Advice for Writers

Creative Writing is not an easy way of life. It takes a lot of time and patience to polish one's skills, and it takes additional patience to search for, select, and submit your work to a prospective publisher.

The most basic advice we can offer you is to read the Guidelines (ours and those of other publishers). When publishers say that they do not publish works over or under a certain number of words, they usually mean it. It may seem unusual that they would not be interested in your 15,000-word or your 112-word short story, but they have their reasons. Continue to develop the works that you have in progress, and you will indeed find a suitable publisher for them.

The Binnacle chooses only works under 2500 words, so, if you have a 6400-word short story that you think otherwise would be appropriate for us, ask yourself if you might not find a way to send us a small piece of it, or to tell the story from a very limited perspective. We have been delighted by several authors who have made such revisions over the past few years.

We enjoy works that give us a unique slice of life, especially works that have to do with the difficult decisions, the hard work, and the odd twists of life. We like to laugh. We avoid sentimentality, though not emotion. We like mainstream fiction and poetry. We appreciate poetry that follows traditional forms, though we accept all kinds. In general, we like to be surprised.

Please remember that we have a broad audience for our publication, so we do in fact shy away from stories with strong language. Again, we have asked several authors over the past few years to revise such strong language, and they have done so with remarkable results. (Yes, we then published them.)

We wish that we had more time to write to you and advise you on your works. We hope to get to a place in about a year or so when we can critique every work, but until then we hope that you know that we read your works carefully. You should know that it is very rare that we find a work that we think has little merit. Like so many other publishers, we feel lucky to have so many talented people writing to us each week.

This is our first attempt at offering general advice of this sort on the site. We hope it is useful to you, and we hope you will check again for an updated version before long.