Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Slush it to me!

Confession time: I started reading slush at Fantasy magazine, and I have to say that I like it. 80% of the time, I wind up reading the entire story, because I'm a neurotic jerk like that. I want to know what happens, damn it!

But I've learned something from the process that I desperately hope I can take to my own writing. I've learned after achieving a certain level of craft, there's really one one thing you need to make from my pile of slush to the editor's desk. It's not using fancy metaphors or exotic language. It's not something you could put in a cover letter. It's not anything you could learn in an MFA program. It's just one small thing. Can you guess what it is?

Don't be boring.

Now once the boss-man gets your story, your prose probably gets scrutinized and the publishing schedule gets looked over. Lots and lots of criteria rolls into place. But the biggest hurdle for an unknown writer is making it to the editor's desk in the first place. And all you have to do is manage a reasonable proficiency at writing--while not boring people like me.

There's a lot that goes into not being boring. I brought up some requirements back in March in my post "Lessons from Free Fiction." I back every last claim in that piece, and if I was your critique partner, I would rip through your piece and point out every ugly incidence. On top of those recommendations, I would suggest working on your world-building and character creation. If they're unique and interesting, a slow story can still rock my socks.

Anybody else have any good suggestions to cut the boring right out of your short fiction?

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