Thanks, But No Thanks
A few edited highlights from my (bulging) rejections folder:
"The narrative framework seems a bit slight, especially at the end. (The main character) doesn't develop much?"
''Longer than it needs to be... the opening seemed rather slow..."
"Probably not quite up our alley...still a few purplish patches..."
"Came close but just missed out... The basic theme of house-sharing gets a bit of a hiding these days..."
"I did baulk at the lack of punctuation..."
"Nice story as usual [this was my third unsuccessful submission to them]. I'm sorry our excuse is the same -- insufficient space..."
"Too neat and too dramatic. I'm not convinced that this is the ending for this story..."
"(This story) could make a contribution in a collection of your stories but on its own I don't think we can use it..." (fourth try)
"We can't fit it in..." (fifth try)
"Perhaps this would suit a more popular publication?"
"Unfortunately we are unable to publish this ms."
"Strongly written but we can't find a place for it." (sixth try)
"I thought your writing showed a lot of promise and will get stronger with practice. There were awkward patches that will become fewer with experience... I did think the theme was not believable however..." (At the time I found this comment hilarious as the story in question was based on an actual experience. I now realise that "true" and "believable" are not the same thing.)
"Sorry we've had this submission so long... unfortunately we have accepted a couple of pieces ahead of it..."
"We cannot publish this story." (eighth, and final, unsuccessful submission to this magazine)
"Towards the end I found I wasn't really that interested in any of the characters... I think it's a bit overwritten."
"There seems to be a lack of the sort of dynamic energy that makes readers respond to the characters.... They seem to lack heart..."
"I couldn't get my teeth into it..."
"My advice would be to put the manuscript in a bottom drawer and start on another."