Our Stories is a literary that gives feedback to every submission that is received. As far as we know we are one of a kind.
Our motto is: abilities for your needs.
Here's Editor in Chief, Alexis E Santí explaining what we do:
What do you publish?
We publish short stories (6K and under) and interviews with established authors and a quarterly essay about the craft of writing..
When were you founded?
Summer of 2006.
Peer review journal, what's that about?
Our Stories is the only journal that promises to read your story and give you some feedback. If you are used to submitting short stories you are familiar with the empty, cold rejections. You never know whether you got close or your story needs a lot of work. We know that 100% of time when a rejection is sent that there is a reason. We just tell you what that reason is and try to offer some decent feedback.
Do you charge anything?
Yes we do, we're trying to launch an iPhone application that will allow for a reduced rate a story a year for free.
And what's so special about these contests?
During our contests we give page-by-page feedback, which goes through your story and highlights things that are working and what aren't working so well.
Bet those contest entries cost a lot, huh?
Nah, $25 for a single entry and $60 for three stories.
That’s it? That’s what most contests cost just for reading your story! I paid $20 to another journal, waited 6 months for a response and all they did was say "no".
How do I know that “feedback” about my story will be worth it?
The Our Stories staff has 11 MFA degrees between them, dozens of publications, two novels and thousands of hours teaching.
We have this neat video which shows you exactly how we give feedback and what you'll receive in return for your submission fee:
Are you in print?
Yes! We publish our volumes annually. You can purchase the Best of Our Stories at our Publishing link.
But what about the front page of the website, that looks like a book?
That started off as a joke when there was a lot of discussion on the validity of an only “online” literary journal—the sort of joke that Alexis E Santí would only tell to himself, funny right?
You do workshops too, right?
Our workshops are the same as what our writers receive from the contest—except we do it three times over and it is structured as a one-on-one creative writing workshop. We have a lot of different kinds: Workshop Lite, a writer gets to work through three drafts of one story. In Standard Workshops they get three drafts of three stories. Deluxe workshops are the same as the Standard Workshops but include over three hours of video conferencing and lectures from your instructor. We can also customize a workshop for you if you tell us what you need.
Nope, in fact it is the cheapest price online.
What about the writing? Who have you published?
We’ve published some of the finest short stories online, including storySouth notables winners, Dzanc Best of Best of the Web anthologies. Starting this year we will nominate stories for the Best of Short Stories and Pushcart prize.
Cool. What do I do now?
Check out what contests work for you or sign up for a workshop. We'll be around.
"The journal features extremely strong fiction and wonderful interviews with writers such as Matthew Sharpe and George Saunders. Another strong point are the essays by editor in chief Alexis E. Santi... his journal focuses so much on creating a strong community between the journal's authors, editors, and readers."
"Thanks for all the good feedback. I'm sure you know how unusual it is to get feedback of any kind, whether a piece has been accepted or rejected. I think you've got a really good thing going--SMART!"
"I see that you are now offering workshops. I think that's great, and will consider participating in the future. I do want to thank you for advice you gave me on a previous submission. I followed your recommendations, submitted it to Casey Quinn at Short Story Library, and is was accepted for publication. So thank you! I'm sure the workshops will be helpful to others. Your feedback was perfect!"
"Your comments ring a note for a revision. I always try to have two things going on at once in a story and their convergence creates the conflict/shift that makes for an epiphany. Many thanks for the very pertinent remarks!"
"Thank you so much for the detailed critique. I will submit to you again, as
I enjoyed the feedback."
"Thank you very much for your personalized rejection, as well as your suggestions. To be honest, in Francine, I have held back a bit. As you know the short story market can be very particular, and it was my mistake to submit a story that has "...not enough madness and too little description..." I will make sure that my next submission to Our Stories will have more of both. Whether I will be able to submit during the current contest, or whether I'll have to wait a bit longer, I will most certainly submit again."
"I appreciate you guys reading it and giving it that much thought. That means a lot."
"Thank you, Alexis, for taking the time to personalize the response.
I do agree with your criticism--you are exactly right."
"Thank you very much for considering my pieces and for giving me such insightful feedback. As fellow writers that have most likely submitted work to the black hole that is publishing and never hearing of the work again, I'm sure you understand how much I appreciate your critiques. I definitely found your commentary helpful and will try again."
"Thank you Alexis, your feedback is very valuable, I am currently revising this story and will submit again soon"
"Thank you for sending me your comments. I appreciate getting a "rejection" that is so insightful. Your remarks will help me when I revise my story. "
M. E. M.
"Thank you for this. It is a very novel and rewarding idea to know what
worked and what didn't. I will certainly be submitting in the future."
"That's really good advice and on the nose with what I'm struggling with in my writing. I'm "stripping down" another story currently: come on plot! I know you're in there! This is helpful and encouraging. I really appreciate you taking time to read it."
"I can only begin to thank you for the thought, and combination of critcism and encouragement I found in your comments. I know I can use the english language, and God knows there are enough charaters chattering in my head that dialog's never been a problem. That's all craft. But to build a compelling STORY from the craft-- One doesn't learn that easily. And a writer's group where everyone thinks you wonderful is no help at all. So, thank you. For the first time I've gotten some guidance on how to turn the craft into art."
"Thank you for your feedback. I've had a number of short stories published, and quite a number rejected. I recently got a rejection notice for a story sent 18 months ago. My last published story arrived last week. I sent it out almost two years ago. If you're an author, you are used to rejection. It's hard to get used to being completely ignored. Many literary magazines use phrases like---we do not accept simultaneous submissions. If you do not hear from us in six months, feel free to submit elsewhere. Six months? On average, one in 100 short stories get published. If I submitted to these publications, I think my story would be published when I turned 119 years old.
Thanks again for your kindness. Get ready for more stories. I've another 15 or 20."
"Thank you so much for your detailed and insightful feedback on my story "Lodgers," I really appreciate your time and kind consideration.
I'll certainly keep the contest in mind and also the online workshop.
Keep up the great work"
"Just wanted to thank you for the feedback. The detailed edits and
personal response are very much appreciated, and I'm certainly going to
submit to Our Stories again."
"Thank you for your feedback. i'm going to share it with my writing group here in NYC and i'm going to tell them i was favorably impressed with your feedback. maybe one or more of them would like to submit to 'Our Stories'."
"Wow, you guys have really done an excellent job in plugging up an unwanted literary hole! I was very much impressed with the quality of your comments about my short story. My immediate reaction was that it was so much bunk, but I have been seriously reconsidered your suggestions."
"The editors at Our Stories make a rare effort to encourage writers by saying why a piece doesn't work for them. Feedback that begins on a positive note considers the sometimes fragile, creative ego and opens the writer to review the elements mentioned and decide whether or not they wish to address them."
--Margaret D. E.
Lex Enrico Santi
To quote the long time director of the Iowa MFA program, Frank Conroy, “All good prose must have Meaning, Sense and Clarity.” No good fiction (no fiction that has lasted anything over a few years) has ever lacked those fundamentals. Alan Cheuse, a good friend, author, professor and book reviewer on NPR, pushes the three P’s: Purpose, Passion and Perception. Did you know the purpose of the story? Did you touch the senses of perception? Did you feel the passion? Because, if so, you can bet that great literary bell hop checked these off before he let you ride into that “perfect dream” that John Gardner talks about in the quote below. So, I tend to look for all of this when I'm reviewing. Here’s what I think: The true weight of a writer’s talent is not what they do with the first draft, but it is what they do with the 30th and having the stubbornness to get to that 30th draft is perhaps the greatest gift you could ever be given by the literary Gods.
For more about Santi's thoughts on fiction and being an editor, his letters from the editor provide extensive fodder, as found in the archives section.
We slip into
a dream, forgetting the room we're sitting in, forgetting it's
lunchtime or time to go to work. We recreate, with minor and for
the most part, unimportant changes, the vivid and continuous dream
the writer worked out in his mind (revising and revising until
he got it right) and captured in language so that other human
beings, whenever they feel like it, may open his book and dream
that dream again.
one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think
now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach
himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to
try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in
ruthless intolerance--that is to throw away anything that is
false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph.
The most important thing is insight, that is to be--curiosity--to
wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he
does, and if you have that, then I don't think the talent makes
much difference, whether you've got it or not.
I have rewritten
— often several times — every word I have ever published.
My pencils outlast their erasers.
The most essential
gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector.
This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.
is the rewriting: The first sentence can’t be written until
the final sentence is written. This is a koan-like statement,
and I don’t mean to sound needlessly obscure or mysterious,
but it’s simply true. The completion of any work automatically
necessitates its revisioning.
Joyce Carol Oates
You can't write
about people out of textbooks, and you can't use jargon. You have
to speak clearly and simply and purely in a language that a six-year-old
child can understand; and yet have the meanings and the overtones
of language, and the implications, that appeal to the highest intelligence.
Katherine Anne Porter
cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual
from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of
the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite
hasn't quite done it.