My story, “Cast in Stone,” was written in the early ’90s, and is probably the third or fourth story I ever wrote. I wrote it for a themed anthology about “deaders,” brain-dead humans who were animated via software to become servants and workers. The anthology accepted the story, but the money fell through and it was never published.
I then submitted the story to OMNI, back when OMNI was (a) a real magazine and (b) still publishing fiction under the incomparable editorial hand of Ellen Datlow. One of Ms. Datlow’s assistant editors, Robert K.J. Killheffer, read the story, and liked it enough to take the extraordinary step of leading me through several rewrites. (I have to say, after boiler-plate/check-list rejection letters, it was a thrill to get a letter for a rewrite!) He provided me with guidance each time through, suggesting changes in everything from the title (original title: “Statuesque Revisions”…ick) to structure and style.
We went through about four iterations, if memory serves, with Rob sending me up two pages or so of typewritten comments, and me improving the story each time. In the end, the story was still rejected, but this all tells you how much work went into the version I present to you here.
And even with all that editing, all that mentorship, it still has so many problems that I wince to read parts of it.
So, what I will be presenting here is “Cast in Stone,” in its original, post-OMNI form. I have changed not a word, but I have highlighted the major errors and issues of the type I’ve talked about in this series of posts. I’ve given each a color code as follows:
- Telling, not showing
- Clunky phrasing/naming names
- Bad metaphors/similes/adjectives
- Wiggle words
Then, I’ll present a rewritten version where I’ll fix them and (possibly) some of the larger, structural problems the story has.