[META] Re: REVIEW: End of Month Reviews - May 2004 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Sat Jun 5 19:15:36 PDT 2004

Mooshing a couple of replies together:

Jamas Enright <thad at eyrie.org> asked:
> This brings up a question of: how often do people post (when they have
> stuff to post)?
> I am currently on every fortnight, but I may slow down as once a month is
> good enough for most comics! I have written far ahead ('cos I'm trying to
> get back into writing), but think spacing it out is a good way to go. No
> need to overload readers.

     I have *extremely* poor impulse control, and tend to post when I 
have something written to my satisfaction. As Martin noted about a month 
ago, this has resulted in posting a slew of five stories, once per week, 
and almost nothing for the rest of the year.

> There is also a related question, which Martin brought up last time: how
> do people know when they've written enough for an issue?
> Martin said he writes until about 10K. I used to be going for 500 lines,
> but now am happy to stop when the story does. And Saxon tends to hit his
> max fairly easily. :)

     A function of my writing slower causing me to want to stuff more 
content in; about which more below when I reply to Martin, below.
     I have to confess that I don't keep count with line counts, words 
counts, or file sizes. Because I do edits in hardcopy, I usually think 
in pages, but even though I like to save paper by recycling on the blank 
side of used stuff, I nevertheless shrink the point size down to 8 or 9 
point, shrink the margin in to half an inch or less, and then format 
for double columns of text. I usually try for between 3 to 5 pages in 
this layout. Checking the stats on some random docs, that means the 
~5-and-a-half page Limp-Asparagus Lad #50 and 51 were 700-800 lines / 
40-50kb. These are a bit large for my typical story, and now that the 
library has added an automatic disclaimer to the end of all outgoing 
emails, I have made (feeble) attempts from time to time to make them 
smaller in order to post on google.

> Not to discount Saxon's influence, but just a few days before I posted
> that issue, I picked up the latest Previews to see, on the cover, a splash
> of the tribute to Normalman inside! (How's that for unintended timing!)

     I, for one, am looking forward to it - but I am vaguely worried that 
the new stuff might not stack up as well as the mid-1980s stuff simply 
because of the golden glow of hindsight. 


Martin wrote:
> If you see a lot of stuff posted before the end of the month then it
> could be that people are using you for instant feedback, yes.

     This has occurred to me, yes, but I don't see any way around it. 

> Speaking of LNH Forever, did you see the movie Twelve Monkeys?  Do you
> remember the original Terminator movie?  I posted LNH Forever in one
> month so that people wouldn't have too much time to think about it or
> else, yes, the ending would have been obvious and (in my best Austrian
> accent) inevitable. :)

     Ah. Gotcha.

> I feel that the size of the file is a good measure of actual amount of
> content in the issue.  An issue with a lot of dialogue can be read
> very quickly even though it could be well over a hundred lines and, lo
> and behold, it could turn out to be less than 10K.  500 lines is a lot
> to ask someone to read all at once IMHO.  When I read Saxon's stuff, I
> usually stop and come back later and finish reading it, or maybe not,
> prefering to spread it out over three sittings.  It doesn't mean
> Saxon's stuff is boring, it's just that when I'm reading posts on
> usenet I usually only intend to do so for a few minutes as a diversion
> before going on and doing something more important.  I usually will
> stop and come back later at a point which I feel is a natural break in
> the story.  By breaking my stories into parts of 10K or less I feel I
> am making my stories easier to read for people who only have a few
> minutes to read usenet.

     All very good points. As I said when I started doing the reviews, I 
had slipped into the bad habit of `saving' stories (in several senses of 
the phrase) and coming back to them later. I suppose the topic is one of 
trying to decide what the best length is both for the story for the reader 
- but there a multiple factors (such as what medium the story is being 
read in) that make that a complicated decision.
     As stated above: I think, looking back on my writing trends, that 
as I've got slower and slower in putting out stuff, I've tried to stuff 
more and more ideas into each issue, making them longer. The whole thing 
culminated in L-ALad 51, where I basically just threw a whole bunch of 
ideas together as a series of set pieces glued up with some character 


Dvandom wrote:
>      I generally shoot for 450-550 lines in ASH, around 300 in Exarchs.  I
> outline the issue before writing it, putting in scene headers and brief (or
> not so brief) descriptions of the scene

     Whereas I usually have a plot outline in my head, which I may or 
may not get around to writing on either paper and/or in the blank text 
file, and even if I do I then more often then not it's a snatch of 
dialogue or an image for a particular scene tat gets put down and later 
cemented into place with connecting text. Real amateur approach :-)

Saxon Brenton      Uni of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
Saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au

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