Brainstorm Brewery Style Guide and Submission Guidelines
Last updated on January 21, 2016, by Denis Stranjak
The following style guide is a resource for writers and prospective writers of BrainstormBrewery.com. If anything is not addressed below, use your best judgment or check in with our editor, Denis. If you are interested in writing for Brainstorm Brewery, email your best pitch (or at least a very good one) to Denis at [email protected]
A Note on Using this Guide
The goal of every article should be to convey something of value to the reader: entertainment, humor, information, advice, encouragement, the opportunity to comment on a hot-button issue, etc. If you can’t point to the value your article provides, it may be worth considering a rewrite. Your thoughts and writing should follow a logical flow, with the reader able to follow your train of thought. Clunky writing comes across as disjointed and will turn people away quickly.
This guide is designed to be used as a reference when questions arise during the writing process. Please reference this guide when you have a question about formatting or style preferences. And please note, the fact that your articles will be edited doesn’t mean you can be sloppy. Editing time should be spent polishing your paper to professional quality, not correcting simple errors.
Be sure to either compose your piece within the editor on the site, or use the clipboard icon to paste it as plain text. Carrying over formatting from other programs can make things tricky sometimes.
Abbreviations and Nicknames
Abbreviations and nicknames are acceptable, but before you use a nickname or abbreviation, be sure you use the full name or title on first reference.
- i.e. The first time you mention Brian Kibler, make sure to spell out his full name. From then on, if you want to use something like “the Dragonmaster” or just “Kibler,” that’s fine as long as you’re using it within a context that makes it clear you’re referring to the same person.
- red-white; RW; Boros
- Dark Confidant; Bob
- Luis Scott-Vargas; LSV
- Mark Rosewater; MaRo
Another note on names: Just because a website address doesn’t have spaces in it doesn’t mean business names don’t. If you’re referring to Star City Games, do not write “StarCityGames.” Just because the website is starcitygames.com doesn’t mean the name of the business does not have spaces. This is true of many businesses (Brainstorm Brewery, for example), but not all (TCGplayer and WordPress appear to prefer no space). When in doubt, check the source!
Game and set names: Names of game or sets should be in italic type. This includes Magic, Magic: The Gathering, Magic Online, Hearthstone, Theros, Khans of Tarkir, etc. However, abbreviations are not italicized (e.g., MTG, KTK, etc.).
Be sure you have an author bio in your user profile [Users –> Your Profile]. Write it in the third person (i.e. don’t say “I”).
The following items should be capitalized:
1. All words in card names, except for articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions of less than five letters (as, by, for, from, in, etc.).
- Exception: Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized when used as the first word in a card name.
- e.g., Revenge of the Hunted, A Display of My Dark Power, Howl from Beyond
- Tip: when in doubt, refer to the card itself.
- When you’re referring to a card after its first full reference, capitalize the shortened version too (e.g., [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] dominates Standard. If you’re not playing a Delver deck, you’re doing it wrong.)
2. Magic formats
- e.g., Standard, Legacy, Draft, Sealed, Limited, Constructed
- Exception: The act of drafting is not a proper noun. (e.g., “I drafted a sweet deck…Do you want to draft tonight?” as opposed to, “My favorite Draft format is triple Innistrad…The FNM format is Draft.”)
3. All proper nouns, including but not limited to:
- Magic: The Gathering and any shorthand reference to the game (not “magic” or “mtg”).
- Names of characters, people, places, etc.
- Guilds/factions, e.g., Simic, Esper, Akroan, etc.
- Names of specific events (e.g., Pro Tour Theros, Grand Prix Miami). Exception: not generic events (e.g., The pro tour was awesome this weekend…I went to the grand prix last month).
- Names of businesses and websites (e.g. Twitter, Star City Games, etc.)
The following items should not be capitalized:
1. Card types
- e.g., instant, sorcery, planeswalker, creature, land, artifact, enchantment
- e.g., red mana, blue card, green mage, black magic, white people
3. Generic terms, even if they are referencing a proper noun
- e.g., Pro Tour Theros vs. the pro tour; Platinum Pro vs. going for platinum; Editor-in-Chief Danny Brown vs. I am editor-in-chief of this website.
When you are referencing specific cards, please tag them.
The code is very simple: it is just [ca rd]Card Name[/ca rd] (expect without the spaces in the word “card”—posting this on the website means using the correct tags will just show the result, not how to do it. Hence, the spaces). Make sure the card’s name is spelled properly and has the correct punctuation, capitalization, and spacing.
- e.g., [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], not [card]stone forge mystc[/card], etc.
Split cards: To tag split cards, use the format NAME SPACE // SPACE NAME. So, [ca rd]Fire // Ice[/ca rd], when tagged, will show up as [card]Fire // Ice[/card].
Dates should be formatted as MONTH DAY, YEAR.
- e.g., January 27, 2013
- Not January 27th, 2013—do not include the suffixes for the day. They’re implied.
- If you’re referencing a date in the middle of a sentence, the year should have a comma on both sides. Think of it as a descriptor for the date that is set apart from the rest of the sentence. (e.g., On April 29, 2011, stuff happened; The Vintage tournament on August 8, 2015, is going to be a complete blowout.)
All decklists submitted should be divided into four sections:
2. Spells (all non-creatures spells)
- Important: The creature section should be put in order of casting cost so that readers can get a sense of the deck’s curve at a glance.
Use the following outline when including a decklist in your article (again, all spaces in the middle of words should be removed for tags to work):
[de ck title= Deck Name Here]
Put the cards in between the two labels for each section, and don’t put anything after [/deck]. List the number and name of each card together on one line, starting with an asterisk (*), the numeral, and the card name. List only one card name per line. Don’t pluralize the card name, even if more than one copy is in the deck.
Here’s an example decklist:
[de ck title=Small Deck]
*1 Leafcrown Dryad
*2 Ordeal of Thassa
*1 Shredding Winds
And here’s how it appears when all the tags are done correctly:
[deck title=Small Deck]
*1 Leafcrown Dryad
*2 Ordeal of Thassa
*1 Shredding Winds
Use headings for sections in your articles. Major sections should use Heading 2. Subsections should use Heading 3. (To apply headings, click the menu that says “Paragraph” at the top left of the word-processing field and select the appropriate option.)
Be sure to use headings to break up the sections of your article. A big wall of text does not look inviting to read.
International Spellings and Idioms
Please use American English spellings in your articles. Most of our readership is American, and while it will be in ignorance, most will see foreign spellings as wrong. Furthermore, our editor does not have the training to edit in anything other than American English.
However, please feel free to use terms and idioms unique to your location! Play up the international aspect of the game—it’s one of the coolest things about it.
Numbers and Numerals
As a general rule, numbers under 10 should be spelled out (one, two, three, four, etc.), and numbers 10 and over should use numerals (10, 25, 117, 1000).
- Sentences should not start with numerals. Either spell out the number or rephrase the sentence. (e.g., not: 20 people showed up for the IQ. Correct: Twenty people showed up for the IQ or The IQ had 20 people show up.)
- Numbers of cards in decklists should always use numerals, e.g., 3 Squire.
- When citing monetary prices, using numerals is okay (e.g., $27, $113.56, etc.). Also use the dollar sign.
- When you’re citing a tournament record, numerals are okay. (e.g., I’m 6-0 so far.)
- When using multiple numbers in different contexts, sometimes it can be more clear to use a mix of numerals and written-out numbers. As always, be consistent! (e.g., My opponent had three cards in hand and was at 4 life, I had six and was at 9.)
Unfortunately, you can’t generate a poll without administrative access. State clearly in your article that you would like the editor to add a poll and what you would like the answer options to be. We’ll get it added prior to publication. (For editor’s reference, the tag is [po ll id=”N“].)
Keep it infrequent and PG-13, and it’s no big deal.
Use generic singular pronouns, with a healthy mix of masculine and feminine versions. Do not use “they” as a generic singular pronoun.
Pronouns to use when referring to cards: Cards should be referred to as “it” in most instances (e.g., My opponent cast [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], but I bolted it before blocks).
- Exception: Legendary creatures and planeswalkers can be referred to as “he” or “she” (e.g., “[card]Venser, Shaper Savant[/card] is really good. He should be included in every Cube list”).
Proper nouns ending in “s” should be followed by an apostrophe and another “s.” This is consistent with templating on cards (and, you know, proper punctuation in general).
- e.g., Mons’s Goblin Raiders, Rakdos’s Revenge, Luis’s winning decklist
Simple nouns ending in “s” should be followed by just an apostrophe.
- e.g., The players’ decks were all too expensive; the students’ scores were bad.
Its vs. it’s: “It’s,” with the apostrophe, is a contraction of “it is” and only a contraction of “it is.” The possessive form of it has no apostrophe: “its.” Watch out for this! It is (or it’s, if you prefer) a common error.
Seriously, use the Oxford comma. I give a f*%#.
- e.g., Over PT weekend I picked up lots of copies of Master of Waves, Thassa, and Tidebinder Mage (note the comma before “and”).
If you’re using dashes to break up sentences—like this—know how to use them. Em dashes are preferred (make them by using Alt + 0151).
Hyphens should be used with compound adjectives. This means that if you are describing a noun with multiple words, those words should be connected with hyphens.
- e.g., 19-year-old player; semi-competitive event; 60-card deck; up-front fees; long-anticipated wait; far-too-long-and-complicated explanation, etc.
Don’t use it! (e.g., 80 percent, four percent, not: 99%)
Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks, even if it’s not part of the original quote. (e.g., He said Nightveil Specter was a “bad spec.”)
Question marks and exclamation marks can go either in- or outside the quotation marks, depending on how they were used in the original quote. (e.g., Did you hear him say to me, “You’re fat”?; He asked me, “Do you know where the LGS is?”; I can’t believe she would say, “I’m not interested”!; He screamed, “I am angry!”)
Don’t use single quotation marks, use double quotation marks. (e.g., “Get out of here!” not: ‘Get out of here!’)
- Exception: When embedding quotation marks within another set of quotation marks, only then should you use single quotations. (e.g., He said to me, “Sally told me ‘Go win the tournament!'”)
Do not put two spaces after the end of sentences. This is an outdated practice from the typewriter days, and no matter what your elementary school teacher told you, it’s no longer necessary or correct.
Try to keep your articles between 1,000 and 1,500 words.
- Cutting unnecessary language will tighten up your writing and almost always make your points more clear. It’s easier to write more than less, but writing for the sake of writing doesn’t make it better—it just makes it longer.
- Long epics are sometimes fun, but can lose some readers. Remember that we’re competing for the time they have set aside for reading articles.
- All that being said, if you have a long article that can’t or shouldn’t be broken into parts, don’t be afraid to go long. As long as you have a justifiable reason for doing so and you believe it’s worth it to the reader, you’re fine (but be prepared for the editor to cut it in half and spread it out over two weeks if he sees a good stopping point).
Annoying question marks: Some issues can come up due to the WordPress interface and its capabilities. One of the most common—and most annoying—is that some special characters will be replaced with question marks. This can also be caused by certain formatting options, or sometimes by apparently nothing at all. Once you’ve submitted your article on WordPress, please Ctrl+F and search the text for question marks. Make sure all that are there should be there, and remove any that shouldn’t. Resubmit your draft, Ctrl+F for ? again, and make sure the question marks stayed gone.
Importing from Word: Importing or copying text from Word files is likely to cause many of the above-referenced question marks to appear. To avoid this, use the instructions here.
Plug-Ins: If you need a WordPress plug-in installed for your article, email your request to Danny Brown with the link for the plug-in needed.
Queue: Please don’t keep unfinished articles in the queue—anything there should be ready for editing and publication.