Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another One Flies In and Flies Back Out

I got a rejection back today.  The comment puzzled me--I'm not sure that adding another scene to a flash humor piece would work.  I guess it would, maybe, but then it wouldn't be flash and the humor wouldn't punch, it would whiffle.  Maybe (trying to read between the lines here) it didn't quite end for the reader.  Or maybe it didn't have a climax, or the reader wanted a twist.  Something wasn't there.  Anyway.  I hunted around markets to see where to send this next (I love sending rejected stories back out the same day) and came across some guidelines that made me look at the story in a new way.  I didn't end up sending to that market because it didn't pay pro rates and I want to exhaust my pro markets before I go to semi-pro, but I did tweak the story a bit.  I think it added needed depth without sacrificing the humor.  Or so I hope.  It added a few words, and I took away a sentence that I thought wasn't carrying its weight.  

When working at a short length, especially flash, a whole sentence can create a surprising amount of change.  A paragraph that drags can shine when the chaff is removed, or an unimaginative passage can become enriched by a single, sensory-bright description.

One thing that I think is lacking in my marketing at the moment, and that only time and more depth of work can change, is I haven't been able to send in very many second submissions, much less thirds.  I've submitted to Flash Fiction Online more than anyone, but they've only looked at three stories so far.  Technically I've sent quite a bit to F&SF, but most of my subs were from long ago.  I've only sent them one recently.  Part of that is due to the fact that there are a lot of wonderful places to publish out there and I try to fit the story to the market as much as I can.  I know (or educate myself about) what they publish and some stories are closer to a particular style than others.  But part is that I've spent the past many years writing novels and I refuse to send old stories unless they've been rewritten from scratch.  I don't think editing old writing will bring it up to my current skill level.  I think it'll just turn to mud.

What was the comment in the guidelines?  They wanted characters that they cared about.  A lightbulb came on.  Now, hopefully, the pov character is someone special, someone human, something more than an archetype for me to use to poke fun with.  It's the difference between the three men who walk into a bar and Fat Albert.  I want Fat Albert.  If I have three men walking into a bar, it's not a story, it's just a joke.  So, thanks, commenter.  I didn't take your advice, but I think I ended up in a good place because of you anyway.  

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