Friday, July 27, 2007

Fabulous Post From RofF Slush Pile Editor

Ever wonder what will capture the eye of an established fantasy magazine's editor?

Well, here you go: "It Came From The Slush...and Survived!"

What makes this so very useful is that the editor posts the opening lines of fourteen stories that Realm of Fantasy accepted from the slush pile, and he explains what in those story openings he liked and kept him reading. Interesting stuff.

Here's an example:

6) It was raining when Noriko called me to her darkened room, the air sharp with jasmine incense. The house was open to the rain and it cut some of the jasmine’s bite, but Noriko’s room was closed, as it had been since the day I had come to Kojima. It was there Noriko told me Min was dead.

They found Min near the docks, her robes wrapped around one of the farthest pilings. She was the very color of those robes, Noriko said, as blue-black as the deepest ocean water. They pulled her out, but she was dead, her eyes gone from velvet to milk-white, her slim fingers puckered. They placed her in a boat and set it afire, allowing Min to drift wherever the ocean would take her.

--From “Indigo With Distance,” by E. Catherine Tobler, Realms of Fantasy, August 2006

Sadness is practically flowing from the words. The narrator never tells me she’s sad, but I know it all the same. I know it because of the way the author picks her details. The rain and darkened room in the first sentence become echoes of the narrator’s mood when we learn that Min is dead in the third sentence. That’s why she’s going into such vivid detail about Min’s death in the second paragraph, because Min was someone very important to the narrator. Without being told, I know the narrator cares. That makes me care too. If I care I’m going to keep reading. It should also be noted the author is conveying this mood (and let’s not forget the setting) with a very sparse style. She has an excellent command of the language, another way of building trust.

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