Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guess what? The process doesn't always end with acceptance.

An editor recently told me my stories are "always entertaining, but you sometimes need a second set of eyes." That's not a half-assed compliment, by the way. That might be how an amateur or angry loner who thinks they're incapable of anything less than perfection would react to it. But what it means is, "You write well and I want to help make sure the story is as good as it can be when it sees publication."

I wrote that first paragraph as a prelude to the letter I received from an editor below. The story in question, titled "The Party," has already been accepted for publication. However, there were a few minor points the editor felt needed to be addressed by me. I have the option to ignore him, of course, but I prefer professionalism over self-entitlement...call me nuts. So, for those interested in submitting fiction who are unsure what it entails, I thought I'd provide an intimate look into the feedback process:

Dear Christopher,

Below, please find your contract for Triangulation: Last Contact. Please read through it and reply with your assent to the terms. If you would be so kind as to include a short biography and picture (optional, but encouraged) we will be grateful.

Attached to this email are my suggested edits for the piece. This is a word document with Track Changes. If you are unable to open it or work with it, please let me know and I'll send another format. Otherwise, please accept/decline my marks and/or add your own and return the revised document to me by June 15.

One thing I mentioned in my reading notes is that I think the piece can benefit from a few concrete details placed judiciously in the party scenes (thus making the party feel more real to the reader to set it off from the dreamlike memory scenes). I didn't feel a strong need for that on this reading, but I'll suggest that you may want to consider adding a few really concrete physical details to Jackie (in both present and past) as a way to set her off from the other mostly faceless characters. She is the constant here, right? It might be an interesting way to contrast First-Jackie and New-Jackie without having to say anything beyond describing them. Maybe her hair is crumpled down in the Party and we see her wearing a nurse's hat at some point in the later memories (just a suggestion of the sort of detail I mean; something he fixates on and we can figure out through context eventually).

It's a neat story. Thanks for sending it to us.

(Name Omitted) Editor
Triangulation: Last Contact

1 comment:

RubrisLibra said...

What a very polite editor. He or she sounds like a prospective author's dream of what the ideal editor would be like. :) Well... judging from this very small snippet, anyway.

As for "needs a second pair of eyes", doesn't every story need that?