Antares Action Fiction Competition
Entries now closed. Thank you to all for entering.
We’d like to add some Antares action fiction to the Nexus and the universe as a whole, and thought the best way of doing so was to invite you, the players and Antares community to contribute your own! If you’d like to send in a piece of action fiction, follow the guidelines below, write a piece from 500 to 1000 words long, reread and edit it (important!), then send it to us to review.
We’ll not only add the most exciting and interesting to the Nexus, but can also give out webstore vouchers to the winning entries (up to 5). We’ll also give writers a chance to have their own fiction in the upcoming Antares rules and supplements. At the moment the target date is the end of May (two whole months), but we may well extend the invitation beyond that given the current situation.
Don’t feel you have to wait, either – you can submit as many pieces as you like!
We’re looking for short pieces of action fiction. We’re not looking for background or political pieces, but real action on the battlefields of Antares. A few examples might be:
- Boromites fighting off invasive Virai from a mega-lode;
- Concord engaged in a bitter struggle with Isorians;
- Algoryn fighting off an attempted Ghar take-over of their world;
- Freeborn defending their goods against…. well, anyone, really;
- Or any suitable combination – or even unsuitable combinations if the justification is strong enough (a rogue shard fighting to separate itself from the Concord)!
If you’re looking for reasons and worlds, we suggest you read the background both here and in the books, or even check out an article on Gatebuilder artefacts – the most precious of resources on Antares.
Release your creative juices: let’s see what stories we can tell!
All the stories must be in English. They will have to be reformatted, so your submission should not rely on complex formatting. They should not reference Vorl, but could certainly reference interesting Spill or Feral societies.
Before sending your submission in, please read through it, edit it and spell check it.
Layout: We’d prefer it if fairly common conventions are adhered to: use your word processor’s built-in formats for headings or normal body text, and use tabs for indents rather than spaces. Please use normal English structural conventions.
Fonts: Use basic fonts (Cambria, Calibri, Times, Arial and equivalents) and at 11pt, with line spacing set at 1.5 lines (do not use equi-spaced fonts such as Courier and definitely do not use cursive fonts or Comic Sans!).
File Format: What you send should be in a file in .rtf or .doc / .docx format (no PDFs, html or text files).
We cannot accept submissions that fail to follow these guidelines.
Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘2020 Action Fiction‘ in the subject. We may get back to you and suggest some edits, but the final pieces will certainly have to go through an editing process (it doesn’t hurt!).
Did we say read it through first and spell check it?
Whilst there are plenty of common writing pitfalls, but not all apply in all situations and we hesitate to give hard and fast rules! We’ll try and update this with the most common as we see them occurring.
Topic and Format: The most common pitfall is not reading or not adhering to the submission format guidelines, above or the theme (action fiction). A variant is to forget this is Antares and you are writing for BtGoA fans.
Length: Whilst the 500-1000 word limit is quite broad, you do not have to use up the full word count. Many scenes have their own length, so do not pad them out as you may well lose impact. It helps that this is for action fiction – scenes – so sharp and snappy not only works really well but may help with the word count. The problem starts in padding it out, so…
Characters: In such short fiction there is not enough time to get bought into too many characters. Indeed, one main (perhaps named) character is enough. If a character isn’t vital to the action, don’t bother about weighing us down with detail or even names – quick, short descriptions are fine (and often hidden beneath armour, anyway). In short: if a character is not important, don’t spend word count and pace on them. ‘Character’ by the way could refer to a small team who are the focus of the scene, or a pair.
Viewpoint:Again, length is tight, so stick to one viewpoint and don’t switch around. Unless you are a literary genius.
Start/Finish: An oft-seen trap in such flash fiction is for writers to start too early and finish too late. The former is simply to a wish to establish a character or setting; the latter a wish to wrap up and provide a tidy and ‘satisfactory’ finish – which is often not necessary as it can be inherent to the action. Try cutting out introductory or scene-setting paragraphs or trailing, ‘wrap-up’ paragraphs and see how the story reads. If an environment is absolutely necessary – and it occasionally is in science fiction – try and incorporate it into the action or dialogue rather than as a separate infodump.
Another, major problem is forgetting this is Action fiction, not just a decent story. Oh, I think we said that – but it’s worth repeating.
Background: This is set in and is for the universe of Antares, so use Antarean factions, weaponry, structures, cultural themes and naming conventions. Do use or make up names that feel right for the faction – the Ghar naming conventions are here, for example. Do not use common names from Earth’s industrial period (now!), unless they are unavoidable, nor names based on hyperbole, measurement or abstract units (i.e. no ‘Giga-‘, ‘Mega-‘ or ‘Meta-‘) as Antares is huge and wondrous, already – a futuristic setting that encompasses over 5 million star systems and at least ten times as many worlds.
And please, please only use apostrophes in names if they are absolutely necessary, such as to represent a glottal stop (‘wa’er’ as a Dockland accent for ‘water’).
Adjectives and adverbs: In school, we’re encouraged to include lots of descriptive words and phrases. This is great as an exercise to broaden vocabulary but when an action piece is overloaded with them it can quickly fall into the ‘purple prose’ category and lose impact. Sure, use them as necessary, but don’t overuse. Speech is one example: very often the context, the words used, basic punctuation, phrasing and sentence length communicates the tone. In dialogue, just using the word ‘said’ normally works well as it’s an almost invisible word but, of course, this is writing fiction so there are no hard and fast rules.
Quick Feedback: We’re aware that not everyone who writes for this will be a writer! So, if you have written a piece, are unsure, and want some quick feedback, Tim is happy to do so – but please mention it clearly on an initial submission. When you come to send in your final submission, do put ‘FINAL’ on the subject line as we may accidentally read the wrong submission.
And, finally, don’t forget the topic and focus is on Action, not ‘just’ a decent story.