Sunday, July 7, 2013

The X Factor?

I read a lot of professionally published short fiction. Sometimes I wonder how some of those stories get bought.

One story I read this week was just plain awful. It had problems with its grammar, had lots of exposition, had inane dialogue and was generally pointless. Yet it had been purchased by a well known and respected editor.

A lot of people revert to the 'matter of taste' argument.  OK, I can buy that in some instances, but not in all cases. And certainly not in this one. Sometimes I read a story I don't like, but I can see why it was bought. This story would have been lambasted at many crit groups. I cannot believe it was published at all - especially professionally. In this case I'm not alone. Online reviews suggested similar points of view.

So what is it that pushes a story up from pretty good to publishable? There is, of course, an 'X factor' involved in buying stories. That indeterminable thing that you can't put your finger on. Some elusive quality that makes the story stand out. It is, of course, the magic ingredient I'm looking for. My stories are yet to sell at the pro level. And it's certainly not merely a 'matter of taste' when my stories are rejected from several pro markets. (And yes, I realise there are other factors at play - suit the market, word length, similarity to other published work, etc)

I suppose the editor saw something in that story that I and a bunch of other readers didn't see.

Or maybe the editor just got it wrong this time.

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