Ten Things That Don’t Bother Me in the Slush No Matter What Your Writer Friends Tell You
It’s true. Somethings just don’t bug me, and on this one I’ll go out on a limb because I know a lot of editors, somethings don’t bug a “lot” of editors either. Here they are:
1. Typos unless there are ten in every sentence. Life is hard, you know, and writers and editors make typos. Heck, the keyboard does it all on its own. Get over the typo phobia. Relax. Write something I can’t put down and I’ll forgive you “waste” instead of “waist.” I know what you meant to type.
2. Innocent grammatical errors. By innocent, I mean the kind of esoteric stuff that only copyeditors *bows head here and not in a sarcastic way* and grammarians and some really tight-assed, know-it-all writers argue about. I do love copyeditors, btw. There will an ode to them on this blog. They rock. Anyway, go ahead and let your participles dangle and your modifiers be misplaced. It doesn’t matter at this point. All that stuff is easily fixed.
3. Incorrect punctuation. What is correct, anyway? Depends on where you live, where you’re planning to get published, and what style guide or sheet your publisher follows. Never use a semi-colon? Always use semi-colons? Serial comma? Not? Nevermind. Stick the commas in where you think they fit and they’ll all get changed anyway. Unless you are one of the writers who punctuates as an expression of style. Then they’ll be negotiable. Just write it.
4. Slow beginnings. Let me rephrase that. Beginnings that “aren’t” stunning hooks. Beginnings that slip the reader gently into the story, right into the writer’s ambush. Or not. No ambush, just gentle and fine and smooth. I don’t care if your opening paragraph is worthy of front page news. If the rest of it rocks, we can juice up the opening if it needs it.
5. Backstory, unless it is all just narrative and one big “tell.” Otherwise, backstory is fine. It’s cool. It’s often necessary. And if it’s in the wrong place, that’s fixable too.
6. First person POV. Love it. Second person POV. Okay, you haven’t lost me, but it better be good. Third person POV. Love it too.
7. Present tense, past tense, future tense, any tense. None of them are significant as a reason to “dislike” a manuscript. None of them. Write it how it feels right.
8. Dream sequences (but like second person POV, they’d better be good and they’d better fit like a wet suit on the body of that fiction).
9. Opening with dialogue. I like it. What’s more gripping? “Please, don’t,” or “The mist drifted into the valley, blanketing the village with a gauzy veil.” See number 4 above. I can forgive any kind of opening if the rest of it rocks. Don’t let worrying about your opening keep you from writing. At least, not if you’re submitting to me.
10. Breaking the rules. Any of the pseudo writing rules. Go ahead and break them all. I’ll read it. If it works, you’re a genius, innovative, brave. If it doesn’t, you get rejected. But if it feels right when you write it and you stifle it because you’re afraid of breaking the rules, you’ll never be able to thumb your nose at the ones who advised you (strongly) to play it safe. You’re a new writer. You can’t be different. Yes you can. Please do. I can’t wait to read it.