This month’s issue of DargonZine brings you two more Black Idol stories, from two of our veteran writers: Dafydd Cyhoeddwr and Rena Deutsch. The climax of the Black Idol arc, which began almost three years ago, was in our last issue, but the fun’s not over yet. Dafydd brings us “Dancing”, a story about one of the unfortunate events unleashed while the cursed statue of Gow was in the city of Dargon. Rena offers up “Journey’s End 4″, which, along with “Journey’s End 5″ in our next issue, is the epilogue to the most successful shared writing project in DargonZine’s history.
It also brings you my first attempt at writing an editorial for the ‘zine, despite having been the assistant editor for the past two years. I have to say that it shocked me realize that I’ve had this position for that long. What was more of a shock was when I realized that I had joined the group two years before that. Since I still remember my elementary math, that means I’ve been with DargonZine for four years. So, when Ornoth asked me to write the editorial for this issue, I decided that I should share what it means to be a new writer for DargonZine before I completely forget what that was like.
Ask most Dargon writers why they are with the project and they will give you one or more of these answers: to enjoy writing in a shared world, to improve his or her writing skills, and for the social aspects.
Many people have known for years how exciting it can be to write in a shared world. Thieves’ World is probably one of the best-known examples, but there are many other worlds in fantasy fiction that have had multiple authors. Consider, too, the amount of commercial fiction and fan fiction that exists for the Forgotten Realms, or even the Star Trek and Star Wars universes. Of course, if you are reading this, you are probably already familiar with our particular shared world, but many new writers have a lot to learn about the world of Dargon once they join. Once you make it up the learning curve, though, you get to enjoy the fun and challenge of sharing space with your fellow writers as we all continue to add to the stories and to our world.
DargonZine takes its mission — to help writers improve their writing — very seriously. It can be intimidating when you send your first draft to the writers’ list and get back six or eight critiques, some of which might be even longer than the original story! Once you read the critiques, though, you quickly realize that the purpose is not to attack the author or the writing, but to make suggestions on style and content that improve not only the story, but also your abilities as a writer. Of course there is a cost for all of this: you have to be willing to give back what you receive by critiquing the stories written by other Dargon writers.
Our writers are also a fun group. Apart from the various list discussions and the occasional online chat, we get together face-to-face once a year at our annual Writers’ Summit. The Summits are a mix of business and pleasure. We talk about running the ‘zine, discuss writing techniques and fantasy related topics, and sometimes even view demonstrations on fantasy- or period-related topics, such as the blacksmith visit that Jim Owens arranged for us in Oregon. But we also go explore wherever it is we are staying. Last year it was Traverse City, Michigan. This year, I am hosting the Summit in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The Summit can be a transformational experience for a new writer. It can turn the group of people that you know only from emails and story critiques into lifelong friends.
Why am I telling you all of this? Two reasons, really. The first is simply to share with you what the DargonZine experience is like for a new writer. The second is to perhaps inspire you to join us. So, if you enjoy reading about our world and think you’d like to add something to it, take a minute to look through the New Writer’s FAQ and then email us to get started.