Advice and guidance

ADVICE TO CONTRIBUTORS AND CONTESTANTS

(Folkestone Anthology and Short Story Competition) 

Wordcount. For the Anthology, any length up to 5000 words or even slightly longer is acceptable. For the Short Story Competition we ask for a wordcount of between 1500 and 2000 words, because what you can do within this length (in terms of complexity, timespan, and number of characters) is constrained and markedly different from what you can do in either 500 words or 5000 words. Flash fiction cannot reasonably be judged side by side with or sensibly compared with a long short-story.

Language. We expect authors to copy-edit their own work or get someone else to look through it before submitting it, so that it is not riddled with typos, grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. However, a few errors and linguistic lapses can be tolerated. (Nobody’s perfect!)

Editors and judges are looking above all for a good story, which should also be well-constructed (with a beginning, a middle and an end) and well-written (in English UK not US).

We appreciate that for several decades schools have not placed much emphasis on correctness in the writing of English but in the real world outside school (and teacher training?) there are sticklers for correctness in all walks of life. And editors are notorious for it!

By far the most common errors are punctuation errors. Read Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss. The most common punctuation errors are missing or misplaced commas and hyphens. Remember that commas are generally used to separate words which need to be separated and hyphens are used to link words which need to be linked (to avoid confusion and ambiguity).

Page Layout and Typography. We ask for stories to be typed on A4 size, double-spaced (one-and-a-half is also acceptable) and with one-inch (2.5 cm) margins. This is to facilitate the editorial process and allow space for the marking of corrections and any other required changes.

We expect stories to be printed as you normally see them printed in books and not to have the appearance of a business report or an instruction manual (with no indents and a myriad of gaps in the text). If a story is to be included in an anthology it has to be consistent, in the conventions used, with all the other stories.

It is easy to change some things to our style: the font (to Times New Roman 12 pt, headings 16pt), margins (narrower), page size (from A4 to A5), etc. Where there are alternatives, we consistently use and prefer one rather than the other (e.g. civilise to civilize, burnt to burned, etc.) and will edit scripts accordingly.The aim is to provide camera-ready copy to the printer and save on production costs. However, changing all the quotation marks from double to single, indenting all the paragraphs and eliminating unwanted line-spaces is difficult and time-consuming.

Paragraphs should be indented (0.75 cm − key above ‘Caps Lock’) except for the first paragraph and the first paragraph of a new section.

In dialogue, start a new paragraph for each change of speaker.

Do not leave a line-space between paragraphs. Only leave a space between the end of one section and the beginning of the next section, to indicate a change of scene or subject matter. No dividing lines or fancy symbols are required.

Generally use single quotation marks. Only use double quotes for a quotation within a quotation.

Do not use a hyphen in place of a dash (or vice versa).

Use an ellipsis (… three dots) to indicate missing words. Do not use an indefinite number of dots.

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