What’s Wrong With This Form Rejection?

`Tis the season.

Just got back a form reject from Baen’s Astounding Stories.

Let’s play: What’s wrong with this form rejection? See if you can spot it!

Baen’s Astounding Stories wishes to woo back the casual reader and
become part of his entertainment habits. In that spirit, we are looking for thumping good stories, with plot, theme, character and resolution. We do not demand that your ending be so shocking that no one can see it coming and — in fact — no one can see where it came from. We don’t demand that your idea be startlingly original, only that your execution of it be so.

We are not aiming to make you a literary star — whatever that might be. We’re trying to entertain readers. We are competing for a reader’s beer money. We want stories that make the reader put the beer down and read to the end in breathless hurry. And we want him to feel satisfied with the logic of the ending when he gets there. If in addition the stories make him think, so much the better.

We want boys and their beer money! If your story’s made for women who swill beer, too bad!

Strangely enough, instead of getting a simple “we don’t want your story” I received a treatise on why the editors believe that so much fantasy/Science fiction sucks these days:

Over the last few years, perhaps because so many of our readers are also writers, science fiction and fantasy authors working in short form fiction have devoted themselves to outdoing each other in form and artifice, in the originality of the plots and the sheer shock of the stories’ endings — which often had nothing to do with what had come before. In the process often — though not always — the simple enjoyment of the story was lost and with it the casual reader’s attention.

Let’s face it, over the last few years stories have been more of a vehicle for awards than for readership and award committees move in different ways from those of a fan looking for a thumping good story.

Basically, if you’re a “literary” writer looking to win “awards” it means you’re bad at telling stories; your story, by virtue of its “literaryness” must have no plot and suffers from a lack of “simple enjoyment.” Literary writers need not apply.

heh. heh. You want hack stories?

Oh, honey, I have hack stories!

Baen: lowering the bar.

Someday, I’m going to get into trouble for doing this sort of thing in public.

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