Priceless Lessons From Rejection

So, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to write incredibly short stories and how it could possibly help me to become a better writer.

And believe it or not, rejection, which is often perceived as a negative thing has been one of the best events that has happened to me as a writer.

I remember years ago when I first started to write. To seriously write. Not just for my own pleasure. Not just for my family, but for an audience besides my teachers. An audience of strangers in different states.

I submitted a short story to Weird Tales of 123 Crooked Lane. At the time, back in the 90s, they were THE MAGAZINE to submit dark fantasy, horror, and all stories with strange twists and turns, involving the dead, the magical, the blood-sucking, and well, you know, the weird.

I read what I could from them. I brainstormed story ideas. I wrote, I drafted, I wrote.

Then I finally submitted . . . and was rejected.

Writing short stories is hard! I’m so glad I was rejected. And I’m so grateful that the editor tucked in my rejection envelope some much needed advice that he lovingly highlighted, bracketed, and underlined. And boy, did I need his help! In hindsight, even back then, I realized how bloated, pretentious, and sickly my short story truly was. I shudder to think of the poor dear, shuttered away in one of my many binders, containing submissions, rejections, rejections, and rejection letters. I promise, some day I will return to that story and fix it. But don’t hold your breath because I promise it might take a while.

Here are some of the priceless tips from him to me to you (hugs):

*Appeal to the senses — go beyond how things look, go on to the sound and smell and feel of the setting. But don’t overdo it; omit everything that doesn’t advance the story.

*Don’t lecture: exposition is all dead matter.

*Avoid clichés like the plague!

*Learning to avoid triteness in word and phrase and in ideas, plots, characters, and backgrounds is easily half of becoming a good writer.

*The author shall use the right word,  not its second cousin. (Mark Twain)

With this precious information, I joined a writers’ organization, revealed my delicate, newbie writer’s soul to other writers.

Man, oh man! Critiques are difficult! They are difficult to accept and to give, but I need them like a flower needs water, air, and sunlight. Critiques (properly done) are what helps to improve a writer and to push them into fabulousness.

What advice or lessons did you learn from rejection letters? Please share them in the comments and/or vibe with me on Twitter. 🙂


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