Taking Submissions: Elegant Literature: Shadows & Knives
Deadline: April 30th, 2023
Payment: 10 cents per word
Theme: Shadows & Knives, and a crow
Note: There is ALSO a contest you can enter your work into instead of a magazine for a chance to win $3,000. However, it is pay to play on the contest.
Write a story involving Shadows & Knives, and a crow.
$3,000 grand prize.
Hurry down the street as night falls. Is that movement in the shadows? Don’t look back. Dark figures block your path, steel glinting. No time to think. Do you run, fight, or scream?
Murder is as old as time. The lights come on and someone’s dead. Everyone’s a suspect. The genius detective plays cat and mouse with a meticulous villain. Bodies, blackmail, and bloodstained letters. The cozy mystery is anything but for the victim. Prepare your alibi, avoid suspicion, and hope the trail of bodies leads back to the butler. The investigator has a secret, and the killer is working with the police. Conspiracies, confessions, and court intrigue. Assassins and bloody night raids—danger lurks in the dark. So accept the invitation, gather round the campfire, and hope the train doesn’t go through a tunnel. It’s a mystery, and we’re all gathered for the big reveal.
This contest invites you to explore shadows and knives, whatever that means to you. Fantasy, contemporary, romance, crime. All genres are welcome.
Submissions close April 30th at 11:59 pm EST. Contest only open to new writers
All new writers can submit work to the magazine. It’s free. We don’t believe publications should charge authors to be published. However, we have a specific submission process you must adhere to in order to have your work considered.
Our submissions window opens on the first and closes at midnight on the final day of each month. Each issue of the magazine is themed according to our monthly prompt. The prompts are designed to inspire ideas but leave room for you to tell the story you want to tell. You can always write in any genre. This month’s prompt can be viewed here.
We do host a monthly contest using the same theme, but it is not necessary to enter the contest to be published.
We have a uniquely streamlined publication process. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself, then check the FAQ for answers to any questions you might have. If you need more help, send us an email at [email protected].
There is no need to write a query or cover letter.
We do not require you to format your manuscript.
You must be a new or unpublished writer to submit. What does that mean?
If you want to read past issues of the magazine to get a sense of what we publish, click here.
Remember, submissions must follow this month’s theme.
Word Limit: 500 – 2000 words, excluding the title, no exceptions.
Pay Rate: Ten cents ($0.10) per word, including the title.
Genres: We accept all genres.
Rights: We claim first world electronic rights, and non-exclusive anthology and audio rights. We have one of the most favorable contracts for authors we know of, and also a uniquely streamlined publication process. Please take a minute and have a look at our easy-to-read overview here.
Copyright: You retain all copyrights to your work.
Simultaneous Submissions: Allowed.
Multiple Submissions: Allowed, providing they are different stories. We do not allow multiple submissions with different endings, or any similar minor alterations.
Acceptance/Rejection Timeline: One month from submission close. This ties into our streamlined publication process mentioned above.
Stories are evaluated on:
- Creativity. Surprising concepts and original twists are appreciated.
- Character. Who is often more important than what.
- Structure & Flow. 2000 words is not a lot. Keep the story moving.
- Quality Of Writing. Have someone edit your work. Twice.
Increase your chances of selection:
We see the same problems regularly while reading high volumes of stories, so keep this list in mind when writing and editing. Address these common issues and your work will stand out.
- Search and replace the following when appropriate: suddenly, started to, seems, that, had, just, simply, down, up, got, then.
- Also avoid: heart thudded, eyes flashed, blood pounded, ears screaming, chest heaving, tears streaking, mouth twisting, and the many other similar expressions. Use them when appropriate, but sparingly. We also see a lot of wry smiles, twitching lips, grinning, and gasping.
- Shifting tenses pulls the reader out of the story. Be careful to keep one tense throughout.
- Limbs are not distinct entities. They are a part of you.
My eyesI surveyed the scene. Her handShe felt for the light switch.
Eye color. People don’t usually notice it outside of intimate situations, and no one ever thinks about their own unprompted.
- When noting actions they must either a) advance the plot or b) reveal character/emotion. Example: pinching the bridge of your nose shows frustration and impatience. Quick-stepping into a shadowed alcove is a plot-related action. The character is hiding… will they be seen? Phrases like “stepping forward” or “I walked down the street” do not create tension, advance the plot, reveal character, or show emotion. Always ask if the action description serves a purpose and you will eliminate unnecessary words.
- Avoid backstory. There is limited space to tell your tale. Starting with a strong, action-forward scene should not be followed by the character thinking about how it all began when they were a kid.
- Stories about writers writing (or failing to write) are going to be hard sells.
- Stories that do not include the prompt word. It doesn’t matter how good your work is, you won’t be selected.
Elegant Literature uses an online submission system only. Do not email, mail, fax, or text us. Do not attempt to send us your work over social media.
If you are submitting to the Magazine via the Contest you must create an Elegant+ account and go to the Contest Submission page. If you are not entering the contest, you must create a free account and navigate to the Magazine Submission page.
Fill in your author details. There is no need for a cover letter. Add your story details. Copy and paste your story into the box provided. You may upload a file only if there is bolding, italics, or other text effects because they will not copy/paste well. We accept .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX formats.
If you are entering the contest do not include your name or other identifiable details in the uploaded file. Judges receive the stories without names attached so their judgments can be unbiased. If they open your file and see your name you will be disqualified from the contest, although you will still be eligible for publication.
You will receive confirmation through a thank you message displayed on screen. If you do not see it, or if you believe something has gone wrong, please send us a message through the Submission Issue contact form. Our team will work with you to resolve any concerns. Do not submit multiple times.
Your submissions and all personal information are confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside the Elegant Literature staff. Your story will be published using the Pen Name, author bio, and website/socials that you include on the form. We only publish what you include.
Writers who are new or have never been published are encouraged to submit work.
Part of our mission is to promote new talent, so we ask authors with certain levels of publication history not to enter.
Please do not submit work if you have:
a) traditionally published a novel of greater than 40,000 words,
b) self-published a novel of greater than 40,000 words and sold 100+ copies,
c) sold four or more works of short fiction to markets paying 8c/word or greater,
d) self-published short fiction work totalling 10,000 words or more, with profits in excess of $500.
e) won a fiction contest with a prize greater than $2,500.
Published authors can still join the community and participate in the Community Workshops.
If you have not met any of the thresholds above, you are considered a new writer in the eyes of Elegant Literature and are eligible to enter the contest and submit to the magazine.
Via: Elegant Literature.
- About the Author
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!