Editorial Preferences in Fiction: Charlee Moseley

Fiction Editorial Preferences – Charlee Moseley (Fall 2016)

Lately, I’ve become more self-aware of what catches my attention when I read. Through various mentors and reading outside my comfort zone, I’ve learned I seek a compassionate approach to characterization. I don’t want judgment or condemnation in the fiction I read; everyone’s lives are so complicated without an added layer of judgment from an author who is attempting to tell the character’s story. I want an empathic approach to characters as they struggle through their days. Dani Shapiro has said, “Recognize the possibility of the divine in any given moment. It’s like a lens through which to see the world.” I take this approach to reading fiction.

What I’m generally looking for is an insight into the human experience. I want to be immersed in the story with the character, their voice becoming my own, as we travel through their world. Theme and plot are usually secondary in the stories I like reading. If a compelling cast of characters is presented to me, I will follow them through either great peril or a very boring, everyday existence. Language, however, can either serve to elevate a story or weigh it down with cliche and sentimentality.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received from one of my mentors is that you should trust the reader to understand without outright telling them. Hide the details of the story in carefully tailored language, and you won’t have to rely on cheap thrills and tricks. The reader wants to be invested. Some of my favorite authors, who are aces at character exploration and language mastery, are Junot Diaz, Denis Johnson, Sherman Alexie, and Sandra Cisneros.

Charlee Moseley


Charlee was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been reading since she was four years old. Since then she has pursued the human element in fiction, poetry, and all other forms of art and pop culture. When she isn’t on the ASU campus, she is pursuing a career as a nurse. When she’s not doing that, she is most likely curled up reading, listening to music, or watching Netflix. Now that the weather has turned nice, she will most likely find refuge in any one of the nature preserves located around the Greater Phoenix area. 

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4 thoughts on “Editorial Preferences in Fiction: Charlee Moseley

  • October 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Unique characters are what bring a story to life. Think of your favorite book, movie, or tv show and you’ll instantly think of your favorite character from the show. Setting and story are important too, but the character is what makes the difference.

  • October 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

    “Theme and plot are usually secondary in the stories I like reading. If a compelling cast of characters is presented to me, I will follow them through either great peril or a very boring, everyday existence.” I think you touch on something so important that I’ve had a hard time articulating. It’s not about whether you like or dislike a character it’s about your willingness to follow them through the story because, as you say, they are ‘compelling’.

  • October 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I really agree with the part about being empathetic to your characters. Personally, my favorite characters in literature are the ones that society might consider weak or even pathetic. Why? Because those are the characters I want to invest my time in understanding, and if I’m honest with myself, they are the ones that often expose hidden truths about my own imperfect nature.

  • October 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    On a related note, I think it’s interesting that there’s often this fine line between empathy and predictability. Whether in fiction or poetry, I find the most compelling works to be the ones that do an effective job at presenting a character, idea, place, etc in a way that is both familiar and surprising. As much as I appreciate the thread of understanding, especially the initial “aha” moment of the connection, I also equally value the simultaneous moments of surprise that I encounter, which I guess are also actually just more opportunities to ultimately connect with the material…

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