Introducing: Featured Workshop Story

LitReactor: Featured Workshop Story!

There's some phenomenal stuff happening in our Writers Workshop, and we want to celebrate that. We want to take our writers from behind the workshop's paywall and share their work with the world. For the past few months we've been kicking around ideas on how to do that, and we've finally settled on one that we like a lot—and we hope you like it, too. 

Introducing: Featured Workshop Story.

Here’s how it’s going to work: Every month, we’ll pick three stories from the workshop that meet our criteria (under 4,000 words, previously unpublished, original work of fiction). We’ll then strip the stories of all identifying details, and pass them along to our celebrity guest editor. That guest editor will read the stories and pick his or her favorite. We’ll then run that story, in full, in our magazine. Free and clear for anyone to read.

You have to opt in, and if your story is picked, it’ll run with your bio, we’ll promote it, and you’ll retain the rights. All we’ll do is archive it, and if at any point you want us to take it down, just ask. Oh, and we'll pay you $25 (by check for U.S. residents, through PayPal for non-U.S. residents). 

Our first guest editor will be Craig Clevenger, who probably doesn't need an introduction, but just in case: He's the author of The Contortionist's Handbook and Dermaphoria, and the instructor of the hugely-popular workshop 200 Proof Storytelling

The opt in box will soon be available in the writers workshop (if it's not there already). Any story entered in the workshop in September qualifies for the first round—even if you already put in a story, you can go back and opt-in retroactively. 

Remember, here are the requirements for a story to qualify:

  • Under 4,000 words
  • Original work of fiction
  • Previously unpublished

If your story is chosen, you will have the opportunity to make revisions based on the comments you've gotten in the workshop. We'll be aiming to run stories sometime around the end of the month, depending on when the guest editor gets back, revisions are done, etc. So our first Featured Workshop Story will run at the end of October.

Keep in mind, this is very much a work-in-progress. We've got a good sense of how we want to handle this—but we're open to comments, or questions, or derision, or whatever. Get at us in the comments section below. 

Otherwise… get writing!

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ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig September 10, 2013 - 12:52pm



ETA: A question -- if one opts in, but chooses to shop that story to journals, is one able to opt out after the fact?


Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this September 10, 2013 - 2:32pm

The featured story picked from September submissions will run in October. 

Then the slate is wiped clean.

Stories will be picked from October, and then October's featured story will run in November. 

So, I think it's best that if you're going to opt-in, make sure it's something you don't plan on pulling. Just to make the process less complicated.  

We'll notify the three people whose stories have been picked each month. So if you aren't notified, then you're free to go out and submit. If you are picked, then it's just a matter of waiting until the final decision is made...


Michael.Eric.Snyder's picture
Michael.Eric.Snyder September 10, 2013 - 9:59pm

I think this is a great idea that can only be good for the site. I would add one possibility, given this is a workshop:

Highlight some critiques as well. Address both sides of the equation that makes a workshop successful. 

I can think of a few reviewers [cough Moon cough] who should probably get workshop free for a year.

Even if the recognition for a critique is merely to be showcased, a pat on the back as it were, I can see it as a very good thing.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin September 11, 2013 - 1:30am

This is a great idea. Promotes the workshop, promotes the writer. I hope it stays a regular thing.

leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. September 11, 2013 - 11:07am

This is awesome! I'll tell all my friends! 

Question: are site contributers banned from playing?

Tim Johnson's picture
Tim Johnson from Rockville, MD is reading Notes From a Necrophobe by T.C. Armstrong September 11, 2013 - 11:09am

This is awesome!

But is there any chance for increasing the 4,000-word maximum? I ask because it seems fairly short for an electronic publication. I feel like 5,000- to 7,000-word maximums are more typical for short story submissions, and I've read quite a few stories in the workshop recently that are great and would be inelligible because of the 4,000-word maximum.

If the word max is set in stone, what about serialization?

A concern I have with the limit is that longer pieces are already naturally discouraged against in the workshop because they either will net less reviews posted at their length or require more points to post to ensure fair compensation for readers. I feel like this limit could re-enforce that and discourage writers from pursuing the upper limits of what's conventionally defined as a short story.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this September 11, 2013 - 11:23am

Leah--since it's a blind process--the guest editor won't see who the stories are coming from--I think it's OK for the site's writers to be included here (unless there's some big outcry of bias, which I doubt will come, since y'all are pretty cool). We probably wouldn't pick stories from anyone high in the ranks. So someone like me wouldn't get a piece in there.   

Tim--I'm open to raising the word-count limit at some point, but we're going to stick with 4,000 for now. There are a couple of factors involved--the time it'll take me to read stories, the time it'll take the guest editor to read the stories, how much time people are willing to spend on the site reading stories, etc. 

And we probably won't do serialization--at least not soon. The idea is to highlight the writers in the workshop, and we're only planning to run one story a month to start--so if we're running a story in three parts, that's highlighting one author in the space that we could highlight three. 

Again, everything is subject for change once we hit a groove. But right out of the gate, we don't want to get too ambitious. 

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne September 11, 2013 - 5:07pm

Interesting idea. I might have to take advantage... maybe it'll actually get me to post something! I've been so busy with school and trying to find the time to write that all my good intensions still haven't gotten me back here and posting regularly.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland February 21, 2014 - 9:05pm

What happened to this?

I loved the first two stories selected by Clevenger and Wensink. I loved the idea of rewarding the hardworking workshop members with a Featured Story that paid a little dough. I loved the competitive nature of trying to earn the spot. I like the idea of the top three stories. Everything about this was awesome and it looks like it fizzled out after two stories. Nothing new since November.

Is it hard to come by guest judges? Is it for lack of many monthly submissions into the workshop? Is it the quality of the submissions? Did someone just forget? What ever the reason, I hope you guys decide to revive this because it was a great idea. Maybe more promotion could encourage more members to join the workshop and utilize it's great tools, and perhaps be rewarded in the future with a winning Feature Story.