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!