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Awesome rejection – So near, yet so far!


Blatantly this isn't a picture of me. I'm far better looking. Honest.

Blatantly this isn’t a picture of me. I’m far better looking. Honest.

Yes, you read that correctly, I’m happy to have had a rejection from a magazine that I highly respect and which has a stable of authors I’d love to be ranked amongst.

They said that I could expect to wait 4-6 weeks for a reply. I waited less than a week and, instead of a pro-forma ‘No’, I got this email below. Comments not in italics are mine.

Thank you for your submission. I appreciate you letting me read your work. 

This is always nice to hear, but I do wonder sometimes if they’re genuine because, if I’m honest, sometimes I really don’t want to thank someone for inflicting their work upon me.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite what I’m after for [Identity Protected].

So far so normal. Sort of thing that any author needs to get used to.

It’s an enjoyable story. I do like the setting of a bar in an isolated town. Although it has been done before, you have made it your own.

This, however, is not normal. This is positive feedback and leaves me feeling that I’ve done something right, and they said that they enjoyed it as well. What I can take from this is that I write enjoyable stories, and can take something that this jaded and cynical reader has seen before, and make it my own. Plus, they enjoyed it.

The voice and gritty tone is solid and appreciated.

Bingo. This is an absolute nugget of information. I was aiming for grittiness, the people in it life a hard life on a frontier planet, in a frontier town. They also appreciated the way it was written. Thus far, I can take from it that they both enjoyed and appreciated the story. So why on earth didn’t they take it? Well, there’s more.

However, the pacing can be improved in a few places. Setting the scene and tone is necessary and repetition sometimes helps but, in this case, the opening can be tightened.

An absolute gem of advice. I knew immediately what they meant and how I could alter the start to make it tighter, snappier, more gripping. I also know of another story that I can do it with. This is advice that I can apply to everything I do from now on. I didn’t know that I needed to do this until this kind person told me.

Also, the action in the concluding act, if indeed it happens as fast as you have indicated, can also be tighter. For example, consider using shorter, choppier sentences to make it read like it happens. (That said, I have no combat experience.)

Again, more information that I can use to not only improve my writing elsewhere, but also the writing for this particular publication. This is almost as good as having a style guide. Rule 59 – Action must be choppier. Hack them down. Slay the enemy before pausing for thought. And so on.

As a sidebar, given the grimdark genre, [Identity Protected] really likes morally grey characters. You have them in this story but they were not confronted with a dilemma and had to make a difficult decision. One or a few of these will enhance the drama.

Now here I’m kicking myself. You see, they did have a moral dilemma. Help the girl or not help her? Set her free or keep her? I think that here I was being too subtle, trying to leave the story too open so that if I was successful I could follow it up. I left hooks where I should have left absolutes. But again, this is a how-to-write guide, and invaluable.

I wish you the best in placing it with another market and hope to see more of your work in the near future.

Blah, blah, wait what? You want to see more of my work in the near future? How near? Tomorrow? This is fabulous news. This tells me that not only are they prepared to spend a little time giving me feedback on how to improve my writing, but they also want me to use that advice and to send them more of my writing. This is a company that pays professional rates and which wants to hear from me again.

And so now, hopefully, you can see why I’m so happy about this rejection. I’ve been given a ‘not quite, try again’ message, as well as information on how I hopefully be successful in the future. When I’m better, I shall most certainly be submitting to them as much as possible.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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