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After spending the fall semester selecting and editing short-story manuscripts, a Beloit College class is ready to release the latest edition of the Beloit Fiction Journal on Wednesday, April 11.
Established in 1985, this national literary magazine is published annually in the spring and boasts anywhere from 13 to 16 short fiction stories penned by both new and established writers. Students in Associate Professor of English Chris Fink’s Journalism 228 course, taught each fall semester, are responsible for reading and critically assessing unpublished manuscripts submitted by writers from all over the world.
“The best thing about the class is that aspiring writers learn what it’s like to be on the other side of the editor’s desk,” Fink said.
Serving as editor-in-chief, Fink teaches students the qualities of publishable work such as originality, resonance and freshness of language.
Editorial groups of four or five students read dozens of stories a week; the ones the groups like get passed on to the entire class. Unlike at other college literary journals where one student or staff member has the ability to reject a story, each submission to the Beloit Fiction Journal is read by at least four people.
Still, the competition is stiff. About 600 stories are submitted annually, but only 2 percent are accepted, according to Fink, who himself was published in the Beloit Fiction Journal when he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“The Beloit Fiction Journal class was a great introduction to literary editing,” said Beth Hanson’12 who serves as one of the managing editors. “It was more like an internship than a class. We learned practical skills like how to discern good stories from the slush piles, as well as the opportunity to get further involved in proofreading and production steps.”
The spring 2012 edition is comprised of 13 stories ranging from the tales of a zookeeper entangled in infidelity in “At the Zoo” to a father marred by his failures in “Cuts.”
“Readers should check out the latest edition because it covers a wide array of stories,” said Hanson, adding that there are ones with traditional structures and others that are more experimental. Her favorite is “Letter of Complaint” by Chris Drangle.
“I enjoyed it because, though it is short, it tugs at many emotions: humor, jealousy, bitterness, etc.,” she said. “It’s a story that I can read over and over again and still enjoy.”