Let me start by saying that yesterday would have been my father’s 70th birthday. I still miss him.
In lighter news (okay, maybe not lighter, but not as sad as losing your father news), today I cancelled my magazine subscriptions. I did this for a variety of reasons. I won’t tell you which magazines I was subscribed to or which issues I had with which magazines. If you take away anything from this, understand that this is a general frustration.
The most common writing advice you see ALL OVER is ‘show don’t tell’. I mean, it’s all over the place. Honestly, do a search. You’ll see reference after reference. From Stephen King to Michael Stackpole to me. You’ll see it in writing forums. You’ll see examples of what to do and what not to do. Mostly it’ll explain why not to tell, or, in other words, explain.
Trust me, this isn’t going to be writing 101, I’ll get to the point in just a minute, keep with me here.
When you write a short story, you have a limited number of words to get a story across. It’s very easy to explain what’s happening in your story. Very easy. So easy that many writers will do this (yet still complain about writing a synopsis of a novel which is basically explaining your story). So when someone starts a story out explaining the history of the world they’re about to throw me into, and then spend the rest of the story explaining events that happen, and then spend half the story still explaining things to me, and throw in one line of dialogue, and then go back to explaining the story to me, I get bored.
Now I know you’re asking yourself, why did I subscribe to these magazines in the first place?
Well, it was an investment. I figured if I wanted to get printed in these PRO level magazines, I needed to read and see what kind of stories they were accepting. They accept a wide range of stories and I write a wide range of stories. I’ve been rejected time and again. I could have kept banging my head against a wall or I could have figured out why I was getting rejected. So I subscribed to a number of magazines.
Now, in their defense, there are a few gems out there. Not many, but there are gems. There are stories that actually have a story, not an explanation of a story. What I felt is that these stories were so far and few between, I could no longer justify keeping my subscriptions. I didn’t want to keep reading stories that bored me to tears where I kept thinking “I wrote like this when I first started writing and got rejected because I was explaining a story”.
I could rant on the show don’t tell business for a long time, but there’s another reason I cancelled. The way the magazines work on the Kindle. Sure they were only a couple bucks a month (each) and that wasn’t a big investment. The deal breaker for me was that if I was reading a novella in one of the magazines and wanted to come back to it later, it would never remember my place. Maybe i could have hassled with setting a bookmark, but when I’m in a novel it REMEMBERS my place for me. This is a frustration I’ve suffered more than once and I know what I could do about it, it’s just the fact that I shouldn’t have to do it.
So, sadly, I’ve decided to cancel my magazine subscriptions. I have a better idea of what they publish and don’t think I need to keep looking. What I have concluded is that they publish what they want and what they prefer. The sad fact will remain that I want to write stories that actually reveal a story to the reader, not read like a synopsis of a half-way decent book. I don’t want a story explained to me. I don’t want a story told to me. I want to experience a story and sadly the magazines I was reading (again, all professional level magazines) aren’t delivering.
It’s with a heavy heart that I logged into my kindle account, and hit cancel.
What are your experience with some short story magazines? Good? Bad? Indifferent? I’ve love to hear from you.
Until Next Week!