Competition is tough for the limited spaces in elite journals–online or print–and authors need to pay attention to the details of writing in order to be successful. Do you have a dream journal you’d like to be published in? Instead of reading a few full stories, read just the first paragraphs and write down everything you learn in that brief span. Now take a new look at the openings of stories you’re having difficulty placing. Do they yank the reader into the story? Or do they limp along with too much description, burdensome backstory, or a lack of focus? If so, rewrite them to give them some spark. Heck, it’s even possible that you’ve started in the wrong place. Maybe your story really begins with the second or third paragraph. Whatever you decide is the best way to start your story, keep in mind the importance of grabbing editors by the throat (or heart) and not letting go until they read The End.
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