SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
- The quality of the writing
- I like language that completely draws me into a story. I’m looking for a story that’s so compelling that when I’m finished reading it, I’m not aware how much time has passed.
- I’m excited by stories whose ideas leave me thinking about them long after I’ve finished reading them.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?
- Weak story construction
- Numerous grammar/spelling mistakes, i.e., poorly edited
- Lack of a strong beginning, middle or end. For me, if it’s missing one of these elements, the story falls apart really fast.
SQF: What other mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
LT: I think for me, stories that are clearly lacking originality. I’m okay with a story that is influenced or inspired by other authors as long as I get a sense of the writer’s own “footprint.” I’m often looking for young, unpublished writers – most of the time they don’t have the experience to clearly distinguish themselves, so I don’t reject a story simply because the author may still be under the influence of established writers.
SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?
LT: There are some writers who have the knack for creating a strong image in my mind of their characters. Good writers have command of the language as it relates to the way a character looks, or how a character speaks -- the content of the character’s thoughts as expressed through language. When an author has this ability, I’m totally drawn into a story much the same way great movies pull me right into what’s happening on the screen.
SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?
LT: I’ve never had a reason to keep a blacklist of authors for any reason. If an author asks me why their story or poems were rejected, I will respond as best I can.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
No response provided.
Thank you, LT. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 11/28-- Six Questions for Stephen M. Wilson, Editor, microcosms