Takeaways from Slushpile Sifting

  • Alzheimer’s and parents’ deaths lose their force as plot devices/ emotion tweakers after the 100th read or so;
  • Plagiarizing premises’ from famous short stories dilutes their power;
  • Using graduate school as a setting or graduate students as characters seems lazy and boring;
  • Plot remains paramount – well-written plotless stories dominate slushpiles;
  • The ability to convey emotion through words is rare;
  • You get one premise free, the others you have to earn;
  • After completing a draft, figure out what the story is (the story making machinery) and then write it again;
  • Having a PhD in English/CompLit etc. doesn’t mean you can write things people want to read;
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