15 August 2017

behind the scenes production

We're working hard on the awesome August 31, 2017 issue of Electric Spec. Last week we had our production meeting. Things went pretty smoothly; our current group of editors has definitely figured out how to make issue decisions. Editors do advocate for their favorite stories and usually end up editing them if they're successful.
If your story made it into hold-for-voting you should have heard back from an editor with a thumbs-down, if relevant. We're still sending out a few of the thumbs-up. Thumbs-ups get a congratulations email with a contract and a request for a bio and some optional wise words for the blog. Stay tuned for these wise words right here in August.

Once we hear back from authors about the contract, we start the hard work of actually editing the stories. This can be as simple as a few minor grammar/spelling suggestions all the way to a rewrite. Of course we don't ask authors to change story essences. We wouldn't have bought the stories if we didn't think they were good. Editing is all about making the story the best possible version of itself. Editors work with authors to make this happen.

The final stage of production is creating the web pages for the issue. We've gotten a pretty good handle on this as well over the years. All that's left is final author approvals and publication. Yay! We relish the new issue, appreciating and savoring all the great new stories.

Of course, then, the whole process begins again, starting with slush...

Check out the new issue on August 31 2017!

08 August 2017

slush tips: speculation

I believe the Electric Spec Editors have recently finished with slush. Please note we rarely keep a story longer than a hundred and thirty-five days because of our quarterly production schedule. Each issue accepts submissions for approximately ninety days (three months). Our production schedule then takes approximately forty-five days (a month and a half). This means if you sent us your story within the ninety-day August-2017-issue submission window, you should have heard 'No, thanks,' or 'We're going to hold this for voting,' from us by now. If you haven't heard, resubmit.

One unique thing to speculative fiction is some kind of speculative element. Every story we hold-for-voting has a speculative element. By speculative element I mean an element of fantasy, science fiction, and/or macabre horror. This could be characters such as: elves, witches, vampires, werewolves, secondary-world royals, aliens, robots, AIs, ghosts, murderers, etc. Or, it could be situations, e.g. what would happen if we got immortality? Or, it could be setting, e.g. outer space or a spooky haunted mansion. The point is: there must be some kind of speculative element. If not: rejection. Sorry, not sorry.

Once in a while we get a story in which we can't tell for sure if it has a speculative element, e.g. alternate histry (is it alternate enough?). Those we just have to take on a case by case basis. Those sometimes cause arguments at the production meeting.

Anyway, rest assured we are working hard on the awesome August 2017 issue. Stay tuned for more info!

01 August 2017

slush tips: plot

We are still in the thick of it behind the scens at Electric Spec. We're still reading slush. Sadly, we can't give 'no thanks' authors critiques. So here I continue to give some tips I wish I could give authors directly.

A crucial story element especially for speculative fiction is an external plot. Notice this is genre-dependent. Mainstream or literary fiction might not necessarily have an external plot. I'd be surprsied if it didn't have an internal plot associated with it, however. This would be some kind of internal change in the character. Good speculative fiction should also have an internal plot.

So what is external plot? This is what I'm calling: the character has a problem, the character accepts or rejects the call to action, the character does something resulting in something being different in the external world. The external world difference can only be with regard to the character, that's fine. So, the bottom line for authors is: if I read your story and nothing is different at the end...I am most likely going to pass. :(

Another tip: it's very difficult to have a successful external plot without any dialogue. So if your story has no dialogue it is a red flag for me. If you don't have dialogue you are probably telling a story rather than showing a story. That's a perfectly effective way to convey a story--but not how we convey stories at Electric Spec.

We are accepting submissions for our final issue of 2017. Send us your stories!