Writing Resources

Short Story Grumblings

I wrote a lot of short stories last year. These, added to my existing inventory, mean I am marketing something like thirty short stories, most of which I try to keep submitted (at a market, under consideration) at any given moment.

Over the past few days I started going through those submissions which had overdue responses. The results were discouraging to say the least. The replies have fallen into these categories:
– submission received but somehow lost while under consideration
– submission rejected but reply didn’t reach me (which has proven an additional headache, email from a major submission engine wasn’t reaching me)
– story marked as accepted in submission tracking engine but that was a glitch, actually rejected
– submission rejected but they hadn’t gotten around to sending the reply yet
– magazine folded (I think there were at least four of these)
– magazine folded after accepting story and holding story for a couple years (this was especially disappointing, as art had been created for the story)

The rejections themselves are not as annoying as the length of time wasted. Many of these stories have been sitting at markets for a year or more. This, combined with the actual time I have spent over the past few days checking up on them is souring me even further on wasting time submitting stories. Which is disappointing, given that I enjoy writing them. But the bookkeeping end of it, is becoming less appealing. I’ve lost significant writing time spent baby-sitting all these stories! The vast majority of my short fiction that has been returned to me will be retired. If I’m bored down the road I might take another look at them.

Just another reason I suppose to focus my attention more on the novel end of the spectrum. I have five novels out for consideration, two of which have passed the initial stages of review.

p.s. with all that grumbling though I should mention a couple recent small press rejections I received which were awesome. Loads of detail about what was wrong with the stories, and in many ways some issues with my general style of writing. One set of comments convinced me to retire a story that just wasn’t working, the other has given me some strategies for improving that story. I very much appreciate the time the editors spent on that feedback.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.


  • Mordi peshkess

    On one hand I know how discouraging a rejection can be but on the other hand it’s really cool that those editors took some time to comment and give you constructive criticism. Maybe it shows that while in the end they rejected your story, they at least saw some interest and potential as to comment on it.┬á

    I like sort stories. sometimes they start an amazing franchise of novels. One of my all time favorite novels, Interview With The Vampire, started as a short story that Anne Rice wrote then set in her office drawer for about 6-7 years before expending it to a full novel.  Maybe somewhere down the line you will return to one of them and expend it, who knows. Either that or just refine them and release it as short story collection once you are done with your novels. 

  • Mordi

    I think the reason I like short stories is that they feel like that snack you know you are suppose to have but can eat fast enough as to not feel too guilty while eating it. 

    I am pretty bad on my reading backlog. I don’t know, but for some reason I just can’t seem to muster to read anything longer then 3 pages long. maybe it’s just a period. I’ve been trying to read through A Clash of Kings for the past year and so far I am only about 120 pages in. I don’t know if it’s me or the way he writes but the book seem to just not click with me.┬á

    have you had any period where you found yourself not able to read through anything?

  • Brent Knowles

    It has been a while since I’ve been blocked on a book but that might be because I read 4-5 at a time, depending on which room of the house I’m in, or if I’m out.

    Takes longer to get through books and I suspect I don’t get into them as much, but I’m seldom bored.

    Still, my backlog is considerable too. Too many other distractions eating up reading time.

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