Welcome to The Stretcher – h2g2's own Search For a Star.
Yes, that's right. We're looking for people to take part in our new competition to find the best of the best – the stand-out writer who really defines what h2g2 is all about.
Interested? Of course you are. Read on.
Every issue, our team of judges will set our writers a writing challenge. They will score the resulting pieces out of ten and come up with a leaderboard of the work they consider to be the best (and, of course, the worst). You, the readers, will then have a chance to vote for your favourites, and whichever Researcher is at the bottom of the leaderboard when the votes are all counted will leave the competition. So the voting works a bit like Strictly, but without the infernal dance-offs...
So who are these judges, the noble few who will pass comment on the contestants' pieces? And who the hell do they think they are, telling the rest of us how to write, anyway?
In the Len Goodman role as Head Judge, largely on the basis that it was his idea and if he couldn't be in charge he wouldn't publish the column, is Post Editor Skankyrich. Rich used to write, Scout and Sub for the Edited Guide regularly before taking over the editorship of The Post earlier this year.
Galaxy Babe is our very own Arlene Phillips. An astonishingly prolific writer, with 180 solo-written Entries and a host of co-writer credits, she is also a hard-working Curator and Sub-editor and is widely recognised as one of the Edited Guide's leading lights.
Finally, scowling at the end of the table like Craig Revel Horwood is Pinniped. An often controversial figure, Pinniped is nonetheless considered by most to be one of h2g2's finest writers and maintains the UnderGuide's standards in his role as Quality Assessor.
So all we need is some vict— – erm, contestants. We're looking for some writers who feel up to the task; willing stooges prepared to write to our every whim, Researchers who like being stretched once in a while. If you're thinking of taking part, please consider the following:
Your work will be subjected to critique, which may occasionally be 'robust'. Would negative comments about your work upset you? Would being given a score of 1/10 ruin your week? If the answer to either of these questions is 'yes', this may not be for you.
You must be able to work to tight deadlines. Although you will only be expected to write one piece per month, most, if not all of the time you will only have a week to come up with your piece. This is so that we have enough time to write the column before the Post deadline. If you run late at any stage you may postpone publication, so we will be very strict with our deadlines.
You must be willing to write on a range of subjects in a variety of ways. We intend to stretch our contestants (hence the title) and you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory at some stage. If you see this as a chance to show off what you can do, you're exactly the sort of person we're looking for.
We'll make up most of the 'rules' (such as we need them) as we go along, but we've learned from the John Sergeant controversy. We have therefore decided to make it very clear from the start that we do not want this to be about the personalities of our contestants. It's purely about the writing and nothing else. We'll expect contestants to treat the contest in the same spirit, so while we hope you write journals about what's going on and join in discussions about it we do reserve the right to disqualify anyone who appears to be canvassing for votes.
How To Take Part
Just email us at the usual Post Team address and let us know why you think you should be given the chance to prove you're the best. Video footage of you singing in your bedroom is strictly optional. We'll be open to applications until we decide that we're not, so please get your emails in quickly. We'll announce our final list of contestants and set our first challenge in the first issue of the New Year.