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(The Sugar Quill's Story Submission Guidelines)

Last updated: August 5, 2007

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The Sugar Quill will no longer be accepting unsolicited submissions from new authors. If you do not already have a story archived at the Sugar Quill, you may try your hand at a fan fiction challenges in the 87 Rolls of Parchment forum!

If you are an existing Sugar Quill author, you may proceed directly to submit your story!

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The Sugar Quill's Flourish and Blotts Fan Fiction Archive Mission Statement

To offer writers a process that allows each to work with a beta-reader to improve writing skills. To provide an encouraging environment to receive constructive feedback on stories. To maintain an archive of well-written stories and essays that provide entertainment for readers and inspiration for writers.

Story Submission Criteria

The Sugar Quill selectively accepts creative stories written by authors with a true desire to improve their writing that fit within the universe of Harry Potter canon.

Canon. The Sugar Quill defines canon as

The Sugar Quill does not consider events and scenarios from the Warner Brothers movies as canon. For example, if you think it was Hermione who said, "If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too!", Well, read the books before submitting your fan fiction.

Characterization. The Sugar Quill considers characterization to be one of the most important elements of writing. Part of the joy of writing is being able to hide in someone else's head and try to understand life through their eyes. That does not mean that real-life experiences do not play a role in the writing process. However, when writing, try to think about the characters and who they are, and how they have acted in the past and how they will act in the future. Just because you are brainy and also happen to have a pierced navel doesn't mean that Hermione should also sport a belly-button ring.

People read derivative fiction for many different reasons. We read and archive fan-written stories because we enjoy the Harry Potter universe, and appreciate the ability of a well-characterized story to let us linger in Harry's world just a little bit longer. If the rules seems too constrictive to you, or if you prefer a different type of story, the visit our Floo page for links to other sites that may be more your cup of tea.

Crossovers. Although crossover fan fiction is a traditional form, The Sugar Quill only archives stories that take place exclusively in the Harry Potter universe--no other fictional universe characters or settings should appear as primary characters, nor should real-world characters, including personalities associated with Harry Potter. It is perfectly acceptable to use song lyrics to highlight elements of your story; stories where Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Harry's long-lost sister, however, will not be accepted.

Alternate Universe. Alternate Universe (AU) stories, by their very nature, are difficult to characterize. They will be accepted on a case by case basis. An AU story must be a serious exploration of how canon events could have been changed by altering a plot point. Simply ignoring Sirius's death or some other plot point that the writer dislikes is not basis for an alternate universe at the Sugar Quill.

  • An example of an Alternate Universe story that would be accepted is as follows: A single event has changed, for example, Snape was bitten by Lupin in school as a result of Sirius's prank. How do the ripples of cause and effect from this one change alter the HP universe as we know it? A story like this demands serious exploration of characters and thought regarding plot and just what sorts of changes could result from this one altered event.
  • An example of an Alternate Universe story that would NOT be accepted is as follows: "I think that Draco should be in Gryffindor for no particular reason, just because it would be ubercool and stuff" NOTE: Conversely, having Harry be swayed into choosing Slytherin at his Sorting, and dealing with the issue REALISTICALLY and SERIOUSLY and writing it well, would be acceptable).

Alternate Universe stories will not be accepted as FIRST-TIME stories. We may also ask the author for further details on where they are planning to take the plot, just as proof that they have given the subject serious thought.

Violence, Sex, and All That Controversial Stuff

If you have to ask, then we probably won't accept it. The Sugar Quill reserves the right to remove a story at any time.

Swearing

Swear within reason. As far as we know, Harry has never said, nor heard anyone say F*%^ or S%(*$ or anything else of that nature. He has heard Hagrid use some strong words, like "Gallopin' Gargoyles!" but in other cases, only Hermione seems to have the privilege of hearing anything bad, and you can tell because she will scold Ron. Some things are better left up to the imagination.

Language Issues

Because a primary part of the mission of the Sugar Quill is to improve English-writing skills, we are unable to accept stories in languages other than English as well as English-language translations of stories by others. For example, an author may not submit an English translation of their friend Giovanna's story that was originally written in Italian. Please note that authors for whom English is a second language are not barred from handing in stories in English (and we are very impressed by those with the ability to do so!). However, they will be expected to adhere to the same standards as native English speakers.

Format

Stories may be submitted as Word documents (.doc), simple web pages (.html), or text files (.txt)

Beta-Reader Responsibilities

  1. Timeliness
    • Sugar Quill Beta-Readers will endeavor to respond to all writers within 48-hours of receiving a story in order to acknowledge receipt of the document.
    • Sugar Quill Beta-Readers will post publicly if they plan to be away from their computer for an extended period of time (on the Beta -Reader Announcements in the forums) and notify all authors with current Works In Progress via email. If necessary, the Beta-Reader will work with the Sugar Quill administration to find substitute Beta-Readers to cover during their absence.
  2. Things a Beta-Reader Might Point Out
    • Grammar and spelling errors
    • Plot continuity and technical errors. Your betas should let you know if there are any plot threads left unintentionally unresolved, and note places where there are internal continuity problems (eg, you had a character leave the room on page four, and she speaks again on page five without re-entering or Apparating into the room)
    • Character issues. Fan fiction allows much more freedom than professional fiction in terms of character interpretations, but your betas should point it out if your characters suddenly begin to behave very oddly for no appreciable reason
    • Reality checks. It's all algebra. If Harry is sitting at the far end of the Great Hall, then there's no way in heck he'll be able to determine the color of Professor Sinistra's eyes. She can stare at him, but he won't be able to determine that they are of a deep azure blue. Not from that distance.
    • Intangible things. Ask your betas to tell you what they got out of your story before you tell him or her what you meant. "I like this!" is a nice thing to hear, but what you need from a beta-reader is to hear, "I really enjoyed your characterization of Ginny and the way that you incorporate her earlier experiences first year with Tom Riddle. I think it shows just how important her connection with Harry will prove to be in future chapters." If that's what you meant to convey, it tells you that you've succeeded. If it's not what you meant, it can mean two things. You may decide that you really like it, and want to leave it alone or even expand on it. You might also decide that you absolutely don't want to give that impression, and therefore you want to change the things that gave it. Of course, sometimes, there just isn't much to say. If your beta-reader returns your story and says "nice job" - maybe that's really what they mean!

Author Responsibilities

1. Canon. Authors whose stories are archived at the Sugar Quill must agree to comply with the following canonical elements:

    • Character and place names must be spelled correctly (it's not McGonagal, or Serious, or Severous; or Hogsmeed or King's Crosses)
    • Hermione is never EVER called 'Mione in the books. The only person with a pet name for her is Viktor Krum. He calls her Herm-Own-Ninny. Oh yeah, and Grawp calls her Hermy
    • There will be no changing of eye colors, hair colors, complexions or anything else J.K. Rowling has specifically stated in canon.
    • Authors will take the time to check websites such as the Harry Potter Lexicon and JKRowling.com for canon facts

2. Technical Stuff.

    • Remember that your beta-reader is a volunteer. They have day jobs. Beta-readers sign up because they honestly want to help people improve their writing. Beta-readers are not perfect. You may argue with them (politely) if you like. But appreciate them. Without the beta-readers, there would be no Sugar Quill
    • If an author does not hear from a beta-reader within a reasonable amount of time, there is nothing wrong with contacting the beta-reader. If an email yields no response, it is perfectly acceptable to post a query on the Sugar Quill Story Submissions Questions thread. Sometimes a beta-reader goes AWOL. Sometimes messages get lost in cyberspace. The Sugar Quill administration will make every attempt to put authors in contact with their beta-readers if there is a problem

3. Plagiarism...

...is not allowed. Plagiarism is defined in several ways. Here are some definitions we like:

  • To appropriate the writings, graphic representations or ideas of another person and represent them as one's own, (that is, without proper attribution). (From Onlineethics.org)
  • Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers’ words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote. (From The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002)
  • Anything can be plagiarized - both published and unpublished works.

Examples:

  • Not Plagiarism. Zsenya wrote a story called A Muggle Summer, in which Ron goes to visit Hermione over the summer holidays. Three years later, a new author named Aynesz shows up with her story, Summer with Hermione, in which Ron goes to visit Hermione over the summer holidays. Is this plagiarism? Not necessarily. Two people can have the same idea. Certainly, if Aynesz was influenced by Zsenya, she should make a note of it in her author notes. But she may be totally oblivious to the existence of Zsenya's story. On the surface, this is not plagiarism.
  • Is Plagiarism. Zsenya wrote a story called A Muggle Summer, in which Ron goes to visit Hermione over the summer holidays. Three years later, a new author named Aynesz shows up with her story, Summer with Hermione, in which Ron goes to visit Hermione over the summer holidays. Chapter two of Zsenya's story is entitled "Fred and George's Friendly Advice." Chapter Two of Aynesz's story is entitled "The Twins' Friendly Advice." Chapter two of Zsenya's story begins: "Ron wrote Hermione back and his mother said that she would send a reply with Pigwidgeon to Mrs. Granger the next morning. As Ron stomped upstairs to his bedroom after dinner, his brother Fred accosted him by jumping out of the twins' room and blocking the stairs up to where Ron slept." Aynesz's chapter starts: "Ron wrote to Hermione and told her he would love to come stay with her. Mrs. Weasley said she would reply to Mrs. Granger the following morning. After dinner Ron headed to his bedroom and was accosted by Fred, who jumped out from behind the entrance to the twins' room and blocked the stairs." This is plagiarism. It's not verbatim, but it's pretty darn close.

The Sugar Quill Administration reserves the right to remove stories that contain plagiarized passages.

A Note About Fan Art

For existing Sugar Quill authors:

In general, we do not seek out fan art, although we do occasionally ask fan artists to post on our site. However, if you are an author who already has a story archived at the Sugar Quill and you have created some illustrations to accompany your story, we try to post them. To post art relating to one of your own stories, please use the Ask Madam Pince form. Art submitted must be in JPG or GIF format and be no larger than 500 pixels on the longest side. Art submitted should be finished works, not just sketches on lined notebook paper. If you have a great rough sketch, and would like help developing it into a finished piece, please visit the Enchanted Paintbrush

For other artists:

The Sugar Quill's Enchanted Paintbrush is a forum for the study of art as it relates to Harry Potter (and in general!). Please visit them for an in-depth discussion of fan art and drawing technique. If you participate in the discussions, and the moderators there feel that your art should be archived at the Sugar Quill, they will recommend you to us for the fan art archive.

Still not sure what we're talking about? Please post your questions at the official Story Submissions thread!

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The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

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