Captain's Blog

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New entry Mar 20

Critter Notices

Network speeding up

I'm switching the connection over to a new, shiny 10X faster network because of all the load. There might be bits of downtime as your boxes learn new addresses and things. Should be brief. Let me know of any prolonged outages you see.

Preditors & Editors Changeover

With the very sad passing of Dave Kuzminski, who ran P&E, I've taken over the P&E duties. Lots of what I hope are improvements; check it out at pred-ed.com.

Free Web Sites

Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.

The Sigil Trilogy

If you're looking for an amazing, WOW! science fiction story, check out THE SIGIL TRILOGY. This is — literally — one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read.

Space Travel for SF Writers

Hot off the presses from ReAnimus Press! Space Travel - A Science Fiction Writer's Guide— An indispensible tool for all SF writers that explains the science you need to help you make your fiction plausible. (Also via Amazon)

Critters Server is Dying has been Replaced

See important details here in my blog. Let me know if you find anything that isn't working right. (Manuscripts are now available for this week, FYI.)

Book Recommendation

THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock

Announcing ReAnimus Press

If you need help making ebooks from manuscripts or print copies—or finding great stuff to read—look no further! An ebook publisher started by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]

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MORE NEWS & NOTICES >>

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Critters Format Guidelines

Formatting for Critters

Please follow these guidelines when submitting manuscripts to Critters for critiquing. Failing to do so may result in either your ms. being rejected until it meets them -- or suffering the email wrath of Critter readers who have to struggle with it. And yes, people will rag on you for failing to meet these most minimal of criteria!

Some tips for how to meet these (actually very simple) guidelines are at the bottom.

Manuscript Format:

  • Headers: Please send me the header details as found in the rules. This allows me to automatically file new submissions. Failure to include these will get your ms. bounced back to you. (Also, don't bother including your postal address, as I'll delete it.)

  • Format: plain text (aka "ASCII" or "DOS" text). Tips how to accomplish this are here, and here is info on how to set various mail programs to send it out right. [No "Rich Text Format", no word processor files, no HTML, just ordinary, boring, plain text.] I strongly prefer the text in the message itself (not encoded as an attachment); if it arrives encoded somehow, you'll get the manuscript bounced back.

  • Line width: 70 characters per line. No more. Wrap words, do not truncate lines in the middle of a word. Do not use "right justify," use "ragged right" margins. [This is so it will be easily readable on both a terminal screen and on the web page, which is often narrower than a terminal screen.]

  • Spacing: Single space. [With the one exception noted below about paragraphs. Double spacing is hard to read on-line.]

  • Paragraphs: Either indent each paragraph five spaces (no less, and no more than ten) -or- use a blank line (double space) between paragraphs with no indent. (Without clear paragraph indicators, it ends up as a giant lump and, history shows, nearly nobody will read it.)

  • Underlining/Bolding: The common net convention is to use _underscores for italics_ and *asterisks for bolding*, like so. If you have a whole paragraph to emphasize, just insert a note like: [start italics] ... paragraph(s) ... [end italics]

  • Proofreading: Yes! Do it! Your submission to Critters should be proofread just as if you were submitting to Asimov's, F&SF, Analog, etc. Proofread for both typos and grammos. Some tiny number of mistakes is ok, but sloppy work will earn you a bunch of nasty critiques. Critters are here to critique your work, not proofread it. Many members will either ignore your manuscript (if they're feeling kind) or flame you badly. Beware!

  • Page numbering: None. Just text, text, text. [Page numbers, headers, etc. are just confusing when seen on a screen.]

  • Genre: Identify in your email to me what genre (SF/F/H/M/T/....) your ms. is. For that you'll want to consult the master list of genre codes. If you don't pick a valid one, the minions will choke and probably randomly pick one without reading it. :-) [You don't have to be perfect on your designation -- there's no hard rule about what distinguishes SF from F from H, so just take a stab at it; see the FAQ for some tips on picking a genre. But I need such a designation since it determines who receives your ms. You can pick only one, not "SF/F".] The only other genre-related content note would be to bear in mind that Critters does have a few minors as members. Given that, and the CDA (Communications Decency Act) in general, please do not submit pornographic/erotic material (nothing worse than you'd find in Asimov's, Analog, F&SF, etc.).

  • Kind of Critique: At the front. If you want a specific kind of critique, such as focusing on characterization, or plot, or internal logic, etc., say so in a note at the front.

  • Other Author's Notes: At the end. [Some people like to read the story before seeing your comments, such as what you think is wrong with it, etc. I always put a note at the top saying your notes are, if any, found at the end -- so please put them there to save me the hassle of moving them.]

  • Email: Send your ms. as the only data in the email message -- i.e., don't send it with any critiques. One manuscript per email, and one email per manuscript (check with me first before splitting a submission into multiple email messages). I have commands to file messages, and doubling up makes more work for me (and makes me very grumpy). Subject: of "submission" is helpful. You can submit your ms. text file via the web page that is linked on the manuscripts page (the one behind the password page).

Critique Format:

  • One critique per email message (send to critters@critique.org). Or use the web form to submit critiques.

  • Put the manuscript number in the email Subject: header as "#99" or whatever number it is (with the "#").

  • Edit out -- delete -- as much of the original manuscript as you can; if you want to comment on a certain passage, remove all the text up to that point. Leave only minimal context. (Some people like to print these, and don't want N copies of the story -- wastes paper, and makes the comments hard to find.) Mark the author's text with ">" in front of their lines, and add your comments below, per standard Internet email reply format, namely:
    
    	> Tracy hesistated.
    	> "I don't think so."   	[author's original text]
    
    	Sorry, Pat, this line didn't
    	work for me.  			[critter's comments about it]
    
    

  • Remember to be tactful. Critique the story, not the author. If you want to shred something, be polite about it. Mention the good and the bad. Suggest alternatives for the bad. Be as specific in your comments as you can. See these articles for more on Critters diplomacy.

  • Same plain/ASCII/DOS text and 70 character line width as described above for manuscripts under "Format" and "Line width". If you're having trouble saving out in the right format or getting it to me, you should send your critiques via this web page.

Tips:

  • Look in the FAQ here for tips on how to email things to me.
  • Look here for tips on how to save files as plain/ASCII/DOS text.
  • Look here to verify that your manuscript conforms to the proper plain/ASCII/DOS text format.

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Very Happy minion   Very Happy minion — last donation was today. About $4100 to go. A big Thank You! to Matt Weber, Gail Marsella, Anita Eva Siraki, and lots of other Critterfolk for their contributions!

Critters is entirely funded by donations from Critterfolk like you, so yours is most appreciated. Click here to make the minions happy. Every dollar helps. Thanks for your support!

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LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO READ?

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CRITTERS DIPLOMACY

Fundamental to Critters' success is how people deliver criticisms. Start by reading Critiquing the Wild Writer: It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It. and The Diplomatic Critiquer.

NOVELS

Critters has a special program to get whole novels critiqued. Read about it here.

HOW TO SUBMIT

Please follow these guidelines for formatting and submitting manuscripts to Critters.

WHAT'S IN THE QUEUE

Critters keeps a queue of manuscripts out or to be sent. See the Queue.

WEEKLY MPC AWARD

Want to jump to the head of the Critters queue? The Most Productive Critter or MPC is Awarded weekly to encourage mo' better critting. How to win...

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