Saturday, February 5, 2011

EXTINCT Update: What's Working? What Isn't?

What a dilemma! There are a handful of stories from the very good to the truly amazing submitted that don't quite fit the collection's theme. What to do?

I'm thinking my best option is to fudge the theme just a bit to accommodate them ;o)

Look for the balance of acceptances, rejections and contracts this coming week. Also a handful of acceptances contingent on revisions.

Please be a little patient. It takes me time to read and write up comments, even if they are only a few paragraphs. I've read every submission through to the end even if I knew right away it wasn't going to work. And many I'm skimming a time or two again to pick out specific examples for my feedback.

I'll have a detailed breakdown on, in general, what worked and what didn't next weekend or shortly thereafter. I will NOT be using actual, word-for-word examples since I don't have permission, but I'll make up some representative examples.

I will say now the stories that resonated best with me have been ones where the extinction bit either took a backseat to another story that was being told and/or became a metaphor for life or loss where the focus was on a fully realized contemporary character.

The stories that were on theme but just didn't work seem to be ones told from a purely omniscient POV that merely described (and in some cases lectured on) why something went extinct. The stories were so big picture and told from such a distance in such a cold, detached voice, they didn't draw me into them. These types of stories really only work today if the voice is phenomenal (I say "today" because stories told from this orbit view were fairly common in the 1940s, 50s and even 60s - storytelling has evolved since then). Some of these types of stories submitted had quite serviceable voices, just not enough bling to make them sing.

Whether you have a first-person, third-person limited, or third-person omniscient narrator, my advice is to make sure that narrator gets in real cozy with the story or with the MC. It takes effort to have your narrator BE a part of the story rather than just TELL the story. But after reading 80+ short stories all over the map in structure, length and delivery, I'm convinced it's an effort that will mean the difference between getting published and not.

More thoughts next week. Meanwhile, send more queries. The queue is empty after Tuesday.


Slush said...

I have got all the time in the world, lol! As I said before it is refreshing and wonderful to have the opportunity to even enter this contest.

So, you take your time and I will wait patiently.

BTW- Thanks for the update. I know that it took time away from the decision making and reading! :)

Did anyone tell you today that you are awesome? If not, I am!

McKoala said...

I would think it would be a fascinating process to read so many submissions. Tough work, though. Mucho kudos to also giving feedback! Even tougher!

I think my wordver totally fits the theme: exoboty. There's a story right there.

vkw said...

wow, 80 submissions! did you expect this many when you conceived this idea?

How many pages are you planning? Have you reconsidered the cost of the anthology?

I'm probably way ahead of you right now, but you must have a ballpark idea.


Phoenix said...

@Slush: Aww, you're sweet! Thank YOU!

@McKoala: "exoboty", eh? I'm on it!

@vkw: I had no idea how many people would take a chance. I'm really humbled. Duotrope and Ralan have been great.

Right now, it's looking to be around 80K words with 16 or 17 stories. Maybe 1 or 2 more if the authors and I can figure out how to revise them to fit.

I'm not too worried about the cost. I've budgeted, the cover art is paid for, the cover design is being graciously donated, and I should be able to code the interior bits myself. If I recoup some of it, great. If not, it just means my beasties and I won't have food for a month, but eating is sooo over-rated ;o). (Just kidding - my old employer actually tucked a few extra dollars I didn't expect into my bank account last month, so we're well covered.) I'll disclose final tallies in a post -- no reason to keep anything secret! -- but I'm expecting up-front costs to be between $250 and $300.

Sylvia said...

Looking good! I can't wait to see the finished product.

As a side note, I saw someone happily post the receipt of an acceptance for your anthology - it was nice to see it in a professional context.