Rules for the Writing Challenges

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The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
Rules for the Writing Challenges


Each entry must be the original work of the person submitting it. Plagiarism, whether of work from other members or from other sites, will result in the entry being removed, and it is likely that the entrant will be banned from entering further Challenges.

Only one entry per member per Challenge is allowed. Members are welcome to post additional entries in the relevant Discussion thread, but only when voting for that Challenge has finished.

Copyright in the entries is retained by their respective authors, who grant the SFF Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them on the site.

Word Count

Entries must not exceed the word count for the specific Challenge as detailed in the thread title and/or opening post -- ie 75 words and 300 words respectively. Any piece that exceeds the word count will be removed from the thread, and the entrant will not be allowed to post another entry in that Challenge, neither a revised original nor a wholly different story.

Be sure to count your entry carefully before posting. The best way to do this is by hand – and by double- and triple-checking. Automated word counts provided online and by programs such as Microsoft Word can result in inaccurate counts, particularly where there are errors in punctuation and spacing, so read your entry carefully with an eye for missing spaces.

Compound words with or without hyphens can be a problem. Accepted or validly-constructed compounds will be counted as one word -- eg call-out, blackboard, blue-black, overnight, over-optimistic, ex-wife, x-ray, single-minded, longbow, long-lost. Non-standard compounds and hyphenated phrases will be treated as separate words eg call-centre, blue-moon, over-the-top, single-parent, longjump. When in doubt, either contact a moderator (see below), or err on the side of caution and count the words as if they are written separately.

Numbers written numerically (eg 10,000) will be counted as a single word.

Items of stand-alone punctuation (eg ellipses ... or long dashes -- ) will not be included in the word count, whatever your word processor may say.

The title is not a part of the word count.


Entries may be in prose or verse.

For the 75-word Challenges, the entries should be written to the month’s stated theme and genre.

For the 300-word Challenges, the entries should derive their inspiration from the image provided in the opening post and should be written in the genres of SF, Fantasy or other Speculative Fiction.

Entries must conform to the rules of the forum as a whole. Please remember when posting your entry that SFF Chronicles is a family-friendly site and think carefully before posting a story that contains sexual or excessively violent imagery. If you are unsure whether something crosses the line, please contact a moderator (see below) before posting.

Since one of the demanding aspects of the 75-word Challenge is to create a story which is readily comprehensible in so few words, entries for those Challenges may not re-use a story which has previously appeared in a 300-word Challenge. Entries for the 300-word Challenges may re-use stories whereever first appearing, but only when voting in the Challenge in which the story previously appeared has finished.

As the title is not considered as part of the word count and thus not as a part of the story, entries consisting only of a title will be removed.

It is expected that your story will have a plot, and not merely consist of descriptive prose.


The editing window for the entries is one hour from posting.

Edits made after one hour from posting will result in the entry being removed from the thread, and the entrant will not be allowed to post another entry in that Challenge, neither a revised original nor a wholly different story.


The 75-word Challenge will take place monthly, with the theme and genre posted on the 1st of the month or as soon as possible thereafter. Entries can be posted at once, and the thread will remain open until 11.59pm GMT on the 23rd of the month, when voting will open. Voting will close at 11.59pm GMT on the 28th, with voting on any tie-break taking place thereafter as necessary.

The 300-word Challenge will take place quarterly, opening in April, July, October and January respectively. The image for the Challenge will be posted on the 1st, or as soon as possible thereafter, but no entries may be posted until the 10th and the thread itself will be closed until then. The thread will remain open until 11.59pm GMT on the last day of the month, when voting will open. Voting will close at 11.59pm GMT on the 15th of the following month, or such later date as the moderators shall think fit in view of the number of entries.


We welcome short reviews of the stories entered in the Challenges since these add to the general enjoyment of the contests. There is no obligation on anyone to write such reviews, but if you are thinking of doing so while the Challenge is open, please bear two issues in mind:
  • Reviews should include every entry submitted regardless of whether you like a particular story or even understand it. If you merely want to comment on one or two entries that most appeal to you as they come in, that isn't a problem, but for anything more than that, while the Challenge is open it’s Review One, Review All. (Once the Challenge is over and voting has started, then if you want to draw up a long- or shortlist with comments on the entries you've picked, there is no restriction as to number.)
  • Reviews should be short, and positive in tone and content.
Please note we do not allow any element of critique or criticism of the stories in the Discussion threads, which were instituted to allow members to highlight stories they especially liked, and that remains their overriding rationale. The Challenges are meant to be enjoyable and open to all, regardless of writing prowess; lengthy critiques and critical remarks are liable to damage both objectives.

If anyone wishes to have feedback on a story, then when that particular Challenge is over he/she can post it in the relevant “Improving” thread, where other members may critique it subject to the usual requirement that all comments be constructive and courteous.


Members cannot vote for their own entry.

We expect members to vote honestly, that is they will vote for the story which is the best in their opinion, taking account of the theme and genre as applicable. If the moderators suspect that voting irregularities have taken place, for example that a member has encouraged friends/acquaintances to join the site in order to obtain votes, then that member's entry may, at the moderators' discretion, be removed and the membership of those involved suspended, and it is likely that offending members will be banned from entering further Challenges


The winner each month of the 75-word Challenge will choose the next month’s theme and genre, and have his/her story added to the Roll of Honour thread.

The winner each quarter of the 300-word Challenge will have his/her story added to the Roll of Honour thread.


Moderators for the Challenge are: chrispenycate, HareBrain, nixie, Teresa Edgerton, TheDustyZebra, The Judge and Ursa major. If you direct your questions to any other moderator there may be a delay in receiving an answer.

Please note that in respect of all matters the decision of the moderators is final.
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Please note:

I've changed the details for the prize for the 300-word Challenge as that hadn't been finalised when the rules were first posted. Also, a couple of rules which have arisen from issues raised in Discussion threads and made known there have been added here for the sake of completeness (no posting of additional entries until voting is over, and no re-using of 300 word stories in the 75-word Challenges).
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