Here's some advice for potential Electric Spec authors based on reading slush:
- Focus on the first page. If the first page has a lot of spelling or grammar issues editors are less inclined to keep reading. If the first page is confusing editors are less inclined to keep reading. I should know who the protagonist is, where he/she/it is, when he/she/it is. Refer to each character consistently via one name. Don't put a lot of specialized terms or jargon that I can't figure out from the context on page one. I shouldn't be asking 'What's going on here?'
- Do have a unique protagonist. Every real person is different, so every fictional person should certainly be different. The more unique they are, the better. How do you create a unique protagonist? Virtually everything in the story should be colored or interpreted through the protagonist's perceptions. Specific details also help here. For example, a new Lamborghini Veneno Roadster is different from a dented 2007 Nissan Versa and tells us something different about the character(s) that own them. And FYI: telling the reader the characters' hair color will not create unique characters.
- Do have a unique twist on plot. Notice I didn't say a unique plot; I'm not sure those exist. For example, a story about zombies taking over is not unique. A story about zombies getting better was unique--the first time. A tip: if your plot has been made into a TV/cable show or a movie is it not unique/twisty enough. In particular, human men killing other humans or aliens is hard to make unique. A surprise reveal at the end that the protagonist is really an alien is hard to make unique.
- Do have nice smooth prose. I recommend reading aloud to catch awkward sections. Generally, you don't want to repeat the same word within a sentence. If your prose is not smooth it takes me out of the story. Don't make me stop and ask 'What is the author trying to say here?' Any time I'm taken out of the story it gives me an opportunity to think 'I should reject this.'
- For Electric Spec we like stories with a plot. This means something needs to be different at the end of the story than it is at the beginning of the story.
- Do show. You can tell, you just need to do some showing as well. Telling is summarizing and puts a layer of author between the reader and the characters. Dialogue is a good way to show. :)
We sincerely thank you for sending your stories in!