28 April 2015

the whole package

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are finishing reading slush this week and moving on to choosing stories for the May 31, 2015 Electric Spec issue. I find this step (choosing) difficult because all the stories in hold-for-voting are good. This step is probably the most subjective. What do I look for? Well, I'll tell you: the whole package. In terms of stories this means:
  1. The story has a unique voice. This can be rendered via the protagonist's point-of-view or the prose or a beautifully-rendered world or something else. Basically, I want to get lost in the story.
  2. The story has a unique plot. I choose stories with plots I haven't read before. However, if the voice is lovely enough, this can be superseded.
  3. The story has a unique protagonist. IMHO every protagonist should be flawed in some way and be gifted in some way. The protagonist's unique qualities then should drive the plot problem and solution. I want to believe the protagonist is, or could be, a real person.
  4. The story is in a genre I prefer. Subjective-me really likes urban fantasy and hard SF and especially stories with time-travel and/or quantum physics. I like other types of fantasy and soft SF and macabre horror. In general, I prefer man-against-nature stories over man-against-man stories. I enjoy humorous stories (but humor itself is very subjective). I don't like stories with a cruel tone. I have been known to black-ball stories with rape, especially kid rape. Caveat Scriptor.
  5. Finally, there are editorial concerns: The story is mostly free of grammar and spelling errors. (Error-filled stories are more difficult to edit.) The story isn't super long (These are more work to edit). The story can't be similar to one we published before.
And then, of course, at the production meeting we have to worry about things like issue balance, meaning, for example, we can't publish 5 zombie stories.
But the production meeting is a post for another time...(like next week!)

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