William Shunn

William Shunn (born August 14, 1967) is an American science fiction writer and computer programmer. He was raised in a Latter-day Saint household, the oldest of eight children. He attended the Clarion Workshop in 1985. In 1986, he served a mission to Canada for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but was arrested for making a false bomb threat, for the purpose of preventing his fellow missionary from returning home.[1]

William Shunn
William Shunn at the 2007 World Fantasy Convention
William Shunn at the 2007 World Fantasy Convention
BornDonald William Shunn II
(1967-08-14) August 14, 1967 (age 54)
Los Angeles, California, US
OccupationShort story writer
GenreScience fiction

Life and careerEdit

Shunn received a B.S. in computer science at the University of Utah in 1991.[2] He went to work for WordPerfect Corporation and was part of the team that developed WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS (the word processor's final major DOS version, released in 1993). In 1995, he moved from Utah to New York City. He left the LDS Church at the same time and created one of the earliest ex-Mormon web sites.[3]

Shunn's first professional short story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1993.[4] He has been nominated once for the Hugo Award and twice for the Nebula Award.

Shunn is the author of a 2015 memoir, The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary.[5]

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, he created what may have been the first online survivor registry.[6][7]

Shunn is also known for creating a web site that offers daily hints to The New York Times Spelling Bee. This tool is commonly used within the community of Spelling Bee players.[8]

Awards and nominationsEdit




  • The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary (2015)

In 1993 or 1994, Shunn wrote a style guide for standard manuscript format (the generally accepted method for preparing a fiction manuscript for submission to professional markets), based on advice gathered at the Clarion Workshop and elsewhere.[9] First published to the web in 1995, this guide (and its later revisions),[10] commonly known as "Shunn format"[citation needed], has since been adopted by many magazines as a requirement for submissions[citation needed].


  1. ^ "Missionary gets day's jail, $2,000 fine for bomb hoax", Monica Zurowski, Calgary Herald, February 27, 1987
  2. ^ "Through the Years", Continuum: The Magazine of the University of Utah, Fall 2007
  3. ^ "Mormon Matter"
  4. ^ Editorial introduction to "From Our Point of View We Had Moved to the Left," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1993
  5. ^ Shunn, W., The Accidental Terrorist: Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary, Sinister Regard (November 10, 2015). ISBN 978-1941928554
  6. ^ Journalism After September 11, Barbie Zelizer and Stuart Allan (eds), Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-415-28799-5
  7. ^ Cooper, Charles (13 September 2001). "Online help spawns hope for victims". CNET. Retrieved 30 June 2022. Archived version: https://web.archive.org/web/20010913185424/http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1014-201-7147460-0.html Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  8. ^ Amlen, Deb (16 October 2020). "The Genius of Spelling Bee". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  9. ^ W. Shunn, "Introduction to Proper Manuscript Format", shunn.net. Retrieved 8 Jun 2022
  10. ^ W. Shunn, "Proper Manuscript Format", shunn.net. Retrieved 17 Mar 2022. Earlier version published on Writers Write: The Internet Writing Journal, December 1998: https://www.writerswrite.com/journal/proper-manuscript-format-12984 Retrieved 17 Mar 2022. Earliest version published online in late 1995: https://shunn.net/format/original/ Retrieved 8 Jun 2022.

External linksEdit