I realize that when one puts up guidelines for a themed anthology that you will always get trunk stories, those tales already written that have not yet found a home and that might just fit the theme even if not tailored toward it exactly. Trunk stories can be perfectly well-written stories that just don’t mesh with what’s out there, or they may be your B grade stories, never selling because something just didn’t gel in the telling.
I’ve sent trunk stories to anthologies before and I’ve sold some and not sold others. It’s fine to do this. And sometimes you write a story for a particular theme but it’s not accepted, so you try to sell it elsewhere. With Tesseracts 17 we saw a number of superhero stories because there had just been an anthology on superheroes. We saw a few green man stories because there had just been an anthology on the Green Man. There was a story from each of these that we nearly accepted.
The Playground of Lost Toys is experiencing this so far, to some degree. I suspect that many of the tales we’ve received were already in existence.There are tropes within all fiction and while many great tales come from them, the fact that they’re tropes mean that they’re popular themes. There are hundreds if not thousands of ghost stories. Likewise, we’re getting a lot of doll stories. It’s a toy that is universally recognized. I’m beginning to suspect that some people are also getting stuck on the “toys” aspect without really thinking about what toy means.
We will accept a few stories (possibly) about dolls or trucks but the anthology is not a doll anthology. If it was, then we would only want dolls. It’s speculative fiction so this opens quite a realm. Google some images and see if they give you an idea. Combine words that are unlikely, such as alien and playground. Or toy and magnolia. Here are some further suggestions, to get the creative juices flowing:
- What would be a Sasquatch’s toy?
- Boy toys–are they cars or men who are playthings, such as in the realms of Faery (this isn’t an erotica anthology either so be careful if you use this)
- Game consoles–maybe they change the world or the person.
- Computers–how many games do people play on their electronic devices
- Games–board games will be considered as toys for this
- What would you, an animal, or an alien toy with?
- What would an Ent find to be a toy?
- Do snakes have toys?
- Playgrounds have slides, swings, ladders, etc. These can all be considered toys.
- What would be a toy’s toy?
- Is it a toy or is it a being?
- Sentient or self-aware toys.
- Are there beings where toys are sacrilegious?
- Are there aliens with no concept of toy and on finding one they..
- Synonyms for toy: plaything, game, model
- Places where toys are: playgrounds, chests, rooms, stores, manufacturers, middens heaps, museums
Let your imagination encompass the act of playing and see what comes up. The full guidelines are here, and you can submit your story as well: https://exilepublishing.submittable.com/submit. Note that 90% of the anthology has to be Canadian. We’re looking forward to weird and wonderful tales.