Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

How to Write a Rejection Letter. Or Not?

You can read the post at Diabolical Plots here.

I'm not sure I agree completely. There's some good stuff there, to be sure. It is a rejection letter, and it's not going to make the writer feel good. But there's an awful lot of "Nevers," too.  For example: I've read stories before that were written very well, either had been published someone else or could have been, but didn't work for me. If that happens, I definitely want to see more by that writer, and I want that writer to know it. Finally, aside from "Being Honest" (@ #7) this list makes it seem like the editor should be so worried about the fragile writer's feelings, that  if the editor says, "Not bad, but I think it should be a novella" or "The gender dynamics of hurting the wife to get to the superhero put me off..." or, "The plot felt a bit predictable once they arrived on the island" or, "It reminded of Damon Knight (in a good way), but it doesn't quite work for me" or any kind of feedback about what did or didn't work in the story, the writer might shatter. (This seems to be in direct conflict with #7: Be Honest, which seems like it supercedes everything that comes before it.) 

All I can say is that at the end of the day, if getting a rejection letter is going to cripple you emotionally, you probably shouldn't send me your story.

The truth is, I don't like writing rejections because as a writer, I know they suck. But whenever I get a rejection and the editor's taken the time to tell me why she decided to pass on a story of mine - what specifically didn't work, where the editor stopped reading, etc., it might give me some extra insight, whether it be to my own story, or to the publication itself.

A rejection can put you into a funk, sure. Especially if you practice rejectomancy (all hail duotrope) the way I do. But a rejection as something that injures you? Again, maybe you're not ready to send your stories out.

That's what I'm thinking now. But maybe I'm wrong. So let me put it to you - if you're receiving a rejection from me, what do you want me to tell you? Do you just want a form essentially saying "We've read your story and decided it's not what we're looking for." Do you want me to tell you why I decided against the story? What do you want (if you're not going to get an acceptance)?


May. 21st, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)
Even though I was the one who posted the article for Chris, I don't agree with everything in it. I found it well-stated and entertaining enough to be worth posting, but I just really don't agree with some of it.

Like you, I thought that #7 seemed to be in direct conflict with some of the others.

To your question: if I'm receiving a rejection from you, or anybody, ideally I would like a civil but honest personal rejection giving feedback about why the story was rejected. For instance, I just got a Dreams of Decadence rejection yesterday, but they have a nice form letter with checkboxes that they check to indicate a reason for rejection. The boxes that were checked on mine were "Plot was thin or nonexistent" and "Please try us again with something else". In addition, one sentence was penned in at the bottom "Loved the concept, but it moved way too slow". And, well, the editor was right. It is a slow story. I probably won't change the story just based on that opinion. But I have toyed with the idea of writing a connected story with the same character with the same power, but in a different part of his life. Her feedback encourages me to do that, and is useful.

For another example, I got a recent rejection from Redstone saying that they liked the story but it "doesn't fall into the realm of what we're looking to purchase at this point." I'd sent the story before I interviewed the editor M.E. Ray. In that interview he said he was looking for SF that actually tried to predict what the future would be like. At the moment of the interview I knew I sent the wrong piece--a story about configurable parallel universes used to produce novel manuscripts. My story wasn't plausible in any way, nor intended to be a prediction of the future, so it really did not fit what they were looking for.
May. 21st, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, for me, #7 is the trump card. (Although don't be an ass is just as high up there.)

Latest Month

March 2013

Page Summary


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by chasethestars