Creative fanworks challenge for The Sentinel fandom

Big Bang FAQ

Jim and Blair

The FAQ aims to anticipate questions that may come up and to clarify the challenge rules. If you have any questions not answered here, please leave a comment or contact the mods.


If I sign up for this, what am I committed to?

If you sign up as a writer, your commitment is to to write a Sentinel-related project of at least 10,000 words. Your project can be a single story or meta essay, or it could be multiple pieces that are linked in some way.

If you sign up as an artist, your commitment is to create a single fan art, a fanvid or some other kind of multimedia work (i.e. not text) to accompany or illustrate a written project claimed by you.

For both authors and artists, the initial sign-up is a statement of intent; you can withdraw with no hard feelings at any time up until the rough draft deadline (writers) or artist claims (artists).

If you sign up as a cheerleader, your commitment is to help encourage a creator you are assigned to as she works on her artwork or project. Encouragement can take any form that suits the two of you – you might help her brainstorm ideas, read bits and pieces as she writes, or just check in every now and then to see how it’s going. The details are for you both to work out between you.

I don’t have an LJ account. Can I still sign up?

Yes! You do have to sign up by commenting on the LJ post, but “anonymous” comments will be allowed on all sign-up posts. Or you can sign up using OpenID. If you have no idea what Open ID is, you can email your sign up to the mods who will post a sign-up comment on your behalf.

See ‘For non-Livejournal users‘ below for more information about taking part without a Livejournal account.

Writers and artists

What if my fic/essay is less than 10,000 words?

10,000 words is the minimum for the Big Bang. We will allow a little leeway, but not more than around 50 words.

There is no maximum word count. However, because the projects will be posted by the mods, and preparing them for posting takes time, we will not consider extensions of more than a few days if the story is over 25,000 words.

Can I use a story I have already started working on for the Big Bang?

Yes, with certain restrictions. If you want to submit an existing story it must either

  • be entirely unposted – no part of the story has been posted anywhere before, including in ‘locked’ posts; or
  • if any part of the story has previously been posted you must add at least 7,000 words and at least double the length of whatever you have previously posted. In other words, if you’ve already posted 10,000 words of it, you must add at least that much to qualify for the Big Bang. If you’ve already posted 3,000 words or less, you only need to meet the 10,000 minimum to qualify.

Once Big Bang signups open, you cannot post any part of your project anywhere, even under friends-lock. (Posting of extracts in writer support communities is allowed as long as posts are viewable by members-only. This is the only exception.)

What other limitations are there?

There are only two content restrictions: no RPF – Real Person Fic – and no explicit sex involving characters under 18.

Real Person Fiction

Note that the no RPF rule does include crossovers with other RP fandoms; for example, if Jim and Blair meet a boy band in your story, you must make it a fictional one, not a bandom crossover. Jim and Blair going to a concert featuring a real life band would be okay if none of the band members are characters in your story.

That said, real people are allowed as background characters where it is essential to make the story work. For instance, if Jim and Blair are investigating a murder on a TV set, you could make it a real TV show and mention the real life stars. But all characters with a major part to play in the story must be fictional characters.

The no under-age sex rule

The no under-age sex rule applies only to graphic or explicit sex scenes in stories or artwork. The rule is there to protect us all in a world where the legal-eagles are increasingly paranoid about this kind of thing.

It’s not about pretending teenagers never do it. It’s about staying on the right side of the ‘porn line’. So young characters can kiss in your stories, and they can even have sex as long as the sex scene is fade-to-black.

Similarly, young characters or young-seeming characters are allowed in artwork as long as there is no nudity or obvious sexual contact. Certain styles of artwork can make characters appear very young even when they are not. We’re well aware that no children are harmed by chibi-style art, but sometimes people outside fandom just don’t get it.

We don’t want to censor, but this rule is here to protect all participants in the challenge. Some jurisdictions won’t accept “it’s only artwork” as an excuse for under-age images and it’s the appearance that counts, not the reality. If you’re not sure where to draw the line, please ask the mods.

Any other restrictions on content?

No, but all submissions must be posted with appropriate ratings and warnings and all written works must be beta read.

Can I write a crossover fic or create crossover artwork?

Yes, as long as the primary focus is on one or more Sentinel characters. It’s not enough to have sentinels and guides in your work; there has to be at least once character from the show. We recommend writers limit it to a single crossover fandom, because that makes it easier to find you an artist. But that’s a recommendation, not a rule. If you really want to write the characters from ten different shows into your Sentinel story, you can…just realise you might end up with no artist if you do!

For artworks, obviously your crossover must match the story assigned to you. (Note that if you claim a crossover project you don’t have to create crossover artwork – you may limit your artwork to the Sentinel characters if you prefer.)

Can I write a story in an existing AU ‘verse, or a sequel to a story I’ve already posted?

Yes, but it’s very important that your Big Bang story is a stand-alone. A lot of readers won’t be interested in a story if they feel like they are missing something. If you are writing a sequel, please make sure you either fill in important details within the story or include an introduction to explain what’s in the earlier story/stories.

Can I co-write my project? That is, can two of us collaborate on one work? Are there special rules for that?

Yes, you can definitely collaborate. The only special rule is you need to state in your signup whether you plan to collaborate. You can change your mind and submit an independent work, but you can’t change your mind in the other direction. That is, if you sign up as a single creator, we won’t accept a collaborative work. (Note, though, that you can edit your sign up until about two weeks before the final deadline – that’s what you need to do if you decide on a collaboration late in the schedule.)

If you plan to collaborate, only one of your team has to sign up. They can sign up on behalf of the team. You can also sign up individually.

Everything else stays the same – all the same rules, including beta reading and deadlines and everything, apply.

Can I create more than one artwork or write more than one project?

Writers can submit up to two (2) projects and each project can be either a single work or multiple linked works.

Artists will be allowed to claim multiple projects if there are more art projects available for claiming than there are writers. For each project, artists can create as many different pieces of artwork as they want to.

I’ve never had a beta before, and don’t like when people criticize my writing. Can I just turn in my own work?

Unfortunately, no. The mods want to make sure all of the works in the Big Bang are at least readable, that’s why it’s important to have a beta reader. Even of the best writers often another pair of eyes to catch something that may have slipped past them.

By submitting a story for the Big Bang you are asking an artist to put in a significant time commitment to illustrate your work, and you are asking readers to put in a certain amount of time to read it. Please respect that by making your work the best it can be.

If you have your own beta reader that you always work with, great. If you’ve never worked with a beta before, there will be a ‘willing to beta’ post where you can contact someone to beta for you, but you cannot send a final submission that is not beta-read.

What if I don’t agree with what my beta says?

You listen to her opinions and give them some honest consideration, and then decide what to keep and what to change. The mods may also be reading the fic, though, and if you submit anything that’s got major grammar, spelling or none-of-this-makes-sense issues you will be asked not to participate in future.

What do I need to know about formatting the text of my projct?

We have a separate page of advice for you about this. The details on this page are the best way to format  your work; however we are pretty flexible and you can submit in any style that works best for you. There are some restrictions on file type, however, which are in the submission guidelines.

Why is there no rough draft deadline for writers?

Because the final submission deadline now comes before artist claims. The reasons we asked for rough drafts in the past were a) as evidence that your story would be finished by the deadline before we assigned an artist to you and b) so we would have something to give the artist to work with in the unlikely event you were unable to make contact with each other. Reason A no longer applies, and your final version will work for reason B.

If you need an extension on the final copy deadline you will be required to submit a completed rough draft instead.

We are still asking for rough drafts from artists so there is time for the mods to find pinch-hitters if needed. This is why we do not allow extensions on the rough draft deadline: any artist who fails to send in a rough draft will be treated as a drop-out and we’ll immediately look for a new artist for that project.

Why have you made the final deadline for writers so much earlier?

To give the mods time to code and format all of the projects for posting. Long works take a long time to format, and we will be producing multiple versions of each project (web copy, print quality PDF, epub and mobi e-books). We realise the earlier deadline will be a challenge for some people, but there are six months from signups to final submissions, and you can start your work earlier if you want to. We even modified the rules to let you use an existing work in progress (with certain restrictions as explained in the rules).

Why do I have to submit the finished story to the mods? Can’t I just post my own work when it’s ready?

All stories and artwork will be posted by the mods on the Big Bang website. This was decided by our participants in the poll we posted in June 2012.

Once the Big Bang is over and the masterlist has been posted on this site, you are free to re-post your project elsewhere.

Can I choose my own artist?

Sorry, no.

Well, then can I choose what kind of art work I’ll get to go with my project?

No, you can’t do that either. Your artist may ask you what you’d like, or she may not – that’s up to the artist.

Can I do my own art to go with my story if I’m also signed up as an artist?

No. The Big Bang is all about collaboration. You can sign up as both an artist and a writer, but you’ll be assigned to create art for someone else’s project.

What if the story you assign me to illustrate doesn’t inspire me?

Well, you’ll have some choice over which story you are assigned, though there’s no guarantee you’ll get your first preference. Once the assignments are sent out, they are final. If the project summary doesn’t inspire you, don’t claim it!

If you find you absolutely can’t create something to go with the project you’ve claimed, contact the mods and we’ll try to arrange a swap or a pinch-hit artist.

Can I do NC17 (graphically sexual) manips?

Yes, you absolutely can. You just need to include relevant warnings. But you are not obliged to do NC17 art even if the story you have claimed is a PWP. You have complete control over the kind of artwork you create.

The writing rule about no under-age porn applies to artworks as well. If your artistic style makes the characters appear very young (e.g. anime-style or chibis) please don’t do nudes, even with the important parts covered. (Kissing with clothes on or ‘naughty touching’ through clothing is okay, just nothing that might be considered ‘porn’.)

Cheerleaders and Betas

If I sign up to cheerlead, what am I getting myself into?

You’re committing to making yourself available, via comments, email, chat or IM, to help the writer(s) you are cheerleading for to brainstorm, think their ways out of corners, and keep working when they get a little down. Your job will be to toss ideas around as needed, listen as needed, encourage, and generally provide moral and conceptual support. It will be up to you and your assigned author to work out between you how best you can help.

If all that sounds a little too much for you, you can cheerlead more generally for everyone by watching the community and commenting on the checkpoint posts. You don’t sign up anywhere to do that – just watch for the checkpoint posts and do it.

What about beta reading? Is that part of cheerleading?

It might be! Or not – you can cheerlead without ever offering a word of editorial advice. Sometimes these functions overlap, and for some people, the way they cheer might include that kind of help.

Okay, can I offer to beta only? I’m not very good at being perky.

Definitely. Not all cheerleaders are beta readers, just as not all beta readers are cheerleaders. There will be a ‘willing to beta’ post as well – you can sign up to beta there.

What if my writer doesn’t want a cheerleader?

You won’t be assigned to cheerlead for someone who hasn’t requested a cheerleader. If you’re assigned to cheerlead for someone who later decides she doesn’t want one, please respect that. We’ll try to assign you to a different writer or, failing that, you can still cheerlead more generally at the checkpoints.


What are these checkpoints all about, then?

Taking part in the checkpoints is completely optional.The checkpoints are a way to encourage writers to keep writing and to give them writing targets to meet each month if that’s something they find helpful.

At each checkpoint, there will be a post telling you the target for that month. If you are are a writer, you can ‘check in’ by commenting on the checkpoint post (or via email on our mailing list), tell everyone about your progress, ask for help if you need it and tease a little about the project you’re writing. Everyone else can reply to your comments and cheer you along.

There are no penalties for missing a checkpoint, or for not having enough written by the checkpoint deadline. They are just to encourage you to keep going. If having targets to meet doesn’t work for you, ignore them and work at your own pace. If the whole idea of checkpoints puts you off, you don’t have to take part in them at all.

There will be checkpoints for both artists and writers in the Big Bang.

Dropping out

What if I just can’t complete my work once I’ve signed up?

We’ll cry.

No, seriously, stuff happens. We all know that. If you have to pull out of the challenge before the deadline, that’s fine and the only consequence is you don’t get to be in the Big Bang.

Once you have submitted your rough draft (art) or final submission (written), you are committed to the Big Bang and in the case of artists, committed to finishing your work by the deadline. Even so, I do understand that sometimes RL makes this impossible. If you have to pull out after you’ve submitted your rough draft, please, please, please let the mods know as early as possible, so we can reassign things or find pinch-hitters.

If you don’t use Livejournal…

For non-Livejournal users: The ‘Big Bang’ tradition started on Livejournal (in Harry Potter fandom) and a Livejournal community is the easiest venue to co-ordinate the challenge. We are aware, though, that a number of Sentinel fans don’t like Livejournal at all. We have no wish to exclude those fans, and will do everything we can to make the challenge accessible to those who prefer not to use this service.

  •  All rough drafts and final submissions must be sent via the submission forms on this site; that’s the same for LJ-users and non-LJers alike.

If there is anything more we can do to make participation more accessible for non-Livejournal users, please do contact us and let us know. It may be something obvious that just hasn’t occurred to us yet.

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