Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Stories from the trunk

I am editing a new anthology.  This involves reading a lot of stories and trying to select which ones will fit.  I've done this quite a few times.  This time I'm working with a second editor, Julie Campbell. We've done projects before and I've found we rarely disagree on things.  Sometimes two people who clash more get better results.  But that's not the case here. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off or just get a second opinion.

One thing writers, particularly novice writers, don't always understand is there is no empirically bad or good story. The question Julie and I are both considering is really more of Is this story right for this particular project?  A story that might have been fine  for the magazine Steampunk Trails, which Julie once edited, may not fly with the gritter and rougher western horror book we're now working on.  

And, unfortunately, into this mix some writers keep dumping off what are known as trunk stories. These are stories writers kept in a trunk or drawer somewhere and could never seem to sell them. Every now and then they become aware of a new market and convince themselves that old story will be perfect and send it off. They often don't give the announcement or writers guidelines more than a glance and their submission is something editors dread.  There's often a reason that story keeps getting rejected.

Alas, we've been getting a fair number of trunk stories.  I don't like reading them anymore than any other editor, but it goes with the job.  Then I come across one like I got yesterday that just brings a smile to my face and I think Yes, that's why I do this.  And that's where anthologies come from.

Please read a few now and then--anthologies, not trunk stories. They vary a lot and tend not to sell as well  as novels, but you can find some amazing stories in them.  Libraries have lots of them, if your library is still open. And online bookstores sell them, too.

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