In getting ready to submit a short story, I reviewed the submission guidelines for the publication in question. They said they wanted it in Standard Manuscript Format, and at first I thought I knew what they meant when they said that. Especially since the link pointed to the SFWA Web site. In the short story writing class I took through UCLA Extension, we were asked to submit our story for the class in Standard Manuscript Format, and were directed to an article on the SFWA Web site by Vonda McIntyre on the subject. I’ve seen it linked to from other places and it’s one of the first things that comes up when you google “Standard Manuscript Format.”
Surely there would not be two articles on the SFWA site, or if there were they’d say the same thing right?
It turns out that a year prior to Ms. McIntyre’s piece, John Gregory Betancourt had another article on the same topic. Mr. Betancourt notes that “there is a single right way to do it.” For the most part they are about the same, but there’s enough small differences to drive me a little nuts.
The main frustration is that there are things not covered by Mr. Betancourt’s standard format. So if I use something from the McIntyre guidelines, does House Hufflepuff lose points?
Ultimately the big take away is that “standard manuscript format” is whatever the publisher tells you it is. If they want it in comic sans on yellow paper, by god that’s what they’ll get.
I won’t run through the full honeydew. The high points are that I finished two short stories this weekend. One of them I banged out yesterday in one go. I don’t normally have that kind of groove, but whipped right through this one. So I have a steampunk submission for Hallow’s Eve Press (“In the Cards”) and a “song/music” submission for Wily Writers (“Pointing at the Moon”). The girlfriend got me back edits for both of them already, and now I’m just waiting for one more person to provide feedback before sending them out.
The best part of this feeling is that, even if they don’t get picked up, I feel like these are things I can shop around elsewhere. Amateur and semi-pro steampunk anthologies seem to be popping up all over the place. “Pointing at the Moon” may also be a good candidate for Residential Aliens if Wily Writers doesn’t bite.
Speaking of Residential Alians, the editor popped in to one of my earlier posts to note her interest in “Thus Have I Heard.” I don’t know if she’s checked out my other stuff, or if she just liked the gratuitously Buddhist title. Either way I’m pleased as punch that a stranger would voice an interest in my writing. Looking at their submission guidelines, “A Christmas Sutra” might be a good fit there as a multi-part novella. So I can add that to my goals. (And if anyone wants to provide feedback for ACS, don’t be shy.)