Yesteryear Fiction publishes fantasy fiction to 4,000 words (1,000 or less preferred) every Wednesday. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
EW: For Yesteryear Fiction, the top three things I look for in a story are brevity, good imagery and, of course, elements that fit the piece snugly into the fantasy genre. Yesteryear Fiction was originally founded as a flash-fantasy (fantasy under 800 words) magazine, so I always give shorter pieces preference, but I've had to open up the word limit to allow a number of good stories that would have just been too long otherwise. Good imagery, in my opinion, is poetic, but not too much so. If the work comes off as wooden or turns into an homeric ballad, the writer has gone too far with the piece-- there's just something about that space in between that really hits me where it counts. As for fantasy -- that's easy. Swords and sorcery. No space ships, no lasers, no electric guitars. I have a magazine for that, and its called Farther Stars Than These.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
EW: Honestly I've had to reject very few of the stories that have come into Yesteryear Fiction because they have almost all been of an enviable quality. Fantasy seems to be a popular genre for writers, but not necessarily for readers, meaning that most of the pieces I get have been polished to perfection and its just blind luck that they ended up on my doorstep. Fiction I have had to reject in the past was either outrageously full of typos (usually because of the authors' attempts to translate their stories into English) or overtly biblical (i.e. retellings of stories from the bible using more modern situations and language.)
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
EW: Honestly, there isn't much else when it comes to Yesteryear Fiction. I've only received a few stories from writers who mistakenly believed that sci-fi was the same thing as fantasy, and that's pretty much an automatic disqualification, though I do have a referral system in place that allows me to publish (with the writer's permission of course) good stories in a more appropriate venue (like my sci-fi magazine) instead of just rejecting them because of a silly misunderstanding.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
EW: With Yesteryear Fiction, rarely. I had a bad experience in the past where a writer sent me a story about clowns haunting a man that I turned away because it was mostly typos (and wasn't fantasy). I've found that most of the time, if you tell a writer exactly why you can't publish their story, they will consider you their personal editor and try to exploit you for hours and hours of unpaid work trying to polish everything they've ever written in the hopes that they can monopolize your magazine with their writing.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
EW: I've learned more about what editors deal with (working as an editor) than I have anything else, and it has given me a great respect for others in my field. Being an editor is not the lazy, lay about job I thought it was when I first started writing (and getting rejections) at 15. Editors work hard to give every writer an equal opportunity to be published, take work home with them out of sheer dedication and then often get yelled at by people they don't publish. It can be rough, and its taught me a level of empathy for others I might never have developed otherwise. When it comes to what editing has taught me about writing, I can say that seeing so many different pieces of fiction cross my desk on a daily basis really widens my mind in regards to what is possible in fiction. In the same way that traveling abroad opens us and makes us into more well-rounded individuals, reading dozens of different viewpoints of dozens of different situations every day has given me a wider and more complete picture of what's already been done, what's been done to death, and how to move beyond it all into something new.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
EW: Some folks have asked me about the transition of Yesteryear Fiction from a daily magazine to a weekly magazine. While I originally felt that providing a daily platform for writers would allow a greater number of good stories to be published, I found that a weekly model provides the kind of viewership that new writers really deserve. After all, not everyone is online every day, and nobody wants to be overlooked because it just happened that their story went up for one day on a day when only a fraction of the average number of visitors happened to visit the site. Sticking to a weekly model gives readers a chance to check in when they're ready and really give each piece a solid (and enjoyable) read.
Thank you, Earl. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 11/23--Six Questions for LT Snow, Editor, Un<>Cut