Stories that fall into any of the following categories might be hard-pressed to find a home at The Town Drunk. While we will never say “never,” any such story would have to be truly exceptional to impress us.
Inherently Disturbing Subject Matter: We feel that many topics are inherently disturbing, and thus unlikely to make for lighthearted reading. These include, but are not limited to: murder (murder mysteries excepted), rape, drug abuse, abortion/miscarriage, Paris Hilton, animal cruelty, bestiality, suicide, genocide, regicide, torture, cannibalism, child abuse, capital punishment, Atlanta traffic, terminal illness, and terrorism. (See, we can't even type that list without “lightening it up.”) Again, we are not saying that we will never publish a story involving one of these subjects, but it’s hard for us to imagine how such a piece would amuse our readers.
Physical Humor: In spite of our magazine’s name, we do aspire to a certain level of sophistication, and we are usually not impressed by physical humor. Stories that rely too heavily on farts, puke, or snot for comic effect are not likely to be accepted.
Gross-Out Humor: As is the case with physical humor, stories that depend on disgusting details for comic effect are not really what we're looking for.
Stereotypes: We feel that the element of surprise is essential to good humor. The use of stereotypes, however, tends to render stories predictable, or at least unsurprising, and therefore unamusing. Stereotypes are often unnecessarily offensive as well. We will, of course, consider stories that play on stereotypes, but we want to see them used in interesting and original ways.
Writer Protagonists: We see too many stories with writer protagonists, so we are particularly demanding when it comes to such pieces.
Twilight Zone Endings: We are usually unimpressed by “Twilight Zone stories,” in which the author hides a key element of setting or characterization until the end, hoping to surprise readers. The “orange desert” turns out to be a jar of Tang, or the protagonist is revealed to be an insect. Such twists have been done to death, and often it's too easy to see what's coming.
Questionnaires: We find that “stories” formatted as applications, questionnaires, tests, polls, etc. tend to be difficult to read and, in general, not very entertaining.
News Articles: We are currently overstocked on stories formatted as news articles. In any case, we are not trying to imitate The Onion here, so we will always be very selective about such stories.
“Shaggy Alien” Stories: Pieces written solely to deliver a punchline at the end usually do not have enough substance to merit publication, at least by our standards. Most often, they are just extended jokes, and we feel it takes more than that to satisfy fiction readers.
Again, we do not dismiss such stories out-of-hand. Just be aware that we hold them to a higher standard.
If you think you have a story that might fall into one of the above categories, but you're not sure, let us see it anyway. When in doubt, submit!