[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #27                9-17-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986
   I've had a half-dozen people ask me about being a contributor 
to the magazine. For these people in particular, and also to 
encourage others of you to give it a try, I'm going back again to 
my second favorite topic - writing! - with an emphasis on writing 
for Zephyr Magazine.
                       WRITING FOR ZEPHYR
   Writing and submitting to The Zephyr Magazine is a little 
different than doing the same for a "legitimate" publication. 
It's also different than writing something for school.
   At the same time, writing is writing - even if it's a letter 
home asking for more money. It also makes little difference 
whether the piece is fiction or nonfiction. The same principles 
always apply.
                            The Idea

   The first step is to come up with a viable idea. Can't find 
one? That's a simple problem to cure. Do what I did for the 
last issue. Close your eyes, point at random, then open your 
eyes. Whatever is in front of your finger is the topic.
   Now let your mind and imagination run loose for a while. 
You'll come up a steady string of ideas. The end result may 
have nothing at all to do with where you started. By free 
association you could end up literally anywhere.
   I was talking about just this sort of thing with another of 
our users, Ben Avechuco (of "Chuco Dog" fame). A friend of his 
had ended up pointing to a water color painting on the wall.
   That obviously brings up painting, which leads to artists, 
which takes you back in history with famous artists, which 
could be someone like DaVinci (hope I spelled that right), who 
came up with some miraculous inventions, . . . .
   Or you could start with something in the painting - the 
trees are plants, and so are carrots, which are good for your 
eyes (not really, but it's a standard cliche), which takes us 
into cliches and old wive's tales, which could lead into 
witchcraft . . . .
   Those were two examples of free association. When talking 
to Ben, the string of possible topics finally ended up on 
skiing. Your own personal string would end up somewhere completely 
different. (For that matter, if I did it again right now it 
would come out different - and who knows where it would lead 
if I let it go on for 15 or 20 minutes? Or tried to control the 
   You can also put on whatever limits you wish. Last week's 
story had placed upon it the limitations that it would be a 
science fiction short story, with no editing, and with an outside 
time limit of 1 1/2 hours. Consequently, I had no more idea 
what would happen in the story than you did as the reader. (That's 
what made it so much fun for me.)
   Perhaps you have to come up with a theme or essay for a class. 
The teacher doesn't care what it's about really, as long as the 
piece is nonfiction (true) and has something to do with, say, 
   The same technique can work. You simply free associate with 
history in mind. Or just keep going until something historical 
sneaks in.
   There are few limitations here. Your contribution can be 
fiction or nonfiction. It can be about nearly anything at all. 
Want to do one on dating? Fine. Would you prefer to do a 
fantasy about witches and warlocks? That's okay, too. Bob E.shtmlan 
did one on economic planning, and another on correspondence 
schools. Chris Mitchell did one on radio broadcasting. Jim 
Lippard did one on nuclear power. So topic matter or approach 
doesn't much matter. Your "assignment" would simply be, "write 
something that would interest the other users."

                       Developing the Idea
   Now you have an idea - or perhaps the assignment was more 
specific, which in turn dictates what the idea will be. Your 
next step in either case will be to develop that idea into 
something that will either sell to a magazine, or get you an 
A in class (which is a form paycheck).
   Again certain limitations might apply. How long will the 
piece be? How will it be used? How formal does it have to be? 
I'll use The Zephyr Magazine as the example.
   The length limitation is to bring in the piece at about 
300 lines of text. If it goes over or under by a little, that's 
okay - but a 50 line story, or a 500 line one, would be too 
short and too long, respectively. Anything between about 200 and 
400 would be hunky dorey. 
   With those limitations in mind you would set about planning 
your idea. In a formal class the teacher might run this as an 
outline step. Personally, I outline everything I do (with the 
exception of last week's story) - but all outlining takes place 
in my head. It's rare for me to physically write an outline, and 
even when I do my "outline" is nothing more than some jotted 
   Other professional writers I know prefer - almost require - 
a very formal outline. 
   You have to decide which is best for you. For most people 
who aren't used to writing, some kind of written outline is 
preferable, even if it's only a collection of notes to yourself. 
Without it you tend to stray and even get lost. 
   Your plan of attack can be divided into the three basic parts 
of any piece of writing. It has to have a beginning, a middle 
and an end. The beginning introduces the subject (or introduces 
the character(s) and surroundings). The middle develops the 
subject and fills it out. This is the body of the piece. The 
ending wraps it all up.
   Within each section you can (and probably will) further divide 
the subject. The beginning and ending won't need many divisions. 
In fact, having divisions in these two parts will usually only 
serve to confuse the matter.
   The middle will be the most divided, and will then be subdivided 
again and again. Who, what, where, when, how and why? That applies 
to both fiction and nonfiction. Either way, the middle is the 
"meat" of the piece. In fiction, the middle is where the action 
takes place, and where plot and character development occur. In 
nonfiction, the middle is where you present your information.
   Take last week's story. Slammed together as it was, it still 
had a beginning, middle and end. The beginning consisted basically 
of the line, "He hated bugs!" That introduced things. You know 
there is a person, and that something is going on through which 
he is having a definite pest problem.
   During the middle, that exact problem and conflict are 
developed, along with the setting of the strange planet. When 
I revise the story, that middle will also explain why the 
character is on the planet, and will further develop the 
   Who? The main character - in "Bugs!" he is a space explorer. No 
name is needed or wanted in this particular case.
   What, where, when, how and why? He's on a distant planet, 
exploring it to place a claim on it so he can sell it as real 
estate and get rich, via a revised form of the salvage laws. 
Obviously this takes place in the distant future.
   In fiction there must be some kind of conflict. This also 
occurs in the middle. In "Bugs!" the conflict was a simple battle 
to get back to his ship before the bugs or fish ate him alive, 
or he died of starvation and lack of sleep. It was introduced 
in the first line, and then developed through the story.
   In "Bugs!" the conflict was external and with nature. Another 
story might have two characters in conflict, or a character in 
conflict with himself (or herself). An example of this last would 
come about if the character had an internal conflict between the 
desire to be filthy rich and the knowledge that he would be 
ripping off - and possibly killing - any and all clients. Our 
"hero" in Bugs! had no such conflict - but this in turn not only 
develops the character one final step, and also sets up a conflict 
for the reader.
   The ending or conclusion wraps up everything. In nonfiction, 
quite often the main points are restated and summarized. In 
fiction, the basic conflict is brought to a final end.
                     Fiction vs. Nonfiction
   If you haven't already picked up on it, there is actually 
very little difference in the techniques of writing fiction 
versus writing nonfiction. In fact, think about which articles 
you've enjoyed reading the most. Chances are very good that 
those that were most enjoyable contained all the characteristics 
of a piece of fiction. There were people in there with fully 
developed personalities, doing something, and very possibly 
solving a problem of some sort. There may have been conflicts 
that had to be solved.
   Read a newspaper story. You'll find all the parts in there. 
Switch things around, exaggerate a bit, toss in some conflict 
here and there, and that news story could easily become a piece 
of fiction.
   If you're in school and writing for a grade, apply to that 
next nonfictional report the techniques of fiction. With all 
else being equal, your grade will almost certainly go up by at 
least one grade level. Even a "formal" report complete with 
footnotes can be changed from something bloody boring into 
fascinating reading by just tossing in fiction techniques.
   Say you have to do a report on Christopher Columbus. One way 
would be to turn the report into little more than a listing of 
his accomplishments and the dates. You'll get the who, what, 
when, where and maybe even the how. But you'll miss out on the 
why, which in turn will cause a lacking in all the rest.
   B-O-R-I-N-G ! ! !
   But take just his voyages to America. Why was he going? 
Simple. He wanted to be rich and famous. He wanted POWER! Trouble 
was, he was proceding on a false premise. He was also a con man, 
and not a very popular one. Certainly not a very intelligent one. 
Despite what every learned person was saying at the time, ol' 
Chris stuck to information that was hundreds of years old, and 
that had been disproved long before it was introduced. Christie-Boy 
was too lazy, and too ill-read to research it. Consequently he got 
his tiny little ships out onto the ocean and quite promptly got 
completely lost. His crews nearly mutineed - possibly with a popular 
topic of conversation in the smelly holds being something along 
the lines of, "Maybe we can go fishing using the Captain as bait."
   That's a bit more interesting. Develop it further and it can 
be wonderful. Do a bit of research on it and it can end up 
being hilarious. (Did you know that Columbus was thrown in 
prison after returning to Spain? The charge was "excessive 
cruelty to the natives." That in an age when slavery and 
torture were the norm. Or that he abandoned his brother in the 
New World - where that kind and magnificent part of the Columbus 
family was put to death, along with his entire crew, by the 
natives for being outrageously vicious?)
   All of a sudden a glorified list of dates and places becomes 
an adventure, complete with violence and blood and gore and  
enough stupidity that can be played for laughs or for pathos 
to satisfy the most cynical of us.
   Just because you're a fantasy fan and would prefer to write 
about sorcery doesn't mean that you can't write some decent 
   Or vice versa.

   Now the real differences come in. For a class submission of 
the finished product is automatic. You do it for a grade, at a 
specific time, and generally in a manner clearly stated by the 
teacher. Fail to follow that and your grade will likely go down, 
if you get a grade at all.
   Submitting to a "regular" magazine also has a specific manner 
of submission. Fail to follow that and you'll again lose your 
"grade" - this time in the form of a rejection slip, or the loss 
of the manuscript, and possibly of a market for your work. 
   No matter where you submit, always always ALWAYS reread what 
you've written to be sure that it is as perfect as you can make 
it. In this business there is no such thing as "good enough." Be 
honest with yourself in this review. You probably won't get a 
second chance. 
   Now find the publication(s) that would be interested. This 
is where SO many new writers ruin themselves. When I was editing 
for various magazines, we'd get in some very strange submissions. 
For KARATE/KUNG-FU we got in a piece on gardening. For TRAVELIN' 
VANS (custom automotives) we got in an article, complete with 
photos, about making love. 
   Be absolutely certain that your manuscript is suitable for the 
magazine. There are numerous marketing guides out, such as the 
yearly WRITERS' MARKET and several monthly magazines.  
   Once you've found the right market, the manuscript gets mailed 
in - first class preferred - with a self-addressed stamped 
envelope or proper packaging and postage for return. 
   An incredible number of writers and photographers screw them-
selves up completely on this step. 
   First, the manuscript must be typed. Very few of the better 
markets think highly of dot matrix. ALL will except letter 
quality printouts. Clean white paper only with loose sheets (don't 
put the manuscript in a folder and don't staple them), and black 
ink only. Don't get fancy!
   The typing must be double spaced, with margins of roughly 
an inch all around, and with extra space at the top of the first 
page (where you put your name, return address, phone number, 
title, etc.).
   That return packaging and postage is essential! To you it's 
just one manuscript and a cost of maybe 50c. To a magazine that 
get's 1000 such submissions, all of a sudden it becomes $500.
   And don't just send money for the return. If YOU can't bother 
to go to the post office to handle the job correctly, how can 
you expect them to do it (again, times 1000 submissions)?
   To give an example, say the editor has ten manuscripts on his 
desk. One is from a writer he already knows and trusts from past 
work with the writer. That will go into the "Read Immediately" 
pile. One is from a writer whose name he recognizes from other 
publications. That goes into the "Worth a Try" pile. Three more 
come in written by people he doesn't know, but the submissions 
look highly professional. Those go into the same "Worth a Try" 
pile right along with the known writer. Of the remaining five, 
two have nothing to do with his magazine, and the last three 
haven't bothered to cleanly type the submissions or to enclose 
the return packaging and postage. One even came postage due!
   Of that ten, he can accept three manuscripts. Which will he
take? And which will he toss into the trash basket?
   The whole object is to be as professional as you can. Keep in 
mind that you're in direct competition with people like me. If 
your shoddy, poorly packaged, etc. submission hits the editor 
at the same time as something from that of an established pro, 
what chance will you have? 

   For Zephyr Magazine submission is less formal but the method 
is just as important.
   The first step there is to contact me with the idea you have 
in mind - probably via mail on the board. I'll help you along 
and answer any questions you might have, whether it be for The 
Zephyr Magazine or your own relative career as a writer or 
   Write using single spacing, and use straight ASCII. The length 
should be roughly 250-350 lines. Now go back through it and polish 
it up. If it's not the best you can do, and if you're not willing 
to spend some time and effort on getting the piece into shape, 
why should I? (If it's going to take me three hours to straighten 
up your submission, and one hour to write my own issue . . . .)
   Once you have something appropriate, and of the right 
approximate length, arrangements have to be made to get it 
transferred between your computer and mine. 
   The easiest way is for you to upload the submission into the 
TEXT section. Obviously, you'll have to leave me mail to tell me 
that it's there. 
   Then I go through your contribution, and edit it as needed. 
Hopefully that won't be much. (With Bob E.shtmlan's for example, 
about all I did was a bit of typo correction.) If need be, 
I'll make some comments and transfer it back over to you for 
more major rewriting. 
   Do NOT post direct to the board. No offense, but I'll scrap 
the sucker, simply to keep things under control.
   You should know up front that there is the possibility that 
something will be turned down. I don't mean to be insulting, 
but if what you try to contribute is pure garbage, I can't in 
good faith post it as a magazine issue. And if I have to edit it 
extensively, the end result is no longer your own, which isn't 
fair to anyone.
   You should also know up front that any and all decisions as 
to whether to post or not are strictly and 100% my own. Thane 
has nothing to do with it. So, if what you think is a master-
piece gets turned down, blame me only. (Hopefully you'll also 
keep in mind that this is what I do for a living, and I like 
to *think* anyway that I know what I'm doing.)

Until Next Time

   That should answer quite a few of your questions. If you have 
others, ask away. (But PLEASE thoroughly read this issue first. 
Chances are pretty good that I've answered that question, and it 
gets boring as hell to keep answering questions I've already 
answered. If you've just scanned the issue, especially at 1200 
baud, you've probably missed a few things. Download it, print it 
out, and keep for reference.)
   One of our users, John Arbon, brought up something I've never 
revealed before - mostly because I don't do it often. Although I 
am strictly a writer/photographer by profession, on rare occasions 
I will serve as a consultant and/or editor. The charge for that 
service is $35 per hour. (I'm about to raise it, for various 
   For submissions to the magazine, the charge is $00.00 - a 
pretty good reason for giving it a try, huh? Questions about the 
profession are also answered free over the board. (Besides, I 
really don't care to give personal consultations if I can avoid 
it. I lose money every time I do.)

   Good luck!

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.