memories, all inter associated with each and it is these associations which NUNUM's work seeks to pique.
When a reader engages with a piece from NUNUM our goal is to disrupt their contemporary mental associations and force them to change, quite literally to change what they think in a way that either the story or image alone would be unable to accomplish.
After all, this is what nunum means, something which promotes a moment of mental stillness that gateways to a more reflective state.
While I am sure we don't bullseye this each and every time, it is the only thing at which we aim and the sole reason for putting this whole project together.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
Conflict & Arc. Sometimes because of the short nature of flash fiction writers can forget that it is still a story and conflict and arc really help a reader get into a piece of writing. Then again a story can work without them of course, we’ve published pieces that don’t have them but the chance of a piece getting accepted definitely improves if those two elements are included in the story.
Characters. I think this one might source from the same root as conflict, but it is worth mentioning again. The minimalist quality of flash fiction sometimes leads to flatten characters. Perhaps this inclination comes from the briefness of a reader’s interaction with them, the writer just doesn’t have the space to flush out the nuances of a story’s characters. I’m not sure but NUNUM definitely loves it when a story’s characters evolve (or devolve, whichever the case may be) in a story.
Originality. Just returned from the war and finding it difficult to fit back into society? Heart broken for the first time? Middle-age crisis, it was all a dream, ‘I knew best’, story starting with a sunrise or a sunset or a door closing, there are hundreds of them and we’ve all read them a hundred times and that’s the problem. Put your story in a place only you could put it in, have characters no one else could know but you, basically tell us a story that only you could tell. This is one of the reasons that in a lot of NUNUM’s ad copy we say right up front ‘send us that piece you wrote you weren’t quite sure you should’ve’. So yes originality is something we always carve in the submission we receive, it doesn’t have to be never heard that before, ever, but it does have to be a story that could’ve been told by no one other than the author who wrote it.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
I’d have to say the biggest turn off for us here at NUNUM is the rant written in a first person narrative voice. This kind of ties back into what I just mentioned about conflict, characters and originality, in that the first person POV rant usually doesn’t have them. Biggest problem with most pieces written in this style is they come off as a blog post, too much of an opinion piece and not really much of a story to it. This is not to say this style of writing can’t be done well but doing it well is a very hard thing to do.
SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?
Beyond the regular hard sell themes I’d have to say the biggest turn off for us here at NUNUM is sloppy writing. No matter how good the idea is, the characters are, etc., if the piece is full of spelling, grammar, punctuation type errors then it just sends a message the writer hasn’t put in the time but yet they expect someone else to do just that. No one cares about a typo but ten of them in a 500 word piece says something. Another one would be submission guidelines, read them, please read them, and follow them. The contortions are limited I promise and in the end they are there to help improve the chances of a piece getting published, which is the only reason anyone would be submitting right?
SQF: If NUNUM had a theme song what would it be and why?
I know this question has a good answer but I can’t find it. Music is on here in the NUNUM office 24/7 and as of late there’s been a definite lean towards latin trap and Japanese rap. So if I have to narrow it down on those two streets it’d have to be Bad Bunny and KOHH.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
Question: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
For NUNUM there are two things. One, once we have that list of stories everyone (or almost everyone) agrees we want, we have to start thinking about how the individual stories will fit together into an issue. Two, because at NUNUM we work with a story and an image to create a piece for the journal, we have to think about the art we received during the same submission period and how we can work with both elements together to reach a final product that will satisfy everyone involved. For us this is the hardest step in our process but also oh so necessary because it is what gives us pieces with which we can knock on a stranger's door in the middle of the night and know they won't be upset once they see what lovely presents we have to give them.
To read the original interview head over to Six Questions For.