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Editing Report #1 Addendum

The last time I was choosing stories from a slush pile was from 1988-1990.  Some of the same feelings have come back in a hurry. 

The first is that for me, rejecting someone hurts a little.  I'd think that someone who really grew to love editing would find that the joy of accepting one really cool story outweighed the sadness of rejecting ten (twenty, thirty, forty?).

The second is that pedestrian writing is so clearly pedestrian, right from the first page.  I'm not talking about bad writing, which can be bad in a zillion ways, but stuff that isn't bad while not being really good either.  It's still the same old story: action verbs, specifics and avoiding cliches make a first page better than most of the slush pile.  Pedestrian writing leans to linking verbs, eschews specifics and sprinkles in familiar language.

Third, of the three writing woes I mentioned above, being specific will get me to page two with enthusiasm and hope.  Specifics about the senses and the world of the story are seductive.  Vagueness is not.

My last, immediate observation is a new one but part of editing a tightly focused antho like this one (and this is based only on reading 14 manuscripts--yep, two more came in since I last posted).  I'll bet that I'll only take one or two really good serial killer/horror stories for the book, but I've already read six.