“No Sense of Common Decency: How to Get Your Rough, Squeamish, Weird and Wooly Writing Published” by Genelle Chaconas

You’re a wild writer. Being a wild writer, you write a lot of crazy things nobody in their right mind would publish. Keep it in your notebook? No. I dare you to submit your weird work anyways. Here is a short list of un-publishable writing and how you could submit anyways on Poets & Writers, Duotrope or elsewhere.

Prose Poetry and Flash/Micro Fiction

If your prose poetry isn’t getting coverage, why not flesh it out? Add some syntax, structure and plot to prose poetry into some solid micro/flash fiction. You can also do the opposite; if you feel your micro/flash fiction is not getting attention, take some formatting and syntax out and voila, prose poetry. Incredibly, these two genres are only separated by a few stylistic rules. Both have categories on Poets & Writers.

Political Humor

The reason this oh so accessible category may struggle to find a home is that, all too often, it wanes off into rants, raves and preachy-ness; if you’re sure you’ve avoided this,  submit to either the Humor or Political categories in Poets & Writers. However, be sure your soap box is curbed, as these genres are flooded. It’s not easy to write satire or biting wit, but these genres are in need of them.

Stream of Consciousness

With just a few tweaks, stream of consciousness writing can be submitted as experimental work, which has its own category on Poets & Writers. The trick is to weave it around something loosely tying it together; take your stream of consciousness notes and shape them. Apply a standard of punctuation and sentence structure as you choose. Voila, Experimental writing! The same process can be used for drugged or drunk writing. The most important thing to remember is the editing process is going to be more extensive.

Cut-Ups/Formal Experiments

Cut-ups and other systematic/formal writing experiments may seem un-publishable, but nearly the same system can be used for this as Stream of Consciousness; scout out Experimental Writing submissions for the most accessible, or you can almost always orient your writing towards Cross-Genre, another popular category. You may also try your luck at journals which cater to found or multimedia writing. In making more extreme experiments viable the editing is critical; you to decide how much random is too much, and how much random is just right.

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror or Slipstream

This type of writing may struggle to find its way in a mainstream journal, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. However, it wouldn’t be bad idea to search databases for lists catered specifically to these genres; a few Google searches found me better options for this genre than scrolling through Poets & Writers. Know this: while this type of writing is still on the fringes of acceptable writing, it’s pushing closer to mainstream. More literary magazines have become open to these types of writing than before.

Crime, Cop, Noir, and Detective

While less popular than it has been in the past, it’s going to take a lot more than a slump in interest to kill this type of writing off. The good news is that crime fiction straddles the lines between genres, and can pass as a traditional literary submission. You might also try your luck at specific markets tailored to this genre via a similar search as above. What is unique about this genre is that it crosses all other genres and can cross into true crime and nonfiction.

Violence and Gore

It may be a harder sell, and one that you should consider very carefully, but violence writing can fall into crime, horror or other types of exorbitant writing that pushes the boundaries of what is appropriate. The real secret to this type of writing is keeping it bodily, visceral; make your audience really squirm with gut-wrench to create effective sick outs, but also, be wary of simply writing something nauseating.


Turn on the red lights; erotica is a market, and even has its own section for the content on Poets & Writers. Though many journals have limits on what they can accept, don’t be afraid to show off this type of content to markets who appreciate it. Be aware of who you’re submitting to and tailor submissions to that. But don’t hold back; if you’re going to write physical pleasure, go for it in the most visceral way.


Fight the patriarchy; there are whole magazines devoted exclusively to the rights of women, their words and the words of allies, enough that Feminist writing is its own category on Poets & Writers. Some publications are militantly inclusive; be wary to be completely non-phobic of everyone. Words to the wise: be aware your writing may be put up against political scrutiny. Don’t fall into the trap of simply writing rants; many feminists are intersectional and consider more diverse issues towards the feminist cause.


More publications are coming outta the woodwork to promote queer writing, which is writing about or by anyone on the LGBTQIAA spectrum or allies, and it now has its own category on Poets & Writers. Be prepared to see your writing among every flavor of the LGBTQIAA rainbow and allies alike. Again, be aware that your writing might be subjected to a political framework, and may be criticized for not being intersectional. It’s simply the nature of this beast.

Inequality, Trauma, Abuse, Addiction, and Disorders

Last but not least, these genres may struggle to find journals with a sympathetic ear. However, this tide is changing; several journals already focus on addiction writing, war veterans, writers with psychological disorders, abuse stories, and art that represents the disenfranchised. For general topics around these themes, Poets & Writers does have a category for Health/Healing, which would address any of them.

Yes, you’re a wild writer. You challenge literary conventions, make listener’s jaws drop, and simply write what needs to be written; this is all the more reason to work to see your words published.

Genelle Chaconas is Boulder Poetry Tribe’s Resident Submissions Expert.  They earned their Creative Writing BA from CSUS (2009) and their Writing & Poetics MFA from Naropa University (2015). Their first chapbook is Fallout, Saints, and Dirty Pictures (2011, little m press). They enjoy industrial music, cheap takeout, shoot-em-up B movies, Facebook stalking, and long walks off short piers.  They submitted their work 250 times in the last 365 days.



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