The Rejection Letter

Becks, over at the stream-of-consciousness blog Unfogged, asked us what to do about some poor guy’s manuscript, which apparently was as Freudian as a mispelled hero fantasy can get. She was asking us for suggestions about possible rejection letters.

She writes:

So this guy comes up to my table and starts talking about the novel he’s been working on, but it could also be a comic book script or a screenplay, etc., etc., and he hands me a two-page excerpt and a cover letter and takes off.

I read it on the way home from work tonight. It’s… not good.

I feel obligated to send the guy a polite rejection notice. My questions:

1) Should I also advise him to use the spelling and grammar checkers in his word processor?

2) Should I also advise him to read Norman Spinrad’s essay, “The Emperor Of Everything” and attempt to understand why the SF/Fantasy/Occult/Horror genres don’t really need more masturbatory, misogynistic adolescent power fantasy stories?

3) Should I also advise him to see a therapist?

I started to respond over there, and I think I’ll finish up here:

You could break it to him gently. You could say: Hey, right now this is a novel. It could be a comic book; it could be a screenplay, too. It could be a novella. It could take a turn towards realism. Kids picking blackberries, they have a dog, the dog dies. But then the turn away from realism. Maybe the dog was an alien or is dreaming it all. It could be a short story. It could be some notes, with accompanying sketches. The sketches might not be related. I’m talking about doodles. Little drawings of trees and Captain America’s shield. It could be something you scribbled on a napkin. It could be a napkin that you quickly tucked in your pocket. Coffee stains on the most important phrases. The ink bleeds away and the napkin goes pulpy in the wash. It could be an idea you had once that you were going to write but didn’t have a pen. It could be a silly idea. Something you should never tell a soul. There, there. Don’t be sad. Grindhouse is still in the theaters. Treat yourself to a matinee.