| Konnichiwa, WDC readers! I am pleased to be the editor of this issue of the new
Reviewing Newsletter. This month’s subject is how editors of poetry publications review, part one. We also have Pen Name ’s Tip of the Month for making reviews more helpful.
WDC serves as a community site for peer reviewing. Writers can review each other's work to help them improve enough to ultimately submit for publication. Once a piece is polished, we are excited to send it off to the eyes of those with editorial clout. But what do those eyes look for? What causes them to reject or accept a piece? Here is what some publications' submission guidelines call for.
From Ampersand Poetry Journal:
WE DECLINE: Ampersand Poetry Journal declines erotica. We decline submissions that do not fit our formatting guidelines. We decline work from poets younger than eighteen. We
decline poems with an excess of adjectives, dream poems, graphic language, cursing, rants, backward phrasing, archaic words, performance pieces, or work intended to promulgate religious or political propaganda.
WE PREFER: Ampersand Poetry Journal is interested in beautifully written poetry. poetry
that speaks of common topics in an uncommon way; uncommon topics discussed without
elevation. We want a variety of poems with unique metaphors, interesting points of view, fresh imagery, strong voice, and clear thoughts. Spirituality and light sensuality welcome.
READ THE JOURNAL: See what we have published before. Then carefully review your
proposed submission. Revise lines ending in weak words such as personal pronouns,
conjunctions, or articles. Edit for spelling or grammar errors. Eliminate an over-abundance of punctuation, including ninety nine percent of commas at the ends of lines. Remove clichés.
This is from The Adirondack Review which accepts submissions for both
poetry and short fiction.
We like serious poetry that is well-crafted and full of imagery. We do not want to see anything blatantly sentimental or extremely pornographic. Poetry about poetry is generally
not considered. No poetry without proper capitalization of the first person singular pronoun. FICTION: Realistic dialogue is very important. We want characters that are alive. We are not looking for sentimental stories or over-the-top romance features.
And finally, from Apple Valley Review:
We are very picky here. Please do not send us —genre fiction (e.g., horror, science fiction, mysteries);—erotica, work containing explicit language, or anything else you wouldn't
want your grandmother to read; —work that is scholarly or critical, inspirational, or intended for children; or —anything that is violent or more than a little depressing.
If we are crying because we are moved, that is good. If we are crying because we have lost the will to live, that is bad.
So what do you think? Of course this is a sampling of submission guidelines, but do you
feel you as a reviewer have something in common with these magazine editors, who review
thousands of items a year? Or do you see them as figures high on Mt. Olympus, tossing
crumpled papers down to earth? Or perhaps you think "hey, I can do this." Do you
harbor aspirations of having your own publication, online or print, and being an editor?
Whatever your attitude, stay tuned for an inside look as next month, I feature an
interview with Diane Goettel, Editor of The Adirondack Review. Ms. Goettel talks
about her background, her education, and how she came to helm this prestigious
By the way, if anyone would like to see my mug shot and read some of my published poems, go to the Summer 2006 issue of Ampersand. The same poems are in the Nature folder in my port. I would love to hear what you think of my work.
This month I am featuring items selected from those whose feedback appears in
ASK & ANSWER. Please support and encourage your talented fellow reviewers with a review or two. I am also including a link to a flash fiction by Ms. Goettel, Blitzkrieg. Very short, masterful, powerful. It has stayed with me and I think it will stay with anyone else who reads it. Blitzkrieg was published June 2, 2004 in the online magazine 42 Opus. http://42opus.com/v4n2/blitzkrieg
The brief description says it all.
Attention cat lovers! Precious kitty ALERT ALERT ALERT!
Don't you just love a good haiku? There are some great ones here.
ASK & ANSWER
Thank you for your wonderful feedback! For my next newsletter, I would like to hear from you regarding the world of publishing, or anything else WDC-related.
I found the comments on how to write a review for a "less than perfect" piece amusing. My first few weeks on Writing.com, I came up with standard replies to three basic problems I found when reviewing. I saved them and pull one or more out when necessary. Besides really trying to offer a solution to the problem, I ended my review with a few words of encouragement to the author. Perhaps my way of reviewing might help others:
01.) I stopped reading your piece because of a problem I see in so many newcomer
stories. For easier readability and future editing, you need to put blank lines in between your paragraphs. In the real world, writers indent their paragraphs, so you might prefer to differentiate them in this way instead using this site's Indent feature.
02.) A problem that you need to correct is your punctuation, mainly the improper use of
commas. This is something most of us are guilty of in our pieces. A good spellchecker
might catch many of your errors along with misspelled words. There are also many good
books on punctuation. My constant reference is "The Gregg Reference Manual" by
William A. Sabin. I'm sure writers on this site can recommend other good books, and you can always Google to find what you need.
03.) I also note you use many passive verbs that can make a story less interesting. If
you Google on "passive verbs", you will find many sites that explain the difference between passive and active verbs. Here is one to get you started:
If you do decided to make any of my suggested corrections, and you don't have to, please
let me know so I can try to read your piece again. It does look interesting.
Sincerely, J. A. Buxton
Thank you, Judity. Those are very helpful tips wrapped up in classy, polite reviews. I am tempted to cut & paste to use in my own reviews.
Definitely hit the nail on the head with the stories that need a lot of work and the feeling of weariness that comes over the reviewer at the sight of it. However, one also experiences the 'burns' of taking an hour or two to give a really good and detailed review and then the person does not even bother making a single change or worse, deletes the story all together. Ouch. But this was a very fun and informative newsletter. I especially enjoyed the 'harsh' vs. nice' way of saying things in writing a review. Well done!
Thank you very much Kiyasama, and good point about painstakingly crafting a
review only to have the writer ignore it. When I was writing the newsletter, I thought of the same issue, but the newsletter was long enough, so I was unable to address it. But definitely in a future one. Read on for a great mind that thinks alike . . .
Bravo ! You did a great job with this newsletter. To be completely honest, I've
found that more often than not when I've plunged in to give a thorough review to a piece that is a total disaster, I rarely hear back from the writer. And, when I check his/her portfolio, no changes have been made to the piece. I believe it's possible that the writer either feels overwhelmed by a long detailed review and/or insulted. So, instead of assuming the writer wants a thorough review, I write a cheery email to share my impression of the piece, making it clear that the piece is worthwhile but in need of work. I offer to help if the writer is interested, rather than wasting time giving the help when it may not be appreciated.
Approximately 1 out of 4 times I receive a response back asking to take me up on my offer of help :) This has turned out to be a fine alternative to laboring over unwanted reviews :)
Warmest thanks for your terrific newsletter !
TIP OF THE MONTH
If you come across an item that is quite good, suggest to the author that he submit it to an appropriate WDC newsletter. Some might not know of the newsletters or all the genres they feature. You could even include a link in your review.
REVIEWING NL FEEDBACK FORUM Comments on ideas for a future
newsletter? All the editors and readers meet here. Join in!
"Feedback Central" by Lt. Storm Machine
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