Thursday, September 29, 2016

An Apology to Editors Everywhere

A writer friend of mine, trying his hand at editing for an online fiction magazine for the first time, dropped me a note. It's written as an open letter to editors everywhere, but I think it might be better reading for new writers everywhere.

I'm sure he assumed only I would see it, but it was too good to keep to myself.

Dear Editors,

I've got no shame admitting I didn't really take Standard Manuscript Format all that seriously. Indenting every paragraph? How silly! Page numbers? Utter fancy! My job is to write an amazing story, not worry about inches and margins and page breaks. Let the editor squint at the screen and dope out the minutia.

I felt this way until I read a story that didn't simply ignore Standard Manuscript Format, but left it clear out in the cold. Let it stand there holding a wilted posey watching the story breeze by it on the way to the big school dance with the varsity quarterback and not even getting a glance back.

No page numbers to guide me through the maze, no indication of when the story changed scenes until I was a dozen words into the next sentence and thoroughly confused. Page after nonsensical page that challenged my comprehension and, to the pain of the author, my interest.

Sisyphus never nudged such a burden as I while reading this story.

So to you, editors who suffered and labored to grasp what I aimed for without making myself clear, leaving you no footholds to scale the mountain, making no effort to be plain and precise so you may read the story rather than grapple fruitlessly with the way it was written, I am sorry.

I didn't know, and it's a pitiful excuse to make, but I really didn't. I get it now, maybe too late but I get it. I finally understand the importance of following, nay, championing Standard Manuscript Format. It couldn't be taught or explained to me. I had to suffer to reach the realization. And suffer I did.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph with a cherry on top of each, I'm sorry.

-- Prodigal Guest Editor

Monday, September 12, 2016

THE RULES (Writers and Rejections)

The Rules

From the Writer Rejection Points Rules Committee

POINTS. You, the writer, will be awarded points for every story you write that is rejected. SFWA qualifying markets are not required, though you must be rejected by someone who could actually have published you, for actual readers, had they said yes. Which they didn't.

WHAT, YOU DIDN'T KNOW? Didn't know about the rules before? No problem! You still get points. Yes, retroactively! Yes, we mean it!

POINTS EXPIRE. Point expire any time you win a major writing award (Hugo, Nebula, Dragon, etc), or make it to the NYT Best-seller list or the like. You know what I'm talking about. Yes, you do. At that moment, your talley gets cleared.

POINTS REDEEMABLE? You bet. Points are redeemable for pretty excellent prizes, if we do say so ourselves. You can be deliriously happy, you can be artistically miserable. We also have a goat behind one of the doors. Points are redeemed at random, by forces beyond your control. You'll know it when it happens.

FEELING COMPETITIVE? No problem. To remove points from another's tally, do something that results in them getting published, like introducing them to an editor or publisher, or advocating their story directly in some fashion that results in the thing hitting ink.

BONUS POINTS! if your story gets rejected with a scathing critique that leaves you feeling flattened because in your heart of hearts you know the grains of truth are going to crunch as you chew on them, you get bonus points.

NO CHEATING. You can't just resubmit for more points. You get rejected once per market. C'mon, you knew that. There are other ways to cheat, too, and you're already thinking about them. Cut it out.

AND... GO! Write something! Submit it! For The Win!