Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Good Rejection

About a week ago, I submitted by dissertation piece - a short story of 6,500 words - to ParsecInk's new anthology, Triangulation: End of the Rainbow. It said on their website that they have never commisioned anything over 5,000 words, though they wouldn't rule it out. I decided to give it a bash.

After reading their previous anthology, Triangulation: Dark Glass, and listening to their very helpful podcasts, I knew they only published the best quality stuff. And these were people who knew what they were talking about, too.

After I had submitted the story, part of me knew it wouldn't quite cut it. But I was still pleased with the story overall, and had a shred of hope.

Today I recieved the rejection, which read:

Thanks for sending this story our way, but we've decided to pass. While we found the opening intriguing, the story moved too slowly for us. There's some good world building here, but it's faintly reminiscent of Children of Men (the movie) and not really novel enough (from our perspective) to carry a story of this length.

We wish you luck in placing this elsewhere and will be happy to consider other stories from you that fit our theme.

That last comment is good news. They obviously liked my writing, just not the story. I was glad that Steve Ramey was the Assistant Editor who got to look at my story, because he always posts about individual stories on his blog. Which meant I got a little bit more insight. On his blog he writes:

This starts out quite promisingly, with a hint of near future complication, but soon begins to stretch into a simpler tale that lacks the substance to support so many words. There’s some interesting world building, though it feels faintly reminiscent of Children of Men (the movie, at least). There’s not enough newness to carry the idea and not enough narrative to carry the length. Plot elements are a little obvious in places. The actual writing is good, often very good, and the voice engaging. Pass to second read.

Steve then goes on to talk about his 'pick of the slush pile'...

And this week’s slushy goes to — drum roll, please — Story 1. It’s too long for its idea, which is not really novel enough, but it features an intriguing hook, engaging voice, and smooth delivery that set it apart from the others this week.

So as far as rejections go, at least I know it was a good'un! And I've been given some things to think about. I have a few ideas how to improve my story, though I'm not quite sure what the obvious plot elements were, and would have been more than happy to have them pointed out to me. As far as the 'Children of Men' comparison goes, yes, it does have an extremely similar theme (not only to the film, but the book too, as well as Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale'), but I was hoping I had created an original angle. I guess I have to work on that too.


  1. Fantastic feedback, Sophie. It's not often you get such a detailed crit. :)

  2. Yes, indeed. You should be pleased with this. Any feedback is like gold dust in this business and shows you are on the right track. Well done.

  3. That's an amazing amount of usable feedback - congratulations.

    If you want a totally independant critique, I'd be happy to have a look at it. I saw the movie 'Children of Men' but not read the book, and I've not read 'The Handmaid's Tale', but then I'm not big on comparisons anyway. If your story is well enough told (and it sounds like it may be) then I'll judge it on it's own merits.

    And I'm offering for two totally selfish reasons.

    1. I need something a little different to spark my muse. I've been stuck on this antho for so long now I'm getting flashbacks of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.

    2. One day you can return the favour and have a look at something of mine.

    Let me know.

  4. That's great news Cap. Sounds like you made an impression with the story and that's going to stick with the editor.

    Why not set aside March to write something for this anthology. I know it's filling up quick, but the deadline is 31/03.

    Strike whilst the iron's hot and the editor remembers you!


  5. This *is* a good rejection. I hope you are encouraged by the positive comments about your own voice and style, as they are often the hardest part of the craft to get to grips with, at least they have been for me. Those good comments are about you as a writer, while the negatives are just about this one story. You should definitely write another (shorter) one. Perhaps something completely different.

  6. Thanks for the triangulation podcasts link too. They look useful and interesting.

  7. When I first started submitting all I got were personal rejection letters. I was so excited cause everyone I read said it took them a long time to graduate from form rejections.

    Then, my next batch was all form letters. I think I've peaked.

  8. Thanks for all the comments, guys.

    I've already submitted a much shorter piece to them. Just waiting to hear back!

    BT - thanks, I might just take you up on that offer :)

  9. I'll be here for some time to come - try the veal!



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