- Do have correct spelling and grammar.
- Do grab the editor with an intriguing or dramatic opening and/or title.
- An odd juxtaposition of people and/or events, e.g. The Emergency Sock.
- Some telling narrative. Sometimes the first line of an excellent story is the author telling the reader something, e.g. Dying is so inconvenient.
- A unique voice. (For an example here, read something by Connie Willis.)
- A unique world (this is spec fic, after all).
- A problem or conflict on the first page.
- Do write a story that makes sense. Have a friend to read your story and then ask them what happened. If they can't tell you: rewrite.
- Do create well-rounded characters. All characters should have both good and bad qualities.
- Do write good dialogue. Reading dialogue out loud can help identify where it's awkward. Keep in mind fictional dialogue should not be the same as real-life dialogue. -->it should be better.
- Do have a resolution to your story. Something has to be different at the end of your story.
- If you include violence, earn it. By this I mean the reader needs to care about a character to care about their death or him/her committing violence. Think about the opening of a movie: if the first scene is someone being killed do we care about the victim or the murderer? Probably not. Violence for violence's sake isn't interesting.
- Your suggestion here.