Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Publish or Perish?

   
Author Topic: Publish or Perish?
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I had a rant prepared for replies to a post elsewhere on the boards, but there weren't any replies, so I thought I wouldn't let the rant go to waste---anyway, it'd be better in its own thread, being off-topic there.

If you read it, you know that I got a rejection the other day, with the usual computer-generated form letter, with the line, "This story couldn't grab my interest, I'm afraid." This tells me nothing, least of all how to correct the problem.

If there is a problem. These days, I'm inclined to think that my stories are OK---nothing super special, but OK. I would also be willing to concede that something could be wrong with my stories, too. But there's one thing that keeps me from being in complete agreement with that.

They publish crap.

Many's the time I've picked up an issue of this magazine or that, and thumbed through it (I rarely read the whole thing cover to cover)---only to find that there's some story that strikes me as garbage. Bad writing, bad plotting, bad idea...I'm driven with wonder at why it was published at all.

Now, most of the stuff is good. The surviving old pros rarely let a reader down, even if understanding sometimes takes a second or third read. A lot of the newbies are turning out pretty good stuff. But there's a lot of poorly-produced stuff there, too.

But the question it raises is: if these markets are willing to publish crap...why won't they publish my crap?

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Merlion-Emrys
Member
Member # 7912

 - posted      Profile for Merlion-Emrys   Email Merlion-Emrys         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's the eternal question, isn't it? I'm not a believer in "bad" anything...one persons crap is another persons treasure, but we've all many a times felt what your expressing. If they'll print this why in Astea's garters did they reject what I just sent them?

The answer is very simple. They publish exactly what they want to publish. Quality (which in this is totally subjective anyway) doesn't enter into it. Editors publish whatever they decide is best for them to publish based on their own personal, subjective criteria of various sorts.


The bigger thing for me is, we hear a lot about what and how we're supposed to write and what editors do and don't want or look for. So my question is, why is so much of what gets published stuff that totally flies in the face of everything we're told to do (or not do?)

Posts: 2577 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wannabe
Member
Member # 9510

 - posted      Profile for Wannabe           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It seems to me that there is more of an interest in works that are derivative of something already successful than finding the next innovative idea. I walk the shelves of the library, thumbing through different novels every so often, and really can't believe what I find. E.g. lots of Twilight fan fiction where the names have been changed to "protect the innocent" and allow the publisher/author not to be sued.
Posts: 56 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Osiris
Member
Member # 9196

 - posted      Profile for Osiris   Email Osiris         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One thing I've thought of doing is targeting the markets that, according to duotrope, give personal rejections most frequently, instead of submitting to the top markets first.
Posts: 1016 | Registered: Jul 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Merlion-Emrys
Member
Member # 7912

 - posted      Profile for Merlion-Emrys   Email Merlion-Emrys         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's not a bad idea, Mr. Undead Fertility God, and similar thoughts have often crossed my mind. However, it is my opinion (and to some extent experience) that while that feedback is great, it only pertains to that editor and that publication. Their feedback may, very well, help you get published with them (although with me for instance...I've been submitting to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which always gives personal rejections, since they opened and have repeatedly written stories werein I tried to use those comments and insights to tailor the story to them, so far without success) but I wouldn't necessarily guarantee it doing much to help you get in with any other given editor or publication.

Many folks believe there is an industry standard of some kind. Apart from basic spelling and such, I do not believe that there is. So my advice is always, write what you want to write, and submit where you want to submit based on what you want to do with your storytelling.

Posts: 2577 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've generally gone from the top paying markets down to the bottom---but there's not much different in the three print mags still up and running. (I am thinking of bending my long-standing rule about / aversion to submitting to the online markets, but I'll consider that option once I run through the print mags.)

I've wondered if it's possible to get through at these markets. The one that set this off---yeah, it was F & SF---seems always to take the same [fast] amount of time to reject it, so I'm not getting past the first reader, I'm sure.

Probably I'm a lot older than the first readers...what interests me, an old guy, enough to write about, probably doesn't interest them, probable young guys, enough to give it a good read. Also being a guy who adopts and adapts to technology as the Spirit moves me, I may not have enough of it in my stories to catch their interest, either. The science fiction I loved to read and wanted to write is a generation or more away from the stuff coming out now, so maybe I'm not keeping up with their joneses as far as SF goes. (Probably I'll think of other things, but, for now, my rant is pretty much spent.)

*****

This is as good a place as any to say, once again, that I maintain a website, where I put up my most recent stories, mostly to say "See? I have written some stuff you can look at." Feel free to read and / or drop comments on me, though I don't check my website e-mail that often.

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pdblake
Member
Member # 9218

 - posted      Profile for pdblake   Email pdblake         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can definately agree with this. I've had some good stuff turned down by magazines that publish some pretty badly written stories. Not all of them are obscure either, some are pro/semi-pro.
Posts: 723 | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Owasm
Member
Member # 8501

 - posted      Profile for Owasm   Email Owasm         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As for me, I'm in to self-publishing so I don't have to put up with people not liking my work. I'll let the reading public make the decision.

I've got one story collection up. None of those stories would see the light of day (well, one of them did... [Wink] ) I've got three more anthologies of my own that will be up on Amazon before the end of next year. That's about fifty stories.

You don't have to be subject to the endless rounds of rejections if you don't want to... especially if your work isn't what's popular with editors.

Posts: 1521 | Registered: Feb 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Another longstanding worry of mine popped into my forebrain right after I posted the above. The notion that it's not how good (or bad) your stories are, it's "who you know." And I don't know anybody at the SF magazines.

The notion of "who you know," not just here in this situation, tends to drive me into a towering rage. Like it's all been decided and I've lost before I've gotten to the starting line.

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Perhaps you should take the report of a "grab my interest" litmus test at its word. So how do you grab interest? That's the rub.

My wife likes to complain about all the variations there are on "dogs can smell fear". She's talking about advice that may be true, but is difficult to make use of. Well, I've got one for writers. Sometimes I think trying to grab interest too hard makes a manuscript boring. When authors are *really* desperate to grab my attention,they all seem to reach into the same bag of tricks (sex, gore, action, whatnot). Even suspense or cleverness can become cloying when taken in excess.

So I am particularly suspicious of hooks, not because they don't ever work, but there's something cargo-cultish about the faith some writers put in them. It's not that I'm against using a hook. Sure, if you've got a one in a thousand hook where creative inspiration has struck, it's bound to help. But all it takes to make a sorta good hook is a modicum of cleverness. So think of the huge pile of stories an editor or agent has in his slushpile, almost every one of which starts with a reasonably good hook. It's depressing to thing how monotonous the net effect of all that creativity is bound to be. So I suspect that the impact of a hook that is less than totally amazing is probably close to nil. For all we know a straightforward, smooth and confident opening would stand out more in a pile of barbed openings than just another hook.

So what do the *thoughtful* agents and editors say they're looking for? What they all seem to say they want is "voice". They want a writer whose prose feels distinctive, natural, fresh, and new. Naturally we have to assume such prose is always *well crafted*, but soundly crafted prose does not necessarily have a compelling voice.

What this suggests to me is that writers should focus on writing the best stories we can, and then over time developing our own unique style. That's why you want to write anyway, isn't it? Not for the big bucks, I hope.

If so then all those would-be authors who try to knock my socks off in the first page are barking up the wrong tree. They should be concentrating on being themselves. Oh, I have nothing in particular against being up that tree without my socks. But when I see a hungry, ink-stained wretch eying my socks, I instinctively move away from the tree.

Posts: 1149 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Voice, yeah, looms large. Fresh, vigorous, insightful voice. Voices.

Voice came up at a craft lecture recently, but indirectly. The author talked about writing from rapport with the other, empathy for strangers, in other words, in order to access personal meanings and truths, which transformatively are universal. The author didn't use the terms idiosyncracy and idiom, but that's what it was about. Judiciously, timely, and relevantly using universally accesible, fresh personal idiosyncracies and idioms among otherwise commonplace, everyday language to enliven voice.

How? A simple defintion of voice is a dramatic persona's attitude toward a topic, a topic of interest to targeted readers, a timely and relevant topic. Generally, the attitude may be approving or disapproving, and ideally transforms as a narrative unfolds.

I hate cauliflower is an attitude, disapproving of, though one that doesn't have very dramatic legs on it. I fear bug-eyed monsters was at one time the rage in science fiction circles. Wicked godmothers in fantasy. Walking undead in horror.

What's the rage of late? Sympathetic villains. Kind of hard to hate fully-rounded villainous characters with deep internal struggles seeking resolution through transformative redemption. They are us in their flawed nobility.

Posts: 2795 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't think voice is attitude. I think it of it as style.

Anybody can hate cauliflower. But can you make the reader hate it?

I don't mean simply finding the stuff unappetizing. That's not hate. True hate is the mirror image of love; like love it is an emotion of attraction. You can loathe the Nazis marching in your town, but that just means you avoid the part of town where they're marching in. If you really *hated* those Nazis, you'd actually go out to watch them, to jeer at them, to throw rocks at them.

So to make somebody hate cauliflower, it's not enough to convince him not to eat it. It's not enough to make him complain when he is served it. You must convince him to seek out cauliflower wherever it is served so he can dash it to the floor and stomp on it. You've got to get him to stand on the corner with a bullhorn, ranting about the iniquity of the whole rotten cauliflower perpetuating system. You've got him to throw rocks through the windows of greengrocers, to plot acts of terror against farms.

Most importantly, you've got to get him to view people who don't feel exactly the same way he does about cauliflower as the enemy; as morally polluted social deviants; as loathsome, unnatural perverts who won't stop shoving their wretched Brassica down our throats.

You can't do stuff that with attitude. For that you need *style*.

Posts: 1149 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mythique890
Member
Member # 8586

 - posted      Profile for mythique890   Email mythique890         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
But the question it raises is: if these markets are willing to publish crap...why won't they publish my crap?
Ha ha ha! I actually laughed out lout at this, because I have exactly the same thought on a regular basis!
Posts: 128 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
And "style" is managing attitude based on diction, word choice, like "morally polluted social deviants," "loathesome, unnatural perverts . . . shoving Brassica down our throats."

However, portrayed in scene oriented to persons, time, place, situation, and attitude of a narrative's immediate meaning space.

But voice is by no means one simple first principle, once and done, like attitude. Voice is as unique and complex as an individual identity at a given moment. Defining all the parameters of voice used to date would fill entire libraries. Actually, libraries are the very repositories of voices, so many voices, as numerous as the stars of the universe, and ever variable.

Posts: 2795 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
EVOC
Member
Member # 9381

 - posted      Profile for EVOC   Email EVOC         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I knew right away what magazine you said when I read this post as I have got that line from them before. I really think is a lot of crap the way some of these editors treat writers. Would it be so hard for them to add a page number to the drop down boxes of their form letter? At least I would know then if they read the whole thing or not.

When I first subscribed I couldn't help but read their magazine cover to cover. But lately, I find that I am maybe reading 4 stories at the most. Many are complete garbage.

You rarely see them mention that is an author's first appearance in their magazine. It is clear to me that they like to take from their regulars.

I am finding this true of most pro markets. They all say "We want both new and established writers" but then it is always established writers getting in. So who is publishing the new writers?

I do feel that if I am every going to get published by a pro market, I will have to know someone somewhere that can help me out. While I feel like that, I still try to submit all that I can and to pro markets first.

As far as personal rejections go, I have found them just as useless as form letters. They rarely give you any real advice. They just say what a form letter would say, in a personal way.

Posts: 715 | Registered: Jan 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MAP
Member
Member # 8631

 - posted      Profile for MAP           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I believe there is a level that a writer must reach to get published, but after that, it is all subjective. It is all about finding the editor or agent that likes the type of stories you are telling and the way you tell them.

The fact that you think they publish crap is probably the reason they don't publish your work. Your taste in stories may not align with the editor's tastes.

Sometimes it seems like finding an editor or agent is just like finding a spouse. You wonder how all these people are hooking up when you can't find anyone.

The answer is keep looking, the perfect editor is out for you. [Smile]

[ November 10, 2011, 10:59 PM: Message edited by: MAP ]

Posts: 1023 | Registered: May 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
History
Member
Member # 9213

 - posted      Profile for History   Email History         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like personalized rejections even if all they do encourage me to write and submit again (I've even had a couple from F&SF).

For actual feedback that improves my stories, I've found one or two of our fellow Hatrackers fulfill this need wonderfully. I greatly appreciate them and do my best not only to reciprocate in critiquing their stories but to also pass it forward to other Hatrackers whose stories I agree to critique. It is a lot of work, though.

I also have found a number of published stories and novels sub-par. But this is in keeping with Sturgeon's Law, so I am not surprised.

Fyi: I find your writing, MattLeo, very intelligent (and not atypically a delightful challenge to read--requiring my focused concentration). It is only a matter time beforeyou are an acknowledged professional writer.

Me? I'm a "hook" man. [Smile] And I can be a deliberate stylist at times. And I don't think my voice is unique. Is that three strikes?

I do strive to tell a good story. My goal is to have any readers feel their time has been well spent--i.e. they've been entertained. If there is something they also find to take with them, that's a bonus.

Perhaps we should have our own HATRACK: CRAP anthology, to be followed by HATRACK: SON OF CRAP, and HATRACK: CRAP TAKES A HOLIDAY (Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Halloween, New'Year's, Labor Day stories), perhaps a crime anthology (HATRACK: SHOOTING CRAP), or a horror one (HATRACK: CREEPING CRAP). [Smile] Why not form an editorial board, MattLeo, to consider our best "crap" and get a couple of the self-publishing savvy Hatrackers to put them on-line. Any revenues can go to publishing future anthologies or go to charity. Some day we may even have a HATRACK: BEST OF CRAP collection. [Smile]

O.k. I'm getting slap-happy. Too much cold medicine and not enough sleep.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

Posts: 1311 | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
J
Member
Member # 2197

 - posted      Profile for J   Email J         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There is a time-tested solution to improving the quality of fiction writing, perfected by Robert Ruark, and, more famously, Ernest Hemingway.

First, you obtain a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and a tumbler . . .

Posts: 666 | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
i agree with merlion in that publishers publish exactly what they want to publish; quality doesn't much play into it. sometimes they get lucky and find a book/story that will garner fortune and/or fame, but usually they don't.

i think publishers build the perception that they are actually looking for "unique, well-written fiction", but that's all just a bunch of rhetoric that's popular in the publishing world. they all say it because it's been said in the past, maybe one day was genuinely true, but now it's basically the type of cliche' that they claim to want writers who submit to them to avoid.

as a result, i've found my desire to publish waning. it's still there, more a constant flame than a roaring fire; partly because as i became older and honestly accessed why i wanted to publish when i was younger, the reasons were almost a 100% shallow.

i'm also of the camp that believes that the reason so much published writing isn't very strong is because A) publishers are too fixated on profits, and B) writers are too fixated on publishing. a combination of these two elements has been toxic for literature.

Posts: 374 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
at the same time, lets not forget that many writers have a horribly inflated opinion of how good their writing actually is.
Posts: 374 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MartinV
Member
Member # 5512

 - posted      Profile for MartinV   Email MartinV         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
at the same time, lets not forget that many writers have a horribly inflated opinion of how good their writing actually is.

Don't we all? [Wink]
Posts: 1262 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, enough people without axes to grind have said complimentary things about my work, so I can assume there's something to it---and the editorial staffs don't see it.

*****

I know of editorial practices involve "the Hook," and "the First Thirteen" and all that---there are lots of discussions about them around.

But it all boils down to this for me. I, wearing my reader hat, have never bought anything based on the opening paragraph. I'll buy it for the cover, I'll buy it for the writer's name, I'll buy it for the subject matter, I'll buy it on the recommend, I'll buy it 'cause it's in the magazine I'm getting whether I like it or not.

So why should I, as a writer, practice in my writing something that means nothing to me as a reader?

*****

By the way F & SF did their usual trick of stealing the first page of my printed MS...I grow less pleased with this every time.

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Robert,

I've read and followed the short stories you post on the site. I've reserved commentary because it hasn't been asked for, because I'm not comfortable it would be well-received, because the commentary I have is of ad nauseam quantity, because a central shortcoming quality I see is of well-worn creative writing principles every writer struggles with and works through, or doesn't, independently.

I do the same with published works, no matter an author's reputation. Award winners, contest place and shows, and also rans, popularly and critically acclaimed works. My opinions don't represent anyone's position but mine, though on balance, the works I admire have more artful virtues than artless vices.

Posts: 2795 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There is that---and if I get commentary of that nature, I'm likely as not to offer a rebuttal if I think the comments miss the point I tried to make. (Some I've gotten have.)

But I'd bear up under them all because I'm trying to improve my current work, to make what I'm working on right now better than what I've done before. I don't want my work misunderstood because of mistakes. And I'm looking to improve. A recent thread on passive protagonists makes me look for some characters that are more active for my next thing---whatever that happens to be.

Back to my thesis---I still see that the current crop of SF publishes crap from time to time, and if they're so willing to publish crap, why can't they make the effort and publish my crap? I've read very bad stuff that's not only published, but won awards---and I'll put my judgment ahead of everybody else's if I have to.

I do consider the work I've posted on my site to be done---I'm no George Lucas, to keep revising stuff that's already out there being seen for the sake of some elusive goal of perfection.

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Wannabe
Member
Member # 9510

 - posted      Profile for Wannabe           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm no George Lucas, to keep revising stuff that's already out there being seen for the sake of some elusive goal of perfection.
And progressively worsen it in the process.
Posts: 56 | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Robert,

I'm currently a paid writing consultant, copyeditor, proofreader, digest assistant editor, working toward journeyperson-status developmental editor, and Providence be praised, hopefully, popularly and critically acclaimed, published fiction author. I've made a small mark as a published nonfiction author.

Every finalized manuscript-composition I read is a perfect product for the writer. For audiences, for me, perfection is an impossible target for my clients and consumers, all of our writing, to realize. My consulting is imperfect too.

The common writing shortcomings I encounter come in basic categories, and in this order: concept development, expression, organization, structure, content. As revisions come in, I go back through that sequence recursively, selectively as adjustments are indicated; and then immediately prior to publication to whatever audience, even an audience of one, examine mechanical style.

That happens to be the opposite of how writing is taught in grade school, and how writers develop and generally practice their skills and conceive, draft, rewrite, and revise. We learn mechanical style first, then craft, then voice.

In terms of craft, your writing I've read and reflected on doesn't engage me, my empathy nor curiosity, beyond interest in a fellow traveler's creative work and journey.

There's a top-level area of craft, one that challenges and breaks many a writer's heart, I suggest considering. Narrative distance, how close readers feel they are to the dramatic spaces of a narrative, also known as pyschic distance or dramatic distance.

Do I feel like a bystander invested in the insuperable desire, the struggle, the outcome? A vicarious participant yet more invested? Kept at bay, at arm's length? A stranger in a crowded coliseum? Or an overlooked, distant speck who could not care one whit what's going on?

Your discussion post writing feels somewhat close to me, because of empathy and curiosity and shared desires, like we are in the same space, though somewhat removed from in-person interpersonal interaction, like we are two audience members separated by the crowd of a large auditorium. Your creative writing feels to me like I'm in a forelorn audience at a corporate slide show lecture. I'm coerced to attend and resistant to be there. I sit in the back looking at the exits, at the clock, anywhere but the slide show.

Posts: 2795 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattLeo
Member
Member # 9331

 - posted      Profile for MattLeo   Email MattLeo         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Extrinsic -- I just want to point out that my last post about hating cauliflower was meant as an illustration of voice. Not everyone would make the point I was making that way. I was making a point about voice by adopting a very specific voice which some readers might respond to but others not.

Everyone has a natural style, a way of saying things which comes easily to them. Or perhaps it's an angle you naturally approach things from; it's hard to separate those two things on the printed page. Maybe you're sentimental. Maybe you're cynical and snide. Perhaps your natural style is stuffed full of things happening, or possibly little happens but much is described.

No matter what your natural inclination is, the first results you get with it are bound to be horrible, horrible, horrible. That's because your ideas don't leap off the page into the reader's mind the way they arise in your own mind. But if you're sentimental, maybe you could become a Louisa May Alcott. If you're painstakingly detailed, maybe you'll become a Tolkien. Whatever your natural excess is, you can tame it and make it work for you.

For example, my natural style is pedantic. I'm not pedantic in my head, but on the page I've got a lot of detail to marshal and minor cases to lay out, all of which happens instantly in my head.

So an easy voice for me to adopt is satirical. Notice how elaborately rhetorical my argument about hating cauliflower is, from the overall structure to the way sentences are put together. Satire is an easy style for the naturally pedantic like me because it's all about reductio ad absurdum, and that's the first thing we do with any idea: see how far we can take it before it becomes stupid.

Posts: 1149 | Registered: Dec 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My natural voice is ironic, which is my attitude toward most topics. Life in general. Unfortunately, irony is harder to do well with written word than oral traditions, which is tough in its own ways, though intonation and gestural expression lend their ample support.

The types of irony I favor are verbal, dramatic, and especially situational irony. I like to write critical verbal and dramatic irony commentary that condemns by overstated praise, for instance, which is a species of satire. I'm delighted when my intents are appreciated by the audience I intend and taken as approving by less discerning audiences. Not because I write to impress, but because I seek an audience of my peer cohort, even one special audience of one who yet eludes me. I like writing situational irony for fiction and creative nonfiction, though, and reading same.

Posts: 2795 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
philocinemas
Member
Member # 8108

 - posted      Profile for philocinemas   Email philocinemas         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
May I add that this is a great topic and I am thoroughly enjoying the corresponding opinions. I also agree that there's a lot of crap out there. I haven't submitted much out of feeling most of my stories need revisions and not setting aside the time to do them. However, I question whether even knowing someone would do the trick. I think editors of pro-zines are mostly looking for name recognition within the community.

As to hooks, I hardly ever see pro stories with much to hook me. I do see very distinct voices - entertaining and annoying.

Posts: 2003 | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C@R3Y
Member
Member # 9669

 - posted      Profile for C@R3Y   Email C@R3Y         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think that if you submit enough, as you put it, "crap", that eventually you will get accepted somewhere, if you haven't gotten stuff published already. I haven't gotten many things published (a few stories, not too many), but a lot of it is luck of the draw, along with at least a good story, or as you put it, an OK story. Plus, you always get better, of course, whether you realize it or not. I could be wrong, but I like to think that, even if I get 100 rejections, that I will eventually get accepted somewhere. Just can't give up. That's my view on it. Just keep on writing, cooking up those stories for some magazine editor's dinner, whether they like it or not. Personally, I won't let the "rejection"--no matter how cruel or unjust-beat me.
Posts: 193 | Registered: Oct 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Merlion-Emrys
Member
Member # 7912

 - posted      Profile for Merlion-Emrys   Email Merlion-Emrys         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can't remember for sure, but I know I was well over 100 rejections...maybe even at or over 200...when I got my first sale.

I probably have upwards of 500 rejections now and I've sold only 6 stories.

Posts: 2577 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C@R3Y
Member
Member # 9669

 - posted      Profile for C@R3Y   Email C@R3Y         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh wow. I haven't been there yet, and I hope I don't have to be, but a lot of the time it's inevitable because it is really hard to get published. Well, it's really good that your still in it and that passionate about it, as I'm sure a lot of the Hatrack crew is.

However, I wrote many stories before I got my first story published. I didn't submit any of the others, because I knew they were not good enough in their current states. Then I wrote this one story one day and had a couple people look it over and they were all pretty astonished at how good it was. So I submitted it, after the rewrites, for the first time ever and, what do you know, it got accepted on its first try. From two magazines. I only got one, of course, but I was pretty damned surprised. It wasn't professional, but it was The Horror Zine, of which won first place in the Predator's and Editor's reader's poll on Critters Workshop. I was pretty glad to have gotten into the horror zine, since it's a pretty good zine, even though it's not pro. Plus, it was my first try so I only was "trying" it out. And after I got my second story published somewhere else, still non-pro, I decided to start going for semi-pro and pro magazines, and what a terribly different world that is when it comes to getting accepted. The best I got were two professional magazines that gave me personal rejection letters, Apex and Pseudopod, that told me they loved my stories and a few things that were wrong with it and why they couldn't accept it at that time. The Pod gave me like half a page that was so very helpful too. So I was glad about that, especially when the assistant editor of Apex said that she is just waiting for a response from the head editor to get back with me. I thought I had Apex right then, damn it I really did, but then I got that rejection in the end.

And wow. That is a lot of rejections, though. I'm sure there are a few people who have more, but that must have taken years to collect. I do what Stephen King does and pretend my rejection letters, both personal and form, are trophies. And they are, in a way, if you think about it. Trophies that tell you how many you can take and keep moving forward--that you won't give up no matter what. I read that somewhere--that he does that, keeps them as trophies. It definitely helps the process anyway.

Posts: 193 | Registered: Oct 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ken S
Member
Member # 9010

 - posted      Profile for Ken S   Email Ken S         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm waiting to hear back from Analog on one of my stories and regardless of the response, I'm going to print it out and hang it somewhere close. I might not do that with every response I get (probably not...never did have a thing for "Form Letter" wallpaper), but this was my first.

If you're publishing (other than self publishing that is) then you've got two things:
1. A publishing credit.
2. The knowledge that someone liked what you wrote enough to want it.
Both are pretty important. The second should feel pretty darn good and the first might just make a publisher take more notice than they otherwise would have.

Posts: 50 | Registered: Feb 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C@R3Y
Member
Member # 9669

 - posted      Profile for C@R3Y   Email C@R3Y         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree, Ken. I save my responses in a folder in my e-mail. At a later date, I will print all the rejections I got and probably get me one of those boards and thumbtack them all up on it.
Posts: 193 | Registered: Oct 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Merlion-Emrys
Member
Member # 7912

 - posted      Profile for Merlion-Emrys   Email Merlion-Emrys         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Oh wow. I haven't been there yet, and I hope I don't have to be
Oh you'll get there, as long as you keep submitting, have no fear.


quote:
ell, it's really good that your still in it and that passionate about it
The residents of my head don't leave me with a lot of choice.


quote:
However, I wrote many stories before I got my first story published.
I've been writing probably around seven years now, but submitting around four. It was much more sporadic for the first couple of years, and most of what I wrote I put on Elfwood, before I realized that making your stories available anywhere on the internet renders them unsellable.


quote:
I didn't submit any of the others, because I knew they were not good enough in their current states.
My personal advice is, let go of any worries about anything being "good enough" and just keep submitting, and submitting and submitting until you begin to see six million infernal goats dancing before your eyes. "Good enough" isn't something you can actually achieve in any broad way...as I say above, editors publish exactly what they wish too and nothing else, so your best chance lies in persistence.
Posts: 2577 | Registered: Apr 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
On rejection numbers...I lost count somewhere after the first thousand. But it's probably under two thousand; I haven't been as prolific as I was when I started.
Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
LDWriter2
Member
Member # 9148

 - posted      Profile for LDWriter2   Email LDWriter2         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I haven't added my two cents because it would take too long to write it out... it is Nov and all that... I have all types of opinions about the discussion but I wanted to say that I'm up there almost with Robert.


Three to four years ago I stopped counting at over 300I mean way over-I might have been closing in on 500- ... and even though the last of couple of years I've haven't been sending out as many stories as I was at that time I'm sure it's getting close to 1,000 rejections.

Posts: 4633 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
C@R3Y
Member
Member # 9669

 - posted      Profile for C@R3Y   Email C@R3Y         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Oh wow. You all have a pretty crazy amount. I don't think I will be able to lose count, simply because I started collecting them in its own e-mail folder, ever since I got my first rejection a year ago. I've still got a ways to go. x] I'm only at 28. 22 form; 6 personal. My number quivers to the amount you all have. lol
Posts: 193 | Registered: Oct 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Addendum to my rejection numbers: for a five year period I wrote and submitted poetry. There were (and probably are) a lot more markets for poetry, and on the ones I submitted I sometimes ran up a couple dozen rejections each. I didn't make an exact count, but I'm sure it ran up to a thousand as well.

Also I got a few published, but none in a paying market...

Posts: 7987 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2