Black Heart editors have seen it all and, frankly, we’re tired of reading the same dull-ass stories over and over. Our slush pile slusheth over with clichés, crappy endings, and assorted Writing 101 mistakes. So, in an effort to help our writers avoid the horrors of being merely common – and prevent our editors’ impending insanity – we have compiled this 100% subjective list of our LOVES and HATES. Print out a copy to keep by your bedside table or use as a checklist when submitting your next opus!


  • Crazy plot or concept, but not unreadably so
  • Internal story logic
  • Unique characters
  • Wordplay
  • Plots (with optional variation on the beginning/middle/end structure)
  • A new spin on an old idea (and not just the first twist that pops into your head, which has likely been done before)
  • Updated classics
  • Unexpected endings, but also…
  • Endings that seem natural and appropriate
  • Style that is fresh and intriguing
  • Surprising subject matter
  • Believable villains and antagonists
  • A dark sense of humor
  • Troubled heroes and heroines with a sense of urgency and strong motivation
  • Sci-fi/fantasy
  • Noir, crime fiction
  • Mysteries
  • Literary
  • Oddball/unclassifiable
  • Parables, allegories, fables, fairy tales
  • Postcard or flash fiction


  • Illegible scrawlings of lunatics
  • Internal story confusion
  • Cardboard cutout characters
  • Clichés
  • Lack of coherent progression of events
  • Navel (or naval) gazing
  • Technical works with no soul
  • Fan fiction
  • Predictable endings
  • Suddenly chopped-off endings, or endings that hit just as the real story is about to begin
  • Derivative style
  • Shock value subject matter or plot twists
  • Stereotypical villains or antagonists
  • Horror, gore, gratuitous violence
  • Suicidal heroes and heroines
  • Drug stories with no deeper meaning
  • Rants, character sketches, monologues
  • Meta narratives, fourth wall commentary
  • Chat or text message transcripts
  • Wistful first-love stories or unrequited love stories with passive narrators
  • Talking animals (except in fables)
  • Religious narratives (especially Christian)

Please note that this is not (yet) an exhaustive list of our Loves and Hates, nor is it the final word on whether we will enjoy your story if you have committed a few sins from our Hate List. Ultimately, you must be the judge of your own writing’s strength and skill before submitting it to the fiery furnace of the Submissions Pile. Think you’ve got what it takes to battle our editorial dragons? HIT US WITH YOUR BEST SHOT, VALIANT WARRIOR!

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