Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Slushing Done

A couple of words to remember people - White Space.

Have a good look a the manuscript you've just written out and intend to submit to a market. Whether it be a novel or a short story, have a good look at how all the paragraphs sit on the printed page (or get yourself a big enough monitor so you get a good idea of how it will look on the printed page).

If all the paragraphs look to be of similar size and length, if there isn't plenty of white space floating around and within the prose - you've got issues.

I've just read three stories, all of which had white space issues. The first was all tell. The second was bland with no conflict and therefore no story, the third had no narrative flow and very vaguely connected plot points.

I'm about to read a fourth. At first glance it looks to have issues with white space so I'm put into a negative frame of mind before I begin. Who wants to read huge lumps of prose? Elegant descriptions, natural dialogue, emotive scenes, unexpected action or humour - all of these things come in many different sizes when written down. Just have a look at this post!

When I've finished this last story, I'll let you know if my suspicions are verified.

Oh - one last point - use a spell checker before submitting anywhere.

Okay - I've read the last story - it's better than the the others. It's different, sci-fi, tongue-in-cheek and a little out there. I think I'll pass this on to another editor/slusher as a maybe.

Home time.


  1. Ooh, you have power. Rubs hands together and laughs maniacally.

    Though in all seriousness, I bet you love it when you find a fantatic story.

  2. No conflict? My heart weeps. Without friction, where is the story?

  3. Cate - I'm sure i will love it. Early days in my slusher duties and i've so far read 20 stories and passed on only 2 as maybes. The first one got knocked back on the second sweep. Still hoping though.

    Nat - Pretty much what my comments were.

    That's the hardest bit about slushing, writing constructive comments that hopefully won't tear the author apart. It also becomes hard not to start sounding repetitious when many have the same mistakes.

    I know how I feel when I get a rejection though so I try.

    When I break through the 100 story mark, or finally find that gem, I'll name the publication I'm slushing for.

    I should have a great deal of slushers tips by then as well.

    We'll see.

  4. Excellent point, well worth being reminded of even if you've heard it before.

    Though, the book I'm reading now has little white space. But he's allowed. Pamuk doesn't compare to slush.