Beyond the Threshold — Or Why I Can’t Enjoy Reading Anymore

Once upon a time I could pick up a book and read it for hours without pause. I’d get so wrapped up in the imagined world and become so invested in the characters’ lives that nothing short of Armageddon could have pulled me free – and only then because I’d be pissed that Bruce Willis had to die.

Not anymore. Not after you start to learn what goes into good storytelling. There are the hooks in the first sentence/paragraph/pages/choose one; the passive and active voice and the notorious “show don’t tell”, amongst a plethora of other so-called ‘rules’ for fiction writing.

I can barely make it through the first paragraph of a story nowadays without my internal editor going into Defcon 5 over trivial bullshit. And I’ve been trusted as an assistant editor for Shadow Road Quarterly. I pray to the gods that the agent or editor I submit my novel manuscript has a lot more patience than I do.

I’m not even a professional, but I got shit to do during the day so when I go read the Shadow Road slush I really am looking for a reason to say REJECT and move on to the next thing. What really got my pants in a knot was when I read a story a few weeks back and it was riveting, good characterization, original and creative…. then I got to the end and it all petered out and went into some strange metaphysical tangent. That author wasted my time! I was seconds from hitting ACCEPT until I reached the ending.

Today’s Moral: If you write and submit short stories then remember that the BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and ENDING must be EXCELLENT. Need help remembering that?

Think about the poor editor that has to take the time to read your story and you want to impress them through and through – cause that’s how you get a story published.

So think: B MEE. [B]eginning [M]iddle [E]nding [E]xcellent.

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