We've been trying to get through the mounds of fiction in the slush pile. (Thank you for submitting, by the way!) We're in much better shape than we were a month ago. Hopefully, we're doing a better job getting back to aspiring authors quickly.
Here are some thoughts motivated by the slush pile. Please note these are my personal pet peeves; they tend to engender strong negative reactions. Other editors may have others…
- Don't be racist/sexist/homophobic. In fact, don't be any kind of "-ist" in your story. This is a huge turn-off and may (probably will!) result in an automatic rejection.
- Don't proselytize. If I, as a reader, think you're trying to convert me…it may result in a knee-jerk rejection.
- Don't campaign. This is why we recommend you stay away from politics in stories you submit to us. I have a strong negative response to stories with political agendas of any kind.
- Don't bad-mouth groups of people, e.g. all lawyers are scum-sucking vermin. If a reader happens to disagree with the author's opinion ==> automatic rejection. One of my pet-peeves is scientist characters as one-dimensional losers and/or villains. Actually, you can easily avoid this by not creating one-dimensional characters. :)
No one ever said writing was easy. Good luck!