Post-Sentence Spacing: Use two spaces after the end of a sentence. Scientific studies show that two spaces helps people read text more easily.
Dash as Punctuation: Avoid a dash in the middle of a sentence (e.g. “We were writing – it was great!”). In most cases, this can be replaced with a comma, colon, semicolon, a new sentence or a conjunction word.
Oxford Comma: Use it or don’t, but be consistent with your usage. If you choose not to use it, make sure the lack of an ending comma doesn’t make the sentence confusing or potentially misunderstood.
Gender Pronouns: When speaking about hypothetical individuals, you can use they/them or “he or she” They/them can be used to refer to single individuals. For instance:
“After stepping into the box, he or she is transformed into a rabbit.”
“While the hero is being pierced by the knife, they can see anything anywhere in the universe.”
Also, avoid gendered terms such as “chairman” or “fireman.”
Text Boxes: Text Boxes (aka sidebars, callout boxes) should be used for text that is optional, is a deeper dive into a particular topic, or is an aside from the main point of the section. In manuscript text these can be shown as “[Text Box: Title” and ending with “]”.
In Brief Sections: Every section of multiple paragraphs should have an “In Brief” box at the beginning, summarizing the section in 1 or 2 sentences. This allows people skimming through a chapter to know what parts to read in depth, or someone looking through for something in particular to find it more easily. In manuscript text these can be shown as: “[In Brief: Summary description.]”
Uninterrupted Text Length: Avoid long blocks (e.g. a page long or more) of uninterrupted text. Break text up into sections, each with a section header.
Narrative Text: Narrative (e.g. short story style) text should be kept short (typically under a page) in game books. Interrupting a game book with long narrative text is like interrupting a video game with an overly long cut scene.
Diverse Characters: When characters are shown in art or described in text, they should be diverse. This means consciously resisting the tendency in western fiction and gaming to show heroes that are white, male, handsome, athletic, able bodied, heterosexual, cisgendered, neurotypical and native-born. Characters should represent the full diversity of the population, so that any person reading our books can see people like themselves in them (and not solely as villains or non-heroes).
Stereotypes: Avoid stereotypes of people based on their in-born characteristics. For example, avoid showing black men as uneducated and criminal. Avoid showing women and gay men as shallow and timid. Avoid showing rural-born people as stupid and racist. Even supposedly positive stereotypes (e.g. Asians are good at math) should be avoided. It is okay to show people being good at the things their cultures take pride in, e.g. to show black people as creative, to show Native Americans as being respectful of nature, to show gay men as unafraid of embarassment. These characters should remain nuanced, with characteristics that cannot be guessed at solely from their group membership. Don’t, for instance, include a Native American character just to be the voice of respect for nature and nothing else.
Group Names: Refer to groups of people by the current name they prefer to be called by, e.g. “Romany” instead of “Gypsy,” “Trans Man” instead of “Dude-Chick,” etc. If you’re not sure what is the best term to call people, your Vajra editors are happy to help with research.
Content Warnings: A brief list of content warnings should be added to the beginning of any book to warn readers about topics that they may not want to read about. This is a service that some readers want and that we are happy to provide them with. Your Vajra editors are happy to help you figure out what those topics might be.
Attractive Characters: In art, and in physical descriptions of characters, it is okay for characters to be shown as conventionally attractive, but it should not be their role to be attractive. Avoid things that make it appear that the artist or writer is trying to titillate the audience, such as:
- Skimpy clothing for no good reason.
Unrealistic poses that show off the character’s anatomy.
Descriptions that focus on aspects such as “large breasts.”
- Diversity of characters, and of their style, appearance, body types, etc. should always trump characters being shown/portrayed as conventionally attractive.
Q: Is Vajra Enterprises pro-censorship?
A: We are against censorship by governments, religious groups, etc. We are for self-censorship, meaning we are for the rights of any publisher or platform to refuse to be involved in spreading messages that could harm people or that are disrespectful to people. At Vajra we believe that stereotypes and lack of diversity in fiction is harmful, so we refuse to enable those things to be published by us.