A-Minor publishes literary and experimental fiction to 500 words, poetry, genre-blurring and hybrid works and artworks. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
NW: I look for honesty, daring and quiet and well-crafted works. Stories and poems that tell the truth we live but can't begin to conceive, and sing with such simplicity that reveals a deeper ambivalence.
I look for risks. Writers who push the limits of voice, language and imagery in what they're doing. Form is never the question. If someone has a pair of quatrains that take surprising turns and make the heart stand still, please, let me have them.
I look for fresh voices that may not be recognized at other venues. When I read a story or a poem that makes me go, "This feels like something for (name of any hugely popular literary magazine)," chances are it's not for A-Minor.
It's for this reason that I seek genre-blurring and hybrid works, art/text and anything else a writer has to astound me. Some of us write both prose and poetry or our writing treads a fine line between the two. Many writers are also visual artists. I hope to create a venue for those who explore different possibilities in their works.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
NW: Sentimentality - when I sense the writer's emotional attachment to the work all over the page, trying to drive the readers to a particular stop. This is the top reason many submissions get rejected even when the writing has a lot of merit. I get turned off when I feel the work isn't what it's trying to be, e.g. bitter interior monologue disguised as poetry. The last reason? The work doesn't stand out.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
NW: Throwaway comedy, ethics, gimmicks, cliches, implosions, adverbs. The blanket bombing approach - writers who haven't read anything at A-Minor, or send another batch of stories or poems right after their works have been rejected. It'd be more constructive for both parties, if the writers took a bit of time to think it over and send something new.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
NW: I give honest answers when there's something I'd like to comment on. Some perfectly good stories and poems aren't a snug fit for the zine, so I explain what I'm looking for and encourage the writers to submit again in the future. Some works are good but don't make the cut, and I tell the writers where I think the writing falls short.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
NW: Every line I write must be as fantastic as it can be, because one weak turn could send an otherwise good story or poem to the rejection pile.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
NW: The question: "How did you become the editor of A-Minor Magazine?" My answer: "The founder of A-Minor, Sheldon Lee Compton, was looking for someone to pick up the zine. I said yes because I'm a fan of his work. Who isn't?"
Thank you, Nicolette. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 1/9--Six Questions for Chris Rhatigan, Editor, All Due Respect