Today, fellow WOTF-er and WOTF forum master Brad Torgersen posted a very informative interview with Eric James Stone on the Writers of the Future forum. You can see it here. Eric of course is the author of a recent much-praised flash story called The Greatest Science Fiction Story Ever Written. The title may sound a tad pretentious, but I assure you, it fits the story perfectly. As to whether it describes the story accurately, I leave that to you, but do go and read it and make sure you read the last line, because it’s hilarious.
Anyway, in the interview, Eric discusses slush disappointments (he’s assistant editor at IGMS), and I can very much relate to his ‘disappointing ending’ letdown feelings. Yet, lacklustre endings are disturbingly common even in published short stories. I once read an issue of a magazine that shall remain unnamed, in which all the stories appeared to be ‘slice of life’ stories, at the end of which nothing much had changed, and the characters wandered off into the blue yonder, leaving the readers to scratch their collective heads.
Maybe it’s fashionable, and sometimes the sheer power of the setting is worthy of publication, but in all instances, I believe the story would have been much better with a stronger plot.
Writers: you want to sell stories to better venues? Look after your plot. While you may be able to sell a story in which nothing changes, you’ll do better if you write a story in which somebody learns something and somebody changes direction.