We've been making some progress on getting through the slush pile, so here are some more tips in no particular order...
- Put your story hook in the beginning of your story. I strongly recommend it appear on page 1. There's a school of thought that recommends you start fiction with the ordinary world. This can work, but you don't want to bore the reader. I think readers, including editors, have less patience now than they used to. If you have the cool reveal that your protagonist is a god in the middle of the story, readers might not get that far.
- Seriously consider avoiding Urban Fantasy creatures including vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc. It is very difficult to put a fresh spin on these. We'd love to see some creatures from more obscure mythologies. Are there any interesting fables in your ethnic or cultural background?
- Don't use non-said or non-asked dialogue tags. You can use different verb tenses of say and ask but use anything else at your own peril. Why? It pulls the reader out of the story. Can you really moan, sigh, hiss, grunt words? No-ooooo-ooooo.
- Speaking of which, writing out screams of horror is rarely effective. Gaaaahhhhhhh! In general, macabre fiction is difficult. It should be spooky or creepy rather than bloody. Bloody horror is more suited to visual media.
- Keep market in mind. Over the past nine (!) years we've created a specific Electric Spec 'brand.' In particular, our stories must have a speculative element. Our stories have dialogue. Our stories have protagonists. In our stories something happens. Our stories are mostly showing rather than telling. Our stories have a resolution. We like unique fresh stories.