Monday, March 1, 2010

Six Questions for Ramon Collins, Micro Fiction Editor, The Linnet's Wings

The Linnet's Wings publishes poetry (all forms), micro fiction (to 400 words), flash fiction (to 1000 words), short stories, creative non-fiction (to 1500 words), and essays online and in print. You can read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

1.] First, tell me an interesting story.

2.] I’m the filter: tell a compelling story that will interest our readers.

3.] Please don’t submit a half-baked biscuit. Write a story you are proud to put your byline on.

I like to present a diverse group of Micros (about seven; action, romance, mystery, western, etc.). No “Woman Crying In The Bathtub” or “A Boy And His Dog” stories.

It’s my taste and experience that will decide what will interest our readers; what stories they might recommend to friends and family. A successful magazine is very aware of networking.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?

1.] Pay close attention to the title. An experienced Micro writer knows the first rule, “Every word does a job.” Too many beginning Micro writers just label their stories.

2.] Try for a Hook in the opener. If you hook my attention early on, the opener will probably catch the reader’s attention.

3.] Of course, submit a well-written plot that has a beginning, middle and end. Some character development in mid-story. Come to a conclusion -- many Micros just trickle out the back door. The worst thing that can happen to a story is to have an editor finish it and ask, “So what?”

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

RC: Certainly, spell-check and follow the word limit.

Stop writing when the story is told. A word limit of 400 doesn’t mean you have to pad it out to 394 or 397.

Watch tenses and try to keep in the Present Tense.

Avoid overuse of adjectives and adverbs.

Micro happens fast, but don’t force it.

The writer should stay out of the story, or at least stand in the shadow.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that make them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

RC: I want to “see” the character in my imagination. Show me what s/he looks like (physical description is often a Micro crutch; choose words carefully). Describe any special characteristics or quirks: posture, walking style, tics, nervous habits, etc.

Dialog is spoken, not written. Read all dialog out loud and check for normal conversational flow. The ear often catches what the eye misses.

What does the protagonist really want; what is her or his goal? Make me decide if they succeed or fail. Does the character undergo some kind of change? Round out the character.

SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?

RC: Yes, Virginia, there is an e-zine Black List but I want no part of it.

I have three other editors and a Managing Editor who are free to read all Micro subs and comment. Rejection is a hard emotion to deal with at any level. Rejection really means it’s a story that doesn’t fit the LW ambience at this time. The M.E. handles rejection correspondence and she’s very fair and tactful.

If I hit a knot in the log in a story, or have a suggestion, I work directly with the writer.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

Q: In your opinion, what’s the future for Micro fiction?

A: I think Micro & Flash will play an important role in fiction’s future. It’s the way people tend to read today and possibly the only way our grandchildren will read. Generally, the majority of people don't read and some, can’t. Studies indicate reading comprehension is almost extinct.

Read an interview with Ramon by Randall Brown on his site, FlashFiction.Net.

Thank you, Ramon. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 3/3--Six Questions for Dale Wisely and F. John Sharp, Editors, Right Hand Pointing and Left Hand Waving

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