29 March 2016

story throughline

We are starting to work through our slush pile for the marvelous May 2016 issue of Electric Spec. Sometimes a story starts of strong but then sort of falls apart. :( I hate it when that happens.

Authors should consider: what is your story's throughline? There are several different definitions of 'throughline.' Don't get bogged down in definitions. The point is: what is the central idea of your story? It needs to be evident in the first scene and in the last scene.
A story that peters out often starts with one central idea and then, somewhere in the middle, switches to another idea. This rarely works.

Personally, I tend to use the protagonist's main problem with its emotional component. Remember, one of your jobs as an author is to affect readers' emotions. Thus, scene one at least alludes to the protagonist's main problem and shows his/her/its accompanying emotions. The middle of the story is essentially the protagonist acting to solve the problem. The last scene is the solution to the problem with the accompanying emotions.

You don't have to do what I do, but you should have a throughline--some kind of consistency from the beginning to the end of your story.
Your central idea can be anything!

I look forward to reading what it is. Send us your story.

25 March 2016

please don't query

We've been getting an uptick in the number of queries we get about submitted stories. Please don't do this. We get hundreds of stories. We don't have the manpower, er, personpower to answer queries about stories. Thanks!

Happy weekend!

22 March 2016


I've heard it said that readers of fantastic fiction must suspend disbelief. Some sources attribute this to Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817:
...procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith...
I do think readers need poetic faith to enjoy any fiction. Authors should also play their part, however, by creating an internally consistent world.

When it comes to science fiction, it is additionally important for readers to suspend confusion. If can be hard to get into a SF story when new worlds, new technologies, new jargon are being thrown at you. But, SF readers, never fear! It's worth it, if you persevere. :)

These different approaches are due to the inherent and deep-seated differences between fantasy and SF. Fantastic fiction is the earliest type of fiction. To some extent, all fiction is fantastic.
Modern SF, on the other hand, originated in the 17th and 18th centuries' Age of Reason with its scientific discoveries. Thus, at its core, SF is rational. All phenomena should be explained, or at least be able to be explained.

Here at Electric Spec we love both fantastic fiction and SF!
Send us your stories!

15 March 2016

writing rules

There are a lot of writing rules, tips and suggestions out there. (I give them all the time. mea culpa) Probably the most famous for Electric Spec readers and writers are Robert A. Heinlein's rules for writing:
  1. You must write.
  2. You must finish what you write.
  3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
  4. You must put the work on the market.
  5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
SF Author Robert J. Sawyer adds
        6. Start working on something else.

Personally, I agree with all these rules.

But...absolutely, positively, the only rule of writing you need to follow is:
There are no rules of writing.
Writers can get bogged down reading writer's blogs or chasing down the best methods or rules. Don't fall in this trap.

Just do whatever works for you!

08 March 2016

Write it! Submit it!

Phew! We're all still basking in the glow of the fabulous February 29, 2016 issue of Electric Spec.


Check it out if you haven't already!

I went to a very interesting short story workshop recently in which we were forced to write and submit a bunch of short stories in a relatively short time period. I gleaned some things which I want to share with you all.

  1. Write the (first draft of the) story! There's no magic potion or circumstance you need to write a short story. Just do it!
    I've blogged here many times about how to write a short story, for example, see Short Story Cheat Sheet. In a nutshell, you need a protagonist, a problem, and the protagonist needs to do something to try to solve the problem.

  2. Revise the story. I am a strong believer is following your muse. Part of that is figuring out what writing method works for you. Some people can dash off one draft of a story and have it be perfect. I am not one of those people. I need at least one reader to set eyes on it and tell me things like, "This character is too stupid to live." And then I can say, "Now that you mention it, oh, yeah..."
    So, figure out what writing method works for you. FYI-every writer has their own method.

    Be warned, however, don't get trapped in revision. Don't let this step stop you from the next step.

  3. Submit the story! Again, there's no magic potion needed here. Find a market and send it out! A helpful place to find markets is ralan.com.

    Of course, we would love to get your story here at Electric Spec. :)

Good luck!

01 March 2016


Huzzah! The February 29, 2016 issue of Electric Spec is live!

Thank you very much Authors Kate Sheeran Swed, Patricia Russo, Nina Shepardson, Tiffany Michelle Brown, and Daniel Brock.

Thank you very much Artist Ron Sanders.

Thank you very much Associate Editors Minta Monroe, Candi Cooper-Towler and Chris Devlin.
I don't know if it's strictly kosher, but I'm also going to thank Editors Nikki Baird and Grayson Towler.

Finally, thank you very much readers!

Huzzah for all of you! We couldn't have done it without you.