BSV Forum - Writing - Challenge me

Posting challenges

Jul 08 2009 01:59 am   #1slaymesoftly
ETA: Wanted to say something about how to submit a proper challenge, and lo and behold, I already have! So I'll just post this to the forum and hope those who need to see it notice it before it falls off the updates lists. Without any additions or corrections, here are the basic suggestions for submitting a successful chanllenge:

We've been talking about the challenges submitted here -- which ones we are willing to put up, how well they meet our criteria, how likely the requested story is to meet site criteria, and how likely they are to be picked up by authors.  We turn down a lot of the challenges submitted for a variety of reasons.  Of course, being the BSV, you know we toss any that are so poorly written or so poor mechanically that no one will want to read them *G*. However, those aren't the only issues. (ETA: They are, however, important issues. We do require proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as clear and concise writing. We're not as rigid about the mechanics as we would be for a fic submitted, but we will not "fix" an entry for anyone unless we can tell the person submitting is not a native English speaker.)

A huge number of challenges are denied because they are just so detailed and have so many "must haves" and "can't have's" that there is no room left for a writer to be creative.  It's probably the biggest problem with a substantial number of challenges - both those denied and those that get put through.  The idea behind a challenge is to give the author a plot bunny.  Throw them an idea for a plot and see what they can do with it.  If you given them a detailed outline of the fic you want written, complete with expected events and conversations, you're just tying them down too much and the reaction is liable to be "if you want that story, write it yourself!"

ETA - the best challenges often end up with multiple fics, each one different but using the basic premise. That can only happen when the challenge allows the authors room for creativity. Think of the most frequently ficced episodes - Halloween (Spike and Buffy are both affected by Ethan's spell), Something Blue, an end of season 2 in which Spike and Buffy end up together and go on from there, fics where one or the other of them comes back in time and so on. There were basic premises set up, but dozens (in some cases, literally dozens) of authors have taken those basic premises and done their own thing with them.

Here are some examples pulled from our huge list of challenges (which may need to be pared down at some point) that are good examples of how to put a challenge out there: #368, 362, 358, 356, 353, 331,72, 69, 66  - please note, some of the better examples can be found in the earlier (lower numbers) ones posted, I just didn't keep going.  When your challenge is accepted and a fic written, it is put onto the challenge page for all to see: #366, 323, 62, 58, 56 are some examples of that. I've done at least four or five, probably more, but I was too lazy to look up the numbers.  

I wanted to put some bad examples, but decided that wouldn't be kind...I think you'll easily be able to see which ones are too detailed, though.  If the challenge is more than a few sentences, it's probably too long.  Before submitting one, it would be a good idea to look through what's already there - both so as not to duplicate another one (which happens way more often than you might think), and so as not to submit something that we won't accept because it's going to be too unappealing to authors.

It's exciting to put up a challenge and find one of your favorite authors writing a fic for it.  You owe it to yourself to make your challenge as appealing and broad as possible.

ETA - a challenge is not the place to show off your writing skills or your cleverness. You want to be as clear and concise as you can, without adding a lot of extraneous comments that are specific to you.  The idea is to provide a(n) original (we hope) idea to an author whose muse may be on vacation.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Jul 08 2009 07:16 am   #2LisFayte
Love challenges! If you are like me, you can't write worth a darn, but you still get plot bunnies stuck in your head. It makes my day when someone writes one of my challenges. I have one now based on a little ficlet I wrote that I am going to post soon, I just have to figure out how I am going to word it before I post. I just wish someone up there ^ would write it
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.--- e e cummings

Come to challengespuffy  post Spuffy fic challenges or find something to write about
Jul 08 2009 02:01 pm   #3slaymesoftly
It doesn't take much, Lis.  Zoegrace did the same thing a couple of years ago. She wrote a funny little ficlet and said she'd like to see it continued. I ended up writing "Boy Good" for it. Great fun for me.  All you need to do is link to your ficlet and say you'd like to see someone continue the story.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Jul 08 2009 03:04 pm   #4BloodyHell
Sorry, a litle OT buuut:
Zoegrace did the same thing a couple of years ago. She wrote a funny little ficlet and said she'd like to see it continued.

Do you have this story somewhere? I can't find it
Out. For. A. Walk...Bitch.

Icon by  xheartrockx
Jul 08 2009 08:24 pm   #5LisFayte
Zoe took all her fics off the net when she started writing original fiction, but if you e-mail her, she may send you a copy of the ficlet.

I remember when Zoe wrote that, and I loved your sequel, that is what inspired me to try to get someone to finish In Hell for me. If anyone wants to read "In Hell" you can find it here: http://lisfayte.livejournal.com/6344.html Just let me know if you decide to take it on.
Lis
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.--- e e cummings

Come to challengespuffy  post Spuffy fic challenges or find something to write about
Jul 08 2009 09:07 pm   #6LisFayte
All you need to do is link to your ficlet and say you'd like to see someone continue the story.

Okay, I did it. I posted the challenge on my LJ and on LJ Communitychallengespuffy
The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.--- e e cummings

Come to challengespuffy  post Spuffy fic challenges or find something to write about
Jul 08 2009 11:13 pm   #7slaymesoftly
I saw the LJ post. Good luck!
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Feb 22 2010 11:06 pm   #8LisFayte

Ok, it has been a while since I put my poor ficcie up for adoption, but still no takers. It is about Spuffy and company caught in fan-fiction hell.

I would love to have someone take this on with lots of humor.

community.livejournal.com/challengespuffy/4220.html

 

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.--- e e cummings

Come to challengespuffy  post Spuffy fic challenges or find something to write about
Aug 11 2010 09:08 pm   #9slaymesoftly
Since I've had to reject several challenges lately, for one reason or another, I thought it would be a good idea to get this post back up where people new to the BSV could see it.  If I had to sum it up, it would be - keep it simple.  We also no longer take crossovers that require any knowledge of another fandom (AtS is not considered a cross-over), and we're very wary of challenges where Buffy is not the Slayer or Spike is not a vampire (William fics). Not that they can't be very good, but they probably aren't for us. 
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Jul 30 2011 04:09 pm   #10slaymesoftly
Since I've had to reject several challenges lately, for one reason or another, I thought it would be a good idea to get this post back up where people new to the BSV could see it.  If I had to sum it up, it would be - keep it simple.  We also no longer take crossovers that require any knowledge of another fandom (AtS is not considered a cross-over), and we're very wary of challenges where Buffy is not the Slayer or Spike is not a vampire (William fics). Not that they can't be very good, but they probably aren't for us. 


Wow - I was going to make a new forum post called "Challenge Hints", but when I looked at this older post, I see that all the things I was going to say have already been said. So, I'm just bumping it up to the top of the queue for a while and hoping prospective challenge submitters will read it before submitting.

(In the process, of course, I read all of Liz's comments about her fic and got intrigued. Not making any promises, but it could sure be a lot of fun to play with. I've put it into my ideas/bunnies/wip folder just in case...)
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Sep 21 2012 09:14 pm   #11slaymesoftly
Bump - Just bumping this up so someone can see it.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Nov 09 2012 04:51 pm   #12slaymesoftly
Bump - Just bumping this up so someone can see it.

Wow, hard to believe I bumpted this up only a couple of months ago and have to do it again. Strongly suggest that the first section (which contains the important information) be read carefully by anyone wanting to submit a challenge. I've had to reject two recently that may have resulted in interesting fics, but that were so incredibly detailed as to almost be fics in and of themselves. Telling someone so specifically what you want them to write is not challenging them - it's just saying "I want to read this, so please write it for me." Very few authors are going to respond to that positively.

On the other hand, for those authors who may find themselves short of plot bunnies, a trip through the (overly large, I'm sure) challenges can often result in an idea or two. In my experience, while I may not want to write a specific challenge, I have been know to get inspired by one to come up with my own variation of that idea. So, challenges can be used to spark inspiration and plot bunnies, as well as providing guidelines for writing a specific type of fic.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Nov 29 2012 05:04 pm   #13slaymesoftly
Bump - Just bumping this up so someone can see it.

Wow, hard to believe I bumpted this up only a couple of months ago and have to do it again. Strongly suggest that the first section (which contains the important information) be read carefully by anyone wanting to submit a challenge. I've had to reject two recently that may have resulted in interesting fics, but that were so incredibly detailed as to almost be fics in and of themselves. Telling someone so specifically what you want them to write is not challenging them - it's just saying "I want to read this, so please write it for me." Very few authors are going to respond to that positively.

On the other hand, for those authors who may find themselves short of plot bunnies, a trip through the (overly large, I'm sure) challenges can often result in an idea or two. In my experience, while I may not want to write a specific challenge, I have been know to get inspired by one to come up with my own variation of that idea. So, challenges can be used to spark inspiration and plot bunnies, as well as providing guidelines for writing a specific type of fic.


So, it looks like this post is going to require bumping up on a fairly regular basis.  Couple of things I've noticed that may be part of the problem:
1 - Although it says at the top of the Challenges page that the rules and more information can be found in "Support", that's not quite the case.  And is probably the reason we had to make this forum thread back in 2009 (and 2010, 2011 and 1012....)
2 - We're up to #450 in challenges by now. I'm not sure what to do about that, but something? Our rules say to read through the challenges so as not to duplicate something that's already there, but obviously that's not going to happen.  I'm thinking about perusing the challenges and maybe deleting some that have been done so many times there would be no way for anyone who had done much reading in the fandom not to realize they weren't having as original a thought as they'd hoped....  Or, maybe I can come up with a way to organize them by season, episode, or something so that it would be easy for challengers to check quickly to see if their idea has already been used.  I dunno. Something....
3 - Perhaps we need to suggest that people with potential challenges check out the fics already on here? Those are already searchable by season, etc. Just reading the summaries might be helpful when it comes to realizing how few new ideas there really are at this point in the fandom's life.

Anyway, I'm going to try to keep this visible on the forum and see if that helps. Authors are always happy to receive inspiration. Just bear it mind that inspiration is probably all they are looking for - not specific instructions on what to write.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Sep 06 2014 09:29 pm   #14slaymesoftly
Bumping again.  Needs to be an annual thing, I guess.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Jul 04 2016 11:54 pm   #15slaymesoftly
ROFL Went to do a challenge post here and found this one that apparently no one reads unless it is bumped up on at least an annual basis. Looks like the last bump up was in 2014, so definitely time to do it again.  Since I just rejected an interesting-sounding challenge for being too detailed with it's "must haves" and somehow managed not to be able to let the poster know why so he/she could fix it, this seems like a good time to bring out this one from years ago, it just needs to be brought out and dusted off every once in a while. So, here you go one more time - how to submit a challenge that will intrigue authors rather than turn them off.  I haven't got the time to revisit all the recommended challenges, but I'm assuming they still fit the criteria since nothing has changed. A good challenge should provide an author with a plot bunny - not a whole plot that someone else wants to see written.  It's only slightly more detailed that a short prompt.  You will, occassionally find challenge rounds where more is asked for - fic for art communities for instance, or communities that ask for specific plot ideas for authors, but the authors respond to those knowing what they are getting into and accepting that they will have to meet someone else's plot lines. Those can make good writing exercises for an author, but they are not what we're looking for on here. 

ETA: Wanted to say something about how to submit a proper challenge, and lo and behold, I already have! So I'll just post this to the forum and hope those who need to see it notice it before it falls off the updates lists. Without any additions or corrections, here are the basic suggestions for submitting a successful chanllenge:

We've been talking about the challenges submitted here -- which ones we are willing to put up, how well they meet our criteria, how likely the requested story is to meet site criteria, and how likely they are to be picked up by authors.  We turn down a lot of the challenges submitted for a variety of reasons.  Of course, being the BSV, you know we toss any that are so poorly written or so poor mechanically that no one will want to read them *G*. However, those aren't the only issues. (ETA: They are, however, important issues. We do require proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as clear and concise writing. We're not as rigid about the mechanics as we would be for a fic submitted, but we will not "fix" an entry for anyone unless we can tell the person submitting is not a native English speaker.)

A huge number of challenges are denied because they are just so detailed and have so many "must haves" and "can't have's" that there is no room left for a writer to be creative.  It's probably the biggest problem with a substantial number of challenges - both those denied and those that get put through.  The idea behind a challenge is to give the author a plot bunny.  Throw them an idea for a plot and see what they can do with it.  If you given them a detailed outline of the fic you want written, complete with expected events and conversations, you're just tying them down too much and the reaction is liable to be "if you want that story, write it yourself!"

ETA - the best challenges often end up with multiple fics, each one different but using the basic premise. That can only happen when the challenge allows the authors room for creativity. Think of the most frequently ficced episodes - Halloween (Spike and Buffy are both affected by Ethan's spell), Something Blue, an end of season 2 in which Spike and Buffy end up together and go on from there, fics where one or the other of them comes back in time and so on. There were basic premises set up, but dozens (in some cases, literally dozens) of authors have taken those basic premises and done their own thing with them.

Here are some examples pulled from our huge list of challenges (which may need to be pared down at some point) that are good examples of how to put a challenge out there: #368, 362, 358, 356, 353, 331,72, 69, 66  - please note, some of the better examples can be found in the earlier (lower numbers) ones posted, I just didn't keep going.  When your challenge is accepted and a fic written, it is put onto the challenge page for all to see: #366, 323, 62, 58, 56 are some examples of that. I've done at least four or five, probably more, but I was too lazy to look up the numbers.  

I wanted to put some bad examples, but decided that wouldn't be kind...I think you'll easily be able to see which ones are too detailed, though.  If the challenge is more than a few sentences, it's probably too long.  Before submitting one, it would be a good idea to look through what's already there - both so as not to duplicate another one (which happens way more often than you might think), and so as not to submit something that we won't accept because it's going to be too unappealing to authors.

It's exciting to put up a challenge and find one of your favorite authors writing a fic for it.  You owe it to yourself to make your challenge as appealing and broad as possible.

ETA - a challenge is not the place to show off your writing skills or your cleverness. You want to be as clear and concise as you can, without adding a lot of extraneous comments that are specific to you.  The idea is to provide a(n) original (we hope) idea to an author whose muse may be on vacation.
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.