Submission Trends and Tips
Though the work we receive here at CR is always widely varied, we do notice, on rare occasions, certain trends among the submissions. Here are some of our latest.
A Pre-Story Death: Sometimes a death that occurs before the narrative begins—especially when it’s the loss of a loved one—creates a poignant sense of present absence, giving even mundane actions a kind of emotional echo, like in the 1990 film Ghost Dad. However, when handled poorly, the device can be a cop out, lend false weight to a story, like in the final episode of Lost when you learn that the weird parallel universe is actually like a kind of limbo-type place and everyone’s actually dead. I mean, really? I watch a show for six seasons and the “reveal” is that they are all dead?! We live in a post–Jacob’s Ladder world. You just can’t drop a “surprise” death on us anymore; it’s like playing tic-tac-toe with anyone over the age of four.
Graphic Sex Galore: This one’s no surprise. It seems everyone lately has been capitalizing on sex to get themselves attention. Even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has jumped on this wagon, posing in increasingly alluring photographs as his bid for the presidency winds up. Now, we here at CR are by no means prudish. We’re not a pack of hanky-dropping belles who blush when someone uses the word “nipple.” We’ve been around the block. We’ve done our share of shirtless horseback riding. We just want to advise writers that sex, when handled effectively, can be disruptive, edgy, and “real,” like in the movie Showgirls. But, when handled poorly, explicit sex can just seem tawdry, a way of pandering to a lamentably low-brow audience, like in the film Last Tango in Paris.
We mention all this not to discourage our faithful submitters from sending us their masterpieces about a stripper who haunts her former place of employment, we just want to make sure that all you writers out there have a good reason to wake the dead and strip your characters bare.