Guidelines for Novel Proposal: Maiden of Pain

Wizards of the Coast is seeking proposals for one book in the Forgotten Realms novel line. Please read these guidelines very carefully before submitting. Submissions that do not conform to the guidelines will not be considered. This is an "open call" and we expect a large number of submissions.

The book for which we're accepting proposals is Maiden of Pain, part of The Priests, a new series of stand-alone Forgotten Realms novels that focus on characters who are -- you guessed it -- priests. As such, the primary protagonist must be a priest or priestess, preferably of Loviatar (a.k.a. the Maiden of Pain). If the protagonist doesn't serve the Maiden of Pain, the principal villain had better do so.

Your essential references are the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and Faiths & Pantheons -- study them well. Stories must grow organically from the setting. Please don't try to force a "generic" fantasy story in, and certainly don't ask us to do it for you. Learn the setting -- as much as you can in the time allowed, anyway. Readers of the Forgotten Realms novel line are very particular about the world's continuity, and so are we.

Your story should be set in one of three locations in the Realms:

  • Anywhere in the realm of Sembia except the city of Selgaunt. Please do not use characters from the Sembia novel series or wander too far into Cormyr or the Dalelands.

  • Anywhere in Thay except the Thaymount. Please leave Szass Tam out of it.

  • The city of Luthcheq in the realm of Chessenta. Please don't wander east into Unther or west into Chondath.

The list is in no particular order, so choose the location that most strikes your fancy, but stories set anywhere outside one of these three locations will not be considered.

You will have a much better shot at the book if you avoid the following elements:

  • Avoid these gods: Lolth (or any other drow god), Mask, Cyric, Shar, Mystra, Umberlee, and Lurue -- and their worshipers.

  • Avoid these monsters: aboleths, beholders, doppelgangers, dracoliches, dragons, giants, liches, mind flayers, orcs, vampires, and yuan-ti.

  • Avoid the following character archetypes: alchemists, any other author's signature characters (Drizzt, Elminster, and so on), anyone who fights with two swords, apprentice/inexperienced wizards, drow of any kind for any reason, even in "cameos," dwarves or gnomes for comedic effect, sorcerers, Asian/Oriental Adventures/Kara-Turan characters. Note: If you use one of the "iconic" characters that have game stats in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, they cannot be killed or permanently altered.

  • Please don't use any of these overused or banned themes/plots: an ancient evil has been awakened after centuries of sleep/death/undeath, kid/reluctant hero/Bilbo Baggins gets caught up in an adventure against his will, space travel, "the artifact hunt," time travel, or a monster (especially nonhumanoids) as the principal point-of-view character.

Considering the nature of the goddess in question, this book will probably end up being a bit more "dark" than the average Forgotten Realms sword and sorcery adventure, but please keep in mind a basic "PG-13" level of violence, gore, and sex.

All proposals must be typed, on one side of plain white paper, with one-inch margins all around, and set in type no smaller than 10-point. Your package must include:

  • A ten-page, double-spaced writing sample: a scene from your version of Maiden of Pain.

  • A one-page, single-spaced story synopsis that tells us the whole story: beginning, middle, and end. Don't write cover or ad copy -- tell us the story, and be specific about locations, character types, monsters, etc.

  • A one-page cover letter that tells us anything about you that you think we might need to know.

  • A stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Please put your name and contact information on the letter, the synopsis, and the sample. Pay close attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and presentation.

The book itself will be 90,000 words in length, with a first draft due somewhere in the neighborhood of June or July of 2004. Please be realistic about your ability to do the writing. We're very deadline-driven here, and there's rarely any room for authors to run late. It's not a bad idea to read over our standard submission guidelines.

We will be accepting proposals through the end of the business day on July 1, 2003. Any proposals received after that date will not be read. Any proposal longer than a one-page synopsis/10-page sample will not be read. Proposals not specific to the novel Maiden of Pain will not be read. We will only read hardcopy submissions sent by mail. Please do not email us. Flooding us with submissions will not help -- please send us only your best proposal.

Though only one proposal will be chosen for Maiden of Pain, we will be looking at all of these as writing samples with other opportunities in mind. This is your chance to bring your talents to our attention, and we are known as a publisher that works with talented, unpublished authors. We've had the pleasure of launching a number of writing careers, and would like to launch some more.

Please include a signed copy of the legal agreement included here. No submissions will be accepted that are not accompanied by a signed copy of this agreement. If you have already submitted a proposal, please download and sign a copy of the agreement and send it to us with a short cover letter.

Please address proposals to:

Maiden of Pain
c/o Book Publishing
Wizards of the Coast
P.O. Box 707
Renton, WA 98057-0707

Good luck!

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