Jason Jordan is the Editor-in-Chief of decomP magazine. For this segment of our Ask an Editor Series, we asked Jason what he typically looks for when he considers stories for publication (as well as what tips he could provide for writers interested in publishing their work). Here's what he said:
WHAT SPECIFIC CRITERIA DO YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING A STORY FOR PUBLICATION?
I've boiled my criteria down to three main components: compelling character, gripping plot, and strong attention to language. A story may have only one of those elements, a combination of two, or even up to all three. In any case, if a story keeps me reading to the end, that's a good sign.
COVER LETTER OR NO COVER LETTER?
Always a cover letter. Why? I don't know. I'm curious, I guess, though I usually don't read them until after I've accepted a story.
AS AN EDITOR, I SUSPECT YOU RECEIVE STORIES THAT AREN'T QUITE FINISHED. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS CONCERNING REVISION/EDITING?
Early in my writing career, I was more concerned about publishing than ensuring that the writing is the best it can be. So, I'd say spend enough time working on and revising the story until you feel it's as good as it's going to get. Also, find a few people who give you good feedback. There are plenty of these people in academia, writing groups, etc.
WHAT IRRITATES YOU AS AN EDITOR WHEN YOU'RE EVALUATING A STORY FOR PUBLICATION?
One thing is when the writer doesn't get to the conflict soon enough or the conflict is underwhelming at best. Beginning in medias res is preferable to me as a reader, and I want substantial conflict immediately. Another thing that irritates me is when I don't believe in the character's thoughts and/or actions. Would this character think that? Would this character do that? Believability is key.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU PROVIDE TO WRITERS WHO WANT TO PUBLISH SHORT FICTION?
Read a lot of it. Spend plenty of time on your work–to the point that you can't think of any way to improve it. Send it to others who provide useful feedback and incorporate their worthwhile ideas/changes. Research potential markets so that you have an idea of what kind of writing certain publishers prefer. Send it out in the world. Most will say no, but a few will say yes.