Writing Furry Non-Fiction

28 Oct 2013 |

There is little glamour in writing non-fiction pieces about furry. It takes time and research to write on any topic with authority, and most articles will attract a small amount of attention on publication before sinking without a trace.

But if you keep your expectations in check, it can be a really enjoyable and rewarding exercise. There is the personal pride that comes from your background reading, as you gain expertise in your topic, and you'll be contributing to the small but growing body of work that is trying to understand the furry community's place in the world. Your article will help people learn new things and think of the world in a different way.

This is companion article of sorts to Submissive Roles: Writing For Furry Anthologies, where Huskyteer discusses strategies and tips for submitting short fiction for publication. I'll review the options for non-fiction publication and offer a few tips to make things as smooth as possible.

There are not many places that regularly publish news and reviews in the furry world, and there are plenty of defunct publications. The challenge for each publisher is maintaining continuity of content: if there have only one primary contributor, it's easy for things to flag. Successful publications (almost) always require a group of contributors, regular and irregular. So unsolicited contributions will be gratefully received, as long as they are appropriate for the publisher.

Let's look at your options:

Flayrah

Flayrah is the oldest and best source of furry news and reviews. It's been around since 2001, edited by furry legend Greenreaper (who also founded Wikifur, among many other selfless contributions to our community). If you have a news item, or a review of some furry media (perhaps a book or a film), Flayrah should be your first port of call.

Flayrah operates with an open source mentality, so they will essentially publish anything. Your contribution will be edited and otherwise touched up before it goes live. It's a great place to make your first public contribution to the furry community, and you can be assured that many people will read your piece.

The open source philosophy of Flayrah means that the quality and relevance of its articles can be variable. At its best, Flayrah disseminates news and dispassionately reports on emotive topics, such as furries who have been arrested or on deaths in the community. They also have regular reviews from Fred Patten, a living treasure who has been around furry since Day One. At its worst, Flayrah publishes slight, trivial, poorly-thought-out nonsense. (But that's okay, because you can simply skip those articles.)

Flayrah does publish the occasional opinion piece but it's not really the right venue. But if you have news, a review, or some other easily-digestible snippet from around furry, Flayrah is ideal.

Flayrah like their pieces to be journalistic, which means that you shouldn't be a character in your contribution. Keep it level-headed, direct, non-judgmental, and informative. They have guidelines for contribution here.

[adjective][species]

We at [adjective][species] have only been around for two years, and I'd like to think that we have become the go-to site for well-informed opinion. We do publish the occasional review or interview or oddity, but in general we're looking for something relatively in-depth.

If Flayrah is furry's paper of record, our New York Times, then I'd like to think of [adjective][species] as furry's New Yorker. Some of our articles are going to be a bit long or boring or highbrow for some people, and that's okay.

Each writer for [a][s] has their own style, and we tend to have our own areas of expertise. There is no special template to fit; if you have a browse through the site you'll see that our various contributors write in different ways. There is no specific template, although there are some basic requirements (instructions here).

When you submit a contribution, it gets emailed to Makyo. Usually either Makyo or I will read through and respond, although Makyo always gets the final say. Some contributions are published without any editing, some require minor changes, and others have needed major renovations. It's rare for us to reject a contribution outright, and we always try to provide positive, constructive feedback—and perhaps suggest a more appropriate avenue for publication.

In-Fur-Nation

In-Fur-Nation is a remarkable site, essentially run single-handedly by editor Rod O'Reily. In-Fur-Nation has been around in one form or another for almost 20 years.

Nowadays, In-Fur-Nation provides notice of new furry-related releases, such as movies, books, games, or anything else that crops up. It's a great resource and is the ideal place to announce a new (or hitherto ignored) furry project.

Rod suggests contacting him by email (details here) with any items for publication.

Claw & Quill

Claw & Quill is a new online magazine, edited by Watts Martin. They are aiming for content similar to [adjective][species], although with more a focus on profiling artworks and events.

The magazine is due to be launched in the very near future—Tuesday 29 October, i.e. tomorrow. C&Q is intended to be published monthly, with 4 to 5 articles per issue. The [a][s] experience suggests that such a publication schedule is optimistic (it's a lot of content), and the six-month delay in the launch date reinforces the impression that Watts might have bitten off a bit more than he can chew. Having said that, he has form: he's written several novellas and short stories, and has plenty of experience editing small publications throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

You can read the C&Q submission guidelines here.

Furry News Network

Furry News Network is a shadow of its former self. At one time it was a news site, similar to Flayrah, with a few nifty regular features. Nowadays FNN simply republishes (arguably plagiarizes) items from other sources, such as Flayrah and In-Fur-Nation. There is little to no original content.

Don't bother.

Reddit

If you would like to dip your toe in the water, you might consider the furry subreddit. Be aware that the quality of conversation is low, often juvenile, and that intelligent or thought-provoking items tend to disappear from the front page as they get overwhelmed by trivial fluff. But that's Reddit for you.

Having said that, your item will go online immediately and you will find a large audience. It's a good option if you want to get a feel how some furries will react to certain topics, or if you want to share something personal and therefore not appropriate for Flayrah.

A Personal Journal

A personal furry journal is always a good idea if you intend to write regularly. It's a good place to get used to the process of writing, and your items don't need to meet any special requirements, or be fully-formed ideas, or be subject to third-party editing.

And Some Bonus Tips

- The title of your piece is important. It should make your topic clear, and it should be interesting. For example, here is a good title: Only 22% Of Furries Are Gay, and a bad title: Service.

- Don't bury the lede. Your first paragraph should be as interesting, attention-grabbing, and important as possible. Your are writing for the reader, and it's simply good manners to let them know why they are reading the article as quickly as possible.

- Be short and succinct. It's tempting to use big words or jargon, but you should only use them when necessary. They can make an article difficult to read.

- If you're an expressing an opinion, make sure you understand the counterpoint. People who disagree with you may read your article, and it's important that these readers feel you are being fair. If you're not sure, find someone who disagrees with you, and ask for their help as part of your research.

- Research as much as you can. Keep in mind that you're presenting yourself as an expert on the topic. For an example of a research failure: I wrote an article about the IARP (International Anthropomorphic Research Project) that was lacking in some areas; so we published a follow-up article by Nuka (one of the furry researchers) where he politely pointed out my ignorance in some detail. Not everyone is going to be as nice or generous with their criticism as Nuka...

- ...which brings me on to my final point: expect criticism. People who disagree with you are the most likely to comment on your piece. It's not easy, but take the criticism in the way it is intended, that of someone who feels they have worthwhile input. Even if they are a bit aggressive, swallow your pride and thank them for their time.

And finally, my background, which is what I'm relying on to position myself as an expert on writing furry non-fiction: I've run a personal furry journal for many years, I've written more than 50 articles for [adjective][species], and I've had a small handful of things published on Flayrah.

My relationship started with [a][s] when I dropped an email to Makyo with a couple of ideas for articles. Hopefully one or two of you will feel encouraged to do the same. I look forward to reading what you have to say.