The Maybe Dialogue Part I….

We plucked Mary Aker’s story “House of Refuge” from the slush pile and looked it over carefully. It is an interesting story, set in 1886 about the aftermath of a shipwreck off Florida’s coast.

Associate Editor Zachary Benavidez writes…
I have read some 19th century literature, and, if the voice or tone of that era is what she is going for, then I think she gets pretty close. In terms of writing though, I would have appreciated if the content drove the form: that is, when she describes some action scenes-like the boat tumbling over, and nearly drowning, the rescuing sequence-the sentences are long. The action seems slowed down when I think it should be rapidly conveyed.

Zachary’s question: Was that a deliberate choice to contrast the action and the pacing?

Mary answers : Well, I’m not sure “deliberate choice” describes my thinking. It was more of a gut feeling for how I believed this narrator would tell this story. Since it’s a retrospective, first person story, in a reserved voice from the late 1800s, I felt I had a little more time to explain and explore. I wouldn’t be averse to exploring a way to speed those scenes up, though.

Editor in Chief Julie Wakeman-Linn observes the freshness and the fact that we have been watching Mary’s writing for a while is worth a “Maybe” from Zachary.

Mary answers: I realize there’s no question to answer here, but I just wanted to interject and say that as an author, I find it very comforting to know editors and readers watch and recognize writing over time even if they may not comment when sending rejections. I believe other writers would take comfort in this, too, so it’s a point worth stressing for all those still toiling in the trenches: just because we aren’t getting personal rejections, doesn’t mean our work isn’t being followed by an editor waiting and hoping for the perfect story to generate a yes.

Gentle Readers: Check back for the next installment on Monday, after the F. Scott Fitz conference is over and my life returns to normal…