19 January 2016

the first tips of 2016

As you're reading this, the submission deadline for the first 2016 issue of Electric Spec has passed. I hope you got your story in! (If not, don't fear: we are accepting submissions for the second issue of 2016.) We are hard at work on the new issue.
Here are some tips which may or may not pertain to your particular story:
  • Do obey the submissions format guidelines:
    • Submit an rtf file, not a doc file (or anything else).
    • Use the subject line: SUBMISSION: Story Title by Author's Name (Word Count). The word SUBMISSION is particularly important so it gets through our spam filter.
    • Do stay within the 250 to 7000 word limit.
    • Don't do any unusual formatting, such as unusual fonts, headers, pictures, etc.
  • While we're on the topic of guidelines...
    • Please don't query us on the status of your story.
    • Please don't ask us to join your LinkedIn network or anything similar.
    • Please don't send a query about submitting your story. Just send the story.
    • Please send one story at a time.
    • Since we have a variety of editors reading slush, you can address your submission letter to "Dear Editors." But, be aware, this can annoy editors at other markets.
  • Know your market! By this I mean be aware of what stories we have published in the past at Electric Spec. Every zine is different. Some tips for us, which may not be relevant for other zines include:
    • Show us the story! Very generally, narrative is telling. To me, telling reads as a summary of a story rather than as a story. Your story should probably have some dialogue--notice this is showing.
    • I understand creative folks might not be aware of very common tropes, plots, openings, so for your convenience, consider avoiding vanilla versions of the following:
      • The protagonist wakes up in the first scene.
      • The (male) protagonist kills his wife/girlfriend/random woman.
      • The protagonist is revealed as some kind of nonhuman at the end. Surprise! (Not.)
      • The epic male protagonist kills the monster and wins the female.
    • Your story must have a clear speculative element. It is popular in mainstream fiction to write stories which might have a speculative element. See, for example, The Best American Short Stories, 2014. We don't want ambiguity about this.
  • Probably, the biggest tip I can give for stories in general: start your piece at the beginning of the story. We often see stories that contain a lot of setup and filler in the first paragraphs. Look carefully at your story. Ask yourself what it's about, and where does your piece start addressing this?
This is getting a bit long, so I'll end it here.
Thanks for sending us your stories! We appreciate it!

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