The Fiction Bitch Is No More?

The Fiction Bitch (MetaFilter item)

The Fiction Bitch doesn’t want to encourage new writers. She wants to weed out terrible writers before they go on to bore millions of innocent publishing house interns to tears. If you suspect you are a lousy writer, the Fiction Bitch can remove all doubts, thus freeing you for other, more productive pursuits.

Damn! Do you know I have her in my LifeDrive?

This is what we’re now missing:

About The Fiction Bitch

1. Who is the Fiction Bitch? The Fiction Bitch is an experienced writer/editor with a loathing of bad writing and a heart of stone.

2. Why should I submit my fiction to the Fiction Bitch? You shouldn’t, if all you want is a pat on the back and polite, empty praise. But if what you want is an unvarnished, educated opinion, undiluted by tact or compassion — the straight truth — then the Fiction Bitch can provide this.

3. Doesn’t negative feedback discourage rather than nurture the creative process?
Yes, and that’s precisely the point. The Fiction Bitch doesn’t want to encourage new writers. She wants to weed out terrible writers before they go on to bore millions of innocent publishing house interns to tears. If you suspect you are a lousy writer, the Fiction Bitch can remove all doubts, thus freeing you for other, more productive pursuits.

4. How do I submit a story to the Fiction Bitch?
Submit your entry from the Submissions page, so that you view our Terms of Agreement. In order to maintain anonymity, we will remove your name before we pass the manuscript on to the Fiction Bitch. If the Fiction Bitch chooses to review your story, she will post it here along with her critique. In addition, readers are welcome to render their own opinions on the story. See submission guidelines below for more information.

5. Is there anything the Fiction Bitch won’t read?
No poetry. If you’ve always wanted to know if you’ve got the right stuff, and you’re tired of the gentle lies fed to you by your friends and relatives, send your story to the Fiction Bitch today…if you’ve got the guts!

1. Manuscripts may be sent as attached files or plain-text/rich-text e-mail (we’re not picky). File attachments must be in a MS Word-compatible format.

2. Authors will be identified by the name they use in the manuscript byline, or by whatever other identifying information is given. If you are writing under a pseudonym, use that name in the byline. If you wish to remain anonymous, you must indicate this in your submission.

3. Depending upon the number of submissions, it may be a week or more before the Fiction Bitch critiques your story.

4. Go to the Submissions page before sending your manuscript and read the Terms of Agreement there. It is assumed that anyone submitting a story has read and agreed to those terms.

And this is a review of an absolutely awful short story she was sent to critique (yes, I do have actual story — and no, you wise ass, I didn’t write it! — but I will spare you!):

Friday • 09.26.03

“The Tree” by A Guy Who Stole 65 Minutes of My Life

Here’s the short version of my review: this author needs to stop writing. Now. Give up, call it quits, hang up the gloves, whatever expression will do the trick. Just do not torture us any further. Bad writing will be punished; good writing will be as quickly rewarded. No reward for you.

And now for the long version.

“The Tree” is a passing good idea with an inept execution. The problems with sentence structure leaped out at me right away. Future writers of America: learn why a phrase like, “I had just received a beating from my stepmother when the demon came out of my mouth, while lying on the kitchen floor” is wrong.

The first paragraph was an indication of the pain yet to come. I wasn’t just dropped into the action, I was blindfolded and spun around first. There was an abrupt shift from present day to twenty years in the past, all of it written in a flurry of confused verb tenses. If you cannot get your verb tenses right, do not pick up the pen. Back slowly away and no one will get hurt.

As I’ve said before: tell me what a character is feeling, and the story practically writes itself. Unfortunately, I got no sense that the author was in the mind of his characters. He appears to have forgotten the father even exists by the end of the story (was he declared an unfit guardian, or what?), and I have little or no idea what the kid was thinking about all the fantastic stuff going on around him (although I was repeatedly informed that he was shocked and/or confused). The stepmother also bothered me. It wasn’t that she was a walking cliché (ooh, she’s scary because she’s fat and ugly!), it was more that I didn’t know why she was there. Was the story about a boy and a special tree, or about a power struggle between a sad, small-minded woman and a boy she considered an interloper? The author couldn’t decide, and neither could I.

Finally, the description and exposition left me feeling limp. It kept reminding me of notes in an outline – all action, no substance. As if to make up for the lack of effective description, the author would occasionally aim a blunt instrument at my head with expository sentences like “It was the demon that came from my soul” – just like that, right in the first paragraph, before I even know what is going on. Just between you and me, that ain’t the way to build suspense.

I wanted to know more about the tree at first, but finding out that it had plastic tubes that it stabbed little boys with so that they barfed out ticked off sap monsters when their stepmothers went berserk kind of cured that. Aside from the fact that plastic tubes in a tree is just lame (it’s a magic tree, do we have to have so much “how to” mad scientist talk?), I was more freaked out by the tree than drawn to it.

I suggest some nice whittling or ship-in-a-bottle making; something to keep those idle hands busy so they don’t do the devil’s work… making interns contemplate suicide, for instance, or at least a career adjustment.

I went looking for her to add to my Bookmarks and to recommend to others!

Ah, Fiction Bitch, wherever you are, I hope you’re reading some good stuff.

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