ASIM pre-slush workshop post #7 FTW!!!

Here is the seventh of the submissions, posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, what you do with your story is up to you; it’s your call.

If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Gears of War

Every morning, Kiyoshi rose from sleep as a boy with messy hair, a slim frame and, usually, an urge to pee.

Every morning, he rolled up the futon and knelt before the shrine honoring his sister’s memory, gazing at her sunny face and burning incense for her. Aiko, the name on the picture said. Aiko, meaning beloved. Beloved of an entire family, jewel in the eyes of her parents and role model in the eyes of her little brother.

Every morning, he brushed his long hair until it lay straight and still against his back, dipped fingertips into bowls of cosmetics to outline eyes and lips and slid into one of his sister’s kimono.

Every morning, Kiyoshi entered the kitchen as a dead girl.

“Aiko!” her mother said, waving her chopsticks. “You’ll be late for work again. Hurry and eat.”

“Yes, mother. Sorry.” Aiko’s lips were always quick to smile with infectious cheer; they spread now in sheepish apology and the smile was returned.

Kneeling at the low table across from her mother, Aiko seized a pair of lacquered chopsticks and began her assault on the feast spread before her: miso soup, steamed rice, a rolled omelet, a bowl of fermented soybeans and various pickled vegetables. She ate as if to fill a bottomless hole, wielding her chopsticks like a weapon to slay her breakfast.

“Eat, eat,” her mother said. “You’re a growing girl and you have a day of hard work ahead.”

Her mother’s name was Hanako, flower child, a strange name for a woman born and raised in a city made of cogs and smog where flowers were rarely seen in any other state than dead and dried. There was one such dried flower in the house, a sad, brittle thing trapped in a frame and hung on the wall.

Comments:

Do not go to sleep, eat or go to the loo before you have sent me the rest of this story. I’m serious*. This snippet does everything right, and I’ll talk a bit about why.

You had me interested at the end of the first sentence.

Then you immediately went to explore the character. A dead sister always generates sympathy, especially what with sibling rivalry.

Then you added mystery in a subtle way by letting the boy put on the sister’s clothes.

And you sealed it with the concluding fourth paragraph. The boy is now a girl.

Were this section less economically-written, more tell and less show, I might have moaned over the fact that the first four paragraphs start with repetitive words. In this case, it’s perfect. It works. Don’t change a thing (aside from the kimono that should be ‘one of his sister’s kimonos’).

Thus transformed into a girl without explicitly saying so, the character starts interacting with someone else. Through further subtle interaction (eating a lot of food), the story shows that the boy is probably on the verge of becoming a man, adding extra tension to the snippet.

This is a wonderful beginning.

*I am really serious. Send this to the ASIM submissions address with a note that this is a workshop survivor, and the slushmistress will pass it onto me (she has been notified of which stories to pass on). I hope that the rest of the plot both has SFF elements and is as wonderful as this snippet. In any case, I will comment on it privately.

workshop redux and a few other things

We are enjoying the workshop experience. Three editors have now completed all the posts, which will appear here within the next week. There will be a total of fifteen commentary posts.

We want to stress that submitting here in no way impacts on submitting to the magazine. That said, if an editor indicates that he/she would read on, please mention this in your submission letter, so that the slush mistress can pass the submission onto the appropriate editor for a first reading. We have a large team of slush readers, and tastes vary.

If you’d like to get a feel for the criteria I, personally, use to check a story’s first few paragraphs, read my guest post on Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s blog. Bryan, by the way, runs the very interesting SFF Writer Chat (#sffwrtcht) on Twitter, and has a space opera coming out soon.

In looking at the stats, I notice that a lot of visitors are coming over from Absolute Write. Since I’m utterly unfamiliar with that venue, would any of you stop by to elaborate on its virtues in the comments?

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #6

Here is the sixth of the submissions, posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, what you do with your story is up to you; it’s your call.

If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Red Carpet Welcome

The man at the bottom of the ramp into the ship looked me up and down.
“Name?” he said.
“Minerva Brown.”
“We’re not expecting any new crew.”
His doubts were in his hesitation. And rightly so. In my disguise I looked nothing like a prospective starship crew member, whatever its dress-code – he was in velvety moleskin pants, a shimmering sea-green coat cut away at the front with a silk shawl knotted at his throat.
I was a little old lady in a chameleonising surcoat and matching wig. Both grey at present, and in keeping with the largely grey exterior of the Galleon. By trade I was a fact finder and a trouble shooter. My mission was to learn why this starship stayed alive when others on comparable tasks died.
Jupiter-side port gossip was that the Galleon’s programs had been corrupted. That she and the crew and her captain masqueraded as an Inter Planetary Government vessel when they were really working as privateers, with an off-world money launderer backing them. In that story fancy dress inspired by ancient sea pirates didn’t seem all that far-fetched.
I dropped my data cube into the input slot of his hand-held and he dropped his jaw at my rank and work stats. Ignoring my outstretched hand, he saluted me smartly. “Olympus of Mars. Earth-origin immigrant! First Engineer!” He snapped to attention and stared into the distance.
Not a good beginning. “At your ease,” I said somewhat tartly. “I doubt I would’ve been here if the Galleon was a naval vessel.”
He coloured.
Whether from rage or embarrassment, I couldn’t tell.
Another of the crew appeared from aft, the direction of the cargo holds. She was a young Cassiopeian, dressed in an ordinary sailor’s get-up of canvas pants adapted to her penguin-like stature and a striped sailor’s jersey.

Editor’s comments:

There’s a problem with using a lot of visual description in a short story (and particularly leading off with a lot of description), which is that it cuts into the actual telling of the story. In a novel, it’s possible (though not always desirable) to offer a lot of description; in a short story, it’s generally not a good idea. And it doesn’t help as much as one might think to establish the scene in the reader’s eye: in the above snippet, I’m stymied by trying to work out what the Galleon looks like, aside from the fact that it’s largely grey. I know what three people are wearing, but there’s lots else missing. In a SF or fantasy story, because things very often would look very different to the everyday world, the temptation is to explain all the ways in which they’re different.

The thing is, though, it doesn’t matter as much as you might expect. It doesn’t actually matter whether you tell us what everyone’s wearing–the readers will work it out for themselves. It’s more important to offer clues as to moods, reactions, things like that–and these often help the reader more to picture a character than if you go to describe the shape of his/her face, or what he/she is wearing. Readers are clever like that.

I do like the way in which you’ve outlined the protag’s mission, and have set up a degree of interpersonal tension within the first three hundred words: that’s a useful start to the story. With a bit more focus on the interactions, and less on the appearances (unless the appearances actually tell the reader something useful about the interactions), this would be off to a strong start.

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #5

Here is the fifth of the submissions, posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, what you do with your story is up to you; it’s your call.

If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

Hunger

The first bullet hit the trunk of a tree, a few feet off target. Gart dove to the right, crashing into the bushes as he heard more shots being fired. The bullets missed him, but the thick brush took its toll in hair and blood where his bulky frame tore through; plenty for the hounds to follow.

It had been days since he had any sustenance at all. Constantly on the move and staying just barely ahead of the hunters, he had no time to look for a meal. Even now he had a more immediate problem. He needed to throw the dogs off his scent.

His luck held out. There was a stream, just a few feet wide, but enough for his purpose. He crossed over and lingered on the other side for a few moments, to create a false trail. He then returned to the water, walked in and waded downstream, an ice-cold current nudging him along. Neither hounds nor trackers could follow his path as long as he stayed in the water.

Gart remained in the stream for an hour, his fur-covered skin barely registering just how cold the water had been. It felt more like days. Hunger was an overwhelming presence now, an enemy as deadly as the hunters. It made him weak and sluggish, and unable to keep up his pace.

A few years ago Gart had been a myth. Humans rarely met his kind, and an occasional sighting was dismissed by the skeptics. They were called yeti, abominable snowmen, and a dozen other names in remote areas where a chance encounter could take place. But the world kept shrinking – humans explored and populated much of the land that was too forbidding and harsh to their ancestors. Their discovery became inevitable.

Editor’s comments:

Writing is generally quite clean, but I feel the pacing is uneven.

In the first paragraph, we meet Gart, who is on the run and far too busy explaining his current situation. People are after him. Cool.

In the second paragraph, we experience a huge change of pace, where Gart as narrator starts explaining what he was doing in the previous days. The only sentence in the second paragraph that moves the scene forward is the last one. The first two sentences of the second paragraph meander. This is not-so-pressing, everyday stuff that feels out-of-place in a chase. I’d delete those sentences and replace them with one sentence that tells us something enticing about why he was followed.

The third paragraph still doesn’t volunteer this information. By now, I’m getting a bit impatient. There is a lot of detail about actions Gart goes through, but none about why. I want to know why this happens, preferably in the second paragraph.

In the fourth paragraph we get some sort of an idea. Except the structure of the narrative takes the story further back from the chase by offering the start of a history lesson, signified by the red-flag word ‘had’. To be clear, the word ‘had’ is not evil, but it often indicates a spot where a writer lapses into infodumping, lecturing about history or what people tend to call ‘telling’. It’s not always a deal-breaker, but I think this narrative does not belong in a chase. Having created the urgency of a chase, the subsequent text needs to stay closer to the character and concentrate at first on why he is fleeing in the here and now, and then work its way into the history. It is my guess that the history probably does not belong in this particular scene, since history-dumping bleeds a lot of tension from a scene.

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #4

Here is the fourth of the submissions, continuing in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, it’s your call. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Darkness

Soon enough the Xandaux would find her, but Aliciara Blackwolf would be long gone by then. She couldn’t rely on anyone, not even the one she was bound to.

Kasana sat up, oh thank the Goddess she was back in her own body. She was covered in sweat as Kasana approached the mirror, she began to unlace her corset; allowing herself to breathe.

Lozen rode hard over the plains of Pierres, her white stallion – Comare – had certainly been put through his paces.

The bells tolled as the villagers ran, news of the Matriarch’s return had spread like wildfire. Lozen was the High Priestess of the Pierres plains – villages were few and far between.

Aliciara touched the mirror, closing her eyes. She felt the Call like it was a child tugging at her arm. It would not silence itself until it was answered, and if not given what it wanted, it would return. She wanted to reach through the mirror, but using her Goddess-given abilities would draw the Xandaux nearer.

“Our Priestess returns! My Lady, how are three? Be you well? There was news of an attack on Lacruz”

The man fretted. He was the Elder of the village, and had always served each High Priestess.

“I am well Thomas, where is your wife?”
“I – she passed away” he bowed his head, “A moon ago, Fenrir has taken her to his Forests to be at peace”
“I am sorry” Lozen kissed his forehead, “She was a good wife” she sighed.

Fenrir, God of Death, had come prowling through the village. If a home bore his mark, then someone in the household would die. He only ever picked those close to death, or those on the brink.

Kasana had an affinity for night, for the Wyld.

Editor’s comment:

I tried harder than I normally would, and read this a few times, but I’m afraid I cannot make much sense of this. Let’s go through the first few paragraphs.

First paragraph: we have a character on the run and some baddies. I have no idea what Xandaux are, but am willing to wait a while to see if the next few paragraphs will enlighten me. ‘The one she was bound to’ seems redundant to me, because I didn’t know she was bound to anyone, since there hasn’t yet been anyone in the story. Also, the words ‘soon enough’ imply a precedent, and don’t suit a first sentence.

Second paragraph: a different character. I have no idea how she is related to the first character.

Third paragraph: another character, plus two more names that don’t mean anything to me yet. I have no idea how this character is related to the other two. Moreover, by now, I have lost track of any kind of setting. In the first two paragraphs, I was imagining rooms with frilly bedspreads and ladies-in-waiting, but this last paragraph doesn’t build on that picture. I’m wondering where we are. I’m lacking setting, logical connection between the characters and a POV character to follow. I don’t know why any of this is happening. This is the point where I would give up reading if this were slush.

I did read on in this case, and the jumpiness of the text did not get any better. For example, in the fourth paragraph, I found out that Lozen is female (the name sounds male to me). There is an eight name mentioned (a matriarch—who is this?). There are villagers mentioned in the same breath as it is said that villages are far in between. While all that may be true and make sense in the author’s mind, it just does not flow on the page.

This beginning needs major streamlining. Make sure one sentence leads to the next. Choose one POV character and follow that character.

Also, I notice some unattributed dialogue. Make sure it’s clear who speaks by using dialogue tags or action tags. Use correct punctuation and capitalisation (there is a post about that on this blog here because there are too many mistakes in this snippet to make me think they’re typos)

Also, I’m not a historian by any stretch of the imagination, but the name Fenrir rings a bell, so, as a pedantic editor, I googled it. I’ve found out that Fenrir is a Norse mythological figure in the shape of a wolf, but nowhere does it say anything about him being either a god, or the god of death. I think you need to be rather careful with this sort of stuff, because many, many people will be familiar with the myths, and will assume things based on that knowledge. I’d say that unless you made a good case you were representing the mythology accurately (and apologies if you are, and the sites I found were wrong), change the name.

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #3

Here is the third of the submissions, continuing in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, it’s your call. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

Big Grey Man’s Mountain

The news is all over the Net by now: humanoid bones found on a Scottish mountainside. Not human, unless Andre the Giant had a big brother lost in the Cairngorms. And some reports mention scraps of hide, still covered with coarse grey hairs.

Officially it’s an Environmentally Sensitive Zone, authorized entry only. Reporters and rubber-neckers come flocking to the villages or the Ski Centre’s funicular railway, any place they can grab a toe-hold to gawk at a stony mountainside. Rumors are epidemic: the bones have been removed for study. They’ve been removed and destroyed in a government/religious/industrial cover-up. They’ve been left in place for a sacred ceremony to contact the Ancient Transplanter Spirits of the Stars.

Like they say, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. One of the railway operators remembers me kindly. There’s an old man, he says, in a hut halfway up Ben Macdhui. Says he knows all about Fear Liath More, the Big Grey Man. Says he’ll talk to whoever will listen — not that anybody will believe what he has to say.

I don’t have to believe it; I just have it report it. So I’m scrambling up a rocky little track with delusions of grandeur, looking for a man to tell me about Scotland’s answer to Sasquatch, Yeti, and Co.

Scotland’s late answer, that is. It looks like the position’s just come open.

#

If you had told me stateside I could miss the only human-made building on a barren slope, I’d say you read too many fairy tales. Not even the romantic Scottish highlands make houses just disappear. But this place I somehow don’t see until the slate roof’s almost under my feet — set right into the hillside, with a trickle of wood smoke rising from empty stones.

Editor’s comment:

I find the present tense a little worrying; I’m not sure how it will hold up for the rest of the story. The infodump at the beginning is one way to get the essential information over to the reader, but I think it moves a little too quickly. It could be expanded a fraction to set the scene more elegantly. The part after the hash mark is the real beginning of the story, which raises the question of why it doesn’t begin the story, with the other details regarding the reporter’s presence filled in later. That would create more suspense. But it’s interesting enough to make me want to read more.

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #2

Here is the second of the submissions, which will be posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, it’s your call. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Last Mission

Dressed in dirty clothes and slouching to hide their military bearings, Joseln and Taya made their way through the streets of the colonial capital. Joseln’s heart thudded and her fingers twitched, eager to throw spells. Taya gave no sign of excitement, but for her this mission wasn’t personal.

Behind them their fellow imperial soldiers guarded the pallisade that protected the loyal part of the city. The rough barricade with which the rebels had blocked off a large section of the city lay two blocks ahead, and beyond it, the rebel army that had captured Joseln’s little sister. With the army was also the man Joseln had been ordered to kill, but she had decided not to think about that.

A block from the barricade, Joseln gestured to Taya, and they slipped into the doorway of an abandoned grocer’s, shadowed from the long row of magelights that lit the street. Joseln patted her sheathed sword for the half-dozenth time as they watched the guards.

“All right,” she said, “once we’re through we have to blend with the crowd and head straight for the tavern. We’ll sneak in for the prisoners and get out before anyone knows we were there. So don’t do anything that will draw attention.”

“Who, me?” Taya asked.

Joseln glared at her. The woman was a good soldier¬Joseln wouldn’t have worked with her on so many rescue or spying assignments otherwise¬but she tended to not take things very seriously.

“And I believe you forgot something,” Taya added.

Joseln scowled. Despite her colonel trying to convince her of the necessity for weeks, she didn’t want to kill the rebel captain. They’d worked together, before the discontent turned to open rebellion. He’d even courted her sister for a time.

Editor’s comments:

This is, even from the very first sentence, over-written. Information comes pouring in, and there’s no characterisation, apart from painting the cardboard slightly. Why, for instance do we need to know about the guards on the palisade? Is an attack imminent?

The essential question, which this excerpt does not answer, is why the reader should care about this at all? There is a lot of detail about imperial soldiers. Why is Joseln, and that is an unlikely and unpronouncable name, want to throw spells? How come there’s a palisade that protects the loyal part of the city? Palisades take time to build. How are they intending to get through the barricade?

The entire idea of merging with a crowd, sneaking in and getting the prisoners, in a tavern, and getting out again without being noticed is a stretch. The third-last sentence is confusing and mostly unnecessary.

This, unfortunately, reads like fan-fiction.

First, some housekeeping

A new day!

I took some time off the internet to sit on the back veranda and actually–uhm–write. Because that is what writers do, right?

So now I’ve parked the zombies in the parking lot, and am getting ready to post some more editor comments on our entries.

But first, some housekeeping:

I’ll be closing the entries tonight 8pm AEDT. We have a decent number of entries to show various aspects of story beginnings, and I don’t want to wear out my willing and kind co-editors. At the moment, there are three of us commenting. If people think this is useful, I’m willing to run this workshop again at some time in the future.

There is one very important way in which you can show your appreciation, and that is by buying a copy of our latest issue, or taking out a subscription to ASIM (paper or PDF). See the ASIM website.

Lastly, people may remember the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which almost 200 people died and an entire town was reduced to rubble. Following this event. two kind New Zealand writers, Cassie Hart and Anna Caro, have put together an anthology named Tales for Canterbury (Canterbury being the name of the Christchurch region). It will be available in April both in ebook and print version. Pre-orders are now open. Several of us at ASIM have contributed stories. Fellow editor Simon Petrie is from Christchurch, although he now lives in Canberra. Simon and I share the table of contents with great names like Jay Lake, Sean Williams and Neil Gaiman. Get your copy from Random Static , the publisher, and help Cassie and Anna raise $5000 for the New Zealand Red Cross to help the victims.

Back soon with some editor comments!

ASIM pre-slush workshop post #1

We start with the first of the submissions, which will be posted here in no particular order. Please remember that this is the opinion of one editor. There will be others who agree, but there will also be those who disagree. In the end, it’s your call. If you appreciate what we’re doing here, please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Original text:

The Time Traveler

Prologue

Hi. My name is Sarah Flynn. My life began when I was born on February 2nd, 1989 in the small town of Greenville, North Carolina. Because I grew up loving the English language, I decided to teach it. On April 30th, 2012, my education finished, I arrived at my new teaching position in an Eikawa located in Higashikawa, Japan and proceeded to teach there for over half a year. December 21st, 2012 was the last time I saw my students. I’ve been exploring the universe since then. You see, in addition to being a teacher, writer, and knowing a little bit of everything, I’m also a time traveler.

Year: 2093
Jump no.: 56 (?)
Location: Outlying Colony of the Abractan Empire

My partner yelled across the room, “These things just don’t stop coming no matter how many we shoot.”
“Just keep shooting then. It may take forever, but we’ll clean these bugs out eventually,” I replied, taking a well aimed shot that blasted two bugs into metal shards.
“But to think that this kind of thing could happen. I didn’t know this kind of technology existed.”
“And I’m trying not to think about it at all. Slows down how fast I can shoot. I don’t particularly want to end up like Malk.”
“Speaking of which,” he shot another bug, “Where has the rest of the team disappeared to?”
“I have no idea. I just hope they’re alive.” I took aim at another bug and it shattered.

Year: 2193
Jump no.: 77
Location: The Terran Intergalactic Port in orbit around Jupiter

I woke up flat on my back, again. The ceiling was the flat, boring gray of a medical bay. Someone had tried to dress it up with a poster of a green meadow under a blue sky, but the effect was even more forlorn as it lay plastered there all alone.

Editor comments:

Technically, I can’t fault the writing.

I’m a little puzzled by the word prologue. Prologues belong in novels. Stories are too short to have prologues. We get to see a lot of stories that have quotes or short general/history paragraphs at the start. They rarely work. Usually, they go against the story.
The reason is this: you have a few paragraphs, rarely more than the 300 words submitted here, to catch the attention of a slush reader. I don’t think it’s a good idea to clutter up this space with historical quotes that don’t as yet mean anything to the reader.

I think the first paragraph outlives its usefulness. While there is nothing inherently wrong with starting a story with an introduction, the introduction needs to remain relevant without rambling. I think this introduction starts to meander off in the third sentence. Is it important that the reader knows all this life history? The last sentence is important, but that ones before it, in my opinion, are not.

After the first jump:
There is very, very little visual language in what must be a visual situation. We know the adversaries are bugs, but what do they look like? Why are they fighting? Who is the gender-less ‘partner’?

After the second jump:
Now I’m starting to wonder: where is this all going? I’m willing to forego a logical connection between the first mini-scene and the second one, but now there is another jump and I’m not seeing a connection. I’m not seeing a story develop. Alternatively, I’m not seeing any characterisation taking place. What is she doing here? Why? Why is she a time traveller? How did she become one? I think at least one of these issues should be followed through to create flow between these mini-scenes.

The ASIM pre-slush workshop now open

Thursday 24 March 2011, 8pm. Entries have now closed. We have a number of good examples, which will be posted here within the next week or so. If feedback is good, it’s likely that we will do this again.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is run by volunteers. We believe in supporting new talent, but we recognise that with as many submissions as we get, it is very hard to be published. This is why we run this workshop. Please support our magazine. To coincide with the release of issue 50, we have a number of special deals. See the ASIM website.

Important rules. Please read all of them:

– Your story must be Science Fiction or Fantasy

– Short stories only, no novels

– Please enter only the first 300 words. If 300 words leaves you with half a sentence, finish that sentence, but please, no more.

The work in question MUST be yours, must be finished and must not have been published. We may ask to see the rest of the story, but as this is not a submission to our magazine, submitting to this workshop has no bearing on your submissions elsewhere. If we do ask to see the rest of the story, use your discretion as to whether the story is free to send.

– All entries should be anonymous, like our slush.

Submitting will be through an anonymous entry on another blog at Livejournal. Please make sure your name doesn’t appear anywhere on your entry. If you have a Livejournal account, log out, and post anonymous. I will not respond to any posts, so at any one time, you’ll only be able to see your own entry.

I will then post each entry on this blog, with editor’s comments. We will do our utmost best to give comments that give writers something to work with. While the nature of most comments will inevitably be ‘negative’, since like all magazines, we reject the vast majority of slush, we will tell you where the story could be improved and how you could possibly do this. Please remember it’s only one opinion.

This workshop is designed with new writers in mind, and by that I mean writers who have not been published in the magazine, or similar semipro magazines, before. I hope it will give writers insight into the slush process at our magazine. The comments on each entry are not law, because other editors and other magazine may well think differently. For ideas about our preferences, may I suggest your read the ‘slush minion’s diary’ posts on this blog (see tags on right).

How many entries we can take depends on how many we get. First in, best dressed.