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Helpful Form Rejections
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An entry in The Diana caught my attention:

"Yesterday I got a form-ish rejection, made somehow more depressing by the fact that this was the second rejection in a row from this editor where my name was misspelled. Okay, maybe I'm being overly touchy, but two misspellings in a row was a bit of a sting. Can't really explain why, but for some reason that particular bounce really got me down."
When you're face to face with an impersonal form rejection letter, you're usually thinking, "Rejection just doesn't get any worse than this." But, of course, it does.

I never had my name misspelled but I recall the days when Fantastic sent out a form rejection with about two dozen boxes which could be checked off, to helpfully explain why your story was being bounced. Stuff like:

  • Wooden characters
  • Stilted dialogue
  • Cliched
  • Trite
  • Bad grammar
  • Run-on sentences
  • Flaking whiteout
  • Poor paper quality

I still recall getting a rejection form on which the reader had considerately taken the time to check off every last box. And as if that was not helpful enough, he or she had gone to the trouble of scribbling in extra helpful comments, such as "hackneyed," "dreadful descriptions," "turgid prose."

The slightly personalized form rejection I got from a small literary type magazine seemed pleasant by comparison. I had sent in an essay involving my grandfather. On the bottom of the form the editor scrawled:

No more grandfather stories!!!

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