The Silmarillion Writers' Guild--An Online Community for Silmarillion Study and Fan Fiction

TheSilmarillionWriters'Guild


Challenge Guidelines | Sort Challenges by Date | Sort Challenges by Name | Random Silmfic Prompt Generator




Jump to: How to Participate | Frequently [Anticipated] Questions


SWG May Challenge Hero's Journey Matryoshka Challenge

Current Challenge: The Hero's Journey

This month's challenge is a Matryoshka challenge based on the theme of the hero's journey archetype, in honor of the upcoming volume Beren and Lúthien (which will hopefully be published before the challenge closes). Your story does not have to be about heroes, journeys, Beren and Lúthien, or follow the archetype, but prompts will be loosely inspired by it.

How a Matryoshka Challenge Works

Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are hollow figurines that contain progressively smaller figurines inside each level. For this challenge, you will be sent several prompts via email. You will use these prompts to create one fanwork. You will start your story using the first prompt. You will open each subsequent prompt only when you reach a predetermined milestone in your story. (The milestones will be clearly stated in each prompt.) Your challenge is to incorporate each prompt into your story as you write, figuring out how to creatively work in a tricky prompt or (if you're brave!) being willing to take the story in a new direction to fit the prompt.

Again, you can write any story you want to fit the prompts! It doesn't have to be about the hero's journey. The challenge is to use them all, in order, in one story.

How to Participate

If you want to participate, please let us know whether you would like an easy (3 prompts), medium (5 prompts), or difficult (7 prompts) challenge. You may email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org, comment on our Dreamwidth, comment on our LiveJournal, or send us an ask on Tumblr.

Challenge stories are due on the SWG archive by June 10 in order to be eligible for a stamp. As always, late responses are welcome but will not receive a stamp.

Read entries for the Hero's Journey challenge.




Challenges have been a part of the SWG since our group was formed in 2005. Before the archive, there were challenges. Before References or any special projects or B2MeM or any of the myriad things we've done over the last decade-plus, there were challenges. From 2005 through 2008, we offered at least one challenge every month. In 2009, we switched to a quarterly format. Challenges were always entirely self-directed: You did not have to sign up, post your work by a certain date, or meet any other requirements.

Beginning in January 2017, we instituted several changes to the SWG challenges. We reverted back to the monthly format. But more importantly, we also modified our participation rules to encourage participation from both authors and commenters. Please read the guidelines below to participate in our challenges. Participants--both authors and reviewers--will receive a small monthly prize for their participation.

Please note that every challenge that has ever been offered by the SWG will continue to remain on the site, available for perusal and use by creators of fanworks who are looking for inspiration. Even if the deadline is passed, you are welcome to use the challenges listed on our site. And reviews of past challenge stories are always welcome and always receive a reward for that month. Again, the guidelines below have full details.

How to Participate

  1. New challenges will be released monthly on the 15th. You can find the current challenge in the Challenge section of our website or listed in the sidebar under Current Challenges. The current challenge can also be found on our satellite groups on LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, and Tumblr.

  2. Challenges will need to be posted to the SWG archive by the 10th of the month in order to count as an official entry for that month's challenge. Make sure that you add your story to the challenge using the Challenges field on the story submission form:

    screenshot of the challenges field on the story submission form

  3. The only exception to Rule 2: If you want to respond to a challenge in a format that is not easily posted to our archive (e.g., art, craft, video), you may post your response to our LiveJournal or Dreamwidth communities. Please identify it as a challenge entry somewhere in your post. Formats that must be posted to the archive to count include fiction, nonfiction/essays, poetry, script/screenplay, podfic, and other audio.

  4. You are welcome to cross-post your work wherever you want, but at a minimum, it must be archived on our website.

  5. Works must be Silmfic, but any genre, rating, pairing, characters, or format are allowed. Works-in-progress are welcome.

  6. Challenge entries will now be promoted in a monthly links list posted in our newsletter and satellite groups. (If you don't want your work linked, all you need to do is drop us a note to let us know.)

  7. Challenge participants will receive a stamp for each challenge that they complete. In addition, if you review a challenge story, you will receive a stamp for participating as a reviewer. Unleash your inner philatelist because we will start a stamp collection for all participants that will be updated from month to month! We will email you at the email address you have registered with us with a link to your stamps when we create your collection for you.

  8. Review challenges have no due date. However, if you are reviewing a story posted more than two months ago, we appreciate if you email us and let us know that you need a stamp. Please note that review stamps are not available for specific challenges before January 2017, although reviewing challenge stories posted before that date will still count toward the total number of challenge stories you have reviewed.

FAQs: Frequently [Anticipated] Questions

What is the challenge format?
The format will vary from month to month. Some will be simple prompt challenges. Others? Let's just say we have some wild ideas up our moderator sleeves ...

I hate this month's format. What gives?
There will be a new format next month, so we hope there will be a little something to appeal to everyone. If a particular month's format doesn't appeal to you as a writer, we encourage you to aim for the reviewer prizes that month instead!

Does my response have to be fiction or can I write poetry or nonfiction instead?
Unless the challenge specifies a particular format, then you can write any format that you want. Responses in formats other than writing, such as art or podfic, are also welcome.

How should I post art and other multimedia responses?
Formats that are not yet easily archived on our site can be posted to our LiveJournal or Dreamwidth communities. Please make sure that you identify your response as a challenge entry somewhere in your post. Formats currently accepted on the archive are fiction, nonfiction/essays, poetry, script/screenplay, podfic, and other audio. All other formats may be posted to LiveJournal or Dreamwidth.

My story is probably going to be really long. So I have less than a month to finish?
No, all you need to do is to post the start of the story. You can have as long as you need to update and finish it.

How long do I have to wait before I can cross-post my story to other archives?
You don't have to wait. It's your story. It's yours to do with as you please, including cross-posting it wherever and whenever you want. The SWG doesn't even have to be the first site where you archive it, but you do have to archive it with us before the deadline if you want to collect a stamp for it.

I commented on a challenge story on another site. Does that count toward the review challenge?
No. All stories and comments must be on the SWG archive to count for the challenge and to receive a stamp.

My story's kind of a weird interpretation of a challenge. Will it still count?
It sure does. We're not going to be checking entries to see if they conform closely enough to what we think is a proper response to a prompt. We're all writers too and know that sometimes prompts can run away with their writers along roads less traveled.

I don't want my work linked on a particular site or at all. Can I still participate?
You certainly can. Just drop us an email letting us know your preferences. You can be left off of one month's links list, all links lists, or a links list for a particular site.

This prompt seems perfect for a LotR story or a story for another fandom. Does that count?
We only accept Silmfic on our archive, and a story must be posted to our archive to count for the official challenge, so no, it could not count if it's not Silmfic. However, you're free to use the challenges to write other Tolkien-based and other fandom stories. They just can't count officially for our challenge.

Can I suggest a challenge?
Absolutely! If you have an idea for a format or a particular prompt, drop us a line at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org. If there's a format you loved and would like to see again, let us know!

Whom should I inform when I complete a challenge, either as an author or a reviewer?
You don't need to tell anyone. We'll be monitoring activity on that challenge on our site (which is part of the reason why challenge stories and comments must be posted to the SWG archive and not other sites or SWG satellites to count). However, if you're leaving a review on a challenge story that is more than two months old, letting us know with an email to moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org would be much appreciated.

Can I still use the challenges after the deadline has passed?
Absolutely! All of our challenges are archived on our site by date and alphabetically by name. We will not offer stamps for stories posted after the deadline, but we encourage people to use our challenges list as a hammer to smash writer's block or to take their creative work in new directions.