March 16, 2009

What the Fuck?

While I can appreciate occasional use of sentence fragments for the sake of emphasis and stylistic choice, in this piece I found it to be overused and difficult to read. In addition, there are many typos; misspelled words, compound words that should be hyphenated and are not, etc. The amount of editing required for this piece is simply beyond the scope of this particular project.

So I'm biased. I happen to be friends with the writer who received this rejection letter. But bias or not, trust me, we're talking about a professional, multi-published, extremely talented author who is one of my favorite smut writers. Ever. I also understand that there are different schools of thought on rejection. Some editors write long, thoughtful letters. Others are more concise. (Mine tend to be along the lines of: "I liked your story a lot, but the piece just didn't work for my collection this time around.") But I would never, ever, fucking ever send this to a writer.

And let me tell you something else — the editor who wrote this bitch slap has far fewer credentials than the one who did the submitting.

I'm. Just. Shaking. My. Head.

Girl scout cookie, anyone?
I need to wash the bitter out of my mouth.



Erobintica said...

first off - I want that necklace/choker/whatever

second off - I'm so fucking curious that it's not even funny - sounds like a lot of "english" rules were maybe broken sortalikethis compound words that should be hyphenated and are not which I happen to like. So, just like movie reviews that are scathing, this "rejection" makes me really want to read the story all the more.

I'm weird that way.

Girl scout cookies? We ate a whole half package of thin mints after our taco dinner tonight.

Alison Tyler said...

Well, I may have been extra irritated because I was just dealing with fallout from an overzealous copyeditor who "corrected" the hell out of sentence fragments in one of my collections. Some authors were bemused. Others were irritated. A few were pissed.

But I actually went and looked up some best-sellers to see what sort of "heavy hitter" authors use sentence fragments, and I found people like Cormac McCarthy (this is a cool article on fragments).

And honestly, in erotica, fragments often come naturally. Because things heat up quickly. And few people fuck in the language of semi-colons.

But that's just me.

What tweaked me most about this rejection letter is that it served no purpose. I mean, if typos were the only problem, a spellcheck will catch that. Contact the writer and say, "Loved the piece, but I found some typos and hyphen issues. Can you do another wash for me?" Or whatever. If you're not taking the story, then a letter like this just serves to ruin someone's day. And it could put novice writers off subbing again in the future.

You know?


Erobintica said...

I just recently read Cormac McCarthy's The Road and loved it. Reading that grammer article now. Thanks!

Cora Zane said...

Oh my. Just - wow. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's R. I can't think of what to say about that kind of response letter, only that I'd be crushed. It definitely deserves a marguerita chaser. :*(

I hope your friend tosses that letter in the trash bin and submits the story elsewhere. One editor/publisher isn't the be all end all of a story.

Just for the record, you totally smacked me with the semi colon ruler. I am SO guilty.

T. Elle Harrison said...

I don't know...maybe it's because I'm young but I like sentence fragments. If I'm writing in the first person it's kind of difficult to ommit the sentence fragments if this is the way the character talks in my head. I wish I knew who this editor or project this was submitted to. I might be scared to submit anything to this project after reading this...I don't see what's wrong with sentence fragments if they fit. I don't know...I'm only an english major I don't know what I'm talking about.

joss lockwood said...

Plus, is it just me or did that editor use a semicolon incorrectly in the rejection letter itself?!


jothemama said...


I likes me my punctuation.

I also likes me sentence fragments too, though. Who doesn't?

I agree, that mail was bitchy disguised as - I don't even know what.

cerulean said...

Well, I'm a big fan of the work of author William Faulkner (I know, how the hell does he relate to erotica, but you'd be surprised). I actually took the screen name "cerulean" from one of his magnificent descriptions of the Delta sky. If anyone broke all the grammar rules mentioned, it was him--contractions have no apostrophes, a sentence can go on for pages, there are no periods used for Mr or Mrs or Dr--the list goes on. He fought with his editors constantly about their need to "fix" his writing. Yes, you have to have a basic command of the rules before you break them but once you do, it's really no one's business but yours. Faulkner's work touched me and influenced me as a writer more than any other author I've read. Alison, your writer friend has the potential to do the same for someone else.

I use stream-of-consciousness writing all the time, and it's been from that type of writing that my best pieces have evolved. Sentence fragments convey a fleeting thought much better than a properly contrived one. I've probably broken a dozen rules right in this post. Thanks for the link to McCarthy's work--I had no trouble reading it (and feeling it) at all.

Angell said...

Why is it necessary for people to be harsh when critiquing anothers work?

I understand that one must develop a thick skin to work in an industry such as this one, or the entertainment industry, but I don't think that if you are rejecting someone, you HAVE to be mean about it.

Diplomacy, apparently, is a lost art.

I love sentence fragments. They convey the mood so much better than complete, properly punctuated lines.

Caffey said...

First, Alison, I don't sew, otherwise I'd make some of these necklaces!

Second, there are different writing styles of every author, and I would never want to read something that is 'expected to be written a certain way'. Cuz then it would be boring reading everything the same, and lastly here, it wouldn't be the authors book anymore!

Third, its sad tho that professional people are getting too personal into their work and expressing these emotions or whatever, that don't belong there.

I hope the author takes this book to a different publisher and doesn't change a thing before she does!

They have sugar free girl scout cookies now! So I can have some!

Alison Tyler said...

Rejection stings no matter what. Right? Even if you've been in 100s of books. Shanna Germain had a cool dialogue going about the topic.

It's the unnecessary nastiness that irks me. Sure, some authors may then follow up with an editor saying, "Why? I want to know?" And some editors will answer. In *this* case, I just felt the tone was offensive. And if my friend hadn't been such a pro, she would have been angrier than the seven seconds she said it took her to shrug off the slap.

I was angry for her all afternoon!


P.S. Hey Cora—it's only because I don't know how to properly use the dreaded semicolon. But I do despise when people put semicolons in dialogue. That is probably my biggest pet peeve. Oh, and the word *drool.* Never been a fan.

Erobintica said...

note to self

never use the word *drool* in anything that Alison has to read


methinks me has already


wipes it off

Smut Girl said...

I was angry for me too. Seriously. Oops, that was a fragment. For the record, the words worked with or without a hyphen. Either or. I guess I chose either wrong. Or is it or. And shoot me, there may have been one or two misspellings. But since I just found one in a Chuck Palahniuk book...(Rant), I will refrain from beating myself with the spelling stick.

So, I guess the point of embarrassing myself is this: no matter how many times you are published you are not immune to people bitch slapping you because they can. There will always be people who will take great pleasure in outlining why you are deficient, even if it isn't entirely true.

I reread the story. Not sure what copy *He* had but...well, it would have been nasty had it been accurate. But it isn't. Oops. Shit. Another frag!
thank you for all your irritation on my behalf. it may seem a small thing, but it helps... ;)

Shanna Germain said...

I've gotten more than my share of rejection letters like that. And, of course, I went back to see what editing the pieces needed, because I'm anal like that. In some, a mere misspelled word. In one, an editor freaked because I used sneaked instead of snuck (sneaked is fine and proper, by the way, as odd as it sounds.)

I've decide they're just helping the own ego.

Now, please please please gimme that necklace!!!!! Please...

:) s.

GingerSnap said...

First of all, if an editor is going to write a comment like that, his or her grammar and punctuation had better be flawless...and this f*&%head had an error of agreement as well as a mis-used semi-colon (and I happen to love semi-colons...I know, I know, apologies all around).

Second, I see from the comments that the writer was Sommer, whose writing I just recently came across (oh, dear, I didn't mean that the way it sounds, but the pun is so bad I have to let it stand), and her writing just rocks. My. Socks. Off. (How do you like them fragments, Mr. Editor?)

I foresee a long and self-congratulatory career for this the dingy corridors of mediocrity.

Go, Sommer!

Smut Girl said...

Shanna, you will have to mud wrestle me for it!! :)

GingerSnap, i lurve you. Will you marry me? Let's see. Sommer tallies: that would be me married to the man, Chuck Palahniuk, AT, and now Ginger.

Hey, it could work. Totally.

Kristina Wright said...

Everyone else has said it better than I could (and, honestly, I think WTF? sums it up quite nicely), but I'll throw in my two cents in the form of a psychological profile:

Disgruntled. Unhappy with personal life. Hates people who are have joy in their lives. Aspiring writer stuck in editing job who is jealous of other writers. Small penis (if it's a man), male-patterned baldness (if it's a woman). Probably dropped on his/her head as a child. Parents loved the dog more. Got a B in a college grammar class. Had unrequited love for said professor of class. Shakes fist at sky on a regular basis and exclaims, "Why me? I shoulda been a contender!"

Hmm. There is also something vaguely familiar about the wording of this rejection. Feel like I might know who it is. Ick.

Smut Girl said...

*Small penis (if it's a man), male-patterned baldness (if it's a woman). *

oh god. just choked on my coffee. totally, totally worth it. ;)

GingerSnap said...

Oooo, Sommer, polygamy without the religious fundamentalism...I love it!

On the other hand, I have just become aware that I may be terminally monogamous. I had a dream that Anthony Kiedis, while petting me ferociously, asked me to have sex with him, and I said regretfully that I couldn't because I was too in love with my boyfriend. Man, was I pissed when I woke up. I can't even be unfaithful in a freakin' dream?!!

So maybe you wouldn't want to marry me after all, I'm such a boring goody-two-shoes. But I will rag on mean editors for you any time.