In ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan, there is a lovely rejection letter to Briony (one of the main characters). She is 18 years old, has sent in a novella and it has finally returned months later. Here are some excerpts (in italics):
They begin with the fact that they wouldn't consider publishing a novella by a unknown author, let alone an established one.
That said, we found ourselves (initially against our better judgment, for there is much to do in this office) reading the whole with great interest.
There is much commenting on Briony's use of words, her characters, how well she's captured a specific moment. The first part of the book is an excellent exercise in seeing events through different points of view.
We found Two Figures by a Fountain arrresting enough to read with dedicated attention. I do not say this lightly.
Then come a lot of questions. Lots of what ifs, encouraging her to make a plot out of the observations she's made.
Simply put, you need the backbone of a story.
Ah yes, it's the story that's imporant.
You may feel perfectly satisfied with your pages as they stand, or our reservations may fill you with dismissive anger, or such despair you never want to look at the thing again.
This made me laugh.
We sincerely hope not. Our wish is that you will take our remarks -- which are given with sincere enthusiasm -- as a basis for another draft.
I am thankful today for *good* rejection letters. My husband thinks this is an oxymoron, but the truth is, it's these kinds of letters (I confess mine are not three pages long, usually just 1/2 -1 page) that have pushed me to take my writing further. I still have some manuscripts that I don't know how to implement the advice. But I know something somewhere will click and I'll know exactly how to fix it, and then the comments will make sense.
What's your experience with good rejections?