A real love of mine in the world of fiction is the digest magazine and the (generally) short stories they contain. One of my major fiction-writing goals is to have a story published in one of those magazines such as Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, or Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The vast majority of the fiction I've written over the years has targeted those markets.
As with any market, it helps to read what they publish, so you can be familiar with what they tend to choose from the submissions which they receive. I'm going to take that a step further on this blog. I'll choose a story from a recent issue of a major digest magazine once every two weeks and write up a detailed analysis of it and what I think may have been some of the issues that the writer considered in crafting their story.
Since this frequently will involve going into details of the plot, I will announce the story 2-3 days in advance so anyone who wants to read the blog post when it comes out has time to read the story first.
The first such story will be "Hostage Situation" by Dave Zeltserman which appears in the September/October 2011 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. My post about this story will go up on the site Thursday evening. I hope that reading it will be as useful to you as thinking and writing about the story has been for me.