Friday, November 13, 2020

Six Questions for Charlie Fish, Editor, Fiction on the Web

Fiction on the Web publishes fiction of 1,000 to 10,000 words. The editor wants funny stories, creepy stories, fantastic stories, futuristic stories, criminal stories, real life stories, and more. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Charlie Fish: I started waaay back in 1996, when the World Wide Web was brand new. (Remember Netscape and AltaVista? Anyone?) I wanted to use this new medium to create a platform for short stories, both my own and other people's. At the time, there were only a few dozen similar websites, and most of them were genre-specific. We all linked to each other and helped promote the idea that the web was a great place to find fiction.

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

  • Beginning, middle and end.

  • Insight into a different culture, environment, lifestyle, job, world...

  • Makes me feel, inspires me.

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

CF: Too short or too long. Unsatisfying ending. Lots of editing required (SPaG, yes, but more often weird formatting that can take an age to untangle).

Cliché. Above all, cliché.

Vampires are usually a bad sign. As are jokes. Flash fiction where the protagonist dies at the end. Philosophical tracts with no real characters. Stories that are dialogue-only. Stories set in one room. Stories that are confusing. Nevertheless, I read every submission because the exceptions can be especially delightful.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s) of a submission?

CF: A sense of place, strong characterisations, and a hook to keep me reading.

SQF: Are there particular types/genre of stories you'd like to see more of in your slush pile?

CF: I publish a lot of mainstream/literary fiction, but I have a big soft spot for genre fiction—especially sci fi, but also horror and sword-and-sorcery fantasy. I will always welcome original takes on those.

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

CF: What makes your magazine stand out?

Fiction on the Web is the longest-running short stories website on the Internet. But the thing I'm proudest of is that every single story published gets comments from readers. I'm so grateful to my community of readers and commenters for keeping the website alive.

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

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