I recently had another story rejected. The editor forwarded the reviewer’s comments to me. I found a couple of valid concerns in them, but also some other types of concerns.
The biggest problem here is that the two reviewers found different reasons for rejecting the story. One loved the magic as portrayed, the other focused on that as his/her main reason for recommending rejection. The basic flaw they found in that regard is that they did not understand exactly how the magic works. My contention is that magic is, in fact, magic. It is somewhat mysterious by nature. In a short story, there is not enough time to be explicit about the inner mechanisms at work here. I am disappointed that a slush reader for a fantasy magazine does not realize this.
The other reviewer thought that a couple of transitions were too sudden. One in particular has the protagonist suddenly struck down. The suddenness of this episode is an essential part of the plot, in my estimation.
Thus, the quandary continues. To revise or not to revise. On these two points, I have to decide not to revise. I do think they are essential to the story. Other points raised will be incorporated into some changes in the wording in a couple of places to address them.
All in all, I think that this illustrates the dangers inherent in submitting stories. Slush readers have many other concerns than picking out subtle points in the story. They just don’t have time to deal with that. Their tastes also differ from one to another. Contradictory opinions are just part of the process that we have to accept.
I like to include a certain amount of subtlety in my stories. I think it enriches them. Making everything explicit and explained in great detail just damages the story. I do not like stories that do that. Leave something to my imagination, for Heaven’s sake.
I guess I will just keep submitting the story, with some revision, until I find an editor or slush reader that appreciates it.