Blog Challenge 2017

Blog Challenge 2017

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Stinker of a Story





Everyone loves to get praise and hear that they are wonderful. Who doesn’t love that? Especially we writers who spend many a lonely hour hunched in front of our computers or over our pads of paper as we toil away trying to get our ideas just right.  It gives us a boost and makes us feel good.

I wrote a stinker of a story lately. Yes, folks it does happen to me occasionally. I know it’s hard to believe. EHEM…face reddens and whistles while looking other direction…

Now where was I?

My online critique partners were honest with me and told me that my latest creation was contrived, clichéd with cardboard characters and the plot was silly and  implausible.

OUCH! Nothing sugar-coated about that. No one likes to get criticism and most of us try to avoid it at all costs. But sometimes you have to hear it in order to improve.

I found it hard to take at first but now I can see they were right. I write so much better than that if I put my mind to it. That piece was written too quickly, without much thought put into it and it stunk worse than my cats’ litterbox.

Isn’t it worth it to work hard at creating a story with depth, rather than a piece of empty meaningless fluff? I think so.

After receiving my critique, I pouted for a few minutes. I debated giving up the whole writing habit forever but decided against it since I still love it, struggles, rejection, story stinkers and all. So I licked my wounds, and spent a sleepless night dreaming up a new story with real sounding characters. 

The following day, I wrote another story. My critique partner, Jocelyn said it’s much better and more up to my usual standards. Of course it still needs revision, but at least it’s revision-worthy and not garbage like the other story.

Silly fluff flows from my fingers
Like a stench that wafts and lingers,
Stereotypes, clichés galore
This story is a total bore,

A useless plot without much appeal
Cardboard characters who don’t seem real,
Dull and boring, the story falls flat
Even revision can’t help with that,

When a story stinks, the best thing to do
Is ditch the story and start something new!

15 comments:

  1. Constructive and objective feedback is something that we all need. It is a step towards learning and growth. It's fantastic that you have critique partners and you are benefiting from these sessions. Way to go! Looking forward to read your new story, Cat :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Shilpa. Having feedback that helps rather than hurts is so valuable. I've had both kinds and that's why I find my critique group so valuable. They know my writing now and know when I haven't produced my best work. As for reading my story, I have to polish it up and enter it in a contest but maybe later I'll post it. We'll see!

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  2. Oh, Cat, this is in fact my story! I, too, wrote a couple of stories way back and they stank worse than the garbage! I too decided to give it all up, but, then thought better of it, and gave myself a break, and came back later after learning from my mistakes. Of course, I have miles to go before I churn out something respectable, but as you said, it is always better to start something new, and work hard at it. And, as far as your writing is concerned, well, you are GOOD at what you do. It may be tough to write fiction, but it is tougher to write a poem which sounds so simple and packs in a lot of meaning in it!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Shilpa. I hope you will keep going on your stories, too, and share some of them with us. We have to keep writing and persevering!

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  3. That criticism really cuts deep. I know exactly how you feel. There have been many instances where I have considered hanging up writing for good. I must be insane because here I am, still at it. Either that or a glutton for punishment. Still even taking long breaks from it and the internet, here I am...back at it. :P

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    1. Good to hear you're still at it, Kathy. I have felt like quitting many times, too but keep plugging away. Funny but my critique group being honest doesn't bother me as much as it would have in the early years. Maybe I have developed a bit of a thick skin though if they'd been mean about it, it would have been a different story. Also I've progressed to a point where I want to know how to improve my work and they help so much with their comments.

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  4. critique is essential for all writers. Good you got more out of it. Loved the poem at the end. So rhythmic.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Inderpreet. I agree that getting a well done critique is so valuable. Glad you liked the poem.

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  5. critique is essential for all writers. Good you got more out of it. Loved the poem at the end. So rhythmic.

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    1. Writing is nice when you don't know what's coming and you are surprised by your own ideas and stories which leave you while writing. I am busy writing a story about a fraud, who is convinced that he i
      has a terminal disease, or even worse three diseases at the same time.

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  6. Hard to accept bad reviews, but in the end, you wrote something better, so it was helpful, yes? I edit everything to death (pedantic!) before hitting publish, so that's the other extreme. :P
    I love your writing, Cat, including this poem at the end. Will you be posting the new story here?

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Debbie. Don't know if I'll be posting the story since I'm submitting it to a contest. We'll see. I don't think of you being pedantic, more like detail oriented and meticulous!

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  7. I agree, it's better to start something new... something that one actually enjoyed reading. I think it's always better to receive critical reviews, it keeps us trying to better ourselves. But yeah, the words might hurt :)

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  8. What Cat didn't mention is that within 24 hours, she turned those 1,500 words into a completely different 1,500 words which absolutely soared.

    Oh, and not to steal her thunder or anything, but she just won an Honorable Mention prize on a flash fiction contest.

    I'm grateful Cat's in my critique group (since 2008). I love reading her writing!

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    1. Ah, how nice! One of my faithful crit partners, Jocelyn! Thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement. Much appreciated. It was a real boost to get than honourable mention especially after writing Stinker Story! The highs and lows of the writing life, eh?

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