It's time for another thrilling installment of “Let's Write An Editorial!” :)
Fiction is a game of “let's pretend” carried out by people whose imaginations are more valuable than gold. Whatever the genre, a story not only has to work, but it has to be entertaining as well. But entertaining to whom? The reader? The editor to whom the story was submitted? The writer, themselves? The book reviewer? The critic? Ultimately, the best stories should answer “yes” to all those questions.
But people are so different, one from another, that it is impossible to please all the people all of the time. This is why there are stories that provoke so many differing opinions. It is also why there are so many genres of fiction. People are different and like different things. Nothing will appeal to everyone, all the time, everywhere. The same story that one reader loves, another reader will loathe. What one critic loves, another will hate. An editor might love a story, but the writer might think it is garbage. The writer might think it's the best story ever written, but the editor reading the slush pile might not be able to finish it before tossing it in the trash can in disgust.
It's a wonder anything ever gets published.
So are we writers supposed to aim for the lowest common denominator and write to please the largest number of people we can? The answer to that is “yes, if you want to get your stories read,”but it's a very cynical yes. And in fact, it's not a complete answer. In reality, a writer might submit the same story to a long string of editors before the story gets accepted. Why did one like it and the rest reject it? Probably because readers tend to congregate around publications that put out stories they like. The editors of those publications that succeed in attracting readers tend to choose the sorts of things that they think their readers will like. If they choose wrong, the readers go elsewhere. If they choose correctly, the readers stick around, as does the publication.
So what do we do? What is the answer?
With all due respect, that's really an easy question. We write the best stories we possibly can. We learn how to write better stories as time goes on. We study the places we want to send a submission to so that we can find out if it might fit in with what their readers like. And we never give up. Writing is hard work. You owe it to yourself to turn out the best stories you possibly can. You also owe it to yourself to learn more about writing, to learn where what you write has the best chance of being accepted, and to write for different markets, too. Stretch yourself as a writer. Grow, learn, study, research... It'll pay off in the long run.
Now that's quite enough from me. It's time I let you get to the reading. There is a lot in this new issue. Go explore it, and have fun!