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Feedback July 4, 2011

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.


In most professions, like that of my day job as an architect, your client is an active participant in your work. If you flip burgers for a living, the customer is often all to ready to give you feedback. In architecture, my clients are involved in the evolving design that will be their building.  As a doctor, your patients have to give you feedback for you to help them.  In writing short stories though, things are different.  Some would say that the readers are your client, but to me, they are like the users of a building.  They didn’t have a direct involvement in the building’s construction in the way readers of short stories don’t have a direct say in choosing the stories the editor of a publication selects from the hundreds of submittals they receive.

Your client therefore is the editor/publisher of the venue you submit your short story to.  But unlike my other examples, there is often no interaction between the client and the writer during the development process.  This is good in the way that a writer is free to develop a story they way their imagination is leading them.  However this is also a formula for a great deal of rejection, especially early on in a carrier.  A writer now has to shop their stories cold.

Each time I bring my building designs to the client, I get to put the pictures up on a wall and explain all of the inspirations for my design.  I can guide the client to see why I have located rooms where they are and how the corridors provide movement and I can explain why the look of the façade is designed the way it is. The client listens and often gives great feedback on what they like and what they need changed to fit their needs.

When I send a story for consideration at an anthology, I can’t put it up on a wall and explain what motivates my characters and I can’t listen to the editor’s thoughts on my story and how it could possibly be made to fit what they are looking to publish.  They get too many submissions to personally respond to every story on a level that could help the writer know if they are close to what they are looking for, or how the story failed to spark their interest.

This leaves you feeling out of step as the rejections keep growing.  The only remedy is perseverance and the belief that you are writing stories that someone wants to read.  The trick is, finding that publisher who sees something in your story that they feel their readers will want to read.  I have not found that fit with a publisher yet, but I still keep trying.


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