I just received notification of my first 1-star review on Amazon. This is an important career milestone. I’d like to take a moment to issue my acceptance speech:
Thank you. Thank you all! I am both humbled and elated! I’d like to thank my publisher for letting me post my fiction without the least bit of professional editing, my beta readers (all twenty of you—you know who you are), and my mother, who has always told me I’m worth something, and been slightly supportive of my cheeky attitude, except when directed at her.
I’ve can’t say I didn’t see this moment coming, but I didn’t expect to see it so badly punctuated. (The criticism, not my preceding paragraph.) Bad punctuation is a disease, and it’s contagious. It also renders criticism—such as the following—difficult to decipher:
“Hard for Me to Classify…Sorry! One for rainy days…glad I did not have to pay for this one. At least, it was short! But, not enough for me!”
Those last two commas are driving me crazy. Where are the grammar police when you need them? Is my critic somehow saying that DARTS was not enough for him? That he wanted it to be longer? Did they mean it would be easier to classify, by genre, on a rainy day, when life is less hectic? Or should I take this as a compliment? Houston receives about 50 inches of rain in an average year (NOAA.GOV). That’s a lot of opportunities for appreciating my novella!
Finally, there appear to be missing words. Critics aren’t supposed to use ellipses to omit crucial words. That’s the sort of lazy trick we expect from college students. What good is half a criticism? For one thing, it encourages bad guesswork:
“Hard for Me to Classify all of these exclamation points, ellipses, and commas! Sorry! One for rainy days, isn’t it Gerard? It’s fortunate the commas and exclamation points are on sale! I’m certainly glad I did not have to pay for this one. At least, it was short! But, not enough for me!”
What I would have liked from said detractor: a clear indication of what will make my stories better in the future.
Lacking that, I can only hope to untangle the riddle with time. Perhaps one of my alert readers—long live Dave Barry—can help clarify.