Throughout the life of this SE there have been multiple instances of writing challenges, writing exercises and writing prompts. I wanted to suggest re-igniting that, with a few changes:

  • We have a bi-weekly meta thread where anyone can propose a prompt for the next bi-week and we'll pick one based on votes.

  • Once the prompt is selected we set up an OP with it and with some basic rules / guidelines / challenge goals.

  • Users are then invited to

    1. show their work in progress as they modify it
    2. suggest changes / improvements / style edits / revise other people submissions in the comments

This could be both a fun and learning experience.

I was thinking that the first series of challenges would be to package short stories into a decreasing number of words. The first challenge could limit the max words to 500, the next one to 300, the following to 100, then to 50 and down to 10. Once this is over we can think of some other challenge.

The bonus is that for every question about what to write, we can close it with grace suggesting instead to add their prompt to the challenge and participate. I am hoping this would be a nice way to retain some of the one-time users and positively engage them despite closing their questions.

  • 1
    Just to clarify, do you see these challenges being asked on meta or main? Also do you mean that it would help when closing review questions (instead of "what to write")?
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 12:20
  • challenges should stay on meta. In my opinion, if someone comes asking on help to write a passage, maybe they would be equally interested in getting feedback on their writing on our prompts, hence the closing review suggestion.
    – NofP
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 14:17
  • Agreed about keeping challenges on meta. Just remember this means it requires 5 rep to participate (as it's not worth changing rep levels for this).
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jan 6, 2022 at 16:39
  • 2
    It could be run like arqade's screenshot of the week feature with an image in the sidebar to draw people to the challenge. The challenges could vary a lot too, between themes with word count limit, requiring words, image prompts, etc. Nice idea, OP!
    – GammaGames
    Commented Jan 14, 2022 at 16:14
  • 1
    @GammaGames We might be able to use Community Ads the next time those come around. That would allow us to get the word out to other sites. Actually, I think it would be a good idea to ask some other sites (Worldbuilding... not sure who else) in chat right now if they want to participate.
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jan 15, 2022 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


I was thinking about this the other day and I agree. In my mind this is how I see it going exactly (to clarify/tweak it):

  • One meta thread asking "What's the next challenge?" where all the suggestions will live. We select the highest voted answer when we need a new challenge and then delete it. Any of the challenges that "lose" could be selected next time.
  • More time. A month is what I'd recommend for each challenge so that less busy or less active users have a chance. (Will they participate? Not sure.)
  • Challenges need to be designed to be as easy as possible to participate in, with broad appeal. As much as I respect forms of writing like "short stories without the letter 'e'" that's too tedious and I doubt many would really enjoy it. Let's keep it open to different types of writing such as poetry. There should also be no limits as to how many entries per user.
    • I think your idea would work, with (minor?) tweaks. Have it be a single challenge: "Write the same story twice (or more), but with different word counts that make each version distinct." Maybe you could write a short story and a haiku. Maybe another idea speaks to you for this. (I have an idea what I'd write.)

We can always change the "rules" between months or even on the fly, like if we decide we want more time.

My only real concern is if enough people would participate. This is based on a combination of factors, namely the typical level of (meta) activity and my experience with the writing circle I tried to have with my friends, who quickly lost interest.

Any further thoughts on this?

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