Beth Goder
Author and Archivist

Goal: Don't Be Boring

When I first started writing, I scoured the Internet for advice from the experts.

Not writers (although I certainly read a lot of writer blogs too), but editors.

I figured that slush pile readers were exposed to more new writing than anyone else, so perhaps they’d have some good advice for someone just getting started.

As I browsed through many “tales from the slush pile” and interviews of famous editors in the speculative fiction field, there was one thing people seemed to be saying over and over again.

Most of the slush pile, it seems, is not actually that bad. Many submissions are grammatically correct and tell a story in a somewhat proficient way. But lots of stories are just average. Lots of stories are boring.

So one of my biggest writing goals is to not be boring.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. A lot goes into telling a story. And what, exactly, makes a story not boring?

Plotting is an important element. I try to give my characters a goal right away, something that the reader can latch on to. I try to raise questions that the reader will wonder about.

Some of my strategy hinges on putting in strange details, stuff that’s often a bit silly, like a sea monster who sings drinking songs or aliens landing on Rabbit Island (which is actually a real and amazing place).

As a new writer, I know that not everything I write will be publishable. But I strive to write the stuff that only I can write. The weird stuff. The silly stuff. The stuff that could only come out of my brain.

And I do believe that every writer, at whatever level of skill, has a voice that is theirs alone. I believe that everyone has a story that only they can tell.