Author Topic: Stories they've seen too often  (Read 8901 times)

wakela

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on: August 21, 2007, 11:42:27 PM
I got a kick out of reading the "Stories We've Seen to Often" in the submission guidelines on Strange Horizons.

Some of them made me groan and others made me re-think some of my story ideas. 

The horror one is good, too.



BrandtPileggi

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Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 02:44:13 AM
Wow. Soooo many of the most successful movies/stories are on this list. Perhaps why they're sick of it.



Listener

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Reply #2 on: August 22, 2007, 12:23:34 PM
Interesting.

I'm glad the horror story I recently wrote isn't on their horror list.  Now I can put them on my list of places to submit to.

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DKT

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Reply #3 on: August 24, 2007, 05:15:10 PM
What strikes me as odd is that Strange Horizons says in their guidelines they aren't looking for horror in general: "especially stories in which the main goal is to evoke feelings of fear, terror, or revulsion in the reader."


Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 05:53:16 PM
Why is that odd?  I find it odd that horror is so often lumped in with sci-fi and fantasy.  Horror is defined by how it makes the audience feel, whereas SF/F is defined by subject matter.  I've never understood the logic of presenting them all together.

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DKT

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Reply #5 on: August 24, 2007, 11:06:44 PM
It's odd because SH says in their guidelines their generally not interested in horror stories, yet they then post something about horror stories they've seen too much.  So it gives a mixed message as to whether or not they want writers to submit horror stories.


Jim

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Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007, 01:18:42 PM
Scrolling down the list and reading the entries one-by-one, I can't help but nod my head knowingly at some and shake my head in disbelief at others.

For instance, #30: "Heaven and Hell are run like a business."

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am so tired of that trope that it gives me a kind of schadenfreude-laced thrill to see it pilloried in this way.

But, before that, #23: "Superpowered narrator claims that superhero stories never address the mundane problems that superheroes would run into in the real world."

That one gave me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach... four of my favorite Escape Pod episodes were stories along that line.

In the end, for a non-writer like me, the list is good for a chuckle, seeing some of the most worn-out ideas in SF arranged like so many insects stuck with pins and labeled in a glass-covered case in the office of a university entomologist; but at the same time some of the entries sound so broad and vague that they would cancel out a significant number of quality submissions.

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Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #7 on: August 25, 2007, 05:46:52 PM
It's odd because SH says in their guidelines their generally not interested in horror stories, yet they then post something about horror stories they've seen too much.  So it gives a mixed message as to whether or not they want writers to submit horror stories.

Gotcha.

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #8 on: August 26, 2007, 06:03:45 PM
Quote
at the same time some of the entries sound so broad and vague that they would cancel out a significant number of quality submissions.

That may be a difference in how much slush you've seen. As someone who's been in more workshop classes than I can count, and edited for a few magazines, I find it fairly clear what SH is referring to.



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Reply #9 on: August 27, 2007, 06:00:12 PM
But, before that, #23: "Superpowered narrator claims that superhero stories never address the mundane problems that superheroes would run into in the real world."

I love stories like that.  Perhaps they're just saying "we've seen and printed too many, and we don't see enough good ones, so we're just putting a moratorium on them for a while".

But then, I also thought "The Incredibles" should've been up for Best Picture, and the only reason it wasn't is because there's a "Best Animated Feature" category.  But that's another story for another time.

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Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #10 on: August 27, 2007, 06:06:45 PM
Quote
at the same time some of the entries sound so broad and vague that they would cancel out a significant number of quality submissions.

That may be a difference in how much slush you've seen. As someone who's been in more workshop classes than I can count, and edited for a few magazines, I find it fairly clear what SH is referring to.

Since you are a person with such experience, I'm curious: How much "slush" does a magazine get?  Do you get scads of really, really bad stories and a few decent ones or is more a matter of choosing the best from the good?

But then, I also thought "The Incredibles" should've been up for Best Picture, and the only reason it wasn't is because there's a "Best Animated Feature" category.  But that's another story for another time.

The Incredibles is one of the best movies ever.  Brad Bird is a genius.

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #11 on: August 29, 2007, 01:53:28 AM
That depends on your definition of slush, Tweedy. It's almost a half-full, half-empty thing, whether people will say they get too much good stuff or not enough really good stuff. IMO, the Mills college magazine got mostly crap; the Iowa Review contest gets a lot of formally competent but uninteresting things; a lot of the undergraduate classes I teach or participated in as an advanced student get stories that are structurally a mess but with moments of inspiration.

I'd prefer not to make remarks about what's coming in to the podcastle slush at this fledging point in our lifespan; ask again in a few months. ;)



Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #12 on: August 29, 2007, 01:22:41 PM
Looking forward to Podcastle...

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Listener

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Reply #13 on: August 29, 2007, 02:10:17 PM
Looking forward to Podcastle...

Me too.

And in case the right people are reading this, I'm still looking forward to hearing whether or not Escape Artists could use any help with production, narration/acting, or intros/conclusions for any of the three casts (especially Podcastle since it's the newest), since I've sent about six messages and haven't gotten a yes or a no...

And isn't that really the worst part of submitting your stuff, be it audio or text?  It killed me when I was applying for radio jobs and they'd never even e-mail back to say "thanks, but no thanks".  At least when you submit to a publication, you get a no, even if it's just a form letter -- better to know than to be left guessing.

(Way to try and bring it back on topic, self!  :P )

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Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #14 on: August 31, 2007, 02:15:57 PM
Job searches, yeah, I'd say 3/4 of the places I've applied to in the past never responded at all.  I remember I used to feel happy when I'd get a rejection letter, because I could at least cross that employer off my prospects list, which felt like some kind of progress.

Submitting stories it better, but the "no" still takes a month to get back to you.

I just got a "no" from Strange Horizons after a forty-day wait.  :'(  It's especially frustrating because all the Critters seem to think the story was pretty good, so I'm not real sure what to change.  I don't think my story was on the "seen too often" list.

I guess I'll send it somewhere else.  I've got a short stack of rejections from "Fantasy and Science Fiction."  They actually sign their rejection slips.  In pen!  Maybe someday they'll be worth something to a collector...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 02:18:15 PM by Mr. Tweedy »

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DKT

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Reply #15 on: August 31, 2007, 03:49:53 PM
Don't beat yourself up, Mr. Tweedy.  I got a form rejection from SH that took 50 days.  Sometimes, it's just not the story they're looking for. 

If you've had other people critique it, especially people who's opinions you respect, and more importantly, it's the story *you* wanted to tell, keep sending it out.  (And keep writing.)


wherethewild

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Reply #16 on: August 31, 2007, 10:25:22 PM
Don't beat yourself up, Mr. Tweedy.  I got a form rejection from SH that took 50 days.  Sometimes, it's just not the story they're looking for.

I´ve got two stories that have been out for 137 and 157 days respectively. 50 days? You lucky bastards.

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 05:08:23 PM
"I just got a "no" from Strange Horizons after a forty-day wait.    It's especially frustrating because all the Critters seem to think the story was pretty good, so I'm not real sure what to change.  I don't think my story was on the "seen too often" list."

You might try the Online Writing Workshop, if you can afford the fee. Sometimes their crits are better than Critters (in my opinion).

Bear in mind that many professional writers don't sell to Strange Horizons every time they send them something. Even people who are friends with the editors there don't sell every time.

If you've not been to ralan -- http://ralan.com -- check it out.



Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #18 on: September 03, 2007, 10:15:04 PM
Thanks for the encouragement everybody.   8)

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