Prompt Exchange FAQ

If you have questions about Prompt Exchange, our main writing challenge, chances are that it will be answered here.

What is this challenge, anyway?

Prompt Exchange is a week-long writing challenge where you sign up, enter a writing prompt, and get a different prompt in return. You are randomly paired with your challenger and challengee, and each week brings a new and different batch of people.

Where do I sign up?

Use the form at the bottom of the page here.

What kind of prompt am I supposed to give?

There are no rules for writing prompts, but we do have some guidelines:

  • Keep it short. A prompt that is longer than a sentence tends to make things more complicated for the author, who already has to come up with a whole blog post as a response.
  • Keep it PG. While we don’t censor any of our responses — you certainly are welcome to write about adult themes as much as you want — we don’t have an age limit for participation, and we don’t want to accidentally offend anyone with an off-color prompt.
  • Don’t be a jerk! Asking someone to write a 500-word story about eels without using the letter E is just asking for folks to throw virtual rotten tomatoes in your direction. Prompts are meant to encourage others to think differently about their own writing and to challenge them to improve themselves, not to break them down with minutia.

Overall, think about the kind of prompt you would like to get, and then give that prompt. Take a look at some of the prompts in the previous challenges to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. And if you still can’t think of anything, there are some great writing prompt generators here and here (although the best prompts come from the minds of the participants, not from any random generators).

Can I give a non-verbal prompt?

Absolutely! However, keep this in mind: we have found that graphic art and photography work well as prompts, but videos and music — for various reasons — have a tendency to stymie and alienate people. We don’t forbid music and videos, but we also don’t encourage it.

I don’t like the prompt I got. Can I have another?

No, you may not! This system is randomized so that you will never know what you are going to get. That’s what makes it so fun! It’s an opportunity for you to stretch yourself and see where your imagination takes you.

If you are having trouble coming up with something based on the prompt you received, try thinking outside the box. Turn the prompt on its side or use it as a starting point to move your mind in a different direction.

And don’t hesitate to reach out to the editors or the community at large if you are stuck. We are here to help! Leave a note on our Facebook wall, give us a shout on Twitter, or email us at editors [at] scriptic [dot] org.

This prompt fits perfectly into the serial story I am writing. Can I write my response as an episode of my serial?

There are no rules that say you can’t, but serials have a tendency to 1) constrain the author’s imagination for where the prompt can go, and 2) alienate potentially new readers who have now jumped into the middle of the story. If you absolutely want to fit your prompt response into your serial, we encourage you to make that particular post able to stand on its own. That way, someone who is just dropping by for the challenge doesn’t have to read the 50 previous episodes to get caught up on the characters and the action.

Where do I submit my post?

Find the blog post on Scriptic.org that has this week in its title, then add your URL to the comments of that post.

How long do I have to write?

The deadline for each week’s challenge is Thursday at midnight (Eastern – USA). The comments for each post will automatically close at that time, and anything written after midnight on Thursday will not be included in the weekly roundup.

You guys are great. How do I tell the world about this?

Thanks! When you are done with your prompt, send a tweet on Twitter and make sure that you mention your challenger’s Twitter name as well as @scripticorg.

I would like to register a complaint. I believe that neither I nor my work is being taken seriously.

We’re here to help with the writing process. Feel free to reach out any time at editors [at] scriptic [dot] org, and we will try to help you the best we can, but remember that all of us here at Scriptic are volunteering our time. The challenges that we host are supposed to be fun, and the work that we feature is supposed to encourage more great work. If you feel like we have treated you badly, please accept this blanket apology…but also remember Wheaton’s Law, and don’t go crying willy-nilly to the interwebs about how we are big meanies. That’s never good for anyone, and it’s certainly not going to make us take you more seriously.