Tag Archives: creative writing

How Can I Publish My Fiction and/or Poetry in Literary Magazines?

Publishing your flash fiction, short fiction, and/or poetry in competitive literary journals is rather simple once you know how to navigate the literary market. This holds true regardless of your style, the content of your work, or whether you’ve been published widely (or at all).

Below is a simple step-by-step guide to publishing your writing in online or print literary journals:

1. The obvious step – write your flash piece, short story, or poem. (You don’t want to get caught up in the hoopla that coincides with the thought of getting your work published until you’ve actually written something).

2. Edit your work. Seriously. Edit your work. Your idea may be brilliant, your literary voice may be powerful, but if there are serious (or even minor) errors in your piece, it will most likely be rejected. You want your piece to be flawless when you send it out.

3. Sign up for a subscription to Duotrope.com. It costs only $5.00/month, yet Duotrope’s value to an aspiring writer is worth so much more. Duotrope contains a searchable database that connects you to (at the date of this posting) 4924 competitive fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets.

4. Search Duotrope.com for an appropriate journal for your needs. You can search by genre, style, length, payment, submission type (electronic or postal), subject, medium (electronic, print, or audio), response time, and acceptance ratio. You can also browse their index and find journals through serendipity.

5. Read the journal. Seriously. Read the journal. If they do not post directly to the Web, buy an issue. Read it carefully. Do the pieces match your style? Is the content similar enough? You don’t want to waste an editor’s time by sending a perfectly good piece of yours to a journal that is a bad match. It will be rejected.

6. Follow the submissions guidelines to a T. If they ask for a bio, read some of the other authors who’ve published with that journal and analyze how their bios look (Are they whimsical? serious?).

7. Format your manuscript to industry standards. Here is an excellent link on how to do so for short fiction. Also, make sure to comply with the journal’s preference for postal or electronic submissions. If a journal accepts electronic submissions, find out from their submissions guidelines page whether they want submissions attached as a document, or whether they would prefer submissions to be pasted in the body of your email.

8. Send out your piece/s and wait for the results. If the journal that you submitted your work to accepts simultaneous submissions, you may want to find other journals that are good fits for your piece/s and send your writing to them as well (so long as they too accept simultaneous submissions). Should your simultaneously submitted work be accepted in a journal, make sure that you notify all other journals that you submitted that piece to of your acceptance ASAP.

Best of luck!

I hope that this guide proves to be of value to you as you go forward in your literary pursuits. If you need a bit more extensive help, please click here for more thorough publishing assistance.

Writer’s Block? Try Living More!

Point blank – writers can’t be sheltered individuals cloistered in their troll holes and expect to write anything of substance. Writers must live life!

We’ve all heard the maxim, “write what you know” – it’s good advice (and certainly something to expand on in a future post). However, if your world of experiences is rather limited, your writing will (most likely) be as well.

While it IS important for writers to attempt to write every day, it’s also important for us to live life. Take some chances. Take the road less traveled. If you’ve truly lived, all the other details will take care of themselves. If your world of experience is narrow, your work will suffer. It’s likely that you’ll be beaten over the head with writer’s block, and the ideas you do have will be severely limited by the difficulty faced in trying to generate many scenes and landscapes outside of the breadth of your experiences.

Yes, please do write everyday, but make sure, first and foremost, to live life. Don’t make any excuses. You may have children. You may have a job. You may have many other responsibilities. Just as none of those excuse you from making time in your schedule to write on a regular basis, neither do they or anything else excuse you from living life, having fun, exploring the world, and learning new things. It’s the only way your writing will capture people’s attention.

The stereotypical writer may be an introvert, used to long periods of solitude in front of their keyboard, but stereotypes are just that. If you want to have fresh ideas and sharp prose and rejuvenate yourself for the discipline it takes to write on a regular basis, you better start living.

Here’s the takeaway: Take heed to the immortal words of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused. They apply to writers and hippies (and hippie writers) alike: You just gotta keep livin‘ man, L-I-V-I-N.”

Writing Offensive Characters

There’s a fine line between being an edgy writer and being an offensive one. If your writing tends to be a bit raw, it’s important that you understand how to navigate this tightrope. The literary world does not take kindly to racists, misogynists, homophobes, or other individuals with an overtly offensive agenda masquerading as writers. However, writers most certainly CAN write about racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or other characters with less than desirable traits.

One of the greatest tools that any writer can do to learn how to write well is to examine the works of authors who have pulled off what you are attempting to do. One incredibly unsavory character in fiction is Patrick Bateman, the Wall Street yuppie serial killer in Bret Easton Ellis’ “American Psycho.” Bateman is a racist, sexist, homophobic, classist murderer – he’s clearly not a choirboy. However, Ellis’ work was published, became quite popular in literary circles, and even became a blockbuster Hollywood film. Why did it not meet the same fate as other writers who receive immediate rejections when writing similar material? The answer is simple – because Ellis handled his character quite skillfully.

Below are a number of tips that should help those who are attempting the sometimes difficult task of writing offensive characters:

1. Be incredibly careful about using insensitive language. Don’t overdo it (or use it at all) unless it’s absolutely demanded. Don’t use offensive language outside of dialogue unless the narrator is the individual with these tendencies or a similar individual.

2. Write well. It’s simple enough, but if your story is not up to snuff, it’s a lot easier to misconstrue the sentiments of a character for the sentiments of the author.

3. Ensure that the offensive character’s perspective is challenged in some way by reality.

4. Make sure that any other characters that would be subjects for your character’s biases do not fit your offensive characters’ stereotype, unless there is a specific reason necessary for them to do so to make your story work.

5. Don’t resort to cliched tropes. If your offensive character’s been done a million times before in literature and the popular imagination, not only is it unoriginal, but it has quite a higher likelihood of being construed as offensive.

Writers should have no limits. Writers should be free to depict anything. However, make sure that when you’re writing, your readers don’t get the wrong idea about who you are as a person by following these guidelines. If you are having a difficult time with this, or any other editing matter, please click here for professional editing.