ImageSo here’s the story of how ‘Digging out the Ribs of Gold’ by Tony Owens became the second story in the In fabula-divinos project.

This time round there were six submissions – almost half of last time – although the quality was good. One of those submissions unfortunately didn’t come with the story attached – hopefully that author will try again next month.

Of the five remaining, one was a re-submit of a story rejected last month – Tony’s story. Keep that in mind.

Two of the stories were instant nos. One because the speculative element wasn’t strong enough. The other because it covered a fairly well-done story idea and didn’t do anything new or interesting with it. Well written, story itself was entertaining, but didn’t have enough pizzazz to win me.

That left two stories that grabbed me the moment I read them. I left the computer, went and did some chores, came back and opened those two stories up again and you know what? On the second read, they didn’t grab me as much. So I opened up Tony’s story (which I’d only briefly looked at to refresh my memory from last time) and had another good read of it.

With those three stories in my mind I headed to one of my best thinking spots – the shower. As I worked it all through, the decision became really clear.

One of the stories had an interesting idea, but it hadn’t been fully explored. While the story clearly told what had happened to the protagonist (and it was spooky!), I couldn’t really understand WHY it had happened. And I thought that in teasing that out with the writer, there was a very real possibility the entire story would need to be re-written and that’s a bit much to ask someone to do in three weeks.

The other story was beautifully written – really lovely, great style and sense of flow. The idea was lovely, but it wasn’t a very deep one. I was kinda stuck thinking it was a nice story, but I couldn’t see how to make it a good or even great story.

Then there’ was Tony’s story. The idea was pretty sound, although it needs a bit more delving into but I was sure that could be done without a complete re-write, unlike story one. And while there are some strengths in Tony’s writing there’s also some weaknesses, so I felt I could really work with him and offer something of value to make this story sing, unlike story two.

By the time the shower was over, Tony’s story was singing to me, like a beautiful bird. It was absolutely the right story for me to work with this month.

The thing is, Tony’s story was totally not the right story to choose last month. But this month it was, for entirely different reasons than the last choice. It’s a salient lesson that you can’t just write the right story, it has to hit the right editor at the right time. Annoying, but that’s the way it is.

So don’t give up on your story. For most places, you can’t submit again, so that chance is over. But there’s still plenty more. So keep submitting, and eventually your right story will find its right home and then the magic can begin.

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