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Narrative Magazine's big prize

July 24, 2008 | 12:15 pm

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There are so many literary journals that listing them all takes a huge database (Duotrope) or a really big website (Newpages). If you can navigate them, literary magazines are great places to find new fiction — and for new writers, they're a great way to get published.

Not that it's easy. Journals are so overwhelmed with submissions that sometimes they take two years to send out a simple rejection. One way to winnow the pack — and generate some cash — is to launch a contest. Often the contests have a moderate entry fee, 10 or 20 bucks, and some kind of cash prize. Usually the prize isn't all that much, sadly. But Narrative Magazine's got a lucrative pot for its current first-person story contest: $3,000 for the winner, $1,750 for second place and $1,000 for third. Spreading the money love around, the magazine will give 10 runners-up $125 each.

Submissions can be fiction or nonfiction, and the call for entries is clear:

We are looking for authors whose use of the first person demonstrates a sense of proportion and perspective, an engagement with the world beyond the self, for authors whose gifts of thought or feeling and of insight enhance a reader’s sense of connection and possibility. And, as always, we are looking for manuscripts with a strong narrative, in which the effects of language are intense and total. Reading the first-person narrator — the I of the story — we hope to find the most necessary, most intimate, most personal stories made universal.

The contest closes on July 31.

Carolyn Kellogg

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