Maya Kanwal of Gulf Coast Recommends...

At Gulf Coast, we’re excited to read and publish every type of story, from the traditional to the experimental. Here are some story-level questions I ask myself as I read submissions in my role as fiction editor: Does the author exhibit control of craft, the stamina to carry through the story’s conceit? Is the story multilayered, more than just its plot? What questions does this story raise? What are the stakes? Does the story open with characters or in a world that I want to follow right away? Does the narrative evolve or escalate in some way from page to page? Do I remain attached to the characters, yet have my comfort challenged? Is the dialogue efficient, moving the story forward, revealing something? And for those stories playing with experimental forms and less-common POVs, does the experiment serve the story? Does the ending hold up to the pacts made with the reader over the course of the story?

When sharing your story with first readers, ask them to tell you what’s missing, what they didn’t understand in the flow of the narrative. Those are the key gaps to pay attention to in your initial revisions. Then focus on the finer points.

Maya Kanwal, fiction editor, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts