For the veterans out there, you probably know this already: Editors are hard to please, and there's no pleasing all of them. But for the newbies, take note!
Last month, I subbed a humor sci-fi tale to a market. Initially, the first reader liked it, however, when it hit the appropriately named "Death Panel"...well, this was their various responses.
Death Panelist #1:
I didn't thrill to this at all. While I'd like to consider myself studied enough to say there's a lack of solid timing and pacing with the jokes and humor, I'm a flubbering nub when it comes to technical rigor. It could be the comedic timing's off, but what I've identified as my "can't get over" flaw is the voice. The first thing that made for a unpleasant read was the reader invitational through the fourth wall, into a world I really can't conceive. It'd be easier to walk beside the protag as it were in a conventional world, but when we're throwing up guard-screens, diving off balconies and flying up to giant domes and the potential cracks therein on a rocket pack, then it gets to be something a little more harder to visualize then jumping out of the Volkswagon Beetle and finding gum wrappers. The second thing that was a definite, identifiable problem for me was the protagonist is really all over the place, and never really takes herself seriously. Having a genuine motivation (which she does) isn't the same as seriously, believeably working towards her goal. Where's her fear of failure, of getting shot, of falling? If she doesn't take herself seriously, the audience can't take her seriously. Ironic in comedy, I know... but nonetheless true.
Death Panelist #2:
Hmmm, some funny stuff here. It reminds me of some of the stuff Harry Harrison used to write. not as rip roaring funny as I like but not bad.
Death Panelist #3:
I vote no - I couldn't get into this one either. (Of possibleDeath Panelist #4:
relevance, it always takes me about 30 pages to get into books written
in present tense, so that may have been part of the problem.)
I felt like the writing was a bit hard to follow in some places and didn't really think there was much "to" the story.