This is a story that I have sent to two pro mags. It's a tad over 2k and I received a personalized rejection from one of the outlets. I feel as if its missing something.
Let me know if this opening grabs you.
quote:“God is on our side, Lenz.” Field Marshal Johan Kalden stood at relaxed attention, watching the American president staring with hard eyes as she spoke at the most powerful man in the world, Henrich Lenz, ninth Fuhrer of the Third Reich. She was seated with two American flags hanging limp behind her. Her face was superimposed on a wall that served as the Reich’s secured hotline to the United States. The Fuhrer had his back to the president. He rocked in his leather chair and smirked at Johan. “That may be but the rest of the world is on my side, Madam President.” He dropped his grin and spun to face the screen. “Please Elizabeth, for the sake of your citizens, surrender. Surely you can see the hopelessness of your circumstances. We have cracked
Personally, I like it. The scene, characters, and conflict are well-established in a mere 13 lines.
It may be a touch overdramatic,perhaps--and this could be toned down within a longer story where you give us better insights into these characters' thoughts, motivations, and feeling as they wage their verbal battle.
Or perhaps this particular alternative history scenario has been overdone.
But I like the "limp" flags and the Fuher with his back to the woman President--where the power lies is unmistakeable.
Good intro - I would read further. Only thing I would say is that this is almost feels like a cliche beginning - not that it bothers me - but maybe you need to hint at something that distinguishes this alternate history of the Nazi's vs. the U.S. from other ones. What makes your story different? Try to fit it in...
Posts: 406 | Registered: Mar 2007
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I'd be happy to share what the rejection said, although it really won't help.
This was from Daily Science Fiction, a publication I had submitted to five times before. Each submission was returned with their standard rejection, a form every hatracker who has submitted there has seen - with the possible exception of Eric James Stone. This submission got that same rejection email accept it has this at the bottom...
quote: PS You are mining a rare ore
...which I take to mean that I'm getting close
...or it might mean that I am digging a deep hole for myself
...or perhaps they're hinting that ore is uranium and my story is too radioactive for them to handle.
Anyway, if you can figure out what they're saying by all means fill me in.
I'd guess it means that the story has something unique enough to make it quite valuable. Take it as a good sign. It might also imply that it is perhaps too unique for that market, but given the opening and your usual style, I suspect it isn't experimental in style. Is the idea in the story close to the edge of acceptable?
Posts: 787 | Registered: Aug 2007
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Yeah, that is kind of indecipherable. I think there rejection count is just a reflection of the fact that they publish a new story each day, have good pay rates, and as such attract a lot of submissions.
I've submitted to them only once, a WoTF reject, and got a form rejection. So your personal rejection is probably a good sign.
[This message has been edited by Osiris (edited June 09, 2011).]
I like the idea of the alternate history and the conflict you have established. The idea of the USA versus the rest of world is fascinating, although it's a stretch for me to imagine a reality where you and I are on different sides. I would prefer to know who is saying the first sentence from the off, and the second sentence has too many characters for my tastes. I don't see the significance of the field marshall yet.Which character am I supposed to be investing in?
I would be happy to read the whole thing if you would like. Twiggy
I don't know if it helps, but I had received this note at the bottom of my latest DSF rejection:
"PS I liked the characters"
I take it to mean it wasn't good enough to make the cut, but keep sending. I can't imagine a whole lot of thought goes into a 4-word (or in your case a 6-word) response. "You are mining a rare ore" means to me that your work is original and you should continue to send them your short stories for consideration.
twiggy said: I would prefer to know who is saying the first sentence from the off, ...
I made the assumption that it was Madam President since it said: "... as she spoke at ..."
-- which brings a context or character ordering issue. We are introduced to the "Field Marshal" before the speaker is named. The "Field Marshal" should be brought in later as build up for a support character subservient to the president - a timeline convergent equivalent for "Secretary of State".
Right off the bat you establish the setting, the conflict and introduce the characters. I like the imagery of the limp flags.
You know how I feel about passive verbs.
Instead of: > She was seated with two American flags hanging limp behind her. How about: Two American flags hung limp behind her chair.
Instead of: > Her face was superimposed on a wall that served as the Reich’s secured hotline to the United States. How about: Her face stared out from the wall, a superimposed image that served as the Reich’s secured hotline to the United States.
Instead of: The Fuhrer had his back to the president. He rocked in his leather chair and smirked at Johan. “That may be but the rest of the world is on my side, Madam President.” How about: The Fuhrer rocked in his leather chair, his back to the President, and smirked at Johan.
Is “Wrath of God” the title? Ugh. Not only is it cliché, it one of those hit you on the head with a sledgehammer clichés with its invocation of divine retribution. Sounds like the title of some Hollywood action movie which you know is going to be bad.
I don’t think the “You are mining a rare ore” comment refers to the setting. These alternative histories where Nazis rule are not uncommon. There are a number of novels and Star Trek has done at least two story lines with this premise. Unless the editor is being sarcastic, I’m guessing there is something else within the story and I would have to read the whole thing to make a call.