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Sycophant Hex Submission Rules

Last Updated: April 3, 2010

To post with Sycophant Hex (SH), all authors must be registered users abiding by our Terms of Service.

To write a story, you will need a word processing program on your computer. Once it is finished, have it beta read by a qualified beta reader. A beta reader is someone who checks for plot holes, grammar, punctuation and canon facts.

Some possible places to search for a beta are:

- - Visit the Seekers and Keepers for beta services.
- - a directory for beta readers that are tested.

We do not expect perfection from authors (everyone makes mistakes, even Admins), but we do need to get the idea that as an author, you have taken the time and care in editing and having the story beta read by a qualified beta reader. J.K. Rowling has taken liberty with her writing; as fanfic authors we are allowed to do the same. Grammar rules are there to help the reader envision the story in their heads; if the story works well as it is written, it could be considered technically correct even if it is not grammatically correct.

If an author feels a correction is unnecessary please contact the Admins at sh.admins [at] The correction will be looked at closer and a decision will be made.

We have limited staff, therefore we allow up to seven (7) days for validation of any fic unless there is a delay in the validation process.

All chapters from unvalidated authors are individually read and screened for quality by the Admin staff.

The information below is needed when filling out the form to submit a fic to SH.

All stories being submitted to SH should comply with the submission rules below, or contain a note to the Admins explaining why you have deviated for stylistic purposes. Requests for exceptions from the submission rules below are subject to Admin review and approval.

Category: The submission should be placed within the correct category or categories.

Descriptive fields: When filling out the descriptive fields (title, chapter title and summary), use proper English, including correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Summaries must be completed for each submission. As our readers are rather sophisticated, we will return stories to the authors if they have "Erm...I'm really no good at this..." in the summary, or something similar. We strongly recommend writing summaries for each chapter. The summaries should be between one and four sentences.

Classification fields (i.e. Ratings, Warnings, Genres, Canon Compliancy, etc.): Submissions should be marked appropriately for their content. The Admins reserve the right to change these items as necessary.

Alternate Universe: We expect that stories will be canon compliant, that authors are educated about the universe in which they have chosen to write. However, we do understand that to make a story work, some things need to be changed or amended. Therefore we expect authors to follow these two simple guidelines that will make it easier for all.

i. Please select the Canon Compliancy option that best fits your story.

ii. Sometimes to make a story work, it needs to change details that were never canon; if this is the case, please use the AU options.

Characterization: Stories will be rejected if the canon characters are so OOC (Out Of Character) that they cannot be recognized.

Plot/Story Development: Each chapter will be read to make sure that, at a minimum, it is internally consistent. Readers expect stories to make sense and develop in a steady and coherent fashion. Beta readers are strongly recommended for any problems in plot development and will help any author keep on track.

Language: Our readers are adults; therefore, the language of all submissions must be at an appropriate level. Our readership expects fully developed works of prose or poetry whose style is reasonably sophisticated. Stories using Netspeak, computer chat abbreviations, or (except in dialogue) colloquial language will not be accepted. Also, when writing, it is important to stretch beyond a primary or grammar school level. A variety of words describing scenes or objects makes for a more exciting story and is more likely to grip readers' attention. We also encourage authors to use a broad range of sentence structures.

Resources to thesauruses, which is an excellent way to expand your vocabulary, are listed below.

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Grammar: Each chapter is checked for grammar. Infrequent or minor errors will be pointed out to the author during the validation process. However, chapters containing frequent or major errors that in our judgment would distract a reader will not be accepted. Major errors include problems with noun-verb agreement, verb tense, syntax (word order), or usage. In those cases, the writer will receive a letter explaining why the chapter was rejected and advising the use of a beta reader.

Resources providing help with grammar are listed below.


i. Punctuation: Correct punctuation--particularly commas, quotation marks, and apostrophes--is a must for acceptance. Infrequent or minor errors will be noted and a letter sent to the writer asking for changes with a probationary validation. Stories with frequent or significant problems in these areas will not be accepted.

Resources providing help with punctuation are listed below.


ii. Dialogue: Dialogue, grammar, and punctuation, i.e. the way the dialogue is formatted within the text, must be correct for acceptance. Frequent or consistent errors will result in rejection, possibly without the chapter even being read in its entirety. There are very specific rules about the correct formatting of speech. They are as follows:

All spoken dialogue is placed within quotation marks (single quotation marks for British, and double quotation marks for American). The attribute (explanation of how the dialogue is spoken) is generally linked to the rest of the sentence thus:

a. "It's a very hot day," panted Hermione. (Note the comma within the quotation marks.)

b. "What did you say?" asked Hermione. (Note the question mark within the quotation marks and the lower case beginning of the attribute.)

c. Severus said, "We did not expect to see you here, Miss Granger." (Note the comma after the attribute and the capital letter introducing the spoken sentence.)

There is only a comma within the dialogue when it is linked to direct speech attribution. If the speech is followed by action, or other descriptor, then there is no comma.

d. Here is an example:

"I hate you!" She glared furiously at him. (Glaring has nothing to do with the act of speaking.)

e. And another example:

"That is all I have to say." She turned away and walked to the door without another word. (Full stop here because there is no speech attribution.)

f. Split dialogue:

"What did you say? Are you telling me," he gasped, "that you are pregnant?" (The second speech fragment begins lower case because the sentence is split.)

g. "What?" he shouted. "You are pregnant? How the hell did that happen?" (The speech attribution separates two complete sentences here.)

h. "Didn't you just hear her; she said, 'I'm pregnant'. What is so hard to understand about that?" Harry asked. (The apostrophe around what some one said indicates dialogue from another character being repeated.)

Spelling: Each chapter must be spell checked even if a beta reader has read it. Authors will be notified of corrections needed to only two misspelled words (canon and non-canon words) per two thousand words. If the story contains more than this limit, the submission will be rejected and returned to the author. If the spelling mistake is on purpose (journal entry, speech patterns, and etc), put a note in the the beginning of the story text field. We will understand. Spell checkers are standard on most computers and if by chance a computer does not have one, spell checkers are available online for free. Variations of British, American, Canadian, and Australian English spelling will be taken into account.

A free online spell checker:

i. Canon spellings: Correct spellings of canon names, places, and objects are crucial for acceptance! Please take the time to read through your chapter before uploading to ensure canon spellings are correct. Names of characters, spells, magical items, and fictional places can be verified in the books, at the Harry Potter Lexicon or the List of Canon Words by SH Staff and added to your spell check program. Admins reference and accept spelling and capitalization variations of both the British and American book versions.

ii. Spells: The proper names and incantations of all spells, curses, and hexes should be capitalized. To be consistent with canon, if a potion is not a JK Rowling potion, it should be capitalized if it a specific potion name. It has the option to be in lower case only if it is a type of potion, not a specific potion name. (For example, burn-healing paste and boil cure potion aren't capitalized, but Aging Potion and Blood-Replenishing Potion are capitalized.)

iii. Canon capitalization: Correct capitalization of canon names, places, and objects is important for consistency and easy readability. Incorrect capitalization will be noted for authors during the validation process and must be correct prior to the posting of subsequent chapters.

Length: Chapter length must be at least 500 words if it is a chaptered story. Short one-shot stories and drabbles are allowed to be less, but must be at least 100 words.

i. 100 word Challenge Rules: Authors must seek prior approval before submitting 100 word challenge responses. When a challenge is hosted, one person is to gather them; beta read them and submits all of them in one submission so they are combined together. This will allow the queue to move faster and give the reader more stories to read on one page instead of having to search for other 100 word responses from the same challenge.

ii. Poetry: Poetry must contain recognizable parts of the characters if posting in one of the character-focused categories. If it is vague, the Admins have the right to change categories to Chaos, the original works section, for posting. If the poetry is under 100 words we will request another poem be submitted at the same time.

iii. Epilogues: An epilogue is to be at least 300 words and can be a chapter within itself. The epilogues will need to be clearly marked so the Admins can appropriately assess the submission. (This does not include prologues; they still must be 500 words or more.)

Formatting: Proper formatting lets the reader view the story comfortably. Stories must fill the entire width of the page before going to the next line in a paragraph. If stories do not fulfill the requirement, they will be rejected without consideration until the author re-formats it correctly and resubmits.

Double spacing between paragraphs and each new line of dialogue is required in order to make stories easier to read. A new line must also be in place when changing character point of view.

i. Author's Notes: The following rules are applied to all author's notes:

a. Author's notes must be place before or after the story. Author's notes are not to be placed in the story content area.

b. A story may be rejected for offensive or inappropriate author's notes.

c. Author's notes should not be used for private communication to a small group of readers, unless specifically thanking someone for contributions made to the story. They should never be used to reply to reviews. The program has a feature to cover review replies. Discussion groups and review responses are the place for conversations.

d. Author's notes may be used for thanking betas/contributors/readers; flushing out plot bunnies and such; as well as for disclaimers; footnotes/explanations that enhance the story, but detract if done in text.

e. Author's notes are to be for authors only, no additional posts from anyone other than the author.

f. Although we always encourage authors to make their notes as short and concise as possible, author's notes may stretch to a maximum length of half of the chapter/story length. This allows for lengthier notes, but does not allow for shorter stories/chapters with notes longer than they are. Final chapters/epilogues are excluded from the rule and are allowed to stretch to longer than half the length of the chapter/epilogue, as they may be used to make final notes about the story.

ii. Scene changes: When changing scenes it is strongly recommended to provide a clear line, preferably a horizontal line a < hr > (an html tag). If using a different method, the lines must not be more than 80% of an 800x600 screen resolution or fifty (50) character spaces across the page; if it exceeds this length, the browser may be forced to provide a horizontal scroll bar (on the bottom of the window) to enable the reader to view the complete story. If this happens, the story will be rejected and the author will be advised to upload correctly.

iii. Footnotes: Footnotes are acceptable and may be placed in the Author's notes at the bottom of the story in the provided area.

Bad Email Address: If a letter is sent to an author for story (chapter) corrections and the letter is returned with a bad email address, the chapter will be taken immediately out of queue/deleted from archive even if already validated, and the author will have to correct the email address or may contact User Help if there are any questions. We ask that authors not use the hotmail domain for their accounts.


Number of Submissions:

Since we have limited staff we have restrictions on how many submissions can be in the queue and the corrections queue combined at any given time. The following are examples of what makes two submissions:

- Two chapters of the same or separate multi-chaptered stories.
- Two separate one-shot stories.
- One one-shot story and one chapter of a multi-chaptered story.

If a submission is rejected, the subsequent chapters of the same story will be deleted from queue; if there is another submission in queue that is from a different story, it will remain in queue.

Links and URLs: Active links are not allowed within submissions unless they lead to another SH hosted site. URLs may be listed in the appropriate places (Author's notes) if providing reference material directly related to the story. Any other URLs should be listed on the Author Information page.

Underage Sex: No submissions depicting explicit sexual acts for characters below the age of 17 will be allowed, but submissions may reference to sexual acts of those under 17 years of age. Reference to physical or sexual abuse of children under the age of 17 may be included within the story only as required for background information. No graphic details may be included.

Images: We currently do not allow images in submissions.

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