MicroHorror is a new ezine featuring horror stories in various subgenres — traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy. The requirement? They have to be well written and be 666 words or shorter--talk about a clever gimmick for a horror magazine! Here to talk about MicroHorror and how it came about is editor Nathan Rosen. Rosen shares his formula for a great horror story and discusses the most common mistakes he encounters in submissions, among other things.
Tell us a bit about MicroHorror. When and how did it get started?
MicroHorror launched in May of 2006, and it's a classic "If you build it, they will come" story. I love short horror, as you might guess, and I was sitting in my office one day wishing I could read some horror microfiction, so I started searching. I found plenty of sites featuring horror of all lengths, and I found sites featuring microfiction in all genres, but nothing hit the sweet spot I was looking for. I decided that if nobody else was going to do it, I'd build the site myself. I came up with a catchy name and a good gimmick for the word count, and the rest is history.
What type of horror fiction do you consider?
I'll take horror in any category or subgenre you care to name. Traditional, modern, gothic, dark fantasy—the sky's the limit. I'll even take poetry if it's excellent, and believe me, it's real easy to write terrible horror poetry. Reprints and simultaneous submissions
are fine. The only unbreakable rules are that it has to be horror, it has to be 666 words or shorter, and it has to be your own original work. Read the FAQ and submission guidelines right here.
If you could narrow down to three the elements that make a great horror
story, what would those be?
I believe that a great horror story is made of the same three elements that make a great joke: the setup, the escalation and the payoff. When these three elements all work in harmony and lead you to an ending that's both unpredictable and fair to the story that came before it, a story succeeds. Give me a good twist at the end, but don't cheat. That's what I really like to see.
What are the most common flaws you encounter when reading submissions?
Failure to proofread. Please, for my sake, clean up the typos and grammatical errors before you submit a story. I know that nobody's perfect and mistakes slip in all the time, but I've received submissions that I doubt the author even read once after writing it.
It doesn't reflect well on the writer, to say the least.