. (Hi Boom!)
“I'm not trying to be too brutal, but I couldn't sink my teeth into this. There just wasn't anything that stood out and said ‘what a great idea’ or ‘wonderful advice.’ If you revamped it, maybe that would be the best place to start.”
You see the problem. Do I throw the chapter away or just kill myself? But while I initially despaired, it turns out that if you “Select All” in Microsoft Word, and then push the F13 button, it revamps the entire manuscript!

BTW, the comments at the top arrived here via McSweeney’s. (Except for the one about identical twins, which was altered to justify that picture!)

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