Archive for March, 2010

In the writing community, in my experience, theres a lot of talk about professional-paying markets and whether ones writing is “good enough” for them, whether it is “pro level.” I’m not so sure I accept that theres a difference in “quality” between markets that pay pro rates and those that don’t, however. This is of course partially because I find the idea of trying to apply objective standards of “quality” to the inherently subjective art of storytelling a little…futile, shall we say, but also for another reason. Thats where the statistics come in.

Yeah, sure, most of the pro-paying markets have very low acceptance ratios. However, they also get a LOT of submissions. Many of the SFWA pro mags get 400, 500 submissions a month. But I don’t think there’s a one of them that publishes more than a dozen a month…most less, some far far less, like Clarksworld which only has two stories per issue (and always one by an established writer and one by a newer name.)

On the other hand, many of the lesser-known, and even some of the relatively well known semi-pro and token payment publications may get only 100 or 200 subs per month. Some perhaps only dozens.  This tells me that part of the reason for the pro-mags low acceptance ratios is simple math: they get a lot more submissions than they could ever publish. By many, many orders of magnitude.

These facts also tend to reinforce what I believe more and more strongly all the time, that editors, essentially, publish what they want to publish. I’ve seen numerous instances of editors and established writers stating that many many rejections have bugger all to do with “quality” and a lot to do with either a) the story simply not fitting in with that publication and/or b) the simple issue of space. Editors see, I think, plenty of stories they’d like to publish, but out of the hundreds they see every month they’re only going to buy 4 or 6 or 10 and in the end I think it often comes down to which ones they personally, subjectively like best and which ones fit their ideas of what their readers most want.

So, fellow writers, don’t worry to much about you’re story not being “good enough.” A lot of it is persistence, and hitting that right spot at the right time. Thats what I believe, anyway.

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Finally finished a draft of the story now known as “The Red Flower,” my take on the old German fairytale “Jorinda and Joringel.” It’s intended for the Twisted Fairytales 2 anthology. For anyone who’s interested heres a weensy sample.

Joringel put his hands behind his head, leaned back against a large tree and breathed the warm night air. He sighed contentedly as he listened to Jorinda’s sweet voice, enriched by the afterglow of their lovemaking. His love’s singing drove away all cares and sorrows. Here in this moment he wasn’t worried about finding a Road to walk to guide his magic and make him a true mage.

Jorinda ended her song and laid her head against his shoulder, drawing him close. “What are you thinking about, my love?”

He smiled and kissed her forehead. “How beautiful your voice is, dear one.”

Jorinda laughed a sweet sound like water. “No thoughts at 

 

 

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Story Passed First Cuts

Got a nice email just now upon getting home from work. “The Falling Star” has made it past the first cuts with NewMyths (NewMyths.com.) I should hear something definite in a few weeks. This is my third such instances with NewMyths and I’m hoping the third time will in fact be the charm.

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So I went and looked up “Jorinda and Joringel” on Google, and I found on Youtube the very animated version from the 80s that I saw as a kid. The song Jorinda sings has been in my head since I was probably about 9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ92BqcV_AA

Also, I’m thinking that my Jorinda and Joringel story needs a better title than Jorinda and Joringel. What do you guys think about “Flower of Rage and Passion?”

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My current work in progress is a short story based on the old German folktale, Jorinda and Joringel (also spelled several other ways.) It’s for the Twisted Fairytales 2 anthology. I’m sticking pretty close to the original, but I’m using the magic system etc from my “Open Hand” fantasy world. Joringel winds up on the Red Road of magic.

I’ve always been fond of the story and fascinated by the Red Flower, especially after seeing an animated version when I was a kid. It seems though that its one of the lesser known Grims tales as nobody I talk to has heard of it. Heres a link to the original fairytale http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/grimms/69jorinde.html

Is anybody else familiar with it, or remember seeing the animated version on Nickolodeon?

 

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Progress

I’ve noticed something recently that makes me very happy. I’ve been submitting short stories for about two years  now.  For most of that time, I’ve just recieved streams of rejections (something I am ok with as far as it goes-I went in with the knowledge and expectation that I’d get plenty.) I sold one short story around this time last year, but then it went right back to rejections.

I still haven’t made anymore sales, but I notice that of late, I’m getting a few less right-away-rejections and a lot of hold, short-listing and “made it past the first round” notices. They are still leading to rejections, so far, but I consider it progess that many of them are now near hits rather than total misses. A recent one stated that mine was the last story to be cut out of 100 possibles.

Although, the interesting part is quite a few of them are older stories…stories that have simply been rejected many times before. You would think it would primarily be newer “better” stories…and some have been. But, it does make one wonder if much of it isn’t more about matching stories to markets. That, and persistence. Lots of persistence.

Right now, I am particularly excited about having a story in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazines 3rd reading tier of its three possible levels. It is from the third tier they pick stories to actually buy. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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Filmakers, especially horror filmakers, have it bloody well easy.

I just watched the first minute or two of a film called Begotten. I’ve known about it for some time but haven’t been able to find it. Turns out its on google videos  (just type in “Begotten” but be warned it is, even from those first minutes, strange, graphic and unpleasant)

 Just those few minutes were enough to have me looking over my shoulder and jumping at the slightest noise.  Now as I mention in my last post, I have a very willing suspension of disbelief and an “overactive imagination” and that does make me susceptible. But the point is, with a bit of chiaroscuro black and white style, some heavy film processing and an odd mask the filmaker is able to create a powerful emotional response.

We non-visual storytellers don’t have it so easy. I have experienced those same feelings of fright and unease from reading, but rarely.  As much as writers are told to “show” as oposed to “telling” when it comes down to it we cannot show. We can describe, we can suggest. And we can hope that our readers see what we see in their minds eye, feel what we feel, smell what we smell with their minds noses etc. But we can’t actually tailor a prop or a set or an actor so it looks as close as it can to what we see and show it to them. Words are all we have to work with.

Of course, this isn’t to really say that filmaking is an easy ride or anything. If nothing else, you still have to know what to present to get the wanted reaction. But for certain things, given how visual human beings are, being able to truly show can be a great asset especially in the genre of supernatural horror.

So, while we as writers must work very hard to learn to convey the visual aspects of the stories we tell, to use our words to paint pictures in the twitching little minds of our unsuspecting readers, I think we must also not overlook the reverse power that writing posseses easily but film must work harder at: Narration.  We have the ability to convey information such as plot details, characters inner thoughts and emotions etc directly and unambigiously to the reader. Of course one must avoid (usually) the dreaded infodump and there are those readers that prefer to determine certain things for themselves without baldfaced narration but its best not to forget that despite the seeming huge advantage cinematic entertainment has in its visual nature sometimes one or two narrative sentences (a little “telling”) can be worth a thousand pictures.

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