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.
RULER / REBEL
OPEN – Deadline: May 2, 2021
Do you relate more to the king or the outlaw? Now is your chance to explore one or both archetypes. The mayor is seeking the source of a crime spree in a Mystery Monday puzzler. Or a maverick private investigator rejects the conclusions of the local police and finds the true culprit. Set the story a futuristic universe and you’ve got science fiction for Techno Tuesday. A rebel prankster (or stuffy headmaster) at a magic school could make for a Wacky Wednesday or Fantasy Friday tale. Note: your “ruler” can be any type of leader, good or bad. Your “rebel” (aka “outlaw”) can be anyone bucking the established rules. Do these two characters clash or do they work together? You tell us! Publishes in July 2021.
HERO / MAGICIAN
OPEN – Deadline: June 6, 2021
Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. They may perform a random act of kindness or a massive feat of self-sacrifice. Helping someone in need is heroic, whether it’s a cup of cold water or an epic army arriving just in time. The Magician can be a shaman, healer, or wizard, often a trickster, and if you spin it as a technological whiz it could fit science fiction. Contrast Thor and Loki to spin the hero and magician in a mythological direction. Publishes in August.
The themes below will open for submissions about two months before their deadlines.
CREATOR / EXPLORER
Deadline: July 4, 2021
The creator can be anything from artist to architect, scientist to inventor. They love progress and forward thinking as well as the arts. The explorer loves freedom and individualism. To spin it as a mystery, have an engineer solving a problem or scientist facing a puzzle. A medieval blacksmith tale fits fantasy or put a mechanic on a spaceship in crisis for thriller or science fiction. An absent-minded inventor (or lost explorer) makes for wacky fun. Publishes in September.
EVERYMAN / JESTER
Deadline: August 1, 2021
The everyman is also known as the orphan. They are looking for security and belonging in the face of crisis and trauma. What a great contrast with the jester, who seems to just want to have fun. But jesters can also use humor to heal or hide trauma. Pairing these two could provide an interesting contrast or comedic effect. (Publishes in October.)
CAREGIVER / LOVER
Deadline: September 5, 2021
Publishing the month of Thanksgiving, this theme is about people who love and care for others. The lover is all about lasting, meaningful relationships and the fear of being alone. The caregiver is also known as the “mother” and is all about compassion and caring for others, sometimes to the point of martyrdom. Remember we’re also looking for mystery lovers and comedic caregivers, and life-and-death thrillers (secret agent lovers, anyone?). Draconic fathers, shapeshifting playboys, and protective griffins are great fantasy material. For Techno Tuesday add a time travel twist, a long-distance relationship across the solar system, or a mothership. Publishes in November.
INNOCENT / SAGE
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.
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!