It’s time again for another installment of the San Cicaro Pulse. This week covers tips for proofreading, our concerns regarding word minimums, and a note regarding the submission closing.

The Basics:

If there’s anything we’ve been seeing repeatedly with the received submissions, it’s a lack of proofreading. A missed word or two, an occasional punctuation mistake… these are really no big deal. It’s when there was no effort made to check the work. Compared to everything we’re asking for, proofreading is a minor technical request. Please give your stories a thrice over before submitting either to us, or anyone else.

I have two pieces of advice to help with this. First, when reading a story, go ahead and read it aloud if you can. Hearing the words spoken can help you pick out frustrating phrases, catch errors and ultimately improve the draft. Second, if you’re tired of reading aloud or can’t (public location), look for a “Speak selected text” feature. It especially helps if you’ve been misusing a word— I often mix up “breath” vs “breathe,” for example. This feature saves me from that simple mistake.

Word Minimums:

So I hate to admit it, but we slightly regret offering a word minimum for San Cicaro. We originally thought to offer this because, on occasion, we do get a story that succeeds because of its brevity. These stories are somewhat rare, but they happen when the author hits the sought themes perfectly. A tale that jumps to the chase and lets the audience figure out or guess any missing background information.

A few of these shorter stories are definitely welcome. I just read one today, as a matter of fact. However, many writers see a minimum word count as a bar to hit without considering what makes a better tale. And as such, they prematurely end a story that is just starting to get good.

The hallmark of a great story is when the audience asks the question, “what happens next?” The more we ask this question as we read, the better it’s going to be.

Not Over Yet:

We’ve received more than a dozen stories thus far. Although there are a few winners among them, we are not yet satisfied. That being said, I can assure all potential writers that San Cicaro‘s open call will not close in July. At the going rate, I would expect our “two week notice” to go out either late July or early August. So if you’re interested in submitting, you still have more than a month.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more from the San Cicaro Pulse. And a special thanks to Sebastiaan Stam and Unsplash for the great photo used for this post.