Monday, 31 August 2009

On Writing, Editing and Slush

I caught up with David Kernot this weekend and we had an interesting chat about science fiction, from both the author and editor viewpoints. I’ve edited Cthulhu’s Dark Cults and have another book in the works for a US publisher, and David is a member of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Co-op, and he’s editing Issue 47, so we’ve both got some practical experience behind us now on the editing front. At the same time we both write, predominately science fiction with about 50 published stories between us.

David told me that when he reads slush he tends to read the first and last pages before he reads anything else. This allows him to see if the story grabs him from the onset, and whether it concludes itself in an interesting manner. I thought this was a rather novel approach and started thinking about how he might perceive some of my stories read that way.

My viewpoint on slush is that I believe dialogue is important, and that I like to see it early on in a story. I don’t believe there is any better tool to create a character than dialogue and to propell a story along in real time (as opposed to telling a story after the events have occurred as Victorian Era writers were fond of doing). I also like the first line to grab me, something unusual, something that makes me sit-up and go, ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and want to keep reading.

It’s nice to have discussions like this with one’s peers. Writing and editing can be a very isolated experience and sometimes it takes an outsider to point out new approaches that can make a world of difference in the products (stories, books) we each produce.

So David and I have decided to collaborate on a short story, and see what new ideas come from that.

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