Write funny for a chance to be published in Writer's Digest magazine (Plus, a photo prompt)

When we first raised the call for submissions for our new Reject a Hit feature in WD magazine—basically, a humorous fake rejection letter to a hit book, courtesy of a curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor—we didn’t know what we’d get back. Sometimes features like that take off, and other times, with rosy cheeks, you quietly sweep them under the editorial rug.

But witty submissions started rolling in, with writers riffing on everything from The Cat in the Hat to The Bible. And now some of us WD editors find ourselves sneaking off to the Reject a Hit folder at different times of the day for brief escapes from bouts of copy editing or battles with Excel spreadsheets.

The submission doors are once again open for reader-submitted Reject a Hits. As we ask in the magazine: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure? Help the rest of us find out by rejecting a hit in 300 words or fewer and sending your piece to wdsubmissions@fwmedia.com with “InkWell: Reject a Hit” in the subject line. (And for a sneak peak at writer Kinda S. Lenberg’s letter from our October issue, which started shipping to subscribers yesterday, click the image above.)??

A Promptly writing prompt—a photo prompt from the Kentucky State Fair by request—follows below. ??Happy writing/rejecting!

* * *

Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

Something goes wrong—very wrong—at the State Fair’s new specialty burger booth.


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out Eric Butterman’s How to Get Freelance Work Bootcamp.

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6 thoughts on “Write funny for a chance to be published in Writer's Digest magazine (Plus, a photo prompt)

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  3. Mark James

    Zac. . thanks for the picture. . awesome

    Martha. . *sigh*. . . $2 in the jar. . .

    “You have enough burgers out?” Michael said. “I heard mortals get hungry at state fairs.” He heaved a bag of sliced potatoes into the deep fryer. Boiling grease splattered on his arms. He wiped it off.

    “I’m not going into that frozen truck again.” Lucifer shuddered. “Why do you get me into these things?”

    “We owed a favor.” Michael tossed his brother a chef’s hat. “You get grill duty.”

    “Could I get a burger?”

    They both turned at the sound of the little girl’s voice.

    “You have five bucks?” She was so little, Michael had to lean over the counter to see past the top of her head.

    “Why would I order food if I didn’t have any money?”

    “Show me,” Michael said.

    She pulled five grimy lumps of green out of the pocket of her jeans and thumped them down. “Do you have any bread?”

    “Can you read?” Michael pointed at the sign over his booth.

    “No,” she said. “The three foot high letters aren’t big enough.”

    “You always like this or is it past your bedtime?”

    “You must not make too much money, asking all those questions just to make a dumb burger.”

    Michael leaned over farther, saw her Mickey Mouse sneakers. “And you’re what, the burger fairy, come to make things right?”

    She looked past him. “Do one of you know how to make burgers?”

    “Of course,” Lucifer said. “I keep him on for entertainment value.” He brushed off his black apron. “Fire is my specialty.” He pointed at the grill, which fired up into tall, hungry flames. “Can I interest you in a grape jelly donut burger?”

    At the sound of the wooden roof of the shack crackling into flames, Michael whipped around. “What are you doing?”

    “Cooking,” Lucifer said.

    “This isn’t Hell.” Michael blew on the fire that had started, but the grease around the grill had already caught. A thin line of fire raced across the floor toward him. A woman screamed. A man caught up both his kids and ran down the state fair midway.

    “Did you say well done?” Lucifer said to the girl.

    “Your hair’s on fire.” She looked from Lucifer to Michael. “How come you’re not scared? He’s burning up.”

    “He likes it.” Michael stamped out flames that were sprouting from the wooden floor. “He’s a fire magician.”

    “I never heard of that,” she said. “And you should move. The roof. It’s falling down.”

    Michael stepped aside, let the burning wood fall at his feet. “Is that what happened to you? Fire?”

    The money on the counter faded into transparency, then it was gone. “How did you know?”

    “Easy.” Michael waved his hands at the empty space behind her. “You’re the only one not running.”

    “It was a hot dog shack back then,” she said. “Dad tried, but he couldn’t get me out.”

    “And here,” Lucifer said, “is your burger. I left off the grape jelly.”

    She took the plate. Michael pulled her up onto the counter, and sat next to her. Lucifer hovered beside his brother. Behind them, the donut burger shack burned slowly in the night. Lucifer hid the flames from the mortal world, and they both listened to the girl’s story, a story she’d waited decades to tell.

  4. Leslie T. Grover

    Jeanette’s Letter

    My Dearest Jeanette,

    They ain’t never gonna find your daddy.

    All my life, I’ve been in some kinda trouble. If I wasn’t being called stupid, I was getting beat for being stupid. I hated doing chores so your grandmother thought I was slow.

    It was that way when I met your daddy. I had just gotten a beating for not finished chores on time for Bible study. I hated church because it was so boring, so I had taken my time getting ready. Shoot, if I still had the Devil in me after all the preaching and praying they did at church, a little lateness to Bible study wasn’t gonna make a difference at this point. The night we met, he came right up and started walking with me. Just like he already knew me.

    “Ain’t nothing I like more than walking to church with a pretty girl,” he’s said. And that was it. We stayed together all the time. Lord, was your grandmother glad to get me married and out of her house! I was glad to go, too, because not only could I stop going to church, but I could eat whatever I wanted. Of all the food in the world I loved hamburgers best. Your daddy, too. Before he started drinking and acting as mean as a snake beating on me, I’d make him burgers for dinner and he’d take the left overs for lunch.

    Eventually people at work would ask him about those hamburgers because they smelled and tasted so good. I started getting orders from all over the parish. We soon had ourselves a little burger business going.

    The state fair was always special though. It was there that we’d set up a stand and sell new types burgers: lamb, chicken, lobster, and even okra one time. People ate those okra burgers like their lives depended on it! Your daddy, of course, had said it wouldn’t work. Every year your daddy and I would argue about what to try next. Every year I’d cuss and he’d punch more. He was always drunk and wrong.

    This year your daddy punched me as hard as he could when we were arguing. This was the last time he was gonna hit me, so I hit him back. I hit him in the head as hard as I could. I didn’t realize I killed him at first, but he didn’t move when I kicked him. He was too big to move so I chopped him up and put him right in with the spices and the eggs.

    There ain’t nothing better than sugar to balance the flavors of your daddy’s sour attitude. That’s why I used the doughnuts for a bun.

    I love you Jeanette, but I had to leave before the authorities figured things out. I promise to contact you later, ok?

    Love Always,
    Your Mother

    P.S. Can you believe I sold every one of those burgers? Maybe I’m not so stupid after all!

  5. Nathan Honore

    “This is possibly the most disgusting thing ever,” I stated after viewing the sign above.

    “But it looks so yummy!” Tommy yelled. Tommy is my little brother. He loves food. We call him the Human Garbage Disposal.

    This was Tommy’s second year at the State Fair and he was even more excited than last. There’s a bit of an age gap between us. Tommy just turned twelve and I am six years his senior. We have the same laugh and both wear glasses, but that’s about it. Tommy is what the clothing lines have lovingly labeled as “husky.” Everyone just tells him he’s big-boned. He takes it as a matter of pride. At last year’s fair, he ate two foot-long hot dogs, six deep-fried pieces of bacon, corn on the cob (with more butter and salt than actual corn,) a couple pieces of complimentary cheese from around the state, and drank four glasses of odd flavored milk. Nothing stops this kid. For the record, he did not puke.

    This year Tommy had eaten almost everything on last year’s list because it “tasted so good last year!” We couldn’t find the deep-fried bacon place and Tommy was still very hungry, so we made our way to the booth before us. The gigantic sign advertises the Donut Burger, made with real Krispy Kreme doughnuts, apparently. It even has a picture of the monstrosity and it is exactly what it sounds like. Actually, it looks exactly like a normal burger, but with doughnuts in place of the bun. The doughnuts look photo-shopped in, as though it were a joke. Of course Tommy loves burgers and doughnuts, so this basically a dream come true for him.

    “Can I please have one!?” Tommy pleaded, trying to give me his best puppy dog eyes, but he was far too excited for those to work. Tommy was nearly hyperventilating with anticipation, smiling up at me.

    “Go for it, buddy.” I handed him the cash and he jumped in line, looking back at me every ten seconds or so. Tommy is actually closer in genetic make-up to a puppy. “I’D LIKE ONE DONUT BURGER, PLEEEEEASE!” Fat kids are so cute some times.

    Much to my surprise, Tommy wasted no time before shoving the burger in his mouth. He was half done within 15 seconds, still at the pick-up window. Something was wrong. Tommy’s expression moved from orgasmic joy to pure panic. The Human Garbage Disposal backed up all over the stand. This was some serious projectile vomiting too. I couldn’t help but keel over with laughter. The other patrons were not so happy. After their looks of disgust, they started to smell everything that Tommy ate that day. Sure enough, a chain reaction occurred. Everyone started puking, even the guys making the burgers. I pulled myself together, held my breath and got Tommy the hell out of there. When we got outside of the fair he looked up at me and said, “Soooo good.” I love that kid.


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