from the slush minion’s diary 2

Here’s another reason why stories are rejected, dare I say, some pretty good stories are rejected:

The story is too long.

The writer has either left in scenes/parts of scenes that don’t contribute to either plot or characterisation, or, more commonly, the writing isn’t tight enough.

Both will of course depend a fair bit on style and personal preference, but it’s fair to say that magazine editors are almost always pressed for space. In my reading of stories across various venues I’ve seen very, very few stories that are 10,000 words that are the right length. These days, my warning flag goes up for any wordcount over the 6-7000 word mark. Usually, not always, but mostly, the writing of these stories is flabby and wordy. The sentences carry lots of empty verbiage. The story might be fine, but the writing is not efficient enough.

Writers: try to cut every word that doesn’t pull its weight before you submit. This can sound pedantic, but can make a huge difference to the quality of the story.


3 comments on “from the slush minion’s diary 2

  1. I wish there was a space where all these flabby writers could get together with chronically un-flabby writers like me and perhaps together we could make a story that’s got Exactly The Right Amount Of Words In It as opposed to piles of word blah or the vague, skeletal structure of a story.

    It’d be like speed dating, only completely not.

    I have the best ideas at 2am.

  2. Sounds like I’m unflabby, like you RJ. The one time (so far) I got a Highly Recommended in a comp, it was suggested I expand the story, of 3400, to 10,000 words. I’ve looked at the story a dozen times since wondering where i’d put all the extra words.

    And my work of the moment is what i thought was a novella supposedly being expanded into a novel. It’s become a totally new novel with the original plot still in there but barely.

    • I think the trick is to immerse yourself in the character’s head. Unless you’re doing that, the writing is going to be too sparse. I haven’t read enough of your writing to judge, but I wouldn’t classify RJ’s writing as too sparse. She might just have happened to show it to some of those guys who require up-front full explanations, and when they get it, figure out that’s not what they wanted after all 😉

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