What Makes An #Editor publish a Short Story in a #Literary #Magazine?

A Character's Writer's Block?
Publishing Stories in a Literary Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog,  Suchen Christine Lim, one of Singapore’s best known authors, spoke to us about her writing journey  before the holidays. Today, Scott Bryson, the editor of Cigale Literary Magazine answers questions on what leads him to choose a short story for his publication.  Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.


1.      What led you to establish Cigale Literary magazine? What are your plans for its future?

I hoped to connect readers with new and emerging writers and to help those
writers begin a career in the literary arts. I saw a need for a publication that emphasized literature as a tradition, where writers who are also avid readers could contribute to a literary conversation. In the future I hope to publish translations and maybe poetry. I also hope to go to print and pay my authors.

2.      What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?
I look for good writing and an interesting tale. I like works that expand my perspectives on humanity and look out to a wider world.
3.      What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less of?

I would like to see more writing that is challenging and shows an urgency
in speaking about universal human themes. I would also like to see more
writing from a third person narrative and some that is genre bending.
I would like to see less writing told from the first person and less that
is the author’s personal history, unless that personal history reveals
some wider truth about the human experience.

4.  To a lot of readers, literary fiction is boring writing. How can
writers engage more readers with their literary work?

Literary fiction is meant to provide perspective and challenge the reader.
It is meant to be difficult. But the more you read it the more enjoyable
it becomes.

5.      What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?
  • Keep polishing your work, as it might not be ready when you first finish it.
  • Make sure you follow the submission instructions from the magazine.
  • Have a general understanding of the magazine and what they usually lookfor. Even magazines that say they don’t look for anything in particular have something in mind.
  • Read, read, and read.
  • But mostly, getting published is luck.
6.      Name 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

1. The Spider Thread – Ryunosuke Akutagawa
2. Poor People – Fydor Dostoyevsky
3. A Hunger Artist – Franz Kafka
4. The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl – Ray Bradbury
5. Frost and Fire – Ray Bradbury

7.      What was the last book/ short story you read? Would you recommend it to my readers, and why or why not?

I recently finished A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Yes I would
recommend this to your readers as a classic of English Literature. In many
ways it is like some short stories I receive but Burgess makes a larger
point than showing the reader violent acts of a youth.

Cigale Literary Magazine

Cigale Literary Magazine was founded in September 2011 as an online literary magazine to publish the works of new and existing authors. It is a quarterly online literary journal featuring powerful new voices in the genres of short fiction, flash fiction fiction, and literary criticism/reviews.


Have you sent you stories for publication in a journal or magazine? What has been your experience of publication? Do you have story submission questions for Scott?

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

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  1. seanbidd

    I’ll have to dig through some of the short stories churned out, and check the frame of reference used. Most are third person, but there’s the odd few in first person, due in main to the recounting of the story’s fiction by a character involved, or at the start I may not of resolved identities for certain characters.

    The conversation in the post above has come along at a good time, as I’m in the middle of revisiting a bunch of rough drafts to rework. Thank you.

  2. 43: Gravity, 9ers, Vino

    […] What Makes an Editor Publish a Short Story in a Literary Magazine?  http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/what-makes-an-editor-publish-a-short-story-in-a-liter… *More stories written in third person. […]

  3. Michelle McGill-Vargas

    Great interview. I thinks it’s also helpful to hear from editors to find out what exactly they are looking for. I also loved your comment about literary fiction. I find it hard to read at times, especially in magazines. Probably because I don’t write literary fiction, though I LOVE Toni Morrison’s works. I have one flash fiction piece that was accepted for publication for March 2014. My first! Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the others accepted somewhere, too.

  4. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB)

    I read 400 submissions last fall for a university-based literary journal. So many of the stories lack true conflict or character motivation. I think that’s the hardest part about literary fiction–the balance between matters of craft and also telling an engaging story.

    • Damyanti

      I agree. Literary fiction tends to focus on character but sometimes its writers forget all about character motivation, an aspect which, imho, shows us more about the character than anythings else.

  5. shanbarnacle

    Thanks for this interview! It is always helpful to know more about the people who will be reading (and essentially judging) our work. I wish more editors would list their favorite short stories. At least this one has decent (yet masculine) taste!

    • Damyanti

      I suppose favorites change from time to time, so it might be hard for editors to list theirs on their sites. But I agree it would be nice to know– I submitted my story to Scott and got accepted with no idea of what he likes.

  6. jakewitcher

    ” I would also like to see more writing from a third person narrative and some that is genre bending. I would like to see less writing told from the first person and less that is the author’s personal history, unless that personal history reveals some wider truth about the human experience.”

    This really resonates with me and is also something I have trouble with sometimes! I’m definitely going to work on this.

    • Damyanti

      Jake, i thought it would be useful to get an editors perspective of a magazine– each editor has different tastes, and it pays to know about as many of them as we can 🙂

    • Damyanti

      Sharmishta, all of them are worth a read, especially the one by Kafka. There’s a free Guardian podcast of Mohsin Hamid reading it, and it is excellent.

  7. orionwriter

    I submitted a short story to an online magazine back in November. I never found it if it was published or not (so I assume that it wasn’t) but it was a lot of fun working on the story. I had never attempted to have something published before, so it was a great learning experience. Honestly, I’d do it again. It was an excellent learning experience and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to be published.
    I also liked that Scott included in his tips, “Read, read, and read.” That is my absolute favourite tip.
    This was a great post!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Damyanti

      Glad that you liked this post. Getting something published is also about not giving up. Writers rarely receive acceptances, it is mostly rejections– the whole idea is to fail better till you succeed.

  8. spectacularwriterzackpalm

    Reblogged this on A Blog by That Guy and commented:
    While I recently wrote about how on Google Plus users need to have engagement with other users around the social media website. Part of that engagement is sharing other’s content that you think is interesting, inviting, cool, or just plain kickass.

    In this case, this post crafted by Daily (w)rite is in the kickass category. For those writers out there looking to get their feet wet in writing, check out what she has to share regarding the Cigale Literary Magazine.