Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A thoughtful no is still a no, but ..

E-mail last night from Scott Andrews, editor at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

It was a rejection on Coward's Steel. I had had hopes for the story; The new on-line publication is a class act and I would be so chuffed (as my Brit friend Sarah likes to say) if I could be a part of it.

So, I was disappointed, but Scott included the sort of "here's why I said no" message a writer, trying to establish a reputation, hopes to receive from an editor.

Here's what he said, when he could have just said, "No."

The opening was vivid, and the situation between Tate and Sarah seemed interesting even though I didn't fully understand it. But the main problem for me was that I didn't feel a deep core yearning from Tate, a strong character goal driving her. Without such a goal, and the curiosity or worry it would generate in me as I wondered whether she would be able to achieve it, the physical plot of her entering the village didn't hold my interest.

Such critical feedback, from someone you hope to sell a story to, is so cool. It's just as cool that I understand what it is he is suggesting; my only worry is that I'm not quite sure I am far enough along as a writer to do it. But I'm going to try.

My father, who is something of a genius when it comes to fixing things mechanical, has always told me that the first step in fixing something is finding out what it is about the thing that's broken.

I think that's good advice for writing fiction, as well.

BTW: Thank you, Scott. You'll be hearing from me again.