Season XV

Open Page 3

The final assignment of this season has to be an Open Page collation. We’ll finish in style! Give us a taste of your individual writing without any restraints on genre, length or content. We’d love to see something from your work in progress or the wild experimental writing you’d like some comments on … and anything in between whatever extremes you can imagine. Surprise us.   Need I go into more detail? Feel free to ask if you have any doubts about what to contribute.   I’ll just remind you to add a brief introduction describing your piece and including the word count. As for the latter you should consider the likely attention span of the average Alpha!   The deadline for contributions to reach my inbox is midnight on Tuesday the 14th May. Early birds are appreciated.   1st Sarah 7 votes, 2nd Genya 6 votes, 3rd Morgen & Rosemary 5 votes each

The Final Alpha Leaderboard after the Open Page Ed.3 Season XV.

Morgen:                     25 points
Christine:                    21
Ros:                             20*
Jackie:                         20
Sarah:                          17
Phil :                           15*
Gloria :                       15
Stephen :                    15

Challenge 8 – Location, location, location.

Write a story which features a fictional place as a key component of the narrative. It must be somewhere that you have invented, not an existing idea such as Narnia or The Star Ship Enterprise. While the location doesn’t need to have a fantasy or speculative component, it must be somewhere rather magical, surprising, or amazing.   As usual, write up to 300 words (excluding the title)   1st Jackie 12 points, 2nd Martin 11 points, 3rd Suzanne 9 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 8:
Morgen:                     23 points
Christine:                    20
Jackie:                         19
Ros:                             18*
Phil:                             14*
Gloria :                        14
Stephen :                     14

Challenge 7

Time for something a little different to hone your reporting skills:

Write a piece of journalism for a popular local tabloid newspaper under the headline, “Fight on the High Street “. Interpret this headline as you will, but remember that although the content of your piece may be fictional, the journalistic style is important and your article should be presented in a non-fiction way in keeping with the newspaper. The newspaper editor has made room for a report of around 270 to 300 words, and she’s frightening when she’s crossed.

Please send your entries to me by the end of Tuesday 2nd of April.

1st Christine 15 points, 2nd Elizabeth and Jackie 12 points each, 3rd Stephen 11 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 7:
Morgen:                     22 points
Christine:                   19
Ros:                             17*
Jackie:                         15
Phil:                            13*
Gloria:                        13
Stephen:                     13

Challenge 6

Your brief for the next Alpha challenge is:

Write 300 words describing an encounter made while travelling.

The travelling can be a big adventure, or just a trip to the local beach, or a work trip, or… any journey which takes you away from home, really. The encounter should convey something about the journey and/or place visited as well as being a good yarn that’s entertaining to read. It can be with a person, object, animal… whatever you like.

This is a non-fiction challenge, so think writing for publication in a travel magazine. That means proper places and real encounters please rather than anything too fanciful!!

Entries to me by midnight GMT on Tuesday March 12th.

1st Elke 15 points, 2nd Morgen 14 points, 3rd Suzanne 11 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 6:

Morgen:                     21 points
Ros:                             16*
Christine:                   15
Phil:                            12*
Gloria:                        12
Jackie:                         12

Open Page 2

Here we are again ready to put pen to computer screen. I’ve gone in for plagiarism and used much of Christine’s wording from last time, with a little extra explanation to avoid confusion.

The explanation is below but please remember the following –

  1. Include a brief introduction to put the piece in context for the reader. Include what sort of writing it is and word count and anything else the reader needs in order to understand.
  2. Word limit is a suggested level of 1600 so that the total we have to read is manageable. However, if your piece only makes sense at 400 words or 2000 words, please send it at its natural length – within reason!
  3. Deadline is 12 midnight GMT on Tuesday 19th February. If you’re late you will only have yourself to blame 😉

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.

Now, lift your pens and let’s get started – happy Alpha Day.

1st Christine – 8 votes, 2nd Martin – 5 votes, 3rd Stephen, Rosemary, Gloria and Suzanne with 4 votes each

The Alpha Leaderboard after the Open Page, 2nd edition:

Morgen:                     18 points
Ros:                             15*
Christine:                   14
Phil:                            11*
Gloria:                        11
Jackie:                         11
Sarah:                          10
Stephen :                    10

Challenge 5

For this challenge, we are going to look at the father/son relationship. And to do that, we are going to use the backdrop of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Don’t panic if you read the book a hundred years ago, or not at all. We all know the basics of the tale. Man makes creature, creature is hideous and suffers at the hands of bigots and becomes an outcast.

We do need to remember, though, that the creature was literate. A reminder of how this occurs is here.

Intelligent and articulate, the creature lives alone in the wilderness and finding that people were afraid of and hated him due to his appearance, led him to fear and hide from them. While living in an abandoned structure connected to a cottage, he grew fond of the poor family living there, and discreetly collected firewood for them. Secretly living among the family for months, the Creature learned to speak by listening to them and he taught himself to read after discovering a lost satchel of books in the woods. When he saw his reflection in a pool, he realised his physical appearance was hideous, and it terrified him. Nevertheless, he approached the family in hopes of becoming their friend. Initially he was able to befriend the blind father figure of the family, but the rest of them were frightened and they all fled their home.

The challenge is for you, as the creature, to write a letter to Dr Frankenstein. You can choose to write the letter at any time in the creature’s life.  What would you say? What would you ask?

To put you in the mood, here is my favourite quote from the book.

‘I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other’

Normal rules apply. Entries (with a max of 300 words) to me by midnight on Tuesday January 29th.

1st place Phil – 14 points, 2nd place Morgen 13 points, 3rd place Stephen 12 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 5:
Morgen:                     17 points
Ros:                            13*
Phil:                            10*
Christine:                  10
Gloria :                        9
Jackie :                        9
Sarah :                         9

Challenge 4

Challenge 4 – The Haiku Christmas challenge! 7 days of Haiku’s from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve (or if you prefer Christmas Day to New Year’s Day)

Deadline: Tuesday 8th January 2019 – Someone remind me to send out a reminder on the 1st!!!

Definition of haiku:an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively – also:a poem in this form usually having a seasonal reference.

A haiku is an unrhymed Japanese poetic form that consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. A haiku expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words. The form gained distinction in the 17th century, when Basho, a Japanese poet considered the greatest practitioner of the form, elevated it to a highly refined art. It remains Japan’s most popular poetic form. The Imagist poets (1912–30) and others have imitated the form in English and other languages.(Merriam Webster)

It employs highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.

Some examples:

Winter solitude –

in a world of one colour

the sound of wind

Written by Basho, a 17th century Japanese haiku master.

Some more modern ones

DECK THE SHELVES by Kim Rodrigues


Christmas by Gail Lewis

OK so challenge is to capture the experience of your Christmas in 7 days of Haiku’s. Remember that traditionally the Haiku includes allusions to the natural world, and to the seasons.

Hope this works for people


1st Morgen 12 points, Joint Second Rosemary & Christine 11 points each, 3rd Stephen 10 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 4.

Morgen:                      14 points
Ros:                             12
Christine:                    9
Gloria:                         8
Jackie:                         8
Sarah:                          8

Challenge 3

Herbert Read believed that ‘Art in its wildest sense is the extension of the personality.’
Using the photo below as a prompt, in 300 words, write about the artistic scene it depicts. That’s it.

1st Morgen 17 points, 2nd Gloria 13 points, 3rd Ros 10 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 3:

Morgen:                     10 points
Ros:                              9
Gloria:                         7
Jackie:                          7
Sarah:                           7
Christine :                    6

Open Page 1

Brief for the Open Page, 1st edition, Alpha Season XV.
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.

Morgen 6 nominations, Christine 5 nominations

The Alpha Leaderboard after the Open Page ed.1 Season XV:
Ros: 7 points
Jackie: 6
Morgen: 6
Sarah: 6
Christine : 5
Phil : 4*
Gloria : 4

Challenge 2

Please write a dialogue-only piece between two people.  In 300 words, with no extraneous identification of who is speaking (no `he said..she replied…`) in fact no descriptions or explanations of any sort outside of the dialogue.   Just pure dialogue between two characters.   No theme is specified.  You may choose your own. 1st place Rosemary 20 points, 2nd place Sarah 10 points, 3rd place Elizabeth 8 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 2:

Ros:                 6 points
Jackie:             4
Sally:               4
Sarah:             4
Phil:                 2*
Suzanne:         2*

Challenge 1

This is a very straightforward challenge to get us all warmed up: 300 words of prose on the subject of “Heat”. So, there we are – nothing complicated to start off with! Entries to me please by midnight GMT Tuesday 2nd October.

1st place Sally 18 points, 2nd place Jackie 13 points, 3rd place Rosemary 10 points

The Alpha Leaderboard after Challenge 1:
Sally:               4 points
Jackie:             3 points
Rosemary:      2 points
Suzanne:         1*
Phil:                 1*