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Blood Falls pouring into Lake Bonney in Antarctica

Blood Falls pouring into Lake Bonney in Antarctica

TL;DR: Create a fictional person, place or thing that is far-fetched and sell us on it. The best-presented, most out-there-yet-believable creation wins the contest.

PRIZES:  A free pass to our “#1 Killer of Believability” workshop, or equivalent $39.95 discount on future programs or products from WBA.

DEADLINES: Contest is open now. Submissions are due by Sunday Nov 4 at midnight Eastern time. Winners will be announced  on Wed Nov 7.

In keeping with our Halloween Workshop Sale, I decided it would be fun to have a contest to go along with it. You know how there are “best Halloween costume” contests? Well, this is a “best person, place, or thing” contest.

The “#1 Killer” workshop is about making sure your settings are believable. So this contest is about creating and presenting a really believable person, place or thing (PPT). Here’s what that means.

  • Your PPT should be something a reader or gamer would encounter in your fictional world.
  • It should be a little (or a lot) on the fantastic or improbable side.
  • It should challenge believability in some way: that is, if the PPT is NOT well-presented, the audience would probably hesitate to buy into it.

Here’s an example. Suppose I said to you, “In the Duchy of Nimm in the frozen north, there’s a waterfall that runs the color of blood.” Might seem a little difficult to believe, right? But look at the picture on this page! There IS a waterfall that runs the color of blood–and it exists in our world, not just in my fantasy setting.

In our world, the explanation for this blood-red waterfall is very science-y—and if I’m writing science fiction, that might work to sell this improbable natural feature. But if I’m writing fantasy, maybe I’ll say a god bled into the river there in ancient times and ever since, it’s borne the color of his blood. Or something like that.

What I say and how I say it is what will sell you on this oddity in my setting. So that’s what this contest is about.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to “sell” your PPT to your audience. Make it seem believable (within the context of your setting). Bonus points if you also make it intriguing and something we-the-audience want more of.


1 Write up a PPT in 500 words or less. This can be description, backstory, narrative encounter—whatever gets the idea across.

2 Your goal: Make the implausible plausible, and create something we want more of!

3 Graphics can be included if you like (sketches, photos, etc) but will not be considered in the judging process. They will be reproduced, though, if your entry is among the finalists.

4 Format: the PPT can be written up in any style or format you like. Keep in mind that your goal is to seduce the reader into your world and draw them into a willing suspension of disbelief. Narrative might work better for this than an encyclopedia entry.

5 Eligibility: Anyone reading this may submit a PPT for the contest. The winner will be selected by a judging process (details below).

6. Prize Drawing: There will also be a prize drawing from among all entries submitted. Only World Building Academy list members are eligible for the prize drawing. You must already be a list member when you submit your PPT entry to qualify for the prize drawing. (If you’re not on the list yet, click here to join. It’s free, and you’ll get great world building tips every week.)


Contest is open right now. It will close Sunday, November 4 at midnight Eastern time. Finalists will be posted online at the World Building Academy website, and winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 7.


I’ll do a first pass on submissions and pick 3 to 5 finalists (depending how many submissions we get). Then I’ll ask 2 guest judges to pick the winner. If there is a tie, my vote will be the tie breaker.
Winners will be highlighted at the World Building Academy website and related social media outlets.


All entries from WBA list members are automatically eligible for the prize drawing. Two entrants will be randomly selected to receive contest prizes.


Winners receive a free pass to the #1 Killer of Believability workshop, or (upon request) a coupon in the value of $39.95, good for one year, that can be applied to any other WBA products or programs. Here’s what is in the pipeline right now, and more is coming in 2013.


Finalist entries will be publicly posted as part of this contest process. All entrants naturally retain all copyrights to their material, but please be aware that your content might be in the public eye in this manner. If you have concerns about sharing proprietary material, this is something to consider before you submit an entry.


Submissions are limited to three per person.

Email your contest submissions to worldbuilding [at] by midnight Eastern time, Sunday, November 4, 2012.   Please put CONTEST in the subject line.

To be eligible for the prize drawing too, you must be a WBA list member.  (Click here to join if you are not already on the list.)

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