I wrote a lot of horror in my teens and early twenties, so you should just get used to seeing rejection letters from a variety of small and not-so-small venues for such stories in TWiR…
For this one, I actually know which story I submitted, a little something titled “Minutely Dead,” a werewolf story with a fun little twist. As you can see, After Hours didn’t find the twist all that fun, having checked off the “Too predictable” and “Not particularly scary” checkboxes on their very handy list of Reasons You Suck.
Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. The twist is cool, but I didn’t pull it off in the story at all. I do, however, wish I’d been one of the guys at After Hours who got to sit around and say, “What’s wrong with the most of the stories we get? Let’s make a list!”
Um, on second thought… No. No, I don’t wish I was one of those guys…
You may have noticed that I’m not telling you what the twist is. That’s because someday I’ll sit down and figure out how to pull it off, and I wouldn’t want to spoil it early.
This rejection letter is notable (to me, at least) for being one of the very first I received with actual handwritten comments. I was still too young and — honestly — too sensitive to see that getting a handwritten comment like this was actually a step in the right direction, that someone saw enough promise in my admittedly un-ready work to take a moment to go beyond just checking off items on the Checklist of Doom. If I’d been smarter, I might have revised the story or submitted a different, stronger one.
In case you can’t read the handwriting, here’s what it says:
AH features unconventional fantasy & horror – this is pretty much standard stuff. While I wouldn’t exclude a werewolf story for its subject matter (I’ve published a couple of vampire ones) there needs to be some angle to make it different from the rest. Minor point: it isn’t apparent the narrator is a policeman until p. 3; this could be confusing to the reader.
A nice little lesson in targeting the correct audience and clarifying your story points. Not bad for a rejection letter!