Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Change

It's been some time since I last posted--more than a month. Much too long. I shouldn't be making excuses, but lately I've done more non-fiction writing than I've ever done--and I'm loving it--and I've also had some significant changes in my personal life.

I say I shouldn't make excuses because, despite my newfound avenue of non-fiction writing and the the changes in my life, I've still found time to write both fiction and non-fiction. I figure, if I can find time to write, then I can find time to chronicle about writing.

I haven't sent much writing out lately, so I didn't have many rejections come in since I last chronicled. Though, now that I look at my inbox, I stand corrected.Yog's Notebook asked for a revision of the same short story I had published by Creative Brother's Sci-Fi Magazine, saying they enjoyed it but felt that it would need some revision before they considered it for publication.

One of the editors went on to say in her email response, "The overall concept and setting is intriguing, but the story seems to lose focus in the middle. It's very heavy on exposition for a work of this length, and I found it hard to spot the transitions between exposition and then the present-day action." Fair enough.

She added, "In particular, I think you could tighten the section with Fabian and Roman--I had to read it over a few times to understand the relation to the rest of the story. But generally, the narrator's voice and the setting are very strong, and I would enjoy reading a revised version with a little less backstory and a clearer focus on the scene the narrator is directly involved in at that time. If you'd like to rewrite your work to address these concerns, we'd be happy to give it a second read."

Not only was this a very good personal response, it was also very good criticism. At about 3800 words, the story was heavy on exposition, though the transitions between the exposition and present-day action was meant to abrupt. The story opens with the main character lost in reverie at a long and boring commencement ceremony, and only comes out of his daydreaming when the audience applauds or a new speaker comes to the microphone.

I wanted the reader to be just as jarred and confused as the main character. The editor was also right about the section with Fabien and Roman. It was the most difficult section of the story for me to write--it being science-based was much of the reason for that-- and I'd rewritten it at least 35 times. I tried to make that section sleeker so it would flow well, but just couldn't.

Eventually, I cut it out to produce a tighter, sleeker version of the story. More on that in a bit. Backtracking somewhat, in the meantime, Creative Brother's Sci-Fi Magazine accepts the story for their number nine issue, so I tell Yog's Notebook Magazine. The Yog's editor congratulates me on my sale, and I decide to try her with the story I received the kill fee from Electric Spec. Made sense. The two stories share the same concept, setting and characters, and the Yog's Notebook editor said she enjoyed those aspects of the story I sent her.

However, she rejected that story as well, writing, "We really enjoy the settings and characters in your work, but the repetition of the story from a second point of view seemed redundant, covering many of the same details as the first section of narrative, and in general I think the work needs improvement in its flow and pacing." Again, fair enough.

The story is narrated by two characters who are in the same situation at the same time, though don't quite have the same things happen to them. I thought it would be interesting (and fun) for the two characters to depict that situation in their unique voice in two distinct narratives.

I don't think the narratives are redundant, and even included subtle differences of the same scene to give the reader insight into the characters. Maybe the editor missed that.Or maybe it just didn't work for her.

Also, the editor really doesn't seem to like my pacing, which I think is a good thing. That let's me know it's a style she probably hasn't encountered before, and it's unique enough for me to improve upon and make it a signature technique. The editor ends her response by saying, "the future you describe in both "Story Title Omitted" and "Story Title Omitted" is fascinating, so I hope you will continue to work with it and submit your stories to ours and other publications."

Obviously, I have some work to do. Enter the sleek version. As I said before, I cut out the section with Fabien and Roman, but I trimmed more of the story, too--the sleek version now weighed in at 1,890 words. But not only that, it was given almost an entirely new face and body based the feedback editors had given me.

The story now begins with the action at the end of the original version (a suggestion from the Nanobison editor), it no longer has the transitions with the main character's thoughts and the real-time commencement events, and the main character is more foul-mouthed and crass. Overall, the story's tone is now darker and a bit edgy. Whatever that means.

So I submit it at a few places again, but with a new title to go with it's new face and body. I do make sure to tell editors it's a reprint, and the original but slightly different version was published by Creative Brother's Sci-Fi Magazine under a different name. I realize this is probably a big no-no in the industry, but I want to be honest about the story and its origins.

Plus, I'm not all that sure doing this is a big no-no, so I decide to submit it until someone tells me it is. No one has. At least not yet.  Lone Star Stories rejected the story with a form letter (though, with a one day turnaround--the editor is known for very fast responses), and Quantum Muse, Antimuse and Trail of Indiscretion have yet to respond.

I could be making a huge mistake doing this, but this is how I learn about the industry, right?

We'll see.

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