One of the things that continues to amaze me is the amount of science fiction content I get for Science Fiction Trails, where I am editor, that cite star maps or some reference for Sol 3–meaning our sun "Sol" and 3 for third planet, Earth. Or some variation thereof. Why would aliens reference the Earth English language name for a star? And many of these so-called aliens haven’t even been here before. It’s not creative. It’s not original. And why would they do this? The answer, they would not.
Then, once these aliens arrive, they have only come all these light years to do something ridiculous like mutilate cattle or sit in some cave for some inexplicable reason. I’ve been lamenting the poor quality of story submissions for some time now. I guess it boils down to creativity and imagination. Some folks got it and some folks certainly do not.
I just bought a story that was amazingly creative and bright and fresh. Now I’ll have to read some more tripe. But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
Still, how do these so-called writers convince themselves this is sellable fiction? I’ll tell you why: Critique Groups. Too many writers convince themselves that having people critique their stories makes it more gooder. It doesn’t make it gooder at all. You get critiques from friends. Those friends tell you it’s good because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Or, you have it critiqued by so-called writing groups and chances are the critiques from there are being written by somebody who knows even less than even you do. You certainly are not getting someone with an editor’s eye looking at it. At least not very often. So, your goodest story goes off and the editor it’s sent to wants to hang himself after reading this tripe all day.
So, what’s the moral to this story? Don’t delude yourself that having a story critiqued makes it more gooder. It dodn’t. If you can’t tell if a story is good on your own, without somebody else’s help, it ain’t gonna matter. I’m not talking about copy editing here, critiquing is done by people with dubious qualification before a story is sent out. Editing comes after a story is purchased.