Studying the hold-for-voting stories made me ponder the qualities that make a story stand out.
Obviously a good genre story has a good plot arc. This is often a problem that the protagonist tries to solve. In the course of the attempted solution the protagonist should grow or change in some way.
For me qualities of an outstanding story include:
- an original idea
- a strong unique voice
- a fully-fleshed out world
I think the meaning of an original idea is pretty clear. For example, the upcoming issue will include a story about a ghost-pet boarding business and the family that runs it.
Voice can be tricky to pin down. I've blogged about it before. Voice is a combination of a writer's use of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc. A strong voice may be hard to create but is easy to identify. For example, I would recognize writing by Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis or Kim Stanley Robinson anywhere. Wouldn't you? Do people recognize you in your writing?
I've heard it said that all fiction is a subset of speculative fiction in that all fiction creates a world on the pages between the covers. Speculative fiction is unique though in that the created world is NOT what we usually experience. Thus it's important to fully flesh out your world. Transport your readers to the land that exists only in your imagination!
Check out the next issue of Electric Spec on cyber-stands June 30, 2009!
And keep sending us your outstanding spec fic stories! :)