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The Fairfield Review
Writing Qualities to Keep in Mind

At The Fairfield Review, we strive to include a wide variety of writing styles. We do, however, look for particular qualities. An analogy may help explain our bias. When jewelers rate the quality of a diamond, they look at four characteristics, known as the four C's. These are Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat (or weight).

Applying each to creative writing,
Clarity would indicate a piece that is readily accessible to most readers, able to communicate and connect with an audience that is well beyond the "university" writing community. We tend to favor pieces targeted to a wide audience.

Color may indicate the writing's imagery, flow, rhythm, "music," or sound. We look for work that is rich to the senses.

Cut, we mean the structure of the writing: its use of language and writing craft. In addition, cut means without flaw in terms of grammar, spelling and vocabulary. We tend to favor writing that has a discernible polish.

Carat means weight. Here, we look for elements of depth and meaning. We gravitate to pieces that have a type of "density of language," layered in meaning and connotation. We also look for a creative use of analogy and metaphor.

We recognize that there is an inherent tension and balance among these four elements. For example, the more carat or weight to a piece, the less likely it is to be clear to a wider audience. It is the rare work that is the priceless gem, meeting all qualities equally. Nevertheless, writing that demonstrates two or more characteristics are likely to find their way into our publication.

Ed Happ
Janet Granger

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Document last modified on: 05/18/1999

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