I've been thinking about flaws for a long time now and had hoped to tie it into my ABNA results.
The process of critique has me frustrated and not because I don't see value you in it. I see tons of value but I also see a lack of contextual thinking and an attitude toward flaws that goes like this: Only after all your flaws are removed from your story, will your work be good enough for public eyes.
Here's the truth: flaws don't matter as much as you might think. They really don't. There is an unquantifiable aspect to what makes things popular. It's human nature to try to control the uncontrollable. A few seasons back America's Next Top Model tried to teach the contestants how to control their celebrity by branding themselves. Logic I found absurd.
Writing, like so many things in life, is a journey. Flawed people find love and jobs. Flawed songs hit the top of the charts. Flawed food is severed and eaten every single second of the day to happy customers. And flawed manuscripts find flawed publishers to produce them.
While personal growth often plays a role in success, it's not a requirement. What I'm saying is, and this applies to any pursuit, don't be afraid to put yourself out there now, flawed as you may be. Some people will like what you do. Some people won't. But be very cautious of people who say wait, wait, wait... not yet, no, wait.
Unless you actively resist change, each new attempt will be better. (Not everyone will agree on that, but you know in your heart when you've done something that stretched your boundaries.) The idea that a song that wasn't good or a book that wasn't good will end your career is archaic. We are in an era of experiment, thanks in large part to the internet. I find that as long as you put your authentic self out there, people are generous and forgiving of flaws.
You are free to make a gazillion mistakes doing whatever it is that makes you happy. And to learn from those mistakes. Or not. And either way, you have it in you to create a masterpiece. Or not. But until you put yourself out there, you'll never know.
The zany adventures of a Great Dane/Bloodhound mix in Ohio takes on a life of its own when he digs up a zombie in the woods. Meathead is a typical dog, loyal, friendly, innocently mischievous, and his owner, 40-something Einstein Angleton (still living with his mother), knows this well. The novel is uniquely narrated in Meathead’s voice as he chats with other woodland creatures and struggles to be a good dog to his human, a race he holds little respect for. The plot kicks in when Angleton finds a camera during a recent walk through the forest with Meathead, who digs at a smelly patch of dirt that has a hand coming out of it. Once developed, the camera’s pictures reveal the misshapen face of a man -- a recently-turned zombie named Hubert Pines who winds up on Meathead’s porch looking for sympathetic conversation and ends up befriending the pooch. Before long, things get crazy as Meathead outwits the local trainer (a.k.a. “Dog Nazi”) to help Hubert stay hidden and find him a stash of Zoloft while vying for the love of Anita, a female zombie bent on biting Einstein, all before his body falls apart completely. The author supplies a plethora of goofily-named characters, fart jokes, and footnotes that steadily become more distracting than cutely informative once Meathead’s voice becomes firmly established. Yet it’s the perspective of this plucky pet that contributes most to the novel’s allure, charm, and G-rated entertainment potential. A spirited, refreshing addition to the recent influx of zombie stories.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
I really like your style. It's so comfortable, honest and witty. It's mesmerizing. Even though this is from the viewpoint of a dog, it's strangely easy to relate to and understand as a human, and it's just downright fun to read. I particularly thought that you did an excellent job of capturing a dog's point of view but still giving it enough personality to make it into something quirky and fun.
What aspect needs the most work?
Hmm..hard to say. There are so many good things going on here that I couldn't really pick out many negatives. The only thing that comes to mind is that this doesn't seem to have much market potential. As much as I hate to say it, this would be a tough sell to a publisher since it's so off-the-beaten-path. What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? You know, if there are flaws in here, they are seriously masked by the quirks of the main character and the pure personality that shines through in every sentence. As a long-time reader (and, not publisher, so I am somewhat of a "lay" person here), I really enjoyed this. It's something so different and refreshing that draws you in with its silliness and makes you want to read more.
I really don't have any criticism (except that I want to keep reading, this was so fun!). I'd just beware of selling this to a New York publisher. In fact, the pitch probably would get you tossed off many NY desks simply because your story is told through the eyes of a dog instead of a person.
This is a very tough sell (and really, don't rule out self-publishing).
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
The characters are very well done. The dog talks but still seems realistic. The human characters also are very believable. What aspect needs the most work? There are a few mistakes here and there that a good editor could fix. Grammar is very important in a young adult book since it is giving them an example of how to write.
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt? It is interesting. It is not the best book I have read but it is quite readable and moves along nicely. Writing from the viewpoint of an animal is a bit different from the usual and this is a fair example of this sort of novel.