There are no major changes contained here, but there have been changes made to the rules since they were first written, and thus, here's everything specified and ordered in a neatly bundled lj entry. Other guidelines, such as the specifics for art submissions, can be found with the guidelines tag.
If you are planning to submit a piece of text, please read over these guidelines. (Yes, all of them; you're a writer, you should be able to read.) Based on a number of questions I've fielded and things I've seen in submissions recently, I suspect many people have not read the previously established guidelines. Here's your chance to fix that!
1. Original fiction only. Significantly altered versions of other peoples' characters, thinly veiled real people, and retellings of well-known stories in the public domain are all acceptable so long as the differences are substantial enough to render a significant part of the creative process your own.
It is acceptable to base your SSBB story on someone else's copyrighted characters, as long as all names and enough worldbuilding details are changed, to the point where someone completely unfamiliar with the copyrighted source material would not feel like anything was missing. No direct reappropriation of text or plot points from a different work, unless permission is given and the original source is credited .
In short, the words you should be keeping in mind are 'plausible' and 'deniability'.
2. Stories should first appear in the SSBB issue to which they belong. Stories may be posted friends-locked for editing purposes prior to the issue date, but they should have their public debut in the s2b2 journal. After the issue goes live, you may repost the story publically wherever you wish -- but only after. Each contributor may submit one 'solo' piece per issue (either a story or a piece of standalone art); in addition, each contributor may submit one 'collaboration' piece (a co-written story or a co-created piece of art).
3. Stories should be at least 1500 words long; stories may not be longer than two lj entries. If a story is going to be longer than a single lj entry, please indicate where you would like the story broken in two.
4. Stories should have explicit male homoerotic themes and content. There will be no content warnings placed on any stories, so browse at your own risk.
5. Stories should be Not Safe For Work. The point of the exercise is to make things dirty, so let's not be coy. If you are not comfortable writing a sex scene between two male participants, this may not be the venue for you. If you like to think in movie ratings, it should be something they wouldn't let teenagers into without a parent or guardian. A more detailed version of the criteria for sex scenes may be found here, under 3d), but the key word is porn.
6. Stories must be self-contained. This does not mean that characters/universes/situations from one story may not ever appear again; however, if a reader has to have read a previous story to understand this one, this story is not self-contained. Each story should be complete, and should have its own beginning, middle, and ending. Artistic cliffhangers are acceptable; wandering off in the middle of a story because you've run out of room is not.
7. While it is not required that all SSBB stories end with a big smiley-faced happily ever after, that's the general spirit of this 'zine. Stories that end on a down note had better have a strong reason for doing so. On the whole, it's best to go for the happy ending. As petronia so eloquently put it:
Shousetsu Bang*Bang is a webzine for original boy's love oneshot stories, intended as an online, English-language text equivalent of one of those All Yomikiri Bimonthly Summer Special 100 Extra Pages!! manga phonebooks where every story is about the torrid romance of an ordinary schoolboy and his soccer club captain - or a teenaged yakuza boss and his faithful lieutenant - or the prince of an exotic desert country and the emerald-eyed winged bishounen he rescues from the sawtoothed sand monsters of G'or, self-contained in 30 pages and heartwarmingly predictable. Our editorial policy is to dispense with meaning and literary merit and concentrate on cracked-out inconsequential fun. There is a formula, it is paint-by-numbers, and by gum our rainbow crayons will stay within the lines.There is, of course, a great deal of room for literary merit, yet while it is greatly appreciated in practice, it is not considered an essential component to the exercise. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
8. While it is certainly acceptable to post stories under your own lj name, part of the fun here is the chance to let your work stand without your best-known identity to prop it up or drag it down (depending). The general standard has become to adopt fake Japanese mangaka pseudonyms, complete with obscure kanji and ridiculous puns, but your mileage may of course vary. Regardless of what you choose, once you pick one, please stick with it; changing tags and attributions on entries is a pain in the ass.
9. Deadlines are important. We have gotten into a pattern of having a very short turnaround time between final submission date and publication, meaning that there's less time for us to spend editing things that should have been fixed already and less time for a bounced story to get corrected and re-submitted. Thus, please get your stories in on time. In fact, plan to get them in early; there's no shame in having a story submitted an entire month before the deadline, and submissions are always open. Stories that the editors decide have arrived too late for current issue will be saved for the next issue.
1. While we cannot require submissions to be in Google Docs, this is absolutely the editors' preference. Go to 'share', click on 'sharing settings', and give email@example.com permission to edit, and that's all it is to it. (I also recommend using the old version, but it's up to you.) The reasons this is the editors' preference are as follows:
1a. Having a story in Google Docs makes it infinitely easier to edit. We are two editors now, and downloading a story, making changes, re-uploading it somewhere, making sure the other editor gets the new version instead of the old one ... well, you can see how that could make it real complicated, real fast. But if all the edits are made to a single file on a server somewhere, we both can see all the changes in real time.
1b. Notifications from Google Docs never, ever wind up in our spam folder. Very recently, a story was sent to us as an attachment to an email with minimal unique text ... and got caught in our spam folder, so that we didn't see it until the issue was already up. We feel terrible about this and never ever want it to happen again, but there's so much spam out there in the world that it's hard to be sure something hasn't passed us by. And even if, by some bizarre happening, a notification is spam-filtered or deleted, if a document is shared with the SSBB account, it's visible in the master list of editable documents. It just plain can't be lost.
2. If you're not using Google Docs, submissions must be in Word (.doc or .docx), rich text (.rtf), or plain text (.txt). No HTML files. Submissions should be sent as attachments to emails, not downloads.
3. All file names should contain: the title of the story, the author's name, the author's lj name/email handle.
1. Entries should look exactly as you'd enter them into any lj client. If you want to check and make sure an entry will look right, paste it into Semagic and hit 'preview', or go ahead and post it (locked, please!) to your own journal.
2. These HTML tags are not only acceptable, they're necessary if you want formatted text: <I>, <em>, <B>, <strong>, and <U>. Type them directly into the text. If you use Word, you might want to check out this Tutorial: Placing HTML tags around all similarly Formatted words at once (in Word).
3. These HTML tags should not be included: <P> and <BR>. Instead, skip a full line between each paragraph.
4. Smart quotes are the devil, as are smart ellipses. For guidelines on how to remove these from Word, see the original post. If you're using the newest version of Google Docs, look under Tools and Preferences; both 'Use smart quotes' and 'Automatic substitution' should be de-selected.
5. If you plan to have images in your story, please indicate where in the story you would like those images; you can leave placeholder text (like PICTURE #1 GOES HERE) in the body of the story itself, or you can describe in an email where you'd like us to place them. If you want the images to stay on your own server, just put the HTML wherever you want them to be, and we won't mess with it. (We will upload all images to the shousetsubangbang.com server, but only as a backup in case the original images disappear.)
6. Author's notes/commentary/glossaries/thank-yous should be placed at the end of a story. You can finesse this in one of three ways: one, put the text directly in the lj entry, after the main body of the text; two, compose a separate lj entry on a different journal and leave a link to that entry after the main body of the text; or three, leave the information in a comment to the story.
More information on specifics can be found at the updated Writing Aids and Standards post.
As far as content goes, SSBB has always had an 'all skate' policy: if you submit a story and it meets the technical guidelines outlined above, it will be run. As a general rule, we don't edit for content -- largely because the second we start doing that, we become responsible for all the content we do approve. The upshot of this for inexperienced writers is that it makes SSBB a very friendly place for authors who haven't had a lot of practice writing original fiction (or fiction at all); the upshot for more experienced writers is that it creates a safe place to indulge in cliché and melodrama gleefully and shamelessly.
This does, however, mean that issues will sometimes contain stories even the editors consider boring, offensive, or just plain badly written. This is okay! Tastes differ, and something I think is dreadful may get a huge crowd raving about how delightful it is; similarly, there have been stories in the past that I have considered of unparalleled quality that have gotten only a handful of comments. This, too, is okay! The primary point of this exercise is not to write the Great American Short Story, but to have a Good Time writing and reading, and what constitutes a Good Time varies from person to person.
Of course, a writer should always be looking to improve, and one of the best ways to do this is to read. Someone who hasn't read enough things other people have written will never be a good writer, because so much of writing is learning by imitation; the rest, of course, is learning by doing.
The presence of any of the following will get a story bounced back to you immediately, because we editors will not waste our time fixing these:
- smart quotes/ellipses
- formatted text without the appropriate HTML tags
- unnecessary HTML formatting
- copious obvious errors in spelling/grammar/mechanics
- anything that is going to take more than half an hour of proofreading on our part to fix
In short, if we send it back to you and tell you to get it beta-read, get it beta-read. If you've already had it beta-read, get a better beta.
ABOUT THE 'BOUNCE'
Having a story sent back to you is never a indication that you are a bad person and should go away forever. Rather, it means there is something about the story we believe prevents it from meeting SSBB standards, and we would like to give you an opportunity to fix that. If you choose to make the changes according to our recommendations and re-submit the piece, that'll be great. Similarly, if you decide not to make the changes and just want to let this one go elsewhere quietly, we won't judge.
For reference, previous posts about the rules (some of which contain greater detail about the rationale behind certain rules) can be found: for text, November 2005, May 2007, and July 2007; for art, November 2010.