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MrBF1V3
February 22nd, 2007, 12:06 AM
In my inter-wanderings, I found this list of "stories we've seen too often" I thought it was rather fun. Do people really write stories like that??? Seriously???

http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml

Ahem, "This list is part of the submission guidelines for Strange Horizons, an online speculative fiction magazine." (per their request, this is a market, btw)

I find it gratiftying that I have only broken two of their rules, well, one and a half, though I'm now tempted to write a story with the title, "1-800-SOMETHING-CUTE" :rolleyes:

B5

Dawnstorm
February 22nd, 2007, 03:52 AM
Lisa Mantchev. "1-800-WICKED 1". In: New Voices in Science Fiction. Mike Resnick (Ed).

Did you know that villains have lousy customer service?

As far as I remember (not very far), I wasn't all that amused.

Hereford Eye
February 22nd, 2007, 08:25 AM
I thought there were only supposed to be 7 basic plots.:p
If I submitted something to them, say: "Negative person meets a demon (either one of the nine classical demons or a more individual demon) and interacts with them, usually by keeping them captive." that they would reject the story simply based on the lousy grammar?

KatG
February 22nd, 2007, 10:26 AM
Right, scratch Strange Horizons off the submit list.

These kinds of lists are unfortunately how stupid writing rules get started, circulating among the populace. They're pretty unnecessary as, such as the editors themselves note, nobody listens to the list in submitting stories. Also, if someone new did submit such a story and they thought it was very good, they'd still buy it. And any published, decently known author can of course write a story from any item on the list and they don't care. In fact, I think there's a whole sub-category of sf of novels where a visitor breaks the rules on a planet, creating chaos. I sympathize with them, I do, but what's the point of this?

Jacquin
February 22nd, 2007, 03:42 PM
Right, scratch Strange Horizons off the submit list.

These kinds of lists are unfortunately how stupid writing rules get started, circulating among the populace. They're pretty unnecessary as, such as the editors themselves note, nobody listens to the list in submitting stories. Also, if someone new did submit such a story and they thought it was very good, they'd still buy it. And any published, decently known author can of course write a story from any item on the list and they don't care. In fact, I think there's a whole sub-category of sf of novels where a visitor breaks the rules on a planet, creating chaos. I sympathize with them, I do, but what's the point of this?

That seems a little harsh. After all they do say
Please don't describe this as a canonical list of bad stories per se. This is a list of types of stories that we at SH have seen too often; it's not intended to be a complete list of all types of bad stories, nor are all the items on the list necessarily bad.

I'd say that providing a list of things they see done badly too often is pretty helpful. Though to be honest I see a list like that and I just see it as a list of ideas. Perhaps we should use it for the next flash fiction competition. :D

MrBF1V3
February 22nd, 2007, 05:57 PM
I thought there were only supposed to be 7 basic plots.:p


Is that why what you write is over-the-top cliches within fiction?:) It's interesting that submission rules aren't always as carefully edited ... kind of like the notes I get from the people who are supposed to be teaching my children. (whole different story...)

DS, perhaps it would be more up to date to call the story www.SOMETHING-CUTE.com That would probably set off my porn filter.

KatG, I can kind of see the point, aside from keeping some junior input typest busy. But like Jacquin, I'm more likely to see it as a challenge, like the editor who doesn't believe anyone could write a good (flash) story in less than 500 words. (I do have a flash story which is 501 words...) There are times when I've read stories and have wondered how many versions of the same story can be written. Ironically enough, the story in which I blatently break one of their guidelines was written after I'd read a number of stories where someone was dead, and didn't know it. My character knows full well he's dead, and he's a real jerk, and at the end of the story ... Um ... I'll tell you later.

Anyway, lists like that do let us know they've seen too many of certain plots, and may drive some of us to be more creative. If I submit to them, I'll just send them a story. If they need an excuse to turn it down, they already have a whole list of them.

Maybe for the next flash competition, the story title has to be 1-800-WhoisJacquin ;)

B5

Nogothorod
February 22nd, 2007, 06:50 PM
Funny. Can't say I've written anything of that sort, although some of those ideas sound like they could be tweaked into something more original.

KatG
February 22nd, 2007, 09:15 PM
That seems a little harsh. After all they do say
"Please don't describe this as a canonical list of bad stories per se. This is a list of types of stories that we at SH have seen too often; it's not intended to be a complete list of all types of bad stories, nor are all the items on the list necessarily bad. "

I'd say that providing a list of things they see done badly too often is pretty helpful. Though to be honest I see a list like that and I just see it as a list of ideas. Perhaps we should use it for the next flash fiction competition. :D

If it's not a list of stuff they don't want, what is the point of it? If you can submit stories that use these ideas, why have a list at all? The idea of the list is so that the hordes of unpublished authors submitting to them will not submit stories of this type. But as they themselves note, the hordes of unpublished authors still submit stories of this type, and most of them probably don't bother to read the list anyway. The list does nothing to reduce their submissions pile or refine it. It's a funny list. It shows that the editors are witty folk. Other than that, it's pretty useless.

Like I said, I do sympathize with them, but these lists never really mean anything. I've been seeing them for over twenty years, and their content regularly changes, but they are mostly a waste of paper.

Now, one interesting thing is that this magazine seems to be good-humoredly issuing a challenge. Go ahead and try to convince us that you can do this story well, even though you are not a published author, they seem to be saying. We're willing to give you a shot. Which means the list is a list of story ideas that they would like to see much, much more of in the future, rather than ideas they'd rather not encounter. But if they are going to do that, they might as well make it a contest and have some real fun with it.


Ironically enough, the story in which I blatently break one of their guidelines was written after I'd read a number of stories where someone was dead, and didn't know it. My character knows full well he's dead, and he's a real jerk, and at the end of the story ... Um ... I'll tell you later.

Oh go ahead and tell us now. It sounds interesting.

World Builder
February 23rd, 2007, 01:30 AM
2. Creative person is having trouble creating.
a. Writer has writer's block.

This is probably the one I've gotten closest to "breaking" (pretending for the moment that this is an actual rule). Though in that story -- one of my few non-SFF ones -- the writer gets amnesia, forgetting the novel he was writing and has to piece things together from notes. Mainly the idea is just my wondering what would happen if I could piece together my other stories just from the seemingly random notes I have scribbled down. Really should get around to finishing that story.

Hereford Eye
February 23rd, 2007, 07:28 AM
Is that why what you write is over-the-top cliches within fiction? Isn't there a Statute of Limitations, a half-life or something that applies to how long negative reviews can be used against you? There ought to be.;)

they might as well make it a contest
Seems like a good scavenger hunt: where have you seen this plot done and who did it? I can see some that I know the Grand Masters have played with.