Sunday, December 29, 2013


Dear ------,

Perusing the slush, I was pleased to see your name among the lists. You're a great writer. I've read and enjoyed your work before, not only in On Spec but in other magazines and anthologies - which is why I was a bit surprised by what I read this time. 

I'm on page four, and I only have the vaguest idea of what's happening. I'm not sure whether you're experimenting with style or what. That's your prerogative, of course. 

Because of the way you've set things, I think you've overwritten the story, reaching for dramatic effect before I know or care enough about your characters. In places, your narration is getting in the way, drawing too much attention to itself (and pulling me out of the story). Single sentences layered as paragraphs give visual impact, but I wouldn't use them so soon in the plot. It's like thunder rumbling overhead before the sky has a chance darken. I'd leave this device for later, once the plot (and reader empathy) warrants it. 

I stopped reading on page four. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and go back and read the rest of your story. If it grabs me, we'll deal with the problems. I hope it does. Fingers crossed. 

- Susan.

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