I’ve had a writing revelation! Well, possibly. Possibly not much of a revelation at all.
But you know when you get that critique that goes something along the lines of “this story doesn’t feel finished!” or “this story is great but I want to know more!” And you think to yourself how awesome it is that your characters and setting are intriguing people to want so much more than you’re giving them, and then think to yourself they’ll probably be waiting a while because this story was a once-off, or a throwaway bit of flash fiction, and you don’t really intend on revisiting the world/characters/whatever.
Maybe that’s not really what the critiquers are trying to say. Maybe what that critique really means is that there are a lot of good things going on in your piece, enough to mask the fact that there’s not really any plot.
What made me start thinking about this was the question of “how does the main character change from the beginning to the end of the story?” And it seems to me like the not feeling finished or wanting to know more reaction is a reaction to there being no answer to this question. And that probably one of the main reasons why there would be no answer to that question would be because there is no plot, or not enough plot.
I dunno. Something to think about, at least.
I started submitting short stories and poetry for publication in Jan 2008. That means I’ve been submitting for five years. I’ve been accepted a couple times and rejected a whole bunch.
Some things I’ve learned?
- Never reject yourself. It is so easy to read guidelines and think “yeah that kinda sounds like my story!” then read some of the published stories and go “oh woe, these stories are great and mine is horrible, they’d never accept me here, I won’t even bother.” But you lose nothing by trying, whereas you definitely lose when you reject yourself. Let the badgers do that, that’s what they’re there for.
- Read guidelines carefully. Do exactly what they say. Seriously, not rocket science.
- Always read agreements/contracts carefully, even if you’re 99.99% sure it’s all peachy.
- Everything is subjective. And that’s fine, because otherwise the body of published work would be pretty damn boring.
- Rejections are no big deal. Sure, they’re not the best news. Sure, they’re disheartening when you’ve gotten a bunch of them in a row. But they’re not attacks, and the personal ones are usually super helpful. So sit and make Eeyore faces for a bit if you have to, then send out the stories again, and start writing better ones in the meantime.
Which pretty much boils down to: Don’t reject yourself. Read carefully. Deep breath, relax, and keep going no matter the setbacks.
And you know? Those have been pretty important lessons for me to learn, in all areas of my life, that I’m not sure I would have if I weren’t submitting and being rejected.