"We have no guidelines or restrictions on writing style or content—nada, zilch, keine. As Charlie "Bird" Parker pointed out, "There's no boundary line to art." We don't want to set any boundaries so we use a clean, simple selection process: If it strikes a chord with us we print it." Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
DB: It was a necessity! I was compelled to put writing and art that moves me onto the page for me to enjoy and hopefully for others to appreciate as well. I'm very happy to give writers new and old an open venue for their work--a venue with no rules, no guidelines, no straitjacket.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
- Passion: If a writer puts a lot of passion into a story, it shows, and can help it turn the corner from just a story to something special. This passion can show up in many ways: in realistic, emotion-filled dialogue, vivid imagery, rhythm and pacing that doesn't let the reader get bored, and in other ways that elude description. If it is there, you can feel it.
- Tight writing: I am in awe of people who are able to paint a big picture with just a few carefully chosen words. This is not magic or a gift from God. It takes dedication and hard work! When I see this type of writing I know it is not a first draft.
- Originality: Of course every writer is influenced by other writers, but it is really wonderful when some brave soul dares to paint what he or she sees, hears, smells and feels instead of merely putting together words that he or she thinks the editor wants to see.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
- I don't remember it after a couple of days. This is an important (albeit subjective) test--if a story stays with me, then I read it again and again and have others read it. If it still remains fresh in memory and we are excited and talking about it like a good movie we just saw, then it has a good chance of getting published in Gemini.
- Incompleteness: Often the story will end too abruptly, or I get the feeling that something critical was left out, as if the writer got tired and decided that it was good enough.
- Typos/sloppiness: In a first draft nothing matters but the core of the story, the pure writing, getting the ideas down. But after that if a writer doesn't take the time to clean things up, it seems like they don't really care enough about their work. If a story is littered with typos it's just too much of a distraction, and I find it hard to focus on the story itself. Very important: Send the story in its finished form.
SQF: When reading a story, how do you know it was written by a novice author?
DB: A lot of novice writers include too much irrelevant information. We don't need to know everything a character does--just the critical stuff. We often see plenty of submissions that simply recount actual events. Just because something really happened doesn't necessarily mean it translates well to fiction. The only thing that matters is what works within the story. Many new writers also go too far in mimicking their favorite writers. Nothing wrong with being a novice, though. In many cases the core of the story is strong, sincerity and passion are there and the writer's talent and potential are evident. At Gemini, we've published many new writers. Of more concern is the lazy writer (experienced or not) who seems to be saying, "This is good enough," when they know they can do better. "Good enough" is not what we are looking for.
SQF: Will you publish a story an author posted on a personal blog?
DB: Sure. A blog is like a journal that's open to the public, and journaling is a good thing. As long as a story hasn't been selected and published by another editor (online or print), then we'd love to consider it.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
DB: How does the editing process work at Gemini Magazine? Do you ever revise work that is sent to you? Do writers have a chance to make or review changes?
My editing style is tough but not cruel. Once a story has been accepted, I edit very carefully, adding, changing or deleting--overall tightening and clarifying while striving to keep the writer's voice intact. I sometimes will ask a writer to rewrite a scene, add new information or make other substantive revisions. After edits and revisions we proofread and send a proof to the writers for their approval.
It can be so helpful to have another set of eyes look at a story before it is published. Sometimes when I suggest a change, the writer will say, "Yes--that's how I meant to put it!"
Thank you, David. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 4/4--Six Questions for Randall Brown, Founder, Matter Press and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts