S is for Shimmer Slush
I've been reading slush for Shimmer now (shimmerzine) for about a month. I'm certainly no expert at it. Here's our process: All slush goes to email, which is very cleverly and efficiently handled by our slush wrangler, who assigns it to the various slush readers about 2-3 times per week. We read the stories individually, and if we feel a story is right for Shimmer, then we post the story to a private online forum where final decisions are then made by the editorial board.
Everything you've ever read on editor blogs about reading slush is true. Some times, it really isn't the story. The story is just fine, and it is good, but it's not right for Shimmer. I would say this accounts for about 50% of stories. Other stories are easy to reject, because the writing is not the best or the ending doesn't wow. Sometimes a story is awesome until the ending. Or maybe the beginning and end is great but the middle lags. I haven't seen many instances where a rewrite is requested in those cases. Sometimes the reason for rejection is purely esoteric -- the voice of the story isn't there. I think Shimmer stories have a definite voice, although I have trouble explaining what that voice is. I have found that if a story has a voice, you'll hear it in the first paragraph. Putting a voice to a story is sometimes the hardest part of writing, especially since there's no set of rules or advice on how to achieve it. The closest I can describe it is, to be able to let go of yourself as a writer putting a story to paper, and to just let the character tell the story.