Slush Surfing: The Winnowing Part 1

Huzzah! The next part of my slush reading adventures is here! For those of you who missed it, please check out the first post in the series.

[and the story continues…]

I felt a tad bit nervous when Suzanne (my EIC at FFO) sent us all an email that began with “Winnowing is coming! Winnowing is coming!” I have no idea if that line was lifted from GRRM, but it sounded just as ominous (to me, anyway). But hey, this is what I signed up for. If you don’t want to sky dive, don’t get on the plane.

The Elimination Round

I don’t know how it works in other online fiction houses, but at FFO we’re divided into multiple “slush teams” (not as icky as it sounds). The slush gets divvied up and distributed among these groups—and believe me, there is more than enough to go around. Pretty soon, my Submishmash desktop was flooded with stories for me to review. I have to admit I almost panicked at the sight. Being the new guy, my team leader Suzanne offered a one-time pass if I couldn’t finish (which was nice of her), but I didn’t want to have to let it get to that point.

One thing that helped was the fact that I didn’t have to finish every story. I did have to read them all, of course, but if a story wasn’t good enough to hold my interest, then chances are it wouldn’t hold our readers’ interest either. Stories like that would get an automatic “no” vote. Anything above that would be rated “maybe”, and I was under strict instructions to reserve my “yes” vote for stories that I absolutely, truly loved. Stories for which I would be willing to go up against my fellow readers in a gladitorial (or editorial (hah! sorry)) fight to the death. Pointy weapons optional. Stories that got more than one positive vote (“maybe” is positive in this context) would move on to the next round for more in-depth discussion and review.

The First Vote

Right, that’s the rules out of the way. I was pretty pumped up at this point, so I dove into the pile, wondering if the first story on my list would also be my first “yes” vote.

Seriously.

It wasn’t.

It wasn’t even a maybe.

In fact, I was left scratching my head as to whether it was a story at all. I read it again. I checked FFO’s submission guidelines, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. The guidelines were very clear: we accepted stories from every genre. STORIES.

But the dude (or dudette, I don’t know—it was a blind submission) had sent me an essay. It wasn’t a very good essay either. It could’ve been a story in essay form—I’ve read stories like those—but they always had recognizable plot elements. This was just… weird. Like he (or she) had tried submitting it in class but then, after the teacher graded it with a big fat F, sent it to us because we had a better chance of “getting it”.

Well I didn’t.

First vote: No

[to be continued]

Please note that all opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect those of Flash Fiction Online or those of its staff (except me).

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One comment on “Slush Surfing: The Winnowing Part 1

  1. Wenk says:

    Sounds like interesting reads are headed your way on a very regular basis. Exciting! 🙂

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