publishing, Stories, Uncategorized

Editors Choosing Stories

Imagine an app that lets you capture the email exchange between editors as they work to make the initial selection of stories for inclusion in an anthology. You would probably see comments like the following.
The comments are real. I didn’t identify the writers or their stories, of course. And the editors themselves, I’ll call Billy, Bob & Joe.

Billy: I find that the first read, leading to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’, is pretty quick – just a matter of deciding if the writing’s ok and the story itself is interesting. After that we could compare lists and consolidate the categories. The main editing is obviously with the ‘maybes’ ones, but how many of those we decide to continue with will depend on how many ‘yeses’ we’ve got and the overall length we’re looking for.
Bob: I’m in. Sounds like fun.
Joe: Excellent! Send me some stories and I’ll get right on it!

Billy: Here they all are then, with names and emails removed. You can look at number #23 if you want, but, having read it, I don’t think it’s good enough to justify being included at over twice the maximum word count, even if we’re flexible.

Joe: My first thought on #23 is, we should only have to put up with writers who break the rules if they’re good writers.

Bob: I often tend to spot potential and think, ‘Ah, that story would be great if such and such…’ But it then depends how ready writers are to accept editorial suggestions.

Bob: Some of my choices are pretty soft. Shorter pieces tended to beneift from their brevity (including most of the poetry). In some cases I liked the quality or originality of the writing but wasn’t sure about the subject matter. A few showed promise but didn’t really have an ending.

Joe: Maybe on #12. I have a hard time judging a 20-page mental monologue. It put me to sleep. But, that’s just me.

Bob: You are right. Taste is subjective but there are objective qualities of good writing. A lot of the stories, even if they are competently wrtitten from a nuts and bolts perspective, are still sadly lacking when it comes to pacing, plot, realistic dialogue, that sort of thing — almost perplexingly so, in some cases.

Bob: As far as #24, I can take it or leave it. It would need a ton of cutting even if we did include it.

Billy: Yes on #14, if trimmed – takes a long time to deal with all the characters for no real gain to the story. Otherwise nice.

Joe: Yes on #47. Good story, well written, even if the hidden weapon seemed to magically appear when needed.

Billy: yes on #22 – dry and mischievous humor, nicely done.

Joe: No on #33. All tell, no show. (It could be brilliant in the end, but, my eyes glazed over before I got there.)

Bob: #48 is an okay idea for a story, but the writing is only meh, and the characters are so dull. They felt like unfinished holoprojections of people. I wish they had been. That would’ve been more interesting than the actual story.

Bob: #27 left me flat from the beginning, and you’re spot on about the ending. It was half a mouthful of nothing.

Joe: Maybe on #18. I like poetry that invokes feelings or images but I find these lines too
obscure to tantalize.

Bob: I wish the author of #38 had flipped the ending in some interesting way. As it is, it’s more like a five minute Hallmark made-for-TV special about how nice guys sometimes win after all. Heartwarming, I suppose, but ho-hum.

Joe: No on #16. Well done, but …thousands of words without dialogue until the last paragraph? My mind glassed over before then.

Billy: A minor flurry of submissions at the end, making a very healthy tally of 56 at the deadline. Now for the hard decisions…

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13 thoughts on “Editors Choosing Stories

  1. You have my boundless sympathy. Having read many submissions on Bookkus and Book Country, I mostly had the choice to just walk away or offer some (hopefully) helpful advice in a review. Only once or twice on Bookkus did I take part in discussions regarding publication publication decisions, and in each case it was for well written and plotted books.
    To honor your sufferings, once Rabbit Hole is published send me the names of a bar near each of the three of you and I’ll send each a check for $10 – your first drink is on me!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Perry Palin says:

    I’m in on helping with the bar tabs. Let me know where to send the money.

    I’m a litle confused, though. The comments on #s 23, 12, 24, 33, 48, 27, 38, and 16 all sound like my story, but I only submitted once!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. atthysgage says:

    It was fascinating seeing the yes/no/maybes for each judge. Believe me, we were not all of one opinion. I always assume my opinion is the gold standard and that everyone will agree with me. Reality is more complicated than that.

    Damn reality.

    Liked by 4 people

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