I’ve mentioned a few times that we go through the same process as anyone else when we submit our work. To be fair though, I think we’ve all changed from the early days when we first started doing this.
It was horrible to ‘criticise’ one of my fellow editors’ work but then the realisation hit me quite a few years in. I was never bothered if anyone told me there was something wrong if I could fix it. What I do still get angry at is me not spotting it in the first place!
Any suggestions are done with the greatest of respect and a want for the work to be as good as it can be. That’s why different word choices, continuity errors, attitude change, voice, age arithmetic, and believability are things that can be picked up by a fresh pair of eyes. (Hopefully not all of them in the first paragraph – That would be just shit – Not the criticism, the writing in the first place!)
And we try to be constantly aware of those Ninja typos that can still lurk in the checked and re-checked and checked some more stories.
I think we were all lucky as we had read quite a lot of each other’s work before we had to critique it, so we knew what each of us could do and it made us very aware of not putting up anything that we ourselves knew was crap. We would never wing a submission. For each of us, it was of a standard that we knew that the others would accept. Those wee tweaks were nothing.
Of course there were times when a story simply didn’t work. (Not talking about Nik and Leila!! They are our only two writers who have had more than ten stories without a refusal.) This had more to do with content than writing. In a way that is harder but easier to take. It’s harder because it’s up to the usual standard but it’s easier as in some folks like tomato soup, others don’t. It’s a preference. That doesn’t mean that the yes or no is right or wrong, it just means that it would be a story that would split opinion. If I was honest, those are the ones that I like to write and read. Those stories prove that we are all people and as individualistic as people are.
One of my favourite things with any submission is when I think – ‘I’d never choose to read this but it is excellent.’
So with that in mind I appeal for more Romance.
Dae Ah fuck!!!
Anyhow, this is all a long winded way of me getting to my point.
Leila mentioned somewhere about how difficult it was for the humour submitters. Unfortunately a lot of them forget to include any humour!
For this posting, I decided to work out the percentages per genre against overall stories.
These are per published stories only.
1. General – 62%
2. Fantasy – 8.2%
3. CMT – 8%
4. Horror – 7%
5. Humour – 4.8%
6. Science Fiction – 3.8%
7. Historical – 2%
8. Romance 1.2%
(The rest is made up of Saturday Specials etc – Just in case you are that fucking anal that you have totted these up!!!!)
I was surprised that Fantasy was second. It just goes to show that you can’t knock a good Unicorn down.
I thought it would be CMT.
Of the specific genres, I would reckon, if we include all submissions, Humour and Romance would be on a par as the bottom two. I think Historical would climb above them due to the smaller number of submissions we get.
To be as transparent as possible, I want to give you our most hated but I will also give you our thoughts on each genre. I’ve asked Diane and Leila to add theirs in.
Romance – Hollywood influenced / Disney shite. All the fluffy marshmallow, green eyed, bulging biceps, heaving bosom, seeing their kids in her / his eyes pish is as far away from real life as a dead woodlouse riding a Unicorn (Who says I can’t do fantasy?). The only thing that can be romantic is realistic thoughtfulness.
Go into the toilet after a food poisoned Prince / Princess and trust me, you will only want to open a window – Not be fucking romantic.
Never label your story as Romance – Let the reader decide on that ‘Awww / Dry Boak’ factor.
An old couple grabbing onto each other, someone buying their partner pickled herring even though they themselves hate it and relying on each other when everyone else throws them to the wind should be considered General, let the reader decide. You’ll never need to sell this, they will have their own thoughts and you’ll get that ‘Awww’.
I hate and I mean fucking hate the perceived shite that folks spout when they write this genre. Any generic Romance I would make a hanging by the genitals offence until you die.
This is one that I really need convinced on.
Science Fiction – This is another that I hate.
Simply because most stories become an information dump.
One of the following traits or all of them are normally included and in no particular logical order. We have seen this hundreds of times!
– ‘Do you remember what it was like just after the Apocalypse?’
– ‘Before the Apocalypse, well what happened was…’
– ‘That happened because those aliens…’
– ‘And now the world we live in is….’
Very few submissions give us the world and situation without giving us a history lesson and that’s just so noticeable it’s fucking annoying!
Historical – I don’t mind. But you need to watch the voice and the ideology. Those are very difficult to get right simply because we can’t take any realistic perceptions of those times because we weren’t there so believability is a huge problem especially with dialogue and attitude.
But I have read a lot that makes me think. (Robin Wright’s novels are amazing and we’ve had some on site that are excellent)
Fantasy – A bit like Science Fiction. And I adore what Diane has said and that is why does all fantasy end up in an English Market in the Dark Ages?
Again, so much becomes more like a history lesson on the story to put the place in a place.
It takes a skilled writer to immerse you into other worlds without it sounding like reading off a text book!
Humour – Now I have a great regard for humour as I like to laugh…Well crack a smile every ten years or so but it’s a fucking impossible genre to label as it is so personal so don’t. As soon as you say ‘This is hysterical’ by fuck do you need to come up to the plate. We have around three hundred reads per day, so you probably need two hundred of them to laugh to state that it’s humorous. Can you be that confident?? Just because your toddler finds you funny doesn’t mean a fuck!
Stick it down as General and if anyone laughs it’s a bonus.
Horror – I adore and am happy to read anyone’s take on it!
General – General is life so it covers a lot of bases which I’m always interested to read.
CMT – Another I adore and am happy to read anyone’s take on it.
So my most hated are Romance and Science Fiction with Fantasy biting at their ankles!!
And if it is an AI story about a green eyed robot falling in love with it’s chiselled torso creator who is tuned into its feelings and they ride into the sunset on a Unicorn, that will be a definite no from me!!! (I dare you Marco!!!!)
Fantasy I know I’m going to contradict myself. I am going to say that I don’t like fantasy and yet I have the complete collection of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and a couple of his children’s novels and all of the boy wizard ones. The difference between those and half naked girls riding unicorns is difficult to explain. I think maybe it’s because in the best fantasy the author presents it to you as a reality and they do it convincingly, so you simply believe. If you can’t do that, I guess you should give your half naked girl a pony and stick her in the circus. And don’t stick em in a long frock with a sword and a basket of apples. ‘Sossidgeinabun’ from ‘Cut me own throat Dibbler’ is the only way to go.
Science Fiction is another one that is a conundrum. I have read and enjoyed some great Sci Fi but I want to say up front that if you call your character a weird name it’s going to put me right off. We have been calling babies John and all other language equivalents since forever why would we suddenly call them Skworg? and if they come from another planet a) I don’t believe it and b) how come they have our alphabet when even the Greeks don’t. We did read one recently that made us all laugh, it was clever and just a bit ridiculous and I think that’s the way to go. I wouldn’t say I hate it but I don’t like it much.
Romance – I think there is a place for romantic fiction – I just don’t think it’s here thank you very much. Love is welcome, mutual respect, devotion, plenty of room for those but let’s leave the chiseled jaws and iron hard six packs to the Woman’s Weakly. I don’t think real romance is particularly romantic. On the male side it’s mostly driven by lust and on the female side – hmm – not really sure. Actually that’s the point mutual attraction is inexplicable and a strange driving force but it’s not (I don’t think) all about sparkling green eyes and luscious lips.
Historical – Hate it – Ancient history bores me and recent history – well to be honest I’ve probably reached an age where I’ve lived a lot of it. Didn’t enjoy it in school and if you want me to enjoy it now, it has to be outstanding and entertaining and that’s a pretty tough call.
Horror – I’m a big Stephen King fan so you have pretty massive shoes to fill with that. I think the best horror is very close to ordinary life. Massive killer spiders and such like I think are really just a bit ludicrous. Fortunately Hugh is there ready to read and enjoy them he even likes Vampires!
General Fiction is the life blood of writing in general and the site in particular. It’s so broad and it’s where you always have the chance to find a gem.
Humour – Have to be very careful with this because I am about to have a novel published that my publisher is going to categorise partly as humour. (oh shit) Silly is an automatic no from me but life is full of humour and I am prone to see the funny side of things and laugh inappropriately so it’s hit and miss with me.
CMT I have a problem with this genre. It’s the one I mainly write in for the day job and the one I mostly read for pleasure. Because of that I have had to do extensive research and end up pulling holes in things – My husband hates watching crime programmes on the television for that very reason. I’m no expert – far from it – but it does colour your thinking when you can pick up glaring errors and they spoil the believability. Sometimes it’s fixable and if the story is good quality it’s worth working on and I reckon we do that – If you’ve had one of our ‘suggestions for change’ emails you’ll know what I mean.
I do try to read with an open mind and even if something is in a genre I wouldn’t read for choice I try and plough past that and find the value in the prose. Mostly it works.
Labels are an unpleasant necessity of life. Without them you cannot tell whether you have a swollen can of peaches or tomatoes. An improper label might give you a new liver when you are actually shy a kidney.
The big problem with them in stories is that whenever I see “Romance” my mind instantly and unwantedly conjures up a bare chested Fabio. I see “Humour” and Mark Twain starts in on the collective low IQ of congress; “Science Fiction” makes me feel inferior because I am not smart enough to fully grasp it. CMT also damages my ego because for it to work you have to expertly manipulate many threads while not giving away the shop. Also, “Fantasy” creates the image of mincing damsels and dragons in the forest.
Still, those little head images are more indicative of personality defects on my part than they are reality. For a quick glance at my book shelf yields the sight of Science Fiction by A.C. Clarke and Harlan Ellison; CMT by John D. MacDonald and our own Diane M. Dickson; and the wit of Dorothy Parker, Mr. Twain, Jame Thurber and some produced by persons who haven’t been dead for decades. Also, there are books by Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony that must be classified as Fantasy. But one can look until her eyes fall out and roll under the sofa and not find anything more romantic than Shakespeare or A Farewell to Arms. The only Harlequin to be found is that to have been told to repent by the Ticktock Man.
Despite the images caused by my personality defects, I enter every submission genre with a spotless heart, even if still with a graffiti smothered mind. The main thing is to write whatever it is earnestly, and if you do so as well as you can, with humour and humanity, you will be a success no matter what anyone has to say to the contrary.
Oh, damn–forgot horror. I only like it if the story is entertaining. Words can be scary, but only those spoken by people and not by so and so who has just climbed up from the well after fifty years.
NB – Even though we have mentioned our most hated, we are still fair. If needed, we will abstain if it totally irritates just because of our preference. We then let the other two come to a decision.
Now onto the stories that we had no problem deciding on!!
In the name of fuck! I’m back to being a 70’s DJ again (Without the inappropriate liking of children! For the record I haven’t even an appropriate liking of children)
We had three new writers who we welcome to the site and hope we have a long relationship with,
And the other two writers are two of our most prolific geniuses!!
As always our initial comments follow.
First up was our first newbie.
Chrissie Rohram got us up and running with ‘In The Eye‘
‘The cat made me care!’
‘I want to slap her.’
‘What a bitch!’
On Tuesday Tom Sheehan graced the site yet again. Tom is getting close to the two hundred mark.
‘Another tremendous piece of writing.’
We broke the back of the week with our second new writer.
Jeremy Johnson’s first story for us was called ‘Smile, You’re A Beaver.’
‘An extremely sarcastic thing, a jab at people.’
‘The tone is excellent.’
‘Clever and pithy.’
And the newsters kept coming!
On Thursday we had John Willems with ‘A Probing Interview.’
‘Offensive and funny.’
‘It was a nod to accepting and a sort of ‘…Whatever’ attitude.
‘The premise, in its way, describes the idea that the point of the universe is, there isn’t one.’
And we finished up with another of our amazing writers.
Fred Foote’s brilliance is always a delight to publish.
He completed the week with, ‘Dauntless.’
”Let me touch your face’ – So unexpected!
‘Fred couldn’t do boring if he tried!!’
That’s us for another week folks.
So, comments – Good!
No comments – Bad!!
And we are still waiting for someone taking on a Sunday Special!!
Just to finish.
Leila’s lists always go down well and as I saw one of my favourite films that had been adapted from a book on Netflix, I decided to give you a list.
You’d think that it would be the best films adapted from books and that would be very appropriate for a writing site but I reckoned apart from the obvious, this would take too much research and as I’m typing this part at 3.00am, I honestly can’t be fucked!
To make it easy, I would say that ‘Sleepers’ is a hidden gem, not many have seen it. So what I’m asking is, what would you include as hidden gems and is there any here that you’ve seen and agree or disagree with?
In no particular order –
2. Wedding Belles
3. Citizen X
5. Midnight Sting (‘Digstown Ringers’ in America)
6. Big Fish
7. Angel Heart
9. Love, Honour And Obey
10. Crimes Of Passion
I’m not into all that Prog-Rock stuff that goes on for as long as you live but the Rik Wakeman soundtrack to ‘Crimes Of Passion’ is something special!! (Maggie Bell sings ‘It’s A Lovely Life)