No sign-ups, no check-ins. Just pushing the boundaries of your own creativity.
To Every Season is a thematic overlay challenge that will run every year. That means you can use the theme on any other work that you publish during the challenge period, or you can write something new that fits the theme.
There is no minimum word count because we expect these stories will likely be part of other challenges, which will have their own minimums and/or maximums. If you feel inspired to write just for this challenge, we’ll provide a target minimum in the rules.
Each quarterly theme is about something that is often underrepresented, both in mainstream media and in fanfiction.
Winter is about original characters. A main character needs to be an OC. (January, February, March)
Spring is about gender and sexuality expressions outside the binary. Have one (or more) main characters outside the gender or sexuality binary.(April, May, June)
Summer is about femslash. Time to get busy with the lesbian pairings. Main character pairings only, side pairings don’t count. (July, August, September)
Fall is about characters of color. A main character needs to be a person of color. (October, November, December)
There is a Discord discussion channel on Just Write for participants. But you should feel free to ask questions on this page as well using the comment form.
- Minimum and maximum word counts are set by your other challenges. If you’re writing for this theme only, please use a 3,000 minimum.
- Any fandom or original fiction (no RPF).
- No limit on the number of stories.
- Only previously unpublished works qualify. (See note in FAQ about limited RT exception)
Q. When do I sign up?
A. There are no signups for this challenge, only a fixed posting period.
Q. When can I post?
A. Any time during the posting period listed with each quarterly challenge, though you may have a specific posting date defined by your other challenge. However, it still must be within our quarterly window to qualify to submit your link. (If we’re talking a day or two outside the posting window based on the other challenge parameters, please use the contact form to let us know and see if we can work something out.)
Q. Can I post a work in progress?
A. No. Only completed works will be accepted during the posting period.
Q. Can I use a work already published?
Q. Can I use a work I’ve written for a different challenge if it meets the requirements and posting dates?
A. Yes! In fact, we expect it. This is not a sign-up challenge, it’s more a creativity challenge to push your own limits, and then we’ll have a nice collection of stories at the end. So, carry on and double up. (Triple up, quad up… if you can get five challenges under one story, you’re a master.)
Q. Can I use a Rough Trade project (past, present, or future)?
A. Past project? No, probably not. Not unless it’s just in the immediate past and it’s within the current quarter! In general, Rough Trade might be hard to make work. You need to submit a completed work to this challenge, and it needs to be a new work, even if it’s for another challenge. That’s going to be hard to make work with Rough Trade, but it is possible. For instance, you could write it in April for April RT and the Spring Every Season Challenge, and as long as you finalized the story and posted it somewhere before the end of June, you’d be okay. If you failed to do both in the same 3 month window, it wouldn’t qualify for Every Season.
Q. Can I write more than one story?
A. Yes. As many as you want.
Q. Does it have to be a main character?
A. Yes. (Yes, yes, yes.) Can’t give this answer enough emphasis. Diversity is often done in mainstream media through secondary and tertiary characters. That’s tokenism at its finest. Your main character needs to fit the challenge parameters. If you have more than one main character, for instance, a romantic pairing, then at least one of the two needs to meet the challenge criteria.
Q. Why are the themes confined to a single quarter?
A. To provide structure and discipline for those who need it. But, also, it would be confusing as fuck to have overlapping themes.
Q. Can I post my work before the posting period of each quarter?
A. The list will be the people who posted during the (very broad) 3-month posting window. Works published ahead of that will not count. Again, if your other challenge has you posting on the last day of the prior quarter and your story would qualify for the next quarter theme, get in touch with us so we can at least consider the issue. Do not contact us unless the situation is actually on the horizon. We’re not interested in giving you a blanket, corner-case exception in the event that you might someday run into this obscure situation.
Q. If I have a work in progress that has never been published that fits the theme, can I use that?
A. Absolutely, look at you already owning the hell out of this challenge. However, the rule about it being complete must still be followed. Finish your WIP and post it during the right posting window, and it will count.
Q. Will there be an AO3 collection?
A. Yes. We’ll provide a link to the collection when people begin posting their links to our submission page.
Q. Can I discuss my fics publicly?
A. Do what is comfortable for you. You might find that you don’t want those kinds of expectations from others or whatever. The choice is yours. Also, consider your other challenges. They might have secrecy rules. For instances, QB stories all post in June, which is the Q2 theme for gender and sexuality expressions outside of the binary. If you write a QB story that fits the theme, you’ll implicitly have some secrecy rules on you for a large part of the challenge. Make sure your other challenge rules are met!
Q. Why are you using the term Character of Color for Q4 rather than BIPOC?
A. Keira and Jilly carefully considered terminology used for every aspect of the challenge, and we don’t claim that we got it “right,” but we tried our best to be sensitive to the issues in what is, honestly, an ever-changing lexicon. We remain open to updating the language used for this challenge when needed. In terms of BIPOC, Upon much reading and consideration, we decided that the use of the term BIPOC, when applied to a fiction writing challenge, would inherently be insensitive. So we decided not to do it, and rather use the older term “characters of color.” Our decision was based upon much reading and thought, and this article perhaps best and most clearly explains why we chose not to use the acronym BIPOC in relation to To Every Season. It was a choice made out of an abundance of respect and sensitivity to the topics discussed in the vox article. That said, we certainly encourage every participant’s ongoing self-education and awareness on matters related to gender, sexuality, and racial justice. This, however, is a writing challenge. It’s our job to put forth the challenge with as much sensitivity to the subject matter as possible, and it’s your job to educate yourself and make your choices based on reliable information, not our personal opinions.
Original Winter – January – March
Theme: Original Characters
Posting Dates: The entire theme period.
note: this season has already passed for 2022, but it’s included here as this is an ongoing, yearly challenge. Please check back in January 2023 for the first round of Original Winter.
At least one of your main characters must be original. You can have written about this character before or not. The character doesn’t have to be new to the screen (so to speak), they just have to be original and occupying a main spot in your story narrative.
The intention is that this be an original character of your creation. Borrowing a well-known OC from another author is just a step shy of writing fanfiction about canon characters. However, we’re not going to police it. You decide if what you’ve done is in the spirit of the challenge.
Resources: We’ve discussed this extensively on the Keira’s World podcast, particularly the bitch craft episodes and writer’s table episodes, but one episode in particular was devoted to OC creation. Some other options are: wikihow, Iulian Ionescu.
Alternative Spring – April – June
Theme: Gender and Sexuality expressions outside of the binary
Posting Date: The entire theme period.
At least one main character must be outside the gender or sexuality binary. The binaries are: cisgender male or female, and heterosexual or gay/lesbian, so you’d be aiming to write a different expression of gender and/or sexuality for your main character(s).
If you’re already comfortable writing a bisexual character, that probably wouldn’t qualify. Push yourself. Write a character who is on the Ace spectrum. Or, if you’re used to writing a male character, consider trying to write a non-binary character.
Submit your stories for Alternative Spring 2022!
Sapphic Summer – July – September
Theme: Femslash pairing (Yes, it can be platonic)
Posting Date: The entire theme period
Already comfortable in the femslash space? Yay! There’s not enough of it, so we’re doubly glad you’re writing more. We don’t care how you get to two (or more) female-identified characters, just get there—canon characters, rule 63, OCs. You do you. Yes, it must be your main characters.
If you’re wondering if both characters have to identify as lesbian? No. For example, both could be part of the bisexual spectrum or even the asexual spectrum. Also, this pairing is about femslash, so both characters (or all in the case of a three-or-more-some) need to be primarily female identified, however, we don’t care how you accomplish female-identified. They could be cisgender or transfem.
Vibrant Autumn – October – December
Theme: Characters of color
Posting Date: The entire theme period
Mainstream media heavily focuses on white characters. A main character in your story needs to be a person of color. Already comfortable here? Awesomesauce. More is always better. Please participate anyway.
You can focus on any race or culture outside of white characters and Western cultures. Western culture is based on the list defined by culture and not literal geography.
In practical terms, this means the Western World typically includes most countries of the European Union as well as the U.K., Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
source. source article mentions two possible sub groups in the “Western World.”
However, there are also two sub-regions that may or may not be included. First is the Orthodox World, which collects the countries of Eastern Europe, such as Russia, Greece, and Slovakia. Second is Latin America, which includes Mexico, Peru, and the other countries of Central and South America. As mentioned, these groupings may be considered part of the Western World or may be broken out on their own.
For our purposes, we would not include either of these sub groupings as part of the excluded culture list if you choose to focus on culture in your story. So, if you want to delve into Peruvian culture, have fun! We look forward to it!
Note: During the posting dates, there will be a page dedicated to the collection of links. Links and story information should not be posted on this page. We’re only open on this page for questions.
This is the information you will need to submit on the submission page when it’s available.
Submission page for Alternative Spring 2022.
If you would like to post on the Wild Hare Project (not required, and not encouraged if you already post to AO3), and don’t already have an account, you must notify us of that ASAP so we can prepare you for posting in that environment.