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Saturday, April 27, 2013


After my last post, it occurred to me that people might like a deeper look into what makes each of us On Spec editors tick. I've always found that my the greatest successes in placing work have come from understanding the personal tastes and quirks of an editor. First up is Fiction Editor, Robin Carson, who’s been with On Spec since 2008. Here are the questions I put to him and his replies: 

1). What kinds of stories appeal to you most? Do you lean towards a particular type of story or style?

I lean toward logical, science-based or historical stories that demonstrate internalized (i.e., not showy) careful research. Since I read science-fiction almost exclusively as I grew up, and am a lover of good non-romantic historical fiction as an adult, these tastes come as no surprise to those who know me.

2). What types of stories don't appeal to you? What are your pet peeves, writing-wise? 

I really, really hate romantic schlock! When moonbeams replace logic, I pass on reading.

My pet peeves on writing constitute an entirely different question. As a consumer, I dislike badly edited stories, and have written to total strangers to tell them so. When I work with a writer, I expect to be accepted as part of that writer's team; some writers eschew editors so that they can hang on to every comma--and it is the resulting stories that I dislike because there are just too many hurdles the reader has to hop.

3). What advice would you give to a writer submitting to us? 

My advice to anyone submitting to On Spec is first of all, to actually have a complete story, not just a good idea dressed up as a story. If your story is selected, trust your copy editor. That editor is on your side, and brings to bear the eyes of a trained reader. Trust me, no editor will work to make your story worse.

4). Please list any credits you'd like mentioned (ie. book publications, editing/publishing involvement), followed by a small bio: 

My credits and experience include publications on theatrical makeup, LSL (Latin as a Second Language), a really solid math/science background, and experience as chief editor for an all-colour, forty-page magazine published quarterly to an audience of 15,000 that includes far too many English teachers. No novels. No short-stories. Style manuals as free-reading.

Robin's Bio: Robin Carson is male and a geezer. While his chief love is his wife, language in general (and English in particular) runs a close second. Oh. And did he mention Shakespeare?

(Thanks, Robin.)

Next Post: Barb Galler-Smith. 

Stay tuned.


  1. I can state from personal experience that Robin is a wonderful, tactful editor!

  2. I agree. Robin is great. Of all of us, I think he's the best technically with grammar. He is who I go to when I have a question about something obscure, and I can't find the answer in a style guide. We may not always agree on the stories we like (although we agree more often than not), but I always respect his reasons. We're lucky to have him.