What I Like to Read – Will Bebout

Hello, Everyone! My name is Will Bebout, and I am one of the Editors of The Minnesota Review. I must admit, I’m very new to the editorial gig, but I thought I’d let my mind wander a bit about the things I’ve read before and what I’ve liked about them.

 As a brand new editor, I’m learning a lot about the process. It turns out that there are a lot of submissions to the MR, which surprised me, because I thought we might have to solicit people, but being an established periodical means that submissions don’t seem to be a problem. The problem, then, is what to choose to feature. Having just started, I haven’t even gotten to that final phase yet, we (the fiction editorial team) are just taking our initial glance through the stories. We’ve seen some good entries and we’ve seen entries that have potential, but need some work. It’s a shame, because while I firmly believe that there are no bad stories, only stories told badly, we have to make up our mind with the first few pages whether to read on. If it doesn’t grab us in 3 or 4 pages, we can’t spend anymore time on it. Assuming a story has passed the first round, it graduates to round two to be looked at in detail, its merits debated amongst the team. At this point, the factor of space comes in, and we have to choose what will fit, but after these rounds of examination, the stories can finally become a part of The Minnesota Review! It’s a rigorous process, but it’s been effective so far.

 As for what will get a story to round two, I look for something that can be immersive. I want to start reading and not notice that I’ve read beyond 3 pages, to be so swept up in the story that I’ve forgotten I’m reading at all. Introductions are always tricky things, and there really isn’t a formula for how this is done, but I would say to make it clear what kind of story you are writing (horror, suspense, drama, day at the beach, etc…).

 Also, I need to care about the characters. Whoever you decide to write about, whoever is starring in your story, you need to do something to make me care about them, to get invested in their story and want to see it unfold. Is there a mystery that the story promises to reveal? Is there a conflict that I need to see resolved for this person? All great stories have an element of conflict, internal or external.

 To get my short story fix, I’ve recently been going to the podcasts Podcastle, a fantasy podcast, and Pseudopod, a horror podcast, both of which collect and air audio renditions of short stories. Part of the appeal is that I can listen to stories as I exercise or drive to work. I also like the wide variety of stories that come through, the ones that grab me right away or show me a sympathetic character I want to follow. If either of those genre appeal to you, I highly recommend checking those podcasts out.

 My fellow editors and I have a lot of stories to read through to put together our edition of The Minnesota Review, but I look forward to reading each and every one of them, and seeing what is out there. Thanks to everyone who submitted a story, and thanks to all the readers of our fine magazine. We hope you’ll be back again soon!


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