ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

#Insecure Writers Support Group Post - having trouble getting your story accepted? This may help.

Hello fellow writers!

Another month has zoomed past and it's time for another IWSG post. The brainchild of Ninja Alex J Cavanaugh, this group goes from strength to strength. Posts are welcome if you have something to say about writing, what you've learned and what you'd like to learn. Click on the badge to read the list of posters. There's something for everyone.

I love reading what the folks have to say at Writer's Digest. Today I'll share what I learnt from Dave Housley (BarrelHouse - a literary magazine that bridges the gap between serious art and pop culture).

There's no shortage of people writing short stories, essays and poetry, that's for sure. As for trends, I think we're through the part where a lot of short fiction writers were imitating George Saunders. You could certainly do worse in choosing somebody to imitate, but that particular imitation is extremely hard to pull off (I know, because I also spent a few years trying).

Housley goes on to tell us why writers don't get accepted for quality literary journals.

On the writing side: Stories that take too long to get started, stories where nothing really happens or where most of the action is presented as backstory or flashback, stories that don't trust the reader to understand or figure out what's going on. I generally have a pile of stories in front of me, and if yours doesn't really start until page 3 or 5, the odds are very strong that I'm going to reject that story and pick up the next in the pile.
What have your learnt about submitting recently? Been rejected lately? I have. Been accepted? I hope to be soon.Share your story with us...

STOP PRESS!!  On May 5th, Stephanie Faris has released the most glorious cover to her new novel, 25 Roses. Visit Stephanie to read all about it!!





30 comments:

  1. If he's talking about short stories for literary journals, then they definitely have to kick off on the first page. Actually, most novels need to kick off on the first couple pages anyway. Good stuff, Denise

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  2. I think about that when I write my novels. Am I showing too much or should I trust the readers to understand? It's a fine line.

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  3. I am following queries and rejections through my daughter's writing. She is a very talented writer and she will someday receive an acceptance.

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    1. I wish your daughter many acceptances, Susan, although a few rejections help give us nerves of steel!

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  4. I'm currently querying--both novel and short stories--so yup I'm somewhat familiar with rejection. It's all part of the process though.

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    1. I wish you happy acceptances, Lyn. But then there's a lot of work to do after that, isn't there?

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    2. hehe, yes indeed! The hard work never stops. It's a good thing I love it so much.

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  5. I think the market is so competitive now, it's a necessity to get a story going as close to page one as possible. You have to grab the editor's attention right away. I always imagined an editor sitting there with a pile of manuscripts. (Although now it's in an email inbox!) The goal is to get through them as quickly as possible. While the editor may go past the first or second page, he/she probably won't go much deeper if the story isn't extremely engaging.

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    1. Yes, Stephanie, everyone's in a hurry! Anything to grab that editors/readers attention.

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    2. Thank you for the cover reveal! By the way--that's what happens after 20 years of writing and being rejected. So it is well worth all the tears and angst!!!

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  6. My last acceptance was months ago, but still no word on when it will be published. I like this advice, it is good to think about since I write a lot in flash back.

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    1. It's hard when you have to wait a long time. I usually give in to impatience and hound the editor. It helps!

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  7. Part of my current revisions include sharpening my opening so the action is more immediate. With luck I hope to start getting rejected again in about a month. Oh, yay. :- /

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    1. Let's hope you get accepted again, L.G. -- oh yay!!

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  8. I really like the advice to let the reader do some work - when I'm reading something I enjoy a piece that doesn't tell me everything but leaves me with thinking to do. So difficult, as a writer, to know just what your reader can make sense of and what he/she needs to be told.

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    1. It is good when the reader can imagine. That's why it's such a let down to see a movie's take on a favourite book - it's the director's imagination at work.

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  9. There's some good advice in there, thanks for sharing :)

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  10. I love the great advice I've gained from Writer's Digest experts over the years!! A wonderful resource.

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  11. Great advice: get to the action quickly and give the reader a reason to care. I have terrible luck at getting accepted. Best of luck to you and to all our cyber friends.

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  12. Some great advice to remember here when putting together a story. Thanks for sharing, Denise x

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  13. Yes, familiar with rejections :(

    Some great advice, thanks for sharing, Denise!

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  14. That was good to read because you don't so often hear the reasons for rejection from these editors. I do struggle with how much to lay out for the reader - it's a constant balancing act.

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  15. Hi, Denise,

    Excellent advice. Lord knows I can spend too much time setting the stage. But I've learned so much in my four years of writing...

    Interesting to know what an editor looks for in submissions. Sometimes it's such a guessing game.

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  16. Excellent post, Denise. I recently submitted a couple of short stories to an anthology but haven't heard back yet. I am a firm believer in less is more and letting the reader's imagination fill in the blanks. While this won't appeal to all readers (what does?), it appeals to my reader-self, and writing for me is the only way passion finds its way into my work.

    VR Barkowski

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  17. Hi Denise!

    Thanks for this wonderful post. This is wonderful advice and a good kick in the pants for the few stories I have in the works.

    Cheers!
    Jen

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  18. I agree that something interesting needs to happen early, but I have read one novel that didn't. It was rather dull plot wise, yet I kept reading. Nothing happen until 2/3rds in. It was just interesting. Having finished it, I know most of the first half could have been chopped 'cause it didn't enhance or advance the story.

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  19. Stephanie's new cover is gorgeous. :)

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  20. i love writer's digest too - living in ohio, i've gotten to meet two of its editors, chuck sambuchino and brian klems! i've dont the poem a day challenge with Robert, too - great mag!

    ps - i'm glad i stopped by and saw carrie's blogfest below - thanks!

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