Note: This Article is still a draft I am sharing around for feedback
Greetings, fellow travelers and aspiring contributors,
As requested, here is a resource on how to submit entries for the Association of Ishtar.
For starters, we already wrote some resources concerning the lore and writing guides. New to writing or need more advice? Check out our blog for articles on Writing and World Building.
How to write an Associate https://www.associationofishtar.com/post/how-to-write-an-associate
What makes a Good AoI Story https://www.associationofishtar.com/post/how-to-write-an-associate
Rift containment and Procedures in AoI https://www.associationofishtar.com/post/rift-containment-and-procedures-in-aoi
Factions within the Association https://www.associationofishtar.com/post/factions-within-the-association-of-ishtar
Allies and enemy factions overview https://www.associationofishtar.com/post/factions-within-the-association-of-ishtar (edited)
The latest submission guidelines.
Submission in parts
The safe people's time and generate more content overall, we came up with a 2-step submission process.
Submit your idea and concept in a blurb of max. 150 words.
When the blurb has been approved, you, or somebody else, is free to write the full story.
The blurb has to capture the spirit of the piece and the concept being explored. This can be a summary, character bio, scene, or conversation that presents the situation that you want to explore in the full story. No matter how you do it, its needs to be a story that engages the reader and makes them want to read the rest.
Why do this?
The blurb has the length of a Youtube Short (1 minute) with breathing time included. This allows us to put out some content on platforms like YT, etc. It can also be posted as an article on the World Anvil, making it part of the AoI canon.
It also helps the team determine if the concept has merit, has not been explored in other additions, and is suitable for the series as a whole.
What makes a good blurb?
A good blurb adds something new to the growing multiverse of AoI. This could be a new threat, ally, artifact, world, or dilemma the Association could encounter.
Furthermore, AoI is influenced by genres like Pulp, Sci-fi, Alternate History, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, and Cosmic Horror.
The AoI definition for the Steampunk-genre is Cyberpunk in the Past. Therefore, AoI is in part an Alternate History series.
What about the Fantastical?
AoI, being what it is, delves into fantastical. But is foremost sci-fi. There is no (manipulatable) magic or beings who can conjure circus tents from thin air. That doesn't mean there are beings with extraordinary abilities or anomalies like a character from My Hero Academia. But in AoI these are treated as preternatural, things humans do not understand nor can comprehend. These are experiences most humans in the world of AoI are not accustomed to and, therefore, intimidated by.
Fantasy Tropes, such as creatures like vampires and werewolves, can only be included if treated as a Rift Related treat.
What subjects are we not looking for?
Every entry in the Association of Ishtar is an anomaly or a person of interest they have a particular interest in. This means most stories are related to RIft Related Activity or the policies related to that.
We are looking for entries providing a new challenge or dilemma for the Association. We are not looking for:
- just a character, weapon, or another random item.
- a Monster of the Week
- Rule of Cool. (I want to include vampires, just because)
What if I want to introduce a character, item, or monster in the series?
You are free to include these in your approved stories. They can't be the main topic of the story.
Style: High Concept and Soft World Building
AoI being a science fiction series, the short stories are High Concept. HC is often described as, 'a story whose promise can be summarized in a what-if question. For example, what if Germany won the War? What if the Steam engine was used by the Romans, etc. Although true, it's an oversimplification. What makes HC so compelling is that they are explorations rather than stories as described in the Heroes Journey. Arguably, the general structure still applies in High Concept, the character are not the focal point of the reader's attention. It's the situation they find themselves in. The protagonists are Point of View characters both in the literal as the figurative sense. We see the situation through their eyes, but also from the world view or personal situation. So, the story is not just "What if the Germans won the war." But also, What if the protagonist is a Jew in that postwar scenario?
In other words, a Good High concept needs to be formulated in such a way it people can come up with interesting situations that can occur in this setting.
The Association's High Concept
At this point, it's hard to just name one What-if Question to describe AoI's universe. So, here is the concept in a tier of relevance.
- What if 19th-century Earth is exposed through various alternate timelines, monsters, and futuristic technology through means like the RIfts?
- What if, in the past, more technologically advanced city-states excited because of the Rifts?
- What if companies and governments start reverse engineering archeo-tech or Alternate -world technology (We need a snappier name for this one. Open to suggestions ).
- How do competing states maintain the Status Quo?
- How would secret societies, clandestine organizations, criminals, companies, etc. take advantage of the Rifts?
- What measures do states, countries, communities, and individuals protect themselves from threats emerging from the Rifts?
- How does the Association protect its world, and how do they deal with its enemies and allies?
- What does organic life on alternate worlds look like, and how do these affect Atlas?
We could go on, but it should inspire some interesting situations.
The Association and its Associates are the perspectives characters. In each case file, the protagonist describes the dilemma, proposes solutions, gives their opinions, and defends their positions.
Each file contains a specific problem that the Association needs to resolve. The solution does not just fit the context of AoI; it also has to tell us something about the characters and parties involved. In most cases, this will be the Association attempting to solve the issue. But other groups might favor a different solution to the outcome.
What about Lore?
At this point, with nearly 50 entries, not including books, there are two ways to handle lore
a. Try to make a story stand alone as possible, using a historical setting for inspiration.
b. Take a deep dive into the story archive of the Association and expand upon it.
c. Start a new world in the Multiverse.
When it comes to the setting of Atlas (AoI's main world), it stays true to much of our historical timeline up to 1880-1890. Especially if you stay out of areas such as England, the German states, France, and the Netherlands. Therefore, we encourage contributors to include cities and other locations less traveled in historical fiction.
Speaks for itself. There are still many topics in the multiverse that need to expand upon. If you want to do so, please reach out to the original creator of the concept, character, etc.
The original idea of AoI has always been to be an experimental garden for Steampunk / Alternative History settings. As these settings are new, and it's hard for any faction to influence other Planes, you are pretty much free to include whatever you want, as long it adheres to the framework stipulated above. For the introductory story, we recommend the Association of Ishtar as the perspective character.
That is it for now. The community is working on a World Anvil (a Wikipedia for fiction) to catalog the finer details of the setting. Any approved blurbs will be included as well.