Friday, October 12, 2012

A Mini Rant

Okay, what is it with magazine editors?  Whenever they list their favorite reads you get a list like this one.

"We will consider short stories that can be classified broadly as belonging to the Horror, Science Fiction or Fantasy genres. Expand our horizons, challenge or fine-tune convention. We love well-done genre blending and bending, too, like John W. Campbell, Jr.’s “Who Goes There?,” H.P. Lovecraft’s “At The Mountains of Madness,” Philip K. Dick’s “The King of the Elves,” and C.S. Lewis’s “Space” trilogy. Other authors whose work we enjoy include Jorge Luis Borges, Harlan Ellison, R.E. Howard, Shirley Jackson, M.R. James, Brian McNaughton, Clifford D. Simak, Clark Ashton Smith, and J.R.R. Tolkien."

The truth is, if a writer submitted a story written like Tolkien they'd find a rejection slip in their inbox.  Why do they do this?  Is it to impress writers with what they've read?  Are there no new writers that they admire?  If we all wrote in the same style and type of story that was written a century ago we'd never find a market.  Yes, the work of the masters is great, but please, update your reading list.


Anonymous said...

I usually suspect it's complete unfamiliarity with the current market coupled with a vague nostalgia for a time gone by when "the real stuff" was being written. Conservative claptrap, pretty much.

Keith Rawson said...

It's editors like these who keep certain genres moribund and lifeless. They're basically saying, we want the same-old-same-old, so don't bother trying to experiment.

By the way, whenever I read this kind of statement, it makes me automatically NOT want to submit to the publication.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Ha! Good point. I've never found knowing which writers an editor likes to be helpful. It doesn't provide any guidance to the editor (in terms of what they're looking for) or the writer (in terms of what he/she is submitting).

sandra seamans said...

Yes, I agree, KA, but if you're publishing (or starting up) a zine shouldn't you be aware of the current crop of writers?

Yep, if I see a list like that, I automatically think my writing isn't going to be a fit, Keith.

Totally agree, Chris. And if an editor is only looking for what he knows, how will he/she be open to something new?

Thomas Pluck said...

Yeah, I can't imagine what they'd actually want. The pace of stories written today is generally much tighter than even 20 years ago, much less 80 years back.
And if all your favorite writers are dead, you need to read more. I'm sorry, it's the same as music. People stop seeking out new artists when they reach a certain age, and someone with tastes that stagnant might not be the best choice for a modern fiction venue of any genre

pattinase (abbott) said...

And it also upsets me when they list nothing but male writers as their favorites.

sandra seamans said...

Well said, Thomas! A writer should know the roots of the genre, but not get bogged down in them.

Didn't you know, Patti, there were no female writers. :) With the exception of Shirley Jackson, you rarely see a female author listed.