Silver Blade wraps its speculative fiction in vivid graphics, matching the writing for creativity and enveloping readers in imaginary worlds. The ezine layers its offerings with fiction–poetry, short stories, and serialized novels–that touch on almost every element of fantasy and sci-fi then tops the package with advice for writers.
In this interview, Fiction Editor Sue Babcock, talks about Silver Blade’s plans for the future, her editorial preferences, and some of her favorite authors.
What do you look for in a story? Are there any specific types of stories or plots that you wish writers would send you?
Silver Blade loves stories about swords and warriors, and about dragons and all sorts of imaginary creatures. We also love urban fantasy and science fiction. The stories need to be complete stories, regardless of their length, with a beginning, middle and end, with character development, with conflict and resolution, with rising action, and with all the other components of great stories. We do not accept stories with gratuitous violence or explicit sex. Our site is suitable for older teens and adults. Our favorite length stories are between 2500 and 4000 words, although we accept shorter and longer. However, often the shorter stories do not to have the completeness we are seeking.
Why would you pass on a story?
We pass on stories for the same reasons many publications do – incomplete story, poor characterization, lack of tension, lack of originality, nothing changes in the story. We also pass on stories written in a heavy passive voice. Excessive (and by excessive I mean more than one per page) grammar, spelling and punctuation errors indicate to me that the writer didn’t care enough to proof-read or workshop the story. If the errors become annoyingly distractive, we’ll pass on the story.
What do you enjoy the most about editing Silver Blade?
I love reading the wide variety of story submissions we receive, and I love working with the authors. Occasionally we find a story we love, but that has a glaring fault (such as a passive voice or a weak ending). These stories we are willing to work with the author to help him or her polish up the story. One of my greatest pleasures is to work through the issues with a receptive author, discussing changes, looking for better ways of saying something. I love this interaction with the authors, I love thinking that maybe I helped someone, made a story stronger, and made people smile when they see their stories published.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
Bernard Cornwell because he knows what he is talking about, he knows the history and the weapons and the way wars were fought. His descriptions astonish me in their detail.
Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear because they also do their research. Their stories are full of possibilities and contrasting good and evil.
James Clavell because his stories are lush, full of feelings and people I grow to care very much about. His stories take risks and have a depth and connection I love.
Jonathan Kellerman because he knows evil and is willing to risk everything with his main character to conquer the evil he finds in people’s minds.
Anything new coming to Silver Blade this year?
Silver Blade is operated through the non-profit writing association of Silver Pen. We recently decided that having children’s and adults’ story in the same online magazine was difficult because of the limitation it imposed on the adult stories. We could not separate the children’s section from the rest of the site. Even though we do not publish gratuity violence or explicit sex, we wanted to allow more adult-themed stories.
We have now made Silver Blade “PG-13” to “R”. To fill the gap left behind for younger children, Silver Pen is developing a new site, Kids ‘Magination ,for helping and publishing young writers. In addition, Silver Blade is developing anthologies of their past issues. The sales of these anthologies help fund Silver Pen.