SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Shannon (Owner): I didn’t start Flash Fiction Magazine; I acquired it when the previous owner got ill and had to sell it. It already had a decent following and I thought it would make a great compliment to my other site, 101 Words.
In the future, we will be publishing anthologies on a regular basis. Our first anthology was released in March, and we have a few more scheduled to be released this summer and fall.
You can download the March issue for free.
At FFM we are going to keep things simple—publish one story a day online and select the best stories to be published in eBook, and eventually print.
The future of 101 Words is a little more complicated. At 101 Words we provide feedback to every story that comes in. We want the submission process to become a chance to learn. Since the word count is low, we are able to help authors fine tune their stories and help them grow as writers.
I have many plans for 101 Words, most of which revolve around education. If anyone wants to keep up with what we are doing, I encourage them to join our Authors Only List when submitting a story to either site. I send one email a week to the Authors Only List and topics include: writing tips, self-publishing, author resources, and stories from my personal life. Nobody is bored with them…yet. :)
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
Grace Black: I have one real guideline: Make me forget I’m editing.
Good fiction makes you forget you are reading at all. When I am editing a stellar submission, I find myself going back to re-read the story several times because I get sidetracked and sucked into the story, so I forget to actually edit the piece. That is fantastic flash fiction.
I could toss out words like vivid, poignant, re-readable. Or narrative flow; character development; beginning, middle, end. But honestly, just make me forget I’m an editor. Suck me in as your reader.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
GB: He said.
If you scan a 1000 word document and a majority of the paragraphs look like the above, you’ve lost me. Or any variation of each sentence beginning with he/she (insert average verb of your choice) one after another. It makes my mind want to snatch my eyeballs inside my brain to stave off boredom. Or ya know, fall asleep at my computer. Snooze fest.
I know every editor preaches the “show” don’t “tell” bravado. But I don’t think the intrinsic quality of the message is explained in enough detail to be consumed by the everyday writer.
Here’s the deal. Break shit up. Give us a mix of your fancy-schmancy literary devices blend them with careful brevity and stir that pot, baby. Then toss in the wow factor. The unexpected. Variation. Variety.
Of course, there are times where you need “tell,” duh! I recently read an interview with a trite list of Bad Writing Advice. Needless to say, the show-tell debate was broached. Anyway, this article was presenting its case for bashing the “show” argument, wherein you don’t need a thousand pages of backstory. Again, duh! Moderation is key. (Plus we only publish 300-1000 word stories, so there’s that.)
My best advice is to read more: a broad variety. Learn some new literary techniques and implement a few (in moderation). Then read your work out loud. (Seriously, this helps find flaws in repetition and flow.)
SQF: Will you publish a story previously posted on a writer’s website/blog?
GB: No. We only publish previously unpublished work. Google does not like duplicate content, so blogs and personal websites show up in a search. We strive to bring the reader fresh, new content 365 days a year.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
GB: Our goal is to provide some type of useful feedback to each of our writers, and we believe in forging lasting relationships with our authors. Since my time at FFM, we have grown immensely. Most recently we invited Mark Anderson on board (who rocks), and he is an expert at zeroing in on the minutia and providing practical feedback to inquiring writers.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
GB: “Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.” Truman Capote
I think the above quote sums it up nicely. One size does not fit all. Take what you learn and make it your own.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
GB: How many cups of coffee did I drink as I typed this up: Three.
Thank you, Grace. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.