Well, that was quick. In twenty-four hours we rustled up twenty players. A few of you were actually signed up by others (or by proxy, based on you saying “I’ll play the next one when it comes”). If you’re out, that’s fine – just let me know.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

The Challenges

For every challenge, the maximum story length is 59 words. This should make judging somewhat quick, but with the large number of you, gathering stories will still take a while. You can help speed the plow by avoiding Microsoft Word. When I get Word files, I always have to fix them thanks to some sort of Word/gmail inconsistency. If you want to write in Word, fine, but copy it into the email body or something before sending.

Google Docs play along swimmingly.

There will be ten challenges, and six of you will reach the playoffs. Seeds three through six will go in the Wild Card round, with the top two finishers joining the top two seeds in the semifinals. The top two performers in the semifinals will match up for the final. There will be two challenges per week unless a judge needs a slight rescheduling, which will probably happen at least once or twice.

The theme for the season will be professions. As regulars know, you can go abstract and still fall within the rules.

You’ll be sending challenge entries to playwiththeprose@gmail.com. At least ten of you will screw this up and send it directly to me, if past seasons are any indication.

The Judges

It’s me, Melissa and Will. My apologies and all, but she promised me…well, it’s not important.

The Judging

The judges will give out ten medals for each challenge: Three golds, three silvers and three bronzes (worth five, three and one points). Your total points determine your place in the standings, though golds will act as a tiebreaker when we reach the playoffs.

The Nonsubs

Don’t nonsub. If you do, you’ll get one “grace” nonsub since I get that people have lives. Any subsequent nonsubs will be worth negative two points for the challenge. Come playoff time, nonsubs will also trump anything else for tiebreakers.

I’ve long shown lenience, but with the large number of you, that’s not really going to be the case this year; if your story is more than five minutes after the deadline, you’re a nonsub. If you’re desperate to know if I got your story, ask me via my actual email (foreverunchanged@gmail.com).

The Disqualifications

If you go even a single word over 59, you will be disqualified and earn no points. Let me be honest here: I’m not going to count words unless I can’t believe your story has 59 or fewer words. However, if someone else counts them and brings my attention to it, I’ll disqualify it after the fact and award it zero points (without adding medals elsewhere). If Will or Melissa wants to head up the counting, that’s better yet, but I’m not doing it. I did that crap for 11 seasons of Survivor, and that’s enough.

Also, if you send in a few lame words at the last minute to try to avoid a nonsub and they don’t fit the prompt, you will be DQ’d and count as a nonsub as well.

THE FIRST CHALLENGE

The theme is Gravedigger.

You have until Sunday at 8pm Central. And…go.

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