When I was sixteen, I worked as a copy kid in the newsroom of a metro daily. I wore ripped T-shirts. I sorted news with my headphones on. Maybe for that reason I was ignored by my father, who strode around in a three-piece suit. But I met others there, people younger and more laid back. One of them handled the concert reviews, and because his enthusiasm for the task was on the wane, there were opportunities for a person like me.

I can write, I told him.

He nodded. He'd heard it before.

Then one night my father came home with some news: I was to review the hair-metal act, Quiet Riot, on the last night of the State Fair.

From the man who handled the concert reviews I got pointers – where to park, how to get the set list. And maybe because he saw in me the music snob I would become, he said this: you can't trash them. If you're going to review them, you have to accept what they do. You have to accept that what they do can be done well.

I nodded. Then went to the show and drove back to the office and got on the computer. And trashed them. Utterly. The next day, on KGGO, my name was spoken with disdain. I was in a kind of heaven.

But the concert reviewer had been right.

If you're going to do what I've done here – shortlist stories for an annual – you've got to be open. You've got to realize how many ways there are to approach writing a very short story. You've got to acknowledge that each of the hundreds of things being done can be done well.

At the same time, you, in this particular example, are me. You still think Quiet Riot sucks.

For that reason, we don't call this 'The 50 Best Very Short Stories,' or anything like that. This is our top fifty. We like them. We like them a lot. We're happy to be able to bring focus to them. They seem to us worthy of it.


A word about eligibility. The Wigleaf Top Fifty are chosen from a Long Shortlist of 200 stories. Stories have to be at or under 1000 words to be eligible, and must have been posted sometime during the previous calendar year. Stories in blogzines are not considered (unless the blog is part of a larger journal with external hosting). Reprints are not considered. Stories appearing in journals based outside the U.S. are not considered (unless that journal's billing is explicitly international). And stories written by Wigleaf staff or appearing in Wigleaf itself are not considered.

If you've published a story that meets these requirements and want to make sure that it is considered for the Wigleaf Top Fifty, please email us here or at myspace to let us know.

Scott Garson's fiction has received awards from Playboy and from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation and has appeared in many journals. He is the editor of Wigleaf.

To link to this directly: http://wigleaf.com/08top50foreword.htm

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