It’s a writer’s job to write and raise hell!
There is, of course, much more to writing than the above statement. But it’s a good starting point. The following is a guide for submissions to Hidden Chapter. It’s a blueprint by which we will make this the best damn literary journal it can be.
The words that follow, it should be noted, are to some extent gospel. But, on the other hand, rules are made to be broken and each writer will lend something special to this journal. The style guide has to breathe and take into account the dynamics of those involved. It’s our job to make sure that the end product is woven into our own Bayeux tapestry of words.
As editors, we try and avoid pieces with lit school syndrome—where every story seems to be written by the same person (that whiny, navel-gazing voice of paupered experience). If we find themes buried or plotting cumbersome, we’ll kindly decline; if a poem doesn't speak truth, we’ll politely say “no”; if the writing is terribly pedestrian, we might ask you to rewrite it. For the most part, though, we want our readers to be able to tell who wrote a story simply by the way it is written. This practice has worked in the past, creating award-winning pieces for writers and lively journals for readers. You’ll like it, I’m sure.
Having said you can write as you please, here are six rules for writing that we always keep in mind when editing (you should, too):
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
This is a literary journal. It’s not a shopper, it’s not MFA snobbery. It is a literary journal and we will strive to be a leader in this community. We will have stories first, we will try and set an agenda of excellence, and most importantly we will strive to delight readers. That means we will publish stories and poetry no one else has — or from a perspective no one else has.
Each issue should have a diversity of stories: speculative, horror, literary, science fiction, etc. But there will be more.
Hidden Chapter will have open pages for essays, interviews, reviews, and fine art (photography, painting or drawing). One of the most common complaints about literary journals is their inaccessibility. Well, there is a place for such snobbery but it is not in our pages. We aim to recognize good writing and even better reading. This is illustrated in our motto, “Emerging writers for readers.”
Short story: Short fiction should run 2000-10,000 words. We will occasionally consider flash fiction (less than 2000 words). When needed, more space can and will be devoted to exceptional pieces. We will run, on a case-by-case basis, serial work by an author, though this will be exceedingly rare. Query us before submitting a serial piece. Ultimately, we are not looking to fill space – ever, it cheats the reader by turning reading into a chore (and doesn't life provide us with enough chores?).
Poetry: This is the most difficult of categories to curate due to its highly subjective nature. We will strive to choose works that touch us and which we feel compelled to share with our readers. If this means skipping the Atwood for the Hopkins or vice versa, so be it.
Art: Simply put, poor art weakens strong writing. Photography, illustration, and painting will be essential to giving our readers an inspiring and beautiful experience.
Interviews, Reviews, and Essays: Occasionally we will publish interviews, reviews, and essays, both submitted and staff written, that may focus on themes that guide a particular issue of Hidden Chapter. We will strive to avoid doing the well-known person. We want to profile the interesting and perhaps little known, and establish ourselves as the readers' literary journal. We will not acquire a reputation for arrogance or exclusivity.
Style: We aren't so much concerned with what is written, but how it is written. Form must reflect content — self-reflexive work is always welcome.
Well, there you have it. A brief introduction to Hidden Chapter. Now, together, it’s our job to put the above into reality. Talk won’t do it. But fine writing, excellent artwork, and hard work will enable us to accomplish all our goals. Remember, we promote writers for readers, we just plan on raising a little hell along the way.
J R Lewis