11 February 2014

tales from the production meeting

We had the Electric Spec production meeting for the March 15, 2014 issue recently. Folks with stories in hold-for-voting should have heard from us, or will hear very soon. If you made it into hold-for-voting you should congratulate yourself, no matter what happened.

We'd especially like to thank our Associate Editor Nikki Baird who helped us read stories. Thanks, Nikki! You rock! :)

At the meeting we had a spirited discussion about stories and what makes a story good. (Okay, we also had buy one get one free drafts.) Once a story makes it to hold-for-voting the competition is fierce.
Some thoughts:

  • One thing that makes a story really good is an emotional payoff, a resolution, at the end. This is hard to do without a clear protagonist; readers want to know who to root for. This protagonist needs to have a clear problem at the beginning of the story, needs to act to resolve it, needs to be changed at the end of the story. If things aren't different at the end of the story or if they're different because of another character's actions it is not as satisfying.
    Note: if one or more people die at the end of the story, it's difficult to make this satisfying.
  • The beginning and end of the story need to speak to each other and be consistent with the title. More specifically, the first paragraph should at least hint at the main story problem. The last paragraph should at least hint at the main story resolution. The title should reflect the core of the story (without giving it away) and not be peripherally related to it.
  • Authors, try not to be dazzled by a really neat world. In speculative fiction authors must create a new world, be it spooky, fantastic or futuristic. The world-building needs to serve the needs of the story, not replace the story. (See point one, above.)
  • Be original! If readers can guess what will happen in your story, it's not optimal. How do you avoid this? Read! At Electric Spec we definitely strive for originality.
  • Do not be political in your stories, at least for Electric Spec. It's not that we don't want to offend anyone, it's more that we don't agree amongst ourselves. And, ultimately, all the editors have to agree on a story in the end.
Yes, writing is hard. Good luck!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more info about the new issue!

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