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:

  • The online forum
  • The critique system, which generally results in quick responses on posted works
  • Occasional in-person gatherings (writing retreats, get-togethers at cons)
  • An online "library," listing members' published works
  • A private Slack channel

Who can join Codex?

Membership is free, but requires any one of the following as a qualification:

  1. any sale that paid a SFWA-qualifying rate at the time of publication
  2. any sale to a paying English-language market that represents an underrepresented or marginalized demographic (such as Glittership, Anathema, etc) or that publishes primarily non-Western voices (such as LONTAR, etc.)
  3. an offer of representation for fiction from a literary agent at an established, reputable, and successful agency
  4. completion of a major, by-audition-only speculative fiction writing workshop such as Clarion, Odyssey, Literary Boot Camp, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, VONA, Alphas, etc.
  5. Successful completion of an MFA program in creative writing
  6. cumulative sales at least 1,000 copies of one or more self-published or small-press works of fiction and received author income of at least $3,000 from those sales
  7. nomination for or winning of a qualifying major award for writing fiction in any form or medium, including but not limited to: Campbell, Nebula, Hugo, WGA, Carl Brandon Award, Nommo Awards, Chinese Nebula Awards, Galaxy Awards, Seiun Award, Otherwise Award, Stoker or Shirley Jackson award

If you are unsure if you meet Codex's membership qualifications, we urge you to contact us, especially if you're from outside the US or from a marginalized group. We're eager to assist, and look forward to expanding our membership worldwide.

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.

Acceptance of a work to a publication for which you are an editor or publisher at the time of acceptance does not qualify a writer for Codex membership due to the differences in the evaluation process.

If you have sold a work to one of these markets, you are qualified on acceptance; you don't have to wait for payment or publication. A reprint sale to a qualifying market can be used for membership even if it pays less than 6 cents/word.

To join, fill out this brief membership application form.

If you experience any trouble or have not received a response in a reasonable amount of time, you can also contact codexmembership at gmail dot com.

Collaborations count as 1/2 of a qualification for novelette/short story sales and agency representation, but a full qualification for novellas, books, and awards.

We normally try to respond within one week and often sooner, but there are occasionally periods of longer delays.

Codex is a privately run organization, and we reserve the right to decline an application or to close an account for any reason or no reason, especially in the case of grossly unprofessional or antagonistic behavior online or elsewhere. However, we're glad to say this is hardly ever necessary.

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 posted it.

In terms of writing posts, here are our community standards:

  • Please support both the letter and the spirit of our community standards by prioritizing constructive dialog, consideration, and respect over point-making.
  • Please refrain from derisive language, direct or indirect, toward other Codexians, including anything that could reasonably be construed as demeaning, dismissive, hyperbolic, belittling, or otherwise loaded.
  • Codex supports people of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, ages, and abilities/disabilities. Members should refrain from posting derogatory statements about any such groups, even if based on their own sincerely held beliefs.
  • Codex is not an appropriate venue for contentious discussions, such as those dealing with religion and politics, except where those discussions are directly related to writing. When these kinds of threads are unrelated to writing, drift away from writing, or become overly contentious, they will be closed by moderators.
  • Codex, being a private forum, does not guarantee free speech where such speech violates our community standards.
  • Medical advice should not be posted on Codex. For details as to why and exactly what is meant by "medical advice", please check out this page.
  • In chat, anyone upset by the current topic may make the request "new topic please?" Chatters are asked to respect such requests and to either take the current topic to whispers and/or to change the subject.

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.

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 was created by Quinn Reid. Its current benevolent dictator is Erin Cashier. Floris Kleijne and Aidan Doyle manage the technical side.

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, CL Holland should be copied on the critique so that credit can be given. CL Holland'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 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 CL Holland.

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:

  1. To make it easier to recognize each other at events, cons, etc.
  2. To enhance the feeling that we're participating in a person-to-person conversation
  3. To create an immediate visual connection between the post and the poster, so that we can more easily connect an idea, event, or comment with the person who posted it.

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.

Where’s the slack?

You may request admission to the slack from the thread in the administration area.

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 add formatting using the row of buttons below the Reply box in any discussion thread.

If you want to create a blockquote, 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 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.

Bold <b>Here be bold text.</b>
Italics <I>And here be italics, aarrr!</I>
Underline <U>Underline, anyone?</U>
Indented <blockquote>Use 'blockquote' for lengthy quotations.</blockquote>

<quote>Or use the snazzier 'quote' tag</quote>
Colors <red>This text would be red</red>
Other color options: blue, green, gray, yellow, orange, purple, pink
Invisible <invisible>Invisible text only appears if you highlight it. Popular at parties.</invisible>
Images <IMG SRC="http://someplace.on.the/web/mygraphicname.gif"> No end tag for this type. GIFs and JPGs are the only suggested picture types.
Links <A HREF="http://my.fabulous.web.site">Click here</a> to go to my fabulous Web site!
NOTE: You can also make links out of most Web addresses by simply typing the link and following it with a space.
Lists <LI>Item one</LI>
<LI>Item two</LI>
Lists are shown with a bullet for each item
Off-color posts <plain brown wrapper>If you're writing a post that may not be suitable for general audiences ...</plain brown wrapper>
... you can use the plain brown wrapper option to enclose it. Only users who have checked the option to see this material will see it; others will see a note that the material is there. This tag is 100% voluntary and allows for people with different sensibilities to share the forum without worrying about treading on each other's toes.
Strikethrough The following text is <strike>just normal</strike> struck through with a line.
YouTube videos You can embed a YouTube video like this: <YouTube>YouTubeCode(NotWholeAddress)GoesHere</YouTube>.

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

  • Short story contests
  • Informal gatherings
  • Writers' retreats
  • Writing challenges
  • The Codex library
  • The Codex news page
  • Novel critiques
  • Chats
  • And other activities.

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.

  • @[Mary S. Writer]
  • @[Mary S Writer]
  • @MarySWriter