Writing Excuses – And Now for Something Completely Different

A few Saturdays ago I had the awesome opportunity to attend the recording of three episodes of writing excuses. Earlier that day it was posted that they may be reading the first paragraph of some people’s writing and critiquing it. So, of course I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity.

And apparently I should have. Just kidding. If you listen to that podcast, find the one that they totally reamed someone’s writing. Yeah, that was me. And I got to sit in the audience and hear my first two paragraphs get thrashed.

But here’s the question that I asked myself. Are they wrong? Absolutely not. You’re reading the blog of a very prideful person who has learned that his writing isn’t perfect continuously over the last year. So, yeah, I’m kinda used to getting destroyed.

In all honesty, Brandon completely misread the names in it. He kept pronouncing my main character’s name as El-lee. Really? Brandon, when was the last time you read the Bible? E-lie is the pronunciation of Eli. Plus, the first of my book was an adjective, not a name. But Brandon and Howard saw it as a name. I couldn’t respond, because, well, I’m not remotely as cool as them and it wasn’t my turn to speak. Either way, if Brandon and Howard stumbled over my first paragraphs then I’ve got a problem.

The thing that I do have to say is the comments that I got from Dan and Brandon on my way through the book signings. Dan expressed his thanks in letting me get shredded on air. Ok, I don’t recall his exact wording, but bascially that’s what it was. Then I explained the problems that I heard in Brandon’s reading to him (Brandon) but anyone smart could tell that Brandon did not like it. That just means I have to change it.

Honestly, if Brandon Sanderson, one of the most respected current fantasy authors there is, has problems reading my first two paragraphs, why would I even fathom sending such problematic writing to an agent? So, I’m glad to be updating the first paragraphs. Despite the fact that it’s past critic group, it didn’t pass Brandon, Howard, and Dan. Well, I don’t really recall much of what Dan said (probably because Dan had a sore throat and was more than likely keeping his voice for more important information.) And honestly, not passing the Brandon Sanderson test has got to be the most important test I’ve failed at.

He was pleased at my perseverence. I’m not gonna give up. Why would I? Elantris was Brandon’s 6th book. I Am Not a Serial Killer is Dan’s 6th book. It didn’t take Howard’s first year of Shlock Mercenary to make it a success. What’s my point? They didn’t give up. Why should I? No, I’m not. Honestly, after this revision, I’ll go through some editing. Once that’s done (beginning with changing my first few paragraphs) I’ll submit to agents and start working on something completely different. Because at that point it becomes what Brandon Sanderson referred to as a trunk novel. My feelings about that would be 😦 but hopefully, I’ll be able to sell it later.

Am I deterred?  Sad as it is, yeah, a little. Do I blame any of the Writing Excuses dudes? Nope. Not their fault my word choice was difficult on them. In the end, I know this will make me a better writer.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


4 Responses

  1. I’m not sure I would have survived such an experience, so good for you. Perseverance is important! Good luck

  2. Brave man, you–and what a cool learning experience.

    Random side note, but I pronounced it E-LIE, and Brandon’s hero dude in Mistborn I STILL mentally pronounce as EE-lend, but I know he says it as EH-lend (short versus long E). He spelled it with 1 L, which to me makes it a long vowel. Long way of saying, I think the name is fine. I want to hear what they said about the first two paragraphs, though! I’m bad at beginnings–I’m sure I’d learn a lot by listening. (Let us know when it’s up, k?)

  3. Leave the name as is. Eli isn’t that unusual. Even super-awesome-famous authors get tripped up once in a while. If it’s really a problem then include a pronunciation appendix.

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