Monday, February 13, 2012

Six Questions for Darren Sant, Editor, Near to the Knuckle

"Our aim is simply to bring you gritty, interesting short fiction across multiple genres from a range of talented writers." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

DS: A strong voice, interesting characters and a great conclusion. Our site deals with short stories with a limited word count so it’s important that these basics are included. In short fiction there is no time to ramble on setting up too many background details you have to go for the jugular especially on a site like Near To The Knuckle where it’s all about the impact of the story.

SQF: When reading a story, what clues tell you the story was written by a novice author?

DS: Word repetition is a strong indicator and using similar names in a story. Excessive use of clichéd ideas sometimes too. Sometimes I still do this when I’m particularly excited by an idea – don’t be in a rush to submit a story, sit on it for a few days and look at it with fresh eyes before submission.

SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important that character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.

DS: Plot and character are equally important. Some stories focus on one aspect more than other, but, essentially, both are elements that form the nuts and bolts of a good story.

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

DS: To be honest, despite what the media would have people believe the standard of writing out there is very good indeed. Rejections are usually because the story doesn’t suit the theme of our site. I would never reject a story without giving a writer the opportunity to re-submit. I always give a reason and constructive comments. We take a fairly soft and mild-mannered approach. We’re not making money we have no sponsors to please, so I’d rather be nice and open about things.

SQF: What do you consider to be the primary responsibilities of an editor?

DS: First and foremost my duty is to ensure a high standard on the site. Secondly, I like to think we protect the interests of the writers. We all get excited once a first draft is finished but sometimes it needs a polish. As an editor I would be remiss not to help the writer improve their work. However, I’m quite new at this and learning on my feet. I know what makes a good story and hopefully I can spot any obvious flaws or at the very least have an idea or two to share with the writer.

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

DS: [Grinning] That would be where can I find your wonderful site?

The answer to that question is:

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

NEXT POST: 2/13--Six Questions for B. Lynn Goodwin, Managing Editor, Writer Advice


  1. That's Daz all right. Should add one thing: He's one of the best editors out there. One of those guys who can put a finger right on the problem without a lot of unneccssary verbage or the lookit-how-smart-I-am crap some people use when editing.

  2. I'm digging what you guys have over at Close to the Bone. Keep up the good work.