SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
- Escape: I think when readers turn to genre, they want to be whisked off their feet, away from everyday worry, monotony, and well, reality. Both Science Fiction and Fantasy take readers to new worlds inhabited by strange creatures – all created from the farthest edge of a writer's mind. In this escape, readers can live and breathe within all stretches of human imagination. We find that we can fly, cast spells, run under a red sky, or watch the setting of twin suns. We can have two heads or alternate selves, live in a tree or get jailed on the moon.
- Darkness/Light: We like to see battles between good and evil, whether those battles occur on a grand scale or not, in the heavens, fantastic realms, or just within the mind. When it comes to darkness and light, in the other, each is defined.
- Uplifting endings: With the world so full of tragedy, there are so many pipelines to hook us up to an immediate injection of “Oh, that's awful!” It seems that “news” often comes as more of a sensation than a simple relaying of truth. With so much exposure to reality via lightning-fast internet, satellite, and other communications, the world of fascination seems to shrink by the megabyte. In the process of storytelling, we are taken back to the ideals that continue to survive in the human spirit. We still appreciate justice and righteousness, and we still look up to our heroes.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
- Didn't read the guidelines. It's true, we receive a lot of stories that fall outside of our ethic. Aurora Wolf is read by Sci-Fi and Fantasy lovers, but that audience also includes children. Adult themes are a sure way for a story to pick up a red flag while walking through our doors.
- Excessive errors: I think everyone can benefit from some workshopping experience. There are a number of wonderful writers groups on the internet where writers work together to learn proper punctuation, sentence structure, plotting, flow and other resources common to a writer's tool bag.
- Too much narrative/backstory: Science Fiction and Fantasy are adventures that should take one's breath away and leave the reader in awe, having delved into exciting and splendid worlds. The only way is forward, not back.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
- Structure: Whether it's sentence structure, paragraph, or even story structure, these can upset the clarity and forward flow of a story. Again, if the reader has to go back to figure out what he just read, he is no longer rushing headlong into the story's dream.
- Rules: I don't often see adherence to rules so strict as to snuff out the life of a story. However, while everyone has their own voice that doesn't always pigeon-hole very well into the rules, sometimes that laxity is simply taken too far. There is a difference between intentionally breaking a rule, and being unaware of how commonly accepted rules aid storytelling.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
LM: If time permits, we do like to give writers some kind of feedback.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
LM: I have always enjoyed writing just for the sheer joy of it. But when it comes to publishing, so many other factors come into play. Mostly, competition and subjectivity. To be competitive, I think writers need to be able to reach inside the minds of his or her audience – be able to paint pictures in their heads with the readers' own palettes, and turn the key on word associations and meanings that creep in along with the written words.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
LM: Is Aurora Wolf strictly an e-zine or do you publish in paper also?
Top stories that have been published in the e-zine are carefully selected for inclusion in our anthologies with additional compensation offered to those writers.
As a growing micro publisher, we have also taken on other anthology projects including Novus Creatura and our recently released The New Fairy Tales Anthology about which we are very excited.
Currently, we are also expanding into the burgeoning e-publishing markets, targeting such venues as the Kindle, Nook, etc.
Thank you so much for including Aurora Wolf in this great project!
Thank you, Linda. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 6/6--Six Questions for Jason Stuart, Editor & CEO, Burnt Bridge