Web Fiction Submission Guidelines
Are you interested in writing fiction for the Shadowrun website? Then we have guidelines that should answer any questions you may have. Just in case there's a question not covered relating to our website fiction, please address all inquiries to Robyn King-Nitschke, the web fiction editor. Please use a descriptive title -- such as the name of your story! -- for your emails.
The Technical Bits
While we like and prefer established writers, we are open to new writers as well. Please do not send unsolicited completed stories. To submit a story for consideration, send the following items to Robyn King-Nitschke:
- A summary of the story -- the plot, important characters, etc.
- A brief writing sample, around 500 words, preferably a scene from the story.
Remember, these are short stories. The end product should range between 1,000-5,000 words. No fancy formats, please: 12 pt Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica fonts, single-spaced, italics and bold used sparingly. Email finished products, zipped and attached, in Rich Text Format (RTF) to ensure cross-platform readability.
Once your story has been accepted for publication on the website, it becomes property of WizKids, Inc. and FanPro, LLC. They may be edited for clarity, content, grammar, etc. Payment will typically come in the form of complimentary product (1 available Shadowrun RPG book of your choice). Writers whose stories are accepted will be asked for their mailing addresses in order to ship payment. Rejected stories remain your property; do with them as you like.
Do's and Don'ts
Here are some further guidelines as to what we are looking for, and what we won't accept.
- Spellcheck. Please be thorough and professional about your work. Your work may still be edited, but it's better to edit for continuity or clarity rather than spelling, punctuation or basic grammar errors.
- Write for Shadowrun, Fourth Edition only. Work based in previous editions will not be considered unless there is a direct tie to current Shadowrun events (e.g. flashbacks). In such cases, reference Fourth Edition rules instead of previous editions.
- Integrate our core characters. This helps build their personalities and gives them depth. We have a basic list of the core characters available here. Note that we are not necessarily looking for stories featuring these characters, but they can and should act as support roles or even just make cameo appearances.
- Use mature language and concepts. We want dark, dystopian stories, and these help present the Shadowrun world as such.
- Make your stories very dark in feel. Actions have consequences. People die, and although personal to the characters, their deaths may be meaningless and inconsequential in the larger scheme of things. Injuries cause pain. Losses cause emotional trauma. Hope is rare; cynicism abounds. Escapism by any means possible is rampant.
- Make the setting dystopian. The powerful elite are secure and far removed from base street-level activity. The underclass is scrabbling for basic survival.
- Feel free to make characters anti-heroes. Everyone has a dark side.
- Keep things as street-level as possible. The action should be low- to mid-level, at best. If megacorporations creep in, the characters are their employees, pawns, or both.
- Make the shadows dynamic. With the exception of quiet back-alley tussles, the underworld should react swiftly to changes. Rumors pass through the nets at the speed of light. If an opportunity is seen, someone will lunge for it. If a weakness is found, someone will exploit it.
- Integrate augmented reality (commlinks, shopping, advertisements, etc.) into every character's daily life.
- Try to make your stories setting-specific. Using current, published Shadowrun settings helps breathe life into them, making them dynamic and believable.
- Have underworld characters who never change. Living in the shadows is demanding, dangerous and stressful. Shadowrunners who live past thirty are rare. Runners who retire comfortably are even rarer. Scars (physical and emotional) are common, not to mention implants and replacement parts.
- Involve high-level characters if possible. Make the powerful faceless and potent. The heads of megacorporations should rarely be named. If their attention is turned towards the shadows, the effects should be devastating. Their power and influence is so massive as to be off the scale.
- Create large-scale, world-shattering events or stories that do not conform to canon.
- Forget about magic. Magic is an unexplained and powerful force that only a small (although larger than before) segment of the population can wield. It is feared and misunderstood by most. It is also viewed with fascination and awe. Rumors, half-truths and media/pop culture-inspired exaggerations abound.
- Make antagonists into brainless, soulless cannon-fodder. They are people with lives, families, needs and fears. They may also have training, experience and budgets that equip them with the latest gear. In other words, they are not always a monolithic force, but they may not always be easily manipulated or mowed down, either.
- Forget about prejudice and intolerance. Bigotry exists against metahumans, ethnicities, genders, classes of society, sexual preferences, (non)religious adherents, various (sub)cultures and more. While bigotry may be lessened in some respects in Shadowrun compared to present life, it is greatly heightened and worse in others.
- Make characters into powerhouses. Being good at a few things is fine; being good at anything they touch isn't. Story happens when trouble does.