What Doesn't Work In Short Story Writing

     Every year thousands of submissions pour into offices and flood emails of acquisition editors. Most submissions are rejected, and few returning letters are ever personally written or include any helpful feedback.  Editors claim that it's because they communicate with thousands of writers who all make the same mistakes during the submission process. If you are thinking of submitting a story to an online or in-print journal then make sure to avoid the following pitfalls, which are unfortunately common.
Bad Formatting: Don't use any unusual fonts or any gimmicky techniques that could obscure your manuscript text. Font should be 12 point Courier or Times Roman. Don't auto justify text and remember to set the page to double space paragraphing. Include contact information in your manuscript as well as headers that identify the piece, the author and the page number. 

Bad Writing: This particular quibble doesn't refer to bad structural writing (a problem all in itself) but rather bad punctuation, bad spelling and bad grammar. Use a spell and grammar check system on the Internet rather than relying on your default MS Word spell checker. Read the manuscript aloud to find any problems with clarity. Proofread more than once before submitting your piece. Once an editor sees a blatant error, he or she usually tosses the whole piece. 

Formulaic Plot: You may think that your brilliant idea is being unjustly overlooked, when in actuality it is being rejected for being too trite. If you don't read much then you probably won't know the cliches and dated trends that various genres have outgrown. Think original and compare your work to the work of others.

Lack of Foundation: Though a writer can get away with murder in experimental stories or literary pieces in regards to plausibility, in genre fictions like horror and sci-fi the writer is expected to play up to his or her audience and approach even the most fantastic elements with a strong sense of realism. Science fiction publishers are very interested in the foundation of a writer's speculative piece. When you avoid the dialogue or the exposition that would make such an event believable, the editor instantly loses respect for your writing style.

Graphic Sex/Violence: Most publishers will print a scene of sexuality or graphic violence, so long as it is artistically driven. This does not necessarily mean they will enjoy an ultra-violent or sexually charged story even if it is relevant to the plot. If sex or violence is the plot, then there's not much story involved. Keep in mind some of these publications cater to a younger audience. If the parents of those younger readers found out about the extreme content in the magazine, that could mean the loss of a subscription.  

Bad Storytelling: Far more complex than it sounds. Because editors receive so many submitted manuscripts they must scrutinize them carefully. Many writers make common mistakes in story structure that compromise the integrity of the work and make it an easy candidate for rejection. If the story elements are not complete then it may be seen as the work of an amateur, even if the prose is well written.

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Posted on 2012-09-22, By: *

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