Another helpful letter, along with some advice tagged on the end.
Dear Ms. Anderson --
Thank you very much for sending this our way, but again, we're
declining it for publication.
Your writing continues to intrigue us; you're obviously quite capable
of crafting worthwhile prose, and you play with some potentially
interesting ideas. Unfortunately, this particular story suffered from
a lack of a real plot. It wasn't clear what the story's central
conflict was going to be, and the bulk of it consisted of exposition
detailing a character who we already had a pretty good feel for and a
world that was too familiar to really catch our attention. (The
parallels between this world and the world of the Fallout video games
really are quite striking.)
Also, why did Maybell stab Klaret when Klaret made it very clear that
Maybell was welcome to walk out the door and find her own fate?
If you have anything else that might fit our theme, we remain happy to read it.
-- Pete Butler
Editor, Triangulation: Dark Glass
PS: At the risk of sounding condescending, have you tried joining a
fiction critique group, either one that meets face-to-face or an
on-line entity like Critters.org? Your work is a mixture of obvious
quality and, to an outside reader (or this small bunch of outside
readers, at least), equally obvious weaknesses. If you have not yet
incorporated peer review into your creative process (or have not found
a batch of good reviewers), we recommend giving it a try. It really
could help you take your fiction to the next level.
It's funny, because all I've been doing with my manuscripts now is seeing crit groups and exchanges, as well as working with an editor to try and perfect it. I think in the excitement of the first letter I received from this anthology, I kind of forget the importance of this step.
My first story, EIDOS, went through a crit group twice. I made a lot of changes, tweaks, etc, and this was the one the editors wrestled with. I was so excited by the feedback they gave me, that I selected my second submission, PROVIDENCE, and sent it off after cleaning it up (typos and the like). The feedback in the rejection for that letter was also amazing, but there was a repeat problem: my world was too big for the structure of a short story. Now, I know other people can write short stories that encompass a monstrous amount of world and complex politics and societies, but for me, longer fiction just works better. I have a lot of trouble restraining myself when I think about a story I want to write.
I think I made the same mistake here, with a different result. SERICULTURE takes place in the same world as HOUND, in the past. Since HOUND is a simple world in comparison to how complex the Dark Book's universe is, I thought that would work in my favor. I had two people give me feedback, but that in itself is not a crit group for sure.
Right now, my head is so much in novel mode, SERICULTURE got the butt end of the stick I think. I was so focused, I think, on having one more shot that I didn't really consider that I might be sending off something incomplete.
It's hard to shift gears between short fiction and a longer piece. And it's funny - I always draw from the world I'm working in when I write short fiction, so far with one exception: SAVAGE. My published short story was its own concept, removed from everything else I was working on. I think that has a lot to do with why it was a success. Granted, Jessari is now an intricate part of the Dark world, but that didn't come until after the short story was written and selected for publication.
Regardless, this is still encouraging.
I am considering working on another piece of quasi-fiction while I work on my WIP, only because it's about this weekend. You know how you watch those movies or read a book, and you stop and think that there is NO WAY IN HELL people REALLY act like that in REAL life? Don't kid yourself, because as soon as you believe it, you'll take a trip to go to a funeral for your grandmother and find out that's YOUR family.