When submitting a story to a speculative fiction magazine recently, I got a surprisingly fast rejection — we’re talking hours, compared to the usual 4–5 weeks. I was stunned, hoping that I had some formatting issue that made it auto-reject, or that the editor was so taken with the first few sentences that he/she thought, “hell with it, I’m accepting it on the spot!” (ha).
The reality fell somewhat short of both scenarios: the story received a curt rejection, with the following tip for revision: “characters lack inner depth, need to relate to them more, feel their conflict.” In other words, your characters aren’t three-dimensional, fleshed-out beings whose emotions and inner turmoil feel relatable to my own. Which is a fair criticism, since my intention wasn’t to develop characters in this story as much as explore the implications of the story/theme itself. Rejections have a habit of weighing on you…
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