30 April 2019

hard at work!

We, the Electric Spec Editors, are hard at work on the next issue. The good news is we have lots of awesome stories to choose from. The bad news is we have lots of awesome stories to choose from.

I better get back to it.

Next week I'll let you know what happened at the production meeting...

23 April 2019

show and tell

All the editors are hip-deep in slush, getting ready for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. None of us like to do it, but we do have to reject stories. To avoid this, I have a tip...

As kids we are asked to "tell a story." In creative writing classes, student-authors are often told to "show, don't tell." And, experienced authors know "there are no real writing rules." If all this seems contradictory to you, it's because it is!

When I'm reading slush, however, I look for authors who show and tell. Moreover, I look for authors who show and tell on the first page. This usually means some kind of scene-setting (telling) and some kind of dialogue (showing). The telling could be describing characters. The showing could be in-the-moment protagonist thoughts/reactions. This could be _your_idea_here_. I don't care what the showing and telling are, but the combo usually leads to effective storytelling.

In addition, savvy writers know the writerly trick: use telling in the first sentence. Think of some of the most famous first lines, e.g. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "I am an invisible man..." I'm sure you can think of other examples.

Send us your showing and telling stories for the August issue!

Soon, we'll start discussing the marvelous May issue!

16 April 2019

As you know, Bob

We are hard at work on the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec. (The submission deadline was yesterday, April 15. But you can submit now for the August 2019 issue.) We are going through the slush pile.

I recently read a story that had quite a bit of 'As you know, Bob...' dialogue. This is a crutch whereby the author is telling the reader something in the story that the characters already know. It reads as very unnatural and stilted. For example, "As you know, the lizard king hatches from an egg, so we are going to look for the egg cache." Don't do this. It's a variety of info-dump.

It's so easy to avoid! Just make one or more of your characters more ignorant. :) For example, "Where are the lizard eggs?"

A good way to test for this is to read only your dialogue out loud. Does it sound like a conversation? Does it make sense? Does it impart needed information? If not, consider trimming it.

We'll start bragging on the new issue is about two weeks...

09 April 2019

Politics of all kinds

The submisison deadline for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec is coming up soon: April 15, 2019. Get those stories in!

I was reading slush and an author inadvertently (I assume it was inadvertent) offended me with politics. As I'm using the word, politics can cover a myriad of topics from Democrats and Republicans in the USA, other political entities in other countries, to different religions, to various companies (Coke versus Pepsi, anyone?). Authors don't necessarily know an editor's affiliations. Thus, authors run the risk of offending them when they write a story with a negative slant to one 'political' party. Bottom line: I rejected that story.

What's a poor writer to do? Use his/her imagination! We are talking about fiction here, folks. I have no problem reading a negative story about the Remocrats or the Depublicans, for example.

Of course, writing is a creative endeavour, so if your story demands 'political' negativity, go for it. Just don't try to sell it here.

Good luck with your stories, positive or negative, political or apolitical!

02 April 2019

Earn Your Death

The submission deadline for the marvelous May 31, 2019 issue of Electric Spec is right around the corner: April 15, 2019! Get those stories in to be considered for this issue.

We've started going through the massive slush pile. (Thank you for sending us your stories!) I've got a tip...

Earn Your Death. Often authors kill off their protagonists and other characters in their stories. And why not? It's dramatic. Unfortunately, if it's not earned, it has less of an emotional impact. How do you earn your death? By making the reader emotionally invested in the character that dies. How do you get the reader emotinoally invested? There are many ways including:

  • use very specific details
  • show other characters caring about the character
  • show the character as an underdog, e.g. a victim of a tragedy or bullying
  • show the character act heroic, e.g. save the cat<--this is a writerly trick wherein the character saves a creature even less powerful than him/herself.
I look forward to reading a lot of stories in which a character I care about dies. :)