Challenges

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!

Challenge 7

Not more than 300 words. See the picture attached. What is it about, who is it about, when and where is whatever is taking place taking place? Why? Back story? Consequences? You know the drill.

(picture of young woman leaning against classic Jaguar car)

Challenge 6

With Valentine’s Day being celebrated this month, write a ballad on the theme of love. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the love of a person; there are lots of things that you might love and could write a ballad about. For the uninitiated, a ballad is a poem which tells a story. I attach a link which will give you more information – https://literarydevices.net/ballad/Please use the structure of the popular ballad i.e. 4 line stanzas or quatrains. The maximum length for your work should be 8 quatrains. Choose your own metre and rhyme pattern. 

Open Page 2

The reason why it’s called ‘Open Page’ is that there is no brief. In our regular challenges we have to adhere strictly to the given brief; it may ask us to leave our comfort zone, and for that very reason it’s a useful exercise – even when it feels like constraint. The Open Page on the other hand, gives us free rein. It’s open to any piece of writing that we’d like to share with the group and get some feedback on.

The only requirement is that it should aim to hold the readers’ attention and impress them favourably (the ‘wow’ factor). There are no genre restrictions. Novel extracts, short stories, flash/micro/macro/nano fiction, fragments, recipes, drama, poetry, non-fiction, biography, memoirs, reviews, experimental pieces, rants; articles about writing, words, grammar, politics, ethics, other arts etc. Think of something I haven’t mentioned and submit it to the Open Page!

The Open Page entry should be preceded by a brief introduction stating the nature of the piece and the word count. Add any other useful information: why and when you wrote it; any problems you’d like comments on etc.

Write a new piece, polish up one that should have won that comp or flesh out the idea you jotted down somewhere etc.

Word Count: the word count is anything up to around 2,000wds. (Just bear in mind that the average attention span of Alphas has its limits. We prefer to avoid full-length novels and are happy with a simple haiku. On the whole it’s better not to exceed 2,000 words.

1st place 8 votes Morgen, 2nd place 5 votes Ros, 3rd place equally with 4 votes Jackie and Alejandra

The Alpha Leaderboard after Open Page 2nd Edition:
Morgen: 24 points
Jackie: 13
Martin: 12
Phil: 12
Ros: 11
Cat: 10
Christine: 10

Challenge 5

Hello Alphas.

Charles Dickens did it. Henry James did it. Even Frank Capra did it, turning to celluloid instead of pen and paper.

And now it’s your turn.

Challenge 5 is to write a Christmas Ghost story. 300 words max – no pressure!

The word ‘ghost’ can be interpreted in any way you choose. Real or imagined.  Corporeal or ethereal. You choose, but the main request is that you enjoy doing it. Have fun.  Let fly.

You get extra time over Christmas, thus allowing for ginger wine and mince pies. Get your entries in to me by midnight on Tuesday January 12th.

1st Morgen – 26 points, 2nd Phil – 13 points, 3rd Ros – 12 points.

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 5:
Morgen                      20 points
Jackie                          11
Martin                        11
Phil                             11
Cat                               9
Christine                    9
Ros                               9

Challenge 4

You are being interviewed on a radio news programme to advertise your brand-new tourist attraction. The attraction should be replacing an institution or area which has recently gone into decline and reinventing itself as a museum/venue etc (think Marks & Spencer flagship store or a disused quarry).

The presenter introduces the interview (up to 50 words)
The interview that follows should be in Q & A format (350 words).

1st place Cat 12 points, 2nd place (joint) Ros and Martin 11points each, 3rd place Stephen 10 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 4:

Morgen                      16 points
Martin                        10
Jackie                          10
Cat                              8
Christine                     8
Phil                             8

Challenge 3

I would like you to show off your descriptive skills and write 300 words max describing a scene. No people (and that includes aliens), no dialogue. Wildlife is permitted though. There is a little extra: as well as a visual description, you are to introduce 2 of the other 5 senses, of your choice. 

Joint 1st place Morgen & Jackie 15 votes, 2nd place Phil 9 votes

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 3:
Morgen:                     15 points
Jackie:                         9
Phil:                             7
Martin:                       7
Christine:                   7
Elke:                            6
Sarah:                         6
Suzanne:                    6

Open Page 1

Our next ‘challenge’ is one I really enjoy. It’s time for your entries to our Open Page, edition 1, Season XVII.

It’s called Open Page because there is no brief, no restrictions on genre, theme or word count (within reason). The only requirement is that it should aim to hold the readers’ attention and impress them favourably (the ‘wow’ factor – ha ha there it is Christine!). 

Novel extracts, short stories, flash/micro/macro/nano fiction, fragments, recipes, drama, poetry, song writing, non-fiction, biography, memoirs, reviews, experimental pieces, rants, blogs etc. Think of something I haven’t mentioned and submit it to the Open Page!

Your Open Page entry should be preceded by a brief introduction stating the nature of the piece and the word count. Add any other useful information: why and when you wrote it; any problems you’d like comments on etc.

Send your entry to me before the deadline, ie midnight GMT on 03/11/2019. Write a new piece, polish up one that should have won that comp or flesh out the idea you jotted down somewhere etc.

As for the word count just bear in mind that the average attention span of Alphas has its limits. We prefer to avoid full-length novels and are happy with a simple haiku. On the whole it’s better not to exceed 2,000 words.

Looking forward to your entries!

First place – Lizzie, Cat, Elke, Morgen and Sarah 5 points.

The Alpha Leaderboard after the Open Page 1st Edition, Season XVII
Morgen:                     11 points
Martin:                        6
Christine:                    6
Elke:                             5
Jackie:                          5
Sarah:                          5
Suzanne:                     5

Challenge two: In the Beginning…

Write the first 300 words (opening paragraph(s)) of your new novel…there are some rules however.

  1. The setting is either in a Cathedral or in an underground tube station
  2. Genre: Either thriller or speculative fiction.
  3. Point of view: First person perspective (main protagonist) or third person omniscient…

Don’t forget, as its the opening paragraph, remember to hook your reader in…so something that captures the attention of the reader right away – such as a quote, description, question or intriguing statement.

1st Morgen 24 points, 2nd Martin 14 points, 3rd Phil 11 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 2:
Morgen:                     8 points
Martin:                       5 
Christine:                    5 
Jackie:                         4
Suzanne:                     4
Phil:                            3
Francesca:                  3

Challenge 1 – Waking Up

As this is the task to begin the season, ‘waking up’ seems like a good place to start. Your challenge is to write a 300 word scene where a character wakes up in a new place. As well as description, try to include clues as to the wider story of your character. Be mindful of clichés and ‘it was all a dream’ endings. Good luck!

1st place Christine and Morgen – 13 points each, 2nd Jackie and Suzanne – 9 points each, 3rd place Francesca and Martin – 7 points each.

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 1:
Morgen:                     4 points
Christine                     4
Jackie                          3
Suzanne                      3
Francesca                   2
Martin                        2

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