Galaxy Press First Time Attendee for Salt Lake City Comic Con

Galaxy Press First Time Attendee for Salt Lake City Comic Con

The Salt Lake City Comic Con is rapidly becoming one of the most successful Comic Cons in the United States

Salt Lake City also has the distinct honor of having more winners of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest than any other city in the world including Scott Parkin, Amy Hughes, Eric James Stone, Brad Torgersen and Robert J.Defendi.  World renowned authors, initially hailing from the Salt Lake City, Orson Scott Card, Dave Wolverton (Contest winner turned Contest judge) and Brandon Sanderson are Writers of the Future Contest judges.

With Galaxy Press’ premier attendance at the convention, it was no wonder awareness of and demand for Writers of the Future was so high.  Multiple NYT bestselling author Dave Wolverton along with fellow NYT bestselling authors R.A. Salvatore and Jim Butcher were guest speakers on a panel on writing short stories and novels before a packed hall of over 600 attendees.  Wolverton advised aspiring writers to “enter the Writers of the Future contest” and “to enter by September 30, the end of the Contest quarter.”

The Writers of the Future writing contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful.  The 368 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

The 298 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.

Deadline for entries for the 32nd year of Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future is September 30 at midnight, Pacific Time.  Enter by going to www.writersofthefuture.com.

For more information on Writers of the Future, visit www.writersofthefuture.com and www.galaxypress.com.

Writers of the Future Writers Workshop Delivered by David Farland, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta and the Winner Twins

Writers of the Future Writers Workshop Delivered by David Farland, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta and the Winner Twins

SUBTITLE:  Galaxy Press hosted famous Writers of the Future Writers Workshop which was delivered to aspiring and established writers alike.

Hollywood, CA –

For over 30 years, the Writers of the Future Contest has been one of the premier writing contests in the science fiction and fantasy field, known not just for the awards ceremony and the prize money, but especially for the intensive week-long writing workshop taught by some of the biggest names in the field. This workshop has been available only to the winners.

Until now.

This past weekend, a condensed version of the Writers of the Future workshop was made available to the public. Held in Hollywood, the workshop covered the entire business of the writing process from crafting an idea to scheduling time to write, to editing, to finding the right agent and ultimately publishing what you write. The workshop was led by New York Times bestselling author David Farland (The Runelords), and with a special session by Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), Kevin J. Anderson (co-author of 14 novels in the Dune universe), Rebecca Moesta (Young Jedi Knights novels) and special guest instructors, successful indie authors the Winner Twins (The Strand Prophecy).

The next workshop has been tentatively scheduled for January 30-31, 2016.

The Writers of the Future writing contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful.  The 368 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

The 298 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.

To see a more detailed account of the workshop visit the Galaxy Press blog at http://www.galaxypress.com/writers-of-the-future-workshop/

Writers of the Future Signing at World Con in Seattle

Writers of the Future Signing at World Con in Seattle

CAPTION:  At a book signing held in the Dealers Room at the Spokane Convention center, a happy fan after getting the last book on the table.

Seattle, WA – Many Writers and Illustrators of the Future winners were on hand this past weekend in Seattle, WA to celebrate their favorite genre, science fiction.  Illustrators of the Future winner Tung Chi Lee, along with Writers of the Future winners Sharon Joss, Kary English, Steve Pantazis and Martin Shoemaker attended as new professionals, having just been published in the national bestselling science fiction anthology, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 31, published by Galaxy Press.

Part of the weekend activities included a book signing in the Dealers Room (a hall filled with vendors of all types including booksellers) at the Spokane Convention Center where fans were able to get their copy of Writers of the Future Volume 31 autographed.

Volume 31 winner Steve Pantazis, with his story “Switch,” noted, “Signing Writers of the Future books at World Con with my fellow winners from Volume 31 was a once-in-a-lifetime, wonderful experience. We enjoyed every minute introducing new fans to this storied science fiction and fantasy anthology.”

The Writers of the Future writing contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful.  The 368 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

The 298 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.
For more information on how to get a copy of Writers of the Future Volume 31 or to enter either Contest, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

International Award-Winning Artist, Rob Prior, Named as Judge for Worldwide Illustration Contest

International Award-Winning Artist, Rob Prior, Named as Judge for Worldwide Illustration Contest

LOS ANGELES – Best known for his art provided for SpawnHeavy Metal comics and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as his rare ability of painting with both hands at the same time, Rob Prior has been named as a judge in the internationally-acclaimed L. Ron Hubbard Illustrators of the Future Contest, it was announced by Joni Labaqui, Contest Director at Author Services, Inc., the literary agency and administrator of the Contest.

Prior joins other world-renowned artists on the jury panel that include such artists as Dave Dorman (Eisner Award),Shaun Tan (Academy Award winner for “The Lost Thing”), Bob Eggleton (8-time Hugo award winning artist), Stephan Martiniere (Hugo, Chesley, Expose 3 Excellence Awards) and Cliff Nielsen (Star Wars, X-Files and Narnia).

Prior is a graduate of both the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, and then went on to earn his MFA from the University of Toledo and began his career as a storyteller through his artistic skills at a young age.

As a comic book artist, he has worked with Marvel, D.C., Todd McFarlane, Kevin Eastman and Image Comics, to name a few, with his most notable credits on, “Spawn”, “Terminator”,  “Deep Space 9”, “Evil Ernie”, “Melting Pot”, “Lady Death”, and “Heavy Metal.”

As a leading storyboard artist, Prior has provided storyboards for advertising campaigns such as Budweiser and Nikon, as well as for the gaming industry, for “Titlist“, “2K Games”, “Terminator 3” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He also created all the storyboards and animatics for the video games “Ghost Rider” and “The Darkness.”

As an illustrator, Prior has supplied cover art and interior art material for Steve Jackson Games, TSR (Dungeons and Dragons), Wizards Of The Coast, Battle Of The Lords Of The 23rd Century, and many others.

Prior has directed short films and music videos in which he has storyboarded, production designed/art directed and did all practical effects for each and is now directing his first movie in 2015 called “Whisper.” Prior is also the VP of creative for Heavy Metal.

The Writers of the Future writing contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful.  The 368 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

The 298 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.

For more information on how to get a copy of Writers of the Future Volume 31 or to enter either Contest, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

 

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2015 Marks 75th Anniversary for L. Ron Hubbard’s Golden Pen Award

2015 Marks 75th Anniversary for L. Ron Hubbard’s Golden Pen Award

Author Services, Inc. is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Pen Award, conceived by author and explorer L. Ron Hubbard in 1940 while on his Alaskan Radio Experimental Expedition flying Explorers Club flag #105 to Ketchikan, AK.  The Golden Pen Award was the prize for top story submissions sent to him at the KGBU radio station (now renamed as KTKN).

As part of the celebration, a special live performance of “The Chee-Chalker,” (translated as “The Newcomer”)  mystery thriller located in Ketchikan and written by Hubbard following his Alaskan stay, will be broadcast live from KTKN and will feature the First City Players, a theatrical troupe in Ketchikan.

The “Golden Pen Award” followed an already established pattern of providing guidance to new writers, a series of “how to” articles published in a number of writing magazines in the 1930s.  As a feature of his radio program, called the “Mail Buoy,” he additionally offered advice for beginning writers and went one step further, initiating the “Golden Pen Award” contest to encourage listeners to write fiction, with prizes awarded by Hubbard, including an introduction to his New York publishing contacts.

In 1983, as a continuation of a legacy of helping the aspiring artist and in recognition of the increasingly difficult path encountered between first manuscript and published work, particularly in an era in which publishers devote the lion’s share of their promotional budgets to a few household names, Hubbard “initiated a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.” He created the Writers of the Future Contest and, over three decades later it has become the most prestigious contest of its kind in providing that much needed open door for fledgling artists.

For more information about the Contest, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

For more information on the upcoming theatrical production at KTKN radio in Ketchikan, go to www.facebook.com/LRonHubbardTheatre.

Australian Writer Releases Third Story in Ambassador Series After Winning L. Ron Hubbard’s International Writers of the Future Award

Patty Jansen of Sydney, Australia, who was honored as a first place quarterly winner at the 27th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards in April of 2011, has now released her third in the Ambassador series, “Ambassador 3: Changing Fate.”

Since her win three years ago Patty has released nearly a story a month.

Patty’s winning story in the Writers of the Future international contest back in 2011, “This Peaceful State of War,” was published in – L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XXVII as a short. She has been a very productive writer since, with the Ambassador series as only one of many series she has released.

“Ambassador 3: Changing Fate” is as follows: Fifty thousand years ago, a meteorite hit the planet Asto, giving its Aghyrian inhabitants mere days of notice. Three ships escaped the Armageddon. Two went to the neighbouring planet. The third, a massive generation ship, refused to take on refugees, and then vanished without a trace.

It’s coming back.

Its initial burst of communication caused the outage of the Exchange, the FTL network for transport and communication, but since then the ship has been silent. It jumps about at random, using wormholes it generates with a drive the likes of which no one has seen before.

Meanwhile at the gamra assembly, people jostle to be in the best positions when it inevitably turns up in inhabited space. What the ship wants or whether there is anyone on board no one knows, but diplomat Cory Wilson knows one thing: when it turns up, he must avoid a conflict at all cost.

If only gamra presented a united viewpoint. If only Asto’s army wasn’t keen to get involved. If only the Aghyrians at gamra didn’t do what they do best: manipulate and play games with everyone. While the ship approaches, the delegates bicker, and the time for negotiating is fast running out.

Immediately after winning Writers of the Future, Patty started selling short stories to Analog Magazine and has published short stories in Aurealis, Redstone SF and the Grantville Gazette.

To learn more about Patty, visit http://www.pattyjansen.com. For details on how to enter the contests, visit the website at https://www.writersofthefuture.com

Brandon Sanderson with John Goodwin

Author Brandon Sanderson Joins the Ranks as Writers of the Future Contest Judge

International Bestselling Fantasy Author Brandon Sanderson Joins the Ranks as Writers of the Future Contest Judge

Provo, UT – International best selling fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, best known for his “Mistborn” series and his work in finishing Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, has now become a judge for the Writers of the Future contest it was announced by John Goodwin, President Galaxy Press.   Goodwin was on hand making the presentation of the Writers of the Future creative writing unit plan to Sanderson and his class of approximately 100 students at Brigham Young University while already in Salt Lake City for the FanX Convention this past weekend.

In front of the class, Sanderson was presented a Creative Writing Unit Plan for Speculative Fiction Teacher Guide Book along with a Contest documentary on the program, a copy of the Writers of the Future: The First 25 Years coffee table book, the four Writers of the Future volumes containing stories referenced in the Teacher Guide, a copy of the ASI Magazine featuring Writers of the Future, and a copy of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 30, the current volume.

The creative writing class was then briefed on the history of the Writers of the Future Contest, which was created by bestselling author L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 as a continuing effort on his part to help keep the genres of science fiction and fantasy alive by providing a means for aspiring writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.  The success of the merit based competition was easily described to the class by naming just a few of the scores of successful professionals who embrace the Contest, from Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game) and Dave Wolverton  aka David Farland – (Runelords) who won the Contest in its 3rd year, to World Fantasy Award winner Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides) and multiple Hugo award winner Larry Niven (Ringworld), and to winners Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind) and Nnedi Okorafor (Who Fears Death).  (For a complete listing of the names of Contest judges, go to www.writersofthefuture.com/writer-judges and Writer Contest winners go to www.writersofthefuture.com/writer-winners.)

It was at this presentation that Sanderson indicated that he had entered the Writers of the Future Contest as a novice having submitted one of three short stories he had ever written and impressively coming away as a Finalist on his first submission.

Following this class, Sanderson agreed to be a judge for the Contest as he was in full agreement with the Contest’s purpose.

Upon hearing the news, long time friend and long-time Writers of the Future Judge Orson Scott Card noted, “Brandon is one of the best writers to emerge in the last ten years. Glad that he’s going to be a judge!”

For more information about Writers of the Future, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

American Idol for Writers and Illustrators

THE AMERICAN IDOL FOR WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS

The end of the 31st year of Writers and Illustrators of the Future in just a few weeks has been compared to the finale of the American Idol

HOLLYWOOD — If you think the chance to win on a show like American Idol is steep, try writing or drawing. Each year, tens of thousands are turned away by the publishing industry. It’s a brutal weeding out process that causes many creatives to stop their dreams dead.

But there’s one entrant-friendly contest that’s been called the “American Idol” for writers and illustrators. That’s because it gives instant worldwide recognition, cash, and coaching to fledgling writers and illustrators. It’s the worldwide L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest just completing its 31st successful year—a writing contest and illustrating contest that’s free for all entrants and age groups. www.writersofthefuture.com

“Beginning writers and illustrators are driven by the same things that you see of the contestants on ‘American Idol’,” says Joni Labaqui, the Contests’ Director. “They’ve got passion, creative drive, and a dream: they just need a break.”

Last year’s winners came from around the globe including Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Portugal, UK, and throughout the United States.

“You could call the Writers of the Future Contest ‘The American Idol for Writers’—long before there ever was an American Idol,” said USA Today and New York Times best-selling author and Contest judge Kevin J. Anderson (Dune prequels, Saga of Seven Suns, Star Wars). “It’s amazing to me that a good 60 to 70 percent of the winners go on with successful careers in writing, and several have become best-selling authors themselves.”

Each year, Galaxy Press awards all winners with cash prizes, free travel and accommodations, week-long professional workshop, and guaranteed publication in their best-selling annual speculative fiction anthology, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers and Illustrators of the Future.

Throughout the Contest’s 30-year history, the intensive mentoring process has proven very successful.  The 348 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

Former writing contest winners with works listed on the New York Times best-seller’s list include Stephen Baxter, Jo Beverly, Leonard Carpenter, Nancy Farmer, Karen Joy Fowler, Robert Reed, Patrick Rothfuss, Dean Wesley Smith, Sean Williams, Dave Wolverton and David Zindell.  In addition to Kevin J. Anderson, well-known contest judges include national best-selling authors such as Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Robert Sawyer, Robert Silverberg and Dave Wolverton.

The 276 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.

Inspired by best-selling author L. Ron Hubbard, the merit-based Writers of the Future writing contest was initiated 31 years ago to discover and encourage talented beginning writers of science fiction and fantasy. The Contest was later expanded to include illustrators whose winners have also gone on to successful illustration and design careers. Writers of the Future Volume 30 (Galaxy Press) is now available in bookstores.

For information on how to enter the contests, go to www.writersofthefuture.com.

Writers and Illustrators of the Future announce new website

Writers and Illustrators of the Future announce new website

Hollywood, CA – Author Services announced today that a new website has just gone live and celebrates the first 29 years of the Contests.  Accessible either from www.writersofthefuture.com or www.illustratorsofthefuture.com, the new site has several new features.

A special feature is the description of each of the 29 annual awards events with the specifics of when and where they took place, plus the list of stories and winners and winning artists and a photo gallery from that year’s ceremony.  Many of these photos have not been seen since first taken nearly three decades ago, including A.E. Van Vogt, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Forrest Ackerman, and many more.

The full list of writer and illustrator judges, past and present, has been made available with links to a photo and bio for each as well as their website where these exist.

Past writer winners and illustrator winners have likewise been listed, and where we have current information, their name has been converted into a hot link to a bio, photo and any website they have.  An especially nice feature for artist winners is to additionally showcase their art.

The existing blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds are easily navigated from the site’s home page.

“While we have made the site go live, we realize that it is a work in progress requiring past winners, or their friends, to provide missing data so we can continue making it as complete as possible,” stated Joni Labaqui, the Contest Director, in making the announcement about the new site.

The Writers of the Future writing contest (www.writersofthefuture.com) was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988 (www.illustratorsofthefuture.com).

The intensive mentoring process has proven very successful. The 348 past winners of the Writing Contest have published 838 novels and nearly 4,000 short stories. They have produced 27 New York Times bestsellers and their works have sold over 50 million copies.

The 276 past winners of the Illustrating Contest have produced over 4,500 illustrations, 356 comic books, graced 594 books and albums with their art and visually contributed to 36 TV shows and 46 major movies.

Dave Wolverton trained 4 New York Times bestselling authors

Dave Wolverton aka David Farland coordinating judge in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest continues to pay it forward

Contest winner from 28 years ago has trained 4 New York Times bestselling authors

HOLLYWOOD  –  The Writers of the Future Contest was initiated nearly thirty years ago by L. Ron Hubbard to help discover new talent in the field of science fiction and fantasy.  Over the decades, hundreds of winners have gone on to critical acclaim, twelve winners having become New York Times bestselling authors. And over the years, Dave Wolverton has taught dozens of new authors in the contest workshop and in his own workshops, who afterward went on to success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) and James Dashner (The Mazer Runner).

In 1987, Dave Wolverton was one of the early Writers of the Future Contest winners. winning the Gold Award for Best Short Story of the Year.  And as such, he was mentored by then Contest coordinating judge Algis Budrys, using Hubbard’s essays on writing (an essential ingredient of the now-famous Writers of the Future workshop).  Immediately following his win, he signed a three-novel contract with Bantam Books.  To date he has penned dozens of novels as Dave Wolverton in the science fiction genre, and as David Farland in fantasy.

Throughout his career he has won numerous awards, including the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language,” the Whitney Award for “Best Novel of the Year,” and the International Book Award for “Best Young Adult Novel of the Year.”  He has hit the New York Times Bestseller list numerous times, and in 1999 set the Guinness Record for the world’s largest single-author, single-book signing.

As Coordinating Judge for the Writers of the Future Contest, Wolverton pays it forward as he reads Contest entries and selects the finalists, semi-finalists and Honorable Mentions. In addition he edits the annual L. Ron Hubbard Presents the Writers and Illustrators of the Future anthology and instructs the winning authors at the annual winners workshop every year with co-judge Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides).

To learn more, including details on how to enter the contests, visit the website at www.writersofthefuture.com

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David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants

—Ten Reasons Why I’ll Quickly Reject Your Story

Here are ten reasons why I reject stories quickly—usually within the first page.

Jim Wolverton

6/19/2012

This past week I finished judging the first quarter of Writers of the Future, and now I’m working on the second quarter. Most of the stories come to us electronically, so much of my day is spent opening files, taking a look at them, and then putting in a review—usually one that says “Rejected.”

I hate that “Reject” button, and I may ask our programmers to give it a title that is a little less offensive, something like, “I’m afraid that this doesn’t meet our needs at the current time.”

Seriously, though, I sometimes wish that I could explain to a young writer why I’m passing on a story. So I’m going to talk about it here.

Here are ten reasons why I reject stories quickly—usually within the first page:

1) The story is unintelligible. Very often I’ll get submissions that just don’t make sense. Often, these seem to be non-English speakers who are way off in both the meaning of words, their context, or in their syntax, but more often it’s just clumsiness. I’ve seen college presidents who couldn’t write. But this lack of care is on a gradient scale, from “I can’t figure out what this is about” to “I don’t want to bother trying to figure this out” to “there are minor problems in this story.” For example, yesterday a promising story called a dungeon the “tombs.” Was it a mistake, or a metaphor? I don’t think it was a metaphor. The author had made too many other errors where the “almost correct” word was used.

2) The story is unbelievable. “Johnny Verve was the smartest kid on earth, and he was only six. He was strongest one, and the most handsome, too. But the coolest part was when he found out he had magical powers!” At that point, I’m gone, and not just because there were four uses of “was” in three sentences.

3) The author leaves no noun or verb unmodified. Sometimes when an author is struggling to start a story, he try to infuse too much information into a sentence: “John rubbed his chapped, dry, sand-covered hands together grimly, and gazed thirstily over the harsh, red, crusty deserts of a deserted Mars.” I may put up with one sentence like that in an otherwise well-written story. You put two of those sentences together on the first page, and it really bogs a story down. Unfortunately, if you’re in a modifying mood, you might just start looking for reasons to add unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and that will kill your pacing. People who do this on the first page of a manuscript will do it throughout. Very often these modifications turn into “purple prose.”

4) Nothing’s happening. This morning I read one where a girl, Marcy, gets out of bed, puts on her clothes (after carefully selecting each item), eats breakfast, and goes to the school bus. It was written well enough, but at the end of a couple of pages I start wondering when the story is going to begin. It really didn’t matter. It hadn’t begun yet, and the author had wasted too much space. I call these the “Never Beginning” stories. Often the inciting incident does occur, but I literally see stories that go on like this for 20 pages, as if the author is merely chronicling a day in the life of their protagonist. It really doesn’t matter if something happens or not. If nothing significant occurs in two pages and I don’t have any reason to go further, I have to reject the story.

5) A major element is left out. An “element” of your story includes your character, setting, conflict, theme, and treatment. Yesterday I read a promising story about a young woman who sings magical crystals out of the ground. The author had good penetration, good voice and inner conflicts. Unfortunately, after five pages I still didn’t know where the story was set. Originally I thought the protagonist was mining in a cave, but then found that she glanced up at the sun. Were there trees in the story, mountains, clouds? I’m not sure. The author never mentioned them. Very often, I think that new authors neglect to put in elements like a setting just because they’re unsure how to weave that information in. But that kind of information needs to be there. Here’s a hint—if you don’t tell me your protagonist’s name in the first two paragraphs, I’ll probably reject the story. Why? Because long experience has taught me that if you make that mistake, you’ll probably leave out other vital information, too.

6) The author is unable to “imply” information. Consider the following sentences. Which one do you think the author should use to convey the intended information?

1) She shook.
2) She shook his hand.
3) She reached out and shook his hand.
4) She reached out her hand and shook his hand.
5) She reached out her hand and shook his hand with her hand that she was reaching out with.

You’d be surprised by what people write. Yesterday I had a woman who “shook,” and it wasn’t obvious that she was shaking someone’s hand until three sentences later. That’s a case where the author thought that his sentence implied more than it did. A few stories later, I got option number five, which was vastly over-written. Here’s a tip: since we typically have to reach out to shake someone’s hand, the words “reached out” in each of the above sentences are already implied, and probably are unnecessary. In the same way, when we stand, we don’t need to add the word “up.” If we sit, we don’t need to add the word “down.” If someone “nods,” we don’t have to add the words “his head.” No one ever nods his knee. Authors who are unaware of how to imply information will almost always overwrite their stories, adding entire scenes that don’t need to be there. Either that, or they’ll leave out a great deal of vital description. Rarely will they do both.

7) There simply isn’t a story. You would be surprised at how many pieces come in that are philosophical diatribes, or letters, or reminiscences. Those are rejected instantly.

8) Oily tales. Some authors think that readers like to be shocked, so they struggle to be as bloody, violent, disgusting, or perverse as possible. One must remember that if you’re submitting to a major contest, the winning stories will be published. Any story that you submit that is not fit to be read by a high school student is, in my opinion, fatally flawed and will be rejected. Profanity may be edited out, but if vile content is what the story is about, then you need to be submitting to someone else.

9) Non-formed stories. A lot of people are submitting flash fiction, a few paragraphs that might be interesting but which usually don’t have much to offer. I can imagine a rare circumstance where a flash fiction piece might win, but when placed beside a long, formed story, flash pieces almost always suffer by comparison because the conflicts in the piece never get properly developed and resolved. The same is true with japes (stories that start as stories and end as jokes).

10) The tale is out of chronological order on the micro-level. Some authors love this construction: “John raced out the door, after brushing his teeth.” So I as the reader am forced to imagine John rushing out the door, then back up and imagine the tooth-bushing scene. If I see two of these in a short story, I’ll forgive them. But if I get two on the first page of a story, I’ll show no mercy. The reason is simple: the author almost always makes a lot of other errors, too, which will show up as unneeded flashbacks and as unnecessary point-of-view shifts.

But what if you’re not the kind of author who makes simple, careless mistakes? What if you’re conscientious, hard-working, and have a decent idea for what it takes to tell a story? I’ll go over some other problems tomorrow—the kinds of things that might not get your story rejected, but won’t let it climb above “Honorable Mention.”