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Musings, and Some Irrelevant but Interesting Stats, on Hero 2 Open Submissions post image

Thanks to all 100+ of you who submitted stories for WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME 2!

As I’d mentioned prior to the submissions window, we have read all the open submissions blind. This means that identifying information was stripped away, and the story was given a number and forwarded to Ed Greenwood and me by my dedicated assistant, Fanny Darling.

Ed and I will read through our pile of stories independently, and then compare notes on them. I’ve got a long list written out (by hand), with title, genre, summary, notes, whether there was a hero, whether there was a homecoming, and my verdict (yes, high maybe / maybe / low maybe, no).

The most common downfall I saw was a difficulty balancing the creation of a unique interpretation of the literal words of the theme, with adherence to the spirit of the theme. WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME suggests that there needs to be a heroic person, and a home. But that wasn’t enough.

The hero is more than a protagonist; more than a soldier. A hero is an exemplary person who has done something that makes them stand out from all others. They’ve done more than just follow orders. They’ve done more than just be a part of an adventure. In a dangerous or crucial time, they’ve stepped up into a role no one else could fill. And maybe they’ve even lived to tell the tale. That’s a hard thing to show, without being able to show the backstory and the heroism, but the previous volume shows that there are plenty of ways in which it can be conveyed. We saw protagonists who were not heroes. We saw protagonists who were CALLED heroes by the story, but with no evidence of any heroism, and that wasn’t enough.

Likewise, just mentioning “home” is not enough. The theme isn’t about the existence of a home, or the desire to go home, but the actual homecoming itself and what happens then. We received many stories that were very well-written, but that ended at the point where the adventure was complete and the heroes turned toward home. That wasn’t enough. It’s not WHEN THE HERO WRAPS THINGS UP AND DECIDES TO HEAD HOME. It’s WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME. We looked for stories that explored what happened after the heroic act, rather than stories that described the heroic act.

So, though there was a lot of leeway in the interpretation of “hero” and “home,” the concepts of heroism and homecoming had to be there.

There were some definite standouts that got it, and did amazing new things with it. I think you’ll enjoy the stories in the final book.

In the meantime, some irrelevant but interesting stats. Some of these had bearing on acceptance, but none should be taken as a definitive marker on acceptance or rejection, since if a story was very strong and had most but not all needed elements, there is a chance we may ask the author for a rewrite. I have NO info on author demographics yet, nor on how many are in the yes/no/maybe bins at this time. Ed and I need to discuss, and we need to look at the invited stories and see which of these subs best fit in with the flavor of the anthology as it shapes up.

Out of 103 Open Submission stories received:

Fantasy: 44
Science Fiction: 20
Spec Fic (incl. urban fantasy, horror): 20
Not remotely in the genre: 19

Stories Sent As Attachments:

Number of Words in Title
1 word: 16
2 words: 34
3 words: 19
4 words: 14
5 words: 7
6 words: 4
7 words: 4
8 words: 1
9 words: 3

POV and tense:
1st person past: 20
1st person present: 9
2nd person past: 0
2nd person present: 2
3rd person past: 68
3rd person present: 4

Point of view character:
“Hero”: 70
Other POV: 33

Capturing the theme elements:
Heroic hero:
yes: 44
no: 59

yes: 45
no: 58

Content elements:
Stories With Clones: 2
Stories With Vampires: 1
Stories With Zombies: 3
Stories with Fairies: 2

Word Count:
Stories under 1000 words: 5
Stories over 6000 words: 6

Any other irrelevant stats you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments and we’ll see what we can do. :)

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