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I've been creative writing all my life, though with various haitus(es) along the way. IFrom 2010 I started this blog and enjoyed sharing writing and other information with everyone. illness and bereavement supplied the more recent hiatus.

Saturday 6 November 2010

It takes more than a Snazzy Idea

Oh dear, I recently sent out a short story to a magazine and today I received the above reply.   While I don't feel utterly devastated, as I would have done in the past, naturally I was disappointed. I put that down to everyone's fantastic support and advice here in blogland.

Okay so what is the story about?

A young man in need of a career change and someone with whom to share his life.

So what happens?

He drops a poem in the park which a young widow finds. They develop an anonymous romance through sharing poems and then they meet by chance.

So, perhaps you could tell me: Is the opening deathly dull?
How could I create the conflict and tension to make it a better story?

Click on the image twice to open it to clearer proportions:


  1. Awe bummer. Might not have been anything wrong with the story or anything, just not what the guy at the magazine had envisioned. Ya just never know.

  2. what kind of stories do they publish in this mag? if you want I can do a crit for u.

  3. I'd start with the conversation between him and his Dad, so's we get the background story from the dialogue... And I'd go for more dialogue...But that's just me, and you did ask!

  4. Thank you Jinksy. Yes I did ask and I'm grateful for the honest feedback.

    Thanks Jo, I did get one lovely CP to read it through and comment, after which I tried to make some changes, but obviously I still haven't quite hit the mark.

    Thanks Colene that's true too, some mags might look on it more favourably. :O)

  5. Hi Madeleine, sorry the response wasn't more positive.
    I feel slightly embarrassed about offering suggestions - but it is not out of a sense of superiority!!
    I agree with Jinksy that dialogue is a great way to deliver backstory in a way that also creates character.
    I have a difficulty with the start of this story in that the person with whom I am meant to identify comes across as a bit of a self pitying underachiever, so I can't make an instant connection. It might be critically important to your story for him to be like this, but could you consider him being made redundant instead, particularly if this happened shortly after his girlfriend dumped him for his boss? Perhaps that is too conflict ridden, but being a victim of injustice, immediately makes us root for the underdog.
    You might like to find a way to smooth the transition to the inspiration, because there is a moment of confusion where the reader assumes that the inspiration is about starting real life. (which of course it is in a way - so perhaps that was deliberate!)
    You may also like to introduce another layer of dificulty into the will they / won't they plotline - say she comes from some group or situation against which he has some prejudice. (Not detestable prejudice, but some bad experience say).
    Ummm .... sorry getting carried away here. I love the way your storylines get my brain fizzing!! Good luck with refining the story.
    :D om

  6. Thanks Dom, I like the way you are thinking and your comments are invaluable. I love the brainstorming dialogue of blogland and thanks so much for those suggestions, they sound brill.:O)

  7. Hi Madeleine - First...congratulations on your rejection! It means you submitted your work, which is something all too many writers fail to do. So kudos to you for putting your work out there.

    I like your story the way it is. I love the imagery with the "wormhole of a ceiling" and the analogy of the meal. Keep submitting this story; I think perhaps you may have simply submitted to the wrong market.

    Good luck!

  8. Hey Madeleine, commiserations on the decline, but Lisa's so right - it means you're putting your work out there, so go you!!! :)

    Have you thought about possible twists you can add to the story, perhaps? I'm a big fan of getting everyone thinking one thing is happening, then right at the end you turn the story on its head. Just a thought ;)

    Best of luck with it, let us know how you go.


  9. Oh is it People's Friend? I've had several letters from them with the exact same wording, it's their stock rejection! I've given up on them, they never like anything I write.

    Try The Weekly News, they like a male protagonist :o)

  10. Thanks Lisa and Rach, :O)

    LOL! Karen, yes you are right. Thank you soooo much. I read your story in Woman's Weekly yesterday and I have to say it was absolutely SUPERB!

  11. I've had that letter from PF too!

    My instinct on reading your excerpt was that it wasn't PF material. Often it's not the story that's wrong, but simply that it would suit another magazine.

    Better luck next time!

  12. Thanks Christine.
    Ultimately as a romance I guess I thought it had a chance with PF, but I feel heartened by everyone's comments. I have written a different story of 2,000 words (the one mentioned in my logline post) which I am hoping will be better received, but shall submit it elsewhere.:O)

  13. Oh! LOL I didn't realise that it was a very short piece of fiction. In which case you don't need the same level of twists and turns as such - in fact you don't have the time to develop them. I must say I admire you - I struggle to get a story under 5000 words!

  14. Thanks Dom. I wrote a 6,000 word short story recently which hubby said was my 'best so far', so maybe I'm the same. LOL! :O)

  15. I like the beginning! If anything, I would just say the first paragraph was a bit long. Maybe that could be broken up a bit? Other than that, I agree with the others. Maybe it just wasn't the right market! Good luck on your next submission (and you are re-sending, right?)

  16. Thanks Julie,

    When my current CP volunteer has checked it over I'll re-read it/edit it and then send it somewhere else :O)

  17. Sometimes it's the type of story they aren't after rather than the story itself. I recommend you keep trying.

  18. If I were a reader, I think that your storyline is absolutely interesting! :)

  19. I really liked the story you wrote and agree with the others when they say congratulations for sending your work out there. If you submitted it to PF don't be too hard on yourself - they are a tough market to crack.

    My advice would be to listen to the editor's comments and apply them. I recently had a story rejected and the editor actually pointed out the parts she had problems with. I altered them and submitted it elsewhere. Guess what? It was accepted.

  20. Thank you Lynda, Len and Ellie
    I do feel fortified by all your comments. Bless you. :O)

  21. Sorry to hear of the rejection - only way to avoid that is not to submit - bit like me, too busy to submit my next batch of shorts.

    Anyhoo, I hate critiquing other's work or it might be misconstrued and you've received some great feedback, esp from Dom.

    My feeling was it started a bit slow. You just need to jump in there with action/dialogue, so the editor will be rivited from the get go..:)

  22. Thanks L'Aussie, Yes I shall have another go. :O)


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