Friday, September 28, 2018

Six Questions For Ritta M. Basu, Publisher/Editor, FewerThan500

This is a revision of the original interview published on June 3, 2016. 

FewerThan500 publishes literary fiction up to 500 words. Occasionally, the editor may select exceptional creative non-fiction for publication. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Ritta M. Basu: I originally established FewerThan500 in 2009 as a way to connect with other writers and to develop my editing skills in the flash fiction genre. I had spent years working in journalism and having been out of the newsroom a few years was missing the camaraderie with people of like minds. As a former journalist, I loved the concept of short, well-told stories and found flash fiction to be a perfect genre for me as a writer and editor. The site is recently relaunched in its third generation. During this phase, I’m taking a different approach. I still want to connect with writers, but now I also want to connect to their work. When I started the site, there were not many places for writers to be published. I wanted to give writers a forum for publishing their work. Now, my goal is to publish work that reaches me as a reader.

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

RMB: I look for a story that is well crafted and edited, utilizes the negative space creatively and uses sensory language that allows me to experience the story rather than just read it.

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

RMB: If it is clear the writer has sent a first draft and not really spent time with the craft, I don’t bother reading it. I might not even bother responding to say the submission was rejected. First drafts are drafts. I want to read stories.

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

RMB: Not always, as I stated above. But generally, yes, I will let writers know that the story wasn’t a good fit for FewerThan500, and wish them luck placing it elsewhere. If there are edits that I think might make the story more appealing to me, I will also share that. But at the end of the day, these submissions are the writers’ creations and because they have shared them with me, I do try to release them back to the writer if I’m not going to share them with the FewerThan500 audience.  

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

RMB: Sometimes the worst pieces of writing come from writers who try too hard to follow the rules and impress the reader.  The best writing comes from practice and intuition, along with a strong rewrite.

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

RMB: It takes a lot of courage, a lot of energy and tremendous dedication to be a writer. To put your words out into the world and risk the possibility of it being rejected and the even greater terror of it being accepted and people reading it, judging it, misunderstanding it -- it is no small thing. For those of us who write and who love words, there seems to be no other way to live. But it does not mean that we are doing something easy. I am sincerely humbled and grateful for the people who step away from their everyday lives, and create and craft stories that they share with FewerThan500. They could share their work anywhere or not share it at all, and I’m thankful that they choose to send their work to Likewise, I am thankful for the people who read our site, who take pleasure in the stories that are published there and encourage the writers to keep up their work.

Thank you, Jim, for your site and for helping us to connect to new writers and readers who are interested in the genre of flash fiction.

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

1 comment:

  1. Again, thank you, Jim, for including my interview in your collection. I look forward to publishing one of your stories very soon.