Monday, December 26, 2011

Six Questions for Steve Isaak, Editor, Microstory A Week

Microstory A Week publishes polished fiction to 600 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

SI: I wanted to create a site that would serve as a resource center – via the hundred+ publishing sites on the blog roll – for myself and fellow writers, and provide a mixed genre site where writers can experiment, without some Strunk & White wielding dictator of an editor shooting submissions down just because the writers are trying something new.

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

  1. Well-written, well-edited, polished work that has the spark of the author’s personality – it’s not a generic write, it has something of the author in it to set it apart from other stories.  
  2. Cleverness, quirkiness – something that pushes the boundaries, gently or otherwise (I’m a big fan of fantasist/oddball writers like Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Patricia Highsmith, Richard Matheson and Chuck Palahniuk, whose works, even when flawed, work because they’re imprinted with those authors’ trademark elements/cleverness).
  3. A willingness to experiment, to respect the genres they’re working within, while expanding them, even if it’s only slightly.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

SI: Something that’s clichéd/generic, sloppily written (i.e., unfocused) or is merely a scene – there’s no backstory or hint of a future story in it – won’t find a home on Microstory. Sometimes mood pieces merely need to hint at something for me to publish it, but generally speaking, I will reject stuff that doesn’t somewhat (even slightly) give a clear indication of what’s happening.

SQF: Approximately what percentage of your submissions do you accept?

SI: Thus far, I’ve rejected about 20% of the stories I’ve been sent. Even then, I try to work with the author, give them detailed reasons why the stories didn’t work with me – and I encourage them to send further work, with the suggested improvements: in short, I’m trying to be the editor that I’d want to deal with.

SQF: Will you publish a story an author posted on a personal blog?

SI: Yes.

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

SI: Nope.

Thank you, Steve. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.29--

NEXT POST: 12/Six Questions for Paul Mullin, Editor, 50 to 1

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