Literary preferences are very subjective. There are no fixed, universal, or objective criteria that we use when we read fiction submissions. In recent issues of NDQ we have published stories in which the setting is clearly identified, characters are properly named and introduced, the action progresses on a linear axis, and things, generally speaking, are far from confusing. We're not against that. But we've also published a partially hallucinatory story about an incompetent broomball player, a theologically equivocal story about a Jesuit novice on an Indian reservation, a story from the perspective of a twice-kidnapped boy, a 4,000-word one-sentence story, a story about an imaginary novel, and a story about sheep in Scotland—from the perspective of a sheep. Ultimately, we're looking for multiple perspectives, different voices, and a variety of approaches to fiction. These approaches can revolve around uncertainty, ambiguity, fragmentation, polyphony, contradictory information, structural experimentation, and all the other things that teachers of freshman composition tell us we must eliminate or avoid. In other words, we value the willingness to treat fiction as textual art and take literary risks. Naturally, there is no guarantee that innovation will yield good results. But when it comes to art, it might be better to fail with something original than to play it safe with a predictable formula.

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