We just finished reading through 240+ stories for our new anthology. Other people have echoed similar sentiments, but reading slush really highlights things I’ve done as a writer that I probably want to rethink. I thought I might share some of the things I’ve seen over five years of slush.
This post got longer than intended so I’m breaking this up into two posts. You’re welcome.
I’ll try to focus more on things I could do better. When using examples from things we’ve edited, I’ll also try to highlight things from Mad Scientist Journal rather than anything recent.
Before I dig in, here are some disclaimers:
- I dislike the idea of “conventional wisdom.” In part because of survivorship bias. In part because there are constant exceptions to any rule that gets laid down.
- One of the many pearls of wisdom I learned from James Gunn’s writer’s workshop is: never give an editor an excuse to say, “No.” There’s value in knowing why an editor will say no.
- I say “editors” because it’s what I am and what I know. This could apply to agents, publishers, or other literary gatekeepers you want to impress. But I’m just going to say editors because I’m lazy.
- The advice here is about controlling what you can actually control. The universe is fickle and there are variables that you have no way to know about or plan for. So focus on what you can actually do.