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Sunday, March 23, 2014

LETTERS TO THE SLUSH PILE #10

Dear ------

There was a lot about your story I liked. First off, your main character's ability to slip in and out of earthly reality intrigued me. I love this kind of story, whether it's because a character can shape-shift, he's been granted this ability by the gods, or whatever. For me, a premise like this lends to so many possibilities. I admit, I am biased. Every editor likes certain things, and this is one of my favorite themes. You also put enough of a spin on it to make it original.

I just wish you'd shown me more. You touched upon this slipping between realities enough to whet my appetite, but I wanted to understand this process and your protagonist's world and his position in it, better. I had too many questions. How did your main character come to be a guardian? Why do the invaders consider him unclean? Who are these invaders, and what is it that they specifically want?

The second issue I had with the story is one I've had a number of debates over - your protagonist dies a victim. Most victim stories don't go far enough. If your protagonist is going to die, I need to have a sense that he still learns something, that he 'earns' a small victory, even in the face of  his own death. I need a greater emotional pay-off. Feeling sad that a character is killed isn't enough. The news is filled with such sad stories every day. What lifts us from our 'oh, that's too bad' complacency is a connection. That connection comes from building a strong character with whom we can relate, and that we know his death was not in vain.

All the best to you. If you choose to tackle a revision, I'd be happy to look at it the next time our submission window opens.

- Susan.


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