Friday, February 18, 2022

Six Questions for Eric Scot Tryon, Editor-in-Chief, Flash Frog

Flash Frog publishes flash fiction to 1,000 words. “We like our stories like we like our dart frogs: small, brightly colored, and deadly to the touch.” Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

 

Eric Scot Tryon: I started Flash Frog in January 2021, but I have been writing, submitting, and publishing with lit journals for over 15 years. And even more recently, in the last couple, I had been serving as a reader and editor for a couple other literary magazines, seeing how things worked on the other side of the table. And about this same time, I started becoming obsessed with reading, writing and publishing flash fiction in particular. And all of a sudden there was a certain momentum; everything was leading me in this one direction. I also realized how much I enjoyed discovering really strong writers and their stories, and I wanted to be able to share their work with the world. And the more I read and saw what was already out there in terms of online flash journals, I started to see a certain point of view I wanted to cultivate in the flash community. I feel Flash Frog is doing just that. 



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

 

EST: Oh, what a great question. And a difficult one. I don’t think I’ve ever listed or labeled it out in this way. There is so much gut instinct and emotional response when it comes to reading submissions. But if I had to pick three things that I’m consistently pulled towards … I’d say 1) I’m drawn to stories that pay just as much attention to language, pacing and rhythm as they do to character, setting and plot. In flash fiction you have limited space, so every word matters. I want to see authors that pay as much attention to how a story is told as much as what story is told. 2) I also love stories that are much bigger than their actual size. What I mean by that is there has to be a lot of the story that is left off the page. If you can tell a full and complete story, wrapped up in 600 words, then you probably either sped through it too fast or the story isn’t big enough. I love stories that insinuate something bigger, stories that show me just a glimpse of what’s going on, but give me enough to realize there is so much more happening, so much more at stake. Those are the stories that live on far after you finish reading them. 3) Sensory details. I often grow bored when we get lost in a character’s head or some narrator’s rambling monologue. I want to hear characters’ voices, smell their surroundings, feel textures, see colors, etc. A sensory tactile story that puts me in a specific time and place goes a long way. 



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

 

EST: The stories that I pass on the most are what I call “and then” stories. These are stories that try to cover so much ground that we have to move from one point to the next to the next so quickly until all I’m reading is and then this happened and then this and then this and then and then…until the story’s conclusion, and I realize I still don’t know anything about the characters, how they feel, what they want, how they might now be changed, etc. Flash fiction is really short. We can’t try to cover the same distance as we might in longer stories. So instead of trying to condense, speed up and ultimately thin out a story, I’d rather the story adjust the scope, zoom in, and show us the gritty details of something smaller in scale, but bigger in resonance. 



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


EST: This is a great question because in flash fiction the opening says so much. The number one thing I look for is a story that throws me right in the deep end. A story that doesn’t mess around and gets right to it. In flash, there is rarely any room for setting the scene, for building up to the story. If we only have 1,000 words or fewer, the story needs to begin on the first word. I also look for something to get my attention. I know that’s vague, but it can come in many forms: a strong narrative voice, or something that establishes the character, conflict and setting in such a strong, succinct way that I’m instantly invested, or just something told in a confident, new, original way, that I’m immediately drawn to the next sentence.



SQF: What will readers find in the Flash Frog Library?

 

EST: The Flash Frog library is a page that showcases and links books written by Flash Frog contributors. I am a firm believer that once we publish you, we have an ongoing relationship. No one night stands here. To this end, we love to continually promote our contributors on social media when they have other publications, awards, etc. So in this same vein, we have dedicated a page to their published collections. And if you’re a reader who loves a particular story in Flash Frog, why not have easy access to more work put out by that same author. 



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

 

EST: I guess if you asked me how our lit mag might differentiate from others like us, I could talk about the artwork that accompanies our stories. Instead of using stock photos or having in-house artists create the visuals, we commission a variety of artists who query us and commit to doing a few pieces. They receive the story one month before it publishes and create an original piece of artwork that will accompany the story on the site. It’s been a really fun, collaborative experience. The artwork on Flash Frog has been so diverse, showcasing a variety of mediums and styles. I have even seen several artists and writers connect after this process, with the artist gifting the original painting or drawing to the writer. What a cool thing!


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

2 comments:

  1. Do you ever commission the artwork first, then float it around for writers to build the oyster around it, so to speak?

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    Replies
    1. We have not yet gone the other way, but this sounds like a fantastic contest idea!

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