Open Call for Guest Participants in Blog-Based Reality Show

Jun 14, 2009 by

*Round 1 Challenge: Write the opening sentence of your novella.

I recently announced that Fourth Night will soon host a blog-based literary reality show– Fourth Fiction–where twelve writers will vie to complete a short novel while readers vote them off, one by one. After the announcement, a number of other writers expressed interest in participating, which has led me to reconsider the format.

The contestants have already been selected. But I will add a page of links that will direct readers to each guest participant’s web page* where his or her Fourth Fiction responses are posted. For those without websites, I could set up a page where they can post their entries directly, you can always set up a free blogging page at WordPress, Blogger, or any other of the free blogging services.

Obviously these guest participants wouldn’t be competing (although I’m considering forms of integration). But there are advantages to non-competition. Unlike all but one of the contestants, they’ll be able to complete all twelve of the literary tasks since they’re not getting voted off.

Why would anyone want to be a guest participant? Here are a few possible reasons:

  • To draw visitors to your website (if you have a website) and to instantly have readers (if you don’t).
  • To complete a novel—or, rather, novella—in four months
  • To be part of a unique literary project
  • To have fun (insofar as the excruciating demands of fiction writing permit it)

Unlike most reality shows, this one is designed to judge writing rather than image or reputation, so the identities of the contestants will remain anonymous during the competition. A guest participant, on the other hand, can choose to be anonymous or not.

Participation is open to anyone, regardless of writing experience. In fact, some of the contestants have never written any fiction. If you feel intimidated or shy (or plain diabolical), just write under a pseudonym.

Although the twelve contestants will be introduced via Twitter on July 4th, the competition rounds begin on August 4th and end on December 4th. The writing challenges—issued on every 4th, 14th, and 24th—won’t require a major time commitment: they’re 21st century-friendly. Your completed work—which will be the length of a short novella—will have nothing to do with those 19th century novels that Henry James disparaged as “large loose baggy monsters.” Even if it is a monster, it will be a little one.

And of course you can always drop out anytime you like. There’s no fee to participate so the only thing you have to lose is your pride, which isn’t all that bad considering it’s the most serious of the seven deadly sins.

If you are interested in participating or have suggestions, please comment below or email me.

See the Outside Participants page here.

ADD A BADGE linking to Fourth Fiction

*Guest writers who are participating through their own websites should link back to the Fourth Fiction homepage with one of the following buttons. Just copy and paste the HTML code below your image of choice at the beginning of your posts or as a widget on the sidebar (if you want to make the image larger or smaller, just change the width and height dimensions):

BADGE 1 (64 by 64 pixels)

Fourth Fiction

<a href=””><img title=”Red Moon” src=”″ alt=”Red Moon” width=”64″ height=”64″ /></a>


BADGE 2 (128 by 128 pixels)

Fourth Fiction

<a href=””><img title=”Red Moon” src=”″ alt=”Red Moon” width=”128″ height=”128″ /></a>

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  1. Pride’s the most serious of the deadly sins? Really? I have a lot of it so perhaps I should consider participating myself! Hmm…..

  2. seldom seen

    why assume all of us might be worried about deadly sins? leave the church out of it, for christ sake.
    fish count up to 12.

  3. craig

    I’m in.
    This will be just the thing –
    Satya 4 Life

  4. Hi Cons,

    Well, I’ve been procrastinating on starting one of my many short stories (of which maybe one or two are possibly decent) and would love the opportunity. I work better under a bit of pressure and structure so this could be the push I need if you’ve got a spot free.

  5. This sounds like a novel idea. I like it and am interested is the guest participant idea. Being a participant would have been an unusual and fun option, but I’m easy.

  6. Ok, great. I’ve also received a number of emails from people who want to participate. The writing contest doesn’t start until August 4th so I’ll be in touch as the date nears.

  7. I would like to participate as a guest writer. Competing should be fun.

  8. Joan Begs

    Exciting! I will surely be a reader 😉

  9. I cannot believe this will work!

  10. Is it possible to sign up for participation still?

  11. Consider yourself signed up, Allegro. Just post the opening sentence on your blog, use one of the badges above to link back to Fourth Fiction, email me when you’ve posted it, and (once I get the page up) I’ll link to your web page where you posted your response.

  12. Renata

    It´s probably too late now for sign me up, right?
    If it isn´t, I would love to participate. This could be a huge step for me, and my novels…!

    • Great, it’s not too late. I’m in the process of setting up the “Outside Participants” page. Just email me your opening sentence when you get a chance and, once I have set the page up, I’ll link to your website where you posted it (again, if you don’t have a blog you can set up a free one at or

  13. Dave Clarke

    Is there any chance of getting in on the guest participation still? I finally got my act together. My posting is here:

  14. I’ve just posted your entry. People can join in as outside participants at any point, although earlier is better for obvious reasons. Even if it’s later, I’ll just identify at what point the person joined (after all, they’ll be able to cater their responses early challenges based on future ones). But for the first two rounds at least, I don’t think that’s necessary.

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