25 February 2014

originality via specificity

If you're a reader of Electric Spec you know we enjoy original stories. I mentioned recently we had some stories in hold-for-voting that seemed to be based on similar memes, so how did we chose between them? We chose the more original, more unique, more specific stories. The protagonist in a story should be the only possible protagonist that could be the actor in that story. This should be reflected in how he or she is described. Do not use height, weight, hair color, eye color, skin color, clothing. Use unique qualities. Similarly, avoid obvious metaphors, like the crack of dawn--they're too cliched. Do use similes and metaphors; they should be unique to the character(s), e.g. the yawn of dawn for a not-morning person.

The world in a speculative fiction story should be extremely specific, as well. Don't use bland adjectives like pretty. (World-building is a great place to use similes or metaphors--again, they should be unique.) Don't use any generic nouns. For example in your story don't use 'a guitar', use 'a Fender Jag-Stang,' or whatever's appropriate. Also, don't explain, never explain.

I'll get more specific about the next exciting issue of Electric Spec (coming March 15, 2014) starting next week!

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