Okay, bear with me. This may be a horrible idea, or it could be good - you decide.

For a while, you've had the writing challenges on chat. Great! Good idea! Unfortunately, the chat... isn't so active. So, how about we do something else, and possibly make it easier to participate?

Have the challenges on Meta.

"On Meta?" you ask.
"Sure!" I respond. "Here, let me explain..."

  • Q: What kind of writing challenges?

    A: We can try several things! There are a few things that I thought of:

    • A prompt.

I.e, someone provides the prompt, and we create a story with that line. For instance, let's say that the prompt is

[t]he carpet came spiraling out of the sky, heading towards the busy street below.

Obviously,this would invite Scifi/Fantasy stories about flying carpets - but it could also be in a story about smuggling carpets in an airplane and having one fall...

    • A subject.

I.e, let's say that the subject is 'Vampires'. You then have to write a vampire story. Any kind of vampire - the traditional blood sucking vampire, or Doctor McCoy's Salt vampire, or a vampire that only drinks beet juice (sucked from the raw vegetable)... you get the point.

  • Q: How would these prompts/subjects be chosen?

    A: A meta post! Set up a permanent post asking for suggestions, and have people post answers to it with their suggestions. After one challenge is over, the highest scoring answer is picked to be the next challenge.

    • Q: Who would post that suggestions post?

A: I volunteer! ;)

  • Q: How would we submit our writing?

    A: Meta!! Like we do on Puzzling, each new challenge gets its own meta post (possibly ). Each submission in the challenge gets posted as an answer to that post.

    • Q: Who will post these?

A: Again, I volunteer ;)

  • Q: How long would these challenges last?

    A: However long it takes to write something you're satisfied with. :P But I think that after 3 weeks, it would be time to move to the next challenge.

    • Q: Why 3 weeks?

A: Because that way, people get to see the post, and have time to think, and time to develop their story and edit. And people who may not see the post at first also get a chance to participate.

  • Q: Is this a contest?

    A: Heck, no! Not at all! This is simply a chance to practice writing and see what others are doing. If you're lucky, you might get some questions about what you write over at Literature.SE ;)

    • Q: How would you deal with users who act like it's a contest?

A: We'll gently remind them that this is not a contest, and that if they want to write competitively, they should find somewhere else. If they cross the Be Nice policy, the mods will step in.

  • Q: What will happen to the old chat writing challenges?

A: Absolutely nothing! Anybody who wishes can go take part in those. This is intended for people who can't join the chat challenges for any reason, such as time restrictions.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Am I crazy? Are there improvements that can be made? I look forward to hearing from you!

  • 4
    This was a pain to type out on my phone :/
    – Mithical
    Mar 13, 2017 at 21:40
  • 3
    I need to mull over my precise response, but this sounds like a cool idea, and thanks for putting time and effort into it :-)
    – Standback
    Mar 13, 2017 at 22:33
  • 4
    You wrote all that on your phone? Wow, that's dedication. I'm not sure how I feel about details of the idea, but I'd like to see writing challenges work somehow, and the weekly chat has issues, so thanks for bringing this question here. Mar 14, 2017 at 1:17
  • 2
    Professional writers don't do challenges. If we want to attract more professional writers, and more professional answers, this is not the way to go about it.
    – user16226
    Mar 14, 2017 at 3:40
  • 5
    Not everyone is a professional writer. Besides, how better to work on becoming a professional writer than engaging in practical writing exercises? Obviously, someone was going to say this; however, let me continue my litany of clichés by pointing out that merely being published does not necessarily indicate quality, even though it may technically constitute "professional". Some professional writers engage in writing exercises. Some even write fan fiction (Mercedes Lackey, for example). Mar 27, 2017 at 21:20
  • Well said, @Slytherincess.
    – Mithical
    Mar 27, 2017 at 21:20

5 Answers 5


I am strongly in favor of this; it sounds fun and like a community-building activity.

I agree with Mark Baker's point that this is unlikely to be of interest to professional writers. But I don't see it as interfering with a pro's enjoyment of the site either, and I think it could be great for increasing activity and involvement in the site -- and offering a fun way in for casual visitors who don't have immediate Q&A.

I would suggest we try it, at least for a trial run. But, I suggest we first get some buy-in -- a few people who will definitely (or near-definitely) participate the first few times. It would be a shame to kick this off when a few key participants are busy, and for it to flounder, if we can coordinate it to start with at least some initial participation.

  • How would you get these people? Chat? Comments here?
    – Mithical
    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:23
  • I'd start with comments here. I know I'm hardly here for the next three weeks. So, if interest doesn't spring up organically, we'd start advertising in Meta and in chat, maybe put out a community ad.
    – Standback
    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:29
  • 2
    I'm in. Mar 23, 2017 at 19:09
  • 1
    Just in case you weren't counting me, I'm going to try to participate...
    – Mithical
    Mar 23, 2017 at 19:16
  • 1
    And Lauren Ipsum.
    – Mithical
    Mar 28, 2017 at 13:59
  • 1
    I'm certainly willing to participate :) Apr 2, 2017 at 1:53
  • I believe that we have enough people for our trial run...
    – Mithical
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:10
  • @Mithrandir : I agree :-) Just need to get past Pesach so I'm breathing again...
    – Standback
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:47
  • Pesach is over. Can I put up the post?
    – Mithical
    Apr 20, 2017 at 7:52
  • @Mithrandir : Yes! :D
    – Standback
    Apr 20, 2017 at 7:53
  • 3
    Done. (Also phone typed :) )
    – Mithical
    Apr 20, 2017 at 8:13

This started as a comment on this answer but then it overflowed.

Sure, I'm willing to give it a try. The timing of the chat event doesn't work for me and I usually fail to hunt down the topic later (if there was one that week), but with this setup it'd be clear that it's ok to get to it whenever. I see this as a community-building activity and feel that, as with topic challenges, it's appropriate to use meta for this purpose. (We used to try to collect challenge links on meta, by the way, but maintenance fell off.)

We should make it clear in the posts that short entries are ok; the chat-based challenges are to write for 10 minutes, though sometimes people do more. More should be fine but not required.

Also, some people might prefer to post their work elsewhere, either because that's where they post their fiction or because they don't want to license it CC-BY-SA. So in this case link-only (meta) answers should be permitted, though ideally people will provide at least a little flavor to encourage people to click through.


I originally thought this would be O.o but on reading the other answers posted, I'm much more convinced. I can never make it to chat to participate in those. Let's give this a whirl for a few months and see what happens.

  • Are you going to sign up for the trial run?
    – Mithical
    Mar 27, 2017 at 13:49
  • @Mithrandir sure, why the hell not. Mar 27, 2017 at 15:21

Did I miss this? Did it run, or fizzle, or never make it out of this discussion stage?

  • 2
    It ran from early July '17 to late December '17 and then fizzled out. :( Starting it up again would be cool, though!
    – Mithical
    Mar 15, 2019 at 14:27
  • 2
    @Mithrandir I'm for starting up again too
    – Summer
    Mar 15, 2019 at 14:34
  • 1
    You can see the past ones on the writing-exercise tag (also used on this question). Mar 15, 2019 at 23:00
  • I'd like to see it run again too. I'd like to partecipate (I did sign up last time) even though, admittedly, writing in english proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
    – Liquid
    Mar 21, 2019 at 9:56

If you are prepared to set it up and run it --great. I think it would be popular.

The problem comes with reading everything that is submitted: I read and comment on writing as a job; I'm not going to do it for 'fun'. Are you prepared to read everything that is sent in and comment on it? (Consider all the questions that get put on hold.)

  • Read things; yes. Comment; no. I'm not a professional writer or anything at all; I'm 14 years old. I'm not planning on critiquing everything - other people can do that. I'm just suggesting an alternative to the current chat challenges that is easier to participate in.
    – Mithical
    Mar 20, 2017 at 21:36
  • Can you tell me how current chat challenges are harder to participate in? Mar 20, 2017 at 21:38
  • 1
    Time zones. People are in different time zones, and if they're at one time, many people won't be available. Also, they're kind of dead. So...
    – Mithical
    Mar 20, 2017 at 21:40
  • I'm sorry, but I'm 53 not 14 and so you have to explain in more detail. What do you mean by 'time zones'? Mar 20, 2017 at 21:43
  • It's currently 11:49 PM in my time zone. It's hard for me to take part in a lot of things that go on online because they are mostly focused on the American time zones etc. Take the movie night in Mos Eisley (scifi.SE chatroom) a couple days ago. That was at around midnight here. So when there's a chat event, at one specific time, it's hard for people in different places to join.
    – Mithical
    Mar 20, 2017 at 21:47

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