Monday, December 10, 2012

WRiTE Club Wrap Up

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.
Some of you may remember that way back in July, I mentioned that I had decided to submit an entry to the contest.

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!


Suze said...

Chris, I loved 'Storms!' Even though it 'suffered' from the word-count constraints, it shimmered.

I am so, so happy that you made it into the final round! Have a beautiful holiday with your loved ones -- a rest well-earned!

DL Hammons said...

As I've ended each WRiTE CLUB post saying...It’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out! You and Mark did that in spades...and that is why WRiTE CLUB is so successful! Congratulations again!! :)

David List said...

Congrats to you Chris for making it so far. I especially liked the ending of "Invaders". Very clever. I'd like to thank you for your review/critique of my piece in the contest (Sedney of the Castonod). Your comments were honest and proved to be some of the most useful in my editing process.
Thanks again and I wish you the greatest success.

Elise Fallson said...

Congratulations Chris, you are a talented writer and it showed in your entries and ultimately in the results. My entry never made it into the ring, but honestly it wouldn't have mattered. You and Mark did an awesome job. (:

Faith E. Hough said...

Chris, I thought your pieces were masterfully done. Like you said, they showed a wide range of styles, which made it really fun to be a reader. It's also cool that you got to use pieces that otherwise may have been destined to a pile in a drawer for a while. (My entry was a similar set-aside work...since I seemed to have blogged about all my polished work already!)
Huge congratulations on your success, and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations on making it that far! I don't remember most of the entries or votes, but I do believe I voted for yours in that final round. Good stuff, Chris.

Mark Hough said...

Hey Chris, Thanks a lot for the kind comments. I have to admit, I was pretty worried about going up against you in the last three bouts. (I didn't know it was you at that point--for some reason I thought your entry didn't get in this year) Your writing has both the confidence and flow that makes it feel like a finished book... very hard to do in only 500 words, but you did it, three times.

Thanks again for the encouragement and and putting out such fierce competition.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Congratulations! You and Mark both provided stellar pieces to this competition. Outstanding job, dude.

Chris Fries said...

@Suze: Thank you so much -- you're very kind. "Shimmered" I like that -- thanks! I hope your holiday is joyful and wonderful also!

@DL: Thank you Don, I really appreciate it. WRiTE Club was a lot of fun amd had many excellent writers involved. I am deeply honored to have reached the finals. Thanks again for all you did for WRiTE Club!

@Dave: Thank you! That's very kind of you to say. I enjoyed your piece and think there's a very creative story in your 'barkers' idea. I look forwatd to seeing it come to completion. I wish you tremendous success too!

@Elise: I really appreciate your very nice comment
Thank you so much! And I look forward to seeing your piece in the upcoming "skirmishes!"

@Faith: Thank you so very much! That means a lot to me. And I hope to give you many opportunities to see more of my work-- now if only those dang publishers and editors would cooperate!

@Alex: Thank you, Cap'n! And you actually voted for my work multiple times, and I appreciated it each and every time! ;^)

@Mark: You're more than welcome! And I have to echo your sentiments: They were all very good entries in the last few rounds, but yours was consistently excellent right from that first "Pig Woman" piece! You definitely deserved to win! Thank you too for your support and positive feedback!

@Susan: Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations, Chris!

I enjoyed reading the background on your three very diverse selections. You deserved your place in the finals, as your work was consistently excellent and compelling.

Nicole said...

Congrats, Chris! That's awesome. :) I loved reading all the entries along the way.

Chris Fries said...

@Dianne: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the background, and I really appreciate your very kind words.

@Nicole: Thank you very much! WRiTE Club was a lot of fun (and not just 'cause I made it to the finals, lol).

Guilie said...

Congratulations, Chris! I'm so glad you made it to the finals, and--hey, runner-up! That's quite an achievement. I do remember the Ravenclaw piece--it was really good :)

Chris Fries said...

@Guilie: Thank you very much -- I really appreciate that!

Donna said...

Congratulations on making it so far. Really enjoyed reading your critiques in addition to your stories. I would have voted for you if you hadn't been my opponent in Round 3!

Chris Fries said...

@Donna: Thank you very much! I really appreciate that. And your work was wonderful!

.jessica. said...

Chris - I'm late in replying (my feed didn't update your blog for some reason...) but CONGRATS! Such an amazing accomplishment to have made it all the way to the final round. I can only imagine how much time and energy must have gone into that. Very, very cool. :)

Hope you had a fantastic holiday with your family! Looking forward to the new year in your slightly-warped universe, blog buddy!