17 October 2012

notes from behind the scenes

Greetings from behind-the-scenes! Savvy writers know we closed for submissions for the November 30, 2012 issue on October 15. We are furiously reading through all the submissions and will let writers know by the end of the month of they are rejected (sorry!) or being held-for-voting (hurray!). Then, by the beginning of November we will let folks know if they're in the issue (yeah!). Really savvy writers will have deduced that means we have our production meeting at the end of October/beginning of November. They would be right. :)

On behalf of all the editors, I'd like to say "Thank you very much." to everyone who submitted.

Since I've been reading through so many stories, I do have some tips... I apologize to faithful readers of the blog: you've seen most of these tips before.

  • Only use 'said/say' or 'asked/ask' in your dialogue tags. I'm not kidding here. Why? Because 'said/say' and 'asked/ask' are invisible, while 'grunted', 'sighed', etc. takes the reader out of the story. Can you grunt words? Sigh words? We want the reader to stay in the story.
  • Use specific and unique descriptions. Descriptions should always be from the point-of-view of the protagonist. For example, don't say 'She was pretty.' Be specific. How is she pretty? Maybe 'She had the most luscious lips John had ever seen and he couldn't wait to kiss them.'
    A laundry list of descriptive words often has the vagueness problem. For example, 'He was wearing a blue suit, wing-tipped shoes, an expensive watch, a red power-tie.' It doesn't really paint a picture. But 'Sally gasped when she saw his diamond-encrusted Rolex.' does paint a picture.
  • Subject your work to the 'Huh?' test. After reading your story, does a person say, 'Huh?' This is not a good thing. After reading the first page of your story, does a person say, 'Huh?' Again, not a good thing. If an editor can't tell what's going on in your story, he/she is not going to buy it. IMHO, 100% of writers need to let someone else read their story, and ask them, 'What happened?' If it's not what the author intended: rewrite.
  • Think carefully about writing a story about vampires or werewolves or zombies. It is particularly difficult to pull of something fresh in this arena.
  • Please submit to us in rtf format, as we request.
  • Please write at least a sentence or two in the cover letter. Please do not write 100 sentences in the cover letter. (Your time is valuable!)
  • Please read the excellent new issue of Electric Spec when it comes out at the end of November. :)


Anonymous said...

I like your "Huh?" test, but disagree with the comment about zombies. That spec fic subgenre is one of my favs and I see new spins on it often. We'll just agree to disagree.

lesleylsmith said...

I'd love to read your new spin on a zombie tale, RenataH. :)
Go ahead, prove me wrong!