Thursday, June 16, 2011

Six Questions for Kate Wolford, Editor, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine

Enchanted Conversation is for lovers of fairy tales all over the world. We hope to entertain and enlighten our readers, and give opportunities to writers and poets to have their work published." The theme and submission dates for each issue are posted on the website. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

KW: First, I want to be surprised and delighted. Both should happen whether a story or poem is sad, funny, intensely emotional -- whatever the tone and message. What matters is a sense of discovery. It's a sense of "Aha!" or "Yes!" or "My God, that never occurred to me before!"

Second, I want a sense of completeness. That doesn't mean that the work can't leave me perplexed or unsure, but those feelings should be the result of careful craftsmanship, not the result of writer carelessness or lack of control. Make sure plots and details make sense to the reader.

Finally, I want stories and poems I would read voluntarily, even if I didn't have to read them because that's my job. I want my job to recede as I read a submission.

I want to be entertained. Then, I will send it along to the other editors.

SQF: When reading a story, what clues tell you the story was written by a novice author?

KW: We receive many good submissions from new writers, and we use them. But I do notice that newer writers tend to think that our exhortations to "read EC" mean that we want imitation. We don't. We want an understanding of the tone and mission of the magazine. I also notice that newer writers will use complicated story and poem forms, many, many paragraph breaks, and much dialogue that is often written incorrectly. Still, we like to receive work by new writers and encourage it.

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

KW: That's easy: A disregard for the rules of submission. Example: We have a submission window to help us keep track of the many submissions we receive. To receive a submission a month after an issue is published shows that the writer never visited the site. The rules exist because we need them. I've gotten a lot of complaints from writers about the rules, but they exist because the staff is unpaid and harried. Every minute we can save extends the life of the magazine.

Next is a lack of imagination. When we ask to have a fairy tale retold, we don't want just a change in names, place and minor details. We want it re-envisioned. The inspiration of the original story should be clear, but that is it.

Finally, a typo here and there is no problem at all. But a mess of misspellings and confused word choices will be rejected quickly.

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

KW: Very rarely. The only time is when we have a writer who almost made the issue, and we wish to encourage her or him. Otherwise, our replies to everyone are terse. One or two lines, that's all.

SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?

KW: Creating an issue is number one. That means weighing how we will have a balance of stories and poems and messages and art and ideas and ways of entertaining. Next comes simply putting the issue together in a way readers will respond to and enjoy. Third is a little basic editing. We seldom need to do more than the lightest editing.

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

KW: What are the responsibilities of writers and poets who submit? I've indicated some of them in my answers, but I wish more writers and poets would understand that how they handle both acceptance and rejection is hugely important. It's part of the job.

These were great questions, Jim! Thanks so much!

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

NEXT POST: 6/20--Six Questions for Sara Ashwood, Editors, Moon Washed Kisses

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