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A personal rejection letter - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
A personal rejection letter
Well, I got back my submission with a "pass," but a personal note that the writing was nice. The tale just didn't hold his interest. Which was about my evaluation. I felt obliged to send it as I had to finish off the process.

Personal rejection notes are usually a good sign (as opposed to the form rejection).
17 comments or Leave a comment
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: February 3rd, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Kind of like the AI judges saying "You've got a good voice but you're not right for this competition" or "You'll be good with training, so come back next year," yeah? That analogy only occurred to me this season.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 3rd, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
The "get more training," or even "Try a different song" is about right. Now I've just got to make sure I don't send them an off-key version of "Unchained Melody" next.
petitecrivan From: petitecrivan Date: February 3rd, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The most personal rejection letter I ever got was a form letter with "I am sorry" written on the bottom. It always made me laugh, because...I don't know. It just seemed ridiculous.
violet_quill From: violet_quill Date: February 3rd, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Must be F&SF. Did you know you can tell how far he read by the word he uses in "didn't ____ my interest"? :)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 3rd, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, what's the code? So far I've only gotten "didn't hold my interest." (Granted, I've only submitted there a couple of times; until the happy day when my printer actually functions correctly, I'm sending most of my stuff to be rejected by people who take online submissions :)).
violet_quill From: violet_quill Date: February 3rd, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let's see...

"didn't grab my interest" means he read maybe the first page

"didn't hold my interest" means he got farther, maybe halfway through, but didn't finish

"didn't work for me" means he read the whole thing but still didn't like it enough to send it on

"some nice writing here" is the standard 'hey, don't give up!' language I think

and if the letter comes signed from Gordon and contains an "alas" then you have hit the big time. :-D
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 3rd, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting. Glad I've made it to the second rung, anyway! I aspire one day to be rejected by Gordon himself :).
violet_quill From: violet_quill Date: February 3rd, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeed! It is something to aspire to. :) I've gotten to Gordon twice, with some variation of "didn't win me over, alas".

I've heard other writers refer to them as alas-o-grams, haha.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I made it to the second level, but I feel much less encouraged if "nice writing here" is the standard form letter form.
dalf From: dalf Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Who is Gordon and what story did you send in?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gordon Van Gelder, who runs The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I sent in a story called "Fishgirl Crosses the River," a short dystopia that, to be honest, didn't go anywhere.
violet_quill From: violet_quill Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awww, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring a rain cloud. :(

It's not the STANDARD form, though. There's two versions. The with nice writing and without nice writing. So it's not exactly a personalized note, but it does mean that he liked it more than a lot of the crap he's forced to read. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
The truth is, I'm not very good at short fiction. In fanfic, I can pull it off because there's a whole universe out there that it's part of. In original fic? Not so much. I don't really like reading it, so I've never internalized the rhythms.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 3rd, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I too counted it as a step in the right direction when I started getting personalized rejections (am still getting them; in the last two years, have sold precisely ONE piece of fiction). The one that was both most personal and most crazy-making was from a pro-level magazine which said "This was really, really good and we ALMOST decided to use it but the ending didn't feel quite right" and all I could think was "AARRGHHH! SO CLOSE!!! WHY COULDN'T JUST HAVE TAKEN IT?" I mean to send them something else in a bit, but damn, that was both encouraging and infuriating.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: February 3rd, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
dalf From: dalf Date: February 4th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Writing question

So I am likely going to have a lot of time on my hands for the rest of the year as I am going on disability for health reasons. One of the things I had thought about doing was writing a sci-fi novel that has been banging around in my head for a few years. The problem is (and the reason I have never written it) that I have little writing experience. Especially in the area of mixing prose and dialog. I guess you could call it the overall mechanics of narrative style.

I have a second original story idea as well as a fanfiction idea that are less serious. I have thought about writing one of these first as an exercise in character development more than of plot development. Anyway, do you have any suggestions for beyond 'the elements of style', for resources on narrative theory and short story writing?

I don't anticipate actually writing anything worthy of being published but I am hoping for something that I would not be embarrassed to put online, and I am going to have a lot of free time.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 4th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to hear about the rejection letter. Wow that was fast...hey maybe your story idea was good too. Enough to get you to the top of the read pile anyway. Well as many of us have told you numerous times your writing is most excellent. Just keep on sending things in.

It will happen for you. Your writing is too good to go unnoticed.

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