Monday, May 11, 2009

NOTES FROM THE EDITOR, part V (more feedback)

I did my best to be patient awaiting the feedback for my second crack at the UFO script for Ape, which I titled "Life is Funny." For a person like me, who hates lines, it was difficult and I did something I'd read was a "no-no" and followed up with the editor. Thankfully, he was gracious and explained that things were hectic with work as well as home (he was a new father) but that he would be in touch when he had time to read it and put down his thoughts. Fair enough.

And then, my inbox had this:

Hi Chris,

Sorry, man. I’ve been crazy busy with work and the new addition to the family. Here are a few more thoughts.

I think this is a little better, but I’m still not getting the reason why the character is changing his mind. When the character says: “Like what’s important in life” Why does he reach this conclusion? Why does the UFO bring this out of him?

Is he thinking at that moment that he was going to be whisked away and never see his family again? To his own surprise, did the thought of being separated from his family scare the shit out of him? What about being separated bothered him?

Also, the story starts with the narrator saying how good things were. But then things “took a turn.” That sounds like some bad stuff happened, but it looks like the bad stuff is just Jake not getting to hang out with his friends as much because of his new responsibilities. I’m not really getting a good reason why they are going through a separation. Is there more behind their conflict than “We didn’t see our friends as much, but I still had my annual hunting trip with the guys. Tammy didn’t understand.” Am I missing something?

Jake sounds like a self-centered prick. That’s okay if he is, but then I need a good tangible reason why he decides to stay—like the self-realization that he’s a selfish prick. And that he was only thinking about himself all this time and when he thought about how his disappearance would affect his son and wife, it fucked with his head and at that moment, he wanted nothing else but to hold them in his arms…or some shit like that.

If your intention is that he’s really a good guy, then the story needs a better reason for the separation.

As the story stands, I’m not getting a strong sense of motivation from the main character. I think if you flesh-out and demonstrate his motivation a bit more, your story will be a lot stronger.

There’s my two cents. Feel free to tell me I’m full of shit.


Again, some really good feedback. Not that I haven't received some good notes from those I know with whom I share my drafts, but this was a more critical evaluation not colored by friendship and such. And I agreed, all his points made sense to me. It was exciting - for me - if also daunting, to finally getting that editorial interaction I feel I need to "take me over the top" so to speak. Anyway. Back to the drawing board to patch this story together, hoping I would not screw it up somehow. A challenge that I looked forward to, and a challenge that would prove to me whether I was up to this writing thing or not.

More soon.

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