Brevity publishes non-fiction essays to 750 words. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in an essay and why?
DWM: Because brevity essays are so brief, we look for concision: no wasted words, no introductory material, just story, starting from the first word. Second, we look for style, which to me means sharp use of nouns and verb, musicality, a voice. And third, we like freshness: have we seen this seven times before?
SQF: . What are the top three reasons an essay is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
QWM: Well, actually, the reasons for rejection are the mirror opposites of my answers above.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to an essay?
DWM: I remain amazed at the number of essays that are submitted without being properly proofread, with major spelling or grammar errors, or often missing words. Sure, I can fix that myself, but it makes me suspicious that the writer did not care enough about his work, and likely that colors my view of the entire essay.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject an essay?
DWM: Occasionally, but we receive hundreds of submission each month, and this is all done on volunteer time. I wish we could do more commenting, but there aren’t enough hours in the week.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
DWM: A piece of writing must signal within the first ten words that there is something distinctive here. This can be word choice, voice or persona, syntax, subject matter, description, action and energy – but it must happen. You can’t wait until the second paragraph to show your chops.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
DWM: Why do I do this, since it doesn’t pay, takes up so many hours of my time, and often leads to disappointing people? Because it is so exciting to find a piece of writing that is new, fresh, and courageous.
Thank, Dinty. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 10/18--Six Questions for Larry Green, Editor, Death Head Grin