Editing and Reading Observations

From Dean Wesley Smith:

Our job as editors is to try to figure out which stories the readers of our publications will like. But if you are putting your stories up indie and not many are selling, you might want to pay attention to some of these points I am making from an editor perspective.

I find it fascinating how many writers have no understanding of the advanced levels of craft in fiction writing. They often think that major bestsellers who sell hundreds of thousands of copies of every book are just marketed better, or lucky, when actually those writers have learned the craft of grabbing and holding readers.

But it is easier for new writers to blame marketing as the reason others sell so well than it is to realize maybe they need to become better storytellers.

So back to my reading observations as I look for stories to buy for Pulphouse from the stories sent in by Pulphouse Kickstarter backers.

Yesterday I mentioned two major reasons I stop reading a story. Lack of Depth and bad Pacing. Those two are the major two, but now how about the next two major reasons I stop reading and send a story back to the writer?

Walking to the Story… This is common because writers see it on television so much. For example, almost every series of Star Trek, almost every episode, starts with characters doing something below decks. Then they head for the bridge, often called, and when they get to the bridge the story starts. They basically turbo-lifted to the story.

This does not work in fiction. And I know I must be missing some cool stuff when I quit and send the story back, but every reader of my magazine would miss it as well.

Fake Details… A fake detail is a detail the writer puts in that has no image with it. A writer’s job is to completely control the reader and what they are seeing and feeling at any given moment, yet fake details rely on the reader to bring an image from their lives.

I use the word “barn” to illustrate this point. When I say the word “barn” I am thinking of a single-story building, built into the side of a hill, with grass on the roof. That fit your image of barn? More than likely not. So your image would conflict with mine and you the reader would get confused and leave the story.

I am always stunned how many writers in the depth workshop assignment on this topic put the word “horse” in front of barn. Not a clue why.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith