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There is a Time and a Place for Everything

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What: RS Games 2016
When: May 2016 (watch this space)
Where: http://rs_games.livejournal.com/
Why: Fun, friends, and some really good R/S stories and art!
Well, it is that time of year again, the time that we throw out as many prompt suggestions as possible. This post is to collect prompt ideas and allow everyone to view and think about them.

We will give ourselves until 11:59PM (or, really, the end of the day) on Sunday, April 3rd to suggest and collect prompts. At that point, we will give ourselves another week or so, to discuss (if necessary, though it's not really come to that before) and vote (or, rather, choose) the prompts we like. Yes, this does sound early, but in the past we've found that getting this out of the way is helpful. Also, it gives us longer to create the actual prompt table post which can be a coding nightmare.

A quick overview of how prompts work:

1) Prompts generally work around the theme, but they also expand it. This year our theme is: "There's a Time and Place for Everything," so prompts should focus on the ideas of place or time.  In a perfect world, a prompt might go both ways, but, clearly, that is not always possible.  And, as we discussed earlier, the best prompts are those that can be interpreted in more than one way. Perhaps as you go along, you can can think about multiple ways each prompt could be taken.

2) This year, as in most years past, there will be three types of prompts. This gives the participants the widest-range possible of options, and, as we know, people are inspired my many different things. The three types are:
A) Word-based: these are quotations, passages from literature, poem fragments, etc. Traditionally, there are the greatest number of these, as they tend to be quite popular, but that might be a little different this year.
B) Picture-based: these are photographs and other visual images. These tend to be popular, too - perhaps with the writers more than the artists. One thing to keep in mind here is copyright law. In general, this is not an issue but, theoretically, it could be if the wrong person came along and had issues with the use of the art. One way to get around this is to credit the artists/photographer when necessary.
C) Audio-visual prompts: These are, unsurprisingly, songs and videos. It should be noted that it seems easiest to embed actual videos of songs so if you have a song in mind, you might search for a You Tube video of it. If you don't want to cloud the issue of the song by images, there are usually videos available that only feature the lyrics or maybe pictures of the artist. Traditionally, we need fewest of these type prompts, but they can be the most fun. NOTE: In past years this post has become a little overwhelmed by the various embedded videos, so please feel free to link, too.

3) We are looking for a wide variety of prompts that have appeal to a wide variety of participants. This means that we need prompts that inspire art as well as story and could lead to a wide variety of genres (humor, romance, angst, adventure, hurt-comfort, smut, AU, non-magic AU, crack!fic, and everything in between). Strange as it may sound, we need to think of the possible outcome when we consider the prompt. For the sake of the readers, we want to avoid a plethora of story retellings and stories than all have the same tone and feel. And we want to give participants the chance to create anything they want to regardless of the theme of the Games. This also means that good prompts should be accessible participants regardless of age, gender, religion, educational level, ethnic background, nationality, socio-economic status, etc. Obviously, not every prompt can appeal to every person, but it is something to keep in mind when we eventually choose the ones we want to use. Also, this year please keep in mind that there will be a Team Time and Team Place, so please keep that in mind, too.  In fact, if a prompt only fits one Team, you might want to indicate that: (Time), etc.  We did the year we did "Seasons" and that really helped.

4) In the past we have found that the best prompts are the most open-ended. In other words, prompts that seem vague seem to be the most popular and lend themselves to the widest variety of options. (For example, one year, choices like the picture of a foggy road at sunrise or the Proclaimers' song 500 Miles or this quotation: It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~ Herman Melville, were often chosen and seemed to create great works.) Prompts that are too specific can be problematic in that sometimes a participant chooses it because they love it at first, but the inspiration doesn't come in the end. That leads to negative things like dropping the fest, creating something half-assed, or just general unhappiness and frustration. Also, we've found in the past that sometimes prompts that are too specific lead to the same thing over and over again and that gets boring for the readers. Remember, submit anything you want, but keep in mind what might lead to a variety of interpretations.

5) The more choices we give ourselves, the better it is in the end. If, as in years past, we have around 70 initial participants, we will want at least 40 prompts. This leads to a wide variety of works. If we have too few prompts it leads to too much of the same thing over and over and it gets boring for the reader/viewer.

Below you will find three main comments to this post: one for word-based prompts, one for picture-based prompts, and one for audio-visual prompts. All you have to do is respond to each comment with your own comment (or comments) containing each prompt. It helps if you number them because that makes the voting/choosing part easier. You may list your prompts all in one post or over many posts, but please keep your numbering consistent and consecutive. In other words, when doing picture prompts, start with #1 and keep going from there. Even if you make seven different picture prompt posts, keep numbering as if it were one post. And, if you can, please indicate if the prompt is Tome or Place or both.  Also, please just number your own and don't worry about anyone else's numbers. This makes it far easier to keep track of in the end, for we can refer to things as "Pica #7" or "Cackles #2" or "Whitestar #13." Still confused? Please look at previous years posts.

Themes Take Two (The Short List)

So, we got them down from 14 to a much more manageable seven.  Yay us!  Now let's discuss them, keeping in mind that we need to pick Team Designations as well, and we'll decide by Feb 14th.  Does that work?



1. In Sickness and in Health: I pitched this two years back, too late for it to be considered. Since then, I have become even more attached to the idea. I know lots of people write and read fanfic because the real world is a difficult place, or even inaccessible, to them. Many members of the fandom deal with disability, mental health issues, and chronic illness, and so do Remus and Sirius.
The theme has broad applications. There's huge potential for fluff, angst, and of course hurt/comfort. Possibilities include everything from one pup nursing the other through the 'flu, the issues surrounding Remus's lycanthropy and Sirius's post-Azkaban PTSD, to medical drama AUs, eating disorders, and even stories about terminal illness.

I also wanted to add, for the record, that I have seen a lot of people on tumblr specifically asking for fic involving characters with chronic illness, mental health issues, and disabilities. "In Sickness and In Health" could go a long way towards filling a major need in the fandom.



2. Time (I'll think of a clever tag later): Some call it the fourth dimension - others call it a mere illusion - but however you see it, it is nearly inescapable. Time can be a friend, healing old wounds, or an enemy who marches us closer to old age and death. It can pass excruciatingly slowly or seem to whiz by in the blink of an eye. Though we try to tame it with clocks and calendars, it exists both outside us and within us, keeping a pace of it's own. All beings experience it differently; a day is a lifetime to a mayfly, but a mere minute to a redwood tree. Humans feel this, as well. All stories are bound by time, and most art freezes it in place. But we can explore beyond those boundaries, too.

This theme would be all about time and how it is experienced. From the fleeting hours of the perfect summer day to the ebb and flow of the moon, from the anxiety-filled minutes of O.W.L.S. or N.E.W.T.S. to the endless, dark days of Azkaban, our fandom is tied inexplicably to the passage of time. The stories and art do not need to be explicitly about time, but, rather, use time creatively as a motif or inspiration. Prompts could be anything to do with time and the passage of time. There are a lot of quote and song possibilities, but there could also be really interesting visual prompts with things like clocks, shadows, leaves, seasons, people, and other things that have to do with the passage of time. We could also use idioms and phrases like "dinner time" or "3/4 time" or "racing against the clock."

Almost any Team designations could work for this, but maybe we might want to avoid something specifically temporal (like MWPP v Post-Hogwarts). Or maybe we would want to embrace that...

Pros: Again, it's really open-ended and general, so there could be a huge variety of works created. Time is also something that everyone experiences, yet experiences differently. Situations involving time can be funny or clever or scary or angsty or all kinds of things. Adventures take time, as does love. It would also open some doors to really cool AU's about time travel, Sirius coming back, afterlife, etc.
Cons: I haven't thought of a clever tagline, yet, and I suppose it could be too closely related to the seasons or journeys.



3. Eat, Drink, and be Merry: This would be all about food, drink, and fun… or not so fun. Eating and drinking (as in water) is something virtually everyone does, Food is pretty much universal, yet it is also fascinating and invokes many different feelings different people. Though the idea of food and eating is common to all cultures, writing about it provides some unique opportunities to take the reader (or viewer) to different times and places. And drink (especially alcohol) adds interest and possibility. Prompts could be anything from table settings to songs about drinking to clips from cooking shows. This could also work for most all Team designations, Remus v Sirius, Canon v AU, MWPP v. Post Hogwarts, Magic v. Muggle, or even something new and different.

Pros: It is super universal and could invoke some really vivid and descriptive writing. It is also something that could be easily incorporated into almost any kind of story (angst, adventure, romance, horror, humor, fluff) and would add spice (hee hee) without needing to take center stage. It could also make for some pretty art and layouts.
Cons: If everyone wrote about food as center stage, it could get old, but would they actually do that? Maybe.



4. Expressions of Love (Greater love has no one than this...): The different types of love (family, friend, pet, lover) and the different ways that people express it (words, gifts, touch, acts of kindness). I feel like this is a theme that could lend itself to a ton of prompts.



5. Firsts and Lasts/Beginnings and Endings/Hello, Goodbye: First experiences are often exciting or nerve-wracking, but not always: first crush, first kiss, first day of school, first heartbreak, first gray hair. Last experiences are often bittersweet, and remind us of our own mortality: last day of summer, last visit one's childhood home, saying goodbye to someone for a long time, or forever. While we are usually aware of firsts at the time, lasts often pass without being recognized for what they are, sometimes until long after the fact.



6. Location, Location, Location!: This theme could involve travel, but also different kinds of places closer to home, or even home itself. Setting can shape our experiences and understanding of events in different ways. (probably more room for interesting AU settings in this one than canon-compliant stories; I'll admit, I'm not hugely attached to the idea.)



7. The Mind: dreaming, psychology, perception, imagination, mental illness. Not to mention Legilimency and the Imperius curse. Just a random idea to consider. Maybe too abstract and esoteric.

Theme Time~~

Theme ideas!!! Let’s give ourselves until 2/9/2016 to add submissions and then make our choice by 2/14/2016.  Does that work for people?

1.  In Sickness and in Health: I pitched this two years back, too late for it to be considered. Since then, I have become even more attached to the idea. I know lots of people write and read fanfic because the real world is a difficult place, or even inaccessible, to them. Many members of the fandom deal with disability, mental health issues, and chronic illness, and so do Remus and Sirius.
The theme has broad applications. There's huge potential for fluff, angst, and of course hurt/comfort. Possibilities include everything from one pup nursing the other through the 'flu, the issues surrounding Remus's lycanthropy and Sirius's post-Azkaban PTSD, to medical drama AUs, eating disorders, and even stories about terminal illness.

I also wanted to add, for the record, that I have seen a lot of people on tumblr specifically asking for fic involving characters with chronic illness, mental health issues, and disabilities. "In Sickness and In Health" could go a long way towards filling a major need in the fandom.



2.   Time (I'll think of a clever tag later): Some call it the fourth dimension - others call it a mere illusion - but however you see it, it is nearly inescapable.  Time can be a friend, healing old wounds, or an enemy who marches us closer to old age and death.  It can pass excruciatingly slowly or seem to whiz by in the blink of an eye.   Though we try to tame it with clocks and calendars, it exists both outside us and within us, keeping a pace of it's own.  All beings experience it differently; a day is a lifetime to a mayfly, but a mere minute to a redwood tree.  Humans feel this, as well.   All stories are bound by time, and most art freezes it in place.  But we can explore beyond those boundaries, too.

This theme would be all about time and how it is experienced.  From the fleeting hours of the perfect summer day to the ebb and flow of the moon, from the anxiety-filled minutes of O.W.L.S. or N.E.W.T.S. to the endless, dark days of Azkaban, our fandom is tied inexplicably to the passage of time.  The stories and art do not need to be explicitly about time, but, rather, use time creatively as a motif or inspiration.  Prompts could be anything to do with time and the passage of time.  There are a lot of quote and song possibilities, but there could also be really interesting visual prompts with things like clocks, shadows, leaves, seasons, people, and other things that have to do with the passage of time.  We could also use idioms and phrases like "dinner time" or "3/4 time" or "racing against the clock."

Almost any Team designations could work for this, but maybe we might want to avoid something specifically temporal (like MWPP v Post-Hogwarts).  Or maybe we would want to embrace that...

Pros:  Again, it's really open-ended and general, so there could be a huge variety of works created.  Time is also something that everyone experiences, yet experiences differently.  Situations involving time can be funny or clever or scary or angsty or all kinds of things.  Adventures take time, as does love.  It would also open some doors to really cool AU's about time travel, Sirius coming back, afterlife, etc.
Cons:  I haven't thought of a clever tagline, yet, and I suppose it could be too closely related to the seasons or journeys.



3. Games People (or Puppies) Play or Life’s a Game: I am still not sold on a tagline, but this was an idea that a past participant gave.
Games can be fun and light-hearted, but they can also be dangerous, devious, and devastating.  We play games to entertain ourselves and pass the time, but we also play to win.  Some see competition as an integral part of being human, but others avoid it altogether.  Some games involve strategy, others just chance and blind luck, some require intellectual skill, others strength and speed.  There are games – or aspects of games - that are solitary and others that require teams of people working together.  Life, at times, can be like this as well. Some define a game as, "a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome," but, again, that can be said for life as well, can it not?

This theme would be all about games and the idea of play, fun, and strategy.  It could encompass board games, head games, the Olympic games, Quidditch, and even more ephemeral things like game theory.  It would also deal with issues like competitiveness and the issues involved with winning or losing.  I can imagine all kinds of varied prompts for it, too. Stories/art would not have to be about games, necessarily, but the prompts could feature all sorts of aspects of that.

Pros:  It could be fun and I am taken with the “games” theme for actual “games.”  Metta!  I also think that it could inspire many pieces that are fun, flirty, light-hearted, action, or adventure oriented.  I also find it potentially visually interesting.  Prompts would be easy and fun, too.
Cons:  I fear that, as far as angst is concerned, we might see more cruelty and manipulation than most people care for.  It might also be too specific.  To me, it is easy to interpret the idea of “games” many different ways, but that night not be true for everyone. I also fear that it might lead to a bit of monotony from the reader - too much about games could get tedious and boring.




4. All The World's A Stage: The most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, once wrote, "All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;…" (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII). Some form of theatre has been around since the dawn of man and with the introduction of film in the 20th century, theatre and film have become a reflection of the world around us, as well as a tool for inciting thought, awareness, and expression.

I think that this theme is bursting with potential and there are a lot of possibilities for prompts, as theatre and film is a universal medium, crossing all borders. I do think that there needs to be careful consideration about prompts, as we don't want 40 fics merely inserting Sirius and Remus into a movie, i.e. Remus and Sirius as Bonnie & Clyde, and we don't want to focus on American films/plays, rather international theater/films. We can take quotes from a film or play, take images (i.e. from a Bollywood film, behind-the-scenes, or even stage props) as well as quotes, such as: “The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity. A truer and more real place does not exist in all the universe.” (P.S. Baber, Cassie Draws the Universe)

It is much like the music theme in its pros and cons, I think, but that theme was well-received and successful (though, I think, they have all been successful. We've been very lucky in that aspect), and I think this could be a success, too:)



5. Eat, Drink, and be Merry: This would be all about food, drink, and fun… or not so fun.  Eating and drinking (as in water) is something virtually everyone does, Food is pretty much universal, yet it is also fascinating and invokes many different feelings different people.  Though the idea of food and eating is common to all cultures, writing about it provides some unique opportunities to take the reader (or viewer) to different times and places.  And drink (especially alcohol) adds interest and possibility.  Prompts could be anything from table settings to songs about drinking to clips from cooking shows.  This could also work for most all Team designations, Remus v Sirius, Canon v AU, MWPP v. Post Hogwarts, Magic v. Muggle, or even something new and different.

Pros:  It is super universal and could invoke some really vivid and descriptive writing.  It is also something that could be easily incorporated into almost any kind of story (angst, adventure, romance, horror, humor, fluff) and would add spice (hee hee) without needing to take center stage. It could also make for some pretty art and layouts.
Cons:  If everyone wrote about food as center stage, it could get old, but would they actually do that?  Maybe.




6. Working/What a Way to Make a Living (or some such thing): This would be sort of like Career Fest from many years back, with the focus on work (of any sort), labor,  career, and the identities that come out of it.  And school is work, too, remember.  It would be super fun from an AU perspective, but also very interesting from a canon perspective, because jobs in the Wizarding World are pretty much open to interpretation.  It could also lend itself well to almost any Team Designation (except maybe MWPP v Post Hogwarts). Prompts would be super easy, too, just focusing on any sort of job or labor (or the lack thereof). 
Pros: People always seem to really enjoy putting the boys into different jobs and careers and vocation seems to be a common theme.  It’s also pretty universal in that most everyone works/deliberately doesn’t work/wishes for work or a different job/dreamed about being something specific when they grew-up.
Cons:  It’s a lot like Career Fest (for anyone who remembers that) and jobs seem to be a theme, anyway. 


7.  Wish Upon a Star: Hope, Luck, Chance, Fate, and Dreams:   This basically incorporates all these ideas (hope, luck, wishes, chance, etc.) which are often compelling story elements.  It’s broad enough that everyone should be able to find something to relate to – even if they don’t really believe in things like luck or fate.  It also invokes myriad different emotions and could produce many varied kinds of stories.  (Dreams could even be interpreted literally.)  It touches on the canon story, but also works great for AU and could lend itself easily to everything from fairytales to space adventures, etc.
Pros: It’s rich and varied, abstract and universal.  It also makes for great storytelling.
Cons:  It could, theoretically, produce too many fairytales or stories with the same focus or theme.  Also, is “star” too much like last time?


8. Expressions of Love (Greater love has no one than this...): The different types of love (family, friend, pet, lover) and the different ways that people express it (words, gifts, touch, acts of kindness). I feel like this is a theme that could lend itself to a ton of prompts.

9. Firsts and Lasts/Beginnings and Endings/Hello, Goodbye: First experiences are often exciting or nerve-wracking, but not always: first crush, first kiss, first day of school, first heartbreak, first gray hair. Last experiences are often bittersweet, and remind us of our own mortality: last day of summer, last visit one's childhood home, saying goodbye to someone for a long time, or forever. While we are usually aware of firsts at the time, lasts often pass without being recognized for what they are, sometimes until long after the fact.

10. The 1970s: Hey it's the era that shaped the Marauders! Stories would not have to be set during that time, but could reference pop culture, fashion, or current events of that era. Also, I personally would have a ton of fun digging up prompts for it.

11. Location, Location, Location!: This theme could involve travel, but also different kinds of places closer to home, or even home itself. Setting can shape our experiences and understanding of events in different ways. (probably more room for interesting AU settings in this one than canon-compliant stories; I'll admit, I'm not hugely attached to the idea.)

12. Historical/Art History/Literature: This one could also spawn a million prompts, but again, it may have more potential for AUs than for canon. Also, there might be too much crossover with the mythology theme we did a couple years back.

13. Music: I know we did Marauders-era music back in 2010, but we could do a more general music theme.

14. The Mind: dreaming, psychology, perception, imagination, mental illness. Not to mention Legilimency and the Imperius curse. Just a random idea to consider. Maybe too abstract and esoteric.