Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Is your butt-crack showing? by Warren Bull

Is your butt-crack showing?

Image by rawpixel on Upsplash
In the world of popular fashion, like most of us, I admire the saggy pants that allow a cunning reveal from behind of the underpants elastic. We can satisfy our curiosity about whether the wearer prefers tidy whiteys or colorful briefs.  But it is a faux pas to display one’s anatomy.
In the world of writing there are similar missteps that expose all too clearly the lack of savoir-faire of an inexperienced author, the equivalent naivety of wearing white after Labor Day.  
If someone wants your submission on paper, is it of any shade except bright white?  That, mon ami, is not bright. It marks you as uniformed.  If the submission is supposed to be in 12 point Times New Roman, do not use 16 point Edwardian Script any more than you would wear skinny heels with a short hemlines.
Is the format outside the rigid, expected custom? Tsk tsk.  How boring, how trite, are the antiquated expectations of the old guard, you may be thinking. Why not dare to show my irreverent creativity?
Why not? Cheri, the person who reads your submission will be a lackey of the establishment. Said underling will know that to forward a manuscript that shows contempt for the powers that be, would detract from efforts to become a member of the ruling elite.
Inclusion of what appear to you to be acts of noblesse oblige, such as allowing the editor/publisher to choose the title or suggesting the editor accept of you opus within the week, will result in your categorization as a rank newcomer — the operative word being rank. You would be viewed with a level of disdain comparable to how they would have judged you if you had worn combat books with parachute pants
Those who have climbed the mountain, inch by inch, foot by foot, are not likely to install an escalator for your convenience. You can of course rebel against tired convention. You can allow your brilliance free range and it will shine within you and perhaps within a small circle that recognizes your genius.
Should you, at some point, endeavor to expand your audience I would advise you, strictly entre nous, to learn the quaint customs and adopt the norms so that you may scale the heights before you break the chains of convention.


KM Rockwood said...

Ah, yes. We know we must practice conventional creativity if we want to succeed.

As we used to say about a teenage daughter who pictured herself as challenging the norms, she's wearing her non-conformist uniform today, as usual.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I'm in the middle of coaching scholarship candidates. I tell them to write the truth, but always keep the words "emphasize and focus" in mind. Start with your strongest attribute. This is your hook. Use examples. Be specific. Discuss a non-academic achievement. Weave in a few sentences of your backstory. Make yourself come alive on the page.

Linda Rodriguez said...

You want to stand out in their memories for the quality of your writing, not anything else. With everything else, you need to conform, so that they'll be willing to focus on that writing and get blown away.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting blog, Warren. Since I'm self-published I don't have to follow those rules unless I'm submitting a short story to a contest.

jake devlin said...

So, SO, SOOO true, Warren. I've been accepting submissions for a new anthology of off-the-wall, outrageous short stories since March, and more than 25% haven't followed the formatting guidelines even remotely, and some of those people have long experience in selling their stories to magazines and other anthologies. On the other hand, most of even those stories do fit the content guidelines and are absolutely wacky, weird and wonderful. It just means we have to do some reformatting before sending them out to the judges and doing final prep for publication in January.