Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rudolph's Rejection

(Humble apologies to Robert L. May and Johnny Marks.)

Dear Writer,

-- We have read and evaluated your work. Unfortunately, at this time, it does not fit our publishing needs. More detailed comments are annotated below:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You know Dasher and Dancer,
And Prancer and Vixen,  
Comet and Cupid,
And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

 -- "Prancer" is obviously a reference to a reindeer with homosexual tendencies, whereas "Vixen"is an overly suggestive name. I question whether either are appropriate in a story for small children.

-- You begin with a list of eight characters, all of which sound enough alike to be easily confused.  Furthermore, none of the characters are ever mentioned by name again.  If you must throw all of these names at the reader, do so in a way that piques the reader's interest instead of wasting the reader's time.

-- Do NOT begin your work with a rhetorical question. Few things scream "weak writing" more loudly.

-- In any case, the rhetorical question is patently ludicrous. If he's "the most famous reindeer of all" (line 6), why would you have to ask whether or not someone recalled him?

-- Eliminate the backstory and get to the point. I'm not hooked.  Furthermore, why begin with something the reader knows? Tell me something I don't know.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows.

-- Both "shiny nose" (line 2), and "it glows" (line 4) are redundant repetitions of the "red nose" introduced in line 1. Don't waste the reader's good will rehashing a simple fact that has already been established. Move the story along.

-- What drives the protagonist?  What does he want?  Acceptance?  A normal nose? A good night's sleep in a dark room? Without knowing what he wants, the reader cannot empathize with him.

-- The concept  in the final 2 lines is awkwardly expressed. These lines also suffer from tense issues. The shift in tense from simple past in the first two lines to the amalgamation of conditional ("if you ever saw it you would say") and present tense ("it glows") raises larger concerns with regards to your overall writing ability.

-- The glowing nose could be an intriguing paranormal element. Yet you have done nothing to develop the plot possibilities that present themselves.

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games.

-- The protagonist's socio-economic condition has not previously been addressed. Is he ostracized because of his physical differences or because of his financial shortcomings? Be clear about what barriers stand in the way of him achieving his goal (though at this point, I remain uncertain what that goal is). Avoid the temptation of piling hardships upon him.

-- Who are these "other reindeer?" Are they the 8 introduced at the beginning?  What names did they call him?  What games did they play?  Specifics are necessary in order to connect with the reader and make your words memorable.  As it is, these words are so vague as to be instantly forgotten.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say,
"Rudolph, with your nose so bright,
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

-- I am extremely uncomfortable with the premise that Santa Claus, a sympathetic adult in a position of authority, would be so heartless as to call attention to the protagonist's deformity and would seek to profit from it. 

Then all the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,
You'll go down in history!"

-- At no time during the story was it established that the protagonist's driving desire was fame or leaving a historical legacy.   

--Three of the 22 lines submitted end with the word "reindeer." A hallmark of a successful writer is a sizeable vocabulary.
-- The pop-culture reference is a nice touch. Unfortunately, I suspect you do not have Fox's permission to use it, and their legal department has more clout than yours.  It has to go, unless you're considering this a piece of fan-fic, which is a dead end for anyone wishing to be taken seriously as a writer.

-- Speaking of dead-ends for a writer's career, few publishers are willing to tackle the white elephant of rhymed verse. Dr. Seuss got away with it. But he's dead.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. However, as we are only interested in "evergreen" projects with long-term sales potential from writers who have committed to mastering their craft, we'll have to pass on it. We wish you the best of luck in placing your work elsewhere.


RedHeadedQuilter said...

LOL! I love it!

I wondered why the Glee cast was there! ;)

Anonymous said...

Too funny!