1. Avoid sending in overdone tropes and characters: police/detectives doing their public duty, in your face zombies, monster hunters, stories from recently closed anthology calls, stories relying heavily on historical explanation, World War stories, vampire conversationalists or lake house/cottage/camp massacres.
2. Avoid overly loud topics: slashers, gore, excessive explicit language and excessive fucking.
3. Avoid any telling that works to cast a shadow over or shine a holy light upon any gender, race, religion or nationality. Put your sermons someplace else, unless requested.
4. Avoid barrel-chested, super-skilled and wickedly smart characters, also avoid characters that lack an ability and make up for it with, say, supernatural hearing.
5. Avoid first-person narratives. It is not that they won't be accepted, it's that fewer will be accepted.
6. Limit pronoun use.
7. Limit use of but and and.
8. Use short concise sentences, try not to over describe.
9. Take final word count and go back over story, skim away as much as you can (10% or more in most cases), especially from the beginning.
10. Read your story aloud. What your eyes miss, your ears might catch.
11. Read a lot of stories. I can tell pretty well right away when someone doesn’t read enough. Try to read a book/lit mag a week, preferably more.
12. Write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and then submit.