Inside Look at Dead West Part III: Pulling Weeds

Posted: February 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

With submissions at the 100 mark or so, I’m now at the point where I’m looking at which stories I want, and which stories I really want. I’ll say this, it’s one hell of a tough job. Maybe I’m too easy to please but I’ve liked or enjoyed something out of almost all of the stories I’ve read thus far. Yes, there have been a few stinkers, yet considering the ratio of good or great stories to mediocre or bad ones is surprisingly in my favor. While I’m relieved to not have to wade through a pile of badly written, or worse, boring, stories, the sheer amount of quality work, makes it very difficult to pick only 13.

You may ask, what it is I’m looking for, what makes one story worthy and another one a reject? First and foremost, it’s story, story, story. Did I get hooked from the first paragraph? If so, did the rest of the story of live up to its promise? If that was met, it goes in the possibility pile.

Next is the mechanics and format. Did the author follow the standard format as  written in the guidelines? Are there any gross spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or plot holes? If not it gets another check, if so, it’s on the way out.

Next is length, and this is where all the stories are on a level playing field. Since I only have 13 slots to fill, and a fairly set word count, I have to fit the stories together, not only by length, but by the stories pace. Slower stories are fine if they keep your interest, but they need to be balanced with faster paced tales.  If I need a shorter fast paced tale for space requirements, I’ll take that over a longer piece no matter that pace. It doesn’t mean one is necessarily better than the other but one meets my word count requirement for the whole collection. This is really the hardest part, and where I’m currently at. As of today I’ve already got about 6 slots filled, and the last seven will really be difficult.

This brings me to the final thing I look for, and it’s nothing more than a gut feeling. I may like a story, but have to have the stomach tightening feeling; the one that makes me say, “This is it!”  Even with one story which is a reprint,  I had that feeling. It’s a knowing that it not only fits in with the theme of the book, but I can’t wait for people to read it, to get their reactions.

so far, I’m really giddy with what I have. However, as slots fill up, I know that rejections will have to go out, and that saddens me, as I hate to get them as much as I hate sending them. Yet, that’s part of being an editor. It’s not always easy to tell someone I”m not taking their submission, even though I know it’s nothing personal. Remember behind that rejection is an editor with feelings as well as the person receiving it.

  1. khkoehler says:

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll!