Friday, October 8, 2021

Six Questions for Kelaine Conochan, Editor-in-Chief, The Prompt Magazine

The Prompt Magazine publishes creative pieces (writing, video, artwork, audio, etc.) based on a prompt posted every two weeks. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Kelaine Conochan:There are so many people like us. People who are creative and smart, with ideas but no place to put them. People who want to improve at writing, who want to share their ideas but who sometimes need a little kick to get started. 

When we started The Prompt, it was our way of pulling together a collective of creative people who were looking for both an audience AND a community of fellow writers to provide them with feedback, energy, and a sense of belonging. Your work is important. Your ideas are important. Your stories, poems, essays, and voice—they're all important.

We wanted to encourage people to create original works from a place of passion and in their own voice. That's the main thrust. 

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

KC: I'm generally looking for voice, perspective, and originality.

When a writer has a distinct and strong voice, they can animate even the most mundane things. Some writers can make drinking a cup of coffee seem like the most extraordinary, beautiful experience of a lifetime. Just putting words on a page is not memorable. I love writers who try to make them sing.

I know it's a rude, almost accusatory question, but I love to read back what I've written and ask myself "SO WHAT?" Your perspective should answer that question definitively. What are you bringing to your story or essay that is unique or important? Why are you sharing this idea? Why should a reader care? Give the readers a new perspective that only YOU can give.

Originality rings true through both voice and perspective. But seriously, I don't want to read the same thing over and over. I don't want your voice to sound like everyone else's. I don't want the same regurgitated story. Give me something new, fresh, and different. 

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

KC: When it lacks a thoughtful structure. You know when you review something and you can just tell that the person who wrote it didn't bother to read it over before sending? It's meandering and unclear. The sentences and paragraphs exist without any logical order or build. As an editor, I'm delighted to fix typos and grammatical issues or to suggest tweaks that will strengthen a piece, but no one wants to clean up someone else's mess. 

SQF: Is there a preferred length to written/audio visual works?

KC: We're pretty flexible with our lengths. Some pieces are just a few lines of prose or poetry, or a clever Incomplete and Growing List. Others are a few thousand words. But most are in our sweet spot of under 1,000 words.

For a writer's first work on The Prompt, we are generally looking for 400-700 word submissions. Once a writer has established themselves within our community, that's when we can be a little more flexible with the parameters. 

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

KC: The hardest of hard sells is people asking for link-backs, or "freelance writers" who just happen to want to talk about their great experience with a product or service. The Prompt is a bunch of creative hipsters. We want something with a soul. Maaaan, get that corporate drivel out of here!

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

KC: I wish you'd have asked why people should submit their works to The Prompt. And my answer is this. 

If you've wanted to surround yourself with creative people who can help you write with better quality and quantity, that's our whole thing. We vote on a weekly prompt to help our writers get ideas and inspiration. We have an optional weekly video meeting so that people can exchange ideas and feedback. We support and care about each other. Our goal is not just to write and publish amazing work, but to make our writers and readers feel connected to The Prompt. We have some incredible people who write for The Prompt... why not you?

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

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