With the amount of short story reading and writing I’ve done over the past couple years, I think I’ve detected some patterns in the new trends of what’s relative in contemporary writing.
There are audiences of all types, we all like different genres, styles, eras, etc. But as a writer wanting to be published in the current short story/flash market, it’s always necessary to keep up with the current trends. You can buck them, decide that nowhere among the many groups of literary journals does your work fit, or you can try to adapt your style by learning what’s currently “in.”
One thing I’ve noticed is that the market is more youth-oriented, and this is likely because many of the established print and online lit journals are affiliated with the MFA programs or at least the English Departments of universities. Then there is a whole group of students who graduated or are in the process thereof, who have found out how relatively easy and cheap it is to run a magazine online. Easy, that is, because most will command a group of volunteer readers. Cheap, because even a free blog can serve as an official venue.
What I’ve seen in many of the “younger” style of writing, the early twenty to twenty-eight or so group, is that there is still a lot of narcissism, or leftover angst. Stories are typically in the first person POV and about inner conflicts or sex. Lotsa sex, only it’s called fucking because that’s what you couldn’t write in high school.
There are still plenty of journals devoted to more story-oriented, more experienced writing styles that are geared toward the reader whose world includes a much broader spectrum of love, relationships, sex, friendship, troubles, jobs, world security, etc.
I suppose what I’m saying is that now, more than ever, it is imperative to READ any literary publications to which you plan to submit. Luckily, this doesn’t mean a yearly subscription to a thousand magazines. The online publications are pretty much free to the public to read. The print journals, for the most part, include a few sample stories that can be read online. This, I think, is all good news for the writer.