Words of Wisdom from K.D. Wentworth or Tips On How To Win the Writers Contest - The Year In Review!
1. Avoid gratuitous and on-stage sex scenes. Off-stage sex is fine if it's necessary for the plot, but on-stage hijinks would make it inappropriate to market the anthology in as many markets as we would like.
2. Don't write about serial killers unless there's something supernatural going on. Ordinary serial killers do not qualify as fantasy. Also, most serial killer stories are horror, not dark fantasy, and so do not fit our guidelines.
3. Get your best ammunition on the first page. Put whatever makes this science fiction or fantasy up front. Also, don't start with an extended scene that only functions as an info dump. If you think you need a prologue, try breaking the information up instead and salting it throughout the story. Prologues can slow down a reader's immersion in the story.
4. If you're writing hard sf, do your research and get your facts right. The judges love hard sf entries, but the science has to be dead-on. You can't have diamond ships that shatter when iron runs into them or creatures that can blithely go from Earth normal pressure to survive without distress under Jupiter's pressures without explanation. Even though it's only scientific handwaving (because if we really could do these things, we'd be out there doing them, not writing sf stories about them), it has to sound plausible.
5. On the other hand, though, don't spend pages telling me how your space drive works. Again, just make it sound plausible and mention enough accurate scientific details to convince your reader.
6. And, lastly, if you're writing a fight scene, remember that you don't have to lovingly choreograph every single blow on both sides. I've seen too many fight scenes that go on for pages. The reader just wants to know who won and what it cost both the winner and the loser. A short description is fine, but anything longer slows the story down. It doesn't matter who hit whose head/nose/ear/stomach. It just matters who came out on top and what kind of shape they're in now.
Have a great holiday season! K.D. Wentworth - Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future