Invasion of the Plot Beasties
Note: Due to health problems, this project is on hold indefinitely. If you made a submission, I will eventually get back to you with information about whether the project will move forward, or not.
Everyone fights against the obvious to get at the truth. The cliches, expectations, and fears that surround us–or boil up out of our own guts–try to shape us, take us down the rat hole, or lift us onto pedestals that trap us. We all have to break out of the life that everyone else thinks we’re living in.
Or the prisons that we build for ourselves.
Even so: it’s human nature to remain trapped, to stick with the familiar no matter how damaging.
Enter the plot beastie.
Plot beasties are irresistable and infectious. Literally infectious: despite those huge sweet eyes and seductive fur, each plot beastie manifests all-too-familiar plots and devices. Pet one, get bitten by one, put a plot-bunny foot on your keychain–their power to transform a character’s life engages immediately.
It might be simple immersion in a classic cliche–romance heroine, pirate, detective–that drives your story of fighting against the rising tide. Or it might be a classic device–lost at sea, trapped in a mine, a gunfight, a buddy with serious problems showing up–that presents your character with the need to face the truth.
A plot beastie latches onto a character and clings for all it’s worth. Characters are helpless: they believe, they act out, they experience real fear and risk. In so doing, they face the core illusion of their lives, and must struggle against the one thing they have worked very, very hard to avoid. In short, the plot beastie exposes comfortable illusions and challenages characters to face who they truly are, to realize not just dreams, but the simple truth of who they really are.
What is a plot-beastie? It might be a literal beast; it might be a vision; it might be an avatar or a notion or a gift from a stranger or poison on a knife. It might be under the character’s control, it might sneak up, it might flicker in and out. All of that is up to you.
Where can you find plot beasties? For starters, just about any mainstream movie, book, comic book, TV show–you name it–has all the raw material you’ll need. For any given character, there’s a key illusion, a key imposition by the people around them, a key fear that needs to be faced and driven out into the open.
What kinds of stories are we looking for? Compelling, engaging storylines and good writing are the keys. Here are some guidelines specific to this anthology.
- The original impetus for the anthology: plot-bunnies, from the workshop/houseparty “The Mall at the End of Time.” Consider reading it for ideas, but it’s not required, since we’ve broadened the concept to plot beasties of all kinds–literal, figurative, and imaginative.
- The key story elements are a strong character driven down by illusions/exepectations/fear, infection by a fitting plot/device that exposes that, and a storyline that forces the character to respond.
- All genres and styles are acceptable. Prose, poetry, drama–any form that works, as long as it works. Any plausible method of involving the plot beastie is OK, whether it’s poetically deep or hilariously funny. Creativity is valued more highly than slavish attention to possibly flawed guidelines.
- You will be including with cliches and familiar devices. We expect you to rise above that, whether it is by making fun of it, or diving deep into your character to find real and personal truths. The plot beastie is the obvious trap; the story must be about the unique and personal ways your character overcomes that. The world–and our own fear–imposes easy answers, but the desire that drives us to realize our dreams are complex and deep and full of courage. The ‘problem’ in your story is easy; it’s the solution that will demand the most out of your skills.
- Length is not a primary consideration. The anthology will take advantage of e-pub: each entry will be published separately, with the entire collection appearing over the course of one to two years. In other words, this is a serial anthology. We’ve set up for publishing on Kindle and will look at other platforms as well.
- We are looking for writers willing to work hard to create good stories. Expect us to reciprocate by taking the time to provide good editorial feedback from concept to final story.
If you are interested in submitting a story, here’s how to do it:
- We are not looking for completed works from the get-go. Send us an email with the outline or broad description of your idea. Don’t sweat a traditional query; just tell us what you plan to do. If it would be better for you, submit a first draft of your story. At this stage, we’ll be evaluating the strength of the story.
- If we select your story for development, we’ll do multiple rounds of revision and editing. This will be focused on strengthening the storyline, improving the writing/pace/structure of the story, etc. We are a traditional publisher, in that we believe strongly in lots of contact between editor and writer. We’re not a hit-and-run ‘modern’ online publisher; we value time spent developing stories in the classic tradition. Not that we intend to force submissions in a given direction; our feedback will be focused on helping authors realize their intentions with strong characters, engaging stories, and creative techniques. We aim to stimulate and encourage, as well as to give honest feedback.
- Not all stories selected for development will be published. Ultimately, stories must get to the point where they are good enough to be published. We expect writers to work hard on their stories, and only the best will be published.
- “We” is the Good Old-Fashioned E-Publishing Company. We strive to combine modern publishing methods with old-fashioned quality editing and design. The publisher is Ron Wodaski, formerly head of New Astronomy Press. Ron has both print and e-book publishing experience, and is also an author with more than a dozen books to his credit.
- Payments will be a split of royalties between the publisher and the author, minus Amazon’s percentage. The split will be far higher than traditional publishers: a 50% royalty on the net proceeds.