I know y'all are all bizzy bizzy with your WIPs and other fun writing projects, right? I'd really love to hear about your progress or troubles in meeting goals!
As a publishing editor of Rose & Thorn Journal, I get to read some beautiful prose and poetry from all over the world. But there's always the "bad and ugly" to go along with the good in the growing number of submissions we receive. It always amazes me that, say of 100 submits, Kat [hey Kat!] and I will independently short list the same eight or so stories, then haggle over the other three to add to our YES pile for acceptance. These are just random numbers picked for this example, but what I'm saying is there are some stories, no matter the genre, that rise to the top of the pile by virtue of their excellence.
The stories we accept each quarter have nothing more in common than their power to grab our eyeballs and move them to the story's conclusion. (BTW, we do not read bios until after we read the story. Unlike other journals, we also make it a point to ferret out great stories that might just need a bit of tweaking because we are determined to include new voices as well as established!)
Thinking about what separates GOOD prose from GREAT prose, I've compiled a list of what does it for me. These are the things that never fail to catch my attention:
TOP 10 INGREDIENTS OF GREAT PROSE
10. Polished, realistic dialogAnd ever sweet Kathryn Magendie just emailed me her list of thoughts. (Thanks, owe ya one!) Kat says:
9. An element of surprise or a plot twist
8. Lyrical use of language
7. Characters that are real, quirky or gritty
6. Stories that hold to the end (don't fall flat or drift off point)
5. Unusual treatment of evergreen themes
4. Gripping story plot
3. A finish that is as strong as the beginning
2. Clean and technically well written
1. That extra "something" (similar to the inigmatic "star quality" some movie celebs have)
Endings that aren't cliched - or as if the writer didn't know how to end it or was just tired of writing it and slapped some ending on. I can be reading a good story and get to the end and am so disappointed! Second to that are endings that feel as if I hit a brick wall - I don't need things tied up into a bow, but I don't want to feel as if something is missing and I'm left emptied by the ending instead of filled.
Characters! I'll follow great, interesting, compelling characters anywhere they lead me--anywhere! Make me care or be intrigued or interested about the character in any way (and it doesn't necessarily have to be a "likeable" character -I just have to care to follow them) and I'm in for the ride - unless, see above - the ending has to hold up the rest of the story. If the ending is weak, the story falls upon itself in a big heap.
Passion/Care/Love for/in the writing - sometimes I swear I can tell when someone slapped together a story just to submit it in a hurry to fifty-galleven editors at fifty-galleven journals. There's an emptiness to it, a hollow ringing - I'm not engaged.
okay, that's off the top of my head --
Now, what is it that does it for you? That "it" factor that speaks to you when you read your favorite kind of writing? Yes...I really wanna know!
I'm in serious need of coffee. Please don't hold it against me if there are typos. I'm lazy and don't usually spell check. ;) @@@