|Editor of your dreams...|
|Slush reader of your reality.|
So... about the time Proser's started, I signed on to be a slush reader at a SFWA qualifying market. I'm not going to say which one, because anomininity and what not, and because then it's like an unopened Christmas present. Could be anything... even the market you just submitted to...
Dun, dun, dun...
Secret number two. Endings aren't as important as beginnings, but they are dang important. One of the stories I read this last month was well written, had interesting characters, and interesting situation...and an ending that made "I woke up and it was all a dream" endings seem Shakespearean*. The ending undercut the powerful beginning, and it ultimately it got a no from me. Endings do matter. That should be a no-brainer, but use your brain, and make an ending that makes the story matter.
Secret number three. Keep your purple prose away from the first thirteen lines. The stories that do well have language that let's you fall into them. Keep the word choice simple. Give me a character I can care about in a situation that is clear, and be concise. Give me a chance to wade into your story.
Secret number four. Give me an awesome first sentence. There was a story I read this month with a great first sentence. The rest of the story wasn't anything that special, if I'm being honest, but the first sentence was so good the story got a yes from me. It probably wont go past the second gateway, but a good first sentence will get you half-way there. Follow it up with a good story and you have gold money in the bank.
Secret number five. Speaking of money in the bank, if you make me laugh once, you automatically get a yes from me. I've heard the advice that you should stay away from humor, because everyone has a different sense of humor, and it might offend the editors... The almighty editors who work in those high rise buildings and have showered... Those editors.
False. Was it Oscar Wilde who said, "if you want to tell the truth, make them laugh or else they will kill you."... Something like that. Use humor. Use it like you use hope. It'll make your story stand out.
Secret number six. I've also heard the theory that you shouldn't submit a story until your writing is publishable, because the editors (those editors) will remember a bad story and not like you anymore. And possibly kill your cat.
Let me tell you a secret... if I remember your story, then you are doing something right. If you can create a story that resonates enough that it stands out from the crowd , even for being horrible, then you are on your way to brilliance.
Also... I read blind. Yes, you read that right. I don't ever know who it is who wrote what. I get the title, the story, and yes no or maybe. That's it.
Secret number seven. When I started, I thought I would be the slush reader I would want my story to get. I read every story all the way through. Some stories I read twice, trying to get the nugget of gold out of it. But then, as more and more stories came into my Que, I stopped caring about the writer. Sorry, but it's true. I only care about the reader, and the magazine. I don't want the reader to read something that is less than great, because it would make the writer of the story happy to get a yes. The reader is king, and your stories are not your soul, they are your product.
Give me your best, and I will give you a yes.
And that's no secret.
* If you don't know why I'm giggling, go read more Shakespeare.