19 September 2012

notes from the slush pile

I guess by now the heart-pounding thrills and chills of the August 31, 2012 issue of Electric Spec has started to wear off. Time marches on, so, we've started working on the new November 30, 2012 issue. We have a lead on a neat interview! Stay tuned for more info in November.
As a heads-up, we will close to submissions for that issue on October 15, 2012.

Anyway, I've been going through my slush pile...
I did come across a couple of head-scratchers. By this I mean I read the whole story and I couldn't figure out what happened. I strongly suggest every author get another set of eyes on their work before submission. This can be your significant other, Mom, BFF, or whatever. But, after they read it, ask them what they think happened. If all they can say is: "It was good." or "I liked it." They are a true friend BUT you probably need to work on the story some more.

I also came across a couple stories where the protagonist didn't do anything. I'm not saying they tried to do something and failed--that would be fine. I'm saying they didn't even try to do anything. I'm sorry, but this editor doesn't think that's a story. Authors should always investigate their market before submitting.

There were some stories with totally unrealistic dialogue. An easy way to spot this is to read the story out loud, by yourself, or with a friend.

There were some stories with major info-dumping. Bummer. This kind of thing went out in like the 1950s. Characters should never discuss something they all already know, e.g.

"As you know, Bob, my new warp drive bends space-time in front of and behind a vessel rather than attempting to propel the vessel itself at light-speeds."

"Yes, Joe. That was a good idea."

No. Generally, authors don't want to give the reader info in paragraphs of narrative either. The bottom line on info is: less is more. Instead, show us. For example, what happens when the Alcubierre Drive fails?

Of course, there were also some very good stories in my slush pile that made it into hold for voting. Hopefully, you'll get to read them too.

I look forward to reading your story! Keep sending them in.

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