Shayna (shayna611) wrote in runaway_tales,

FAQ and How-To Guide

We seem to answer the same questions repeatedly - most often the blanket "how does it work?" And rather than retype and rephrase the answer endlessly, I have started a FAQ. If there are questions you think should be added, or something that you still don't understand after reading this, comment here.

How to RaT

The Basics

Pick a Flavor. Let's say you pick Vanilla.

Look at the prompts that go with that flavor. Continuing with Vanilla...You have the prompt "shopping". Write a piece about your characters going shopping. Cross "Shopping" off your list.

Ah, but it says I can use more than one prompt for a piece as long as they come from different flavors. Alright, let's throw in Chocolate, Strawberry, and Cinnamon Swirl.

Looking at your Vanilla list again, you have "a walk in the woods". You could combine that with the Cinnamon Swirl prompt "going in circles" and have your characters get lost. Take it a step further and add the Strawberry prompt "puddles" and have your piece take place just after a rainstorm. Post it, labeled with all three prompts, and cross them off your lists.

For your next piece, you look at the Chocolate list instead and decide to write about "joy" and combine this with the Strawberry prompt "flowers" to write about one of your characters expressing his affection for another with a bouquet.

You can mix and match prompts from any lists any way you like (as long as each prompt in the same piece comes from a different list and the total does not exceed three) So you may not claim Vanilla "a day at the beach" and Vanilla "a storm" in the same piece.

You do not have to work on more than one flavor at a time and you do not have to use more than one prompt per piece. You are free to work your way through Vanilla by itself, and you are free to change your mind at any time and add more flavors. This is entirely up to you.

So, what about Flavor of the Day? Flavor of the Day counts as its own flavor (which can never be "finished" but has its own set of banners). Use the word of the day at as one of your prompts and post the piece the same day to claim it.

And Flavor of the Month? Prompts are to be used like any other flavor. If you post all the prompts (either separately or in a binge) during the month, you will receive a special banner.

There are a few exceptions to this format - Binges, Samplers and Bites entail using a larger set of prompts.


You have your central canon. It spans a specific time period, it involves specific characters. You do not need to declare these anywhere, you just work off of your own knowledge of your own story.

When you write pieces that deviate from that central canon, you get to claim toppings.

For simplicity's sake, let's use a canon most of us will recognize for this example. I'll take a fairy tale - Cinderella.

- Say you write a piece in which Cinderella is 3 years old. That gets whipped cream. This is in addition to the prompts already assigned to the piece.

- If you were to write a piece centered around one of her step-sisters - showing their point of view - this would get Hot Fudge.

- A piece about some other attendant of the Prince's ball, or one of his servants, or some other non-central character would earn the piece Sprinkles.

- A piece about Prince Charming and Cinderella raising their five children ten years later would get Caramel.

- A piece about Cinderella's father before she was born, or about some event in the history of the kingdom would get Butterscotch.

- A piece where Cinderella is the pilot of a rocket ship, sailing through space would get Chopped Nuts. A piece where the Prince marries one of the step-sisters would also get Chopped Nuts. As would anything else that is NOT canon.

- If you write a piece about Cinderella dancing with the Prince from her PoV, and then write another piece about the same scene from his PoV, (or interpret it in some other new way) the second gets Cookie Crumbs.

- If you write a piece in a format unfamiliar to you - like poetry or journal entry, or first person when you generally write third - this is a Cherry.

- If you belong to another writing group or follow a daily/weekly/monthly challenges site or something of that nature, you can use their prompts in conjunction with RaTs prompts and claim Gummy Bunnies.

- If every piece you post for a given 30-prompt flavor uses the same topping, you can claim a Sundae and receive an extra banner on its completion.


Like toppings, extras are in addition to the prompts. They relate to the format of the piece rather than the content.

- If your piece is 100 words or less, it is Pocky.

- If your piece is 5000 words or more, it is a Brownie.

- You do not have to write, you can also draw. A sketch is a Wafer Cookie. A finished picture (what degree of effort and polish constitutes "finished" as at your discretion) is a Banana

- A piece in script format or a comic is a Root Beer Float.

- All other forms of media - video, audio, and interactive - are Ice Cream Sandwiches. You may use published works in montages, as long as there is a fair amount of editing or original content. Machinima is welcome. Playlists, or hey, this song/clip/etc makes me think of character/situation x with no editing are not.

- We are a community. We do read and fangirl over each other's works. And most of us adore fanfiction of our own work. Ask first, but most authors will give you permission. If you write a piece about another RaTs author's canon, it is a Milkshake.

- Two or more authors can work together on a piece. Each claims her own prompt(s) and toppings and extras. (the piece may have up to 3 prompts from each author) All authors involved claim a Smoothie for the piece

- If every piece you post for a given 30-prompt flavor uses the same extra, you can claim a Sundae and receive an extra banner on its completion.

Other FAQ
(this list will be added to as we determine what needs to be added to it)

How do I get my author tag?
The mods have to add your tag. Make your first post without it and tell us in your header what you'd like for us to call you.
We have tags locked because 1. we got tired of cleaning up sloppy spellings of all the flavors and toppings every few days, and 2. a lot of people sign up and then never post anything. We don't need all those tags cluttering up the place.

What do I do if my author tag has been purged?
If you have been gone long enough to have your tag purged, you have 2 options. You may pick up where you left off, or you may start fresh. Just tell us if you want your old tag back or a new one.

How do I interpret the prompts?
Any way you like. They tend to be vague on purpose. You do NOT need to include the word or phrase anywhere in your piece. You may take them literally or figuratively. Cinnamon Swirl "spilt milk" might be about a character reacting to a minor misshap, or it might be about actual milk being spilled. Maple Walnut "cold feet" might be about someone having second thoughts about a decision, or they might be getting frostbite in their toes. It's up to you.

Is there a time limit on finishing a flavor? No.

Can I do one-shots or short stories? Yes.

Can I write stories for more that one canon? Yes.

Can two or more authors share a canon?
Yes. Multiple authors may write pieces for the same canon. You only claim smoothies for the pieces you both contribute to and you each work on your own set of flavors.

Do I have to do the prompts on my list in any particular order? No.

Do I have to post my story in chronological order? No.

Can I post more than one piece in the same post? Yes.

What if I have a piece that's too long to fit in one post?
Break it into two (or more) posts and put them up back to back. Put the same header on each post and a note indicating that they are to be regarded as one piece. If we're talking novella size, feel free to post a chapter or two and direct readers to a .pdf for the rest.

How many flavors can I work on at a time?
As many as you are comfortable with.

Can I get concrit on my piece?
You may certainly ask for concrit. Don't expect to get any unless you do ask though.

Can I leave concrit on a piece?
Yes. Please be respectful about it. And if the author asks that you not continue to do so, please honor her wishes.

How/Where do I make an index?
You may make an index in your own journal or anywhere else on the web and provide the link to it when posting your work.

Where do Malt prompts come from? Can I join the Malt Shoppe?
All members of RaTs are welcome to join the_malt_shoppe and participate in its games.

Can I do a Sundae on a flavor with less than 30 prompts?
No. You are certainly welcome to challenge yourself to use the same topping/extra on all the prompts of a short flavor, but you will not receive a Sundae banner for doing so.

Can I post a playlist for my characters/canon?
You may not post a playlist to fulfill your prompts, but you may share playlists, dollz, memes, and other story-related items in our side community, the bunny_den

Can I use more than one flavor in a Binge?
Yes, but you must use all the prompts from all the flavors to get credit for a Binge (otherwise it is a Sampler). You can include a separate section for every prompt, or you can pair off the flavors so each section has a prompt from each, or you can do some combination of the two.

I want to publish something that I posted on RaTs. Can I delete the post?
Yes, your work is yours of course, you may remove anything you no longer wish to share. However, if you're trying to claim credit for completing a flavor, posts for all the relevant prompts should be accessible at the time of your banner request.

Tags: rules and clarifications
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