A HELPFUL GUIDE ON HOW TO SUBMIT A FAN FICTION STORY
ON THE SPECTRUM HEADQUARTERS WEBSITE.
You might wonder, ‘Why do we need Submission guidelines?’.
The answer is quite easy. The Spectrum Headquarters website has grown considerably over these long years, and so has our fan fiction collection.
With more than 500 stories posted on our website, or linked to it, and with more writers now submitting their own stories, it has become increasingly difficult to manage the various submissions sent to us, even considering the many collaborators now helping to sort them out. There are too many different presentations and/or ‘states’ in which stories are sent to this website. Time for first reading of a submission and then beta-reading(s), increased, and it now takes many weeks, even months before a story is posted. It’s nobody’s fault but mine, as there never was a set ‘standard’, or guidelines for people to follow, in order to send their submissions.
So based on past experiences of what was received in the course of these last years, I came up, still with the help of my collaborators, with these guidelines below. They will serve to make things simpler. And I’m hoping that everyone will follow these guidelines. This will help ease the load, so that reading submitted stories, and beta-reading them, continues to give us the same sense of pleasure and discovery it always has, without ever becoming a chore to me or my collaborators who are offering their very precious help in beta-reading and reading approval.
Just remember: it’s only a way to make things easier for everyone, including you! It doesn’t change much of the end result: stories will still be posted on this website, the same as before, but perhaps a little faster than it became in the last few months.
You can always write me to ask any questions you want about these guidelines – or anything else for that matter. I’ll make a point of answering and helping you, whether you are a newcomer to this website, or a more ‘experienced’ writer. Feel free to write me a note at email@example.com - which also is the address you should use to send your story.
1. Types of stories and content
· The story presented to this website has to be Fan Fiction, related to either “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons” or “New Captain Scarlet”.
· If possible, depiction of the characters must be according to their generally accepted background, although inspired creativity is allowed.
· Crossovers are accepted, if they are with Captain Scarlet. A certain amount of explanation, or description, might be required to explain the other ‘fandom’ used in your story.
· No slash, explicit sex or pornography is allowed.
· Violence, implicit sex, a certain amount of bad language is allowed (when justified). Take note that too much of it might earn your story a "red rating" tag (see our website's rating system for stories).
· At this point, songfics or poetry are be accepted, except on rare occasional exceptions. We reserve the right to reject any that are submitted to us.
· Submit your story as a normal document type (Word, WordPad, Works, Writer, etc.) We have programs that allow us to open most formats. If we cannot open your file, we’ll contact you, so you can resubmit the story in an alternative program.
· Do not send your submission in htm, html or any web other format. When it’s time to put the story online, the webmaster will transfer your file to web format. Do not use pdf format either, as that isn’t very practical to beta-read or eventually reformat as web document.
· Use only black-coloured writing on white background. It is easier to read for submission and eventual beta-reading. Beta-readers will use a different colour for their corrections and comments.
· Use regular True Type fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Courier, Comic Sans MS, Garamond, Calibri, Trebuchet, Tahoma, etc.). Special types of fonts might not be installed on every computer, and in this case will not show as they should on the screen. You would then lose whatever effect you are looking for. Additionally, some types of fonts can be difficult to read.
· You can, of course, use the basic formatting of text, such as underlined, broad text, italics, capitals, etc. or a combination of those.
· Indent (preferably) or space your paragraphs.
· Plain text is preferable for submissions. If you wish to send an illustrated submission, you can send two copies: one with plain text and one with your illustrations; the background to this file must remain white, and the illustrations must not obscure the text. Note that if your illustrated document is too heavy due to the additions of images, the beta-reading will be done on the plain text copy. Dont' worry: you will have a chance to properly format your text later on, after you’ve received approval. You might actually take the time it will take for beta-reading to work on your pictures and title art!
NOT use text boxes, or sentences created in Word Art. Word Art,
however, can be used for the title of your story, chapters and parts numbering
Word Art, however, can be used for the title of your story, chapters and parts numbering and titles.
A clearer text, with no distractions, is MUCH easier to read and beta-read. A light-weighted file is also easier to pass around amongst beta-reading. That's why we’re insisting on the points above.
· Re-read your text. More than once. Read it out loud. You might be surprised to discover the amount of mistakes you will find on the second or third re-reading. DO NOT submit the very first draft of a story, freshly out of your head, without re-reading.
· Do not be afraid of making changes, editing and adding text.
· Be consistent, throughout your text, with the type of ‘English’ you use (UK, US, Canada, Australia, etc.).
· Be careful of your punctuation.
· Check grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
· Be consistent with verb tenses.
· Check your text with a spellchecker. There are a number of free spellcheckers available online if you don’t have one.
· If you have the opportunity, have your story read by an honest friend or family member, before submitting it, and take note of his/her comments.
Be advised that these points are VERY helpful to the work of the beta-reader: corrections will be made in the best of the beta-reader' capacities, but the less he/she has to worry about the points above, the more he/she can concentrate on the rest of the text, and will therefore be able to work faster. Of course, we don’t expect ANYONE to present a perfect text – we all make mistakes.
3. Use of existing characters, ideas
· The stories on this website being fan fiction, the subject is based on existing fandoms (TV series, movies, books, etc.). Acknowledge this fact in an author's note, thanking the creators and/or owners of the original material. If you do not include this acknowledgement.
· If you use characters or ideas created by other writers in their own fan fiction stories, please, do acknowledge the creator(s). On the Spectrum HQ website, there is a list available that you can check. If you do not find the information you are looking for, contact the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· If you want to use a character or idea created by another writer, it is good manners to seek their permission before submitting your story. Generally, the writer can be contacted via the webmaster. If it's not possible, at least make sure to make the proper acknowledgement.
· If the use of characters or ideas created by other writers is permitted, with proper acknowledgements, you must however avoid plagiarism of any kind. That is not allowed on this website. Full lines and text taken from another source will not be accepted. When they are discovered, you WILL be told about it, and will be expected to make suitable alterations or do a complete rewrite. At the very least, you will be expected to acknowledge the source of the material used. Failure to do so could result in the complete removal of the story, depending of the amount of text used.
· You can use dialogue from the episodes, as long as you do not simply rewrite the whole episode. As the dialogue is copyright material, this MUST be acknowledged with episode title and the name of the writer(s).
5. Mary Sue
· A Mary Sue is a type of original character created by a writer. Normally a female (although there are many cases of male Mary Sues, often called ‘Marty Stew’), she is described by her creator as the best at everything (best pilot, best agent, the most beautiful, the most intelligent, etc.), even better than the hero, to whom she’s either related or in a relationship with. Fan fiction writers sometimes kill a main character of the series to allow the Mary Sue to ‘take her place’. Often, the Mary Sue takes centre stage in the story, instead of the hero. There are many variants, and we suggest you read this page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue) to have a better understanding of this type of character. Mary Sues are to be avoided as much as possible; however, please note that there are some cases of very interesting Mary Sues, but these are few and far between.
· In any case, when you write a story, that does not mean you must not create an original character of a certain importance. However, canon characters must be prominently featured, and must not be eclipsed by an original character of your own creation.
When you submit a story, you must generally include the following with your text:
· The author's name under which you want the story to be published. Your real name or a pen name will do, it’s up to you.
· The title of the story, acknowledgements, if any, and whether you want a beta-reader or not. Beta-reading is not a requirement, but is HIGHLY recommended, even if you have had your story read by someone else before sending it to us.
· If you do not require or desire a beta-reading, your story will be subjected to a first reading for approval. If we see blatant mistakes in it, we might suggest a few corrections, but the final decision will always be yours. We reserve the right to reject a story if the said story does not meet with our minimum requirements. In these cases, we will suggest revisions and/or beta-reading.
· When a story gets approved for posting, and the writer didn’t require the service of a beta-reader, aside from the minor corrections and suggestions on the point above, the story will be published ‘as received’.
· Note that you are always allowed to change your mind about your pen name or title, at any point before the story is posted. Just contact the webmaster as soon as you make up your mind!
Send your story to email@example.com, with a nice introduction of yourself!
7. Beta-reading - request and follow-up
· If you request a beta-reading service, your story will be given to a member of our beta-reading team.
· The beta-reader will take the time to check your story, analyse it, make corrections, suggestions and comments, using a coloured font (red, blue, green...) to do so.
· More than one beta-reader might work on your story, as each of our beta-readers has his or her strength (punctuation, vocabulary, wording, plot holes, dialogue, etc.), and consultation with another member of the beta-reading team might be required to make a better check on your story. In those cases, each beta-reader will use a different colour of font. The story is then returned to you for revision. It is rare, when a story is beta-read, that it receives approval on the first run, although it might happen.
· Please note that you are in no way obligated to follow any of the beta-reader’s advice or suggestions, but we highly recommend that you at least read them. You might not agree with all the comments, but they might help you correct that little something that your story lacks to be just a little bit better. Respect the judgment of your beta-reader, who performs a FREE service, by giving you valuable comments and suggestions that are meant to be constructive and helpful for your writing.
· Please make sure you make any alterations on the corrected copy returned by the beta-reader. Use a colour other than black, or the colour used by the beta-reader, so the beta-reader can see the corrections you have made, and pay a little more attention to these sections.
· Please don’t make significant revisions to your story while the beta-reader is working on an earlier version, without telling the beta-reader that you’re doing so. You can contact the beta-reader via the webmaster, who will always know who is working on the story at the moment.
· The story might be returned to you for further revision (if needed) or will receive approval at this point.
· Mostly, the maximum number of beta-readings done on a single story is three. After this point, the story is either accepted as it was received the last time, or if it still doesn’t meet the minimum standard required, we reserve the right to refuse it.
· It is considered polite to acknowledge the beta-reader for his/her work, when the story is posted.
8. Approval and posting
When a story is approved for posting, the webmaster will require the following from the writer:
· Pen name and title (if not already done at this point, or if he has a change of mind).
· Final acknowledgements text should also be included. If not, the webmaster will add the basic required acknowledgements.
· Preference for font, colour of font and background colour.
· A summary that will be used on the website listing page (otherwise the webmaster will devise one).
· Pictures, title art, background and any other kind of graphics needed for the story can be added by the author at this point. You can create your own pictures, if you like. You can create your title art using any font you want, even if it’s not True Type, but you have to present the title as a picture (jpg, gif, png).
· If there are no special requirements requested by the author, the story will either be posted as black text on a white page, or receive the special treatment reserved for ‘challenge’ stories (like Christmas and Halloween), as provided by the webmaster.
Although the story is posted on the Spectrum Headquarters website, it remains the property of its author, so the latter can make further revision of it if he or she wishes in later years. It is not really recommended, but you have every right to do so!
You have questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org