Sunday, September 24, 2006

24 hour story contest, a recap

I just sent in my submission for the 24 hour short story contest. It was a really good experience. I didn't find the topic stimulating (it was a long paragraph about a girl who lost her prayer kapp and was called stupid by her Bishop), but I managed to get an idea and go with it. BostonErin and I met at the Wellesley library and wrote together (accompanied by the sound of the LOUDEST typer/sigher/fidgeter you can imagine). After we each had a draft, we took ourselves out to a lunch of greasy fries and sandwiches.

Here's what I learned from the experience:
  • Normally when I write I either have a really good sense of where the story's going or a really good sense of the character. I develop these things by spending time journaling about the idea or running it through my head a lot. 24 hours doesn't allow for that kind of thoughtfulness, so instead I forced myself to free write first about the character--her age, location, what she wanted out of life, etc. And then I tried to make an outline that included just the first few scenes. From there, I knew the others would flow.
  • Knitting really is the best thing to do when you're stuck on a story. At one point, I was hating my draft, so I picked up my yarn. Within a few stitches, I realized why I hated it, and once I changed that, I could move forward.
  • Writing friends are awesome. It is so much more fun and educational to share experiences like this and discuss them. Thanks BostonErin for suggesting the date!
  • The rules of the contest mention things that a lot of people do wrong. Unfortunately I didn't read these until after I wrote my story. One I broke was to go with the first idea that came into my head. According to the site, that often results in lots of people writing on the same topic. I hope that didn't happen, but we'll see... I do have hope--when we do exercises in my writer's group, I always go with my first idea and we all end up with completely different stories.

I'll hear back from them in a month, and I'll be sure to post here about it.

If you're interested in joining the next contest, click here to learn more:

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TI said...

I'm impressed that you did that, totally agree with you about knitting being a good way to move forward with a story, and want to thank you for reporting on what must have been quite a tense experience. And good for you for taking a french fries break!

bostonerin said...

I had a great time writing with you, Bug! Here's to two good stories! (and no more loud typists!)

Anonymous said...

I went with my first idea too and our two stories were nothing alike, so what do they know... :)

Anonymous said...

If you and Erin (and any other local folks) want to get together and do some sort of a "write-in," count me in! Nothing like shaking up your writing habits to get the juices flowing.

Repeater said...

Sounds like fun- I definitely want to try it next time. Thanks for the link.

Bug said...

Jan--great idea! Esp now that the cold weather is almost near. What better way to spend a day than writing and eating? :) We'll need to schedule something!