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How Do Editors Help Writers Shape Their Stories?

By 15/05/2020June 18th, 2020Featured, guest post
writing for magazines

Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my pleasure today to welcome Alyssa Songsiridej, the current editor-in-chief at Storyscape Journal who responds to various questions on writing for magazines, and the magazine she edits.

1. What drives the Storyscape Journal? What are your plans for its future?

Practically speaking, Storyscape is driven by our all-volunteer staff! Our mission is to provide a unique space for unusual writing that does not fit into traditional publishing categories. This is why we publish as Truth, Untruth, and We Don’t Know and They Won’t Tell Us. We plan to continue highlighting great work and hopefully do another print anthology.

2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

We’re looking for stories with unusual energy, especially great writing that might be overlooked  or underrepresented in the current publishing landscaping. We tend to be drawn to voice, to stories told through the author’s particular lens. We may not care if the story has been told before, if it is told in a new way.

3. Please link us to a few of your favorite pieces at the Storyscape Journal.

Hard to pick with so much great work! But some of my personal favorites include C.E. Shue’s piece, “Someone to Watch Over Me”

Miguel Guerrero Becerra’s “Heading” and Megan Alpert’s “In Retrograde.”

Writing for magazines


4. As an editor, how do you work with writers to help shape their story? What are the various stages of editing?

My goal is always to help the author achieve their own mission or vision. I know, as an editor, that there are sometimes parts of a piece that I might be missing, and try to trust the author. I may ask the author questions about certain parts, the way I would as a student (I used to teach creative writing) but defer to the author’s final decision.

5. You’re a writer yourself. How does that inform your reading as an editor?

Honestly, I think my reading as an editor is less informed by my own writing than with my experience teaching. You learn how to respond to the energy in the piece, to really pay attention to what’s there.

6. What books/ stories have you recently read that you would recommend to the readers of Daily (w)rite, and why?

I recently read Ariana Reines’ fantastic book of poetry, The Sand Book, lyric poetry for the Twitter age. I love the size and breadth and ambition of the book, that it can’t be neatly contained. Also recommending Ma Ling’s Severance to everyone I know. Funny, smart, sad, never seen a book that defies expectations and expertly uses proper nouns.

7. Are you more comfortable with writing short fiction or a novel? In your opinion, how are the two different?

I don’t know if I’m particularly comfortable writing either. Maybe I’m most comfortable with drafting a novel, because you don’t have to keep entering a new voice. With short stories, you have almost no room for error. Every word choice, every sentence has the correct resonance because there are fewer words. Novels are much messier, in a good way, and energetically chaotic.

8. Your stories have been widely published, and you’ve been honored with various grants. To an aspiring writer, what would be your advice regarding:  a. Submissions for magazines b. Grant and Fellowship Applications

a. For magazines, read the magazine! Find the magazines that fit your writing by paying attention to where the writers you like are getting published. Then submit, be persistent. Seek rejection like it feeds you.

b. For Grant and Fellowship Applications, be organized. Subscribe to a listserv or newsletter that publishes regular deadlines and add them to your Google Calendar.

9. Link us to some of your published stories, so that readers new to your work may find you.

“A Brief History of Touch” – The Offing

Alyssa Songsiridej is a writer and editor living in Cambridge, MA. Her work can be found or is forthcoming at StoryQuarterlyThe Offing, and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and has been honored by the Ucross Foundation, the VCCA , the Ragdale Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. You can find her on her Twitter & Website

Have you been writing for magazines? Do you subscribe to any fiction or non-fiction magazines? Have you read the Storyscape Journal?

My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.

Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Great interview (and great journal!) Love her advice to new writers–I need to sub (and get rejected) more this season. My Submittable queue has come to a standstill, as I think editors are scrambling, maybe, during the pandemic. Speaking of editing, for my editing gig, I recently published a review of Ling Ma’s SEVERANCE over at Parhelion. It made me so excited to read that novel–one of my tops on the old TBR!

  • JT Twissel says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of this journal but I will check it out. I publish most of my short pieces on either my blog or, if it’s something experimental, on Tinhatsblog.

  • soniadogra says:

    This was very informative Damyanti. I must thank you for all the guidance you provide on writing through your blog. It’s a great resource.

  • Billybuc says:

    Loved the interview! Thanks to you both for the insider information.

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    This looks like a lovely literary journal! Bookmarked it to read through some of the pieces later.

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