ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Submitting Speculative Fiction: The Pitfalls to Avoid

Updated on August 1, 2013

For those who don’t know yet, speculative fiction is a term applied to genre fiction that is science fiction, fantasy, and horror and their subgenres. It also encompasses anything in between, that is stories with a mesh of science fiction and fantasy or horror and which are sometimes difficult to classify. A broader definition of what is speculative fiction is available here.

Frequently New writers submitting to topnotch magazines like Asimov’s and Science fiction and Fantasy do not stand a chance in getting published, though their stories might be of a very good quality. Besides, the absence of personal rejections, in which the editors tells you why he or she is not buying your story,(due to large submissions to these markets of course) saps writers’ morale and undermine their confidence as to continuing to write.

Actually, new writers don’t know that there are several reasons why their stories have been rejected despite being good. So aren’t they good enough?

New writers have to take into account the deadly sins they should avoid to make their stories publishable. I have compiled some of them and I may add others in a future update.

What's so great about speculative fiction?

The First Sin

Not knowing the style of the magazine: Know which magazine you are submitting to. More than frequently, editors advise potential submitters to read the magazine before submitting. This is not done for commercial purpose. Writers need to familiarize with the style whether it is formal, informal, or experimental, or any other combination. Some editors are not at all comfortable with a copious use of adverbs and passive voice. Others prefer to see fewer adjectives and dialogue tags. Every editor has his own preference based on his experience on the field.

The Second Sin

Not reading the guidelines:However serious this issue might be, it turns out, for some reason, that new writers do not follow the guidelines. Or at best, follow some of them. Again editors have their preferences. If they ask you to submit in the body of an email why do you send an attachment? If they ask you to submit in courier new font why do you use strange fonts? Following the guidelines reflects the fact that you are serious about your writing and keep you away from getting your story deleted before it is read.

The Third Sin

Not grabbing the reader’s attention quickly: Due to the large size of submissions, around 300 hundred stories and sometimes more sent every month to pro paying markets, editors have no time to read a story from the beginning to the end if this latter fails to captivate their attention from the first lines. Some will stop at the first paragraph, others will continue to the second page if the writer is lucky. Make your story unique and bear in mind you are not writing your story for yourself. Try to hook your reader’s attention from the beginning to the end.

The Fourth Sin

A cliché story:This is a surefire way to get your story rejected even though you managed to avoid the previous deadly sins. What you see on TV and movies as science fiction, horror, and fantasy has been done in fiction countless times. Cliché stories abound and here is an example:

The genie of the lamp: whether in medieval or contemporaneous setting, this cliché has been done and overdone more and more. Think of a machine, a robot, a ring, a creature, a potion, a ghost or whatever whose sole existence is to turn your dreams into reality and there you are, trapped in a cliché story.

No editor is going to tell you what is wrong with your story in full details. You have to figure things out by yourself, but at least you can consider the deadly sins as a start.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)