So, as I've said, I've been reading a lot of slush lately. (We're getting a lot more really good sci-fi and fantasy now that we're an SFWA qualifying market. By the way, did I mention that FLASH FICTION ONLINE IS AN SFWA QUALIFYING MARKET???!!?!??!?!!?)
While I haven't had a lot of time for anything else, I've had some time to reflect on those stories. I've read a whole ton of stories that are, meh, Okay. Not awful stories, not full of grammar mistakes, but missing something--something that makes them SPARKLE!!
And I've decided what that is:
Style and/or voice.
Too many otherwise good stories lack them. Com. plete. ly.
Style and voice make a story distinctive. They help the reader suspend disbelief by helping the reader get easily inside the minds and attitudes of the characters. If the character has no attitude, the reader doesn't get inside his mind; and if the reader doesn't get inside his mind, the reader doesn't imaginatively engage; and if the reader doesn't imaginatively engage, he has no reason to care; and if the reader has no reason to care,
Wow! If I had to choose only one attribute to really MASTER as a writer, I'd choose characterization, bar none; and style and voice are an important part of that.