Notes From The Slush Pile

February 28, 2014

notes from..We asked editor Andrew Wetzel to offer some insight, a summary of sorts, of the types of things he’s seeing in submissions. Here is what he had to say:

Entries have typically run between 2500 and 4500 words, but it seems like 3500-4000 has been the sweet spot for a lot of the stronger submissions. Anything longer becomes an act of diminishing returns; stories have seemed to waver as the writer tries to pull it all together past that 5000 mark.

I’ve also found that the shorter ones, the flash fiction-length (500-1500 words) entries have a harder time proving themselves. The best of them can capture a feeling, a moment in time, but with the shorter submissions I’ve read I’ve found it harder to gain purchase, so to speak.

This is not to say that anyone should be padding out their shorter stories or chopping up their longer ones. If they’re good, they’re good, and most readers will recognize that.

Genre writing seems pretty uncommon, as you might expect from the slush pile of a review focusing on literary fiction. Out of the hundred or so I’ve read recently, only one has been in the realm of fantasy. Only four or five would be considered horror. There’s been a few crime entries, a few sci-fi, and absolutely zero westerns, though I guess that isn’t too strange. I frown to see how few nonfiction entries there are, but that’s just me.

Keep up the great writing, everyone!

Andrew Wetzel


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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