Friday, June 17, 2022

Six Questions for Ai Jiang, Fiction Editor, Orion’s Belt

Orion’s Belt publishes fiction to 1200 words, poetry, and cover art. “We specialize in the strange and poignant and awe-inspiring, stories that have a cosmic scale and intimate personal stakes.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: How did you become a part of this magazine?

Ai Jiang: I noticed a call that Joshua Fagan put out on Twitter in hopes of expanding the Orion's Belt team, so I sent in an application!

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

AJ: A strong opening is a must, I would say—one that grounds readers in both the world and the point of view character/main protagonist without being too expository. With that said, I'd love to be familiarized with a character through their actions and thoughts before diving into what is at stake. In relation to motivation and stake, it doesn't have to be something high tension necessarily, but the feeling of a forward momentum and emotional buildup and development draws me further into a story—strong world building is nice, but it shouldn't dominate over the character's personal narrative in my opinion. 

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

AJ: When the opening is too expository and feels almost like a prologue of sorts but for a short story. Though for mythic/folkloric/fairy tale-esque stories, I wouldn't mind brief lines of omniscient narration that is characteristic to the genre. 

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

AJ: Where we are, who we're following, and why—or at least hints at the listed elements mentioned first in the opening, then are further developed after. 

SQF: Are there certain types of stories you’d like to receive more of?

AJ: Psychological horror with speculative elements, perhaps! 

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

AJ: I think it would be one that I, as a writer, would ask: "What is the most common reason a writer might be rejected after passing through the first round/multiple rounds/final round?" 

I would say not only might fit be a big part of the selection process, but with so many good stories to narrow down, it might come down to minuscule details. Does one story's experimental attempts work just a bit better than another of a similar style? Did we already publish a piece that is quite similar in tone and premise? Does one story speak louder—at the moment—than another? It all comes down to preference as much as we try to be as objective as possible when it comes to how well crafted a story is. And I urge writers not to get discouraged because what one market may reject, another market might see it a gem. 

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

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Q and A, and good insight into the selection process.