In a new and somewhat surprising development, I’ve become the Fiction Editor of the Wilderness House Literary Review.
Steve Glines, EIC, asked me to take on the role and I, of course, replied, “You’re kidding, right?”
I think Steve chose me based as much on the similarity of our ages and life-experiences as on our reading and writing preferences.
I’ve often wondered what makes an editor say yes to story A and no to story B.
Well, in my case, the wondering is over. At least as far as Wilderness House is concerned.
The View from This Side of the Desk
There’s a staff of first readers I work with and the final decisions are mine. I agree with their evaluations, usually. On some occasions I’ll ask the basis for their yay/nay/neutral decision, more to educate myself than question them.
Sometimes I’m completely lost why they rejected/accepted something. That’s when the real learning begins.
Mine, not theirs.
But for anyone wondering what I’ll accept above and beyond all else?
What makes something interesting?
That’s your job.
Here’s how to do your job in three easy steps:
- Find something genuinely, unquestionably, undeniably interesting to you, something that excites you, something to which your immediate unfiltered response is “I want more!”, something which causes an uncontrolled, unwilled, and unstoppable physical reaction. It can rivet you to your seat, lift you off your seat, change your breathing, your pulse, cause you disgust, cause you rage, make you snarl, laugh, smile, cry. Doesn’t matter. All that matters is you have an immediate reaction to it.
- Reduce whatever it is to its purest, simplest, visceral elements.
- Communicate those elements via language so the reader (me, in this case), completely experiences whatever it is exactly the same way you experienced it.
Go for it. Have a good time. Knock yourself out. Send me something.