What We're Looking For

(And What We're Not)


In general terms, we look for literary fiction and poetry—the kind of work published in Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, etc.  And we look for genre fiction and poetry, within the guidelines that follow.


What We're Looking For

  • Strong story arcs

  • Compelling characters

  • Fresh use of language

  • Active protagonists, who—win, lose or something in between—strive for their goals

  • Work that grapples with a complex world, without trying to simplify it into either a Pollyanna or a Dis-Pollyanna worldview

  • Work that crosses the boundary between literary and genre conventions; for the classic example, look at what Shakespeare does with ghosts, revenge stories, mistaken identities and other popular tropes (if you find Shakespeare as much a genre writer as a literary one, you share our outlook on genre)

  • Also, experimental work that is ultimately about the effect of the work, not experiment for its own sake; for example, see the stories of Donald Barthelme and Jorge Luis Borges

Specifically in terms of Science Fiction

  • Fresh speculative elements

  • Stories which use their speculative element to explore character and theme, rather than as an end in itself

  • For examples of the kind of science fiction we publish, see Alexander Zelenyj's The Loneliness of Strangefire Dancers (Vol 1, Issue 2) and Ralph Greco's The Seam (Vol 2, Issue 1)

Specifically in terms of Horror

  • Stories which use their horror element to explore character and theme, rather than as an end in itself; for example, see Eden Robinson's Monkey Beach

  • Good ghost stories

  • Kafkaesque situations

  • That whole range of horror in the mundane, which is waiting to be explored

  • Subtle horror

  • For examples of the kind of horror we publish, see Louise Bohmer's Old Habits (Vol 1, Issue 3) and John Popham's Plainsong (Vol 2, Issue 2)

Specifically in terms of Fantasy

  • Fantasy elements incorporated into our world, not set in alternative worlds

  • Magic realism; for example, see Gabriel Garica Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude

  • Surrealism

  • A well-told yarn, fairy tale, or tall tale

  • For examples of the kind of surrealism/magic realism, tall tales and fairy tales, respectively, we publish, see Julia Shapiro's 3am Whistle (Vol 2, Issue 1), Curt McDaniel's The Legend of Luther Brown (Vol 2, Issue 1) and Andersen Prunty's The Balloonman's Secret (Vol 2, Issue 2)

What We're Not Looking For

  • Pieces with no story arc

  • Passive protagonists

  • Cliché language

  • Stories and poems positing an unrelentingly hopeless worldview

  • Nor alternatively, inspirational stories and poems

  • Stories which achieve a surprise ending by withholding information the POV character knew

  • Stories with graphic depictions of sex and/or violence, unless such depictions are both organic to the story and handled tastefully

  • Obtuse stories or poems that seem to exist just to make the reader feel dumb for not understanding them

  • Erotica

  • Experimental work which exists just for the sake of being different

  • Stories in which the main character is a writer, in particular a writer who goes on to write a bestseller

Specifically in terms of Science Fiction

Specifically in terms of Horror

  • Gore or gross-outs

  • Zombie, serial killer, vampire or monster stories

  • Stories that depict rape or violence against women (our readership has a lot of therapists who found the publication through our nonfiction articles on personal growth—every day they have to deal with the reality of the violence against women in working with their clients, so it is neither escapism nor enlightening for them to read about in their off hours)

Specifically in terms of Fantasy

  • Sword and sorcery

  • Stories set in alternative worlds

Note:  Some of the things listed, which we're not looking for, could be dealt with in quite interesting ways using a metafictional approach. For example, while we wouldn't go for a straight-ahead tale of a fighter, magician and thief in search of treasure in a world of elves, dwarves and orcs, we would certainly consider a piece that told their story in a way that deconstructed the tropes and assumptions of the Sword and Sorcery genre.

A couple more thoughts:  Keep in mind that while half our readership found us through the fiction and poetry we publish, half found us through our articles on personal growth. We have a number of therapists, and personal growth trainers, coaches and writers, on our mailing list, as well as their clients and students they've recommended the publication to. Given that base of readers interested in personal growth, we steer away from stories/poems that posit an unrelentingly bleak and hopeless universe, or stories which show horrors for their own sake.  Also, for those who've read any of my own work, or know that I'm one of the moderators on the Horror Workshop on Carnival of Wicked Writers, those places are not necessarily the best indication of what Noneuclidean Cafe is looking for.  There's a lot of work I personally like, as well as stories I've written myself, which don't fit the editorial needs of this publication.  The best place to get a sense of what Noneuclidean Cafe publishes is to read the publication.


Finally, the intention of this page is not to convey a vision of the way to write good fiction and poetry, but to give a sense of what subset of the vast array of good fiction and poetry we publish in Noneuclidean Cafe.


James Swingle, Editor




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