How We Learned to Stop Guessing and Trust Roget
|Title:||"How We Learned to Stop Guessing and Trust Roget"|
|Creator:||Sheila Clark and Valerie Piacentini|
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It was printed in Communicator #5
While the essay in itself is a very detailed description of one zine's tribber guidelines, it is also an interesting view of some language, terms, and attitudes of the time.
- How We Learned to Stop Guessing and Trust Roget by Sheila Clark and Valerie Piacentini (1982)
- Shady Thoughts: Our Writer's Guidelines: An Explanation by Mary Jean Holmes (1983)
- One Editor's Views by Doreen DaBinett (1983)
From the Essay
What kind of stories do we as editors look for? Good action/adventure with a solid foundation of character inter-relationship - exactly the kind of story we must enjoy reading. Short stories that give insight into the writers' view of the characters. Poetry likewise. We aren't interested in stories that are about ships and characters of the writers' invention - some writers produce these, and many of them are well-written, but in our view these stories are original science fiction, not Star Trek.
Granted that not all stories lend themselves to Star Trek; Sheila has had a plot in mind for ages that is not writable as Star Trek? she's tried, and it didn't work. We have no objection to these stories being written, but we're not interested in printing them. Our attitude has always been that Star Trek is "...the voyages ofthe Starship Enterprise....", and this is the basis of our policy.
We aren't interested in stories that marry off the characters either, or in which they play musical beds. When we edited for STAG, we had a blanket 'no sex' policy - even '[Variations on a Theme]]', which we over-18-rated, had no explicit sex, merely references to sexual abuse. We believed that a club zine had a responsibility to be a genzine, one that members could leave lying around without worrying if their adolescent children or their mothers might pick it up. Now that we're publishing independently, we've started a zine In which we will print some sexual content - assuming we get any submitted - but we're still insisting that it be implicit, implied, or essential to the development of the plot, (In other words, no slotting in a three-page explicit personal fantasy just to pad out the story), inside the bounds of a relationship that the characters at least believe is (or will be) permanent. (Sheila, at least, holds strong views about sexual fidelity.)
Whichever one of us gets the manuscript reads it (having confirmed receipt of it) then holds it until she sees the other (and usually Janet too); then we confer (usually a formality - we trust each other's judgement), after which one of us, normally the one who will be typing it onto stencil, contacts the writer, confirming acceptance and making any points we feel are necessary. Valerie edits for Enterprise - Log Entries, Sheila for all the rest; this means that each of us is usually typing out one zine each two months.
The story accepted, we then decide which of our artists to send it to for illos. Two of our artists live in the States, which adds problems. We decide which scenes we'd like illoed, photocopy the requisite pages to.give the artist some idea of general background, then send it off with a deadline, which is usually about three months before we're aiming to print the story.
Typing takes up to two full weekends of twelve-hour days (depending on the length, of zine), then it has to be proofread, a difficult job, which is almost impossible to do completely, and corrected - a job Sheila and Valerie both hate) - Janet prints it, then Sheila tokes it back to Dundee for the collating.At this point we'd like to give special mention to our collators - Sheila's Chain Gang — who visit her regularly every Tuesday, rain, snow or shine, and spend many of those Tuesdays collating, for no other rewards than a copy of the zine - and it's damned hard work, too. Thank you — in alphabetical order—Frances Abernethy, Lorraine Goodison, Cory King, Hilde McCabe, Allison Rooney. Collators are a vital part of any zine's 'staff,' and we consider ourselves fortunate in ours.
Do we ask for changes? Yes, sometimes. Usually it's because something in the story seems to contradict the fact as we know them from aired Trek, and then we ask for either a change, or an explanation of the contradiction. We'll sometimes ask for a scene to be expanded if we think that more detail will be helpful to the flow of the story. In all cases, the final decision on any alteration rests with the writer --- we will only deal with the occasional grammatical or punctuation problem. (And yes, we do make silly mistakes ourselves. Valerie once wrote a story in which the Klingons used phasers throughout. Sheila spotted it, and made the correction.)Very rarely something slips through, and there is simply not time to contact the writer. One such occasion was when working to a very fast deadline, we realised that a writer had made the mistake of having Kirk take something from his pocket. We made the change, but contacted the writer at once to explain what we had done, and why.
Sometimes readers tell us that they've disagreed with something in a story, or haven't understood the point a writer was trying to make. In those circumstances the LoC is a very helpful channel of communication. All editors welcome LoCs, and are in a position to pass on your, comments and questions to the writers. In a sense, putting out a zine involves a lot of guesswork. Will the readers enjoy this story? — and we can only judge its success by the letters we get back. Tell us what you want to read -- or what you don't want to read and we'll do our best.Above all, zines are a hobby for the people, who write, produce, and read them. We enjoy what we do, and in turn, we hope that you enjoy the results of our efforts.