Readers play favorites, you know. Everybody has their favorite genres and our season themes are here to assemble story collections that readers will love. These themes function as story prompts for our author base, suggesting fun mashups and settings for the most creative, hard-hitting fiction. We only accept stories that fit these themes, and we wish you much Havok as you craft your best work!
Season Six: Casting Call
Classic character archetypes make for legendary stories! Throughout human history, certain types of people show up over and over in the stories we tell. And sometimes, especially in speculative genres, they aren’t technically… human, even though they fill an archetypal role (the Hero, the Jester, the Magician, the Lover, etc). Think of your story as the audition for a starring role. We want to see a variety of genre takes on these quintessential types.
Is your Ruler the epitome of an evil dictator or a benevolent judge? Will your Caretaker warm the cockles of readers’ hearts or make them laugh with slapstick foibles? Is your Orphan entangled in a life-threatening magical thriller or helping a gaslamp detective solve a laughable crime? Mix and match the five Havok genres with the two archetypes each month and send us what you come up with! (Pro tip: mystery, humor, and thriller categories tend to get fewer submissions. Crafting your story into one of those genres will give you a stronger chance at publication.)
Each month two archetypes are paired so you can either choose one as a main character (protagonist or antagonist, whatever role you like) or you can contrast them together in your story. As always, you are welcome to use characters from your existing WIP or published works, either as side characters or in the archetypal role, if the shoe fits.
We have prepared a printable reference of the monthly themes and deadlines below and an additional resource with links to sites online giving more examples of these archetypes and how they work in fiction. We highly recommend checking out these resources for ideas as you craft your story!
P.S. If you blog about auditioning your own original characters for these roles, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to tag @gohavok on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about our themes and guidelines! Sign up for our author newsletter (see sidebar on this page; scroll down on mobile) for tips from our editors and news about author contests.
CAREGIVER / LOVER – CLOSED, publishes in Nov. 2021
INNOCENT / SAGE
OPEN – Deadline: October 3, 2021
The sage can show up as a mentor, mystic, or guide, always pursuing growth based on truth. The innocent is all about happiness, sincerity and optimism. What a great theme for a theme publishing during the Christmas month. Only true innocence may touch the unicorn, they say. Bring a mystery before a wise oracle and see what happens. A vampire who’s lived four thousand years has matured a bit—or has he? When naivete meets the real world it could be a near-death experience or something to laugh about for years to come. Publishes in December.
Season Seven: Animal Kingdom (now open for submissions!)
The relationships humanity has with the living creatures of our world are as varied as the ones we have with each other. We have fought to keep from being eaten by the predatory, we have nurtured and raised domestics as companions and partners in labor, we have driven some to extinction, we have studied all to increase our understanding of life. Explore the wonders, rewards, and tragedies of the animal kingdom during this season. (Pro tip: mystery, humor, and thriller categories tend to get fewer submissions. Crafting your story into one of those genres will give you a stronger chance at publication.)
We have prepared a downloadable/printable PDF of the monthly themes and deadlines below, including extra info about what we’re looking for this season. We highly recommend checking out these resources for ideas as you craft your story! Feel free to tag @gohavok on Instagram or email email@example.com with any questions about our themes and guidelines. Sign up for our author newsletter (see sidebar on this page; scroll down on mobile) for tips from our editors and news about author contests.
PARTNERS & PREDATORS
OPEN – Deadline: November 7, 2021
Animals can be many things to humans: trusted mounts and fellow warriors, comfortable lap pets, sources of food, manual laborers, lie detectors, trained trackers and rescuers, formidable foes, and pernicious garden pests. What emotions do animals provoke in these relationships? Show us! (Publishes in January.)
The themes below will open for submissions about two months before their deadlines.
SWIMMERS & SOARERS
(Deadline: December 5, 2021)
There’s something about the blue expanse above that draws the human eye. Treat us to a closer look at flying creatures, their view from above and their eyrie homes. What if humans lived in the crags, riding the giant eagles? Delve into the sea, where life is broad and deep, mysterious, and rich with resources. What if we lived on islands and had trained water creatures who retrieved treasures from the depths? Or what if we lived under the sea ourselves? (Publishes in February.)
DISCOVERIES & EXTINCTIONS
(Deadline: January 3, 2021)
There’s nothing like the thrill of discovery and the tragedy of permanent loss. What is hiding in the dense jungle or the dark depths of the sea? What is camouflaged in plain sight? Did your human colony drive a native species to extinction on accident? Tell us the tale of the last of the draco-griffins or how a mage brought the rainbow phoenix species back from a humble pile of ashes. What would a foodie pay to sample an exotic but forbidden meat? How far would someone go to poach—or preserve—an endangered species? (Publishes in March.)
BEAUTIFUL & DANGEROUS
(Deadline: February 6, 2021)
It’s time to push the limits of human emotion. What is it like to encounter a herd that covers the earth as far as the eye can see? To witness the birth of a precious baby? Make us dread the tall grass, tremble at a rustle in the bushes, gasp as we run from certain death. Poisonous spines, venom, or skin contact could cause a mysterious death. Rare markings could drive the price of a pet sky high or tempt a collector to thievery. (Publishes in April.)
SYMBIOTES & PARASITES
(Deadline: March 6, 2021)
Some relationships with (or between) animals are very close, to the point their lives are intertwined. What if there was an animal that could regulate a human’s failing heart or stabilize blood sugar levels? What if two creatures discovered on another planet had a hidden symbiotic relationship, where reducing one population threatened the other? We’re looking for creatures in symbiotic or parasitic relationship to humans or to other creatures. Make it fascinating, make it rewarding, or make it terrible and horrific. (Publishes in May.)
MACRO & MICRO
(Deadline: April 3, 2021)
Wow us with enormous creatures the size of cities that create an entire ecosystem around themselves. Astonish us with tiny creatures whose entire existence happens within 1 cubic foot—or within one human organ. Show us tiny mice, insects, or even bacteria. The world is full of small wonders. Or surprise us with a planet-sized creature inhabiting distant nebulae and grazing on asteroids. (Publishes in June.)
Now Go Write!
Using the season theme above for ideas, go write and then send us your best story that fits any of our Accepted Genres. Be sure to download and use our Manuscript Formatting template and follow the Submission Guidelines!