We have started working behind the scenes on the November issue. We've been reading a lot of slush. I have some tips. I freely admit these are for our market. I apologize because many of these I've given in years past but apparently they're still needed. Thus, without further ado...
One Editor's tips:
- Do proofread your piece for spelling and grammar issues. We do not expect your piece to be perfect, but we do expect it to be readable. Note: MSWord's spelling and grammar tools are not sufficient.
- Do use forms of said or asked for dialogue tags. I'm not kidding. I went to a writers conference last month and I asked every professional literary agent and editor I met about this, and they all agreed: said or asked only. They also said it's even better if you can give dialogue without needing a tag, i.e. use distinctive vocabulary or cadence or other unique ways of speaking for each character.
- Do include a speculative element integrated into your story. If we can't find a speculative element, we won't be publishing it even if it's a very good story. If it seems like you stuck on the speculative element after the fact, we won't be publishing it. How can you tell if it's "stuck on"? If you take the speculative element out, the story should fall apart.
- Do include originality. Please try to put a unique twist on your story. I can't tell you how many stories we've read where a man kills his wife or girlfriend (or wife and girlfriend). I can't tell you how many vampire stories we've read. I can tell you it is extremely difficult to write a fresh vampire story.
- Do write the story only you can write. (Yes, this is related to originality, above.) What are you passionate about? What intrigues you? Put it in a story!
- Do have a protagonist.
- Do have conflict.
- Do have a story resolution. This can be a success or a failure. This can even be the emergence of a new conflict. The point is: something must change.