“Sitting up in the dark, he took a deep breath and scented a familiar, beguiling trace in the air…”

Deep Green Leaves, Alex Clark

Ghost story submission call

Submission Call: Stories about music

For stories about music, whether it drives the plot or simply provides context to the story.

Deadline: This call last ran in 2021.

Word count: 1,000-20,000 words

Submission fee: standard (see submission guidelines).

Payment and rights: standard (see submission guidelines).

How to submit: Read the submission guidelines, then send us your story through our submission form. Choose the ‘Music Stories’ submission type at the top of the form.

Whether we listen at home in isolation, at a concert hall with friends, or on the tube with a pair of headphones; whether we're humming along to the radio or spending our evenings trying to track down obscure vinyl releases from the 1950s, music helps to shape our lives.

It might be rock or Baroque; your characters might be performing, composing, or simply listening: for this submission call we want to see your stories about music.

Exactly how music fits into the story is up to you. It might drive the plot forwards like a drum’n’bass rhythm, or provide more of an ambient context to the story.

As always with our themed submission calls, we want you to feel free to experiment. So don’t worry if your story only fits the theme loosely: any stories that stray too far will still be considered as general submissions.

A note on lyrics and real people

Please note the following. (These rules apply to all our submissions, but may be more likely to come up when writing about music.)

Song lyrics: please don’t quote any real lyrics in your story, unless you know for sure that they’re out of copyright (eg traditional ballads). Don’t worry if you’ve already submitted a story containing lyrics: it won’t disqualify your submission, but if we accept the story, we’ll ask you to remove them.

Real people: it’s fine to mention real living musicians and groups in passing, but don’t make them into characters. So you can have your protagonists meet at a Bruce Springsteen concert, but he can’t join them afterwards and lead them in a daring bank robbery. That would not be okay.

If you're in need of inspiration, we'll be exploring aspects of this theme between now and January on our website. Sign up for our email newsletter to stay informed.

As always, we welcome writers and stories from around the world.

The stories we select from this submission call will feature in a future Fiction Desk anthology. If you've not yet read one of our anthologies, it’s worth picking up a recent volume before you submit, to get an idea of the range of styles we feature in our pages. Our latest, Somewhere This Way, is out now.

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