Monday, October 1, 2012
Reading Stories OMG
Stories. Like so many things, stories are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. They are what they are. The one thing they’re not is perfect. Many novice writers seem to think there are perfect stories and they keep striving to create one. What a story is or is not is right for a particular project. It amazes me how many so-called writers do not seem to grasp this fundamental concept. They keep listening to people of dubious skill in some critique group tell them nonsense about something they have created. When, in reality, the only person’s opinion that matters at all is the one person’s opinion they seem to avoid. Still don’t know my point? As I was winding down the reading for the latest anthology I’ve been working on, I got the rush of last second stories across the transom at the very last minutes of the reading period. This happens every time. Writers hold their stories, waiting and waiting before submitting. To no avail. My experience has been most of the people advising writers don’t know what they’re talking about. They are rarely editors and do not look at a story from an editor’s perspective. What leaps off the page to my eyes goes unnoticed to theirs. And, where I might’ve been able to suggest a way to fix something, I cannot because time has now run out and I have to move on to other things. Yes, those stories writers have fiddled with for weeks, sometimes months, are usually worse than the stories that come in early in the reading cycle. For all of their fizzing and critiquing and what not, their effort is essentially wasted. Their stories will not be selected. Yet they will go back to their critique group and repeat the process yet again. And, most often, the result will be the same. Oh, how I dread these last days of a reading period.