10 June 2014


As we begin work on the next issue of Electric Spec I find myself thinking about beginnings… (This may also have something to do with the fact I'm starting a new novel.) There's a lot of talk in the writerly cybersphere about how to write. Do you plan everything out? If so, you're a plotter. Do you plan very little out, write by the seat-of-your-pants? If so, you're a pantser. A long time ago I learned I do have to do some planning when writing a short story. If I don't my stories meander all over the place, only arriving at their destinations by a very circuitous route or by accident. Not good. I could usually whip said stories into an actual story with the help of my critique partners but it did take a considerable amount of time. Also, not good.

Often as I read slush, I wish our aspiring authors had critique partners (or better critique partners). I wish I could tell the author: 'your story doesn't start until page 3' or 'your beginning and your ending must relate to each other.' Story beginnings are crucial. If I'm not hooked on page one, I usually won't make it to the end of the story. Show me what your story is about on page one.

I suggest authors think more about their story before they begin. What, exactly, is this story about? Who is it about? What's the problem? What's the resolution? What's different at the end of the story? What emotions do you want to evoke in the reader? You don't have to write these answers down, but you should know them.

Good luck!

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