Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #187

Guest blogger Anna Haney on what keeps clueless writers buried deep in the slush pile.

Did we meet through my job as a submissions handler? In that case, you may have received an email congratulating you on acceptance, but more likely you got a rejection, always with a reason attached. Some of the reasons are listed here.

(1) You started every sentence of your second paragraph with, “Then suddenly...” (2) You were arrogant enough to think I wanted to read your stuff so badly, that I would format it for you. (3) You felt that a paragraph plucked from one of your longer stories would make great flash fiction. (4) You were under the impression that bizzaro does not need to make any sense. (5) You made it clear that you are an archeology major by including a term paper word for word. (6) Cookie cutter characters – remember, I have 150 more submissions to read. (7) Your characters were talking but not like anyone I have ever met in real life. (8) If you are going to show me a new world, you had better be on your game, because that sort of setting is all about the details. It is not enough to be a cop in the year 3000 and talk on a Dick Tracy wrist watch. (9) This is not your fault, but your limited life experience has surely limited your setting and key characters. We all know what happens on campus; your job as a writer is to make it interesting. (10) The first few paragraphs are important. I'm not saying to come crashing through the gate, but you didn't even try to interest me in your character or main conflict. (11) You introduced an interesting character at the start of your story and I never heard from her/him again. I felt cheated.

Do I sound awful? I am bound by the same rules as the rest of you, and I too suffer rejection. We are all up against competition and the best will rise to the top. So take your time; it’s better to polish your story for a year and know it stands a chance. You do not want sub-par work accepted, only for it to embarrass you years later.

To learn more about Anna, check out bravebluemice.com

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