Hard Sells

NO SEXIST STORIES:

We look poorly upon any story featuring misogyny or violence against women. Please don’t send us stories where the main characters think things about women such as “her place is in the kitchen” or “that (expletive) is better off dead” or about stalkers peering through the blinds or hiding in the back of cars. No more making the female characters a plot point only so you can terrify them and then save them – particularly no more “pretending” to terrify the female character only to have a twist happen to show that.. haha!..the female wasn’t really in danger after all! And for the record, we don’t accept stories that do the gender swap and put men in the same position to be considered as playthings or tortured. It’s not edgy, and it’s not okay. 

2nd POV:

We’re all writers around here. We understand about the desire to push the envelope, to experiment with form or structure or point of view. We’ve also seen some pretty amazing results from authors doing just that. However, after the thousands of stories we’ve read, second-person point of view is not only hard to write well, it’s hard to read. I’m not saying ‘do not send’ 2nd POV stories. I’m just saying it’s not likely to be well-received here.

POLEMICAL FICTION:

We don’t have anything against a story having a message, but we prefer stories with a message, rather than messages told as a story. Does that make any sense? In other words, if you have an agenda to vent in the form of a story, it’s probably not for us. If you are talented enough to hide your agenda in a really well-written story, well, we’ll see.

EVIL HUMAN RACE:

I’m afraid this is fast becoming the most trite and overdone of all fiction trends—evil humans are responsible for a) all the world’s ills, and/or b) the destruction of the world. Or, related to it, vastly superior aliens justify their complete destruction of the evil, wasteful human race. Sorry for being an optimist, but I have more faith in the human race than that. And more faith in aliens, for that matter.

SURPRISE!:

Surprise! The hero is actually a _____________________ (Fill in the blank with any one of a number of potential choices—the villain, a vampire, a cat. Use your imagination. No, actually, don’t.) In reality, any story in which the ending is an unsupported surprise isn’t going to be received with much enthusiasm.

DIVERSITY?:

Characters with differing religious and/or political beliefs from the author are lampooned, stupid, crazy, evil, etc. Ugh.

WHO??:

We’re not hugely keen on stories with unnamed main characters. Hiding your main character’s name is not a new idea. It just isn’t a frequently published idea because, to be frank, it doesn’t work. Simply giving your main character a name, an identity, in the first line or two of a story will do more to draw your reader into the story than just about anything else. If you’re writing in first person POV, it’s not always possible to identify your character by name, and that’s fine. But it would be nice to at least have a clear identify–gender/species/age, etc.

DOWNERS:

Call it a sign of the times, but we’re seeing a lot of stories about downtrodden characters and depressing, hopeless situations these days. While many of them are very good, even worthy of publication, we’re tiring of the hopeless. Don’t get me wrong. A good portion of our staff, including yours truly, have a place in those shadowy recesses of our psyches for well-done dark fiction. But there’s dark, and then there’s just plain downer for downer’s sake. At any rate, during the Great Depression/war the popular media made a concerted effort to produce hopeful and uplifting books, films, and radio shows to encourage a downhearted public. After reading hundreds of unhappy stories, we’re sort of wishing for something like that to happen now.

BLOOD and VIOLENCE:

Hopefully NOT a sign of the times, we’re also seeing a lot of stories concerning suicide, serial killers, and violence against children. Again, I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever publish such stories, but the odds are stacked heavily against it.

 

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