Carpe Blogiem: Pyramid Mentoring Group, Year 1 Final Report

June 6th, 2014 was the last day for some of the proteges who were a part of my grand experiment in teaching others to write for Pyramid. This blog post serves as a sort of…progress report for the students, mentors, and reviewers (journeymen).

Where We Did Good:

  • Methodology: I don’t know if it’s because I’ve got some mild OCD issues or if I managed to plan it out with my fellow mentors, but we were able to communicate some of the more vital formatting lessons fairly easily. Showed a few tricks of the trade and otherwise excelled in helping others understand some of the more stringent requirements for publication. I’m exceedingly proud of this.
  • Output: We put out a lot of material. Twenty-eight articles (about 100,000 words total) from 11 authors. +Steven Marsh even commented on this fact here.
  • Quality: Nothing left the mailing list that was not up to the Steve Jackson Game’s House Style. Nothing. If it left the list it had our endorsement, simple as that.
Where We Could Have Done Better:
  • Editing: I’m not a bad editor – but I’m not a great one either. Actually, I take that back, I’m very close to bad, just not actually there. This was a problem for some articles. It’s a screw up and I admit it. We could have done better. This was one of the main reasons why I ended up retaining a couple of proteges – they’re had good editing skills amongst their other laurels and I need folks who can do line edits.
  • Records-Keeping: I want to keep a log of what we’ve handled and while we did do it – it could have been a little less sloppy. Again, I’ll have to think of a better way to handle this.
  • Organization: We weren’t unorganized, but for a while it was just +Douglas Cole and myself pounding articles into shape. I know I personally spent a couple of hours a day sometimes making things work. There was also a weird line between who was a mentor and who wasn’t. I’ve fixed this for next year’s class.
Where We Failed:
  • Screening Process: This was…a mess. It needs work. That is all. On a side note, if you send in something to us and I say “This is great, but do X.” If you do X…you will get in if there is a spot.
  • Available Spots: Being able to handle two to three students per mentor was…overreaching. This is going to be reduced for the next year which means I’m going to be even more selective. If you want to write, really write and put the effort into it you WILL succeed. I’ll help you get there, but I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. If you’re heart isn’t really in it…well I can’t put it there.
Where We Are Going:
I’m not trying to cause collective apoplexy for the Steve Jackson Game’s GURPS Staff – but I think Year 2 is going to come about. I think it’s a good idea for expanding the writer base, but not so rapidly that we cause issues. Remember, there is no slushpile – the slushpile is a lie – so what ends up happening is Steven gets more useable material than he knows what to do with. I refuse to make that man’s life harder than it needs to be. I think we’re also going to focus more on quality than quantity. I’m even tempted to come up with a curriculum and go from there. One thing I will be doing is launching a Google Hangouts broadcast for club members on a monthly basis and actively critique a draft and physically show how I format and edit a document. Maybe even write one. I’m told the shortcuts and tricks I use were highly helpful. I’m also considering the possibility of branching out into other systems and zines (so if you have experience there and want to help get a new generation of writers out there – contact me!). I’m going to end up putting up some Rules of “Pyramid Write Club” (other than we do not talk about it) to avoid a few internal issues we had. The “year” will be from September to November, with a month off for December, followed by January to June. Overall, we did really great and I’m happy with how it turned out. We had some people whose name you’ll see very soon I think. Very innovative stuff came out of Year 1 and I’m hopeful and excited to see it get out there. Thanks again for everyone who participated. I’d like to wrap this up with my usual message, if you’re a experienced writer for Steve Jackson Games (or other zines or companies) and want to help the next generation of writers, please contact me. If you are a aspiring writer and want to apply, please see this post in this thread. Good night and good luck.
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