I’d been asked a while back to give a few thoughts on slush reading. I’ve read a bit of slush here and there – not a lot, but some. I also did the first screening reading flash fiction submissions for Paul Genesse. He’s editing the first volume of the Crimson Pact (March 2011! Be there!).
So here’s some general observations:
- Nearly every story has redeeming qualities. The few that aren’t are usually not stories. What do I mean by “not stories”? They don’t have a plot, or a beginning, middle, or end.
- Flash fiction is harder. Why? Every word has to count. Every. Last. Word. And then it has to count again.
- Simple cover letters are better. Especially with flash fiction, your story sells it, not the cover letter.
- Grammar is your friend. Buy Yoda’s story, I would not.
- Read the guidelines. And when in doubt, follow standard manuscript format.
- Avoid the standard tropes. The list is here.
There’s one last one that doesn’t apply to writers:
Don’t give them specifics about the rejection.
Oh, don’t look at me like that. Something is nice – for example, I got one today that said "this story just doesn’t fit with the others in the anthology." That’s a nice thing – it lets my ego survive. 🙂 But if you start giving details (unless you’re specifically asking for a rewrite), then you’re simply inviting drama.
Have you ever read slush? What was your experience like?