Friday, October 30, 2009

Lessons learned from rejection

A couple of months ago, I wrote a short story, one of the most enjoyable stories I've had the pleasure to write. It had everything I love: evil super-science villains working on a mad science island! Superhero spies! And one naive, conflicted man, caught in the middle. It was deliciously and unapologetically over-the-top. I love that story.

Sadly, I seem to be the only one engaged in that love. I got some mixed feedback from my peers, and I went back and did some revision. Then I sent it out to some markets.

Submission is the stage of the writing process where the writer discovers the disconnect between the brilliance she perceives in her own mind and the cold trained judgment of the editor. Two editors did go out of their way to personalize their rejections. 'The story almost caught me in a couple of places, but never quite made it.' 'The character development just wasn't there.' I appreciate their insights, and will keep them in mind when I work on future stories. However, I don't think I'm going to do any more revision on this story.

I think I understand the problem. While the story spoke to me, it just didn't touch other readers in the same way. Perhaps if I went back and tinkered some more, I would be able to alter the story enough to make it "marketable". I'm still developing my structuring and story-telling skills, and maybe I'm just not "there" yet.

But perhaps a sale wasn't the purpose of this particular story. I had a ball writing it, and it clarified some ideas I've had for a fantasy/sci-fi universe that I'll be using in future stories. I also used it to experiment with plot twists, something I've been told is lacking in my work. (As a caveat, one editor commenting on the story told me that plot twists are not a substitute for character development; but hey, at least he acknowledged the plot twist!) So for now I'm going to mark that story as an enjoyable learning experience and continue on with new projects.

Edited on: 01/19/10 to protect story name


nontacitare said...

I seem to be the only one engaged in that love.

I really enjoyed it. I just thought the socio-economic situation and characters' beliefs about it needed to be expanded.

But it was a very fun story.

Faith Van Horne said...

Thanks. I believe that I will write another story that more directly deals with those issues in that universe. The information felt "tacked on" in this one, but I do plan to expand on it.