Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Supporting Markets

If you find speculative magazines that you enjoy, support them. As writers, there are several ways we can do this:

1. Financially – Subscribe to magazines. Buy issues. Pay to access special online content. Every magazine has expenses, and when those expenses aren’t covered, magazines go under.

2. Promotionally – Now that you’re reading issues through your subscriptions, promote the magazines. Post reviews on your blog or website, discuss your favorite stories in discussion boards. Raise the awareness of the reading community of markets you enjoy so that they can increase readership.

3. Contributions – Submit your best stories to these magazines. If you get rejected, submit something else. Keep submitting as often as you. It seems reasonable that the quality of an issue depends on a decent selection of stories. If an editor is hoping to publish an issue with five stories and only receives six submissions, that doesn’t leave a lot of leeway.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reading Aloud

It’s a good idea to read your stories aloud as part of the editing process. You might fly over too much when reading your words and miss something that needs to be addressed. As you read aloud, there are a few things to listen for.

Mouthful of marbles. Watch out for tongue twisters of any type. Also, be cautious of alliteration. “The droll drummer dripped dry.” Dreadful! In fantasy especially, writers often create unique names, but in doing so, make sure the names aren’t impossible to pronounce. I once had a character named Captain Trasifmer. When family members saw the name, no one could pronounce it correctly without slowing their speech dramatically.

Runaway trains. Don’t cram three hundred words into one sentence. If you find yourself unable to take a breath, this indicates a problem. My runaway trains have a tendency to appear in dialogue. Ping-pong comments between characters go shooting past. Suddenly I’ve read two pages without understanding much because I didn’t have a chance to ponder anything. I’m not saying that pacing can’t quicken, but it should be controlled so that a reader doesn’t feel like he or she is hurtling through your story.

Arrhythmia. Stories are not poems, but I’ve noticed that many of my favorite stories have an even rhythm to them. Sometimes this rhythm changes speed, but the pattern itself doesn’t change. I think sentence lengths offer some clues about a story’s rhythm; when short and long sentences are jumbled around arbitrarily, it feels like a car with a jumpy engine.

You might even ask someone else to read your story aloud or record yourself reading it. How does it sound?