Thursday, November 4, 2010

Six Questions for Andrew Scott, Editor, Freight Stories

From the website:

"Fiction of all lengths and styles is welcome. We wish only that your work be driven by the exploration of the lives of believable, compelling characters, and that it help to illuminate, broaden, or in some way enrich its readers' perspectives." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

AS: Victoria Barrett and I are the founding co-editors of Freight Stories. We publish literary fiction, which might be defined as everyday life made worthy of art, and that is the first element we look for when reading submissions. Crisp, lyrical prose goes a long way, though it won’t cover a bad story. Finally, we want stories we can’t put down.

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

AS: Many stories we reject often have flat characters, weak conflicts, and/or pacing issues.

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

AS: Writers should read Freight Stories before submitting their work because the journal is online and free. I am turned off when writers submit a story electronically to a lot of journals at once, especially when the names of those journals and their editors are visible to me because the writer hasn’t used the courtesy of “bcc,” which is a must if copying and pasting a cover letter is too much of a hassle. Also, I’m becoming frustrated with submitters who don’t get the journal’s name right.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

AS: In the early days of Freight Stories, we often responded with personal feedback, but a couple of unhinged writers made us abandon that policy. Now we’ll only provide comments for stories that, while rejected for whatever reason, strike us as especially promising. Often we’ll encourage writers to submit again, too. (Also, there’s no need to respond immediately and thank us for the encouragement; if writers submit again, as invited, such information can be included in the note accompanying that submission.)

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

AS: Good stories can always be improved. And writers need editors. I read hundreds and hundreds of stories every year. I learn from what works in these submissions. I learn from what doesn’t work. I have learned much from wrestling with the authors we publish, too, many of whom punch above my weight class. I spent two hours with Lee Martin’s “Bedtime Stories,” which is less than two full pages in manuscript, but I didn’t suggest any changes. Not one. His story deserved that close attention. They all do. And the next time I sat down to write, the engine-clunks of my own prose were momentarily stilled.

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

Mac or PC?

Coke or Pepsi? Coke.

Should the work of online journals be included in Best American Short Stories and other year-end anthologies?
Absolutely. This will change in the coming years, as quality literary journals continue to emerge online, and especially as quality print journals move their entire operations online to save money. Freight Stories has published stories worthy of such designation in just about every issue, and the rest of the stories are damn good, too.

Thank you, Andrew. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 11/8--Six Questions for Jonathan Laden and Michele Barasso, Publishers, Daily Science Fiction


  1. This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing

    Alyssa Ast

  2. Thanks, Alyssa. Glad you found it helpful.