Unconventional Courtship

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Journal Community
Name: Unconventional Courtship
Date(s): 2013-
Moderator: Aralias
Founder: Aralias
Type: Challenge community
Fandom: Panfandom
URL: The comm, the 2013 Masterlist, the 2014 Masterlist, the collection on AO3

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Unconventional Courtship is a panfandom challenge based on Dreamwidth and Archive of our Own that first ran in March/April 2013. The challenge has never been a gift exchange or a prompt challenge, it merely requested that participants post a fic on a specified day. The aim was to produce fics longer than 1,000 words, based on a Mills & Boon/Harlequin novel summary.

Unconventional Courtship was inspired by the 2006 Blake's 7 challenge run by Blakefancier[1].

The fest has traditionally tended to attract participants interested in small fandoms (particularly Blake's 7, but also Sapphire and Steel, The Man from Uncle, and more obscure Doctor Who canons, as well as participants from megafandoms (such as Supernatural and Marvel Cinematic Universe). This high density of small fandoms is likely to be due to the moderator largely pimping the fest on her f-list (populated by a lot of people from small fandoms), and partly to do with the fact that smaller fandoms are unlikely to have their own fests, whereas something like MCU has several.

The community name was inspired by a genuine Mills & Boon title, as was the user icon. The challenge-pimping banners were based on the covers of Mills & Boon books with popular ships (such as Kirk/Spock and Gwen/Morgana) in the place of M&B heroes and heroines. Moderator Aralias supplied a layered Photoshop file so that participants could create their own banners.[2]


  • 24 fics were written this year in
  • 20 fandoms (including some fics with crossovers) and one original fiction universe
  • As usual no fandom dominated, with most being single entries. The most popular was Doctor Who with 3 fics, 2 of which were crossovers
  • The most popular days for posting were 13th and the 29th June, with 3 fics each. No fics were posted on 30th June!
  • 'The Veiled Bride' by Elizabeth Bailey was the most popular summary this year, inspiring two fics, although 'Virtually Perfect' by Samantha Hunter remains popular with another entry this year! (5 thus far and counting - please do keep using this prompt and the other!)
  • There are now 98 works in the Unconventional Courtship AO3 collection[3]


In 2014, JohnAmendAll created the Unconventional Courtship Random Pairing Generator[4] based off the challenge. When the generator was launched, it created prompts in the following fandoms: Babylon 5, Blackadder, Blake's 7, Doctor Who (1963-present, or 2005-present), Life on Mars, Once Upon a Time, Red Dwarf, Sapphire and Steel, Sherlock (BBC), Star Trek.

Later editions of the generator allowed players to enter their own custom characters, specify which characters they wished to appear in the generator, and sort by pairing type (F/F, M/M, etc). It was also possible to read all the prompts in the generator or read endless variations on the same prompt.[5]


  1. Unconventional Courtship profile
  2. Aralias posting on Unconventional Courtship
  3. Unconventional Courtship 2016 Masterlist! posted Jul. 10th, 2016 02:05 pm
  4. Announcing: the Unconventional Courtship Random Pairing Generator! posted by JohnAmendAll on Dreamwidth
  5. john_amend_all writing about the generator for Snowflake Challenge, in January 2015