A tip for short stories

I received several emails about my previous post regarding the Abaculus 2007 story list. Questions as to why those stories were chosen, and not theirs, what made those stories stand out, and what they can do to their story to make it better.

Tip #1

First off, the most simple and straightforward tip I can give is proofread. We received many submissions that looked like the writer whipped it out and emailed it to us without rereading it. Incomplete sentences, lots of misspellings, bad or no punctuation…it’s all very distracting, and when there’s a pile of manuscripts as high as you are tall to get through in the next week, it makes the editor toss it aside.

Tip #2

Follow directions. If we say we only take science fiction, fantasy, and horror submissions, we don’t want to receive a story about a romantic getaway, or about their baseball camp experiences…

Also, for future reference, all of the editors at Leucrota Press hate the movies Saw, Saw II, Saw III, The Hitcher, Hostel, and anything remotely similar. So do not send us a story simply full of torture, rape, making grated skin-cheese as a hobby, or a hack-job version of Dragon without any plot, characterization or meaning. If you’re into sadistic machoist crap, keep a diary or play with dolls. Don’t bring it here.

Tip #3

Our favorite aspect of a story is characterization. Bring the characters to life, round them out, give them unique personalities and voices, and you’ve already piqued our interest.

Tip #4

A suggestion for a rewriting your story or for future stories – what you need is an angle, or a twist that is new and off the beaten path. You’ve read or at least heard of several different versions of Little Red Riding Hood, or Cinderella. It’s the same basic storyline, yet certain versions stick out in your mind, as well as the public’s. You need to do that – take a story and pull out certain facets that would be unique and completely different from what the next guy would do. Then, you will have your edge.

Overall

Most of the stories we chose were not necessarily the most epic fantasy, the fastest or most high-paced space chase, or the gruesome murder…no, they were ones that were different. They stuck out in our heads, because they hadn’t been done before, or the author had tried something new with an old story. And they worked, and that’s why we chose them.

That’s what you need to do to catch our attention.

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