View Full Version : Markets for plotless fiction

05-16-2008, 08:45 PM
Are there any? I'm not sure what they're called--slice of life, drabbles, vingettes--but I have a fair amount of them, all around 1500 words or so, and I don't know if there's anywhere I can sell them (or a non-paying market I could send them to, for that matter).
Any advice?

Edit: It's also worthwhile to point out that these are largely fantasy or magic realism stories. I'm digging this whole deeper, aren't I? :D

05-16-2008, 08:52 PM
Your best bet topic-wise is probably any market that publishes "literary" fiction, but at 1500 words, your stories may be too short for many of them.

05-17-2008, 03:04 AM
Your best bet topic-wise is probably any market that publishes "literary" fiction, but at 1500 words, your stories may be too short for many of them.

See, and there's that stereotype again. Literary fiction does have plot. Most literary magazines will reject vignettes or "slices of life" out of hand. There was a time when mainstream mags would publish vignettes but more and more in the guidelines it specifically says no vignettes. Plot is needed to write a compelling story.

05-17-2008, 03:46 AM
Have you run them by other people, to see if they think they're plotless? 1500 words seems long for something where nothing happens. It might be that more is happening than you realise.

05-17-2008, 03:47 AM
Hey, easy, easy! I write the stuff too, okay? You're right, plot is needed to write a compelling story. When I think of "plotless," though, I'm thinking "not an obvious plot" like genre fiction often has. And when I write "slice of life" stories, they still have plots, but the plots aren't front and center in my mind when I write them. Things still happen, though.

Whew! I never thought that my response would raise a hackle! Next think you know, I'm going to get an irate response from a genre writer about this post.

05-17-2008, 04:09 AM
generally I think of that stuff as "musing." If you have some kind of a theme, you might be able to write a column or filler (aka boilerplates) for a newspaper? You know, things like "life on the farm," or "Alternative styles in Detroit," or something like that. If they are humorous, could you sell them as humor columns? Might be neat. I wouldn't say they are not salable. Read through the newspaper and find out where they get their columns from (there are usually on-line warehousers) and try to go into syndication.

oh, sorry, didn't read the last line.

05-17-2008, 05:06 AM
Hey, easy, easy!

Sorry, my fault for not getting my tone across. Wasn't said with raised hackles but more with a sort of laugh/snort. (yeah i snort. I admit it) And totally off topic, why do you have a pic of my cat as your avatar? Even the spot on his nose. But not the brown under his chin, though.

Even if the plot is not front and centre but it's still there, then it wouldn't be a vignette. For a true vignette, there really wouldn't be a plot. Just a long description of a garden and a woman sitting in it, for example. I admit I have a bias against vignettes but that's just me. I just don't see the point of them. No offense, mumbling sage. (By the way, a drabble is a story of exactly 100 words that does have a beginning, middle, and end.)

05-17-2008, 06:15 AM
More off-topic cat chatter: you have a twin to my cat? That is too funny!

By the way, thanks for the clarification on what a vignette is. I learn something new every day here! I didn't realize that a piece could be considered a complete work without a beginning-middle-end. It doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy reading.

05-17-2008, 07:03 AM
check him out. He's no longer, unfortunately. Tainted cat food and old age took its toll. But he was the best cat ever.

I don't enjoy vignettes, or "slice of life" stories. But some people do.

05-17-2008, 07:24 PM
Aww, he's cute! Sorry to hear that he's no longer with you. Wow, they really do look like brother and sister.

05-17-2008, 08:32 PM
I also say 1500 words sounds like a lot for not having a plot. Are you sure the plot isn't internalized or just hard to find? I suggest having some people read them, or post them on SYW, and see if anyone else finds them interesting and good reading as a story. If so, then you've got a plot--it's just hard to find--so just submit as normal. There's tons of stories that have very hard-to-find plots--tending to be on the literary side, as MeowGirl said--but they're still stories. I should know; I write them. If there truly is no plot...well then there may still be a market, but you'll have to look hard. I know some places still buy slice-of-life stories, but they're a niche market, and you're going to have to look hard to find any that do fantasy or magic realism. Hmm. I like magic realism.

05-17-2008, 08:39 PM
I agree with kuwisdelu. Post one or two in SYW and see that others think. Maybe you can mold one of your vignettes into a story. I love short, character-driven pieces, but still, something has to happen.

05-18-2008, 06:52 PM
Okay, I'll try that. Thanks for the points, everyone. If they do turn out unsalable, I won't cry, but if I could get them anywhere I'd like to.

'Slice of Life' is probably my best description--the one that's foremost in my mind at moment is a conversation between two characters who PLAN the action, but because everything is all laid out I never show them putting their plan into action. I wanted things unresolved, but the result is that nothing mesurable happens except for some pithy dialog. At least, I'm hoping the dialog is good XP.

05-18-2008, 07:23 PM
Props for using "pithy"!

Maryn, disassembling old planes

05-19-2008, 01:56 AM
I agree. 1500 seems long for a vignette/slice of life.

Mr Sci Fi
05-20-2008, 07:15 AM
Find any publication that says they only publish "High quality literary fiction."

05-20-2008, 03:49 PM
Find any publication that says they only publish "High quality literary fiction."

don't make me say it again. :tongue "High Quality literary fiction" does not mean "no plot". In fact, if you look at the guidelines for most magazines that publish literary fiction it will say "no slices of life/vignette". Just saying.

Kate Thornton
05-20-2008, 06:36 PM
Well, first look for the plot. It's probably there.

If you do in fact have a plot and it is just weak, think about using our friend, the rewrite, to make it more clear.

I can't imagine having that much plotless fantasy - maybe they are all beginnings of larger works. Not everything we write gets to a publisher - lots of it gets to stay in the jump-started-ideas category where we use it to fashion other, more complete stories. Perhaps you have a lot of this material - if so, good for you because that is how some spectacular stories come into existence.

Try thinking of this material as the nursery of your work, or -as I do with mine - as the compost heap from which stories richly grow. I think genre work really demands plot and structure in order to carry the story, and plotless fragments are not going to be a very satisfying read.

05-20-2008, 06:58 PM
There is one rule that I think we are forgetting.

As long as it works, you can do it.

If you write a story that has no plot but for some reason, everyone who reads it, loves it. Then enough said.

Now, I'm not saying that is the way to write a story (I definitely am plot centric). But, if your story is interesting, holds the reader's attention, and leaves them with a satisfied conclusion. Then enough said.

The ULTIMATE decider for stories are the readers. Post your stories, see what your responses are.

just my two cents.


05-20-2008, 07:12 PM
Send it somewhere that asks for "literary fiction."

(Just kidding. Sorry, nevada, I couldn't resist.)

Seriously though, I suspect you do have a plot in these stories. Two characters planning an action is a plot. It is the writing that will determine if it is interesting.

And come on, Mel, everyone knows that W is the decider. Don't take that away from him.

Mr Sci Fi
05-20-2008, 07:17 PM
don't make me say it again. :tongue "High Quality literary fiction" does not mean "no plot". In fact, if you look at the guidelines for most magazines that publish literary fiction it will say "no slices of life/vignette". Just saying.

I know. Just a poor attempt at humor.

05-21-2008, 12:27 AM
Sorry, all. Just a knee-jerk reaction of mine. i do have a sense of humour, really. lol Just literary fiction has a bad rap that i think, in general, is undeserved. Just like not all romance novels are bodice rippers, not all literary fiction is plotless drivel in love with its own words.

05-21-2008, 01:23 AM
Don't apologize, nevada. I write literary fiction too and I agree with everything you've said.

I also happen to be a bit of a wanker who can't pass up an opportunity to rib someone. (And no, I'm not British -- I just like the word "wanker.") My bad.

05-21-2008, 02:45 AM
I love the word wanker. It sounds awesome. (your avatar freaks me out)

05-21-2008, 08:09 PM
I love the word wanker. It sounds awesome. (your avatar freaks me out)

It freaks me out too. Keeps me on my toes.

05-21-2008, 09:03 PM
Okay, then! I'll send my story...to a literary magazine!


Ha-ha. Just kidding. :tongue

05-21-2008, 09:50 PM
Okay, then! I'll send my story...to a literary magazine!


Ha-ha. Just kidding. :tongue

:roll: :e2moon:

05-22-2008, 06:27 AM
Kidding. No, I'll listen to the people who have pointed out that there must be a story somewhere in 1500 pages--I've discovered it, and it's just offscreen. How annoying.

Mike Coombes
05-24-2008, 11:55 AM
Okay, then! I'll send my story...to a literary magazine!

Might I suggest you do? A 1500 word slice of life, if well written, sounds good. Submit it to http://www.theoddvillepress.com

01-09-2009, 06:57 AM
Sorry for resurrecting this thread, but it's just the advice I was looking for.

I guess what I got out of this discussion is the reminder that a plot doesn't have to be some major, earth-moving event. I just wrote a story less than 1,000 words, and something happens, a small altercation and two characters meet.

01-09-2009, 08:15 AM
bsolah, you are absolutely right, in short fiction it doesn't have to be an earth-shattering event. Even the smallest thing can serve as conflict. I think the most important thing in a short story is that someone is changed as the result of that smallest thing. and it can be the smallest change, but some indication that what happened made an impact. Very often, that's all that's needed.

01-09-2009, 09:10 AM
Wow, that's quite a confidence boost. Knowing that I'm getting something right and knowing that some of ideas that I thought weren't complete, are validated.

I think I might go home for work tonight and finish this short idea I've had.

Kate Thornton
01-09-2009, 07:58 PM
bsolah, reading your post made me happy.
Sometimes we think we have a plotless fragment, but it's just an unfinished story and everything really is there, they are just small things.

Nevada is right - scale doesn't have to be titanic in order for the story to have impact and be complete.
Good luck on this!

01-11-2009, 12:05 AM
I'm wondering why anyone would waste their time writing a "plotless" story. A story without a plot is not a story, even if it's simply a "slice-of-life" story. A story speaks to the reader and the writer is supposed to say something via his writing. A simple 1500-word story can say volumes about say, the American Way Of Life, a scene between a grandfather and grandson in the depth of winter, a moment forever to be cherished, a thrilling adventure, etc., etc.

Make your words mean something. You spent time and effort putting them together in a coherent manner to tell a story. If they're just meaningless musings, put 'em in your diary or journal and lock them away from public view.

Just my opinion, worth what ya' paid for it.