LitKicks Presents...

What is The QUEST?

The QUEST is a writing workshop and tournament produced by There is an entry fee of $20, and six winners are chosen to be featured in an upcoming LitKicks anthology and on the website. The signup period for the October 2003 QUEST is now over.

What kind of writers participate in The QUEST? How do I know if I'm qualified?

The QUEST is designed for "regular people", and no writing experience or credentials are required. We will guide you through all writing assignments. We hope to get a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and levels of experience in this contest.

Do I have to reveal my real name or address?

We recommend that you provide your real name and the town/city, state/province and country where you live, but this is not required. If you win an award, your name and location will be announced and published in the book. If you choose not to reveal your name or location, we will identify you only by membername. We will not reveal your email address, and we will not ask for your street address or telephone number.

How does the QUEST work?

Once you're logged into the QUEST area, you can find your start page by going to at any time. On that page, you will see your membername and group name just under the welcome message. Please read through the brief introduction and guidelines so you are familiar with the way the QUEST will run. We've also provided a few pages about the practice of spontaneous writing, which is a good way to break through writer's block. Once you've read the guidelines and familiarized yourself with the QUEST environment, you're ready to read the weekly challenge which is linked at the bottom of the page.

You will be in a group with approximately four other entrants, and with this group you will complete three weekly writing assignments. Each member of a group will be expected to thoughtfully critique the work of the other members, and the contest guides may lead discussions in your group as needed. Along with the critique, members will award points to the writings they admire most each week.

How do I know what group I'm in?

When you log on to the QUEST with a member name, you will automatically be recognized as a member of a group. You can also see a listing of all groups.

What do these group names mean?

The group names used within The QUEST are inspired by Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slapstick", a satire about a post-apocalyptic world. The planet is an anarchic shambles, left for dead after ravages of disease and war, and a benign but weak central government tries to shore up morality by creating artificial families or tribes with names like Daffodil, Beryllium and Watermelon. The worldwide members of an artificial family may not know each other, but when they meet they are supposed to help and trust each other. This is actually not one of Vonnegut's best novels (and it was also made into a disastrously bad movie starting Jerry Lewis and Madeleine Kahn), but the theme of artificial tribes in a war-torn world seemed to resonate, and we chose this as the naming scheme for The QUEST.

No one is posting in my group, it seems dead! What now?

You should feel free to kick off the conversation. Some groups may be more talkative than others. If any groups turn out to be "dead ends", we will shuffle members to other groups as needed.

Do the QUEST moderators read what is happening in all groups?

Yes, the three moderators (Levi Asher, Jamelah Earle and Caryn Thurman) will be dropping in on all groups. If there are problems, we will probably be aware of it and will take action.

How do I post my work?

To post your assignments, log into the QUEST and go to your group page. Post your writing by clicking the Post Your Own Work Now link at the bottom of the discussion area. Please post only one piece per assignment and start a new post (not a reply) to post your work.

How do I reply to others, and how do I critique another person's writing?

You do not need special qualifications to let a writer know how you feel about his or her work. A writer wants to communicate with strangers -- that is the purpose of writing -- and you are a stranger who can tell each writer whether or not they successfully communicated with you. Did you understand the work's purpose or message? Did it make you feel good, or feel bad, or laugh or cry? What suggestions do you have to make the writing work better?

How will the judging process work?

After each weekly assignment is completed, each member of a group will award a number of points to one or more writers that they consider most successful within that group. This provides a score which will be compiled after three weeks to determine the overall winner for each group. Scores will not be revealed until the end of the third week. At that time, a winner will be chosen from each group to advance to the final round during the fourth week of The QUEST.

What is the Schedule for the Quest?

Wednesday, October 1: QUEST Begins, Introductions and announcement of Assignment #1

Friday, October 10: Assignment #1 Due. Assignment #2 announced.

Tuesday, October 14: Final Ratings for Assignment #1 Due.

Friday, October 17: Assignment #2 due. Assignment #3 announced.

Tuesday, October 21: Final Ratings for Assignment #2 Due.

Friday, October 24: Assignment #3 Due. Assignment for Final Round announced.

Tuesday, October 28: Final Ratings for Assignment #3 Due. Finalists Announced; Finalist Competition Begins

Thursday, November 6: Results and Winners Announced.

What if I am only competing as a writer and I don't want to critique other people's work?

You will still be allowed to optionally critique within your group, but this will not expected of you, and you will not be able to award points.

Can I award all my points to myself? I think I'm a great writer.

We're sure you are. But, no, you cannot award points to yourself.

Do I have to write something for all of the assignments?

It's recommended that you write something for each of the assignments, so that you will gain the most you can from The QUEST experience. The assignments are designed to complement each other and provide an overall wide sweep over many different types of writing. It's sort of a triathlon of writing, and for this reason we hope you will respond to each of the three assignments.

Who writes the assignments?

The assignments and guides for The QUEST are produced by your friendly neighborhood LitKicks Staff who will also serve as guides and advisors throughout the process.

How long should the writings be?

Please be considerate of the fact that your other group members may not have time to read long works, and keep your writings brief. Poems should be no longer than 50 lines, and prose should be no longer than 2000 words. These are not hard limits (you can write a poem with 60 lines or a story with 2500 words) but we hope you will do your best to avoid unnecessary length. You can use a word count feature in most writing programs (such as MS Word) to find your word count.

What kind of writing are you looking for?

We're looking for short, fresh, spontaneous work. You will have time to edit, but due to the fast nature of The QUEST, we expect that pieces might be a little rough around the edges. We're looking for writings that convey ideas powerfully, rather than the most perfectly polished, refined work.

How will the jurors choose the final six winners?

At the end of each assignment period, there will be time to rate the pieces produced within each group. Out of these, the highest-rated writers from each group will advance to the final round, where everyone will have the opportunity to cast a vote. In the event of a tie, the QUEST guides will act as tiebreakers.

If I score badly in the first or second week, am I out of the running?

No. Everybody remains in the contest until the final round.

What kind of book will the LitKicks book be?

The LitKicks book will be a professionally printed, perfect-bound paperback with an ISBN#. It will be available on and in other bookstores.

Do participants get a copy of the book, even if they are not selected as winners?

No, however, the top six finalists will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

Is the LitKicks book only going to feature writing from winners of The QUEST?

While the QUEST winners will be featured prominently both in the upcoming book and on, we anticipate there will other exceptional writing produced in this experience and the LitKicks staff will also be selecting pieces for honorable mention status.

Why is there an entry fee?

The one-time $20 entry fee allows anyone who signs up to participate in this process -- either as a competitor, a juror or both. The purpose of this entry fee is to support the contest and book so that both can be as good as they can possibly be, and also to support the operation of the site in general. We feel strongly that anybody who pays this entry fee will get their money's worth, and in fact we are aiming to present the kind of intensive workshop experience that writers might pay $300 or $400 for elsewhere.

The QUEST is a LitKicks Production
Week One  •  Week Two  •  Help/FAQ  •  Groups  •  Enter