Each participant must sign up by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (You do not have to have made suggestions in order to participate.) This email should contain the list of characters you would like to read, as well as the list of characters you are willing to write for. You must request three (no more, no less) characters from Marvel and/or DC (including Vertigo and WildStorm) titles; you may request one additional character from an independent title. Please list at least one title for which the character is well-known; if more than one individual has used the same alias, please list his or her civilian name, also, so that you don't get a story written for the wrong character. When you make your request, you may also include (briefly) specific details you would like to see (or not see) in the story (for example, a particular pairing, a particular time period of the character's life, or particular story elements like character deaths). Although writers are encouraged to honor the detail field, this is entirely optional for them.
You must volunteer to write at least three Marvel and/or DC (including Vertigo and WildStorm) characters; you may volunteer to write independent characters as well. There is no upper limit on the number of characters you may volunteer to write, and we encourage you to volunteer for all the characters you think you could write; this will make it much easier for us to match writers and readers.
We ask that you also include your name and an email address which we can use for all challenge-related emails. If you like, you may list your website and/or blog; being able to see these may be very helpful to the writer who gets assigned to you.
To sum up, a challenge sign-up should look like this:
Julie B. (email@example.com)
Kremlin (EX MACHINA) -- I'd prefer gen
Shortpack (MYSTIQUE) -- Humor; no deaths, please
Alex (RUNAWAYS) -- A focus on his motives would be nice
Willing to write:
Rorschach, Nite Owl, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre (WATCHMEN)
Mina Murray, Invisible Man (LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN)
Swamp Thing (SWAMP THING)
Jack (FROM HELL)
WRITING THE STORY
Participants will each be sent the request of someone who has asked for at least one of the characters who they offered to write. (If you are willing to write more than one of the characters in your assigned reader's request, you can choose the character you would prefer, or
even write more than one story, if you're so inclined.) You will have a month to write the story and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each story must be a minimum of 1000 words. The story must focus on the character who is assigned. Of course, many of these characters have important familial, romantic, or professional relationships with more popular characters; we are not asking you to ignore these. However, we
expect that no matter who else appears in the story, your assigned character will be the primary focus. Otherwise, you have a free hand; you may write any genre, any pairing (het or slash), from any time period in the character's career, in any style.
Participants are encouraged to look at the website or blog of their assigned reader (if available) in order to get an idea of their tastes. They are also encouraged to consider fulfilling any details in their reader's request; however, this is absolutely not mandatory.
Stories should be sent to email@example.com (not the email address of your reader!) in text-only format, using underscores (_) to indicate italics and asterisks (*) to indicate bolding. They may be included in the body of the email or attached. Author's notes should not include any personally-identifying information (including thanks to betas), since we want people to read the stories first without knowing who the author is.
THE STORY ARCHIVE
The stories will be posted in the challenge archive, Comica Obscura, after the deadline. They will first be posted without authors' names; a week later, all authors will be revealed.
Because of the potential nature of the stories, you must be an adult to participate.
An "obscure" challenge is a little different from many of the other challenges out there. These stories are, by definition, harder to produce than other stories (if they were easy, everybody'd be doing them!), so recipients need to be flexible in their expectations and understanding about the difficulty involved. This is a chance to get matched with someone who's willing to write about a comics character that you like but don't get to read enough about; it's not a chance to place an order to make someone produce the exact story you always wanted to see for that character. We will also be expecting people not to publicly criticize the story they receive. (What you do in private is your own affair. Public entries in your blog or LJ are not private.)
Participants will have varied tastes. The detail field is provided to help give your author a better chance of writing a story you will like. Please do not use it to be unpleasant about story elements you do not want to see. That is, if you would really prefer a slash story, it is fine to say "I would prefer slash"; however, something like "No het! That stuff is gross!" is not acceptable. When you make your request, ask yourself how you would feel if you liked to write whatever it is you're saying you don't want to see and got that request. If the answer is "annoyed" or "insulted," you need to revise.
Because someone else is committed to writing a story for you, we expect you to make a serious attempt to write the story you are assigned. If you find that you must drop out, please let us know as soon as possible, so that we can try to make arrangements to get a story written for your assigned reader. People who don't complete their assignments will be asked not to participate in future challenges.
Because the authors' identities are supposed to be secret, please be careful not to make references in public during the challenge to any details about the story you are writing. Consider it your own chance to play superhero (or villain, if you prefer). You are, of course, welcome to use beta readers, but, in order not to give away whose story you are writing, please try to recruit them discreetly.
Individuals who violate these expectations may be asked not to participate in future years, at the discretion of the moderators. (Individuals who default on their stories will be asked not to participate.)
Questions may be posted to the community (preferably as a comment to this post) or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year's (2006) schedule is as follows:
4/4 to 4/10 (midnight EST, i.e., Monday at midnight): signup at email@example.com
4/17: assignments mailed to participants
5/15: assignments to be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
shortly thereafter: new stories appear on archive!
That's it! Feel free to promote this challenge to all your friends and neighbors!