Writing Challenges

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Current Writing Challenge Over, Late Summer Coming Soon

Surprisingly, it seems that the July/August Writing Challenges have been least likely to feature some sort of specially themed or holiday topic. While July and August have seen their share of unique Challenges — such as the First-Person Fortnight and Flash Fiction Challenges, both from 2012 — they’re much more likely to have a topic not based in anything related to the time of year. However, it’s possible that the very first July/August Challenge, all the way from back in 2004, took its cue from an event that will dominate those months for students and teachers among the writers of UFoP: going back to school! That 2004 Challenge, “Academy Memories,” might have been chosen for that very reason. What do you think?

As for the 2014 May/June Challenge, I hope you’ve entered your story already! No more entrants will be accepted and judges have convened to choose a winner for the Challenge. Keep your eye on the Writing Challenge forum, and good luck to everyone who entered!

“Do what is right, not what is easy” Writing Challenge Nears Completion

Have you dreamed of the sort of the glory only available to Klingon warriors? Well, dream no more: The current Writing Challenge is two weeks from its finish, so you have plenty of time to enter your brilliant story! This round’s topic, “Do what is right, not what is easy,” asks some potentially difficult questions about the Star Trek universe and invites you to interpret them in interesting ways through your fiction.

Writes Travis, aka Tyler Kelly and the winner of the previous Challenge:

I think it would be interesting to write about a time when you have to make a choice between the greater good and simply ‘going with the flow.’ Maybe a superior officer gives an order that you have a moral objection to. Maybe there are people dying of a curable disease on the planet below but the Prime Directive tells you that you can’t intervene.

As Starfleet officers our characters face these kind of decisions from time to time and it can be a very interesting idea to explore.

What do you think? Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you as a writer or any of your characters? How can you take this idea and apply it beyond what you might expect? We look forward to finding out! Head over to the Writing Challenge forums for more, and make sure you enter before June 24th!

Holiday (and Tie-in) Writing Challenges

Holiday-themed Writing Challenges have been a recurred several times lately, most recently with March & April 2014’s Easter-themed “Rabbits!” Challenge. However, these special Challenges are just as likely not to question a holiday you or your character may consider very often; November & December 2013 took their cue from Bonfire Night for “Treason & Plot,” while a Challenge from exactly one year before asked writers to consider “Belief Systems in Trek.”  If Challenge winners continue to take their ideas from Earthly holidays, there are still plenty of holidays left to choose from — but why not consider something more exotic? Memory Alpha lists plenty of holidays and festivals from across the galaxy. There are also plenty to choose from in UFoP:SB118 canon; take a look at the list of holidays celebrated by the Embassy on Duronis II, for example. Maybe, if you win a Challenge, you’ll choose to make a January/February Challenge based upon the Laudeans’ Day of Laughter (January 29th)?

What holidays or festivals would you like to see as a topic for a future Writing Challenge? Let us know in the Writing Challenge Discussion thread on the forums! And don’t forget: Our current Challenge, “Do what is right, not what is easy,” ends on June 24th, so be sure to get your entry in before then!

Tyler Kelly wins March/April Writing Challenge

Congratulations to Travis, aka Tyler Kelly (and formerly Colt Daniels), on his first Writing Challenge win! His story “The Bunny Abides” was written in response to the “Rabbits” Writing Challenge of March & April 2014. This unique Challenge topic prompted several interpretations, from “The Bunny Abides” to the runner-up, Jalana Laxyn’s Alice in Wonderland-inspired “Watch your head!” Judges noted the difficulty of deciding this Challenge, and they hope that you’ll take a look at the complete March & April Challenge compilation to read through the fine stories for yourself!

Of “The Bunny Abides,” judges were effusive in their praise. Toni Turner wrote, “It was a fast moving plot, that sucked you in from beginning to end, gave hope for the characters’ survival, then snatched it away, staying true to the premise of the research being a “total failure.”” Sal Taybrim, winner of the previous Challenge and new judge for the Writing Challenges, wrote that she “found this idea the most compelling and it had the most lingering, haunting ending.” This story takes the Challenge’s titular creature in a completely unexpected direction, and it’s one that you’ll have to discover for yourself when you read this winning story!

The next Challenge, “Do what is right, not what is easy,” is already up, so hurry over to the Writing Challenge forums for more!

Writing Challenge: First-Time Winners

Did you know that, before the writer behind Sal Taybrim won the January/February Writing Challenge, she had only entered once before? Or that Jess, aka Jalana Laxyn, who won the December holiday Challenge back in 2012, had never entered before at all? The Writing Challenge judges are always looking for that fresh new story by a great new writer, and though our list of winners does have many champions who have won several rounds, you’ll note plenty of names who have won once or twice. Don’t let being a first time entrant discourage you! We always want more stories, so enter yours today!

Remember, too, that our current Challenge, “Rabbits,” will end this Friday, April 25th. Be sure to hurry over to the Writing Challenge forum and enter your story today!

“Rabbits” Writing Challenge Nearly Over

Just in time for Easter, here’s your friendly Writing Challenge reminder!

What more appropriate way to celebrate than to enter this particularly apropos Challenge? You now have exactly two weeks to enter the Challenge with your particular interpretation of what a rabbit story might be! “Mechanical rabbits? Alien hares? Killer bunnies?” our last winner asks: “This could even go dark if someone was creative enough (are rabbits now extinct?) or surreal… or humorous…” How will you take it?

Incidentally, there’s no reason you have to stick with the bucktoothed Earth mammal as your theme. What about alien rabbits? What about usages of the word that don’t directly involve bunnies at all: The pacesetter of a race, perhaps, or the British colloquialism that means to talk at length? However you interpret it, make sure to get your story in on or before Friday, April 25th!

See the current Challenge topic for more info, and head over to the Writing Challenge forum to enter!

First Photo-Prompt Writing Challenge Ends

Generous congratulations to the writer behind Sal Taybrim, winner of this Challenge with its photo prompt, with the story “Conspiracy Theories”! Many congratulations, too, to our runner-ups: “Back-up Plan” from the writer behind Kieran Waddell and “New Beginnings” from the writer behind Ceilidh Riverview. As you can tell from the multiple runner-ups, this was a more difficult Challenge to judge, as judges now had to consider also how well the story fit the atmosphere and actions of the image used as inspiration; but you can be sure that these writers captured it well and have earned their recognition. Again, congratulations to them!

For this and every Writing Challenge from 2014 forward, you can always find a downloadable PDF of all the entrants with judges’ comments (and extra thoughts regarding the winning story). Please check out this topic to learn more!

The March and April Challenge is now open for entries, and we’re pleased to bring you a thoroughly unusual topic: RABBITS! What might that mean? How might you interpret such a Challenge? Only you can tell us, but be sure you do so before the Challenge closes on Friday, April 25th!

Writing Challenge Updates

The most congratulatory of congratulations is due to Sarah, the writer behind Saveron and the winner of our non-traditional holiday-themed Writing Challenge! The last Challenge of 2013 took its cue from Bonfire Night as it asked respondents to respond to the theme “Treason and Plot.” Sarah’s “Sins of the Mother,” which poses some very interesting questions about the Federation’s ideology, is told through the frame of a debate at Starfleet Academy. In its own words,

“You cannot believe that!” Bourke insisted, advancing on the podium. His face was red. “It’s people like you who would sabotage the peace that we live in. People like you who undermine all that we strive for, and damage countless lives in the process. Do you even hear what you’re saying, or did you learn to parrot it all on your mother’s knee?” 

“They invade our allies and possible future Federation members on Duronis II.” Another step. “They attack the USS Drake at Gateway Station, and attempted to mine the USS Avandar.” Another step. “Finally, they occupy Thracian space, requiring the intervention of Starfleet to prevent the subjugation of millions of sentient beings.” She stopped walking. “Are these the actions of a people who seek peace?”

For the second Challenge in a row, a downloadable compilation of all the entries and judges’ comments is available, so be sure to take a look through and see what these talented writers had to offer!

Our first Challenge of 2014 is also open, with one month left to go, so be sure to check out this Challenge; it’s our first that asks you to write in response to a piece of artwork, and we look forward to seeing what you write!

“Treason & Plot” Writing Challenge Nears Conclusion

Did you know that the first UFOP:SB118 Writing Challenge took place over ten years ago? That’s right, the Writing Challenges are over a decade old! Though the regular contests didn’t occur regularly until 2005, the September/October 2003 contest was still unprecedented in the group’s history and went on to establish a long legacy. That first Challenge, with the apparently simple theme “Death,” was won by Idril Mar — then a lieutenant, now a fleet captain and a senior member of the Executive Council! — with her story “In the Service of the Emperor.” 
It’s appropriate that we turn to the past for a moment, as the current Challenge (the last of 2013!) asks you to consider “Treason & Plot” as a theme, as inspired by Guy Fawkes Day and our last Challenge winner’s unique take on a holiday theme. Unfortunately, as of right now, there are no entries in the current Challenge! Can you help us turn that around? You’ll certainly have a better chance of winning with less competition, and remember, too, that the Writing Challenge is now being published to the site as a downloadable PDF document, and that the winner will get a special writeup and have his or her story featured first in that document!
Please visit the Writing Challenge forum for more, and we look forward to seeing your entries!

A New Way to Read

Have you checked out the Writing Challenge forums lately? If so, you might have seen a new discussion regarding downloadable compilations of each Writing Challenge. Beginning with the Challenge from September & October, all the Writing Challenge entries from a round will be made available for download in a PDF. The winner will receive a special write-up at the beginning of the document, and in subsequent rounds this will involve a quick interview regarding their thoughts and ideas when creating the story as an extra perk for winning the Challenge.

Take a look at the first available compilation here … and once you have, be sure to let us know what you think in the forums!

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