September 28

I ain’t no romantic

Survey says this just ain't my genre

By In Competitions, Thoughts 3 mins

So I’ve spent the best part of today getting this ‘ere site up to snuff. I’ve given it a spruce, a bit of a spring clean, a bit of an overhaul. I’ve updated the Other Worlds section with a few more NYC Midnight stories, too:

  • Before, which flopped out of the first round
  • Pressed, which also flopped out of the first round
  • On the Market, which may or may not flop out of the first round – we’re waiting for results…

The thing that the three stories above taught me was easy: I can’t do romance. I always thought so, and the good people at NYC had tried to get me to do it before with no luck.

People don’t seem to understand why I struggle so much with this mushy stuff. I just got married, yes, and have a lovely hubby who is incredibly supportive. We do interesting things together. Why can’t I translate that to a beautiful tale of love and devotion? And yet, I see the R-word and I fall apart. This head of mine must prefer the darker corners.

But it was also these stories, particularly the two older ones, that made me realise I may be drifting away from the competition that has given me so much joy over recent years. Why, I hear you ask? Simple: their judges just don’t seem to get it.

Case in point: the feedback from Pressed:

”Pressed” by Lauren McMenemy 574 – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCRIPT – I like the historical fiction quality of this piece. The author does a very good job of interlacing the elements of Napoleon-era Europe without being too pedantic.  The subject matter is particularly interesting given the timeliness of the Navy’s need for young men and the presence of so many young men without direction or family coming from public houses.  The POV frame-work for the story is also quite inventive. I really like the way the writer presents the narrator as obscure at first, and then fills the reader in as the story progresses…ultimately revealing him to be the most unreliable of narrators. That framework really kept me wanting to read to uncover the mystery of it all. I also really like how the LBGT issue was handled. I think the mysterious, yet fast pacing of the piece is its ultimate strength.  I also like the way Edward’s character arc is handled as he becomes even more desperate and covetous of Ramona. I also like how the story is open-ended in a sense, as the narrator is waiting for the next inmate to come along and be the subject of his unrequited love. Your descriptive elements were strong and character development was good.   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – Due to the period nature of the piece, there were a few anachronistic phrases that I spotted that sort of derailed the historical fiction aspect of the story. Example:  “It was a given”, and “mini-men”. Also there is a bit of passive language that I would avoid, i.e, “Sometimes, the gangs would lie in wait. Also, I’d like to see Ramona’s character fleshed-out a bit more. I know she is not the focal point of the story, but I really could not get a good handle on her—maybe that was intentional on the writer’s part? Also, the ending kind of confused me. I wasn’t what the motivations were for Edward to become so angry and go out and enlist, leaving Ramona behind. It seemed counter-intuitive for his character. I thought your narrative structure was a little stilted and disrupted. You may want to try lengthening the sentences to give a greater sense of fluidity.

I take on board the points about historical accuracy and language and so on, and maybe I didn’t explain the ending as well as I thought, but still… argh!

Second case in point – and the one that annoyed me the most – was feedback for “Before“.

”Before” by LJ McMenemy  – WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCRIPT – The main character’s devotion and backward telling of the their life together was fun. Lovely, evocative details in this piece. The prose is solid. The wife’s grief is realistically portrayed. Realistic and accurate portrayal.  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – The word ‘remember’ is overused. Why are they in an attic? The first sentence could be more of a hook. A title that’s more of a draw would benefit the piece. I think it would put the wife in a better light if it were the husband who insisted on coming home, regardless of the pain that would entail for him. Beginning was hard to follow in areas.

This from an organisation that wants you to find new and interesting ways to tackle subjects – they wanted the different take on roles to be reversed back to the usual? Argh.

That feedback actually saw me abandon NYC Midnight for a while, but I’ve come back this year. Let’s see what it brings…

Written by LJ McMenemy

Thinker of random thoughts. Writer of random dreams.

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