by Megan Giddings for SmokeLong Quarterly
As the acquisitions editor for Hypertrophic Press, what makes you feel like you must publish a story?
There are a few things I look at when deciding if I want to accept a story. For one, does it match the journal’s aesthetic and guidelines? Is it full of clichés or is it unoriginal? Is it written with care? What I mean by that is, can I tell that thought was put into it rather than being dashed off and sent away immediately. Not that hasty stories are always bad, but they often show marks of rushed writing, such as incomplete thoughts or ideas, major grammatical errors, logic flaws, etc. Some editing may be necessary for any story, but if it’s clear the writer didn’t take the time to look their story over, it makes me wonder why we should take the story more seriously than the author did.
Especially in flash, the story has to feel whole within itself. It has to have an ending, even if, as Chris DiCicco tends to say, the ending is a beginning. I know that sounds contradictory, but I see a lot of stories that don’t know where or how to end.
OK, that’s all normal submission stuff. I think most editors would agree with all that.
I, personally, love stories that are grounded in natural elements. Taylor Imel’s “My Mother is a Person” in our Summer 2016 issue is a great example of this. Using the natural world, our most basic elements, to describe the human condition always speaks to me and my nature-loving heart.
I love stories that touch a nerve, that feel like a punch to the gut or a warm hug. Stories that make you want to read it and reread it because the combination of words is something new and exciting. I like stories that surprise me without cheap shots. I love stories that have fun with words and concepts, that make you look at the meaning of words and how people interpret them differently.
I love stories that challenge me to think about people differently. To understand people outside myself. We didn’t publish this story, but Amanda Miska just had a story in Little Fiction called “Weightless and Hysterical” that I loved. It talks about people who are so different from me, but they’re relatable and textured and real. That’s a story I would have published.
In ten words or less (your choice if the words are concurrent or not), what is your definition of flash fiction?
Very short story. Captures change and connection. An exposed vein.
Read the full interview HERE.