Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finally You Are Too Generic

Lots of rejection over at DebCentral by writer Deborah Schwartz.  Above is an example.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

annoying? This is the kind of rejection a writer wants, one with constructive criticism. Not that the author needs to go back and add time-traveling vampire aliens, but it's nice to know why it didn't fly with one editor.

Writer, Rejected said...

Really? Your story is "too generic"? How is that a constructive criticism? I find that to be an annoying comment, you don't?

Anonymous said...

Are you sure "finally" wasn't meant as I closing statement? (Since it was the last comment he made on the story.)

Anonymous said...

W, R. You're like my mother. Nothing satisfies you.

Writer, Rejected said...

Well, darling, the whole point of this blog is that only an acceptance will satisfy me. Now, eat your peas.

Anonymous said...

Depends on the story, w/r.
What if it had a world-weary private eye as the main character? And this blond babe comes into his seedy office, wants him to find her husband...
A handwritten note from the Great Man Himself, Speer Morgan? I always got "encouraging" notes from the Missouri Review, but never from Speer. I decided it was their policy, and the motive behind it was simply to encourage writers to subscribe to the nice magazine. In other words, the encouragement meant nothing. So I quit submitting to them.
Maybe the interns now have stamps (or some sort of technology) with various comments which Speer wrote and signed. The interns quickly scan the first page of the manuscript, then stamp the letter with one of the comments, and write in the date.

Anonymous 10:49 said...

It's constructive because it says exactly what the editor didn't like about it. Boring plot. Not badly written characters, not bad prose, not wrong-genre-for-this-litmag. A boring plot.

Non-constructive criticism is "I didn't feel like I was bleeding when I read this." Or, "I hate this story." Or, "I hate you."

Anonymous said...

I've always found "I hate you" very constructive. More constructive than, say, eat your peas.

Anonymous said...

I would love to get a rejection that said, "I hate you." That would the coolest thing short of an acceptance, ever.

Anonymous said...

You should post a story on this site, then...

Anonymous said...

The line between love and hate is oh so fine.

This comment string smells of PMS.

Peas out.

NM said...

Deb does have a lot of neat rejections, and thoughts on the same. A good one is here:
http://www.debcentral.com/education/archive79.html#032409

At AWP I ran into Kelly Cherry, the writer who had awarded me first prize in the Arts & Letters competition. I told her that despite getting accepted by the Kenyon I was still getting rejections. She said, "You will always get rejections. For long as you submit your work, as well-established as you become, for as long as you live, you will always continue to get rejections. It's just a part of the job."
I think about her words now, and it makes me feel a little better, less like a loser and more like a member of a guild. But still.... "too generic?" Really? The story is far from perfect, but I really didn't think its downfall was that it was trite or hackneyed.

Let it go ... just let it go. What a big baby I am.
Good advice from Deb. Will the regular participants here take it?

Writer, Rejected said...

Yes. We will always, always get rejections. And some of us will complain about it. :-) I think Deb's blog is pretty rich with wisdom. There's something healing about posting the rejection, too. It goes a long way toward helping a person to let it go.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:49 writes:

"It's constructive because it says exactly what the editor didn't like about it. Boring plot."

Where does the editor use the word "boring"? If he says "exactly" what he doesn't like about it, why didn't he use the word "boring"? He wrote, instead, that it's "too generic." Boring is not the same as generic. Ross MacDonald wrote private eye novels. They were generic, but certainly not boring.

heynonnynonymous said...

I could not even begin to tell you what the hell "generic" means when describing someone's story. It's a careless word. Could mean anything: trite, mundane, predictable, overexpose. Also, note in NM's quotation of the author's response, she doesn't agree that her work is generic. Who would? I call a literary foul.

Patrick said...

"Could mean anything: trite, mundane, predictable, overexpose."

All of those words, when applied to fiction essentially mean the same thing. The story is driven too heavily by conventions, or over used plot, so it feels like a thousand stories you've read before, or to put it simply, generic. For example, I wrote a story earlier this year about a man and a woman having a discussion over coffee. I did it as an exercise to help me get my plots under control. It's an okay story, but when I read over this rejection and saw the word generic, I thought of it immediately. There is nothing in the story to distinguish it from the countless other stories about a man and a woman having a discussion.

CAPS MAN! said...

IN OTHER NEWS I AM WONDERING HOW LONG A TYPICAL SHORT STORY COLLECTION IS AND IF YOU KNOW W, R HAVING PUBLISHED A COLLECTION OR TWO I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY INFORMATION FORTHWITH. I KNOW LAHIRI'S COLLECTION WAS ABOUT SIXTY-FIVE THOUSAND I BELIEVE BUT IF ANYONE KNOWS WHAT THE AVERAGE IS THAT INFORMATION WOULD BE GROUND AND PRESSED AND GREATLY APPRECIATED. THAT WAY I CAN KNOW WHAT TO AIM FOR BEFORE I AM REJECTED AND SEND MY LETTERS ANONYMOUSLY TO THIS BLOG.

Lit J said...

Generic is actually pretty specific compared with stuff I've gotten, like "Our board decided to turn you down."

CAPS MAN! said...

IN RESPONSE TO MY OWN UNRELATED QUESTION A SHORT STORY COLLECTION SHOULD BE BETWEEN FIFTY AND SEVENTY THOUSAND WORDS JUST IN CASE YOU SNOBS DIDN'T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO SEE MY QUESTION BEHIND THE TOP OF YOUR POINTED NOSES

Writer, Rejected said...

Please NO NAME CALLING. Thanks.

CAPS MAN! said...

OKAY SORRY ABOUT THAT I REFERRED TO MYSELF AS A L*SER A FEW POSTS BACK SO MAYBE IT ALL EVENS OUT.