Second Annual Original Works Secret Snowflake

Due to our successful first year (and despite a little delay), we’re happy to be bringing this back again - this time in time for the end of NaNoWriMo for all the fresh new worlds created. 

Are you seeing all the great fandom secret exchanges and wishing there existed an exchange for your world? Do you already have the fandom names for your project’s future devotees all picked out? Would you just like to find out more about the amazing original creations on Tumblr? 

Then this secret snowflake is for you! The Village Designs is proud to present the first annual Original Work Secret Snowflake, or the OWSS. The OWSS is dedicated to celebrating original creations and sharing work of the most personal kind – your very own! All entrants will pick one of their original works or worlds to share with another anonymous entrant. Then, they will be given the name and information for another entrant and will anonymously research and ask questions about their work so they can create a fanwork to give them on January 1st!

This is open to artists, writers, designers and anyone in between! Previous original works entered have included webcomics, Nanowrimos, and worldbuilding projects. Previous gifts have included fanart, fanfiction, recipes and songs! You do not have to be any specific kind of creator or at any level of “good” to apply - all creators with something original to share are welcome. Just send an application to (details in the full rules doc).

  •    Any original work or project is eligible for application (and we will accept almost all applications!) Additionally, all applicants from last year are welcome to enter either with a new work or the same work as before. See the full rules doc for more information.

  •  Send us an application by December 8th. Alternately, you can send a message of intent by December 7th, but you must have your description and materials in by the 8th.

  • You will get the application of your secret recipient by December 9th. Don’t share who they are! We will have a masterpost to share information about applicants that they don’t mind being public, but we will also privately send their application.

  • Then, you will have until January 5th to research their world, ask them anonymous questions about their world, and create a piece of any kind of fanwork to share with them. Any kind of fanwork, be it writing, art, or interpretive dance, is acceptable.

On January 6th, we will exchange our gifts and reveal who we are, and new friends will be had by all!

Please read the full rules before entering!

Spread the word, and we can’t wait to celebrate your original works with you this holiday season. 


We’re hard at work putting together our Connecticon table! If you come and see us tomorrow, we are on the first aisle to the right of the entrance, fifth one down - look for the checkered table cloth! 

Want a special treat? If you see us on Friday or Saturday, come up to our booth and say You Need A Wall Of Sherlox, you get a dollar off your whole order. We’ll have a new secret saying for Sunday! 

We can’t wait to meet everyone!

Jumpstart Your World!

 Having trouble with a world you’re developing? Need a good place to start for your upcoming NaNoWriMo? Try these exercises. Find other fun Nano and worldbuilding exercises here.

1. Pick your favorite original character or your favorite literary or fandom character and “clone” them into something you can play with. What type of world would they succeed and thrive in? What type of world would they hate the most? Think outside the box – a character who loves to travel and loves nature would probably love a world with many diverse landscapes and a lot of cultural respect for nature, or they might love a world where humans have wings and can fly anywhere!

2. Start drawing a map at random. Draw random islands, random rivers, random dots for where towns will go, and just start naming things with words or syllables you like the sound of. Then, try to explain where your islands came from, or why your towns sprung up where they are, and see what kinds of cultures and people would act that way.

3. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, it’s been argued that the rainy and boggy setting of the mystery is just as important a character as Sherlock Holmes and the rest of the cast. Find a character bio sheet online and fill it out as if you were creating a character. Then, try to translate that character into a setting or environment of your world. Think of it as a reverse anthroporphamization of an area. Alternately, try considering the various character archtypes – hero, assistant, etc – and think of what kind of settings or world could work in a story that way (a world with constantly changing weather could be a particularly mean trickster).

4. Prefer to draw from reality? Pick a real place – your hometown, your favorite country, an area that you have no idea why anyone would want to live there – as your template. Then, pick one aspect of that place and speculate how it would be if changed – what would the country be like if it was a monarchy as opposed to a democracy? What would the city be like if the only acceptable form of art was high fashion? Remember –worlds don’t have to be massive or completely original. 

5. Pick your favorite/most interesting historical event from any area. This can be anything notable, from a war to a culture movement to a scientific discovery. Find out a little bit more about the context and impulse behind that event. What are other alternate historical reasons that could have caused that event? What other ways could that event have turned out? What would have happened if those events occurred elsewhere in the world? Try and put together an alternate history around the event, focusing on alternate beginnings and endings, and don’t feel confined by the actual location of the event. What type of world would that create?

Writing Workshop: Nano Kick Off Inspiration

Happy November First! It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or terrifying. Or stressful. Or absurd. Remember to sleep, kids, and if you want some ideas, check out our entire collection of unasked for advice. 

By now, many of you are ankle deep in your NaNoWrimos - some of you may be off and running like a greyhound at a gunshot, while others may be circling around your story like a Portuguese water dog at a lake, provided that that particular water dog had enough genetic diversity to lose their swimming instinct and is now standing clueless and insecure while watching its brothers and sisters paddle naturally throughout the deep end. If you’re at the point of your story already where you’re using some desperately worded dog metaphors, or if you’d just like a few shots of inspiration to give your story some direction, try these tips about the direction and development of your story. 

Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers Steal

Why not practice some thievery? There exists a finite amount of plots in the world, and those are strong enough have enough literary power to spare. If you’re not entirely sure where you’re going, subtly make your story an adaptation – write a creative twist on your favorite fairytale, a modern iteration of a myth, or an alternate history of a classic novel. This parallel could be one even your characters are aware of, something that works in the flavoring of your story, or just something for you to know and everyone else to wonder about. While any kind of story can be creatively used for this, the most popular and easiest to work with are usually old enough to be in the public domain as culture (mythology, fables, fairytales, classic literature) and have a universally adaptable plot and setting. Adapting or altering a tale also makes the planning process more straightforward, as you have a tried-and-and backbone of events, characters and themes to work from. Think about what elements of the original you are representing – in an adaptation of the Orpheus myth, what story element represents the underworld? If you are working from Othello, is Iago manifested in a physical character, or is he represented by a larger group of people or a more abstract element? Are you keeping the Little Mermaid in A Little Mermaid literally a mermaid, or is your setting something a little less seaworthy? (Hint: none of the answers you can think of are wrong). Twisting stories to suit what you want to talk about or highlight most is not unoriginal or uncreative at all – in fact, it may create a more poignant, accessible or interesting story than a plot you tried to create from scratch since it plays with themes and expectations that already fondly exist in the public mind. So if you’re having trouble figuring out where to go, lean over and borrow the plot of your favorite story (or even TV show or song)  – chances are, whoever wrote it did the exact same thing to their favorite.

Keep reading

NaNoWriMo Article Bonanza!

Hey followers!

Last year in October, we did a series of articles about worldbuilding, character building, creative writing and NaNoWriMo itself leading up to the day before November 1st. Because we want to By popular demand, we’re going to be doing this again!

We want to hear from you! Are there any requests for anything you would like to read about or get prompts for next month? Previous requests included our Evil Edition and our Mid-Nano Emergency Kit. What would you like to see this year?