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SeabeeCook.com
P.O. Box 908
Shingle Springs, CA
95682-0908


Copyright 1998
All rights reserved

Last update:
October 21, 2000

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Characteristics of a Good Submission

The readers of the Seabee Log enjoy informative and historically accurate stories told from the veteran's point of view. Favored articles are thoroughly researched and written in a fresh, easy to read style.

Understand what the magazine is about and the style its readers appreciate and understand. Read current and past issues of the Seabee Log. The circulation manger will gladly send a few copies your way. Yes, you do have to pay for them. But we believe it's worth the expense.

Many of these tips are designed to encourage--and assist--developing writers. As stated in the writer's guidelines, the editors of the Seabee Log encourage budding historical writers to query the magazine. Use them to help you prepare a quality article. All writers--including the editors--benefit from their review.

  • Interview one or more veterans. Write from the veteran's point of view while remembering to keep the article historically accurate. While it's good to quote veterans, don't stuff your article full of senseless quotes. Rather, paraphrase the material the veteran gives you and use occasional quotes to add creditability to your article. Remember, you're the author, not the interviewee.

  • Try to write your article using original documents. (In selected cases, the editors will provide these documents.) The key is originality. Don't simply rehash the works of William Bradford Huie or Samuel Elliot Morrison or Richard Tregaskis. These authors have spoken their collective minds. Now it's your turn. We're not asking you to reinvent history, but to express your ideas from an invigorating point of view.

  • Make the information flow smoothly. Although it's a great idea to open your article with an attention-getting lead, return to the beginning and tell the story chronologically. Your readers appreciate a smooth-flowing story that proceeds logically to fruition.

  • Write in the active voice. Nothing kills an article faster--for the reader and the editor--than one written in the passive voice. Exercise your verbs and put them to work. Bind the legs of your descriptive adverbs and adjectives. Let verbs do the talking. Try "Their travels took them to every small island, inlet and bay off the south coast of Florida Island" instead of "They would travel ...."

  • Describe action scenes in vivid detail. Draw the reader into the story so he or she understands what it was like to be there. And don't forget to tell the story from the perspective of the veteran. Use anecdotes, but remember to keep the story historically accurate.

  • Stick to your story. Think about your theme. It's not enough to simply say, "I came. I saw. I conquered." Find the underlying story and tell it. What drew Caesar--or the Seabees--to Great Britain? If there's a related story, use a sidebar to tell it. While you may uncover a fascinating story about Caesar's cook, save it for your article on great military chefs. Don't clutter the article with several mildly related stories.

  • Watch spelling and grammar. Although the spell-check feature of your word processor will save from thumbing through the dictionary, it doesn't help with homonyms. It's too easy to mistake compliment for complement when you haven't heard from your eagle-eyed proofreader because you're burning the midnight oil. Get a copy of the Elements of Style by Strunk and White and study it daily. Oh yea--put that proofreader to work. The editor of the Log once stocked a lineman's truck with a boom and wenches. While the electrician certainly appreciated the companionship, he quickly realized that for want of a wrench, the job was lost.

  • And from the before-I-seal-the-envelope department: When you've yanked your article out of the printer for the last time, ignore that inner voice that's driving you to rush to the Post Office and drop it into the drive-through mailbox. Set it aside and get reacquainted with your family. Wait a day or two. When you return, it's time to put on your editor's cap. Methodically review your manuscript. Analyze each sentence and paragraph with an eye for detail. Check and recheck the facts. Correct spelling and grammatical errors. Check the name, rate/rank and unit of each person in the story. Get your atlas out and check each geographic name. (Remember the Seabees have journeyed to some exotic places.) Then read through your story and play 20 questions: Does my article convey what I'm trying to say? Are the facts straight? Does it proceed logically from the from beginning to the middle through to the end? Am I telling one story? Am I using descriptive verbs to convey action? Are any annoying word processing remnants hanging on?

  • When it's finally time to seal the envelope or click the send button, check your article one last time. Are you using a simple, straight forward font like Times New Roman? Does your package look professional? If sending an electronic submission, are you sending it in plain language? And, of course, it never hurts to check spelling and grammar on last time.

  • Exercise your craft. Write, write, write. Take classes. Read writer's magazines. Writer's Digest and The Writer, among others, commit a significant number of articles to nonfiction techniques. Read David A. Fryxell's monthly column in Writer's Digest. Since you're already online, subscribe to one of the free online newsletters. EditPros (SM), an editorial management firm in Davis, California, publishes an extensive list of online resources.

  • And, finally, write.