Writers 750 Short Story Contest discussion

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Monthly Short Story Contest > Ideas for 2019 Monthly Challenges

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message 1: by Glenda (last edited Sep 13, 2018 11:02AM) (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
This post is for coming up with different ideas of how we can spice up the monthly writing challenges.

****THINK "OUTSIDE THE BOX" ****

So far we have a few different ideas:
1. Provide writers with the first sentence - maybe one or more to choose from (theme & writing prompts provided); also include your "elevator pitch" after the story. Ideas for 1st sentences:
https://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahgalo/it...
2. Include a month or more of poetry (theme & writing prompts provided). See this web site for types
https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poe...
3. A month of Haiku poetry (theme & writing prompts provided). https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poe...
4. A month or two of holidays; here are ideas https://thewritepractice.com/holiday-... (theme & writing prompts provided).
5. A month of VERY SHORT stories, example: 200 word count ( theme & writing prompts provided).
6. Essays such as these topics: the influence of a person, place or thing, what inspires me, art, poverty, nutrition, mental health, signs of the times, etc (ideas welcome).
7. An ending can be given and the story worked backward
8. Take your best short story and make it into a rhyming poem
9. A month of essays - nonfiction writing. See my September 1st post for definition.
10. We can use selected photographs to inspire us to write a story such as https://yourshot.nationalgeographic.c...
11. Round robin writing (2 or more writers contribute to the story) using a theme and writing prompts.


So your suggestions are welcome on this post. Please invite other people in on this. Thank you in advance.


message 2: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Oliva (mirtaoliva) | 385 comments Glenda, what about the theme: Adoption? There are so many factors intervening in the adoption process--from the humane aspect (both parties), to the expenses, to the legalities, to the conflicts that may surround the entities due to their actions or those of others, and so on. Adoption is a beautiful concept and even in fiction it can bring the best in people. I am currently editing my fictional novel on the subject but I could write a short story with a different situation and plot. The writer should not have any problems creating the latter.


message 3: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Mirta wrote: "Glenda, what about the theme: Adoption? ..."

An adoption theme sounds good, but this post is mainly for challenges "outside the box". Yes, we will continue to have our theme and story prompts, but we need to shake things up a bit to stir up interest for a few months in 2019. Got any ideas of things we haven't done yet? Post them here please. Thanks.


message 4: by Mirta (new)

Mirta Oliva (mirtaoliva) | 385 comments Got it, Glenda. To avoid distraction from your project, should I delete it?


message 5: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
No.


message 6: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
I have seen a style of writing by a fellow who lives in NY where he tells a story with as few words as possible. Short sentences with expressive words that tell a simple story. He wrote his stories arranged like a poem (no rhyme) or prose. I liked the style and tried my hand at it once.


message 7: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Perhaps that is a form of haiku you're referring to? I did a monthly challenge for using haiku some time ago here at Writers 750. "Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems consist of 3 lines. The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables. The lines rarely rhyme."


message 8: by TERRY (last edited Aug 28, 2018 07:34AM) (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Glenda wrote: "Perhaps that is a form of haiku you're referring to? I did a monthly challenge for using haiku some time ago here at Writers 750. "Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems consis..." He might have taken his inspiration from Haiki, not sure but his wits had more than 3 lines. I wrote one of my own if you would like to see it. I was not clever enough to make mine as brief as his but I think I came close.


message 9: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Sure. Post it here.


message 10: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
DARK ALLEY

‘Be careful; watch your step, watch your step. Black ice is a hazard;
Even for a jogger.’

‘Should I be out here this late at night,’ he asked himself?
‘Don’t worry. Keep running. Just keep running,’ prodded the inner voice.

Dark, wet, icy streets. ‘Watch your step; watch your step.’
An ambient soft light reflected from the occasional street lamp.
A glow from a lounge room window illuminates his face as a
football game plays on a big screen TV.

‘Watch your step; watch your step. Don’t be distracted,’ the inner voice warns.

A feral cat springs from the shrubbery in front of him. His heart skips a beat.
From somewhere in the darkness a dog barks for seemingly no reason.

To his left a lighted window catches his eye. A silhouette of a woman moves gracefully in the low light defining her shape as her robe falls to the floor. A quiver of desire consumes his body.

A hedge blocks the view of the alley ahead. ‘Watch your step; watch your step.’
The taxi driver can not see.

In the distance lights flash as a siren screams from a speeding ambulance.
The ground is cold. The stars above seem brighter, bigger, closer.
Then......... only darkness.

tturner2018


message 11: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Good grief, Terry! That just gave me chills. Very clever and definitely a challenge that not many of us could match.


message 12: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Glenda: I have a friend who writes for an anthology where in her story, every word can only be one syllable or a word of two syllables with a maximum of five letters, (such as 'able' or 'tiny' or 'party.') It is remarkable the stories she comes up with.

Another suggestion: Give the first complete line of a story and we have to complete the story. You make up the line...
"I turned the corner and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it."


message 13: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments I thought about giving writers the first sentence. I will add that one to my individual post of suggestions. When is the due date for the suggestions? I won't be able to post for about 2.5 - 3 weeks after Thursday. Elaine wrote: "Glenda: I have a friend who writes for an anthology where in her story, every word can only be one syllable or a word of two syllables with a maximum of five letters, (such as 'able' or 'tiny' or '..."


message 14: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments 1. Provide writers with the first sentence each month.
2. Include a month of poetry (theme or elements provided), a month of Haiku(theme and elements provided) and a month or two of holidays (theme and elements provided).
3. Require each participant to adhere to established rules of the group.
4. Allow writers to post a link to where others can read the author's work.


message 15: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Elaine wrote: "Good grief, Terry! That just gave me chills. Very clever and definitely a challenge that not many of us could match." Elaine, this is the only one I have ever done and didn't know how it would turn out until I tried it. I wrote this several months ago and have tweeted it several times. Just think of a story like you normally do and then go back and start eliminating; sentences, words, Shorten...... etc. Or find your own way of writing it. You will be surprised what you can do.


message 16: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Elaine wrote: "Good grief, Terry! That just gave me chills. Very clever and definitely a challenge that not many of us could match." Another way to write something like this is: Think of an incident or event and write around it. My incident was the guy getting ran over so I wrote towards it.


message 17: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Faber (elainefabergoodreadscom) | 142 comments Terry: Your talent is very apparent in all that you write.


message 18: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Elaine wrote: "Terry: Your talent is very apparent in all that you write." Thank you so much Elaine but so are all the writers in this group. There is still so much about writing for me to learn. I have a friend in Australia that I met on line in a photography group who edits my stories. She will say "that word is too hard - use this one instead because it sounds softer." So she deserve a lot of credit.


message 19: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Carlson (sandycarl) | 89 comments Since first sentences are vital hooks to reading on (this isn’t quite the right format for a workshop-everyone-choose-a-favorite-opening-line-and-share), maybe we could have a year of favorite (already published and classic; too short for plagiarism) first sentences. The host for the month could then start with that sentence, then do as always: pick a theme and 3 elements. Just a thought.


message 20: by David (new)

David (drussell52) Hi all,
I vaguely recall the Haiku challenge from previous, and if we did it again, would need some clarification or tell me where to find clarification on just what it involves. I like the idea because it's instructive and establishes a set mode of writing for one to follow. Yes, there are other genres that accomplish the same too.
A first line is not a bad idea either. Some contests are first line or first line last line. Where better to practice than here?
The tall order behind that is to precisely use the text as given. No revisions whatsoever.
- Another is to give three random words that must be used in the story. Same idea as the first line.
In my not so humble opinion, I would like to see this group expand itself beyond what it has done since its inception and try new things to interest new voices.
Point out what we like about each other's works since offering any constructive critique is by behavior, tantamount to cursing and swearing.
Respectfully offered,
David


message 21: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
TERRY wrote: "DARK ALLEY

‘Be careful; watch your step, watch your step. Black ice is a hazard;
Even for a jogger.’ ..."


Microsoft Word says this is 206 words. I like how it is compact yet it is very descriptive and shows action. I saw that you said the man was run over. Before you stated this I thought he might have been a victim of a shooting since an ambulance could be heard.

We could have a month of very short stories like a 200 word count (up for debate) and written in a Haiku fashion where your sentences are told in one breath. We could incorporate "A haiku (俳句 high-koo) ... uses sensory language to capture a feeling or image... often inspired by nature, a moment of beauty, or poignant experience. ... write (the poem) with strong details and detailed imagery. Make sure you polish the haiku and listen to how it sounds out loud so it is at its best" by Wiki How. Obviously we would borrow characteristics of Haiku to do a very short story. I like your story, Terry!


message 22: by Glenda (last edited Aug 29, 2018 01:51PM) (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Elaine wrote: "Another suggestion: Give the first complete line of a story and we have to complete the story. You make up the line...
'I turned the corner and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it'."

..."


Elaine, I will be making up the 2019 Hosting list at the end of the year. If you want to make this your project for a month, I'm all for that. That sounds very interesting. We could have several opening lines to choose from if you wish and using a theme and story prompts for that month.

I agree with Sandy, ... "first sentences are vital hooks to reading on"... I would like everyone's feedback on whether this would be incorporated every month or just a few months in 2019 and if we would use the original published first line or paraphrase it.


message 23: by Glenda (last edited Sep 01, 2018 03:09PM) (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "When is the due date for the suggestions? ..."

This will be an ongoing discussion since we still have 4 months 'till the end of 2018.

1. Provide writers with the first sentence - maybe one or more to choose from (theme & writing prompts provided); also include your "elevator pitch" after the story. Ideas for 1st sentences: https://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahgalo/it...
2. Include a month or more of poetry (theme & writing prompts provided). See this web site for types https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poe...
3. A month of Haiku poetry (theme & writing prompts provided). https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poe...
4. A month or two of holidays; here are ideas https://thewritepractice.com/holiday-... (theme & writing prompts provided).
5. A month of VERY SHORT stories, example: 200 word count ( theme & writing prompts provided).
6. Essays such as these topics: the influence of a person, place or thing, what inspires me, art, poverty, nutrition, mental health, signs of the times, etc (ideas welcome).
7. An ending can be given and the story worked backward
8. Take your best short story and make it into a rhyming poem
9. 3-paragraphs of story telling - one badly written, one better written, and one best written. We will have to iron out the details for that; this of course is to help us become better writers.
10. We can use selected photographs to inspire us to write a story.


message 24: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
I am all for mixing it up. As David stated 'try new things to interest new voices.' Glenda, I am glad you liked my little micro story. I got the idea from a writer in NY. Don't remember his name. His wife saw one of my photos on a web site and asked permission to watercolor it. The husband then used the watercolor in a book he published and they sent me a copy of the book. The photo was of a little girl in a barn up the road from my house so I gave the book to the little girl's mother. The husband's writings were briefer and more poetic than mine.


message 25: by David (new)

David (drussell52) Hi,
I agree with Patricia and Terry, mix it up. I think Writer's Digest also has oodles of prompts at their online site. We have four months to consider next year. Would it be helpful when signing up to perhaps suggest what we might be doing that given month?

David


message 26: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
David wrote: " ...Would it be helpful when signing up to perhaps suggest what we might be doing that given month?..."

That is an excellent idea to ensure the mix up / variety of the writing challenges.


message 27: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
TERRY wrote: "...Glenda, I am glad you liked my little micro story. I got the idea from a writer in NY. Don't remember his name. His wife saw one of my photos on a web site and asked permission to watercolor it...."

Isn't it great how something you did influences other people? I tried to write a fictionalized story for an open submissions that was turned down due to the graphic nature of the story. I was later asked permission by a woman in South Carolina if she could use it at church based speaking engagements for young women about pregnancy / abortions. The story is called Diary of the Unborn if anyone wants to read it. Spoiler: it has a happy ending. http://glendareynolds.blogspot.com/20...


message 28: by TERRY (last edited Aug 29, 2018 06:18PM) (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
I wrote this today. Not Haiku though.

BROWN EYES


I followed the guard down the concrete hallway.
He had a foul odor.
So did this dark and dingy facility.
But what should I expect in a place like this.

We finally came to where they held the captives.
I walked passed several cubicles.
Those inside watched us.
Some silently; others not so silent.

My first mistake was to look at her face.
Those big brown eyes gripped my soul.

No. It was something else I wanted; not her.
I tried to turn away but she had cast her spell.
She had my attention and she knew it.

‘Please don’t do this to me lovely girl.
My heart is set on another.’
I begged silently so those near would not hear.

She knew my plea but she would not relent.
And I could not look away.
Her powerful gaze held me steadfast.

“See something you like,”
asked the guard behind me?

“I… I’m not sure,
Do you have others,” came my reply?

“Of course we do. Blond, black, white.
You name it. This way,” as he walked on.

But I did not follow.
Those eyes; those big brown sad eyes
would not release me.

“I think this one is for you,” he said returning.

“Yes. I will have this one.”

“Great. Sign here.
She has had all her shots and also spayed.
I am pretty sure she is an AKC registered Beagle.”


message 29: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Oh, my gosh, Terry. You had me going! I wondered about the spelling of sole, "Those big brown eyes gripped my sole", but since it was a beagle, maybe the spelling is appropriate :)


message 30: by Lynette (last edited Aug 29, 2018 06:27PM) (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments These all sound like great ideas. One suggestion I was just thinking about is to perhaps take a month to practice "Elevator pitches" for a work in progress, work finished, or just the challenge of practicing them. Then help each other to hone them.

For those not familiar with "elevator pitches" it was presented to me like this. You are in an elevator and a complete stranger asks you what you do for a living. You answer that you are a writer and you just finished your latest book. Their interest is piqued and they ask you what your book is about. You have until the elevator reaches the next floor to tell them ( approx 1 minute). Ready? Go!
It is harder than it sounds. You basically have about 5 sentences to convince this stranger that your new book is their next must have.

Just tossing that idea into the ring.


message 31: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Glenda wrote: "Oh, my gosh, Terry. You had me going! I wondered about the spelling of sole, "Those big brown eyes gripped my sole", but since it was a beagle, maybe the spelling is appropriate :)" You are correct Glenda. Spelled wrong. Should have been soul. Thanks for catching that.


message 32: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
I challenge all to sum up my DARK ALLEY story with a Haiku. Here is mine:

He jogged down the street.

Freezing and dark was the night.

Taxi did not see.


message 33: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
My haiku of Terry's poem:

Cautious while jogging.
Welcome sights distract me then
darkness consumes me.


message 34: by TERRY (new)

TERRY | 642 comments Mod
Glenda wrote: "My haiku of Terry's poem:

Cautious while jogging.
Welcome sights distract me then
darkness consumes me."

Looks good Glenda.


message 35: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Thanks


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsweetz25) | 2 comments Its amazing.. Its so anew :-)


message 37: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments Additional suggestion: a month of essays. Writer's choice of topic but still using the parameters of established guidelines and rules. No character development (example: the influence of a person, place or thing).


message 38: by Glenda (last edited Sep 01, 2018 02:11PM) (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
Patricia wrote: "Additional suggestion: a month of essays. Writer's choice of topic but still using the parameters of established guidelines and rules. No character development (example: the influence of a person, ..."

*** I've edited my post from August 29th above, expanding it with new ideas***

I remember writing an essay in college, but that was more than 30 years ago. I looked for a good definition of an essay, and this web site explains it plainly. https://www2.palomar.edu/users/jtagg/...

" What is an Essay?

The term "essay" is used in somewhat different ways in different contexts. The clearest definition I have encountered is by Frederick Crews, professor of English at the University of California at Berkeley. Crews defines an essay as "a fairly brief piece of nonfiction that tries to make a point in an interesting way."

An essay is fairly brief. ...the term usually refers to short pieces that might be published in a magazine or newspaper.

An essay is nonfiction...
An essay tries to make a point. This is perhaps the most important and most challenging aspect of the essay. An essay is not just a bunch of words, or even a bunch of paragraphs. An essay all fits together; it all points in one direction. An essay leads to one conclusion. This is what makes an essay different from, say, an article in an encyclopedia, which may be a relatively brief and interesting piece of nonfiction. An essay tries to make a point. It aims to support a single claim. Another way of putting it would be to say that an essay doesn't just have a topic; it also has a thesis. An essay doesn't just give information about a subject; it supports a statement, a claim.

An essay tries to make a point in an interesting way. An essay is real writing; it is written to someone. And so its goal is to interest its readers, to change their thinking, to get them involved in the ideas it presents and ultimately get them to adopt those ideas. An essay might seek to inform or to persuade or both. But to make a point with real readers, it must try to get and keep the attention of those readers. That means catching and keeping their interest."


message 39: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
The scene from The Blind Side came to mind when Michael Oher was to write an essay in regards to the 1854 poem The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (based on the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War). Michael decided to write about courage and honor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVbSQ...


message 40: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments Pretty good summary of the definition of an essay, Glenda. Thanks for the summation and the YouTube clip.


message 41: by S. (new)

S. Peters-Davis (suda) | 31 comments Unsure of "how" we'd work this out, but there's also Round Robins - someone starts and another picks up, and then another. Maybe consider just two or three writers and have the piece go back and forth until completed (word count) - story end.
Perhaps limiting each round robin to two people would keep a better handle on the story continuing to move forward until completion. It would be fun to write with another for a lot of good reasons;)
There would still maybe be theme, writing prompts, or other story insights to use in creation - genre would need to be agreed upon with the shared writers:)


message 42: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments Great idea. Here is my suggestion as to how to manage the story. Perhaps writers could sign up by x date to participate, the monthly manager would assign 1 day per person and the last person finalizes the story and post. For example, you have 3 days to sign up and writing begins on day 4. The story concludes on day 25 and is posted on day 27. All participants are winners! D.K. wrote: "Unsure of "how" we'd work this out, but there's also Round Robins - someone starts and another picks up, and then another. Maybe consider just two or three writers and have the piece go back and fo..."


message 43: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
The round robin certainly mixes it up and that's what we're going for. D.K., You may host a month or two in 2019 and do a round robin. Think about it and let me know. February is already taken.


message 44: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments What months are open for 1019?


message 45: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments Correction: 2019. Thanks.


message 46: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
At this point only February is taken. All other months are available.


message 47: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments I'll take August.


message 48: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 343 comments Update: I'll take March or August.


message 49: by David (new)

David (drussell52) Hi everyone,

- Glenda, thanks for the ideas summary listed at the beginning of these posts, very helpful!
- I like the idea of the story in a given word count, and recently have been paying attention to the feature 100-word stories in the periodical "Reader's Digest". These are by random readers, but seem to be clear, concise, entertaining and well written. I know "On The Premises", which is an online website occasionally runs contests for short short stories with publication as the prize and perhaps a small honorarium.
Some might take issue with this being an idea for a month, but if we are appealing to attract writers, it is worth consideration.
- I have my February idea just about firmed up.
- Finally, No, to the idea of three sample paragraphs of good showing, mediocre showing and pour showing. It won't really work here.

David Russell


message 50: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 1082 comments Mod
David wrote: "- Glenda, thanks for the ideas summary listed at the beginning of these posts, very helpful!...

Finally, No, to the idea of three sample paragraphs of good showing, mediocre showing and pour showing. It won't really work here..."


David, I've edited the list at the top and removed the 3-paragraph challenge. I replaced #9 with: A month of essays - nonfiction writing. See my September 1st post for definition.

I added #11. Round robin writing (2 or more writers contribute to the story) using a theme and writing prompts.


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