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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 52 > Articles > Hail to the Form Mail

Hail to the Form Mail

by shidi

RURAL NEOPIA - So, you've submitted your work to the Times, and you're sitting around, anxiously watching your Inbox for word of how they liked it. Perhaps they'll be sending you a "This is the best article we've ever received!" or a "Wow! This deserves two trophies, it's so wonderful!" With great trepidation you hit refresh, and notice you've got mail. It's from The Neopian Times regarding your story! You open it excitedly and read:

We just wanted to let you know that your story, article, series, or comic was received and is currently being read and reviewed by a panel of Wockys with eyebrows, three spell checking Myncis, three and a half Tuskaninnys on one diet, a Nimmo in a donkey suit, and one Kacheek with a yellow legal pad and pencil. They read kind of slow, so be patient with them.

"Wow!" you shout, calling your friends over. "Look at this! They're reviewing my story." You're on top of the world, and then, the unthinkable happens--one of your friends giggles at you, pointing and laughing. "It's just form mail, you feeb." Angrily, you get ready to hit that delete button. Form mail, bah! But wait... don't touch that button!

You can learn from the Form Mail. Yes, from the beginning to the end, the form mail is filled with valuable information. Reading and understanding this information can aid you greatly on your journey from unpublished hopeful to outstanding times writer. The actual text of the most current Neopian Times form mail at the time of this writing is given in bold, with my commentary after it in plain text.

We just wanted to let you know that your story, article, series, or comic was received and is currently being read and reviewed by a panel of Wockys with eyebrows, three spell checking Myncis, three and a half Tuskaninnys on one diet, a Nimmo in a donkey suit and one Kacheek with a yellow legal pad and pencil. They read kind of slow, so be patient with them.

What can this tell you? Well, first of all, your entry will be read and reviewed. Always helpful to know that they don't just pick randomly, or toss half into the recycle bin. Perhaps more importantly, the choice wording lets you know that the editor of the Times has a sense of humor. Wockys with eyebrows! Humor in stories, articles, and series can work for you.

A Neopian Times trophy will appear in your user lookup IF you have been published

Wow! Does this statement stand out, or what? If you're wondering how you'll know if your piece is chosen, there's the answer for you. Don't e-mail the Times constantly asking "Is it up yet? Did you choose me?" If you find the golden quill on your lookup, you know you're a published author.

If you sent in a question regarding The Neopian Times, we'll try to answer it as soon as we can.

This lets you know that yes, if you do have a question for the Times, they will try to answer it. You may, however, want to try the Help search before bothering the Times with any simple questions--you might find the answer with a little research.

Below you will find some guidelines for submitting to The Neopian Times. Thanks for making The Neopian Times Neopia's only newspaper.

Guidelines! Very useful for a first time writer, or for a yet to be published writer. Even the experienced writer can learn a bit about the average piece, or what standards they should try to achieve if they're not quite up to par, by reading the guidelines that follow.

If you have any questions on how to submit, here are some general guidelines to follow:

Articles - Anything new going on in Neopia? New game, world, or item? Something weird? Think you have some tips that would benefit other readers? Put some paragraphs together and send your article in!

This part gives you some great suggestions for where to find the inspiration for that perfect article. Tips, new items, worlds, and just plain weird things make for interesting reading, and can be your ticket to success. Be sure to avoid extremely overdone articles, however, or a new topic that everyone is covering.

Make sure you either paste your text right into the e-mail or attach your file (.doc or .txt) to your e-mail.

If you know how to send attached files with your e-mail program, great. If you're like my brother who has barely mastered the complex art of copy and paste, you can dump it straight into the e-mail, though you may have to bow your head in shame when your more computer-savvy relatives pass.

Shoot for around 1,000 words or more. No maximum limit.

While 1,000 words or more may seem like a lot, once you start writing, you can achieve that easily. As of the word easily right there, this article, for example, was 825 words long already. Most word processing programs come with a word count function, so you don't have to count by hand. If you've got a good eye for length, you can just estimate--other than just now for edification purposes, I've never actually done a word count of my stories. There is no maximum limit, so go on long enough to make your point.

Comics - Try to keep your comics around 35-40k in file size and under 470 pixels in width, and send them in a .gif or .jpg format.

Chubby comics can be trimmed down to the appropriate size in your favorite graphics program. Assuming you're artistic and make comics, you most likely know how to do this far better than I, who draws stick figures... badly. Send them in as .gif or .jpg files.

Files like .bmp are right out. They're huge and cumbersome, and would need to be converted before being viewable on the web in most sane browsers, anyhow.

If that doesn't work, upload them to your pet's page and send us the link.

Does this file attachment business make your head spin? If you can manage to get your picture up on your pet page, they'll helpfully retrieve it for you if you send them the link. However, if you can manage to put a picture on a pet page and know how to send a link, why can't you attach a file?

Series - All series submitted should be sent with ALL of the parts at the same time in the same e-mail.

Don't send six e-mails with parts one through six, each attached as a separate file to each e-mail. Don't send one part and say 'I'll send the next part next week.' All pieces of the story go in, together, in the same e-mail. Though it doesn't say, one can assume that the same rules of sending as a .doc, .txt, or cut and paste job apply (see Articles, above).

We like to keep the number of parts to around 6-8, so that other writers get a chance to get their series published in the Times.

Despite popular belief, you can be the essence of Neopia in eight parts or less, if you edit properly, and manage to curtail long tangents and rambles. If you need to go on past eight parts, make a sequel to the series as another series. Don't just ramble on, and on, and on.

(Hint: We have enough quest/adventure stories to wallpaper the office building.)

Try something new! Not every pet has to save Neopia from the horrible disaster or take off on an epic quest for an elemental whatever. Plots for series are as varied as the realms of imagination. Be original!

Shoot for around 2,000 words or more per part. No maximum limit.

2,000 words per part? This is a daunting number to the first time series writer! Don't panic, just remember that the series is made up of parts. Don't count your words as you go through, lamenting the fact that you're so far away from the word count suggestion. Celebrate the little victories along the way, such as reaching part two, and then part three, the big fight scene being done, and so on. Then, when you're all finished, give it a word count and be surprised by your achievement. Time to send it in!

Short Stories - Make them fun and entertaining.

Ah-hah! Told you that first paragraph meant something--they do have a sense of humor.

Have a look at some Neopedia entries, trading cards, game characters, Battledome characters, etc. to get some ideas.

There are some wonderful tales waiting to be told in the land of Neopia. Try these suggestions, or alternately, you can make your own original characters. Be sure to give them a Neopian twist.

Shoot for around 2,000 words or more. No maximum limit.

Short stories shouldn't be microscopic. Two paragraphs about your Peophin's favorite hairbrush just won't cut it. Be sure to develop your plot and characters as best you can in the limited scope of your story. If you like your characters a lot, why not write another story placing them in different situations?

Don't forget to include your user name

You're all ready to click send… there's your masterpiece… but wait! Don't forget that last vital bit, your user name. The editor of the Times isn't known for his amazing psychic powers of divination--without a user name, your story can't be published.

THE GUILD SPOTLIGHT IS NO LONGER

What angry looking capitals! Do you suppose they must get a lot of guild spotlight entries still? As this helpfully points out, the guild spotlight is no longer.

HINT: Always spell-check your work

What an important hint! I would add grammar check to this as well. A thorough edit of your piece for spelling and grammar errors is vital to successful publication.

I hope you have learned something from the form mail depicted here. They do tend to change slightly from time to time, so be sure to at least skim it, even if you are a returning author. As always, thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments of the article, feel free to Neomail me.

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