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The Submissions FAQ

by Zeke

Q: Can I write a fiver?


Q: Can I write this fiver?

Two words: ASK FIRST.

Why? Because we're working with twenty or thirty guest writers at any given time, and someone may well be working on the very episode you want to do. In addition, staff writers and regular contributors have the right to "call" episodes which they want to do at a later time. If you send us a fiver for an episode which has been called, we'll have no choice but to decline it, even if it's brilliant.

(Also, some series and/or seasons are just not open for submissions. You can check on that by reading the specific FAQ for the subsite you're interested in.)

Who do you have to ask? It depends on the subsite. If you want to do a Next Generation fiver, contact Marc Richard; if an Original Series fiver, IJD GAF; if a Deep Space Nine fiver, Derek Dean. For any other subsite, contact me, Zeke.

Now that that's out of the way... yes, if it's available, you can write this fiver.

Q: Sweet! Can I also write these fivers?

Maybe -- but not till you're done the first one. Remember, even if you know you're a great parody writer, we don't. You need to have some solid work under your belt before we can let you claim more than one episode.

Q: I'm done. When you publish it, can my name be in blinking text?

No! God, no! And more to the point, don't be too gung-ho just yet. What you've sent is the first draft -- the fiver may need revisions.

Q: Why?

Any number of reasons. Your scenes may be too long, or your lines too short, or your language too blue. That doesn't make it a bad fiver, it just means you'll need to work on it a bit more. We'll send it back with advice for the second draft.

Q: You're not just going to keep sending it back every time, are you?

Nope. Guest fivers from new writers usually take at least two revisions, but rarely more than five or six.

Q: What are your standards when it comes to language?

I maintain a blanket PG-13 rating for everything on the site. That means, essentially, that anything up to and including "damn" is okay, but nothing beyond that is allowed. Allowed to appear explicitly, that is. There are no limits on what you can imply.

Q: Why did you cut my Janeway/Neelix love scenes?

Because while it's perfectly all right to make jokes about the various 'shipper movements, it's not okay to overwhelmingly endorse a particular one in your fiver. Two or three shippy scenes are fine; every scene is overkill. Your fiver should not make me feel like I'm trudging through waist-deep sap as I read it. (Besides, Janeway/Neelix? You're sick.)

Q: How long should my fiver be? This long?

No, that's too long.

Q: How about this long?

Still too long. The point of a fiver is to be short. I've relaxed the length requirement for a few special situations (such as Andromeda's "Ouroboros" and most of my Enterprise stuff), but you should be aiming to condense as much as possible. It's all in the Statement of Purpose.

Q: But shouldn't this bit stay in? How else will the reader know that Wesley had spoken to the Ferengi Commerce Authority?

Fivers aren't meant as plot guides. Your target audience is people who've already seen the episode. Including some plot info is good, but only if you can do it without interfering with the humour.

Q: Can I at least make Rygel talk like a gangsta rapper?

Actually, yes. Characterization is one of the few things I won't bug you about.

Q: Okay, I'm done the next draft. Want me to put it in HTML too?

No (but thanks). Of all the possible formats to send a fiver in, the one I most prefer is simple text. It's easy to read and edit; it lacks special formatting, but you can just use asterisks to mean italics. Once all the editing is done, a C++ program I wrote, 5mv.exe, can do the grunt work of filling in HTML codes.

Q: Why did you sound all mad in your reply?

Most likely because, somewhere in your fiver, you used more than one exclamation mark. This is my greatest pet peeve. Other grammatical errors I can stand, but I will not be on your side if you overdo the exclamation marks. I've killed men for less. DON'T DO IT.

Q: Okay, now we're done all the drafts. Blinking text?

Still no. But I'd be delighted to link your name to an email address so that readers can send you feedback.

Q: Does that ever actually happen?

By the law of averages, it'll have to happen someday. Seriously, you may well get a letter or two -- and you should also watch the forums. Every time we update, there's a thread there to announce the new content, and those usually get lots of replies and comments.

Q: Wow! I'm a guest writer now! When do I get the FTP codes for the site?

Don't make me get out the Hammer of Smiting.

Q: Well, okay, but can I be a staff writer and have my own subsite?

Not yet. Not only is this your first fiver, but it's not a numbers game anyway -- you could be the author of 47 great parodies and still not be on staff. I add subsites only when I feel there's a compelling reason, and the same goes for staff positions.

The road to getting a subsite goes like this: first, write guest fivers for some of the subsites we already have, to demonstrate and practice your talent. If we get a good working relationship going and I'm happy with your stuff, come to me with the subsite idea. If I think it has potential (and remember, not every series does -- Five-Minute Seinfeld, say, wouldn't fit in), I'll ask you to work on a portfolio. By that, I mean a set of fivers for the series you're interested in (at least one in each season), covering the show's range as well as possible. If you do all that, and your material's good, you'll get the subsite.

I know I'm sounding demanding here, but I want to make sure you're aware that we're not talking "send in 100 box tops and we'll mail you a shiny new subsite." It takes skill and it takes commitment -- I expect section heads to produce webworthy material on a regular basis. It's a barrel of fun, but you have to earn it. Marc Richard and IJD GAF went through exactly this process to get their subsites.

Q: What about exosite heads?

That's a whole other deal. Exosites are completely independent from 5MV -- the only connection is that I've given the webmaster permission to use my "five-minute parody" concept. In each of the three cases (5MSG, 5MB, 5M5V), the series in question has been one that wouldn't have been covered here, or which would have merited more attention than I can afford to give yet another show. Running an exosite is an even bigger commitment than running a subsite. If you're willing to do that, talk to me, but be warned that I'll need to be very confident about you before I'll be willing to loan you my concept.

Q: Blinking text?


Q: Why not? Whyyyyy?

Because blinking text is distracting. See, I'm strict, but I do have reasons for everything.

Q: Oh yeah? What's your reason for taking so long to answer my mail in the first place?


Q: Where?

(sound of a car accelerating into the distance)

Q: Hello? Hello?

Got a question you think should be in this FAQ? E-Mail it to Zeke.

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All material © 2002, Colin Hayman.