Announcing the winners of the Scribophile Television Show Writing Contest!
Thanks to everyone who entered our last writing contest, and thanks to flash fiction master Len Kuntz for taking the time out of his busy schedule to be the judge. Here’s his commentary:
We had a lively group of imaginative entries. It was a treat to be able to read them and I think Scribophile should be proud of the community they’ve created. Writing is a lonely business, so having an outlet to share work, exchange ideas, give input and just generally communicate with other writers is wonderful.
As a whole, most stories leaned heavily on narrative arc as opposed to stylistics, and with only a couple of exceptions, the pieces were all genre fiction. An overwhelming number of authors cited these shows as their story’s influences: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Supernatural, “The X Files,” and for some strange reason, “Beauty and the Beast.” Fantasy fiction ruled the day, with horror/crime coming in second. Some people failed to cite a specific TV show and others, unfortunately, went well over the 1,000 word limit. Everyone who competed should feel proud—it takes moxie to put yourself out there. (In fact, while writing this note I just received word from a poetry contest I entered. They shared the top three winners and the top twenty finalists. My name wasn’t anywhere to be found.)
When I first started reading I found myself drawn to the commentary/critiques, but I soon stopped, mostly because I didn’t always agree with the input and also because I didn’t want to be swayed—one way or another. I think the critique part is important, but the tricky thing is how subjected our craft can be. I would tell a writer looking for feedback to take it if several critics say the same thing. Conversely, it can be really easy to go “easy” on a writer. It’s hard to tell someone that their work is poor. No one wants to hurt another’s feelings, especially a fellow writer.
I thought it would be difficult choosing three winners. I imagined myself pulling my hair out, fretting over getting it right, but that actually wasn’t the case. I wrote down the stories I liked as I read them, taking notes along the way, and when I was through with the whole batch, I ended up with three winners.
Each is a great piece. Each is different from the other. Each is a winner.
3rd place, $25 cash via Paypal:. Freak, by Xan van Rooyen
This felt very real. With a casual pacing, the piece lures the reader into its world. Xan paints vivid pictures through sight, sounds and scent. “He smelled rank from lying in the sewer, but overwhelming the street-stench lay a miasma of masculine musk.” That’s quite a sentence. Not only do we feel filthy reading it, not only do we get a very clear sense of where we are, but Xan artfully uses cadence and alliteration—four “m” bumps in the last four words.
And the ending of this story is a zinger. Well done, Xan.
There was a lot to like in this story. It has an ease to it, seducing the reader, but eventually blasting the reader’s face off. Or at least that’s how I felt.
Normally I’m not a fan of stories with a ton of dialogue. This one has quite a bit. But it was very readable, believable, not trite, and written in distinctive voices that flowed. (Much of the dialogue in other stories didn’t sound like real people.)
Additionally, Julia layered a subplot beneath the arc of her main conflict, while even striking some topical (Occupy Wall Street) tones. Plus, a story with a dog named Thoreau—well, you can’t beat that.
It was a clever premise that held up throughout. The pacing—terse choppy writing—could have become monotonous, but it worked really well for Ben’s tone.
The piece felt apocalyptic, and I kept remembering Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” as I read Ben’s work.
It was poignant without being preaching, and utterly gut-wrenching. Sentences like these: “Life is a paradox. You have to risk everything to live” and “When nothing changes, nothing matters” can be cement bricks in the wrong story.
Ben’s tale felt like a classic, timeless in all the right ways.
Way to go, Ben.
Announcing the NaNoWriMo ’11 Writing Contest!
November is traditionally the slowest month around here, mainly because so many writers are so busy trying to crank out a novel in 30 days that there isn’t much time to do anything else. It’s also a bit of a Scribophile tradition to support those writers with our own NaNo contest. It would be a little cruel to have you write even more original content, so we make it easy for you: to enter, just submit the first chapter of your NaNoWriMo ’11 novel.
“But Alex!” you cry. “My entry will be terrible! There wasn’t time to edit it!”
That’s OK! The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it’s a level playing field. Everybody will be so busy writing their novel that nobody will have had time to edit. Everybody’s entries will be a little rough, but that’s part of the fun.
To read more about the contest and how to enter, head on over to the Contests section!