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WRITER'S GAMES FAQ

 

We've gathered some commonly asked questions below. If you've read our other available information on the Rules, Info, and Submissions pages, you may find the same information here, presented slightly differently. 

If your question is not answered on this page, please reach out

 

General

For cost; rules; feedback; rights; eligibility; and accept, not accept, reject, and disqualify explanations.

 

Time Zones, Allotments, and Timing

For scheduling and portion information.

 

Submissions

For language, submissions, file types, and formatting information.

 

Events

For Events, Mock Events, announcements, Core Concepts, word counts, and fanfiction information.

 

Scoring, Winning, and Disqualification

For scoring, disqualification, appeals, and victory information.

 

Participation

For registration, skipping, readers and editors, and transfer information.

 

The idea for The Writer's Games (originally dubbed the NaNoGames) came from Heather Glomb. The first Games took place in May, 2014, with a goal to "just write". When the contest finished, writers wanted a stronger challenge and this organization was born.

Read about the first Games here.

 

WW Rebrand 2024 (2).png

The Writer's Games FAQ was last updated:

April, 2024

The Writer's Workout is a global charity working to improve literacy through creative writing. We hold competitions, workshops, open calls, and discussions; provide motivation, tips, prompts, and giveaways; and offer a community rich in culture and skill. Check our donations page to learn more about how The Writer's Workout strengthens the writing community. 

 

 

Learn what it takes to produce one portion of The Writer's Games.

 

The Writer's Workout is a registered

501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

run by volunteers.

 

General

 

General

Cost

  • The Writer's Games is a free writing competition. There is no charge for participation; every accepted entry from a registered participant received before the deadline receives critique.

  • How is all of this free?? The Writer's Workout is a 100% volunteer-run nonprofit organization. We do not receive grant or sponsorship funding, do not charge money for our programs, and we are not paid for our time. We are grateful for donations and sponsored prizes. We're here solely to help writers grow because we believe in your writing. Read what it takes to produce one portion of this competition. 

 

Rules

  • The rules are available here or by using the navigation above: Writer's Games > Games Rules

 

Feedback

  • Writer's Games includes free feedback to all registered participants. You may choose to opt out of feedback (we will not critique your work) when you register. Feedback is always delivered privately.

    • 2024 Update: you also choose your feedback delivery: weekly or at the end. If you choose weekly feedback, you may switch to receiving all feedback at the end. If you choose to receive feedback at the end, you may not switch to weekly delivery. The volume of feedback will not change.

  • Standard feedback is free. For the standard-length feedback, multiple judges will each write a critique 200-250 words in length, per submission. Judges will focus their critique on the Core Concepts: what they looked for in scoring. 

  • Extended Critiques: multiple judges will each write a critique 600-1,000 words in length, per submission, and explore other aspects of your writing style in addition to the Core Concepts. This option is very limited due to the additional strain this places on the judges. If spaces are available, you will see the Extended Critique option for $25 on the registration form.

    • If you snagged an Extended Critique space but something came up, you can transfer this gift to another writer before the Practice Event. Please understand we cannot make this change after the competition begins. 

  • ​How to access feedback: When you register, Theresa will email you with a link to your feedback folder. Inside, you'll find a separate feedback document for each Writer's Workout activity you participate in over time. If one of your pieces is published with us, you'll also find a digital contributor copy of that book. Bookmark your folder for all your Writer's Workout stuff!

  • 2024 Update: if you've participated in past WW stuff and all your docs are not in your linked folder, keep your towel handy and don't panic. The folder system is new in 2024 and Theresa is working on it; there are several thousand files to reorganize. 

 

 

Rights Requirements

  • When you register, you consent to keep every entry you submit private for the duration of the portion: all six Events. This helps The Writer's Workout maintain a blind judgement process to protect your identity as a participant and keep the scoring fair. Entries you submit must not be published anywhere (including a personal blog) until the overall winner announcement for that portion.

  • Officially: The Writer's Workout requests one-time, nonexclusive, serial publishing rights with worldwide distribution to entries placing first through fifth in any scored Event.

  • In lay terms: You own the rights to your work and allow us to include your winning entry/ies in the anthology as the piece's first publication. Writer's Games exists to help you try new things, get feedback, and create. Many of our participants rework entries into novels after Games or compile their entries into their own short story collections. We're so here for that! 

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Eligibility

  • Writer's Games is open worldwide to fiction writers over 13 years of age. When you register, you're eligible to compete in all six Events in the portion, even if one of your pieces is disqualified. 

    • Writers aged 13-17 require parental consent to participate.​

 ​

 

What's the difference between accepted, not accepted, rejected, and disqualified?

  • Accepted: Any entry submitted by a registered participant before the Event deadline is accepted for that Event. This means the judges will read, critique, and score it.

    • Exception: Mock Events are open to the public without registration. Mock Event entries must include the author's email address in the Title Information (below).

  • Not accepted: Any entry submitted by someone who is not registered is not accepted; the judges will not see the piece or know it exists.

    • Entries pasted into the body of the email are not accepted. Please check the Submissions section below for more information. Participants may continue to enter future Events.​

    • ​Entries longer than the maximum allowed word count (excluding Title Information) are not accepted.

  • Rejected: Pieces featuring politics, religion, erotica, fanfiction, or AI-copied content are rejected; the judges might have read the piece but will not critique or score it. 

    • ​Submissions featuring a language other than English for large portions of the piece​ are either not accepted or rejected, depending on when/who spots this. 
    • Incomplete submissions are rejected.

  • Disqualified: Any entry submitted by a registered participant before the Event deadline that fails to meet the Event parameters is disqualified for the Event. Judges critique disqualified entries to help you improve; the piece scores 0 but the writer is eligible to win the next Event. ​​

​ 

 

Time Zones, Allotments, and Timing

Schedule

  • All Events begin at midnight, UTC, between Friday and Saturday. Events last 72 hours (3 days) each.

  • You can check timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter to find out when Events are posted in your time zone.

    • Click "Add a City or Time Zone" and type UTC. Click to select UTC.

    • Click the day/date and select the nearest future Saturday.

    • Click the time and select 00 - 12 am.

    • Click "Add another city or time zone" and begin typing your location. A list will drop down, choose the location nearest you. The site will show you the time and day of Event postings in your location.

  • The Writer's Workout runs two open Mock Events and a Practice Event before the scored Events begin so you can be sure of the Event start/closing time.

 

Portions

  • Each portion of The Writer's Games includes six Events over consecutive weeks. Registration is required for each portion as a whole: all six Events. Registration opens the month before each portion begins. Please check the Calendar or Games pages for upcoming portion information. 

  • 2024: After a much needed break from Writer's Games in 2023, this competition is back in full swing in '24. See this year's changes

 

 

What if I miss the announcement?

  • You don't have to be present for the start of the Event, just don't miss the deadline!

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Times

 

Submissions

Language

  • The Writer's Games is an English language competition. References and minor uses of other languages can exist, even without immediate translation, but the bulk of your entry must be in English.

 

 

Submissions

  • All submissions must include Title Information. Title Information must be in the body of your document—never in the header margin—aligned left. 

 Name [and email for Mock Events]​

 Entry Title

 Event Name (not the number)

 Word Count

  • Writer's Games entries are accepted via email to submissions [at] writersworkout.net or through the DropBox app on the Writer's Games page.

  • The following file types are accepted: .doc, .docx, .odt. 

  • Files must be attached; stories pasted into the body of the email are not accepted. Pdf files are not accepted.

  • Links to live Google and Word docs are accepted. Files must be unlocked and available for download. The Writer's Workout will not request access to your locked file. 

 

 

Formatting

  • You can find the same formatting instructions on the Writer's Games and Rules pages:

    • Arial or Times New Roman, size 10 or 12pt, black text only

    • Single spaced

    • 1" empty margins on all four sides

    • Indented paragraphs

    • Blank (empty) line for scene breaks

    • Please do not include your story title a second time before your entry

    • These settings are listed as "recommended" on the Submissions page but are required for Writer's Games entries. Our submissions page serves all our publications and competitions. A caveat is listed for Writer's Games entries. 

  • All submissions to The Writer's Workout (any call) must include the proper Title Information at the start of the document, aligned left:

 Name [and email for Mock Events]

 Entry Title

 Event Name (not the number)

 Word Count

  • Event names are in all caps during the announcement.

  • Entries not meeting the general formatting requirements lose points during judgement. Entries not including Title Information in the document body, in the order listed above, will be disqualified for that Event.

  • While your formatting is important (no matter where your send your work), it's not something to stress about. Keep it simple, delete the frills: you're formatting for review, not for publication. You'll receive formatting feedback on your Practice Event entry to help you improve for the scored Events and navigate submissions guidelines at other publications.

 

 

Submissions

 

Events

What is an Event?

  • An Event is a challenge in the Writer's Games. Each portion includes six Events over consecutive weeks: one Practice Event and five scored Events. Events last 72 hours (three days) each and begin with an Event announcement.

  • Each Event is open-genre, encouraging you to explore your creativity and try new things.

  • The Events are selected before the portion begins and kept private until each Event announcement. Events are chosen from the public Tips & Events list, with a focus on balanced Core Concepts. Event names are always listed in all caps so you know what you use on your Title Information.

  • Registration for the portion ensures you can compete in all six Events regardless of how you perform. If your entry is disqualified in any Event, shake it off: you could still win the next Event.

  • You may choose to skip an Event for any reason without penalty. You do not need contact Theresa to skip; your score and eligibility are not affected. 

  • Mock Events are a trial experience of the Games before registration starts. These two challenges are open to the public for free, without registration, and are presented the same way as real Games Events. Mock Event entries help train the judges.

    • If you include your email address in your Title Information for Mock Events, you'll receive standard feedback.

 

 

Event Announcements

  • An Event announcement starts the 72-hour clock. Find each Event announcement on the Writer's Games page and in the #writersgames channel on Discord at midnight, UTC, on the cusp of Saturdays.

  • Judges accept work for the current (announced) Event only.

  • Some Events require additional information unique to that challenge. Definitions cite when additional information will be included with the announcement.

  • Some Events require an additional line in the Title Information. The announcement will include what to add. Place additions on the line below your word count.

  • You may ask non-identifying questions publicly in the #writersgames channel on Discord. Questions including identifying information—something the judges could use to tie your name to your entry—should be emailed privately to Theresa

 

 

Core Concepts

  • Core Concepts are the foundations of fiction. Each Event highlights two concepts, giving you the freedom to create and explore ideas without being tied to a specific genre. 

  • The judges base the bulk of your entry score and most of your feedback on your expression and utilization of the Event's Core Concepts. 

 

 

Word Counts

  • The maximum word count changes for each Event, based on Core Concepts and what judges believe is possible. The Event announcement includes the maximum limit.

  • There are no minimum requirements but judges advise against submitting flash fiction. Most Core Concepts need room to develop; flash fiction is often too short to fully utilize both Core Concepts.

  • Microsoft Word users, we have noticed a discrepancy in the word counts listed for Microsoft Word versions released after 2012. When checked with other services, word counts in these versions are much higher (sometimes by several hundred words) than the Word software shows.

    • Give yourself some space: if you're using a Word version released after 2012, avoid submitting pieces within a few hundred words of the maximum limit. Understand that if your submission is over the maximum word count, we cannot accept it.​

 

 

Recurring Events

  • No two portions of Writer's Games are the same. Each portion has different judges and different Events. We try to avoid running the same Event two portions in a row but sometimes, it happens. 

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Fanfiction

  • Fanfiction is not accepted for any Event or other published challenge at The Writer's Workout. Submitting fanfiction is grounds for portion disqualification: you will not be eligible to continue in the next Event. 

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Events

 

Scoring, Winning, and Disqualification

Scoring

  • Scoring for The Writer's Games is blind. We replace your name with a number to help protect your anonymity and mitigate bias. Your entry score is primarily based on your use/expression of the Event's Core Concepts. Judges also consider readability, quality, creativity, and whether the story you submitted seemed to reach its full potential. Judges use a sliding ten-point scale. 

  • Each judge develops a score for each of the pieces they read. Multiple judges read each piece. We average their scores to find the entry's Event score, then we add the writer's Event scores to find their Overall score. Every accepted entry carries a score regardless of placement.

 

 

Disqualification

  • Writer's Games is not an elimination challenge. If one of your entries is disqualified, you receive a score of 0 for that Event. The judges still critique your entry and you may continue to enter (and win) future Events in the portion. Entry disqualification has no negative effect on your score or participation.

  • For more information on disqualifiers, please read Rule 7.

 

 

Appeals

  • YES, you may appeal a content disqualification if the judges note your piece does not meet the challenge requirements. To appeal this type of disqualification, contact Theresa. Include the title of your entry, Event, grounds provided by the judges, and why you feel your entry should qualify.

    • Please keep in mind this process takes a long time and while your entry may have been a great story that judges loved, it didn't meet the challenge at hand. 

    • You are welcome to contact Theresa for further explanation if you feel the judges were not clear.

  • NO, you may not appeal a Title Information disqualification. Review the submissions guidelines and try again in the next Event. If you're following step by step and still struggling to understand the guidelines, please reach out.

 

 

Winning

  • Winning this competition depends on how you define success. 

    • Writing (in general): Writer's Games is a tough competition; you're asked to create a brand new story in 72 hours, six weeks in a row. Consistently submitting a piece each week is a huge win and you finish the portion with six new pieces (plus feedback) that you can build on, revise, convert into longer works, or compile into your own collection.  

    • Publication is a milestone many consider as the difference between a writer and an author. Writer's Games provides 26 opportunities for publication in the anthology, 72 Hours. If you want to be published, show a strong, clear understanding of both of the Event's Core Concepts to win the Event.

    • Consistency: winning overall shows a high level of consistent quality and full understanding of all Core Concepts. It's possible to win overall without placing in the top five in any Event. 

    • Improvement (in general): if your feedback shows a marked improvement over the six weeks, or from year to year, your writing growth is visible. Count this as a huge success! 

  • Understand the bulk of the score comes from Core Concepts but other aspects factor in as well. Even if your idea is amazing and judges loved it, ignoring the Core Concepts lowers your score.

 

 

Prizes

  • Every accepted submission receives free critique from multiple judges.

  • We publish the top five highest scoring entries from each Event in a volume of the anthology, 72 Hours. This anthology also includes the Judges' Choice: the single piece all the judges agree is the best written, based on their own personal criteria.

  • The top three overall winners get an interview and a physical copy of the portion's anthology. 

  • Additional prizes are subject to sponsorship and donations. 

 

 

Scoring

 

Participation

Registration

  • Registration is required for participation in each portion of The Writer's Games. Public registration opens on the first of the month before the Practice Event and closes when all spaces are full.

    • During the open registration month, we offer a waiting list for interested writers. The waiting list is first come, first served. If we cannot make enough additional spaces for everyone on the waiting list in the current portion, those further down the waiting list are eligible for early registration in the following portion.

  • Registration spaces are limited by the number of judges; more judges means more spaces. Our judges and everyone at The Writer's Workout volunteers their time to help produce this competition and run this organization. We limit registration to protect our judges' time. 

  • The open registration month changes depending on the portion schedule. We announce the portion schedule in late December or early January. Please check the Writer's Games page for dates. 

  • Early registration is an earned privilege. Writers can earn early registration by winning an Event or overall in the previous portion, winning another Writer's Workout competition where this is a listed prize, donating time to Writer's Workout, or other options that present themselves throughout the year. Early registration opens on the first of the month before open registration. 

  • To register: find the registration link on the Writer's Games page, fill out the form, and click submit. You'll receive an automated copy of your form. You're all set! 

 

 

Skipping

  • Participants might choose to skip an Event. Skipping an Event does not affect your score or eligibility. You do not need to contact anyone if you choose to skip an Event; continue with the next Event as normal.

 

 

Beta Teams and Editors

  • The Writer's Games is designed to show you what you alone can do. Some writers have teams of people to help refine their work but others are not so lucky. To provide all writers the same opportunity for success, support readers and editors are not allowed

  • If your entry wins an Event, our editing team will provide line edits. You'll have time to use these comments and your feedback to improve your entry before publication.

 

 

Transfers

  • If you find you're unable to participate, please contact Theresa before the Practice Event. Your space will be given to the next person on the waiting list. You may not designate your space to a specific person. Please note we cannot change the score sheet once the Practice Event begins. 

 

 

 

Participation
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