24 June 2014


Recently, one of my writing groups was discussing how we approach a story. Most folks had at least an idea about the beginning and the ending. I didn't hear a lot of enthusiasm, or even planning, about middles. I'm not surprised. Are you? In my own writing, too often middles become muddles. :( Unfortunately, as an editor, if I get lost in a muddle, that leads to rejection.

Luckily, short fiction is easier, in some ways, than long fiction. In the beginning, you must hook the reader; you must set up the story problem. In the middle, you must make things worse for the protagonist(s). The story problem gets even more dire. Also in the middle, you must set up the protagonists with the tools to succeed--even as it looks like they will fail. Piece of cake, right? Ha!

How you do this is totally up to you. If you have to write a muddle and then rewrite it, so be it. I have personally rewritten many a muddle. Having some one else read your work may help you identify muddles. "What happened here, in the middle?" Please don't send us your muddle. :)

Good luck with your middles!

In other news, the deadline for the awesome August 2014 issue of Electric Spec is approaching. Submissions need to be in by July 15 for consideration. Thanks!

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!

03 June 2014

the latest issue

I hope everyone's still enjoying the new issue of Electric Spec. In addition to the excellent stories by Barton Paul Levenson, Mark Webb, Kathryn Yelinek, Jason Sturner, and Melinda Brasher, we have some other interesting items… In passing I mentioned Editor Betsy's interview of fantasy author Brian McClellan. Check it out to find out what inspired his world, McClellan's writing style, how he does research, how he plans his books, and other tidbits.

Also in this issue, Editor Dave shares a flash-y story, "Forgetting." How many words do we need to tell a story? What's flash fiction? I forget…. :)

In this issue we also have an interesting article about movies from our longtime columnist Marty Mapes. If you love speculative fiction and movies, I highly recommend you read his columns over the years. This time, he discusses "Under the Skin." Have you seen it? Do you agree or disagree with Marty's take?

We welcome any and all comments about the issue.

Now, off to work on the upcoming awesome August 30, 2014 issue!
Send in your stories!

02 June 2014


Discerning readers deduced we went live with the latest issue of Electric Spec on June 1, 2014! Hurrah!
If you were one of the folks waiting for the issue with bated breath, our apologies for not publishing on May 31 as advertised. :( Sometimes technology is a hindrance instead of a help.

A resounding Thank you! goes out to our authors, our artist, our columnist, the technical staff and our associate editor, Nikki Baird! We really appreciate everyone's contributions.