General

The “Editors”

UPDATE: The original tweet below has apparently been deleted by Ms. Avon, but since the issue raised in it is a valid one, I will leave my post here up. Above her deleted tweet, part of which remains embedded, I have added her flash fiction tweet that started this. The “unsolicited advice” is screen captured next.

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To be a writer is to attract unsolicited advice. It goes with the territory. And now with social media, an “editor” can pop up from out of the blue posting how you have got it all wrong:

[From Twitter.]

I had also never heard of Barbara Avon before yesterday when she was suggested to me by Twitter to follow on my new Twitter… “based on my interests.” That tweet was the one that appeared in my timeline. After seeing it, and then looking through replies, and then even visiting the Twitter account belonging to her “editor” she said she blocked in order to get a better sense perhaps of the “other side,” I decided to turn my eye “critically” to a paragraph in what I have been reading:

[Photo by me, 2019.]

Much as her self-appointed arbiter of “good writing” popped up to troll tweet Ms. Avon, I feel the same could apply to that passage above: “Rewrite needed.” Why? Ahem, well…

1) “Unpleasantly.” Is that an adverb? Mr. King has decreed now and for all time, no adverbs!

2) How does attention “slight sway?”

3) “Obviously each family…” Another adverb! And it’s not *obvious* to me.

4) “Was strewn?” Too passive. Seek a more active form.

5) “Flesh as white.” Hmm. Flesh is not white.

6) Does it matter they aren’t “beach umbrellas?” Unnecessary.

7) “Obviously” a second time in the same paragraph? You need a real editor. Find a synonym. And Mr. King is not going to be happy about a REPEATED ADVERB!

8) “Less indigenous.” Are these Native Americans you are talking about here?

9) “Dark people.” That’s on the line. They had better actually be gloomy or morose or mysterious or similar people! Find a synonym.

10) “Peignoir?” God, that’s French. Do NOT ever be pretentious. Ordinary readers won’t understand it. Write in American.

[Tender Is The Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1934. Photo by me, Bristol, England, 2019.]

That paragraph I just critiqued ridiculed is from that novel above that has also – adverbs and all – been termed one of the “100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.” Just to keep the Twitter nonsense Ms. Avon faced in perspective. Show the same paragraph to any five different people and you will elicit five different takeaways from it.

ANY writing may be “edited” and “critiqued” cherrypicked and trashed as I just did – it took me only a few minutes – even to an (isolated) F. Scott Fitzgerald paragraph. So if anyone tries of course they can “prove” that YOU – “Who do you think you are? You aren’t a writer?” – should not be caught dead anywhere near a keyboard. Call this perhaps “unsolicited advice” too, but if you write and someone appears online and tries that cr-p with you… just ignore it, because there is no point engaging with them.

Have a good day, wherever you are reading this (and maybe will soon be writing) in the world.😊

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UPDATE 2: August 21, 2019: Further developments since yesterday, and more, here: “How should an author respond? Don’t.”

3 replies »

  1. So true! The old adage stands true; “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I do so enjoy torturing my family though:

    “Drive safe,” one of them will call out.
    “Ly,” I’ll shout in response.
    “What?”
    “SafeLY!”

    What is family for if not to tease mercilessly! Lol. Have a wonderful day as well, my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person