Monday, June 23, 2014

Guest Columnists Needed! Details Inside...

Those of you who've followed me for a while know that, both of the last two years, I've skipped off to Arizona for a few weeks in summer, and left this blog in the capable hand of a variety of guest columnists.  If you haven't seen some of the stuff I've gotten, browse through the guest column tag--there's a lot of wonderful advice, opinion, and reviewership collected under that heading.

This year, I'll once again be spending two weeks AWOL, and I'm once again planning to put up some guest posts over that break.  But this year's going to be a little different.  Click down below the break to find out what's going to happen, and how you can get in on it!

One of the things I've long thought about doing with this blog, but have never actually done, is to do a series of posts about authorial growth.  One of the great things about fanfiction is how much room it gives budding writers to learn and expand as they hone their skills, and there are few things more satisfying (for my money) than watching an author improve before your very eyes, in real time.  I've always thought it would be fun to do a series of posts looking at individual authors, and tracking how their skills and style have changed and developed from their oldest stories to their newest.

Well, I've never done that for several reasons, but mostly because doing it well would be a pretty darn significant time investment.  But I've been thinking: doing just one wouldn't be too bad, and I know I've got plenty of readers who are of an analytical mind.  So... themed guest columns it is!

If you'd like to give this a try, here are some details:

1) Anyone is welcome to submit a guest column, even if you've never written anything for me.  As long as it has the stuff I list below in it and shows some minimal level of thought, I'll use it!*

2) You should chose a single author, and read their entire ponyfic oeuvre.  Even if you've read some (or all) of it before, I strongly recommend going back and re-reading their stories from oldest to newest with an eye to the sorts of things I'll talk about in point #3.

  • If the author has non-ponyfic repertoire, going through that is not required, but could definitely add to a post!
  • It doesn't matter where the author's stories are posted--FiMFiction,, Google Docs--as long as they're accessible.  Choosing an author who's written porn is also acceptable, and you can even write about those stories in your column, but I won't link to them from this blog**... so an author whose written nothing but porn is probably not a good choice for this one.
  • Since we're looking for authorial growth, make sure you pick an author who's written several stories over a significant length of time.  Personally, I would pick someone with at least half a dozen stories, totaling at least 50,000 words, whose oldest and newest stories are separated by at least a year.  Those are not requirements, though; just what I would look for to make sure there was plenty of room for development.
  • Pick an author whose works you're interested in dissecting!  Whether it's someone famous or little-known, just be sure it's someone whose writing you'd like to break apart.  On a related note: I have no problem posting two columns about the same author (if anything, it'd be neat to see where two different columnists agreed and differed in their analysis), but I'd obviously prefer not to have, say, ten columns about Pen Stroke.  Feel free to discuss who you'd like to write (or read!) columns about below, but don't feel obligated to "call" authors, unless you want to.

3)  Write a post which includes the following information: what features or elements are common to the author's early stories, what features or elements are common to their later stories, and how their writing has changed from their early to later writing.

  • Talking about spelling and grammar is fine, but try for as complete an overview as possible.  Does the author seem more comfortable writing characters with alien viewpoints in his/her later stories?  Are characters shallower, or more prone to plot-driven actions, in earlier stories?  Does the author show a preference for different genres in earlier vs. later works?  For different characters?  Is there a noticeably different flow to the author's prose?  These are just a few of the things you might find; try to dig as deep as possible!
  • You can't write a column about yourself.  Also, I won't say that you can't write about a friend or someone you know well, but I'd encourage you to write about an author who you don't personally know.
  • Although the nominal focus here is on authorial growth, you should also look at commonalities between an author's earlier and later works, especially if these seem to be characteristic of the author's writing (rather than coincidental; telling one from the other is part of the challenge!).  Also, it's fine to talk about things the author plateaus at, or even seems to get worse at; hopefully these are rather rarer than the improvements, but do your best to give an overview of the author, and how they've changed since they started writing.
  • There is no required format for any of this; feel free to frame your post in any way you wish.  I'll head each column with a list of links to the author's stories in chronological order, but your post itself can be in whatever style you please.  There's also no word limit, other than "readable in a single sitting."  Although my blog posts are generally in the 800-1600 word range, I suspect you'll find that these will be a lot longer, and that's fine.  Just try to keep it manageable.
4)  Send your post to no later than Wednesday, July 23rd.  Yes, you've got an entire month--use it!  Unless you pick SS&E or something, that should be plenty of time to read everything the author's written and see what you can discover about them as a writer from it--where they started, where they've gone (if they're still active in the fandom, perhaps where they're going), and generally what kind of author they are.  Guest posts will start going up on Friday, July 25th, and will run for the next two weeks.  I'll message you when I receive your column, and again when I've set a post order (probably not until the 23rd), so you'll know when your post is scheduled to go up.

...And that's it!  I hope at least a few enterprising souls are looking at that big old wall of text with interest (and hopefully, not trepidation--first-time reviewers, don't be afraid to give this a try!).  If nothing else, I know that I would love to see these kind of posts.

If you have any questions, e-mail me or put them in the comments below.  Have fun!

*I need 6-8 posts; if I get fewer, I've got some backup plans.  If I get more, I may ask (not require) some of the guest post writers if I can save their posts for a few weeks, but I will post them all.

**Mature non-porn stories, whether violent, sexual, or both, are still fine.  Whether a "mature" work is porn will be based on the "I know it when I see it" test; if you have a specific question, feel free to ask!


  1. It's too bad I didn't read Device Heretic in chronological order. Of course, it felt like he was on the same level all the way through...

  2. Ooh, this should prove interesting! Can't wait to read 'em

  3. I would love to help, but alas, it's not something I think I can do.

  4. July 23rd, huh? I'll see what I can do. I have an author or two in mind.

  5. Author level reviews are pretty heady stuff. I mean, I've probably over the past year and a half read a good dozen of Skywriter's stories for example, and know his style pretty well, but I could tell you diddly squat about how he's changed or gotten better or how his stories compare and contrast with each other.
    I'd Also love to look at how Imploding Colon*'s Austraeoh series has changed over time, but there's a snowball's chance in hell that I'm rereading over a million words to do so.
    That being said, I might volunteer if it means I can do an Author review of Chris himself, if only for the meta lols.
    *Yes, he's SS&E, I know.

  6. Okay, okay, fine, I'll bite. I'll do skywriter. Most of his stuff is pretty short-ish, and I'm only 4 chapters into contraptionology so I won't need to reread it. Plus I've read all of his long running comic skin horse.

    ~Super Trampoline

  7. I've actually thought about doing this kind of thing myself. I might try to pitch in one or two posts.

  8. I'm afraid I'm not going to be finished with this by today, July 23rd. I'll finish some other time I guess. :-/

    ~Super Trampoline