Thursday, February 16, 2012

Six Questions for B. Lynn Goodwin, Managing Editor, Writer Advice

The editors at Writer Advice "are interested in writers of all ages, authors with carefully crafted, beautifully told, evocative, startling stories of discovery or wonder." Send your best Flash Prose (fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction). Read the complete guidelines here.

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

  1. I look for a distinctive or unique voice, one that grabs me, holds me, and makes me care.
  2. I want to love or hate the characters and their plights, and I want the characters and plights to be realistically three-dimensional.
  3. I want the story to touch me in some way, not that it needs to be "touching."
If the story leaps off the page, allows me to escape into the writer's world, and absorbs me completely, I'll want to share it. When stories invite me to drink them in without analyzing why they worked, they've done their job.

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

LG: If the story is 1) distant, 2) boring, or 3) general and generic, we reject it.

SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

LG: When the writer is overly sentimental and leaves no room for the reader to react, it's not right for us. I am always glad that the story has been written, and I'm often tempted to offer some editing tips to help make it publishable, but I don't unless I'm asked to. It's not my story, and maybe it's already served its purpose.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

LG: Sometimes I provide general ones and sometimes I provide one or two specific ones, depending on the story. If a person pays for an evaluation, I send detailed comments.

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

LG: I've learned to be concise, specific, and detailed. I've learned more about what to share and when to trust the reader. I've seen the power of voice in action. I've learned that even the most skilled writers need an outside reader to find glitches. Writers read what they think they wrote more often than they see what is actually on the page.

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

LG: I wish you'd asked more about my e-zine. 

Writer Advice,, shares author interviews, book and web site reviews, contest and market information, flash pieces, writing advice, as well as information about my book, You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, and Writer Advice's Manuscript Consultation Service. Content changes quarterly. Please visit out and consider contributing your work.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this information, Jim.

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

NEXT POST: 2/16--Six Questions for Celina Summers, Editorial Director, Penumbra eZine


  1. Thanks for helping me share this with the world, Jim.

  2. Hi Lynn, I'm off to check your website. It sounds fabulous!
    And thanks, Jim, for another great interview. I stop by pretty often, but don't usually leave a comment. I'll try to better! :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Becky.

    You're welcome, Lynn.