Experimental Fiction Magazines Looking for New Writing
Where Should You Submit?
Part of the beauty of being a fiction writer is having the freedom to follow your muses—wherever they go and whatever form they take. If your work consistently subverts the expectations of readers and shirks writing norms, you may be dabbling in experimental fiction. The stories may not have a clear structure. The characters may not easily elicit sympathy from readers. The language may purposefully break rules of syntax and grammar.
Experimental fiction is less sought after than traditional fiction, but don't be discouraged. Such work, though more intellectually challenging than other genres, can still be rewarding for readers and writers alike. Great literary magazines are looking for writing that challenges the notion of what we consider fiction. Here are a few samples of magazines looking to house your experimental novellas, edgy prose, and any other forms of unconventional fiction writing.
Fiction Magazine's mission statement includes the desire to "bring the experimental to a broader audience," so the publication is a good fit for unique voices trying to find a home for their experimental work. The submissions page specifically calls for experimental fiction. However, they do not accept any submissions related to science fiction, romance, or young adult fiction. Submissions are accepted between October 15 and April 15. It's suggested that writers stick to pieces that are fewer than 5,000 words, but they don't have a hard rule against longer pieces.
Big Fiction describes the members of its editorial team as "too self-aware, too self-conscious, too self-deprecating stylists." Therefore, writers with a burning desire to push their love of language into new and exciting places may fit in with this magazine's mission. Submissions are asked to take big risks and "zoom in" their literary lens, rather than panning wider.
There are two submission cycles for Big Fiction. One runs from March 15 through June 1, and the other runs from September 15 through December 1. Pieces are expected to be fairly long, with a guideline of between 7,500 and 20,000 words. The magazine also accepts book reviews (especially those concerning experimental fiction novellas) and all styles of essays.
DIAGRAM blends text and visual art to create a unique magazine experience. Strong writing that subverts expectations will fit nicely within these digital pages. The editorial team specifically asks for "poems that masquerade as stories" and "stories that disguise themselves as indices or obituaries." They don't much care what form your experiment fiction takes, they just want it to do something new while exciting readers. "Odd but good" is how this magazine describes itself.
The DIAGRAM team promises to review "anything you see fit to send us," but they ask that you don't submit listicle style pieces ("13 ways of looking at X"). Pieces are accepted year-round, and submissions will receive a response within two months.
Pleiades has been around since the '80s, making it one of the oldest publications accepting open submissions for experimental fiction. The magazine aims to publish unknown and emerging writers alongside Nobel Prize winners and other well-established wordsmiths. Submissions should tell a story in roughly 12,000 words or fewer. They look for pieces that build immersive settings and well-developed characters through memorable language and provocative subjects.
There's a relatively short submissions window for this publication, so make sure you get your piece to the editing team between July 1 and September 1. While the regular submission window is fairly small, Pleiades does accept submissions for specific awards, contests, and events throughout the year. Keep checking the website to see whether any of your pieces could fit the criteria for the latest special submission call.
Read both the guidelines and some of the content before submitting, as each magazine has a different aesthetic.