SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
- We look for stories that are well-crafted and well-told.
- We look for stories with an engaging voice and/or a character we care about.
- We look for stories that surprise (not shock) us in what happens.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?
- Poor grammar
- They don’t hold our attention
- Just not our taste
Sometimes the story is very well-written, but it’s just not our taste. We know some of the stories we reject will be published in other places, but we reject them because we didn’t really feel a strong connection with them.
There are so many reasons why a story might be rejected, it doesn’t always mean that it’s poorly written if it’s rejected, many times it means, “Not right now…”
Also, we have four editors that read fiction. Jen Betterley & Nancy Canyon are our fiction editors who read it first. They choose the best stories and send them to Annette Spaulding-Convy and me (we’re the Co-Editors of Crab Creek Review). If a story isn’t loved by one of the four of us, it won’t be accepted. Everyone doesn’t have to love the story, just one person has to love it enough to fight for it. And we will do that for the very best stories.
SQF: What other mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
KA: When the author is sloppy with word choice. S/he might use “got” instead of “received” or “tree” instead of “magnolia.” I’m not sure if that is a mistake or a personal style preference. Sometimes the word “tree” works just fine, but I like details and well-crafted work best.
I’m not crazy about something being in a story for shock value.
One other mistake is that the story just goes on too long. We are a print journal, so we can only have a certain amount of pages to stay in budget. Sometimes we have a wonderful story that we come very close to publishing, but the author just needed to tighten it a bit more before submitting it.
SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?
KA: They have details about them that make me remember who they are. Their voice is distinctive to them. They seem believable. They are put in funny or fresh situations that take us into their world.
I love it when I can’t put down a story and when I care about the characters. When the reader wants to see what happens to the character, those are the stories we love to publish.
SQF: What percentage of your submissions do you accept?
KA: This is going to be a guess, but for fiction, we probably accept only 5-7% of what we receive (if that). We try to have 2 -3 short stories in every issue, and we publish two times a year.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KA: What kind of stories should writers send to Crab Creek Review?
Send us the story that changes us and makes a difference in our lives. Send us stories that surprise us (in a good way) and are not remembered solely because of shock value. Send us stories that you have crafted and revised, stories in which every word has been considered and is there for a reason. Send us the stories that you’re excited about, the ones that when you finished writing, you almost can’t believe you wrote.
Thank you, Kelli. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 5/24--Six Questions for Jon Konrath, Editor, Air in the Paragraph Line