On July 30, 2019, David K. Slay published an incisive, revealing article, CRITICALFEEDBACK AREAS FOUND WHILE REVIEWING SUBMISSIONS. It is an original analysis of submission to Craft Magazine.
Hear are just the first gems:
STRUCTURE (54 percent)
Unclear, inconsistent, lacking form (arc, pyramid, or otherwise); or structure too apparent, too visible; internal inconsistencies, illogical
Narration moves too slowly, too quickly, or is irregular
Beginning / Ending
Starts too soon; ending weak, contrived, or telegraphed
Confusing time or tenses; reader not grounded in time and place
Point of View (POV)
POV choice doesn’t facilitate the narration
IMPACT (39 percent)
First line, paragraph, or page confusing or missed opportunity (see discussion below); story unengaging, unremarkable, little at stake, lacks tension; or impact is “unearned,” using “surprise” endings, melodrama, gratuitous violence, sex, profanity, etc.
CREATIVITY (37 percent)
Too familiar theme, plot, or story; uninspired figurative language; overreliance on adverbs or adjectives, clichés, or stereotypes
LANGUAGE / PROSE (35 percent)
Irregular or unnecessarily complicated syntax; limited vocabulary; distracting rhythm, comma misuse; run-on sentences; excessive amount of grammar or spelling errors
EXPOSITION (16 percent)
Too explanatory, telling more than showing, or too cryptic—suggesting rather than showing; sacrifices clarity for style; imbalance of scene/dialogue and exposition
VOICE (15 percent)
Distracts from the narration, is affected, inauthentic; doesn’t fit the character(s) or narrator; or indistinct from that of other characters
ECONOMY (14 percent)
Overly long, needs to be pruned; repetitive or superfluous words; lacks clarity and concision
Dale Peck is a publishing industry firebrand-genius-superhero. Famous for his eviscerating book reviews, he is the Editor-in-Cheif of what is considered the 8th-best online magazine in the country: Evergreen Review. Two days ago, I received an e-mail from Dale himself:
I just had a chance to read your stories “That Moment in Lao” and “The Great Ultimate.” I really loved “That Moment in Lao” and I’m sorry I missed the chance to publish it, but I really loved “The Great Ultimate” and I hope it’s still available.
Thunk. That was me hitting the floor in a dead faint.
I let him know that The Great Ultimate was certainly still available. (Currently at 8 other, totally unobtainable magazines.) The thing is, I am so convinced that this offer is what the youth call a “punked” that I keep looking over my shoulder for Alan Funt and the Candid Camera crew. And if you get that cultural reference, you are as old as I am. Congratulations!.
Proud to announce that for the second year running, a short piece has made it to the quarter-finals of the ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest. The piece I submitted this year, The Brass Ring, is in fact an essay; but I asked prior to submitting.
No news as to when the semi-finalists will be announced. Last year, my short story, I Wanted Ten, made the semi-finals. Hope to do better this year.
Still in Asia, by the way. Thailand. Studying Chi Gong at the Nam Yang Kung Fu School in Northern Thailand, out side the little bitty, hippie town of Pai.
My body is sore and my heart misses my family so much. Other than that, things are going very well. We’ll chat soon.
I could not be more thrilled to announce that I am now a first reader for Vestal Review, the longest-running magazine dedicated solely to flash fiction.
Some dear friends call the first reader position “The Gatekeeper.” One could also think of it as the receptionist: I am one of a crew of folks who each read 20-30 submissions a week, straight from the submissions in-box. If I believe piece is excellent and suits the magazine, I send it on.
If I don’t, it goes down the shoot.
One of the great things about this position is that it will allow me to keep up with my work at jmww. So I get to be a small fish in a big pond and a big fish in a smaller pond.
Writing flash as I do, it strikes me that the number of words in a piece only slightly exceeds the number of times I have to submit before the piece is accepted.
Alle’s famed comic hyperbole strikes again; The word count for The Summers of Carefully is 286. Right Hand Pointing was its 40th submission.
Carefully was inspired by a facebook question from a fellow writer: “You guys, how do lifeguards smell?” Without hesitation, I posted that which I made up: “Lifeguards smell like the wind and dead fish.” Then I edited to add, “But not enough to matter.”
Like I said, 40th submission. There were a number of re-writes in there. One–when Cousin Traci arrived–bumped the piece from under 50 words to its current length. That revision did not *pop* the way many ideas do for me. I remember staring at the first paragraph for a long time. It was so boring. Cara on the beach with only her fantasies. She needed a foil. A square foil.
I started submitting it. I got some good feedback–including one lovely rejection from Tahoma Review, and another excellent note from The Vestal Review. But I never felt the piece was the best it could be. Twice, I stopped submitting so as to work on it.
The second time I sent it to its room, I called on the ineffable Carole L. Glickfeld, with whom I work when my fiction flummoxes me. At that point, the puppy was a one-liner. “They watched him rescue a puppy. Awwwwww.” Remi was not yet identified. The puppy-lifeguard was an amorphous “he.” (Really bad choice; really bad. Never do that again. Never, never, never.)
Carole was curious about the puppy. “Not enough coming from the puppy.” I worked on the puppy part and then put it away for awhile. Weeks later, I re-read it in preparation for sending to Right Hand Pointing. I forgot I made the change! It was as if the puppy elves did the work for me. How kind!
In tooting my horn as part of applying for two grants, I realized that since November of 2017, I have had a new literary publication almost ever other month. This schedule continues through September of 2018, what with the upcoming publication of the flash fiction “The Summers of Carefully” in Right Hand Pointing; plus an acceptance I COMPLETELY FORGOT to mention:
The short-short published last November in Crack the Spine. That whacky flash, Dressed Left, was selected by the editors for their upcoming “Best Of” anthology. That’s in a book, Ladies and Gentlemen. A book.
When “Dressed Left” published, I asked for your letters to the editor. Many of you complied. Editors love letters to the editor. I believe that those letters helped with the selection of “Dressed Left.” Many, many thanks.
The first comment is for you: send your own comment to the editors of Tupelo Quarterly.
Tell them your thoughts about Let Me Feel For You. (Unless you haven’t read it. If such is the case, go read it. Then send a comment to the editor.)
The second comment: Let Me Feel For You is the deepest step I’ve taken into writing fiction. It was not difficult for me to create the world, given my travel background and my childhood. It wasn’t hard to live as Carlie in that world as I wrote. That was fun! Her voice wasn’t a challenge to find, but the manner in which the voice reveals itself; how to convey the scattered thoughts, the time lapses, all while keeping the world established and moving the story forward. All that took an enjoyable millennium to forge
Let Me Feel For You started life as the chapter in a novel that has yet to be published. I can’t remember when I decided to break out some chapters into short stories. I started working with Chapter 7, also titled Let Me Feel For You, maybe five years ago, probably longer. I started submitting it three years ago; had to take a break from submitting for major revision, during which I found the narrative style. I sent out the short story slightly more than 50 times before Editor Kristina Marie Darling of Tupelo Quarterly took it.
Let Me Feel For You is the third piece I submitted to Tupelo Quarterly. In the fall of 2017, I sent Tupelo a (still-unpublished) short story, “That Moment in Lao.” In the fall of 2016, I sent a piece of creative nonfiction, “Round Down.” Both submissions received Dear Writer: NO. “Round Down” went on to be published by jmww journal, where I now work as the senior nonfiction editor.