25 January 2010

How To Get in Hold-for-Voting

Sorry the blog has been a bit quiet, but the editors have been hard at work on the upcoming February 2010 issue of Electric Spec. As usual, the stories that made it into our Hold-for-Voting file are very good and it is difficult to choose among them. I thought I'd give a bit of advice for authors who didn't make it into that file...

How To Get in Hold-for-Voting:
  • Do have a unique protagonist. Create a protagonist who has special power(s), has an unusual ethnic or biological heritage, or lives in an unusual time or place. Another way to accomplish this is to have a unique voice with a lot of personality.
  • Do include a fresh twist. The easiest way to do this is to combine elements of speculative fiction: fantasy plus science fiction plus horror or some combination thereof. Adding humor can make a trope fresh. Another way to do this is to combine two or more Earth mythologies or cultures to create something new. Of course, the best thing would be to write something we've never seen before (good luck!). A word of warning: men killing their wives or girlfriends is rarely fresh.
  • Do write specific. Writing specific is crucial for world-building. When you use a nouns, use a specific nouns. For example, "a beat-up blue Beetle" is much more interesting than "a car". (Who drives this? :) )
  • Do write beautiful prose. I assume you know your grammar and spelling rules. Often I find metaphors and similes differentiate good writing from great writing. Write beautiful similes and metaphors that are unique and specific to your world and characters. Be extra careful with character descriptions; a laundry list of hair color, eye color, height, etc. is rarely effective. Instead, show the reader the most significant aspects of your characters.
  • Do have a plot and character arc. Electric Spec is a genre market and we do want a plot arc and if possible, a character arc. Regarding plot, this means your protagonist must act, not react. It's fine if your protag is not successful. Regarding character, this means the reader must understand the protagonist's motivation and the protag should learn something in the course of his/her/its adventures.

Feel free to add further suggestions in the comments.
Good luck!


writtenwyrdd said...

A helpful list! Thanks for sharing.

Helen said...

I’ve been most successful using your last suggestion. Nothing else has worked. I’m unable to “stack” these for some reason, so I’d love to figure that out, but thanks for the tips so far.

Helen Neely