Careful what you wish for: rejection slips

I got a rejection slip today. That means I’m down to thirteen live submissions.

This slip was one of the nicer ones, I’ve must say, in that it included some feedback – fair and fairly positive – from the first readers, with comments like these below:

“[T]his is a complex idea. You’ve only barely touched the surface. The writing is solid and workmanlike, but because the central concept is so complex, you’ve been unable to offer much of characterisation, or setting, or colour.”

“This should be a novella-length piece, so you can do justice to the main concept. Accepting it in this form would be wrong for both you, and [our publication].”

Fair enough. Decent food for thought. It is a very stripped back story, one that I had worked on for a long time. The first versions were five or six thousand words long and really didn’t work so well. The final version is 1600. That’s barely more than flash fiction.

Perhaps this is a case for writing a longer version (again). I’ve done that before – my novel Rotations originated from a flash story, as did my forthcoming novel The Room (that flash story – “Don’t Sleep Downstairs” – is still available at Flashes In The Dark.

I had planned on writing a couple of short novels this year, amongst all the other stuff, and I am writing longer these days (that rejected story was written and rewritten quite some time ago).

Now that I think about it my latest novel – The Tunnel – was going to be a short novel (it went to over 60,000 words when I was expecting 25,000 – as I was getting into it I realised that it had to be bigger). I’m feeling more confident with longer forms these days (most of my current submissions are from 5000 to 20,000 words), a far cry from my period of focusing on flash fiction.

I guess that’s a project for later in the year – take that “solid and workmanlike” writing and develop the story with some characterisation, setting and colour. 🙂

In the meantime, the story is going back out to find a publisher who might like it in this form (I still think it works as is – a spare and stark piece). Then I’ll be back up to fourteen live submissions.

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