November 04, 2010
By Dwight Schuh, Editor
FOR THE BIG GAME ISSUE 2003, I wrote an editorial called "So you Want to be A Writer?" We have received an amazing number of manuscript/photo submissions as a result. That's good. We want you, our readers, to contribute. After all, it is your magazine.
To help you make winning submissions, I will offer a couple of additional suggestions. Regarding photo submission, we far prefer to receive prints and slides. If you submit photos in one of these formats, make sure all of your photos have your name on them. We receive innumerable photos with no name, and if these ever get separated from the manuscript, we have no way of identifying the owner.
We also will accept photos on CD, but we then need printed versions for quick evaluation. We usually cannot use photos submitted via e-mail, because they lack adequate resolution.
For all photos we must have complete explanations. The best way to do this is to number each photo and then to type up a numbered caption sheet corresponding to the numbered photos. For each photo provide the who, what, when, where, why, and how. We must have this information to write up captions for the magazine.
To reiterate another point, take care in shooting field photos. Try to take kill shots where you actually bagged your trophy; pose animals in a respectful way; clean up all blood; and make sure the tongue is not hanging out. Also take various angles to make sure you get some good shots. Some angles show antlers and horns far better than others.
Manuscript presentation is always important. All manuscripts must be typed, not handwritten (yes, we do receive handwritten manuscripts), and the length must conform to our norms. We have received manuscripts of 20 to 30 typed, singled-spaced pages that contain 10,000 words and more. While these may be interesting, they are essentially unusable in a magazine like Bowhunter. Our average feature article length is about 2,000 words, and all feature manuscripts must be fairly close to this, give or take 5 to10 percent.
Perhaps a general guideline on the shape of a feature article would be helpful, too. Most features have four elements: 1) Lead. This is the opening, which may be anywhere from a sentence to several paragraphs long. It must be exciting or dramatic to capture the interest of readers. 2) Statement of theme. Directly following the lead, the theme should be clearly stated in a short paragraph or two. Every story must have a strong theme. 3) Body. This section contains the bulk of the story. It normally consists of four or five main points that expand on and complete the theme. 4) Ending. The ending can be from a sentence to a paragraph long. It should in some way complete the theme and wrap up the story. Often the ending ties back into the lead to bring the story full circle. A good ending snaps a story shut on a high note. Like this.