Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Compliments You'd Love To Get

So yesterday Domey asked about what compliments your work receives that you don't want to hear. Today I'm going to go the other way. What are the things you've labored over in your work that make you proud, that you want someone to notice and tell you is exceedingly cool?

I'll start. I work hard to create symbolic frameworks in my novels, where for example an action is repeated by different characters in different contexts and has different meaning, or where a single image runs through the narrative and gathers meaning and weight along the way. I want someone to say, "Ooh, and the thing with the eels! That was cool!" I also sort of do this with dialogue: a single word or concept will be batted back and forth by two or more people like a tennis ball and each speaker will change the meaning of the word and imply all sorts of things. Hey, this is really just the shaping force of my narrative structure; what I do is take a story and tell it over and over and examine it for different meanings depending on how you tell it. There, the secret's out. Anyway, I want people to notice the subtle structural things I'm doing with patterns and repetition and then congratulate me on my near brilliance.

I also want people to tell me that the jokes make them laugh.


Also! Next week, I promise I will write more substantive posts! Honest! I'm revising on a deadline and very busy at work, so I haven't got a lot of brain left. On the upside, though, that makes me only a secondary target for roaming zombies. You are all in more danger than I am.


  1. Okay, okay, Mr. Glass-is-half-full Bailey.

  2. A compliment I'd love to get is a reader telling me how much they can relate to a character or how predictive my characters are. I love the idea that I can accurately guess what a person will do based on their past actions. I like people to think my stories are true and real.

  3. A compliment I love to get is similar to yours in that I build many layers and symbols in my work and it makes me very happy if a reader sees that and actually says something about it that shows they understood. The book club I went to as an author for Cinders had one reader who underlined many of my symbolic passages. I kind of died with joy inside when she read them out loud and proceeded to explain what they meant to her.

    Of course, this was something I had wished I could get and now it has come true...

    so...something I'd love to get still? I'm still so happy about the last experience that I'm not sure yet!

  4. I'd love to get compliments that showed that the reader understood the literature that underlies the genre coating. It's great that I'm dark and scary and that my characters are relatable and blah blah blah blah blah.

    But what I'd love to hear is that people realized there were actual symbols there, and that the violence was there for a reason, and that they were engaged with some of the deeper questions that drove me to write in the first place.

    "I saw what you did with the pipe!"

    "At first I thought you were just varying the voice of Smith and Kinjou, but then I saw that their language was the yin to their actions' yang."

    "It was a page turner, alright. I kept turning back and say, 'Oh, wow, I suddenly need to think about that more.'"

  5. I too love when people "get" the subliminal stuff I slip into the narrative, but I think most importaantly, I like to hear that people can literally feel the emotion I put into a story, and that even though a character may be loathesome at times that they can connect with the humanity.

    I also like it when people notice the poetry I mix in with the prose.

  6. Big D: My optimism is just to lull you into a false sense of security. Clearly, you cannot trust the glass in front of me.

  7. Like Nevets and Cheryl Anne, I love it when the subtle things I do is understood. Some other compliments that would make my day:

    your writing was thoughtful
    your work stayed with me
    I really felt for/ understood Character's feelings and what s/he had to do
    love the humor
    the piece made me think/feel

  8. Scott: Inconceivable.

    Now, to the subject at hand...I was invited to my son's third-grade classroom today to read my books to them. Turns out last week he told his teacher and the librarian that I write books.

    So after clarifying the difference between writing books and being a published author, I was still welcomed into the room. I read the first 23 pages of RUDY TOOT-TOOT, and they gave me the two best compliments I could hope for:

    - Laughter. Loud, continuing laughs, not just short giggles. It was awesome!

    - Requests to hear more.

    The book is 76 pages, and I've been invited back for two more sessions to read the rest.

    I think it's the most satisfying day of my writing career to date.

  9. Rick: That totally rocks! (I knew you'd get the iocane reference.)

  10. @Rick - that is unbelievably fantastic. Cherish the heck out of that!

    @Scott - I, for one, have spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane references.

  11. Nevets: You keep using that reference, but I do not think it means what you think it means.

  12. I suspect I am too cool to know what y'all are talking about.

  13. Only one of the many ways you are too cool for school.

    I assume you're typing with your left hand, as well, even though you're not really left-handed.

  14. Domey / Scott / CN: Thanks!

    My son got home from school a little while ago. He brought a page-and-a-half sequel a classmate wrote for me. This is way cool. You hear that publishers???

    Makes me think thrice about self-publishing.

  15. @Rick - A fan-fiction sequel??? That's the big leagues, brother!

  16. I would love people to tell me they laughed at the funny parts, cried at the sad parts, loved the character and read all sorts of deep symbolism into the story, whether I put it there or not. :)

  17. @ Nevets- I'm thinking of getting it bronzed. The charming third-grade spelling can't be replicated anywhere else.

    @ Scott- I'm trying to work in a clever "As you wish" but I got nothin.

  18. Rick: Aw, I feel that way about you, too.

    In the future, I'd like all compliments about my work to begin with, "After you won the Pulitzer, I noticed that..."

  19. The compliments I'd love to get?? Easy.
    1) "Yes, I LOVE your work. I want to represent your work as an agent."
    2) "As editor of this significant and large publishing company, I'd like to be the one who announces your talent to the world."
    3) "Hi. I work with amazon.com, and I just wanted you to notice that you're our top seller this month."

    Hey, I can dream, right? :)

  20. I slave over making sure all my characters' actions, the setting, and pretty much everything else relate back to the theme somehow. If someone understands at the end of my story what the heck I was even trying to say in all that, then I am very happy. It has only happened where the person said "Wow" once, and it made my day.

    Also the laughing at my jokes thing.

  21. A six digit advance is a compliment I'd love to get=)

    Barring that, I simply like to hear "I enjoyed the story."


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