Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Confessions of an American slush eater

I have slushed my first slush for Lenox Avenue. Bounced five stories, blessed two and sent them up to the next level of review. Went somewhat faster than I had feared.

Interesting experience. It's different than critting a story on the 'shop. In critting, what's foremost in my mind is not whether it's a good story, but what, if anything, I can tell the author about it that will make it a better story. Slushing seems to me to be an entirely different mindset. All I care about is whether the story is good enough to publish, flaws and all. I am only incidentally concerned with how the writer has failed, only in whether or not they've failed badly enough to deprive a  reader of pleasure in reading the story.

It's really true that you can tell within a page or two whether or not a writer is any good. I read all the stories to the end. I may not do this in the future (professional slush readers don't), but for now, I want to reassure myself that I am not throwing away something good too soon.

Other thoughts:

1. Writers who make one mistake tend to make others. Bad sentence-level prose goes along with problems with pacing, and failure of imagination.

2. Pacing is important. Good pacing can make the story feel professional and competent; bad pacing can bounce the reader out of their suspension of disbelief. I can distinguish good pacing from bad pacing as a reader, but damned if I know how to do it as a writer. One of the stories I kicked upstairs had some clunky parts to the plot, but you didn't want to notice because the story as a whole moved so smoothly, teasing the reader, beckoning them on.

3. There are nine-and-sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right. And every single one of them can be abused, too. Of the two stories I sent to Adrienne, one was all plot twists and character, with some mildly humorous social commentary, and the other was all idea, atmosphere, shock, and myth. Both were worthy. But there were plotty and atmospheric rejects, too.

4. New publications get everyone's trunk stories. It happened to Abyss & Apex, and I think it's happening to Lenox Avenue. C'est la vie-da-vie-da-vie.

5. I still prefer Courier over Times Roman.


meaning: rate, command

円周率 == enshuuritsu == pi
打率 == daritsu == batting average

Center elements are a variant of 'threads' (糸). The top and bottom elements represent spindles on which threads were twisted into rope. This process apparently led to the meaning of 'command'.  Henshall suggests taking the top element as a symbol for 'top', the bottom element as 'ten' (十), and as a mnemonic: 'Ten bits of thread command top rate.'

Stroke order from Josh's Chinese Lookup Thingy (animated)
Info from Taka Kanji Database
Gahoh kanji movie

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