Sprinting with myself

May 17, 2013

Every time I think I know the mysteries of the Nanowrimo forums, they surprise me. The Word Wars, Prompts, and Sprints forum is a good case in point. There are over 300 threads in that forum, and most of them center around a challenge, gimmick, or goad that can get you writing even when something is holding you back. I’ve hung out a lot on that forum, but I tended to stick to some of the popular timed wars during Nanowrimo or Camp Nano, and probably haven’t explored more than a couple dozen threads all told.

Yesterday evening, I knew I needed to get some writing done on a short fiction contest entry, and the forum was very quiet. There hasn’t been that much activity since April ended, but often when I poke my head in there are a few threads that have been updated in the last few hours. No such luck this time, so I went searching for challenges that I could do by myself, and found four:

  • Sprint as Many Words as This Thread Has Replies. I was #242, and it took me a little over five minutes to get over 242 words. This wasn’t really an easy story to reach ‘creative abandon’ on, partly because of the contest deadline tonight. My inner editor insisted on a seat at the table, though I was able to keep him from dragging my muse to a standstill.
  • Sprint to the Nearest Thousand. I was still under 1000 words for the story, so this became ‘sprint up to a thousand’ 🙂
  • Song Wars. In this one, you pick a song, post the title, artist, album it’s from, how long it is, and how many words you got while it was playing. I did Six o’clock news by Kathleen Edwards, and that gave me a whopping 179 more words.


  • Finally rounded the evening off with a 100 word sprint. I’d done these before during Camp Nano, when I wanted an easy way to get started for the day or a few more words before I gave up.

One type of thread I’ve noticed in the forum but never actually participated in is the theme marathon. To start one of these, you come up with an overall premise, (road trip, pub crawl, army boot camp,) and figure out how to slot other threads in as a part of that experience. So, for instance, if you want to include the ‘write to an hour of rain sounds’ challenge as part of a boot camp marathon, you say that it’s raining and everybody has to spend an hour in their tents. 🙂

If you’re trying to get some writing done in the Nano off-season, I’d recommend taking a look through this forum. You just might find the kick in the pants you need to get words on the page!

Rule of Three: Just where is Renaissance?

October 5, 2011

Hi, everybody. It’s time for part one of my Rule of Three story. I’m really excited about this extended blogfest, especially because I have just no idea how it’s going to turn out.

A few notes before I start. I didn’t realize until after I finished that I could choose just a few of the prompts for part one, so I managed to squeeze them all into less than 500 words, with rather silly results. I also felt it was important for my characters to place Renaissance into the geography of their world, which closely matches ours – though I fudged the details a little, as you’ll see.

This first part is from the POV of Princess Naveli Brussard.

“Why did you bring me to this stupid place?” I complained, looking around the simple wood and brick buildings at the heart of Renaissance.

“That’s not fair, Naveli,” my big sister Sami shot back. “You were the one who said that you wanted to be able to go on a Royal mission sometime.”

“Yeah, well, going on a mission is one thing – being pulled out of my bed at four in the morning and bundled onto an aeroplane is…”

“…Is what Royal missions are like more often than not, in my experience, Your Highness,” Tom Danter, Sami’s suitor, put in. “Except that it’s often a motor car or a train instead of a plane.”

“Well, then at least I’d have some clue what continent I’m in,” I muttered, shooting Tom a dirty look for trying to play peacemaker and stop the argument.

Read the rest of this entry »

SDMB Holiday Short Fiction Contest

December 25, 2010

Well, Christmas festivities are over. Thanks to my family for the candy and the gift cards.

Time to buckle down on writing/critiquing/editing, and even though I really have enough other things on my list, I’m going to participate in the third Straight Dope Message Board writing contest. I’ve really enjoyed participating in it each time before, and last time I basically got my Nanowrimo idea from the short fiction contest, so that certainly recommends trying again.

A few things about the format are similar – every writer gets the same three prompt words and a photo that they have to include in the finished story, and a time limit. On account of holiday schedules, they’re trying a new wrinkle in which not every participant has to fit into the same writing window – you send an email to a particular mailbox to signal that you’re ready to begin, and get an autoreply with your prompts. You then have two and a half days, (or 60 hours) to complete your entry and email it in.

To take best advantage of my available free time for the holidays, I’ll probably start around 8am tomorrow, so that I’ll have until 8pm on Tuesday, the evening before I go back to work. And I actually have a little secret weapon of a plot notion that I *might* work in, if it looks like it’ll fit with the prompt.

It’s nice to get a chance to go with little unplanned side treks like this in my writing when other commitments allow. The first SDMB contest, I ended up coming up with something that wasn’t exactly fanfic but somewhat close – it was a little spy story that was a spoof of the TV show ‘Chuck’, with Chuck’s character painted as a completely incompetent secret agent, and his long-suffering brother-in-law constantly covering for him. Last time, I ventured a bit further into original territory, coming up with a storyline of an angel on a mission who fell in love with a human girl and ran away with her, which got tweaked somewhat as the basis of “The Angel’s Charlie.”

I can’t wait to see where the paths less traveled take me this time.

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