Each month a regular challenge is set to give Alpha Writers a chance to flex their writing muscles and engage in some friendly competition. Read on for details of present and previous challenges, entries and results!

Season XIV

Challenge 4

This challenge invites you to shrug on your gabardine coat, grab a notebook and a stub of pencil and liberate your inner journalist. You are working for a newspaper and your editor has commissioned you to write a news story: the attached photograph will illustrate the item. Your job is to find out what the story is and deliver an article with no more than 300 words; your editor has given you the strict (if somewhat generous) deadline of midnight on Tuesday 9th January 2018.

The newspaper can be local or national, modern-day or from history, up to you: your imagination should come up with the rest!

Challenge 3

Write a letter to your 21 year old self.

There – what could be simpler? However, already I can hear the barrage of queries, so I’ll try to head some off at the pass.

1.  The letter writer is YOU, but doesn’t have to be the actual you. It can be a fictional you. It can be another you, from another point in space or time.

2. If some Alphas haven’t actually made it to the mythical milestone of ‘one score years and one’…then make it up! You’re a writer.

Have fun.

Entries to me by midnight GMT Tuesday, November 28th. Oh – and of course – do not exceed 300 words.

Open Page 1

There’s no regular challenge brief this Alphaday. Your task this time is to submit a piece of your writing to our new Open Page slot. Open Page means just that: there are no restrictions of any kind. No theme, no word limit, no genre, no style specification. You’re invited to enter a piece of writing of your own choice: an extract from a work in progress; your latest short story, something from your files, or you can write a new piece for the Open Page slot… fiction, non-fiction, poetry; anything goes.

Please introduce your entry with a short explanatory paragraph (incl. word count). If it’s experimental, tell us what you’re trying to do. If it’s part of a longer work, outline the context. You can ask for advice on specific points. In fact this can be seen as your personal brief for your entry.

As for the absence of a word limit, I’d like you to bear in mind the number of entries we’ll be looking at and the estimated concentration span of your fellow Alphas. Personally I’d discourage people from submitting the first draft of a complete novel. Somewhere around 2,000 words (+ or –) seems a reasonable top limit to me. You might like to try exactly 100 words, a haiku, or – why not? – 140 characters… up to you.

Challenge 2

Illustrate the deadly Sin of Pride in writing, using not more than 300 words. Prose, poetry, story, fact or fiction, definition (true or false): it matters not. The only thing is: Everyone should please begin with the sentence “The Bible says that those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” AND, include within your challenge the words “perfectly justified satisfaction.” Neither of those inclusions will be counted within your word count.

1st place Morgen 15 points, 2nd Cath 8 points, joint 3rd Sally and Suzanne 7 ponts each

The Leaderboard after Challenge 2:

Morgen:                      7 points
Sally:                           5**
Suzanne:                     4*
Cath:                           3*
Richard:                      3*

Challenge 1

In a maximum of 300 words (not a single one more) write a complete story. The title is not included in the word count.

When we come to assess the entries, being a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end which is satisfying to the reader should be the key. A story should have a complete arc so that if you set out to tell us about Joe’s redundancy you don’t end with Jane going shopping, but you tell us what happens to Joe. It is up to you whether you use dialogue and how much you show and tell, the key is to ensure the story is both complete and satisfying.

Whilst a cameo or piece of description writing might be well written they rarely constitute a story, nor for that matter does a recollection or reporting of an event necessarily qualify as such. I’ve deliberately set this, as so much ‘flash’ fiction that I see, whilst beautifully written does not constitute a story, so I thought it would be good practice for us all. It’s actually quite difficult to do and within this level of word count you really do have to make every word count in order to succeed.

1st place – Sally – 30 marks, 2nd place Morgen – 9 marks, 3rd place Suzanne – 8 marks

The Leaderboard after Ch. 1:
Sally:               4 points and a *
Morgen:          3 points
Suzanne:         2 points
Phil:                 1 point and a *

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