Skip to main content

No Time for A Novel in a Month? How About a Literary Journal Challenge?

They’re “The best of the mysterious, elusive things,” they're “A gateway to discovering your next favorite writer,” they can be “frequently dull, pretentious, willfully obscure,” they're “Vital to the survival of modern literature” and they're “Not read enough.”

Or at least that’s what the editors of some literary journals said in our roundup of which magazines agents are reading for new talent today (in the November/December 2009 issue of Writer’s Digest).

How do you feel about literary journals?

I’m a fan. Moreover, as prompt addicts know, short stories can be great boot camps for longer works. Thus, because of a hectic November schedule, instead of taking part in excellent NaNoWriMo this year*, I’m going to spend November focusing on editing my unruly current work-in-progress, and attempting to write and place a story or two in some of my old favorite journals.

Anyone care to join me? I say we go for it, then in December we can compare notes, share a toast/cry on one other’s shoulders, and toss back and forth ideas for what makes successful short stories. I’ll also try to rope a literary journal editor for a Q&A in the middle of the month so we can tap into what goes through their minds when combing the slush pile.

I’ll bid you a good weekend with what is perhaps the eternal top advice on submitting to any publication, one featured in the lit journal article. As Anne McPeak, managing editor of A Public Space said, “Familiarize yourself with the magazine to make sure your work is a good fit. There’s a lot of great writing out there, but not all of it is right for us.” (That might prevent you from getting a "WTF?" back from an editor, as I once did in college.)

And if you’re on Facebook, I just started a Promptly feed, and am in dire need of a few digital friends. Check it out!

*If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo, check out founder Chris Baty’s top five survival tips, which we ran in our InkWell section last year.

WRITING PROMPT: Paparazzi
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings.

You try to snap a discrete photo—but it just doesn’t work out that way.

Interviewing Tips | Tyler Moss

Interviewing 101: Tips for Writers

Interviewing sources for quotes or research will be part of any writer's job. Here are tips to make the process as smooth and productive as possible.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Eliminate Threat

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Eliminate Threat

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character work to eliminate a threat.

4 Tips for Writing Gothic Horror

4 Tips for Writing Gothic Horror

Gothic horror and its many subgenres continues to increase in popularity. Here, author Ava Reid shares 4 tips on writing gothic horror.

Lucy Clarke: On the Power of Creativity

Lucy Clarke: On the Power of Creativity

Novelist Lucy Clarke discusses how a marathon of writing led to a first draft in just 17 days for her new psychological thriller, One of the Girls.

A Conversation With Jaden Terrell on Writer Expectations, Part 1 (Killer Writers)

A Conversation With Jaden Terrell on Writer Expectations, Part 1 (Killer Writers)

Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford continues his series of interviews with mystery, thriller, and suspense authors. Here he has a conversation with novelist Jaden Terrell about writer expectations and success.

Connecting the Dots vs. Drawing the Whole Damn Picture: A Veteran Ghostwriter Takes Back His Pen and Finds Something To Say

Connecting the Dots vs. Drawing the Whole Damn Picture: A Veteran Ghostwriter Takes Back His Pen and Finds Something To Say

Writing for oneself after a decades-long career as a ghostwriter is a challenge unto itself. Here, author Daniel Paisner discusses his career as a ghostwriter, how the process differs from writing his own work, and if the two ever intersect.

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Who Are Sensitivity Editors? And How Much Does Sensitivity Reading Pay?

Sensitivity readers offer a very specific and focused edit to manuscripts. Here, C. Hope Clark shares what a sensitivity editor is, how much it pays, and where you can start.

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

Kate White: On Building In Brainstorming Time

New York Times bestselling author Kate White discusses the process of writing her new psychological thriller, The Second Husband.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 615

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a desire poem.