Friday, April 11, 2014

Six Questions for David Gray and Mary Gearhart-Gray, Editors, 4 Star Stories

 4 Star Stories publishes science fiction and fantasy stories between 1000 and 5,000 words. Submissions over 5,000 words and up to 10,000 words are serialized in consecutive issues.  Read the complete guidelines here.

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

4 Star Stories:
  1. Exciting stories featuring an original idea or a different slant on an old idea.
  2. Credible, engaging characters.
  3. Interesting, well-plotted stories

 SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

4SS: Submissions that are not in a standard template. We prefer submissions to be in RTF (Rich Text Format).

Submissions that have not been spellchecked and/or contain grammar or punctuation errors not enclosed in direct quotes.

Derivative stories. Fantasy stories are particularly susceptible to this problem. Write about what you know. It is usually painfully obvious when you don't. If you don't know something, ask someone who does know it.

Show, don't tell. The most common mistake beginning writers make is they tell you what is happening rather than showing you.

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

4SS: Plot and character are equally important because deficiency in either one can ruin a story.

SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in 4 Star Stories?

4SS: The same advice that any editor would give them: you can't be published if you do not submit stories. Send us your story.

SQF: What magazines do you read most often? 

4SS: Daily newspaper, "Discover" magazine. I read a lot of history and watch a lot of History Channel on cable TV.

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

4SS: What is another common mistake beginning writers make? Everyone thinks their writing is sacrosanct. Believe me, I know. I'm just as bad as any other writer. Be open to the editor's suggestions. Remember that he/she wants you to turn out a good story as much as you do. The difference is the editor can actually make your story better. Good luck, and keep those submissions coming.

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

NEXT POST: 4/15--Six Questions for Larry Lonsby and Dayne Edmondson, Founders/Editors, Beyond Imagination

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