The Unspeakable Oath is well on its way to its first issue, and I thought it might be useful for authors out there to get some insight into my editorial philosophy. To make sure we’re clear, this is my philosophy, not those of the other editors, and none of these is a “response” to a particular submission.
- Make what you write weird, or bizarre, or horrific, or otherworldly, or gruesome, or some combination of the above. Don’t get so caught up in the mechanics of what it does that you neglect these elements. It’s easier to write new mechanics for an atmospheric piece than to add atmosphere to a mechanically fine piece.
- Deriving information from real life figures and events is always great. If you’re using them as background material, however, make sure they stay in the background. Don’t use your space to give detailed histories and cover the actual topic of the piece in a sketchy fashion.
- Think carefully about your use of spells. If you use Keenness of Two Alike, for instance, that means the author of your book is sick and twisted, and you should portray him or her as such. There’s plenty of spells for the game that should make it easy to pick some that fit with a particular theme.
- You might use spell multipliers in your game, but Call of Cthulhu hasn’t used them since 1998. This is an indicator that what you’ve written might not be up to date.
- Personally, I’m tired of Nyarlathotep. I’d retire him for a few years if I could. He’s often used in a manner that runs counter to the impersonal horror that is really the hallmark of the Mythos, and he gets used so damn much. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider a Nyarlathotep submission on its merits, but I’d steer clear of him if there were another possibility.
- Check your spelling. Please.
Finally, never forget that even a rejection letter with comments is still a valuable piece of information to you as a writer. I’ve always appreciated when editors take the time to tell me why they didn’t use my work. Learn from it, write more, and keep going.