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Writer’s Guidelines
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GunGames Magazine

The following set of guidelines is not only intended to make life much more pleasant for contributing writers and photographers. It also aims to eradicate gurgles and sighs and groans that normally rise from behind the editor’s desk as soon as he starts reading copies that are turgid or pompous or dull.

General Writer’s Information: GunGames Magazine is a bi-monthly publication. Our readers are of all ages and are scattered throughout the U.S., Canada and several other countries. Each year we buy about 60-90 major articles.

We can’t guarantee that unsolicited materials will be returned. GunGames assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Queries are required for all product evaluation stories. If you would like to have your material immediately returned, please include that request in your cover letter and attach a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Always include your telephone number and address in your articles.

GunGames Magazine buys exclusive rights to the material. All stories and photographs published in GunGames become the exclusive property of WallyWorld Publishing, Inc., unless prior arrangement has been made in writing with the publisher or the editor. The magazine provides a byline unless the article is substantially rewritten by the staff. The editor decides on who should get the byline. We do not accept unsolicited articles that have been published in other gun magazines.

We prefer queries over unsolicited manuscripts. Queries allow us to review your article ideas and to suggest how to tailor them for our audience before you begin writing. Queries also save you time and energy should we reject your idea.

Queries should include a thorough outline that introduces your article proposal and highlights each of the points you intend to make. Your query should discuss how the article will benefit our readers and why you are the appropriate writer to discuss the topic. Allow us 4-8 weeks to review your proposal; ideas that spark our interest are routed among the magazine’s editors for review.

If we like your proposal, we may either assign you to do the article or ask to see it on speculation (“on spec”). We often work on spec with authors who are new to us or whose article ideas are not as clearly developed as we would like. It’s also possible that we’ll ask to see a more detailed query before we make a decision.

Writers may submit their typed manuscripts, single-spaced, on 8 ½ x 11 white bond paper, one side only. The story must be saved on 3 ½-inch floppy disk in Word for Windows or Windows 95 format and submitted with the hard copy. We do not accept hand-written submission. Each story should be no more than 2,000 words in length. The stories may be condensed as needed to provide better graphics for photos.

The body text of articles should not by typed in all capital letters. Articles typed in all caps will be returned for correction. An e-mail address is also available upon request. We do not accept unsolicited electronic submissions. We are not responsible for, and do not respond to, queries and manuscripts not accompanied by SASE. Legible photocopies are preferred (always keep copies of manuscripts you submit for publication).

Finally, we expect writers to double-check their facts included in their stories.

Payment: Our current rates are $150.00 – $350.00 per article, depending on the quality of the writing and significance of the story. The fee is negotiated with the publisher or the editor. Photos accompanying the article will also increase the amount of financial consideration. Payment will be made a few weeks after publication.

Letters to the Editor: Due to space constraints and timeliness, GunGames cannot print all letters sent to the editor. In general, however, all letters to the editor, except those containing profanity and/or personal attacks, will be considered for publication. In addition, while constructive criticisms are welcome, letters that provide possible solutions, fresh ideas and positive commentaries meant to improve the image of the shooting sports will be given preference over letters which are completely negative.

Tips On Writing for GunGames: GunGames is a shooting sports magazine. It covers all the major shooting disciplines from handguns to rifles to shotguns. And its readers are mainly gun owners who do not necessarily understand every aspect of every shooting tournament. It is, therefore, essential for its writers to present stories that are understandable for all gun owners, or even for plain housewives.

Our magazine endeavors to improve its language. We give preference for stories that seek to solve the mystery of the English language, the magic that makes certain combinations of words fit together, like notes in a musical score. But we realize that most contributing writers don’t have sufficient training in professional journalism, so this section should give some ideas about how to write for a magazine such as GunGames.

Sports events, in general, are difficult to write. They require writers who understand how the events are played and are capable of fitting colorful words together. Color implies a way of seeing a story so you can show the reader. Adjectives and intensifiers have nothing to do with it – they are, in fact, great deceivers.

Why inform readers that something is dramatic or tragic? Give them the particulars, and they will supply their own adjectives. What real image do you call up by describing a shooting range as sprawling or that it is a world-class facility? What’s distinctive about the scenic range, or a white, sandy beach? Most beaches are. The same can be written about every beach, and probably has been.

Remember: Don’t fall back on clustered adjectives. Always offer fresh observations about the wild beauties of the place. Color is a matter of right details – observed directly, elicited from witnesses, always with the breath of actuality.

Every word we publish must inform, instruct or inspire the reader. Our readers want specific ideas and tips that will help them improve their shooting abilities. We want stories that are clearly written for everybody. If, for example, you are writing a story on a shotgun tournament, ask yourself the following questions: 1. Is this paragraph interesting enough for handgun or rifle shooters? 2. Will an ordinary gun owner understand what I’m writing about?

Our style is informal and personal. We try to entertain as well as instruct. We try to speak with the voice of a compassionate shooter, a friend as well as a teacher. But, in general, we do not encourage excessive first-person perspective. You can use the word I in your articles to establish your credibility, but don’t overdo it. We want instructive articles, not “and then I wrote” essays.

One thing makes Bill Clinton different from you or ordinary shooters like us. Clinton can write a story about “what I usually eat for breakfast, what I did yesterday, what I plan to do tomorrow,” and every major newspaper and magazine would publish his story, but even your fellow shooters would get tired of reading your accounts on “how I performed in the shooting match and how much time I needed to win my class.” Unless, of course, you’re a national or world champion, and you were describing your record-breaking performance.

GunGames, as a matter of editorial policy, rejects stories that offer no direction – articles that were only written to make some people happy. If you’ve submitted a feature article with a series of paragraphs containing chunks of names of shooters and match officials that you merely wanted to please, expect the editor to chop and mangle your story. It makes no sense publishing a story that would only be read by a few dozen people involved in the shooting event.

We prefer feature stories that seek to please as well as inform. Those articles should thrive on color, wit, fancy, emotive words, dialogue and character. And since GunGames seeks to become shooting’s full-pledged equivalent of Sports Illustrated, we always urge our writers to follow that magazine’s style. Another good reading material is Time magazine.

Quotes: Your Words or Mine? As in a primitive ritual, certain quotes recur automatically in many stories submitted to us here at GunGames. Shooters have many times read or heard those phrases and will mouth them when opportunity offers. By now these quotes have “the appeal of bovine cud.” But unless someone breaks the chain, they will continue until they become the last syllables of recorded time. Here’s a common prefabricated phrase:

“It’s a great challenge!” (Shooter asked by writer how he felt about competing in the man-on-man shootoff with a world champion.)

Quotes, as even novice writers realize, are indispensable. They lend authenticity. A story of any length that lacks quotes is as barren as a lunar landscape. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered so many articles here at GunGames that are generously sprinkled with quotes that are neither brief nor brilliant but lifeless and verbose. Sometimes it’s not the writer’s fault. When shooters don’t scintillate, you won’t get scintillating quotes. But as a writer, you can be selective about what you use. Too many contributors seem to assume that quotation marks, by themselves, can transform a grunt into a great fugue.

Skilled writers know how to patiently cast their lines until a few gaudy fish rise to the bait. Like other facts, quotes are not subject to revision. Once words are enclosed by quotation marks, they must be what the source said. Attempts to “improve” that by reshuffling or even changing words are high crimes and misdemeanors in journalism. The furthest you can go is to fix minor grammatical errors and omit pure padding or meaningless repetition.

Remember: Good quotes should summarize what’s on a person’s mind, crystallize an emotion or attitude or offer an individual perspective of some sort – preferably in a concise and interesting way. Example, GunGames carried the following quotes from top revolver shooter Jerry Miculek after he successfully defeated World Champion Jethro Dionisio in the man-versus-man finals of the 1996 World Shoot-off: “You can shoot fast when you’re scared,” he said. “I didn’t see or feel anything on those last runs because the crowd drove me.”

Leads: The Agony of Square One - Great stories are often presented with a masterful intro, piquing the reader’s interest at every turn by foreshadowing with specifics all the main elements of a complicated story, such as the dramatic events in a shooting championship.

Following is an anecdotal approach presented by Todd Woodard when he covered the shooting event’s finals at the 1996 Olympic Games for our magazine:

Wang Yifu was cruising. The Chinese shooter, who won a gold medal in the men’s 10-meter air-pistol event in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics, was leading the air pistol field at the Atlanta Olympic Games by 3.8 points going into his tenth, and last, shot in the finals. Unquestionably, the last shot in a final, which is held after each Olympic shooting sport, is the most difficult in an athlete’s career. For some – the ones who will feel the weight of a gold medal around their necks – the finals are a vindication of their talent and effort. For many others, the finals are a hidden reef in the water, waiting to send them to bottom.

Before the reader reached the fourth paragraph, his attention was already captured. The curtain had been raised on a human actor and human action, not a juiceless stage setting.

Pseudo-color: Clichés and other Pariahs - Nowhere do clichés flourish more luxuriantly than on sports magazines. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Clichés and other strained figures of speech are often the result of the writer’s impulse to brighten his copy. But, as some old hands in journalism say: if the tools are shoddy, the results will be tawdry.

Some editors may not be ruffled by tired expressions that are not entirely obnoxious. However, some clichés are so abysmal that no self-respecting writer will touch them in any context: Selling like hotcakes, last but not least, shun like the plague, leave no stone unturned are among the pariahs. In some cases, no summary beheading is necessary. Sour grapes, white elephant, for example are greatly worn. Yet each wraps up a rather complicated situation succinctly. If your alternative proves verbose, you’re better advised to stick to the cliché.

Avoid tiny clutters, such as the “up” in “free up.” And other unnecessary words such as “ongoing” or “currently,” as in “he is currently the president of Springfield Armory…” where the verb already expresses the sense of the adjective.

What We Want: Freelance submissions are accepted for all sections of the magazine, with the exception of our regular columns and bylined department sections.

How to Articles are our mainstay: how to shoot better, improve scores, speed reloads, sight-in electronic sights…and more. We cover every championship matches of major shooting disciplines, including Cowboy Action Shooting, IPSC, Bull’s-eye, Bianchi Cup, Silhouette, Trap, Sporting Clays, High-Power rifle, Skeet. With so many types of shooting events, we do not expect to run out of how to articles.

Topics for features vary widely. Categories that we seek material for include items on personalities, including celebrities who promote the responsible use of firearms, and shooters who’ve excelled in their chosen shooting discipline. We need features on various shooting events, the guns and equipment commonly used, the people who participate in those sports and championship tournaments. Give us complete details and description.

Cutting-edge equipment stories are always printed on the pages of GunGames. We are known as the purveyors of the latest guns and shooting gear. And we want to maintain that image.

We use a friendly, informal – but not lackadaisical or cutesy – style. We demand lively writing. Use anecdotes, examples, quotes, and even humor to strengthen the message of the article. We like lively headlines and appropriate subheads.

Gunsmithing Technique articles. This brand of how-to article is most important to GunGames Magazine. We are always hungry for these articles. Examples include how to install accessories or manual safeties in ordinary-looking 9mm pistols or even the traditional 1911 semi-auto, how to make your home-made bore cleaner, how to lighten your gun’s trigger pull. If appropriate, give our readers gunsmithing tips. When presenting these articles, you should analyze your own writing to determine what gives it power, what makes it reader-friendly.

No self-defense stories. We don’t accept self-defense stories and gory photos.

Interviews and Profiles. Major interviews are usually conducted by GunGames staffmembers, but feel free to share your ideas.

General Photographer’s Guidelines: Photographs should always be in color, either in transparencies, print or slides. The production department of GunGames, however, prefers color prints at least 4x6 inches in size. Use glossy paper, not matte. Blurred and under-exposed photos would not be considered for publication.

Fees and reimbursement of expenses should be arranged with the publisher or the editor. Unsolicited photographs will not be paid and may not be returned. The number of photos used varies according to the quality of the photographs and length of the story. The photographer should provide the captions.

We like a good selection of shots that show gestures and capture the character of the subject. We prefer shots in which the subject is looking directly into the camera – though not awkwardly so. We also like to see a few middle-distance shots that show the subject in the shooting range, while engaging his targets in a tournament or in areas that are pertinent to the story. We want drama and action. If there is something special about the subject’s environment, give us a long shot of the subject in this atmosphere. Natural lighting is best, but please avoid shadows. If you cannot provide these photos yourself, provide us with a source for them.

Each photo must have the photographer’s name. Caption cards may be attached to the backs of photographs or taped below. Captions must include the names of all identifiable people in the picture, the date and the event. When the photo shows a panoramic view of dozens of people, caption may not be included.

Credit lines for multiple photographers would be printed together with the story, the positioning of which may depend on where the GunGames graphic designers may deem appropriate.

Some guidelines for captions that you should remember: Is it complete? Does it identify, fully and clearly? Does it tell when? Does it tell where? Does it tell what’s in the picture? Does it have the names spelled correctly, with the proper name on the right person? Is it easy to read?

GunGames will not use unsolicited photographs on the cover. Occasionally, however, GunGames may arrange with a freelance photographer to provide the cover illustration. All photographs published in GunGames become the exclusive property of WallyWorld Publishing, Inc., unless prior arrangement has been made in writing with the publisher or the editor.

Regular Contributing Writers and Photographers: GunGames seeks to build a strong lineup of writers and photographers in every major shooting discipline. To participate in this program, send us a business card and your resume, as well as clippings or samples of your published articles.

Deadlines : GunGames is a bi-monthly magazine, but it may soon become a monthly publication without prior notice to its contributing writers. It takes the GunGames staff several weeks to assemble and print the magazine, requiring the publication to prepare the editorial contents one or two months in advance.

For more details, you may also contact the Office of the Publisher: Wally Arida, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief; Roni Toldanes, Editor

To obtain sample issues of GunGames, send $5.00 per copy to the Subscription Services Department, GunGames Magazine, P.O. Box 516, Moreno Valley, CA 92556.

GunGames Magazine
Roni Toldanes, Editor
P.O. Box 516
Moreno Valley, CA 92556

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