Here we are at Week 283.
I’m hoping Diane adds a wee bit into this.
I thought this week that I’d tell you a bit about how I read the submissions.
Using my eyes is a good start. I tried with my ears but that was just shite.
I’m not sure if everyone will believe me (Especially those that we’ve refused) but we consider every single submission. Although I would say neither of us has much of a tolerance for rudeness in the submission, those are probably considered rejected pretty damn quick!
And a warning for those who submit this way, Diane is on her fourth week of ‘Practical Voodoo’ She’s been bulk buying candle wax…The lovely, beautiful lady that she is!!!
Sometimes if the standard is really bad, I only read until this is obvious and then give up. I feel a wee bit discourteous doing this but with the amount of stories we are getting in, if it hasn’t a chance, unfortunately, I haven’t the time to spend on it.
Overall the story has to grab me very quickly.
I have a tool to help me do this.
I’m always listening to a mixture of all types as I read. This helps in a few ways.
1. If I can’t concentrate on the story and I hear the music, then the plot hasn’t caught me. So it would be an easy NO!
2. If the story is complex and I find myself pausing the tunes, it shows that it has something and I want to work on it and understand.
3. If I can read no matter how loud Motorhead is, it shows that I’m immersed into the words – This would be a strong YES!
As I read I scribble down notes and once I’ve read the whole thing I comment onto our working site.
That’s my routine.
And this is mine
First of all, I echo what Hugh says about the tone of submissions. We try our best and I think usually succeed, to be friendly and welcoming when we receive the emails. So, it’s not very nice if the document doesn’t even have a ‘Hello I’m George and this is my SciFi story of two thousand words and it’s called The Blob from the Backside of the Moon’ Surely if someone has written two thousand words about Moon Blobs they can say hello to us. It just sets a poor tone even before you start to read. As we have said before, we don’t want to know many personal details, we don’t care what your religion is, your sexual orientation is of no moment to us, neither does your personal pronoun make any difference to our approach to the story. Good manners however just make us smile. As for the candle wax – pffft passed that now – onto newts eyes and frogs toes – it’s pretty interesting.
I often comment straight into the discussion board as I read.
I can’t read with music, I can’t write with music. I wish I could, I reckon it’s much more impressive than sitting here in the relative quiet. Can’t do it though.
Like Hugh, I used to read all the way through all the submissions but if we tried to do that nowadays we would never get any sleep. The site takes up an inordinate amount of time and we do have to do other stuff. I’ve got a husband somewhere around the place. I see him pass the window now and then.
So, if the use of language is obviously not good enough I dismiss something, with regret, pretty quickly. By that I don’t mean grammar glitches and spelling errors I mean really poor language skills. We do have submissions from writers for whom English is a second or third language and though we admire that hugely, however, the stories are often not up to the standard we are looking for. Of course we also have writers who are trying hard but aren’t there yet, we try wherever possible to be encouraging.
Then I have to be drawn in pretty quickly, I need to really want to know what happens next. Doesn’t have to be guts and gore, every paragraph doesn’t have to be a cliff hanger, but I just need to care.
Somedays I have read to the end of my tether especially if I have been writing a lot as well, or editing and in those cases I may well give up and come back the next day. I do try to be fair and give things as much consideration as I can. It’s lovely when you get one that is obvious right from the start that it’s going to be an acceptance because then you can just sit back and enjoy the read.
What happens next is we both note down the good points, bad points and any plot holes etc. From there we have a discussion on our vote and then decide. Majority wins – Simple as that,
If we have one strong opinion and one sort of not bothered either way, we go with the strong feeling. The real issue is when one of us is a strong acceptance and the other is a strong rejection.
To be honest I think there have only been a dozen or so stories over the thousands that we’ve received that we have totally different opinions on. These ones can be the most fun to discuss. We always manage to come to a decision eventually.
I reckon both myself and Diane have chosen stories on the site that one of us hasn’t, shall we say, been so keen on. But that means nothing. A strong yes can just be as valid as a strong no and vice versa.
Sometimes we’ll accept a story that even though it doesn’t totally resonate with us, we think it would with most of our readers. (Obviously, the quality must be there.)
And other times we accept stories that run us cold and make us want to hurt ourselves but we know that is all about our preferences.
We try to be as balanced and as fair as we can be. That’s why we state that every single submission has a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what the writers success / failure rate is.
I think our unbiased decision making is something that we’re most proud of. Sure, we are biased in our preferences but we do our best not to let that affect whether or not the story is accepted or rejected.
We try to be as transparent and sensitive as The Invisible Man’s condom. That is also why we post some of our comments when we do the round-up, this gives a taste of our initial discussion. I think it also shows that we have read, considered and have our own understanding on the story.
Okay onto this week’s stories. We have three new writers, the legend that is Mr Foote and me.
To all our new writers, we welcome them, hope they have fun on the site and as always, we hope to see more of their work.
Topics this week include; ignorance, a taboo, motherhood, end of life and unhappiness.
As always our initial comments follow.
I began the week.
First off, I thank Nik and Diane for all their help and support.
I don’t think I write many complete stories. They are normally all about one specific situation. This, I suppose was a more conventional one.
I have fun working on these even if I find them a bit more unnatural for me to write. Diane’s knowledge and experience is so valuable with this type and she is generous with her time and is always happy to help. (Thanks again!)
‘The Viaduct‘ got us up and running.
Matthew Hernandez was our first newster.
His story, ‘Margaret‘ was next up on Tuesday.
‘This is actually rather spooky.’
‘It raises an interesting question.’
‘Strange and weird – I like that!’
Fred Foote was published on Wednesday. If you haven’t read any of this gentleman’s work I strongly suggest any of his back catalogue – Every one is a gem.
‘Mother’s Day‘ broke the back of the week.
‘So short. So simple. So damn skilled!’
‘The pace to the reveal is controlled superbly well.’
On Thursday, we had our next new writer.
Tom Burton’s story ‘Do Not Go Gentle‘ nearly finished off the week.
‘The emotion was judged very well.’
‘You could feel that the sorrow would be beyond anger.’
‘Chilling, sad and awful all at once – This is very well done.’
And on Friday we had another débutante.
You may recognise Stefan Slater’s name as he is a regular commentator and for that we thank him. His insight and thoughtful comments have become a part of Literally Stories over the past few weeks.
Here he shows us his writing prowess with ‘Notes on Calling Time.’
‘The length of the story was perfect. It gave time for us to experience the MC’s living hell.’
‘This is very readable. You can’t put it down.’
The desperation, depression, acceptance and personal disgust were all there to see.’
Well that’s us for another week.
Just the usual appeal as per Miss Anderson.
Please keep the comments coming.
I see no-one took me up on the request last week for you to tell us why you don’t comment! That request is always open.
And why not have a go at the Sunday Re-Run. Just pick an older story that you’ve enjoyed, write a spiel or introduction. You can also throw a few questions in for the author. We’ll publish exactly what you send us.
To finish off.
In a parallel universe I use booze to decide on the submissions so:
I have a tool to help me do this.
I am always drinking a lot of brandy as I read. This helps in a few ways:
1. If I can’t concentrate on the story, put on some music, start dancing, go the kebab shop and challenge the story to a fight when I return, then the plot hasn’t caught me. So it would be an easy NO!
2. If the story is complex and I find myself pouring out another drink whilst contemplating life and telling the story that it’s my best pal, it shows that it has something and I want to re-read it the next morning with the clarity of a lager.
3. If I can read no matter how pished I am and no matter how much vomit is on my keyboard, it shows that I’m immersed into the words – This would be a strong YES!
I don’t do that – dd