What is Codex?Codex is a writers' group for neo-pro writers interested in speculative fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Alternate History, etc.). Neo-pros, for our purposes, are writers who've had at least one professional publication and/or participated in one of the top by-audition-only workshops and/or been offered representation by an established agent, but who have not yet sold a great many stories or a number of books. We welcome members who are more established, but the focus of the group is always on neo-pros.
The main feature of Codex is the online forum, but the site has a number of other components, and members are welcome to participate in an a la carte fashion, choosing the activities they're interested in and have time for, and ignoring others. Current features include:
Who can join Codex?Membership is free, but requires any one of the following as a qualification:
1) a fiction sale to either a SFWA-qualifying venue or one on Codex's list of markets that we consider comparable for our particular purposes*
2) an offer of representation for fiction from a literary agent at an established, reputable, and successful agency
3) completion of a major, by-audition-only speculative fiction writing workshop such as Clarion, Odyssey, Literary Boot Camp, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, etc.
4) Successful completion of an MFA program in creative writing
5) cumulative sales at least 1,000 copies of one or more self-published works of fiction and received author income of at least $5,000 from those sales, or
6) nomination for or winning of a qualifying major award for writing fiction in any form or medium (Campbell, Nebula, Hugo, WGA, etc.)
Codex is a community of people who are actively writing. As a basis for continued participation in Codex, members stay involved in their writing careers through ongoing research, outlining, revising, writing, submitting, or other writing work.
*SFWA's list can be found here: SFWA-qualifying markets
We also maintain a small list of markets that are comparable for our purposes. Please e-mail us
to inquire whether a sale to a particular publication qualifies.
Why are there membership requirements?
Our membership requirements give us a group of writers who are in similar stages in their careers, who have proven that they've developed a certain level of skill, and who are working hard on their writing. Because of this, our discussions are focused on issues that can be beneficial to us at this stage, in several ways.
First, we're not tackling the same basic issues over and over, because everyone in Codex already knows the basics.
Second, the sense that we're all relatively new to professional writing gives us a bit of humility; the overall attitude is one of openness and experimentation.
Third, because we're a private group with some things in common, we have a friendly and cohesive "feel."
And finally, our membership does not change greatly over time, which contributes to a sense of stability.
Are there any rules I should know before I start using the forum?
Yes, just a few. First, it's important to know that Codex is a permanently private
forum, and none of the material posted to it in any form should be forwarded,
added to Web sites, blogged, printed and passed around, or otherwise made
available outside the forum, whether quoted or summarized, attributed or anonymous,
positive or negative, without the express permission of the person(s) who
Any advice for new members?
There is a lot of material (and I mean a lot) on the forum, and often a lot going on, so it's usually easiest to get involved in discussions by picking one or two threads at a time, reading through what's been posted so far (or the last couple of weeks of posts, in the case of very long-running threads), and keeping up with those. Any threads you haven't read will remain highlighted in yellow so you can distinguish, or you can turn off the highlighting in your profile if you'd like.
On request, new members can be paired with volunteer long-time Codexians for getting questions answered, finding out more about what has gone on in the past, and just socializing. Members can e-mail Luc to volunteer or to request a volunteer.
New members are invited (but not required) to say hi in the Introduce Yourself thread. They're also invited to start a discussion titled with their own name in the Author Threads area.
There's no waiting period for critiquing, participation in contests, or other activities: in all of these areas, new members are welcome to jump in immediately. If you put up your work for critique, it's helpful to offer critiques immediately in order to show a positive critique balance.
Who runs Codex?
Codex is run by a Steering Coalition of volunteers who discuss and decide on proposals regarding any important aspect of Codex. The Coalition Charter is available in MS Word format here.
Forum admins (currently Vylar Kaftan and Luc Reid) have the ability to do basic housekeeping tasks like renaming threads; the Membership Person (also currently Luc) processes incoming applications for membership; and a group of Moderators cares for community well-being and helps resolve problems when they arise.
As of 3/30/2017, members of the Codex Steering Coalition are
Codex is currently funded by our Amazon affiliacy income and volunteer donations from some members. Any shortfall is billed to Luc, the site's founder.
What is the critique system like?
It's like an armadillo, only larger and less literal.
Well, OK, it's not really like that. Here's how it works: whenever a member has a work to be critiqued, that person goes to our critique page and uploads the piece. It then becomes immediately available in our critique system, until such time as the member or an admin takes it down (i.e., up to a month after it was posted). In the meantime, any Codex member can go to the Critique page and click a link to have the piece e-mailed to the address in her or his profile.
On the critique page, the writer's critique stats are posted in terms of credits given and received. Critique credits are allotted as follows: .5 credits for 1,000 words or less, and other than that 1 credit per 10,000 words, rounding up. This system allows us to equitably track critique participation for anything from flash fiction to novel series.
In any case, there's no critique requirement per se. Participants are strongly urged to keep a respectable critique ratio, but basically you post, and if someone feels like giving you a critique given your critique record, they will. Generally speaking, everyone to date has used the system well, and people have been generous in offering critiques without close regard to critique stats.
When a story is uploaded to the critique board, a discussion thread for the story is automatically created in the forum. Members are encouraged to post their critiques in this thread, to facilitate public discussion.
When giving a critique on a work, the critique can be e-mailed to the author and/or posted on the critique thread for that work in the forum, based on the preferences of the critiquer and critiquee. If posted, the critique will automatically and immediately be credited, providing it is posted in the right thread and is at least 1,000 characters long. If the critique is e-mailed, Luc should be copied on the critique so that credit can be given. Luc's e-mail address and that of the author are included in the e-mail that comes with the story.
There are no formal guidelines for critiques, and individual Codexians vary in terms of what they most like in a critique. Ideally, particular requests about critique style are listed in the note the author posts with the work. Failing that, it's left to the best judgment of the critiquer. General critique etiquette applies, of course, for instance critiquing the story and not the author.
Some authors prefer a mode of critique Orson Scott Card has described, the "wise reader" style. This consists of comments about three kinds of problems in the manuscript: places where the reader didn't believe what was happening ("yeah, right"), places where the reader didn't understand what was happening ("huh?"), and places where the reader didn't care about what was happening ("so what?"). Many Codexians are looking for comments about the "big picture" (e.g., plot, character, structure) rather than copy editing.
Some authors welcome suggestions; others would prefer not to see them. Some authors prefer inline comments in the manuscript, while others prefer a "letter of critique." Again, ideally, the author will indicate any special preference, and in absence of that everything is at the critiquer's discretion.
E-mailed critiques should be copied in their entirety to Luc.
Why the separate novels area?
Many writers' groups are focused especially on short stories, in part because they're easier to critique and more manageable as a learning tool. Codex has tended to be short story-centric in the past for these reasons, yet a number of our members are primarily interested in writing novels; therefore we have added a novels area and some special initiatives, like a novel buddy system and a permanent novel synopsis advisor discussion.
By the way, the critique system is set up to easily handle portions of novels or even entire novels. If you are posting a novel for feedback, we recommend that you also post to the forum inviting readers, as it's a better way to attract the attention of people who may not know your novel is available for critique.
Why are all the forum photos boring old headshots?
On Codex, we depart from the Internet norm and use recognizable headshots as photos. These headshots are displayed with each post you author and in your profile (although they can be turned off in the settings.) There are three reasons we do it this way:
What are the author threads?
Each Codexian is encouraged to start a discussion about themselves and their work in the Author Threads area. You're welcome to do this as soon as you arrive. Often writers start their threads by talking about what they're working on and where they currently have submissions. The threads tend to be heavy on writing news, but feel free to cover other aspects of your life. Way-off-topic discussions of any length thrive best in the "Off-topic and banter" area.
What's the Quick Author News thread?
Quick Author News is a thread where posts of what's going on in various Codexians' lives--from moving house to book reviews, sales, rejections, birth of a child, celebrating unbirthdays, etc.--get cross-posted. To use this feature, simply post the announcement in its usual place (usually either in your author thread or else in a Sale! thread), but include [news] (with the square brackets) anywhere in your post. Alternatively, you can click the [news] link for any not-yet-newsified post that has already up, whether your own or someone else's. The new post will then be copied to the Quick Author News thread, with a link back to the original thread for ease of responding and commenting, as no responses or comments are allowed in the Quick Author News thread itself. The idea is to provide a way to easily catch up on everything that's going on with Codex and Codexians without having to wade through congratulations, comments, discussions, etc.
What are Reacts/Woots/Groans?
Since it's common to want to respond to other people's posts with brief congratulations, agreement, disagreement, virtual raspberries, and the like, there is a "react" feature that allows you to "woot" (happy face), "groan" (sad face), or "groot" (combined happy and sad, for emotionally complex situations) the post with a brief description of your response. This is similar to a like/unlike feature except that each individual describes their response.
You can view all recent reacts or recent reacts to your posts using the appropriate menu options.
What can I do if I am having trouble with a post or another member?
If you feel a post or another member's actions are presenting a problem, you can contact moderators (either using your name or anonymously, your choice) by clicking the red phone icon at the top of the concerning post (or any post).
If you would rather not read posts from a particular member, click the white "mute" icon at the top of any of their posts, and all their posts and reactions will be hidden from you. You can unmute a person at any time. Your mutes are private, and neither the muted person nor anyone else will know you have used the feature. Moderators do have access to a report showing who has been muted and by how many people, but it doesn't name the people doing the muting.
What's the Semi-Pro Markets area?
Since some Codexians are interested in semi-pro markets and others aren't, we've given the topic its own discussion area for all posts about semi-pro markets, sales, etc.
What's the chat feature?
Codex has a Codex-only chat room you can access by going to the forum and clicking the "chat" link. To enter it, use your Codex login (though we're working toward an automatic login approach). You can organize and announce a scheduled chat through the forum. The number in parentheses next to the "chat" link shows how many people are currently logged into the chat room.
What's the "Slush Simulator"?
The Slush Simulator is a means to simulate submission of a story to multiple markets, to try to see if it might be ready to sell yet--and if not, what the primary complaints of the simulated editors are about the piece. A Codex member anonymously posts a completed, polished story to the special Slush Simulator area (available through the menu at the bottom of the discussion screen), and other Codex members who are interested download and consider the story, reading only far enough to decide whether they would be willing to select that story out of hundreds of submissions and to pay money for it.
The reader then posts a brief acceptance letter or (more commonly) rejection slip in a thread devoted to the story in the Slush Simulator area of the discussion board. "Editors" remain anonymous to depersonalize the process, but each editor has a number so that responses from the same "editor" can be considered together by an author who has uploaded multiple stories.
Rejections or acceptances are intended to be brief, and decisions are made in the context of the reader's magazine concept. The question for readers is: would this be the kind of story my ideal magazine would print?
The Slush Simulator isn't a substitute for real critiques and is only a quick survey of very biased opinions. The author doesn't respond to rejections or acceptances. No critique credit is given for participation. Codex members are encouraged to participate as authors or readers whenever they feel like it and to ignore the Slush Simulator at other times.
How do I introduce myself?
There's an "Introduce yourself (or not)" thread in the Administration area of the forum. Your fellow Codexians will welcome a post there about who you are and what you're up to.
It's also a great idea to post some information about yourself and your writing in your profile, which you can reach by clicking on Your Profile from the forum. It's particularly good to post a picture of yourself, which will appear beside each of your posts. When uploading a picture, please use an actual photo of yourself, since the profile photos on Codex are designed to encourage a sense of personal interaction and so that other Codexians can recognize you if you should happen across each other, for instance at a convention.
How do I add my published works to the library?
Click the "Edit Library" link on the forum menu. Specific criteria for library-eligible publication credits are shown in the header of the "Codex Library" discussion topic on the forum.
From the "Edit Library" link, you can add published works for yourself or other Codexians and edit works that you have added or for which you are the author. Library edits show up immediately on the Codex Library page.
How do I add myself to the list of Codexian Web page links?
On your profile page, just enter your first and last name, the address of your Web site and/or blog, and a "blurb" about yourself (very brief--two sentences or less). Additionally, make sure that the "Show in public directory" setting is on "yes." Once this is done, you'll automatically appear on the links page.
What's the best way to announce a story sale?
New sales are a big deal to us. For each sale, please start a brand new discussion in the appropriate area. For pro fiction sales, this would be "Crows and Reviews"; for semi-pro fiction, use the "Semi-Pro Markets" area. For non-fiction and poetry we often don't post sale announcements, but if you would like to do so, the "Non-fiction, poetry, etc." area is the best venue. If you self-publish something (whether as an eBook, using POD, etc.), use the self publishing announcements area.
I'm overwhelmed by all of the threads all the time! How can I make things more manageable?
In your profile (click Your Profile from the menu), you'll find a link that allows you to hide specific discussion areas. For instance, if you want to avoid getting into off-topic discussions, you can hide the off-topic area; if you're interested mainly in the craft of writing at the moment, you can hide things like "The Business of Writing." You can hide as many areas as you like, turning them on and off at any time.
Discussions you've never read are marked with a star (so that you can seek them out or avoid them, as you prefer). There are also controls to mark threads as permanently read, hide read threads, hide unread threads, hide new threads, and hide starred threads. We really do want to give you all kinds of options.
How do I add formatting to my posts?
You can do that stuff by using the row of buttons below the Reply box in any discussion thread.
If you want to create a blockquote, you first enter the text, then select the text, the hit the Quote button (with the double quote icon, 7th from the left).
Similarly, to make text red, enter the text, select, and hit the R button.
The practical effect is that the text you selected becomes enclosed in the appropriate begin and end tags. You can see the tags in your draft post after you've applied the formatting. (The tags used here are first cousins of HTML tags.)
A special kind of formatting that isn't listed there is invoking someone, so that they see the Invocations link bolded in the header of the page (and, depending on their profile settings, receive an email notification that they've been invoked). To invoke someone, type an at-sign @, directly followed by their Codex name in square brackets [ ], for instance @[Susannah Smith]. You can also enter the Codex name without spaces or punctuation, so @SusannahSmith .
Are there other ways to format my posts?
You can add visual interest or emphasis to your posts with any (or heck, all) of the following HTML and HyPidgin tags. To use these, sandwich the text you want to modify between a beginning tag and an end tag. The end tag is always in the form /akeywordhere, and both the beginning and ending tags are enclosed in angle brackets, <like this>.
If you use Internet Explorer, you also have the option of using the buttons underneath the post box to get many of these same effects. Just hover over a button with the mouse to see what it does.
You don't need to use HTML format to use the tags below, but you can set your post to HTML format if you want to use other HTML tags that aren't shown. HTML mode supports most basic HTML as well as all of the following kinds of formatting.
How can I get more involved?
Both relatively new and long-time Codexian members are more than welcome to spearhead new ideas and events on Codex once they're familiar with the group and how we work. In the past, Codexians have organized
What's the Spotlight?
The Spotlight is a monthly or bi-monthly affair in which one writer sends out several pieces of fiction that total no more than 21,000 words (word processor count). We start a new Spotlight thread for that writer in the "Writing Feedback" section, where participants can also click on a link to receive the Spotlight stories.
In the current version of Spotlight (as of March 2015), a critique credit of 1.5 is earned for critiquing a Spotlight. This also means that 1.5 credits are credited against the Spotlightee for each critique received. This is fewer than the 2-3 credits that would ordinarily be exchanged for critiquing a similar volume of work. The intention is to reward the critiquer without saddling the Spotlightee with an unmanageable amount of critique debt all at once.
The works submitted for the Spotlight must be already complete, in publishable condition, and should represent some of the writer's best recent work. "Publishable," here, means in a state that you would be willing to submit to an editor for publication. The stories can be, but are by no means required to be, published at the time of the Spotlight. The 21,000 word limit is firm.
If you'd like to get into the queue to be spotlit, please post in the "In the Spotlight" thread or e-mail Michael Banker (the current spotlight coordinator). Potential spotlightees are strongly encouraged to critique, and the spotlight queue gives priority to those who have critiqued more.
Spotlight responses are meant, generally speaking, to be focused broadly on the writer's work rather than on specific critiques of the individual pieces. Examples from the pieces are often used to illustrate a broader point ("I have trouble sympathizing with a lot of your characters. For instance, in 'My Hair Was Eaten by Termites,' I find Katie abrasive because she ..."). That said, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines about how to participate in the Spotlight, and experimentation is encouraged.
How do the contests work?
Over the course of a typical year, Codex runs a number of writing contests, most of them for short fiction, though there have been contests for everything from flash fiction to novels. Most contests have a unique approach or focus, for instance one flash fiction piece per weekend for five weekends in a row (Weekend Warrior), contests in which a setting is provided (Setting the Stage), the annual Novel Contest, etc. There are no prizes other than bragging rights.
Rules and deadlines for contests are posted when the contests are announced. Typically, participants and interested bystanders choose a unique "nom de guerre" for each contest. This "nom" appears on posts in a special temporarily anonymous discussion thread and along with stories uploaded for judging. Noms allows us to judge without preconceptions or bias. They're also a lot of fun.
Noms can be chosen at any time after the contest is "launched" (usually a few days to a few weeks before writing entries begins) by being entered in the appropriate spot in a member's profile. All noms are revealed at the end of the contest.
Participants in the contest as well as other Codexians act as judges for the contest, receiving copies of the stories and voting either on a 1-10 scale or for their top choices, depending on the contest. Different contests have different rules.
How do you "invoke" another user?
To use invocations in a post on the forum, put an "at" sign before a user's name and either enclose it in brackets or leave out spaces. Invoking another Codexian does four things: 1) substitutes the user's full name or "What to call me" name on-screen for the name you typed, 2) links the name to the user's profile, 3) Notifies users that they've been invoked in particular Codex threads, with a link to see the particular post (only for recipients who opt in through a profile setting), and 4) Makes invocations show up on that user's recent invocations listing (this page for that user).
Examples of how to invoke a user follow. Note that spaces and punctuation are ignored, but you can't include spaces unless you use brackets.