PUBLISHED: March 16, 2008
Steve Moran at The Willesden Herald provides 27 reasons why short stories are rejected. Not all of these apply to VQR (we don’t get a lot of “faux jollity centred around pubs in Ireland”), but these really are some good guidelines for fiction writers to keep in mind. You remember The Willesden Herald for their aborted short story competition, a result of not a single submission being up to snuff.
The WH post has turned off further commenting, so I’ll lob this question out for anyone who wants to answer: One thing I’m always paranoid about is fact-checking. I once had a character drive a particular model of car, and she picked up three passengers (one in front and two in back). It was much later that I found out that the car I chose was a two-seater in real life; hence, there wouldn’t be a backseat. (The story itself had other problems.) If you’re an editor, is this the kind of thing that would guarantee a story’s rejection? It would seem to be a quick fix, if the error’s even noticed at all, but I also understand that it also shows a lack of mastery of the story on the author’s part.
Oh no. You mean to say that VQR also uses the lame criteria that Willesden Herald does? Not to say, of course, that some things in that list are valid toward the critique of literary art. Of course they are. But not all of these reasons are. If you follow them, you’ll just have work that reads like every other college-run journal out there. In particular the idea that diction has to be “cool” and everything has to read a certain way and can’t be “out of date” and – oh Waldo, you don’t really go for this, do you?
Not to say, of course, that some things in that list are valid toward the critique of literary art. Of course they are. But not all of these reasons are.You’re quite right, Ann. (Which is why I wrote that “not all of these apply to VQR.”) It’s well worth pointing out that I’m not the editor of VQR, so what I think is and is not useful from Willesden’s list doesn’t say much about what makes it into the pages of our publication. It’d be interesting to know what our readers make of this list.