So, last week, I received an acceptance (wheee!) and a rejection (boo!hiss!). But if I'm being perfectly honest, I wasn't surprised by that boo!hiss! rejection. I have only myself to blame. It was a boo!hiss! story.
Now, don't try to make me feel better, grasshopper. It was not a good story. Oh, it was written well. It had a nice flow, good pacing, a swell plot, crackling dialogue. But it was missing something...
I sent it anyway, even though I had this mushy feeling of wrongness about the story. Until finally, after working on another manuscript, and receiving that acceptance, I had one of those epiphany moments. (Thank goodness, right?)
The boo!hiss! story didn't have me in it. I don't mean me, literally. I mean the connection between something that I felt to what a character is feeling. So the story, though well-executed, lay there flat and limp and blah.
Don't write without getting to the heart of the matter, grasshopper. You may be penning a story about a little girl flying on a pig to a country known as Styheaven where all the inhabitants are flying pigs who speak only pig latin and stuff humans into sausage casings. Obviously, you haven't had that experience. But you have probably, at some time in your life, been the "fish out of water" who was scared to death. Tap into your feelings to give your story life. It's that whole Dr. Frankenstein thing, to use a literary allusion.
I always tell people that if they've ever met me, they'll probably show up in a story, cleverly disguised, of course. But the truth is, I'm in every single story I write. At least, the stories that get published (whee!).