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Do you have a question that isn't answered here or in the Challenge Rules? Please contact the mods!

Contents

I’ve never done a challenge before! How does this work?

A big bang is a type of challenge in which authors have a set amount of time to write a fic of specified minimum length, which is then claimed by an artist who will illustrate scenes from the story.

Authors and artists function as a team, sharing a posting date and masterpost on the challenge blog. You will communicate directly with one another over the summer. Please keep in mind this is not a commission. Artists may choose to illustrate something other than the scenes an author had in mind. For a successful collaboration, communication is key. You are both creators with your own visions, so be respectful.

Some artists like to claim one or more fics and will work with multiple authors in this challenge; however, authors will be matched with a maximum of one artist. In the event that an artist has to drop out after claims (emergencies happen), we will arrange for a pinch hitter, someone who steps in to create art at the last minute.

I missed sign-ups. Can I register late?

Due to the size of the DCBB, we don't allow late registrations for authors or artists. It's not fair to the people who signed up on time, and we like to have a handle on the size of the challenge so we can start thinking about scheduling well in advance. If you missed sign-ups, we'd be happy to put you on our mailing list for the following year or direct you to our other challenges.

We've also had authors ask if they can join but not take part in art claims. Unfortunately, the DCBB is too big for us to include a solo-author track.

I need to update my information. What should I do?

If you're a registered author and want to drop that role but keep or add others, you can use this form to do that.

If you're a registered artist and want to drop that role but keep or add others, you can use this form to do that.

If you're already registered and want to add or remove yourself as a pinch hit artist, you can do so using this form.

If you're already registered and want to add or remove yourself as a beta reader, you can do so using this form.

To change any other information in our records, such as your name, email, contact information, or other participant types, or if you need to drop under other circumstances, please email deancasbigbangmod@gmail.com and we'll be happy to take care of that for you.

Is there a DCBB chat for participants?

We have an 18+ server that is open to anyone interested in one of our challenges. In addition to being used for announcements and basic questions, it has separate rooms for DCBB artists and authors. If you'd like to join, please follow this link for rules and instructions.

Will you email me reminders? What if I need more time?

We will email reminders about check-ins, claims, and posting dates, but time management is your responsibility. We recommend adding check-in points and other important dates to your calendar. We do not grant extensions to any posted deadline except in cases of extreme emergency such as a natural disaster.

Will you assign a prompt? Can I work from a prompt?

We do not assign prompts or tell you what to write (beyond it being a Dean/Cas fic), so what you write about is up to you. You may work from a prompt, but please don't reveal what that prompt is publicly.

When can I start writing? Can I work on other WIPs at the same time?

You can start writing before DCBB sign-ups even open, just keep your work under wraps. And yes, you can absolutely work on other stories at the same time.

How much information can I reveal about what I'm working on?

Before Art Claims, you may not discuss your story except in private with your beta or other writers you know are not drawing for the DCBB. This is important to make sure claims are anonymous! Some people are confused about how much information is okay to reveal before claims, so here are a few examples:

“I'm halfway through writing my DCBB!” ← This is okay since it doesn’t reveal anything.

“I'm halfway through my Star Trek AU for the DCBB!” ← This isn’t okay because it reveals a specific detail about your fic that someone could recognize during claims.

"I'm going to give you guys the summary for two different plots I'm going to write. Which would be best?" ← This isn’t okay. Even though there’s no mention of the DCBB, the story would be for the DCBB and might be recognized.

"Is there anyone who isn't going to be making art for the DCBB who could help me decide (in private) between two plot ideas I have?" ← This is okay since you’re taking the conversation to a private space.

After Art Claims are complete and matchups have been posted, you can openly talk about who you are paired with and reveal some details of your upcoming fic and art, such as general themes or your future posting date, on your own social media accounts. Please don't share any sneak peeks, excerpts, etc.

Can I write a threesome? What about other pairings? Does Dean/Cas (Jensen/Misha) have to be endgame?

You can write whatever you’d like, but this is called the Dean/Cas Big Bang for a reason. You should not expect endgame Sam/Cas to go over well with the audience this challenge normally attracts.

Please tag any and all pairings.

Is underage fiction allowed?

There are strict rules around underage fiction. Please read the current policy.

When am I assigned an artist/author partner?

That happens during Art Claims. You will be paired through an anonymous claims process. You may not select your own partner.

How much control do I have over what my artist is creating?

Art you receive in a challenge is NOT commissioned art. Your artist is your partner, not someone who works for you. They might choose to include you in their creative process, just as you might choose to include them in yours - but they are not obligated to take direction from you (and vice versa, your artist can't demand you make changes to your fic).

Here are some tips for proper communication with your artist partner:

  • Immediately let them know about any changes to the fic that could affect an illustration (eg. you decided Dean has shoulder-length hair).
  • Be available to clarify details, if asked, like the time of day in a scene or what someone is wearing.
  • Your artist might ask for a list of scenes you'd like to see illustrated, but we recommend waiting for them to ask before providing one.
  • You can provide reference photos for your artist if your fic contains specific places or animals, but your artist is not obligated to illustrate them.
  • Unless they ask for feedback and criticism, you should only request changes if something in the art is contrary to a fic detail (eg. the color of a shirt - but please don't send your artist HEX codes).
  • You should not demand specific poses, backgrounds, art styles, or mediums unless your artist has asked you for that level of direction. Again, this is not a commission.

If you are not comfortable with allowing an art partner creative freedom over their part of your team's collaboration, this challenge is not for you. We would recommend commissioning an artist privately.

Do you assign beta readers? What's a beta, anyway?

Beta readers are editors who go over your work. They might look for typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, plot holes, and continuity errors. We require all DCBB fics to be looked at by at least one beta reader so you can be confident on posting day.

We don't assign beta readers, and you don't have to use one of the betas that volunteer for the DCBB. If you have a beta you work with already, or if you want to ask a friend to beta for you, that's absolutely fine. Beta readers do not need to be registered for the DCBB in order to beta a DCBB fic.

If you don't have a beta reader, we have a list of people who will be happy to help you. Request the Beta reader list.

How do I check in/submit a rough draft/submit summary info?

You will check-in and submit your rough draft through a form. We’ll email links to participants a few days before these steps are due.

Due to the size of the DCBB, we will not grant extensions for submitting your rough draft for claims. It’s unfair to our artists.

What's due at the various check-in points?

  • Author check-in: No part of your fic is due at this point. We'll ask your status to see if you're likely to go through to claims.
  • Author rough draft submission: At this point, we'll need your rough draft (at least 80% complete; please see Art Claims for details), fic summary, warnings and tags, visual elements, and info like wordcount and rating.
  • Team check-in: We'll ask if your team has communicated and if there are any issues. We'll also ask for any dates on which your team is unable to post.
  • Final check-in for authors and artists: Art rough drafts and fic final drafts are due. Artists, show us you're working on the art and confirm that you've sent the drafts to your author. At minimum, we'd like a refined sketch or line art for both pieces if you're illustrating, or whatever your art looks like at this stage if you're working with photomanipulation. Authors, you can continue polishing your work up until your posting date, but what you turn in should be something you COULD post right now, if you had to. The fic should be complete: no missing scenes, no more outlines.

What if I have a hardware/software failure?

We ask that all participants keep backups of their story and art on different devices. Periodically emailing yourself with a copy is also a smart idea. Google Drive offers free word processing software and cloud storage. Another free solution is Dropbox.

I haven’t heard from my partner in X days! What should I do?

By registering for this challenge, you agree to communicate with your partner through email or another agreed upon method. We hope that each team will have a collaborative experience, but this isn't always the case. Some team members will choose only to abide by the challenge-mandated communication schedule, but as long as they are turning in drafts on time, their obligation is being fulfilled. Sometimes that means an author may not see their final art until posting day. While lack of ongoing communication can be frustrating, it still within the acceptable guidelines.

If you can’t get ahold of your partner, contact the mods.

What should I do if I'm not getting along with my partner?

Not everyone walks out of a challenge as friends, but you are expected to be cordial to your partner and to work together to complete your collaboration.

Fandom can be intensely personal for some and just a lot of fun for others. And this event welcomes people from all parts of fandom, from Dean/Cas monoshippers to the Dean/Cas curious. We have multishippers who participate too. It's possible you will be paired with someone who has headcanons that oppose yours or even offend you. Please check your fandom politics at the door.

If you have issues with your partner, it's best to remain professional. Respond promptly and politely, and keep conversation solely to the DCBB.

Please bring any serious issues to the mods' attention.

When will I receive my final art?

This will vary by artist. Your artist might be done with your art and send it to you a few weeks before posting, but it's not uncommon to receive the final art the day before posting. Some artists won't reveal it until posting day itself. As long as you're in communication, don't be nervous if your artist hasn't sent you anything yet. Artists, just like our authors, are allowed to edit and polish their work until posting day (and just like authors, they're the ones who decide when their work is finished and ready to share with others).

Yes, this means you might have to edit your AO3 draft to embed the art (if your artist permits it) on posting day. Be prepared to budget a little time for that.

If you haven't heard a peep from your artist in a couple weeks and they're not replying to your emails about coordinating posting, please contact the mods.

Do I have to post on AO3?

We require all DCBB fics to be posted to AO3 (Archive of Our Own). We encourage artists to post on AO3 as well, though it isn’t required. If you don’t have an account and need help creating one, please contact the mods.

Am I allowed to write timestamps for my fic? What about additional art?

Timestamps and epilogues

  • All chapters, prologues, and epilogues that make up your completed fic must be posted on your scheduled posting date.
  • Once your fic is posted and your team masterpost has been published, you may not add additional chapters, timestamps (these may be scenes you cut earlier and want to share, or a new chapter that shows what Dean and Cas are up to after your fic ended), or epilogues to your fic until after the current round's posting period has closed and the masterlist has been released. This will be considered serial posting and is against the rules.
  • Once the current round's masterlist is published, you are welcome to publish timestamps, epilogues, deleted scenes, etc.

Additional art

  • If your team's artist creates additional art for your collaboration after your team's masterpost has been posted, they may post it once this round's masterlist is released. You are welcome to link to it or embed it in the fic, if the artist allows.
  • If someone creates fanart for you as a gift (this must be unsolicited - at no point may you commission art or ask a friend to create more art for you) or you want to create art for your own fic, you may link to it from your fic once the masterlist for the round has been released. The original art masterpost must remain linked from the fic; you may not erase or downplay your artist partner's contribution.
  • Commissioning art or asking a friend to create more art for you is not allowed. It's not in the spirit of the challenge and could hurt your partner's feelings.

As an author, can I make chapter separators and elaborate promo graphics as long as I'm not technically drawing them? It's fine if it's just pictures, right?

We understand that you want your fic to look as good and memorable as possible. You've put in a lot of work, after all. But if you're dying to make art for the DCBB, you should sign up as an artist and use that energy for another author.

What you can do as a DCBB author:

  • Download a stock photograph or SPN screencap, crop it to the shape of a banner or cover, and add the title and names of all team members for use on your team's masterpost that will be posted on the DCBB social media accounts in October or November. It would be okay to convert the image to black and white or apply an Instagram-like filter to adjust the mood. (Of course, your team artist might be creating a banner for you - you should definitely check with them before you do this.)
  • If you are using the design software Canva or Photoshop, you can use symbols (eg. a bullet point), simple frames, and horizontal/vertical rules as long as they could not be reasonably confused for an illustration

What you can't do as a DCBB author:

  • Download stock photographs/graphics/SPN screencaps and use software like Photoshop to manipulate them beyond simple filter adjustments/crops to create a unique piece of art for yourself. If you answer can YES to any of the following bullet points, what you're doing is photomanipulation, which is considered art for this challenge, and you are breaking the "don't illustrate your own fic" rule.
    • Does what you have in mind require merging multiple images/graphics together?
    • Are you breaking out your tablet?
    • Do you have to paint/erase at all?
    • Are you using blur/smudge/clone/patch tools?
    • Are you making that grimacing emoji face while you read this?
  • Remove backgrounds from stock images or download images on white backgrounds to use as chapter separators. If you have your heart set on chapter dividers, gently ask your artist if there's any chance they might create something for you.
  • Using stock illustrations in any way, shape, or form.
  • Use symbol typefaces to create art. “I didn't draw that feather, it's just the letter F!” It's still an illustration, which wasn't made by your team artist (it was made by the font developer) and it's not okay for you to use it for the DCBB.
  • Illustrate anything for yourself (traditionally or digitally)

TL;DR: If it could pass as challenge art and could reasonably be confused as something made by your team artist, it's not appropriate. Please don't try to upstage your artist! Please don't try your hardest to find loopholes around this rule.

Can I include a map I drew with my fic?

An author is permitted to embed or link to a map as long as they adhere to the following rules:

  • The map was drawn by the author as part of their writing process (no commissions, no outside artists)
  • It is provided for reader clarity
  • It may be colorized for clarity (eg. blue water) but shouldn't be illustrated to the point where it could be reasonably confused for art
  • It may be linked to or embedded in the fic. If embedded, we'd recommend putting it into a note, not in the body of the fic, so it cannot be confused for art.

It's perfectly fine if the team artist would like to illustrate the map as one of their art pieces, but not all artists may be willing or able to do this.

If I find a typo in my published fic, may I edit it, or is that against the rules?

Yes. Editing a typo does not send out notifications to your readers or change your fic's posting date, so it's fine to make quick edits if you find a mistake.

Is there any cost involved in participating?

The DCBB is 100% free to participants. In fact, we forbid any commercial activity in the DCBB. No authors, artists, or beta readers may use the DCBB to solicit tips, offer commissions, promote their Patreon or similar sites, or sell stuff. What you make for this challenge, you make out of love. If we see you trying to make money through this challenge, we'll ban you from the challenge and its affiliates.

We have a list of free and low-cost resources for writers and artists.

Can I change information I provided at sign up, like my pen name or Twitter?

Absolutely yes! Please email us (our address is on the Contact the mods page) to let us know what information you need changed.

How do you promote teams?

There will be a round of promos/previews for teams to share what they’re working on before posting their final fics and artworks. Details at Promos!

Team masterposts will be promoted on the DCBB tumblr and Twitter accounts. Additionally, we have an official AO3 collection for each round.

I have a question about a work that was made for the DCBB.

If you're not comfortable approaching the creator directly, please contact the mods with your question.

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