Monday, May 21, 2012

Six Questions for Ryan Swofford, Editor, The Weekenders Magazine

The Weekenders Magazine publishes fiction and essays to 2,000 words and poetry. “We're a literary magazine (sort of). The kind of thing you wouldn't want your grandmother to read. There is no such thing as censorship, and this online mag aims to show the world that. We believe creativity should serve itself and the earth, and it should in some way better it...even if that means making someone crack a smile or giving someone something to think about.” Read the complete guidelines here.

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

RS: I look for simplicity, uniqueness, and a sharp, biting reality behind the entire piece. If there is something that shocks me (but not for the sole value of doing so), then I will more than likely be interested. If you can grab me by the shirt-collar, then you're gold. Just make sure there's a payoff somewhere...otherwise it just seems like a trick.

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

RS: For whatever reason, I keep receiving submissions about politics. We are not into politics at all. Please, under no circumstances send us anything to do with politics; you just don't write poetry discussing politics unless you seriously know how to do it. Otherwise, you're just ranting, and that is not what poetry is for (let alone fiction). Another reason I reject submissions is ghastly usage of violence. For some reason, some writers think that if they have a lot of blood, it'll be good. Not at all. In fact, it's gross. And lastly, I reject stuff because of un-followed guidelines. And that one's a given. If you're not invested enough in my magazine to read the guidelines, then I don't care to publish your work. You'll find that with any publication.

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

RS: Crafty dialogue tags. A simple "he said" will do. You don't need to throw out words like "hiss" or "bark" or "growl." I mean, does this sound good to you: "Get out of my life!" he growled"? I don't think so.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a submission that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

RS: Characters that we feel like we know oftentimes have suffered the same woes that we have. Oftentimes, we feel like we know a character when every time they speak, it's obviously them speaking. Or when there's a single, repetitive detail about a character, a reoccurring description or line about the character...then we're drawn into that unique character by the narrative. For example, say a character always chews tobacco. A nasty habit, sure. But what if he swallows it instead?

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?

RS: Being a writer myself, I understand how frustrating being rejected for the fifteenth time feels like, but in all those times, I have remembered to keep my head screwed on tight because of this: "If you're good to mama, mama's good to you." And I live by that. And I think when writers want to respond unprofessionally to a rejection, that's their right, but just know that I have friends.

Now, I usually send a polite rejection letter detailing exactly why a submission was rejected, so usually I don't get too much correspondence after that point. Thankfully, I have yet to be insulted by a writer, but I know what to do if I do...I'll probably go tell all my little friends. Most of the time, I reject pieces because it's not the kind of writing we'd like to publish...okay, that's fine. That means there's someone else who'll probably publish it. So don't ruin your chances by being mean to magazines after they say no.

Be professional. Always, always, always be professional. People will like you better that way.

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

RS: Probably: "What are some specific topics you're interested in?"

And I would answer like this: Read the content already up on the site. It's hard to pin-point exactly what I like, but perhaps narrowing the list will be shorter. I do not want to receive genre fiction (Westerns, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) or anything other than literary fiction. When I say literary fiction, please do not let it be synonymous with "serious" fiction. In fact, if you can make us laugh (usually through wit or dark humor and the like), then we will be all the more in love with your work. We have been pretty well-known for publishing slam poetry, bizarro prose/poetry (without the fantasy and all, or without magic or voodoo or anything silly like that), and stuff that conservative people should not read if they want to sleep well at night.

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

NEXT POST: 5/24--Six Questions for Adam, Editor, Morpheus Tales

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