Submissions Hints


The Submissions Spook and The Thing From The Slush Pile have some notes for prospective fiction contributors.  These are not necessarily examples of work submitted.  Rather they are simple red flags that may see your work passed over in favour of other submissions.


  • Wordiness.  Excess descriptive text and dialogue can kill a short story.  Try to get the point across as simply as possible.

  • Overly long sentences.  Excessive use of colons, semi-colons, and commas is bad.  The work's supposed to be a short story, not a Dickensian epic.

  • Poor and or inconsistent punctuation.  New pars for each subject.  New pars for dialogue.

  • Poor formatting.  DO NOT USE PAGE BREAKS.  Do not use great lengths of ....................................... spaces.  If you know your way around your wordprocessor, use paragraph formatting for indents and line spacing.  If not, simple returns after pars will do.

  • Forced dialogue.  Read it out aloud as if you're reading it to a child or your grandmother.

  • Folksy dialogue.  People might speak that way where you're from, but your readers are from all over.  Don't make them cringe.

  • Tense confusion.  Don't switch from present tense to past tense unless you're describing a memory, and even that can be tricky.  Best to avoid it.

  • Adverbs.  Stephen King might hate them, but they do have their place.  If used correctly, they can make a story sing.  Just don't go overboard.  If you want some good examples, read some of R.E. Howard's Conan stories.

  • Hate speech.  We shouldn't have to say it, but there you have it.

  • Steer clear of drug use involving minors.

  • Bad sex.  Anything to do with underage/rape/otherwise nasty or illegal, is out.   Please be aware that certain countries have different laws regarding age of consent etc.


  • No copy-and-pasted stock images, especially not wolves or lightning.

  • No reprints.  This includes art you may have published on your own site or social media.

  • No porn.  Nudity (unless the male is...  well, you know what we're talking about,), is fine.

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