Can I just Scream now?

I recently suddenly remembered I’d agreed to judge a contest and yeah, the entries were due back soon. So I spent Fri-through now doing that. I think I must get a pretty good taste of what it’s like to read slush, except I have to keep reading instead of stopping when it’s plain there’s no hope. When I’m judging, I am as nice and constructive as possible, but when I’m done, it’s like the niceness balloon just flat out pops. I’m venting here.

It’s true you can tell if something’s going to work from sentence 1. Editors and agents are completely justified in stopping after that. 98% of the time you can tell on page one.

This most recent batch had much of the same issues in common. I like to think that most of us go through life understanding there are rules. For example, the law has rules and even if we don’t know specifically what they are, we mostly know there are rules. The police, airlines businesses etc have their own policies and procedures which they must follow. So why, for the love of Dog, do writers think they can make up their own policies or ignore the ones normal people must know exist? Suppose that you’re a screener for the TSA. (that wasn’t in any of the entires) Don’t you suppose that TSA screeners get trained in a policy and procedure for dealing with suspicious people? So why on earth would you have a TSA screener ON THE JOB call some number they saw on a flyer in order to report a weirdo? I mean, why would a normal person think for even a moment that such an action is even remotely plausible? Why would you decide to base a novel on that premise? You don’t get to make up your own rules for say, Family Law. I mean you just can’t. Can. Not. Well I guess you can, but you won’t get your novel published.

Suppose you have a character located in, say, the middle of a room, and another in the doorway and a third halfway between those two. If the person in the middle of the room can hear normal conversation taking place in the doorway, then logic tells you that they can also hear the normal conversation of the person between them and the doorway. That simply must be true. You cannot suspend the laws of physics for the convenience of your story. Can’t!

Argh!

Anyway, now I have to go shopping and then try to catch up with Xia. I’m behind now.

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