Don’t Get to the Point

Michael Wehunt

One piece of genre fiction writing and submitting advice that has always annoyed me: The speculative element must be introduced right away in a story. I saw this “rule” a lot when I was starting out, and though it’s obviously not written in stone (hence the quotation marks), it usually felt pretty rigid, a semi-official “We’re a genre magazine, so we need to see the genre front and center” mantra. I can see why editors suggest this. It might provide the “hook” or let the reader know what to expect. Editors have to make their way through a great deal of submissions, and they might feel they need to know what’s what on the very first page or else they’ll click “reject.” But I find it very restrictive and even leading to homogeneity. It’s on my mind lately because I’ve noticed I don’t read genre magazines nearly as much as…

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