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Guidelines for submitting fiction to TSAT

First and foremost, TSAT is looking for stories. Just so we're all on the same page, here's what we consider a story to be: A narrative which relates a series of events in which something significant happens. This last point is important. Something like, "John woke up. He put on his favorite t-shirt and brushed his teeth. Then he went to work." is certainly a narrative which relates a series of events, but every one of those events is utterly trivial! And if your narrative consists entirely of trivial events, what you've got is not a story -- it's a pointless anecdote. Put it this way: Even if your main character really does spend half his waking hours cataloguing his belly-button lint, who the hell cares?

Which brings up the next point: We're interested in stories that pass the "so what?" test. If the reader finishes a narrative and finds himself saying "So what?", that narrative has failed the test. As Larry Niven says, it is a sin to waste the reader's time -- so don't do it. More, don't let the reader feel that reading your story was a waste of his time. It is possible to write about earthshakingly significant events in such a way that the reader simply doesn't give a damn, just as it is likewise possible to write about comparatively minor events of purely personal significance in such a way that the reader cares a great deal. And you want the reader to care; you want to affect the reader's mind and emotions. At least if you want other people to read and enjoy your story, you do! So no matter where your narrative falls on the earth-shaking-to-personal scale, you want to be sure that it passes the "so what?" test.

Next, we want stories with internal consistency. Contradictions are evil things, for even the least of them can inflict lethal damage on a reader's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. If you've spent the entire narrative portraying your villain as an utterly invincible bad-ass, don't let your hero defeat him with a thrown marshmallow; if you've established that the Spell of Zontar can only be cast by a mage whose bare feet touch sandstone, don't allow a boot-wearing mage to cast it; if you change a character's name/gender/species/whatever, make it absolutely clear to the reader that this was a deliberate and premeditated act, not a stupid mistake; et cetera. Bonus points if you've worked out the internal logic of your story to the extent that there aren't even any implied contradictions.

Lastly, we want stories in which transformations are important. But note well that importance is not measured by word-count! Granted, the enduring popularity of transporn suggests that there are many people who would disagree with this assertion, but those people are just plain wrong. Obviously, ice melting into water is a transformation -- but would you really want to read a 'story' which consists solely and entirely of a 5,000-word description of melting ice? Similarly, putting on a different suit of clothes is a transformation; but again, is the simple act of changing clothes something that truly merits devoting 75% of an entire story to? What makes a transformation important is not the transformation, in and of itself, but rather, how it affects your characters. Your story consists of a strictly finite number of words; the more of those words you lavish upon the transformation itself, the fewer you have left over for the really interesting stuff.

If you've gotten this far and you still want to submit a story to TSAT, go directly to the release form -- do not pass Go, do not collect $200 -- fill in the blanks appropriately, and e-mail the completed form and your story to Submissions@tsat.transform.to. Our preferred file formats are RTF and plain ASCII text.

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