Archive for January 24th, 2011

Jan 24 2011

How to Keep Your Story’s Superpowers and/or Magic Extraordinary

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

I think it really helps superhero and urban fantasy stories when the supernatural abilities come across as special.  Here are some ideas to help yours stand out.

1. Use them less often. The more scenes there are with superpowers, the more diluted their effect will probably be.  For example, you could use fewer filler fight scenes or resolve more action scenes without superpowers.  Perhaps the powers have limitations, such as their duration.  Or maybe outside circumstances force the hero to resolve his problems in other ways (maybe he can’t use his superpowers without risking his secret identity, or he needs to avoid friendly casualties, etc).

2. Increase the costs of the powers. If the decision to use the powers is notable, the powers will probably be more exceptional and interesting. Here are some examples of costs that might fit your story.

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146 responses so far

Jan 24 2011

Publishers That Specialize in Superhero Short Stories

I’ve already done a list of general-interest publishers that occasionally handle superhero novels, but here’s a list of publishers that mention superheroes in their submission guidelines for short stories and/or flash fiction.   (If you’re interested in searching for different types of publishers, try Duotrope’s Digest).


Damnation Books wants realistic portrayals of metahumans and superpowers for its Corrupts Absolutely Anthology.  “Modern pop-culture is brimming over with stories of bright, polished heroes with indestructible moral codes, who throw themselves into a life of public service after being graced (or cursed) with cosmic powers. I call BS…. How about people with flaws? People with serious psychological issues? People that have been looking for a ticket out of their circumstances and finally lucked into it?… To some, this just screams ‘supervillain,’ or ‘antihero,’ and in many cases, you’d be right. But usually, these are stock characters without much substance. They’re the ‘bad guys.’ Real life isn’t that simple…”

  • Length: 3000-5000 words.
  • Deadline: December 1, 2011.  
  • Hey, ladies!  The editor mentions that he’s looking especially carefully for female authors and/or female leads.


Hyperpulp wants literary stories that “demonstrate a concern with writing, not only with plot or characters.”  It specifically mentions fantasy superhero and sci-fi superheroes on its Duotropes page.  “The idea is to harbor stories that exceed expectations, surprise the reader – also regarding the form – and are not afraid to subvert clichés and conduct experimentations… We’ll give preference to a prose more poetic and surprising.”

  • Length: Up to 10,000 words.
  • Hey, Brazilians!  Hyperpulp publishes in both English and Portuguese.
  • Hey, procrastinators!  No deadline.


Jersey Devil Press prefers “funny, weird, and, above all, entertaining” short stories.  “Here are a few things we wouldn’t mind seeing more of: strong female voices, a light-hearted view of the world and truly bat-**** insane fiction.  If you’re worried that what you just wrote is too ridiculous to be published, send it… We like dark, we like ridiculous.  We like funny and we like ‘what the **** was that?”  On its Duotropes page, it lists superhero fantasy and superhero sci-fi as subgenres of interest.  For submission details, please see this and this.

  • Length: Up to 4200 words.
  • Hey, procrastinators!  No deadline.


Title Goes Here wants “dark stories with some sort of an imaginative twist… we’re not as concerned about genre as about tone.”  Its Duotropes page specifically mentions superhero fantasy and superhero sci-fi, among others.  Please read the submission guidelines here.

  • Length: Up to 10,000 words.
  • Hey, poets!  Sorry, but they really don’t want you.


The WiFiles want “works that incorporate speculative fiction and imaginative elements not found in contemporary reality, which includes… superhero and paranormal.”  Please read the submission guidelines here.

  • Length: 1000-5000 words.
  • Hey, procrastinators!  No deadline.


A Thousand Faces prefers character-driven superhero short stories that rise above stereotypical BIFF-BAM-POW superhero stories that exist solely as a framework on which to hang a lengthy fight scene. We want strong, character driven pieces. The superhero element may be slight, but it must be present. If you’re not sure what this means, picture your story minus the superhuman element. Does it still work as a story? If so, we probably won’t want it…”

  • Length: Short stories of any length will be considered, but preference will be given to ones shorter than 5000 words.


Powers wants superhero stories of any genre.  “Seeking original stories of superheroes. This can be pure comic-book style heroes, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc but the central theme / characters in the story MUST involve superheroes.”

  • Deadline: October 31.
  • Length: 2500-8000 words.  (Query first before sending something longer).


Metahuman Press prefers superhero serials (ongoing stories).  “Metahuman Press wants to develop super-powered fiction to the next level online, and one way we want to do that is to show a variety of writer’s creative visions online. Therefore, we have placed an open call for serialized heroic fiction…. While one shot stories are occasionally accepted, we prefer serials. Yeah, you can submit your short stories to us, and if they’re really good, we will probably publish them, but what MP is all about is serial stories. Think of just about every comic series you’ve ever read, then transplant it in to prose form. We want to provide readers with continued stories of new characters. These take one of two forms: the limited series or the ongoing series. Each form has slightly different guidelines to what you should send.”


Matters Most Extraordinary prefers supernatural powers mixed in with historical events.Stories should be based on real history, and should feature historical characters and/or historical events. The outcome of these events cannot be changed… The reason for the supernatural powers is not to be definitively explained in your story, although characters may form their own opinions as to the source of their powers…”

  • Length: Preferably 1000-15,000 words.  Stories shorter or longer may be considered but are not preferable.


Beta City Anthology is looking for stories of superheroes and/or supervillains staving off an alien invasion. “The forces attacking from Gehenna are diverse and cosmopolitan, so any alien rabble you can dream up can be used. Their methods are up to you — classic spacecraft assaults, subtle sorcerous schemes, and unspeakable horrors let loose in dark alleys are all fair game. Whether your preference leans toward science fiction, fantasy, horror, or something else entirely, your story can find a home here. Similarly, while we love well-written superpowered action, we don’t want to fill the book entirely with tales of hero vs. alien combat.”


Gods of Justice is another superhero anthology looking for stories that “can be dramatic, exciting, action-packed, scary, funny, romantic or a combination.”  The protagonists must be superpowered heroes.

  • Length: Preferably 6500-8000 words.
  • Content Limits: Up to PG-13.


Sword and Saga Magazine prefers inventive and adventurous stories. “We’re looking for stories that take genre fiction to the next level of imagination. Time travel, steampunk, experimental, sword & sorcery, hard & soft SF, futurism, medievalism, …  super hero, supernatural, contemporary-SF, SF Western….  Stories that show diversity in location and research a plus. New writers are welcome….  Stories should be lively and adventurous, demonstrating creative inventiveness. ”

  • Length: Up to 7500 words.  Flash-fiction will be considered.
  • Hey, poets!  Poetry actually is considered.


Disappearing Island Magazine prefers character-driven stories with “crazy imagination.”   “We are quite partial to stories where the character and their struggles are the most integral part. However, this doesn’t mean you can slack off with that crazy imagination of yours, either. Give us suspense, strange new worlds, and the colorful life on them….  Some subgenres of scifi we love are: Near Future, Distopian, Cyberpunk, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction Horror, Slipstream, Space Opera, Steampunk, and Superhero.  Some subgenres of fantasy we love are: Contemporary, Dark Fantasy, Fabulism, Magic Realism, Paranormal, Superhero, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, and even Vampire (but if they sparkle, God help us all).”

  • Content Limits: “Your material should be PG-13 or lower.”


Daikaijuzine prefers fun speculative fiction that challenges the reader.    “We seek diversity in content and storytelling. We publish primarily speculative fiction, from horror to hard science fiction to high fantasy to mysteries to magical realism to mainstream, but we have room for other types of fiction as well. If superheroes or zombies or giant monsters are your thing, that’s fine too. We want stories that are well told, with strong characters and storylines, demonstrate respect for the reader and the language, and which are fun to read. Challenge us. Stretch our horizons. Make us think. At the very least, give us a good laugh.”

  • Length: 1000-6000 words.


Tower of Light Fantasy prefers character-driven fantasy short stories. “I will publish almost any kind of fantasy – especially stories that blend genres, such as dark fantasy, science fantasy, and superhero fantasy. Sword and sorcery and traditional fantasy are fine as long as they have fairly original plots and – more importantly – deeply interesting characters.  I might also consider stories that are closer to science fiction as long as they have a mystical or spiritual element.”

  • Length: 500-4000 words. “This word count is firm.”


Anansesem is a Carribbean-centered publication accepting superhero stories for kids.  “Anansesem publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art by aspiring and established children’s writers and illustrators, and children (ages 8 to 16.) We give priority to persons living in or originally from the Caribbean region, but we also welcome work from around the world… We will accept children’s fiction in the genres of realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, super hero fiction, mystery, humor, and traditional (traditional = original work that fits the folk tale, fairy tale, or myth/legend sub-genres).”

  • Length: Short stories up to 5000 words and flash-fiction will be considered.  Excerpts or chapters from unpublished books will also be considered if they can make sense on their own.


Freedom Fiction wants speculative fiction. “This consists of genres such as science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, alternate history, and all their sub-genres. Additionally we are into detective fiction, crime, gangster, hardboiled, noir fiction and very much into pulp fiction…. If your fiction is unconformist and maybe even not fitting the mentioned genres, do query us and we will see if we can find your story a home at Freedom Fiction.”

  • Length: Please query before submitting stories over 3000 words.


Theory Train wants “edgy new speculative fiction.” “Speculative fiction is defined as anything that occurs in a world not our own. So we’re looking for well-written fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, superheroes, and horror…” Submissions for the upcoming issue are due May 1.

  • Length: Up to 4500 words.


Hogglepot wants short stories with magic. “Hogglepot accepts fantasy of all sub-genres, including (but not limited to) dark fantasy, heroic fantasy, fairy tale, historical, gothic, light fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, science fantasy, superhero, supernatural, steampunk, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, and such. Think anything from Lord of the Rings to Toy Story and everything in between…. The fantasy element must be present in the story, whether the characters be magical creatures such as vampires or dragons, or if the protagonist stumbles upon an ancient magical artifact, or if the characters mix magical potions, etc. There needs to be some sort of magical element within the story. We like magic.”

  • Length: Up to 5000 words.   


Happy hunting!  Do you know of any publishers looking for superhero stories?  Please leave a comment or contact me, especially if you work for the publisher in question.  Thanks!


This Mutant Life prefers stories about the everyday lives of superheroes.  “We publish work which has some link to the world of superheroes, whether they be torn from the pages of classic four-colour comics, or the result of more introspective or unconventional approaches.  Stories which deal with the everyday lives of people with unusual abilities or physical characteristics are ideal, and there will be a definite preference given to stories which present interesting and well defined characters and situations…”

  • Length: Up to 6000 words.

65 responses so far

Jan 24 2011

“An ape will die on every page!”

Published by under Book Covers,Comedy

Umm, okay.

7 responses so far