Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle 30th anniversary anthology

As some of you might know, I am one of the editors for the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers' Circle 30th anniversary anthology. It's been an eye-opener.

For the first time I am on the other side of the editorial fence. I'm much more used to submitting fiction and waiting for the inevitable rejections to arrive (Boo! Hiss!), interspersed with the occasional and joyful acceptance email when my stories find the right home. Instead I'm reading my way through other people's submissions and making comments for our other two fine editors. Fortunately we have a group of excellent writers sending us stories so I will miss out on the pleasure of reading outright gibbering bonkers and bad writing that open submission markets must get. It's early days yet but I can reveal that we have already had some really fascinating fiction hitting our inboxes.

This anthology project has got me thinking about the role of editor. It's proving very time consuming, even with the relatively small numbers of submissions that we are dealing with. I am reading a story for initial enjoyment, having a think, then reading it again for quality of prose, style, plot and character - breaking down what does and does not work for me. Fortunately as a seasoned GSFWC'er with some stinker trunked stories behind me (as we all have), I'm used to this critiquing process. Fortunately I have the time to go through each submission this way for our anthology - I really doubt an editor for a commercial fiction market has anywhere near that kind of time. I know many writers moan about receiving form rejections, but with their volume of submissions, if something didn’t grab me in the first few pages I'd not be keen to read on. I've always appreciated when editors take a little time (in very short supply) to say why a story of mine didn't work for them, and often that's allowed me to improve it for the next market, but it's no wonder many have slush readers to weed out the poor or unsuitable stories. Fortunately, as with my fellow GSFWC 30 editors on occasion, opinions do differ, and one editor’s lacklustre story can be another’s piece of gold.

Cover artwork, edits, more submissions...editing this anthology is proving most interesting.

I'm also very aware I'm currently wielding the mighty spiked Hammer of Rejection! It's kinda scary.

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