This is topic The Sub Machine... in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
'The Sub-Machine' is looking for volunteer slush readers.

This high quality, yet fictional publication intends to publish in the fourth dimension and so will never be available here on Earth. However, we do recognize the skill with which you earthlings are able to craft a story and so wish to recruit slush readers from within your numbers.

We are looking for slush readers who are available to anonymously read stories of up to 3000 words. You will be required to treat each story as though you reading a trillion of them each day--so reading the entire story is not required if it is not able to sustain your interest.

For each story you will have to answer a few questions. Obviously if you dump out the story very early, you will only need to identify why you couldn't read on.

1) The point at which you read up to (words). If it wasn't the end you must state the reason why you dumped out.

2) The main problems with the story were:

a) Writing--
b) Plot--
c) Dialogue--
d) Characters--
e) Ending
f) Typos--
g) Formatting--

Suggestions for improving the story:

Score: 1-10 (1=junk and 10= I recommend this is immediately published.)

The above only will require a few sentences at most. The idea is the story will garner comments from a few slush readers who will have no contact with each other.

Slush readers may themselves submit to this fictional publication.

If we have sufficient slush readers I will post a note that 'The Sub-Machine' will be open for, initially, a single week of reading. All subs must be received during that period only.

Stories not formatted according to the rules (as I will specify at the begining of the reading week will be returned--unread--with a note that they failed the formatting requirements). It's the real world out there.

'The Sub-Machine' is looking for authors with publishing credits to their names HOWEVER we are aware of people lurking on Hatrack who are fine writers, (with WOTF credits for example) who we would encourage to apply. Applications need only include your name (Hatrack name), the number of paid/unpaid credits you may have, if any.

'The Sub-Machine' recognises that writers have to write and so will endeavor to not swamp slush readers so they can't write their own stuff. So, during the reading week, they will be sent a 1-3 stories per day, (up to a combined max of 3000 words). Reading and making a few brief comments on each we anticipate will take, on average (fifty percent of stories may not be read) about 1/2 - 3/4 an hour.

At the end of the reading week Five stories will be selected for fictional publication and titles and authors of those will be identified on Hatrack together with their average scores. All authors will receive back the crits from the slush readers. Depending on how many volunteer to slush read, and how many subs we get I hope each story will get circulated to a minimum of five slush readers, but it may be higher.

But be prepared for the truth regarding your story...most mags don't respond if they don't like your the idea is you hear WHY and WHERE your story is weak, if it is weak. It will all be done anonymously. No-one will know who is a slush reader or whose story it is except me, and I won't slush read.

I will probably need to control the number of stories and so will post titles of stories accepted for the slush process on a thread. Stories will go through the slush process on a first come basis.

Please don't send me stories now (I will delete them.) however if you are prepared to be a slush reader, please email with the details I asked for above. Slush readers will be prioritised if they submit to the slush, however the process will be the same.

The point of this is you won't have to wait months to get a form rejection--WE CAN GIVE YOU A DETAILED REJECTION THE FOLLOWING WEEK, perhaps sooner. *laughs*

Of course for this to happen I need slush readers prepared to read 3000 words per night and make comments on them that night and return those comments to me the same night.

If this works and isn't too burdensome (after all we aren't a paying market!) we may be able to keep it going and it will be a place where you can get some feedback on your polished story.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited November 02, 2008).]

Posted by TaleSpinner (Member # 5638) on :
Looks like a good idea, but the commitment for a slush reader isn't clear to me. Is it a weekly commitment? 3000 words per night each night, or one night of the reading week?

I'm not sure if I'd be acceptable as a slush reader, but I imagine there are others like me who can't guarantee specific nights, because personal commitments vary and, in my case, I travel on business most weeks and cannot always be sure of a decent internet connection. Some flex may be necessary.


Posted by snapper (Member # 7299) on :
Is it a week worth of submitting and the slush crew has up to a month to review it?
A good idea. An anonymous critique for something you think is worth getting published and reasons why someone thinks it shouldn't or should be.
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Basically you will be sent a bundle of slush each night for 7 nights (e.g. 1 x 2000 word story + 1 x 1000 word story = total 3000 words OR 3 x 1000 word stories OR 1x 3000 word story) but the total each night would be no more than 3000 words.

As the reader you would then begin reading and commenting. It may be you think they were very weak and therefore wouldn't read the whole thing...may only take 5 mins to come to that conclusion. I would imagine a fair bit of the stuff will not be read all the way through, and I want slush readers to only read the whole thing if the story pulls them through to the end, for whatever reason. You will only need to read a whole story if you like it--so that ain't bad is it!

If a story is read by five slush readers and they all stop around the same point, that indicates something has gone wrong there or just before--which is great info for a writer to up the ante just before that point somehow.

You would have 2 weeks to clear the whole lot, but would send me stuff as you did it -- in the order it was sent to you. That will give me allow me to pass on results as they happen.

I will accept applications from slush readers who state how many of the seven days they can do. E.g I can do three out of the seven days (total of 9000 words of slush). You would still have the 14 days to complete the slush in. Slush is measure in units; the minimum unit is a days worth (3000 words).

Also Talespinner, you are a good writer and I would encourage you to apply. I am trying to avoid having real newbie writers as slush readers--although I do want newbie writers to submit, if they want.

I am hoping to get as many slush readers as possible, so don't think I'm going to be too picky.

If there are few applicants then this idea will not happen, but I personally would love to have a place I can do mock subs to to find out what is wrong with them. Later we may be able to accommodate longer stories, but it revolves around people putting in time.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited November 02, 2008).]

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Obviously, keep it quiet if you are a slush reader...If you have questions about being a slush reader, feel free to email me. I will post how recruitment for slush readers is going.

If we don't get enough to start (say over ten...I would prefer 20 or more) then I will post that 'The Sub-Machine' has folded (a sad day in fictional publishing history).

Posted by Patrick James (Member # 7847) on :
So, basically you are proposing a trial place for new writers to submit to, not a publishing concern?

The idea is great. So are the people who would contribute their time to be so helpful to others.


Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Its a fake mag, yeah, but one that WILL give you feedback. You will hear if your story was read all the way through, and if it wasn't then where and why the slush reader stopped. Slush readers will be asked not to persevere with stories they don't like and move onto the next (after recording their) comments. So submissions will need to stand out, be original and be thoroughly edited.

Of course we will accept simultaneous submissions so don't feel this process will hold up your story.

Of course, if you don't have a sub-3K story--GET WRITING. Flash stories are the most welcome. We are probably going to have the submission week from 23/11/08 and will close on 30/11/08. This will be followed by a reading week. THOSE DATES WILL BE CONFIRMED ONCE ALL THE WOULD-BE SLUSH READERS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited November 03, 2008).]

Posted by smncameron (Member # 7392) on :
It's good to come back and see that the same faces, err names, are still around.

I have zero credits to my name, but I know what I like, why I like it, and I read fast.


23/10/08 and will close on 30/10/08. This will be followed by a reading week. THOSE DATES WILL BE CONFIRMED ONCE ALL THE WOULD BE SLUSH READERS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED.

Those dates have, in fact, already passed.

[This message has been edited by smncameron (edited November 03, 2008).]

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :

I meant November!

Please don't ask to be a slush reader here. EMAIL ME as I requested and we can discuss it off air.


Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
I think I may also, after the slush readers are complete, make do a post for each story--minus the author's name--and put the comments for each story up.

This will allow the slush readers to get some idea of what the other slush readers said.

Obviously, authors can then claim authorship should they wish to.

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
bump! We have a number of readers identified but need more...
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Posted by AWSullivan (Member # 8059) on :
Skadder: You wouldn't be posting the entire story right? Just a title and maybe first 13?


Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Not allowed to post whole stories, especially ones that don't belong to you.

No I was just planing on posting the title of the story and the comments it received--not even 13 lines.

The author gets the benefit of the crits and the slush readers get to find out what the other slush readers thought of the same story.

We all learn--apart from those not participating at all.

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
I have a few readers already, but I need more. The current number will not be enough...

3 full time readers can deal with twenty-one flash pieces at most or only seven 3000 word stories. I would hope to be able to deal with more stuff than that.

Please volunteer your services even if you think you could only slush read for 1/7 of the reading week.


Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Posted by Broda (Member # 8280) on :

[This message has been edited by Broda (edited November 04, 2008).]

Posted by AWSullivan (Member # 8059) on :
I'm interested in submitting. I don't believe my critical eye is good enough to be a reader yet.


Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
bump...still need more. Don't forget it's just for a week and only going to be less than an hour of your time each night--probably a lot less.

I will keep it open until Sunday. If I haven't got enough readers by then I will drop the idea.

Posted by Cheyne (Member # 7710) on :
Skadder- many of us are involved in NaNo this month. Perhaps you will find a more open audience in December. Don't put the machine away permanently.
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
The reading week was going to be the first week in December...won't nano have stopped by then?
Posted by Cheyne (Member # 7710) on :
Yes but...
From what I hear there is a period of recuperation and deprogramming involved. Most of us are feeling very tied up schedule-wise and aren't prepared to commit to the future till we get there. Just saying that if the Sub Machine doesn't fly now try again later. It is a decent sounding idea.
Besides you don't want a bunch of readers who have spent a month supressing all of their editing instincts.
Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
I just wanted to agree with Cheyne. All of us over at Nano have been practicing not committing to anything else, and it's going to take a while to get out of the habit. (It's kind of an addicting habit, to tell you the truth.)


[This message has been edited by Unwritten (edited November 05, 2008).]

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Okay, well, I will see how it goes now...If not now, then perhaps after Christmas.
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
Last bump.
Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
The Sub-Machine had a number of applications from would-be slush readers. I was forced to turn away a few as I expected slush readers to have some experience critiquing and to know some of the common cliches (starting a story with a waking MC, for ex.).

Unfortunately, we didn't get as many readers as I felt we would need to deal with a reasonable number of submissions (I didn't want to turn away submissions if I could help it.).

On that basis I will re-float the Sub Machine after Christmas and hopefully will get a bigger response from the more experienced writers on Hatrack.

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