Manuscript formatting

Practically every place you might submit a story to will include its formatting guidelines, and they almost always stress (furiously) that you have to adhere to it. Rightly so. In many cases, however, they simply specify ‘standard manuscript format’.

So, here is a link to a wonderful example of standard manuscript format for a short story. If you want to go straight to the Microsoft Word template file, it can be found here.

The same site also provides a proper formatting guide for novels, too.

Hypertext & interactive fiction

Whatever you do, it’s worth investigating different ways to go about it. With fiction, the most obvious way is by writing for different genres, but there are other ways, as I’m currently discovering.

Strange Horizons says it’s keen to receive/publish more Hypertext Fiction. Here are some examples:

  1. The Unknown, by Scott Rettberg, William Gillespie, Dirk Stratton and Frank Marquardt
  2. 24 hours with someone you know, by Philippa J Burne.
  3. Cheese Run, by Lisa Malone, on The Full English Magazine (my magazine :D)

A similar style, which probably takes an awful lot more work, not to mention programming skills, is Interactive Fiction. Not sure how you’d go about writing this, but it’s interesting to play with, nevertheless. Some examples:

  1. Zork: a famous text/typing based game from 1980 that you can play in your browser.
  2. Sunshine: apparently the web’s first interactive novel.
  3. … a bunch more at the Interactive Fiction Database

As a final note, the Wikipedia page gives some examples of hypertext fiction (which, it says, includes any fiction with a non-linear narrative) that preceded the invention of the internet. Big ones are: James Joyce’s UlyssesNabokov’s Pale Fire–which I’m sticking on my reading list–and the fantastically titled The Garden of Forking Paths.

Over-exploited SF themes

Whilst looking around different magazines to submit Sci-fi stories to, I came across a useful and interesting list of story types that editors have seen too often. It’s compiled by previous editors of Strange Horizons, and isn’t meant as a list of bad story types, just over-used ones. Worth a look.

Well, after reading through it, I have one story that I thought was pretty original, but clearly isn’t! Hmmm, so sad to abandon one of your babies.

The long road to the beginning

Writing stories is something I’ve been half-heartedly doing since my late teens. Now, finally, I’ve made the decision to get some of them out there.

This site will be the bough from which many branches, twigs, leaves and blossoms sprout.

Nuff with the foresty floristry.

As a start, the stories page has a link to an old story called Scars that was published on The Full English Magazine in 2016. Others to follow soon.