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    Recycle Those Rejects

    Life can be cruel sometimes. Okay, a lot of times! Though we try our best to come up with earth-shaking, truly remarkable articles, some cruel sadistic editors have the heart to reject our works. But a writer's life has to go on. After some moments of brooding, cursing, whining, venting, eating, eating and more eating (gee, for therapy, okay), reality strikes us: Get real! Why not recycle those rejected articles?


    By adding more figures of speech and/or a personal touch, you can transform a feature article into a literary piece. For example, a feature article on child bullies can be made into a short story, personal essay or memoir about getting a black eye for the first time.


    If your article is in block form, you can rewrite it in a bulleted format. Some magazines prefer the latter for easier reading.


    If you wrote a serious article, you can rewrite it in a lighter tone. Transform an informative piece into a satirical piece. Many editors look for novelty articles to use as page or section breakers.


    Go over your article and jot down some key words or important subtopics. Write a separate article to develop each subtopic and/or write a bulleted piece by expanding the key words of the original article.

    Add impact

    Think of a more catchy title. Write a novelty lead and a matching conclusion. As for the body, some minor revisions may pass. Some editors read the title and lead and just scan the rest of the article. Add impact to hook the editor!


    If your novel was rejected (sniff, sob, sigh!), you can simplify the plot, take out some minor characters and come up with one, two or more short stories from the basic plot and main characters.

    Shorten some more

    So it was a short story that got rejected? Don't despair. You can shorten your short story into an anecdote. Play with the characters and the basic plot. Change the ending or the beginning of the story to give it a different flavor.

    Prose to poetry

    Play with the words of a prose piece, delete some words and come up with a few stanzas of free verse poetry. On the other hand, if you have a poem, transform the lines of a stanza into complete sentences and come up with a prose piece.


    Go over the paragraphs of your article and scout for a really powerful line. Start a whole new article from that prompt.


    If you honestly believe that there's nothing wrong with your article, send it to another publication. Reprint a hard copy. Don't resend a crumpled manuscript or you're doomed!

    Set aside

    If you don't know what to do with a rejected manuscript, set it aside. Don't force yourself to recycle it right away or you will just produce another reject. Work on other articles instead. You can go back to that reject some other time.


    Extract the different key ideas contained in your article. Think of questions from those main ideas and then conduct mini surveys. Transcribe the survey results into articles. Add some facts to make a good lead. Summarize the results into a compact conclusion. Many magazines are interested in survey articles.


    Your article may have been rejected because it lacked depth. Ask somebody else to read and comment on it. If it lacks substance, add subtopics, more facts/data, even interviews to develop your topic.


    If you're not an expert on the field you have written about, rewrite your piece. Even if it was your personal experience, avoid using a first person point of view to make it appear as if you are speaking in general. This technique adds credibility.


    Editors look for timely and/or sensationalized articles. Think of a different slant that will be more catchy to both the editor and the readers.


    A "generic" article may be transformed into a personal essay, testimonial or first person account by using a first person point of view and injecting a personal touch. Many magazines accept such articles.

    If none of these suggestions work, don't despair. Be a hero. Help Mother Nature. Recycle the papers. Never mind your articles!

    Copyright © 2003 Lizzie R. Santos

    Lizzie Santos writes features, literary pieces, scripts and other writing projects both in English and Pilipino. She also lectures at creative writing workshops. Her first book, The Laughter of the Leaves and Other Musings, was published by Giraffe Books. She is working on her second book. Contact her at

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

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