Friday, August 2, 2013

But Seriously, What Should We Avoid?

This is an incredibly detailed list from Strange Horizons, a magazine of speculative fiction.  I'm not surprised to see that I have a few stories that would land within some of those perimeters but then again, how couldn't I (or anyone else?).  I can understand why they would feel moved to create something like this - the amount of submissions they receive must be staggering - but is this okay?

Certain genres are certainly tired and overdone, but does that mean nothing should ever be done with them again?  Can't a good story transcend whatever clothes it happens to wearing?  They do note that in certain cases they're willing to overlook the trope for superior writing, but what if they identify and dismiss it too soon?  Look at Jim Butcher's popular Dresden series.  He's not reinventing the wheel when it comes to either his style or his subject matter, but he provides a good, solid read.  Yet at the time when the first book came out Urban Fantasy had been all but declared oversaturated.  What would have happened if it never saw the light of day (To be fair, it almost didn't.  The story of how it made it is fairly fascinating and is on his website)?

I recently received a rejection on a story I wrote.  Fine, more than one.  FINE, many more than one.  Let's focus here, people.  It came with a personal note that told me with was extremely well-written but was the type of story that would spawn a slew of copycat-types to flood their slush pile.  For the record it would loosely fall under the heading of #2 on Strange Horizons' list but not specifically linked to any of the ones listed.  Now, was this just an editor being kind or is the concept of not printing a story because it'll inspire others to write along the same lines a real thing?  I have no idea.  Maybe it just wasn't good enough.

I want to tell myself I'm not going to sit down with this list and go through my pile of rejected stories, seeing which ones match, but I know I probably will at some point.  I suppose I could get pissy at Strange Horizons for limiting my options but it's probably a better move to use it to better understand the market.  Oh, and I wasn't guilty of #41.  I stuck my MoD stories in the "Dammit Someday When I'm Successful It'll Be Time to Put Out a Collection of My Stories" file.

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