Call For Submissions

I’ve been building up quite a TODO list for the QQ blog, and I’ve heard from readers that they’d like to see more discussion here. While I won’t promise a steady stream of “fresh content,” I’ll endeavor to post more often, and I invite you to join me.

How can you become a guest blogger here at Omnium Gatherum? It’s as simple as sending me a few thoughts in an email—just a single paragraph could make for an enjoyable post. If you can’t decide on a topic, start with #1 below. Or if you’re looking for an “easy” form of post, try #2. You can email me at with the finished text of your post or just a sketch.

If you’re not yet inspired to post, you can still participate by looking over this Call For Submissions and telling me which ideas you’d like to see explored. A friendly nudge always helps me get started on posts of my own. If you’re new to QQ or haven’t contributed a sentence yet, you might still enjoy browsing our list, as it will give you a sense of what the site’s all about—I’ve included links to previous discussions, which you’re welcome to join. I’d say this list is pretty long, but please add to it if you can!


  1. Why do you do QQ? What do “get” from it? What does it mean to you? What’s the hardest part (e.g. have you experienced the “fourth word phenomenon“)? What do you enjoy most? How did you first discover it? (You can find my own answers to some of these questions in my Origins essay.)
  2. Have you come across an article on writing, words, or creative problem solving that relates to QQ in some way? Send in the link along with a quick summary or teaser—one or two sentences would be great. (For example, this one about invented languages is on my reading list.)
  3. What is your creative process for solving QQ? How do you go about it? Do you have a routine — time of day, place, etc.? What do you do when you’re stuck? How long does it take? (In the logs of Omnium Gatherum, you’ll find notes on process by cusheamus, Captain Thunderbeard, and Et Seqq.)
  4. What makes a successful QQ resolution?  (Along with our guidelines, the topic is addressed here — further thoughts are welcome.)
  5. Essay idea: what is a sentence anyway? Different ways of defining “the sentence” — as a grammatical unit, an orthographic unit, an expressive unit, a rhythmic unit.  How well is Wikipedia doing in pinning it down?  Examples of extreme sentences.  Where is the boundary between a long but cohesive sentence and a run-on? What definition of “a single sentence” is best for QQ? Do some QQ submissions fall outside that definition?
  6. A look at “The Long Sentence” in QQ and in general. Techniques for making a long sentence work.  Spoofs of those techniques. Thoughts about why “long is lovable” — what makes the experience of reading long sentences so different (and for a certain type of reader, so much more engaging) than a sequence of shorter sentences including the same material.  (See these thoughts in the LA Times from Pico Iyer.)  Selections of favorite long sentences from literature. Discussion of changing views about writing, why long sentences fell out of fashion, and whether “copia” is undergoing a revival.
  7. Sentence Spotlight: pick a favorite resolution from the archives and discuss why you like it, why it works.
  8. Which challenge do you find more interesting: writing the tersest possible QQ resolution, or the most illustrative one?  How often do you find those goals to be at odds?
  9. Word recall: do you look to QQ as a way of learning vocabulary for future use, or simply as a way of experimenting with words that you’ll be OK with forgetting? How many words from past resolutions do you remember?  Which of those have you used outside QQ?
  10. Take a look at a specialized “genre” of QQ entry, including the Limerick entry, the self-referential entry (specifically, entries that both include and exemplify a rhetorical term, like rhopalic), the non-fiction entry (managing to state a fact or describe a historical event), the dialect entry (imitating a specific style of speech), the epistolary entry, the position entry (where you state a belief that you actually hold), the Homeric Simile entry, and so on.
  11. Provocative phrases: gather a few of your favorite phrases from within long QQ sentences and present them as teasers, along with links to the full sentences
  12. Memorable characters: take a look at the most memorable characters (and character names) that have appeared on QQ; also talk about character naming as a QQ technique
  13. Memorable places described in QQ resolutions; memorable place names.  Places that occur in multiple entries (e.g. since meeting it as a QQ word, I’ve become fond of Ruritania.)
  14. The running story: explore a phenomenon that has occurred at several points in QQ’s history — a story-line that managed to extend (through the efforts of a persistent author) across several days’ resolutions
  15. A closer look at “illustration”: what does it it mean for a sentence to be illustrative? Can we categorize different ways of illustrating word meaning?  How do you judge whether a QQ sentence succeeds in illustrating a word—how much illustration is enough?
  16. In QQ our goal is to illustrate each of the four words, whereas in other writing we often simply employ words, assuming the reader already knows their definitions. In some cases we do end up illustrating a word by employing it, with no extra fuss. But is there value in paying conscious attention to illustration outside of QQ—in deliberately hinting at a word’s meaning even as we rely on the word to carry that meaning?
  17. Word spotlight: what are your favorite words that have appeared on QQ? Also, give suggestions for words you’d like to see here.  (I had been waiting for zugzwang, but now I see it already appeared—on 7/19/2011, when I was away from the game.)
  18. Audio recording of you reading a QQ sentence, or if not you, then an actor friend
    of yours.  Could you read it like Amy Walker?
  19. Sketch or cartoon illustration of a QQ sentence; or, an interesting image from the public domain that goes particularly well with a QQ sentence.  (Edward Gory’s work has come to mind more than once.)
  20. Language resources: links to favorite word/dictionary sites, corpora, etc.; also other language games and writing challenges that might be of interest (OEDILF, Bulwer-Lytton)
  21. Difficult words: how you handle words you might not like or fully understand how to use — do you remember one that was hardest for you?  (I’ve shared some thoughts on “useless” words.)
  22. Contributor spotlight: anything about yourself you’d like to share, other writing activities, other interests. Personal anecdote involving an interesting word. Your history: when did you first develop or recognize your interest in words?
  23. Site suggestions: for building the community around QQ, adding new features to the site (does everyone know about comments?), networking with other sites/forums, showcasing our achievements, expanding QQ’s readership
  24. “Applications” of QQ: specifically, how it could be used in education or language learning
  25. Announcements of anything relating to QQ (like Sami’s book) and anecdotes or stories relating to QQ (like Queen of East Pond’s victory)
  26. Pure silliness (like my QQ photo shoot and discussion of QQ’s cartographic celebrity)
  27. Evangelism: have you been able to persuade any of your friends to try QQ? Have you met resistance? What do you say to people who think they could “never” do QQ?  Is there an innate predisposition to QQ?
  28. Collaboration stories: have you ever worked on a solution with someone else? How did it go?
  29. Vacations: have you needed a break from QQ? How did you come back to it? Thoughts on staying with it and/or returning to it.
  30. Changing approaches: has your approach to writing QQ sentences changed as you’ve continued to do it? Have your ideas about what makes a good sentence changed?
  31. Has QQ made you a better writer?  Has it hurt any aspects of your writing (aggravated sesquipedalianism, etc.)?
  32. QQ as an exploration of creative problem solving, QQ as a writing prompt
  33. Book Reviews: books on writing (with a focus on the sentence), rhetoric, linguistics, flash-fiction.
  34. Pose an open question to the forum for others to respond to.  Ask for help with a sentence.
  35. Other languages: if English is your second language, tell us about your particular experience with QQ. If you’re fluent in another language, have you called upon it in solving QQ?
  36. Is there a connection between the skills involved in QQ and those involved in improv or sketch comedy? Does practice in connecting unrelated ideas help us with anything outside QQ?
  37. Rejects and Train Wrecks: share a sentence that you just couldn’t complete, or didn’t see fit to submit—maybe one that included only three of the words.
  38. Extended resolution: take one of your QQ sentences and expand it (perhaps into a paragraph-length story). Or, try writing a short story using all the words from one week of QQ. Or (for daredevils) try writing a single sentence using all words from two consecutive days of QQ.
  39. Punctuation: discuss: courteously.
  40. Do you think computer scientists will ever be able to develop a generator for vaguely plausible QQ solutions, like this Postmodern essay generator?  Why or why not?
  41. Review “a day of QQ”: compare and contrast the approaches that different contributors took to solving the same day’s Quandary.
  42. Archive Trivia: explore patterns and oddities in the history of QQ’s daily words. For example, has the same word appeared twice in one day? How many times has a word been accompanied by one of its synonyms on the same day? Have we had four parts of speech represented on the same day? What’s our longest word so far? How often has a word appeared both as an adjective and a noun (as I write this on 12/21/2012 I see we’ve got solstice and solstitial)?

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