I’ve recently been on the editorial team for a short story anthology, not for the first time, and have been noticing some common mistakes that can trip up an otherwise good story. If you’ve been submitting to anthologies or thinking about doing so, please take note of some of the recurring pitfalls that can cause editors to reject your submission, or if working with a close-knit group, might cause diplomatic nightmares between editors and writers.
First of all, don’t try to shove too much into the beginning paragraphs of a short story. Detailed description of a character, a ‘laundry list’ of exactly what they’re wearing and a headcount of a group of characters to accompany the protagonist on a quest are all ways to lose a reader before the plot begins to unfold.
Keep in mind that you’re not writing a novel. Even in novel writing, shoehorning too much information…
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