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The Alternative Reality Web Zine

Submission Guidelines
How To


If you have not already read our General Submission Guidelines, please make sure you do so before sending your submission. For specific instructions on submitting fiction and poetry, please follow one of the links below:
FictionPoetry
If you are interested in submitting Articles, Editorials or Reviews, read further.

ARWZ Literary Zine actively encourages contributors with all experience levels to contribute informational or opinion pieces. We solicit submissions from writers as well as alternative reality fans. Understanding that many fans (and sometimes writers) do not have much experience writing informational or opinion pieces, we provide the following guidelines in effort to encourage you to take up the pen (or keyboard) to share your views and help shape the genres you enjoy.

By providing opportunities for fans and writers of alternative reality fiction to publish informational and opinion pieces, ARWZ seeks to give you a better say in your favorite genre, but also to help you gain publishing experience and credits. Accordingly, ARWZ operates like a professional magazine to every extent it is able to do so (please visit our Support page to learn how to help us realize our goal of providing professional level funding to contributors). All submissions accepted for publication will be edited for grammar, spelling and style. All contributors will get the final pass on their writing before it is published.

By publishing your informational or opinion piece with ARWZ, you agree to grant us non-exclusive publishing rights. Regrettably we cannot, at this time, pay contributors for their work. Visit our Support page to learn how you can help change this. We ask that you let us retain all items in the archives thereafter, but will remove items at the original author's request. We don't grant permission for third parties to reprint your work.

Reviews

ARWZ publishes reviews more often than any other feature. Reviews are an excellent way to introduce your voice and your writing skills to ARWZ readers and editors. We want to publish reviews from writers and fans of all types of alternative reality fiction. We accept reviews of books, films, television shows, DVDs, video games and more. We are interested in your reviews on classics as well as new releases, and everything in between. Reviewed media should contain some element of alternative reality fiction, but cross genre is acceptable and encouraged. Let the ARWZ readership know how you liked your latest read or how you enjoyed your weekend trip the the cinema.

If you're interested in writing reviews for ARWZ, please email our editors first (editors@arwz.com), before you write a review. This way you can tell us what you want to review and make sure a review for that book, film, etc. hasn't already been written. We typically have around 20 reviews queued up for publication before they actually appear on ARWZ. Once you have gotten your review subject okay-ed by our editors, you're set to write. If you've never written for publication before, don't worry. Our editors will polish up your review for grammar and style. Send your reviews to us using the format from our Submission Guidelines.

If you've never written a review before (and we encourage first timers to jump right in and send us their work) let us give you an idea of how to get started:

1) First write a title. Your title can be as simple as the author and title of the book, the title of the film, etc. Or you can give the reader a clue on your review's content in the title (look at movie reviews in your local paper for examples).

2) Next, write your first sentence. The very first sentence should give us a taste of your opinion (set the mood of your review, if you will). For example, "Author Z's new epic adventure takes a wild ride across seven continents, but leaves the reader exhausted," or "Director Q's long awaited sequel comes with much fanfare and hype, and lives up to every expectation."

3) Next, give us a brief synopsis of the premise of the book, film, etc. Look at the back cover of books (or DVDs) for examples. Your synopsis will, of course, be in your own words. Tell us about the main characters, what drives them, what threatens them, etc. without giving away any endings. Remember, the purpose of your review is to give ARWZ readers an idea of whether they would want to read, watch, or play the media reviewed. Assume they haven't read (or seen) it yet.

4) Next tell us your opinions of the book, film, etc. What did you like? What didn't you like? Why? The "why" is the most important part here. Your "yay" or "nay" judgment means little to us unless you tell us why. If I said: "I did not like Book X" you would have no choice but to take my opinion at face value (though you likely would not respect it very highly). If however, I said: "I did not like book X because the high concept magical system was too complicated and dominated the story," then you would know what to expect. If you like fantasy stories that are heavy on magic, then you would want to read the book anyway, in spite of my opinion.

If you're not sure what to write about in this part, consider these issues: plot or story (how engaging is the story? How well does it keep audience interest?), character (how interesting, believable, sympathetic, well drawn?), and alternative reality elements (Is it light on magic? Heavy on technology? Traditional vampire lore, or new rules?).

In this section of the review, do not reveal plot twists unnecessarily. Remember, a review assumes that the reader has not yet read, watched or used the subject of the review, so keep these plot twists under wraps. If you want to comment in your review on the quality of plot twists or endings, keep the specific details out of it: "So-and-so has no qualms about killing off main characters, but the 'gasp factor' will only make readers want to devour more," or "The ending of New Film will leave audiences surprised but satisfied," or "I found the ending to be an atrocious comment on an otherwise thought-proving subject." If you want to do an in-depth critique of specific plot and character points, then a review is not the form to use. See Articles for more information.

5) Conclude your review with a final assessment and recommendation. You should take audience into account. Perhaps you did not like a certain piece of fiction, but a different audience might. Perhaps you loved a certain story, but recognize that it is a niche interest. Summarize your review with a final sentence or paragraph that addresses audience, puts your critique and praise into perspective, and gives your recommendation: "Despite my few qualms with Author G's storytelling, I strongly recommend this book for fans of epic fantasy," or "Perhaps this film will be a hit with an audience of adolescents, but most adults would be wise to pass over it on the video store shelf."

Minimum word count for reviews is 300 words. Longer reviews are acceptable, but we prefer to keep reviews brief. Keep your audience in mind. In reading a review, people want to assess in a few minutes whether they are interested in reading, watching or buying the subject discussed. If you want to write a more in-depth exploration of a particular book or film, you may find you are actually writing literary criticism (See Articles).

Before sending your submission, please be certain to read the General Submission Guidelines and the Plain Text Tutorial. Submissions that do not meet these basic guidelines cannot be considered, and will be sent back for reformatting. Review submissions should be sent to editors@arwz.com.

If you have any further questions after reading these guidelines, please visit our Online Help page to post a question to our editors.

Articles

Here at ARWZ Literary Zine, editorials aren't just for our editors. We want to give alternative reality fans and writers the chance to voice their opinions about issues and trends in alternative reality fiction. The focus of an editorial is your opinion. It is not a forum for aimless rants. Editorials are well-thought-out presentations of your serious opinions. Presentation of serious opinions, however, may also be humorous. Your wit and satirical comments are welcome in editorials.

If you are interested in writing an editorial, start first with an issue in alternative reality fiction (either a trend among many works, or a point within a single work) that you would like to address. Are you thrilled at the return to epic filmmaking? Are you sick of endless series fantasy novels? Do you wish publishers would encourage more experiments in cross-genre? Has the work of your favorite author gone downhill now that he is publishing more frequently to meet demand?

Once you have an issue to discuss, sit down and write. Start your editorial by telling us the topic of your piece. Look at editorials in your local paper for clues on how to introduce your opinion in a way that will engage readers. One strategy is to open with questions directed toward your audience in effort to pull them in to your mindset: "Did you ever wait greedily for hours at the locked door of your local bookstore, eager for the next installment of your favorite series? Only to find out, when you finally get your hands on it, that that there's STILL no long-awaited conclusion? That you have to wait another two years for the next installment with no promise that even the next book will contain the juicy secrets you've been hungering after?" This approach won't work for every editorial topic, but it gives you a sense of how to pique your reader's interest. Remember, the "main character" of your editorial is you. You want readers to identify with you as a hero (or despise you as a villain, if they disagree).

After introducing the subject of your editorial, you'll want to explain to your reader the "why" of your stance. Why are you so tired of endless series fantasy when so many other readers never want the series to end? Why do you bask in the flickering screen of a three hour epic while so many other people fall asleep? Anticipate your critics. Imagine arguments against your opinion and address them. Address at least three (3) potential problems or arguments against your opinion.

As you are writing your editorial, use as many specific examples as possible. Specific examples of your experience with the subject of your editorial will make your opinion more credible. While you make no pretensions in an editorial that you're presenting anything but an opinion, you can make the reader more apt to agree if you appeal to specific experiences: "The first adventure through Umbertland in Book 1 was engaging and face-paced. But now, every time Radolfus sets out on a cross-country trek, I fall asleep."

At the end of your editorial, you will want to recap your opinion for the readership, reminding us, ultimately, that it is your opinion. "While the momentum of the first three books may lead legions to continue flocking to the Adventures of Umbertland, this former fan is too tired to go further than Book 8."

Once you have written your editorial, send it to ARWZ using the General Submission Guidelines. Editorials should be around 500-1000 words. A little more or less is also acceptable.

Before sending your submission, please be certain to read the General Submission Guidelines and the Plain Text Tutorial. Submissions that do not meet these basic guidelines cannot be considered, and will be sent back for reformatting. Editorial submissions should be sent to editors@arwz.com.

A second dimension to the Editorials feature on ARWZ is the writing of letters to the editor. ARWZ encourages anyone who agrees or disagrees with a published editorial to write a "letter to the editor" responding to the editorial, or any of our features here at ARWZ Literary Zine. See our Contact Information page to find out how.

If you have any further questions after reading these guidelines, please visit our Online Help page to post a question to our editors.

Articles

Articles featured in ARWZ Literary Zine are the most "journalistic" item we publish. While an Article may be directed by your own ideas or views, its purpose is not to showcase your opinions (see Editorials or Reviews for opinion pieces) but to report on a certain phenomenon or trend you've noticed in alternative reality fiction. The possibilities for Article submissions are numerous.

One option is to report on an event. Do you go to any SF conventions? Do you attend a writing group for alternative reality writers in your town? Articles can also take the form of a nonfiction story relating to alternative reality fiction. Write a story-like essay (also called creative nonfiction) about your experiences with fiction. Do you have any interesting experiences to tell about an encounter with an alternative reality "scene" (ex. "So I decided to wait in line for the midnight showing of...")? Have you observed interesting reactions to alternative reality fiction from other people (ex. "I finally convinced my best friend—a self-professed mystery buff—to read sci-fi...")? Nonfiction creative essays or journalistic reporting are only two of the options for our Articles section.

If you would like to write any type of Article, it is best to send us a query first. Before you go to a lot of work, make sure we're interested. Instead of a submission, send us an email message marked "QUERY: ARTICLE: Your Working Title" in the subject line. In the body of your email message, your query letter should look something like this:
Dear Editor:

I am writing to query an article for ARWZ Literary Zine. I will first tell you the subject of my report or essay. I will then tell you, briefly, why this subject will be of interest to alternative reality fans and writers. If the article involves my attending a specific event on a specific date, I will include the date of the event. I will also make sure to write from an email address where you can reach me.

Sincerely,

My Real Name

You may also want to conduct an interview with a person of interest in the field of alternative reality fiction. For example, you could conduct an interview with a published author, an SF buff or someone in the publishing business. This is not as daunting as it might seem at first glance. You may not be able to score an interview with any "big names," but most authors aren't international bestsellers. There's a good chance that one of your favorite authors would be willing to answer questions over email or phone. After all, they are interested in promoting their books to readers. If there is anyone from your own life who has a unique perspective on alternative reality fiction, consider interviewing them. We're open to "person on the street" interviews, as long as they are thoughtful and relevant.

It is wise to query interviews first before you go to the trouble of setting them up. Send us a query letter with the subject line "QUERY: INTERVIEW: Subject of Your Interview". In interview queries, you'll want to include specific information. First, tell us who you want to interview, and how you intend to approach them (i.e. if you have a good chance of getting the interview). Tell us why you believe this subject will be interesting to alternative reality fans. Then, provide some sample inteview questions to give us an idea of the direction the interview will take. If we are interested in your interview, we will write back to green light the interview.

After conducting the interview, you will submit it to us using the General Submission Guidelines. You MUST include an email address (or some other form of contact if email is, for whatever reason, not available) at which the interviewee can be contacted by ARWZ Editors. We need the address in order to "fact-check" the interview, and to schedule publication (e.g. authors often want publication of the interview to coincide with the release of their books).

Finally, you may also submit literary criticism or relevant research articles for the ARWZ Literary Zine Articles feature. Literary criticism seeks to give an in-depth analysis of a certain piece of literature or film (including television). The purpose of an article of literary criticism is to make an argument about the subject of your inquiry. Literary criticism differs from an editorial in that its argument is more formal, and based less on opinion. Certainly, your argument is ultimately an opinion. But instead of saying (as in an editorial): "Here's this, and here's why I love it or hate it", you aim instead to say: "Here is what the author is doing (or trying to do) and here is why it works, doesn't work." In other words, you present the facts with arguments for the reader to consider. In an article of literary criticism, your arguments are the true subject of the piece, not the fiction you are discussing. Remember, literary criticism is not a review. It assumes that its audience has already read or watched the subject being critiqued.

If you would like to do a formal article, but literary criticism is not your style, consider a research report. We are interested in articles that address topics of interest for writers and fans of alternative reality fiction. Breakthroughs in science and technology, topics in history and culture, investigations of folkloric sources are all possible areas of interest for ARWZ audiences. If you would like to research a specific topic in these areas for ARWZ Literary Zine, or write a piece of literary criticism, please query us to see if we are interested. If you have such a piece written already (for example, from a college literature, science or history class), please feel free to send as a submission using our Submission Guidelines.

Before sending your submission, please be certain to read the General Submission Guidelines and the Plain Text Tutorial. Submissions that do not meet these basic guidelines cannot be considered, and will be sent back for reformatting. Article submissions should be sent to editors@arwz.com.

If you have any further questions after reading these guidelines, please visit our Online Help page to post a question to our editors.



All materials on these pages (including fiction, poetry, essays, articles, interviews and opinion pieces) are copyrighted to the original authors and may not be reproduced without permission.





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