Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Learn to Speak Editor (part 1)

The magic decoder ring of editor speak begins!
I used to write: 'I'm afraid it's not quite right for our current list.' What I meant was: 'It's not good enough for our list. And it never will be.

It's strange and wonderful to think of other editors reading this blog. I've written "it's not right for our list," and yes, most of the time I meant "it's not good enough." But some of the time I really meant "not right for us"--a topic that we didn't publish, or a theme we already had something similar to (but that was in early enough stages that I didn't want to tell the world about it).
Has pacing problems (boring)
Exhaustive (academic/boring)
Somewhat heavy handed (preachy)
Not without charm (too precious)
Nicely written but ultimately unsatisfying (plotless)
Underdeveloped characters (totally stock)
Nice sense of place (is this about anything?)
Not enough tension (mind-numbingly slow)
Feels familiar (not another)
Entertaining (overwritten)
Too special (it won't sell)

Has pacing problems (where did you leave your story arc?)
Exhaustive (not one but multiple kitchen sinks)
Somewhat heavy handed (the obedience school method of storytelling)
Not without charm (this means nothing from an editor's mouth. Seriously.)
Nicely written but ultimately unsatisfying (too much focus on setting/character, not enough on story)
Underdeveloped characters (what characters?)
Nice sense of place (it's nice you're living in the moment. Some of us want a sense of time passage, though)
Not enough tension (the problem is that there's no problem)
Feels familiar (the feeding-of-baby-birds method of storytelling)
Entertaining (you're funny. But when was the last time you heard a standup comic tell a joke that lasted for 32 pages?)
Too special (I haven't a clue what this means. Who would write this? Crazy editors.)


Anonymous said...

That's gonna help with my understanding of rejections. The code of the Editors revealed! lol

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