Friday, December 07, 2007

When not to listen to members of your writing group

Wyrdsmiths had an interesting meeting last time. Three members got ticked by stories by other members. I won't talk about the two other people, but I was one. In my case the problem was, the story in question is about the Norse gods. Most of what we know about Norse mythology comes from medieval Icelandic texts; and being Icelandic descent, I tend to get possessive.

I've thought about it and decided, I am going to go with my feelings -- within limits. I won't be abusive, and I won't keep telling the author his idea of the Norse gods is wrong, because SF writers do have the right to a little creative flex. But I will double check his Old Norse, if only because it's interesting to dig around in Old Norse dictionaries.

I've got him on one word, though it took some digging, and a flash of insight on the edge of sleep, when I realized what the root to the word he used was. It's always great when you get a blinding flash of light and say, "Aha! Leggja!"

Granted, a scholar would have realized what the word's root was at once. But I am not a scholar.

Anyway, I have decided that this is a situation where the author should not listen to criticism. My reaction to the work is completely individual and not useful.

Even good critics have blind spots and hobby horses.

1 comment:

Stephanie Zvan said...

Hmm. I'd agree that your comments might not be usable in the context of that book, but I don't doubt they're useful. Listening to someone geeking hard on their favorite topic is never a waste of time.

I had a mini triumph in my group when the wolf fanatic liked the wolf in one of my stories. If she hadn't given someone else "Wolf Lecture #3" some months before, I might not have been paying as much attention to how I built my critter. Since I was aiming for realism right up to the point where I hit fantasy (the original writer wasn't), she'd given me very useful things to think about. And since I didn't need the lecture, she could focus on other things in my story that did need attention.