Some fun for your Friday (in case it wasn't fun enough already), I have for you "A Wizard's Day Journal" over at Grievous Angel. Free online, so you can check it out whenever.
Every story has a story, or at least a trail of rejections in its wake. Normally I don't post about rejections, but I think this is a special case, because I find it a personal victory that this story got published (with pro-pay, I might add) despite some ass-hat accusing me of ripping off "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from Disney's Fantasia. I would hope anyone with eyes could see it's not a rip-off, but a running joke. Wizards/sorcerers just seem to have a bad handle on brooms.
So here's the comment in its entirety from a slush reader over at Every D@y Fiction. The rejection itself is nearly a year old, and obviously there have been changes made to the story. Emphasis mine because the guy wrote too damn much.
I got some good chuckles out of this (my first time reading). There are a few good threads in this, though none of them really make it all the way through (as we would like to see in a plot for EDF) except the broom. And the problem with the brooms was that I saw it as a direct rip off of "Sorceror's Apprentice", the "Fantasia" broom scene where as brooms are destroyed, they come back in multitudes from the shattered parts. My other main problem here is, I'm afraid, the overall premise: this isn't a Day Planner, it's a journal. The Wizard is writing things down as they happen, not as pre-made appointments (I have never kept a day planner to jot down everything I had already done). Perhaps making this have a he-said she-said vibe where the Wizard tells us the plans for the day in the first half and then writes in his journal that night would work better? In that way, we could see the "before and after", lending even more humor to the "after" segment as things go wrong. Writing in a journal might also work better with this ending, the poor MC sittign in a motel doubting his whole occupation. Technical issue: I wasn't sure what this meant: "...must cash it in later in case it bounces." Wouldn't you want to cash a potentially-bouncing check ASAP so as to go back to the debtor and get your money? How would ashing it later make more certain it doesn't bounce?
-- Joseph Kaufman
Now this was a rejection to a rewrite request, but EDF has a very odd policy of having completely different people view the rewrite, which I dislike. You have one person offering you suggestions on the first draft, then another person disregards those suggestions made on the second draft, telling you you should've done something else. Frustrating? Yes! See my post about rewrite requests for more on the topic.
On top of that, you got a slush reader who has no concept of etiquette. There's a lot, and I mean A LOT, better ways to convey the idea that the story is too similar to something without accusing the person of ripping off anything. For example, when I was on a forum critiquing another writer's story, I noticed the story had many of he same elements as X-Men: there was violent conflict between humans and mutants, and the main character had diamond-hard skin, like Emma Frost. So I asked the writer if she were a fan of comics, because the story reminded me of X-Men (and to some extent, Spider-Man). Writer said she didn't read comics or watch the films. So despite similarities, it was more coincidence than rip-off.
I did contact the editor at EDF about the rejection, but I didn't specifically point out the rude slush reader, which in hindsight, maybe should have. I just thought the editor, who made the rewrite request in the first place, should see it. Well, she wound up agreeing with the slush readers. She did make an offer that I could, after making major changes, query and resubmit. But if I was going to put that kind of effort into a story (again), I expected more than three measly bucks.
Interestingly enough, I haven't submitted to EDF since then. Probably because my flash stories sell to better paying markets.