I have received “notes” on a rejected story precisely once, from Leading Edge magazine.
Leading Edge is, of course, the student-run science fiction journal based out of Brigham Young University. Per their submission guidelines:
Stories with sex, profanity, excessive violence, or that belittle traditional family values or religion will not be considered … We will not edit works that include sex, homosexual content, graphic violence, heavy drug use, excessive profanity…
I wonder if there is some weird Orson Scott Card connection at play here. Card, you will no doubt recall, in addition to being a raving lunatic and out-and-out bigot, is a noted alumnus of Brigham Young U.
For whatever reason, I decided to send my 10,000-word story “Wombie” to Leading Edge. Some weeks later, I received six pages of notes in the mail. A sampling:
These notes, clearly written by college students, provide a window into the minds (and perhaps souls) of my prospective young Mormon reader base. Some highlights:
Consider cutting out some of the expletives.
I will do no such fucking thing.
They aren’t necessary and detract from the story.
Indeed they are, and they do not. Also: fuckfart.
page 20 — since Chrissy’s name hasn’t been mentioned since the beginning of the story, I had forgotten who she was at first. Maybe say “her daughter, Chrissy” here or mention her name more often throughout the story.
(vigorously simulating tugjob)
on page 23, the description of the animal uses such advanced words that I have a hard time picturing the animal. Could you use more common body part terms?
The biggest word on that page is “intestines.”
I like how you show Dr. Sarvas’ character, it is quite easy to pick up on his dry humor, pissimistic (sic) outlook on life, and slightly egocentric personality.
“Pissimistic” is my new favorite word. Kolledge kids say the darndest things!
The beginning is rather slow, not much to put the reader in with
The story begins with an 80-pound rodent being wheeled into a veterinarian’s office leaking slime from its anus.
The climax is well paced with the bug popping out, attacking the cow, then trying to escape while the Doctor tries to kill it.
Very interesting idea to have the invading alien race implanting themselves in native species.
Is there any special significance to the alien “Eie” call stuff? Is it just what they say, their vocalizing sound?
When reading these notes, I imagine a room full of buttoned-up 19-year-old virgins, all crewcuts and good Midwestern manners, beginning each workshop with a little prayer, and then delving into an earnest and loving discussion of a story in which a giant boll weevil dissolves a cow with its corrosive saliva, and it warms my rotten heart.