Magazines and Writing Contests for Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers

Writing is hard, and to make a living out of it doubly so. However, it is even more so for those who write short stories. Those who write novels and novellas have more options than those who dabble in short fiction. All of us have a few short pieces tucked away that we don’t know what to do with. They’re too short and too few in number to be published, and we just don’t feel like writing a few more, because we have to work on that masterpiece of a novel whose characters won’t let us sleep. So, what do we do with them? The answer is simple: Submit to a writing contest, or a magazine. There are magazines that pay writers for their works. All you need to make sure is to follow their guidelines, go through a back issue or so to ensure that your work is the kind they would want. Many of these magazines and contests allow simultaneous submissions, but many don’t, so be careful when you send the work. Some have themes, some are open only for a short period, and some are there throughout the year.

In this post, I want to share the details of some writing contests and magazines that a new writer might want to submit their works to, free of charge. I shall give a list of contests which have entry fee in a later post, but today, it is all about submissions without payment. Since I predominantly dabble in Sci Fi and Fantasy, these will be a fit only for those who write in those genres. Needless to say, all are for works in English.

Without further ado, let us move on to the list.

1. Writers of the Future (Sci Fi and Fantasy)

Without doubt, this is one of the best writing contests there is. The judges are all well known, there is no entry fee, and it is open throughout the year for submission. They permit both online and offline submissions and the rules are here. They also have an illustrators of the future award, so if you have talents in that direction, you can check out the details here.

2. The SF Reader Annual Short Story Contest (Speculative Fiction)

This is an annual contest that is open from 1st to 31st of December every year. Again, there is no Entry fee, and they also permit multiple submissions.

3. Clarkesworld Magazine (Sci Fi and Fantasy)

Clarkesworld is one of the best magazines publishing Sci Fi and Fantasy. So, if your work is accepted, you can be certain not only of payment, but also of exposure to the right kind of audience as well. They accept both fiction and non fiction. Submission guidelines here.

4. Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Literary Adventure Fantasy)

They are a magazine that accept stories in literaru adventure fantasy. Check out their guidelines here.

5. Fantasy and Science Fiction (Sci Fi, and Fantasy)

One of the oldest and most popular magazines of its kind, they accept submissions from all genres of speculative fiction with emphasis on character driven stories. Detailed guidelines are here.

6. Daily Science Fiction (Speculative Fiction)

An online magazine, they accept stories in speculative fiction upto 1500 words in length. Detailed guidelines here. They also accept artwork following these guidelines.

7. Strange Horizons (Speculative Fiction)

They are an award winning magazine that are open for submission between Monday 1600 UTC and Tuesday 1600 UTC. Detailed submission guidelines are here.

8. Apex Magazine (Sci Fi, Fantasy and Horror)

They are an online magazine that accepts both prose and poetry in their specified genres. They are currently closed for submissions, but will be reopening on Jan 1, 2019. Submission guidelines are here.

9. The Dark Magazine (Horror and Dark Fantasy)

The Dark Magazine accepts short stories in horror and dark fantasy. Guidelines here.

10. Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show (Fantasy and Sci Fi)

An online magazine, they accept submissions in Fantasy and Science Fiction genres. Guidelines are here.

11. Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (Sci Fi)

A magazine which had Isaac Asimov in its first editorial board, Asimov’s Science Fiction is considered among the best when it comes to Science Fiction. They accept stories and also poetry. Detailed guidelines here.

12. Analog Science Fiction and Fact(Sci Fi)

One of the oldest magazines in its genre, Analog publishes both fiction and fact articles. Detailed guidelines here.

I hope this list was useful to you, and if you have more to add, mention in the comments below. Thank you.

World Building

Every fantasy writer knows the importance of world building- and also the difficulty of it. The idea of creating a whole new world from scratch can be daunting, but also fun. World building is an area where you can let your imagination run wild. You want creatures that fly without wings? Why not? You want blue trees and a red moon? No problem. Whatever you want, you can create. You are the God of this world, its creator.

World building can also be problematic, if you don’t have a clear idea in your head. You have to make your world detailed enough for the reader, and yet not so detailed that it derails the plot. You need a history for your world, geographical features, flora, fauna, and what not. What about the protagonist of your story? Is he/ she human? Elvish? Some other unknown race that you’ve invented?

There are lots of places where we can get great advice on how to build a world that’s convincing enough and real enough, and I’m sure you’ve all gone through them and knows the basics of how to build a world. In today’s post, I want to showcase two great sites that can be used to build a fantasy world from scratch.

The first is World Anvil. This is a great site for fantasy writers and gamers alike. It may look daunting, but the whole thing is simple when you try it. You can just create a summary, get all the background info in there, and leave the rest for later if you want. Or you can sit down, gather your notes around you, and build the world and its characters. They have a lot of video tutorials that can guide you every step of the way, as well.

The Second is donjon, which is not as comprehensive as World Anvil, but is great for getting the basics out of the way. You can generate worlds, calendars, names and a lot of other things for both fantasy and sci fi. Donjon is also easier to navigate since everything is basic, and can give you an overview of what you want your world to look like. The navigation panel on the left is all there is. Talk of simplicity!

I personally began with donjon and built a basic world which I then detailed in World Anvil, but it need not work for everyone.

I do hope you found this informative and useful. Thank you for reading!