Tales of Terror Submission Guidelines

If you're planning on writing a Tale of Terror for me, here are the guidelines:

The Golden Rules

All Tales of Terror

follow these five Golden Rules. If you can't follow these, you don't get in.

So What Makes A Good Tale of Terror?

Following the Golden Rules guarantees that I will use your Tale, but there is a difference between an acceptable Tale and a good Tale. Of course, "good" is a relative term - you may have other preferences. That's okay, as long as it follows the Golden Rules, it's in.

I'll start with the bad points.

And here are the good points.

Writing Tips

Having recently completed editing More Tales of Terror, I've noticed that I've been making certain edits time and again. So, to help reduce my workload next time I do this, here they are.

Will: Watch out for the word "will" - it can often be deleted. For example, The bomb will explode in thirty minutes would be better as The bomb explodes in thirty minutes. Punchier, sharper.

Very: Awful word - avoid using it at all costs. You can usually come up with a better synonym - for example: very big = immense, vast, huge; very bright = blinding, dazzling, actinic; and so on.

There are: Avoid starting a sentence or clause with "there are" if you can help it. The sentence can usually be rewritten so that it is stronger: There are three hungry shoggoths waiting impatiently in the basement is better as Three hungry shoggoths wait impatiently in the basement.

Wasted Words: Look out for wasted words - some examples:

Omit Unnecessary Words: Unnecessary words pad out a sentence without adding content, making your writing seem weak and flabby. Using fewer words is generally better. For example, If the investigators look in the box, they will find a severed head is better as Looking in the box reveals a severed head or even The box contains a severed head.

(Incidentally, the above points all come down to the difference between "active" writing and "passive" writing.)

Grammar checker: Most word processors come with a grammar checker. While you need to treat these with a pinch of salt, it’s worth running them to see what they throw up. I learned a few things when I first started using them.

Numbers: Numerals ten and below are generally written out in full. More than ten and just write the number in numerals.

Follow the rulebook: Check your spelling and (particularly) capitalisation. For example, in Call of Cthulhu it’s investigator, not Investigator and deep ones not Deep Ones. Check the appropriate rules if you’re not sure.

Other sources of style and grammar: I recommend dipping into Jack Lynch’s grammar and style guide. I’ve not worked my way through the whole set, but I can’t find anything to disagree with what I’ve read so far. If that fails, he has links to other sites.

There. Easy, eh? Now, send me some Tales of Terror!