Announcing the community run Dark Academia Writers Contest!

We are officially announcing the community run Dark Academia Writers Contest!


*Credit to @dana_i_nana_epi for the background and overlays used in the edit above!

This is NOT an Episode official contest.

Note: the term “Dark Academia” has a variety of meanings, we want to leave the term up for interpretation and encourage participants to be as creative with the theme as they please. Whether the term is used simply as an Aesthetic, woven into the theme, or integrated into the plot or settings is entirely up to you!

*The below section includes just a few interpretations and is meant to spark ideas, but feel free to get creative and weave your own interpretation into your story!

What is Dark Academia?

Dark Academia is an aesthetic and subculture concerned with higher education, the arts, and literature, or an idealized version thereof. The aesthetic centers on traditional educational clothing, interior design, activities such as writing and poetry, ancient art, and classic literature, as well as classical Greek and Collegiate Gothic architecture.

The subculture draws on idealized aesthetics of higher education and academia, often with books and libraries featuring prominently. Activities such as calligraphy, museum visits, libraries, coffee shops, and all-night studying sessions are common among proponents.

Seasonal imagery of autumn is also common. Imagery of Gothic and Collegiate Gothic architecture, candlelight, dark wooden furniture, and dense, cluttered rooms often occur. The subculture has been described as maximalist and nostalgic.

Here’s some plot ideas for inspiration:

The Haunted Library: A reclusive librarian guards a collection of ancient books rumored to hold occult secrets. When a curious student gains access to the forbidden texts, they unwittingly unleash dark forces that haunt the library and pose a grave danger.

The Mysterious Death: When a renowned professor is found dead under suspicious circumstances, a group of students takes it upon themselves to investigate. As they uncover clues and unravel the professor’s enigmatic past, they become entangled in a dangerous conspiracy that puts their own lives at risk.

The Cursed Artifact: A group of students stumbles upon a mysterious artifact hidden within the university’s archives, rumored to be cursed. As they investigate its origins and powers, they uncover a dark history of obsession, madness, and forbidden rituals that threaten to consume them.

Contest Intro

Episode has not hosted a contest in many months, and discussions of a community-run contest have become much more prevalent among episode authors. So, I think it’s time we give ourselves a chance to encourage motivation and creativity through an episode story contest. Let’s give this a try!

Edit: We are aware of the things changing in the community. With the SC contest going on, we will still have this contest as it provides more creative freedom, no gem choices (aside from gem menu), no romance requirements, more time to submit a story, etc. We’ve decided (on our end) you may enter both contests as long as you meet both requirements, we have made changes so that we are accommodating for those joining both.

Requirements and guidelines are subject to change as we receive feedback from the community

Entry Requirements:

  • Entry MUST be submitted through the Google form provided- Access the form here. [ https://forms.gle/9NusV38T1YbiHEeZA ]
  • Entry MUST be at least 3 episodes long
  • Entry MUST follow the theme of the contest: [Dark Academia] but is NOT limited to any specific genre
  • Entry MUST include a “Gem Choice Menu” (preferably at the end of each episode) to receive gem prize (adding other gem choices are optional but NOT required)
  • Entry MUST follow Episode content guidelines (Or be approved by Episode official team)
  • Entry MUST be an original story exclusively for the contest
  • Entries MUST have “DA:” in front of the title. (Example: DA: Academic Vampires)

Exception: If you are planning on entering both SC contest and DA contest, you do NOT have to put “DA:” in front of the title, you MUST, however, check the box “I’m entering the Summer Contest and Dark Academia Contest” on the submission form above!

Optional (Not Required):

  • Consider reviewing the rubric provided here [ (Public) Dark Academia Community Contest Rubric - Google Docs ] to enhance your chances of winning
  • Entries are strongly recommended to use the gem template provided below (see gem choices section) in order to receive their gem prize.
  • Entries are recommended to have a skip button to the end of the episode to allow judges easy access to the gem choices on re-reads (see gem choices section + gem choices template).
  • You can use any Episode style (Classic, Ink, or Limelight)
  • Your story doesn’t need to have a certain amount of reads to be reviewed, our goal is to review and consider all entered stories for the contest.
  • Your story can be continued, and more episodes may be released/ published after the contest deadline (August 10th, 2024) as long as the first 3 episodes remain unedited during the judging period until the contest winners are announced. Any episodes published after 1-3 will not count towards your contest score.
  • You MAY enter your story into both the Episode Official Contest (Summer Contest) and our contest (Dark Academia Contest) as long as you follow the requirements of both! Accommodations will be made for those entering both, see requirements above.

Voting and Selection Process:

  • A panel of 5-10 judges will evaluate the first 3 episodes of each entry based on a specific rubric, contributing 100% towards determining the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
  • Public voting will be conducted through a poll on this thread, though these results will not influence the contest winners. Public voting will be used to determine the popular vote. The winner of the popular vote will receive a shoutout on forums and instagram and a cover sticker png for popular vote winner.

Prizes:

1st Place:

2nd Place:

  • 105 gems spent on your story (Courtesy of @Elaina2)
  • Shoutout on Instagram and forums
  • Cover sticker PNG (Dark Academia Community Contest Winner) (courtesy of @Lilyarts)
  • Free art (Courtesy of @EpisodeNaddy)

3rd Place:

  • 66 gems spent on your story (Courtesy of @Elaina2)
  • Shoutout on Instagram and forums
  • Cover sticker PNG (Dark Academia Contest Winner) (courtesy of @Lilyarts)
Naddy's Art Examples




Submission Deadline:

UPDATED:

You will have 15 weeks to complete the first 3 episodes of your entry.

Entries must be published no later than 11:59 pm Pacific Time on Thursday, August 29th, 2024 Please allow at least 3 business days for the review of backgrounds, overlays, and story cards

Editing episodes AFTER the contest deadline:

NO edits should be made (to episodes 1-3) after the deadline of the contest (to keep it 100% fair) HOWEVER, if you notice a mistake/typo/error etc. send us a DM and judges will NOT deduct any points for that error. Once winners are announced, you are free to make as many edits as you wish.

Gem Choice Menu:

Distribution of Gems explained

First Prize Winner (546 gems):

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes (Courtesy of @Lilyarts):

  1. First Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the first playthrough.

  2. Second Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the second episode.

  3. Third Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the third episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Episode: 17 gems

  • Second Episode: 17 gems

  • Third Episode: 17 gems

Total: 17 gems (First Episode) + 17 gems (Second Episode) + 17 gems (Third Episode) = 51 gems💎

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes (Courtesy of @r.lewis_writes):

  1. First Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the first playthrough.

  2. Second Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the second episode.

  3. Third Episode: 17 gems will be spent for the third episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Episode: 17 gems

  • Second Episode: 17 gems

  • Third Episode: 17 gems

Total: 17 gems (First Episode) + 17 gems (Second Episode) + 17 gems (Third Episode) = 51 gems💎

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes (Courtesy of @Naddy_episode):

  1. First Playthrough (Episodes 1-3): 35 gems per episode will be spent for the initial playthrough of all three episodes.

  2. Second Playthrough (Episodes 1-3): After completing the first playthrough, your story will be replayed (all three episodes) and 28 gems will be spent per episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Playthrough: 35 gems x 3 episodes = 105 gems

  • Second Playthrough: 28 gems x 3 episodes = 84 gems

Total: 105 gems (First Playthrough) + 84 gems (Second Playthrough) = 189 gems💎

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes (Courtesy of @Elaina2):

  1. First Playthrough (Episodes 1-3): 35 gems per episode will be spent for the initial playthrough of all three episodes.

  2. Second Playthrough (Episodes 1-3): After completing the first playthrough, your story will be replayed (all three episodes) and 28 gems will be spent per episode.

  3. Third Playthrough (Episodes 1-3): Lastly, all three episodes will be replayed again and 22 gems will be spent per episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Playthrough: 35 gems x 3 episodes = 105 gems

  • Second Playthrough: 28 gems x 3 episodes = 84 gems

  • Third Playthrough: 22 gems x 3 episodes = 66 gems

Total: 105 gems (First Playthrough) + 84 gems (Second Playthrough) + 66 gems (Third Playthrough) = 255 gems 💎

Donations altogether:

-51 Gems from @Lilyarts

-51 Gems from @r.lewis_writes

-189 Gems from @Naddy_episode

-255 Gems from @Elaina2

Altogether Total: 51 gems (@Lilyarts) + 51 gems (@r.lewis_writes) + 189 gems (@Naddy_episode) + 255 gems (@Elaina2) = 546 gems 💎

Second Prize Winner (105 gems):

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes:

  1. First Episode: 35 gems will be spent for the first playthrough.

  2. Second Episode: 35 gems will be spent for the second episode.

  3. Third Episode: 35 gems will be spent for the third episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Episode: 35 gems

  • Second Episode: 35 gems

  • Third Episode: 35 gems

Total: 35 gems (First Episode) + 35 gems (Second Episode) + 35 gems (Third Episode) = 105 gems💎

Third Place Winner (66 gems):

Here’s how the gems will be allocated across your three episodes:

  1. First Episode: 22 gems will be spent for the first playthrough.

  2. Second Episode: 22 gems will be spent for the second episode.

  3. Third Episode: 22 gems will be spent for the third episode.

Here’s the breakdown of how the gems will be spent:

  • First Episode: 22 gems

  • Second Episode: 22 gems

  • Third Episode: 22 gems

Total: 22 gems (First Episode) + 22 gems (Second Episode) + 22 gems (Third Episode) = 66 gems💎

Template will be provided (no credit required) but feel free to create your own/ get creative with it and/or make changes to our template to match your story. You are strongly recommended to have this template in your story (all three episodes) so that judges are able to award you your gem prize if you win. We are lenient with this particular rule, but if you forget to add this one (or your own similar template), and you win, we will kindly ask you to add it at the end of each episode.

NOTE: ALL gem menus MUST meet the following criteria: MUST contain the following gem options in the menu: 17 Gems, 22 Gems, 28 Gems, 35 Gems (these are all already included in the template provided)

Gem Template
####################################### GEM CHOICE MENU TEMPLATE #[

#It is NOT necessary to give credit for this template, this template is FREE use for all. 
#You can change/ customize it however you'd like!
# NOTE: The original purpose of this template is for those entering the community ran writer's contest. If you plan on entering, a gem choice menu is required so that the winners can receive their prizes of x amount of gems spent on their story. You may use this template as a guide, or create one of your own!
#Additionally, if you are entering the community contest and are planning to create your own gem choice menu, keep in mind that you must include all of the following gem options within the menu: 17, 22, 28, and 35 (As seen below!)

#Insert custom/ another background below:
INT. LIBRARY DOOR CLOSED 2 - NIGHT
&zoom reset
&cut to zone 1
@transition fade in black

label gem_choice_menu_start
@speechbubble is 160 316 to 100%

#Customize the text below how you see fit!
        NARRATOR
    Would you like to donate any gems to help support this author's story? Click "Done" to move on.
    
choice (gem_choice_menu) [shouldPaginate: YES]
<GEMS:5>"5 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <GEMS:8>"8 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <GEMS:12> "12 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <GEMS:17> "17 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <GEMS:22> "22 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <PREMIUM>"Done!" {
goto gem_choice_menu_end
} <GEMS:28> "28 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <GEMS:35> "35 Gems" {
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for your support!
goto gem_choice_menu_start
} <PREMIUM>"Done!" {
goto gem_choice_menu_end
}

label gem_choice_menu_end
#Optional:
        NARRATOR
    Thank you for reading my story!
@transition fade out black

####################################### END OF GEM CHOICE MENU #]

Choices:

Choices will be included in the rubric for grading stories in this contest, BUT if you do not incorporate choices, it will not necessarily count against you. Using interactivity and choices properly in your story will gain you bonus points in grading, but there are other categories you can score bonus points in as well. So, if you don’t use choices, you can make up for it in other ways! In this contest, the goal is to offer freedom and creativity for authors to explore their narrative. We don’t want to punish anyone for not prioritizing choices in their storytelling. If you are looking to be featured by Episode, it is important to note that choices DO matter to them when choosing stories, so keep that in mind as well.

Judge requirements:

  • Judges must be willing to read all contest entries and fill out the rubric
  • Judges must have an instagram account
  • Judges must have an episode forums account
  • Judges must be knowledgeable on the contest rubric

Judges will start reviewing stories on the day after the deadline of the contest (August 30th, 2024). The judging period will last 4 weeks, but if we receive more entries than expected, we will need to extend it. We will make it clear on this thread that the judging period has been extended if that is the case.

Helpful Resources

Grammar Help: a master list of grammar guides from basic to complex [ Grammar Rules: The Ultimate Guide ]

Free Word Counter & Writing Checker: a site to check word count, also checks over your writing/ grammar/ spelling/ wording/ style [https://wordcounter.net/ ]

Three Act Story Structure Explained: a site that talks about the 3 act structure for film, however can also be used for fiction writing and this does a very well job at explaining the structure and why it works/ how to plan your story using this structure [ Three Act Structure in Film: Definition and Examples ]

Explaining Story Structure: goes in depth about what a plot is and what types of plots there are/ variations and examples of different plot structures. Note: this site also provides more in depth explanations on each part of the plot beats, at the top there is a section called “5 stages of a story” and in that there are articles [ https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/what-is-story-structure-definition/ ]

Character Development: detailed explanation about how to create compelling and realistic characters [ Character Development in Novels | The Blog | The Novelry ]

Dark Academia Aesthetic Pinterest: basic ideas for a dark academia vibe, creating a visual mood board with your story aesthetics helps with motivation and sparks creativity [https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=dark%20academia%20aesthetic&eq=dark%20aca&etslf=4133 ]

Library Ambience with Rain: ambient background noise [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irdN1XAby6I&ab_channel=AutumnCozy]

Dark Academia Instrumental with Rain: classical music, rain sounds, and dark academia visual [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrfsfWrxfiA&ab_channel=StudyMD ]

Dark Academia Spotify Playlist: a playlist of instrumentals for inspiration or writing background music [ Spotify ]

Episode Coding Help & Templates: *MUST credit Dara Amarie! [ https://www.dara-amarie.com/ ]

Free Episode Backgrounds & Overlays: Episode life [ Backgrounds – Episode Life ]

For more resources and tips refer to our Instagram page! @episode.community.contest

Please Note:

This is not intended to be a permanent replacement for Episode’s official contests. We wanted to create a community-run contest to spark creativity as well as offer some acknowledgment to skilled creators out there. We acknowledge that winning this contest wouldn’t be equal to winning an Episode official contest, but we hope it can offer some fun, motivation, and support to authors who need it. This community is full of so many genuinely talented and hard-working people and we can’t wait to see the amazing things you can do with two simple words: Dark. Academia.

Follow us on Instagram: @episode.community.contest

Contest developers: @r.lewis_writes @Lilyarts @EpisodeNaddy @Elaina2

60 Likes

This sounds so awesome! I’m so excited to see what amazing stories people come up with!

10 Likes

I’m so excited! I am thinking about adapting a plot of a story (not an episode story, but a story that I have written in various formats before) into a Dark Academia themed story. Thank you so much for creating this opportunity.

9 Likes

this is so cool me really thought episode announce to the public :joy:

8 Likes

AHHHHHHHH YESSSSS
I’m sooo doing this! Good Luck to everyone entering can’t wait to read everyone’s stories!!! :blob_hearts: :blob_hearts:

8 Likes

I love how detailed the announcement is! It’s definitely got me hyped :raised_hands:

9 Likes

Aw man out of my 1000 unfinished stories I don’t have one for this topic🥲 Ah well I’m excited to see the entries I guess!

Episode better not pop up tomorrow with a contest though I wouldn’t put it past them :roll_eyes:

7 Likes

We’ve considered this LMAO!! However, the og creator’s contests require things like choices, romance, 5 episodes, etc, that the community has complained about for years, which we tried to put into consideration to appeal to more authors to have more creative freedom. Episode also doesn’t always listen to the theme recommendations, so we gave room for genres of horror, fantasy, mystery, paranormal, etc. since those were highly requested.

If/ when they do announce another contest, it will be a good thing that they’ve heard us, the community, after ignoring everyone for months. So, I still encourage those who want to be featured to participate in their contest! However, for authors looking for fewer restrictions and still quite a big boost of support for their story (to gain readership), this contest will hopefully appeal to them!

11 Likes

The announcement is amazing! It’s really cool know that people from the community are working together in a contest, I’m curious to see the creativity of the participants. :eyes:

7 Likes

I’m definitely joining the contest!This will be so much fun!!Thank you for ur hard work and good luck to everyone who’s participating!!🫶🏻✨️

8 Likes

Oh my, the theme has me hooked right off the bat! I love how you left so much room for creativity! Thank you for making this possible!

I’ll definitely be joining in myself. I have a story in the works (one of a dozen) that would even fit the theme, but it’s a murder mystery with a complex plot that will take me much longer than just 3 months. :sweat_smile:
I’d rather start a new one for this.

Good luck to everyone participating as well! :four_leaf_clover: :heart:
With a theme like that, I can already tell that the entries will be awesome!

7 Likes

Omggg my story is literally perfect for this!!!

4 Likes

This is even better than I thought! You bet I will join, I have a story I’ve been working on that I think fits pretty well with this theme! :laughing: This gives the perfect freedom, I can’t wait to see the entries! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

6 Likes

Does this mean I cannot enter with an already published story?

1 Like

Yes, your story must be either an idea already in the works or a whole new project, but cannot be previously published on any platform or unoriginal (like stolen work) so that it is fair for all contestants! :white_heart:

4 Likes

Thank you so much for this contest! I also love the art and the edits :heart_eyes: I am so happy that there is a contest again! That it is a community run one too. We need contests.

I’m not sure if mine could be considered dark academia. It takes place in a strange community college with something mysterious going on behind closed doors and maybe some questions should be left unanswered… It does have something supernatural happening.

Should I enter? It won’t be out until June 22nd (the first three chapters).

Good luck to everyone who enters :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: :heart_hands:

2 Likes

You should enter! (If you want to!) Your story sounds great!! Dark Academia can have many meanings so we want to leave it up to interpretation on how everyone defines the term. Good luck and hope to see your entry!! :blob_hearts:

2 Likes

Thank you for getting back to me! :face_holding_back_tears:

Sounds great! So it would be DA: Club for the Damned. After the contest ends can we change it back or shall we keep it DA?

3 Likes

After the contest, you can change the title however you want and take off the DA in front. It’s only there so entries are easier to find for readers and us!

3 Likes

Thank you! :slight_smile:

3 Likes