Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good Writing Vs. Good Ideas.

I've always felt true writers are more into quality writing than ideas. That isn't to say ideas aren't equally important, but which one can stand on its own? Turn a wonderful phrase, paint a picture or a series of pictures with words and people will be spellbound. Describe a great idea and people will usually say, "Now what?"

If there's a finer wordsmith in the field than Michael Chabon, I haven't encountered them. His sentences flow with a beauty and an immediacy that is at once delicate and rooted in concrete reality. That's why I read "Manhood for Amateurs," his non-fiction collection of essays, so quickly.

Still in the mood for quality writing in lieu of genre, I jumped over to Tamas Dobozy's "Last Notes and Other Stories," a short story collection from yet another author whose elecric prose leaps off the page.

These are the types of  authors whose work informs mine. Their talent, their observations and, yes, their unwavering honesty are what I shoot for when I write. If my story contains a five-headed monster, it shouldn't feel like something I'm drawing attention to.

Sadly, too many genre authors do just that these days in an apparent fruitless attempt to recapture the Joss Whedon pop culture reference lightning in a bottle.

I'm not finished reading Dobozy's book, but I can already recommend the first two stories. The one about the married couple that pummel each other in the boxing ring as a form of therapy is definitely worth reading! A perfect example of an idea not overshadowing the writing.

I can definitely recommend Chabon's book, especially for males and females who don't quite get males. In fact, pretty much anything of Chabon's is worth your time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Wonderful Rejection Letter.

Few writers ever reach the point where they don't still receive the occasional rejection, and I'm certainly nowhere near that level. But when an editor takes the god time and effort to provide not only a detailed by positive rejection based not on the story so much as its incompatability with a particular themed short story collection, it's worth sharing:

Dear Christopher,

I thank you for your consideration of "After Death…," however I have decided not to select your submission.

I appreciate the amount of time and work that you must have invested in this story, but I feel it does not quite fit the overall character of the book I'm compiling.

Christopher, technically you've written a nice story and I enjoyed reading it. It's thoughtful, interesting, and you really cover a lot of ground in your writing.

However, your story doesn't fit the theme of this anthology. I am looking for stories exploring what occurs to us after we die. Your character, Franklin, is alive and searches for meaning in the death of his daughter. His exploits are all in the realm of "the living," though he seems to transition or attempt to access other realms through use of meditation, drugs, etc. Though I understand where you're going with this, it seems to skirt the question I ask in this anthology... what happens to the soul/ spirit/ essence AFTER the human body dies.

Consider a first-hand perspective from a dead character's point of view.

What happens to your character after they die? Where do they go? What do they see? Heaven or Hell? Another universe? Reincarnation? Other spirits? Wild adventures? Etc. For example, if the Demon had killed Franklin at the beginning of the story - what would have then happened to him?

Also, just a quick thought - be conscientious of your usage of "all caps" or bold font or extra tabs (ex. "And something strange happened.") - generally emphasis should made be via italics, though more importantly by the strength of your prose, rather than the choice of formatting.

Keep writing! I am certain you will be able to find a publisher for this elsewhere.

I also read, "Always Say Treat," in the Feast of Frights - great story. I look forward to reading more material from you in the future.

Warm regards,

Eric J. Guignard