Pet peeves

Things that limit your story’s chances

  • Typo in the title. Typos happen, but if you don’t check the spelling of your own title, it bodes ill for the rest. For that matter, a few typos in the body of the piece are no big deal. More than one per couple of pages says you’re not proofreading.
  • Poor opener. The opening sentence sets the tone for the rest of the story. Poor grammar, convoluted clauses, and typos are obvious no-nos. A sentence that doesn’t do anything to give us a flavor of the story won’t help much either.
  • Can’t follow rules. We’ll look at anything, but when we say we don’t really like military SF or zombies or racism, and we do like vegans, and you send a story about a racist zombie army that eats pigeons…
  • No story. We want stories with beginning, middle, and end, with forward movement, character development, and impact. We’re not looking for moment-in-time scenes where little is resolved.
  • ‘Was’ instead of ‘had been’. Learn how to use the past perfect continuous. No, we don’t care what it’s called either; we had to look it up. There are times for ‘was’ and times for ‘had been’. They’re different. We see a widespread inability (reluctance?) to use ‘had been’ properly. It may be the most common grammar flaw we see.

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