Back in July, my friend Don "DL" Hammons of Cruising Altitude 2.0 kicked off his second annual anonymous writing competition -- WRiTE Club for 2012. Don and his wife Kim received well over 100 entries for this year's event. During the course of the 36 preliminary rounds, 71 of those anonymous entries were randomly selected to compete head-to-head (the losing entries were thrown back into the contestant pool, and one of them was re-selected to appear again for a later bout, which is why it was 71 instead of 72). During each bout, readers of DL's blog took part by commenting, critiquing, and voting for their favorites between the two contestants.
The competition went through:
- 36 preliminary bouts
- 18 first-round bouts between the prelim winners
- 9 second-round bouts among first-round winners, with edited submissions from the contestants
- 5 third-round bouts among the nine second-round winners and one wild-card, with new submissions from the 10 contestents
- 3 quarter-final bouts among the third-round winners and one wild-card
- 2 semi-final bouts between the quarter-final winners and one wild card, with edited second submissions.
- 1 final bout between the semi-final winners, with new submissions, voted on by a panel of ten writers, agents, and others in the publishing world.
Guess what? I made it to the finals.
Today, the winner was announced, and it was Mark Hough, aka "Snivvy Crank." His excellent piece was selected by a 6-to-4 vote.
I was the runner-up, "Raven Claw."
I have no regrets in losing to Mark -- in fact I'm honored, humbled, and a trifle amazed that I managed to wind up in the finals against him. Mark's writing was humorous, gripping, and engrossing. I was very impressed by how much story he managed to weave into 500 finely-crafted words. He also has a tremendous talent for characterization -- his pieces were all driven by truly memorable and compelling characters. If you haven't already, I really encourage you to check out his entries. DL's finals post HERE gives links to each of them.
As for my own entries? Well, here's a brief breakdown:
I. My initial entry "Prey" appeared in Preliminary Bout #27. It was something I threw together specifically for entry into WRiTE Club. It's from an idea I've had churning around for a while -- the hunter becomes the hunted, and a meek helpless old woman turns out to be something much more than she appears. I also thought it might be fun to make the piece two parts, with a common ending line. It was a challenge getting it all under 500 words: Two scenes with separate PoV characters and all the paranormal groundwork needed to explain the reason behind the old lady's switcharoo. I also picked the name "Kali" intentionally -- it has both an urban, contemporary sound and the aspects of the Hindu goddess of empowerment and impending death fitted well with what I was going for in the character. I'm not sure where this story idea may eventually lead, but I think it will need a longer piece, or at least a series of short stories, to fully flesh it out. As for now, it's going back into the "ideas for stories" queue to stew a bit.
II. My second entry "Storms" first appeared in Round 3, Bout #1, and was taken from a piece I started last year, kept hitting a brick wall with, and and then stuck in my dead-idea pile. I used this because it's neither violent nor paranormal -- some of the comments in the prelims, combined with all the wide variety of paranormal stories submitted, made me want to go with something that was entirely different from my first piece. The original story is unfinished and builds slowly, and didn't have the pregnant girl -- I wanted something with a little more emotional impact in the ending of the WRiTE Club version. This was a story that was also HARD to cut down to 500 words. I think it suffered from a lot of loss of nuance. But either way, I'm not sure if this story will ever make it to a finished state, so for now it goes back to the bone-yard...
III. My last entry "Invaders" was in The Finals, and was a reworking of an old Avartar-ish thing I wrote for a Creative Copy Challenge 10-word prompt (HERE's the original). I just get a kick out of the idea that a highly-advanced, ruthless and deadly invading species would accidentally pick a cat as their host form. But it could happen. If they were scouting us, they could clearly see that the cat is the higher species on this planet -- ours certainly rules our household. Even our dog gives her a wide berth. But then, what means are the invaders going to use to achieve their goals? "The Hairball of Doom?" Anyway, I reworked the ending of the piece because the original relied on one of the prompt words, and I didn't think it would make sense out of context. I also moved the cat right to the lap of power, so to speak, to give it more impact. Finally, I changed the character names to Moros and Dolos. In Greek mythology, they are the personification of impending doom and guile. And as usual, this entry ended up being yet another case where I really struggled to get under the word-count.
I kind of liked that my entries were a wide assortment of styles and genres. I think it reflects who I am as a writer -- erratic, quirky, and wordy -- I'm ALWAYS struggling to stay under word limits, lol!
And so, WRiTE Club 2012 is put to bed. I enjoyed it and learned a lot from all the comments and critiques of my anonymous work. I would really like to thank everyone who took the time to read and respond to my entries, whether you voted for me or not.
As for next year, I will definitely be involved again in 2013 (should Don want to go with another round of it). But likely not as a contestant. I want to offer Don as much help as I can, and I think I'll be able to do more behind the scenes than as a writer in the contest. And that way I can vote and comment without trying to also maintain my anonymity at the same time. ;^)
I want to deeply thank Don and his wife Kim for all they did to pull off the marathon that was WRiTE Club. If you don't follow Don, I urge you to check out his Cruising Altitude 2.0 blog -- it's consistently filled with so much wonderful stuff!
And I also again salute and congratulate Mark Hough: Your work was wonderful! Congratulations, again!