Saturday, 15 June 2013

Editing the Flood - Shirley Golden

When Calum asked for volunteers for a writing project last year, I put myself forward, not knowing exactly what was involved.  When I found out it was to be an editor for a flash fiction journal in the run-up to the first National Flash Fiction Day, my initial reaction was I’m not qualified.  Then I paused and calmed down.  I’d been writing for around six years, read many books on the craft, had fifty or so short fiction publications (including a few short lists and competition placements), had attended writing classes and had reviewed short stories for Ether Books.  My qualifications had crept up on me.  So, I agreed to give it a go.

The format, as I’m sure many already know, is that the FlashFlood is open to submissions for seven days (a short window).  We don’t publicise before the start date, which makes submissions more spontaneous.  The seven editors each take a twenty-four hour shift.  Because of the short duration there is little room for discussion and the decision of each editor for a story that comes in on their shift is final.  I like this autonomy, and the fact that the editors are experienced authors in their own right, each with individual approaches.  I feel it gives our selections a diversity that might be lost if we spent a month discussing the merits of each entry and made a collective decision.

In terms of selection, I usually know within a couple of sentences if I’m not going to accept a piece (although I always read every entry at least twice); because however amazing a story might be, repeated typos, poor grammar and sloppy language will lead to rejection.  Thankfully, the quality of submissions is generally high.  But this makes our job that much harder, and ultimately, subjective.  

I have a preference for the fantastical or sci-fi, and I’m not keen on twists (unless done extremely well).  I like stories that contain subtexts but I require accessibility, or at the very least, to feel a connection to the character or their circumstances.  If I reach the end and I’m not sure what it was all about, I’m likely to reject it, however accomplished the language.  But of course the other editors will have inclinations for different genres and styles.

We are now on our fourth journal in the run-up to the second National Flash Fiction Day and editing has proved to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  The response time for submissions is possibly the shortest for any journal running, and entries close at midnight on Thursday 20th June.  So, what are you waiting for?  Get flashing!

The Team are:
Calum Kerr
Caroline Kelly
Cassandra Parkin
Nettie Thomson
Susan Howe
Susi Holliday
Shirley Golden

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