No Trolls, Please, We're Writers (Mild Rant)

It had to happen sooner or later: one of the writers who sent something in for a critique "punked" me with some astonishingly bad fan fiction.

On the critique page of my website it clearly states that I don't do feedback for fan fiction. My intent is to help writers whose career aims are either commercial or indie publication. Fan fiction is neither. I've nothing against it, that's something writers do for fun, and I even like some of it. But unless that writer has a contract with a publisher to produce a licensed tie-in book, it's a waste of my limited time to critique it.

In my feedback I mentioned a couple of characters and the situation being too similar to Aliens. In a reply mail the writer admitted to that and wasn't I clever to have spotted it, adding that I missed that the other character was from Prometheus, ha-ha, grouchy editor, you've been punked. He thought I'd be amused.

I'll let you guys know that from the writing style I thought it was by a pre-teen still in middle school, but I did some basic PI work and found (if I can trust the info) that it was a retiree-age male who had nothing better to do with his time than "test" my credentials and have a laugh at my expense.

But here's the thing--it's not about me.

It's about a selfish idiot taking time away from aspiring writers seeking serious feedback on their hard work.

I spent more than four hours of my time--a whole damned evening--on this man's unpleasant, boring 2500-word excerpt, thinking it was something intended for a commercial market. I gave the usual brick in the face critique, but more than half of the rest of my time and effort was spent offering constructive alternatives and asking questions that could possibly develop the story in other directions to make it a larger, better book.

But that was all wasted.

I can't say that he spoiled my day, he's not that important, but he DID pee on all the other writers patiently waiting their turn in line. The hours wasted on his little trick should have been theirs. I don't have much free time, and he stole it from them.

Hopefully he will never return. I won't be opening more mails from him. If there's an apology in him, I don't want it.

He stole time from more deserving writers. I don't forgive that.

Now, things aren't all bad. Right after that I opened a submission that was so good and so different that I contacted my agent about having a glance at it to see if she agrees. I NEVER do that, so don't get your hopes up. But out of the 100s of submissions that have come in this one struck me as being good enough to shop.

Writers like that are the ones who give me hope and keep me going.