As we approach the 2019 “dog days of summer,” a term adopted by baseball players to describe the hot days in August when the season became a real grind, we at Spec Faith offer a writer’s alternative: our summer writing challenge!
Summer ought to be the time when you do what you love—go on a family vacation, relax by the pool or at the beach, read good books. For writers who recently returned from the Realm Makers conference, the challenge might be the perfect writing exercise to try out something you learned, or to get you back into the writing flow after all the fun and games. For the rest of us, it might be a break from the usual. And of course it might be the spark we need to get our creative juices flowing. Besides, I know of at least one book project that has developed as a result of a Spec Faith challenge. You never know!
As has been the case for the last several years, Spec Faith’s 2019 summer writing challenge comes with rewards. There’s feedback from other Spec Faith visitors and there’s the potential for a $25 gift card from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And for readers, there are stories or story beginnings to enjoy. It’s all very win-win!
As a refresher, here’s how this summer writing challenge works:
• I’ll give a first line, and those who wish to accept the challenge will write what comes next—in 100 to 300 words, putting your entry into the comments section of this post.
“What comes next” may be the opening of a novel, a short story, or a completed piece of flash fiction—your choice.
In keeping with Spec Faith’s primary focus on the intersection of speculative fiction and the Christian faith, writers may wish to incorporate Christian elements or to write intentionally from a Christian worldview, but neither is required. Likewise, I’d expect speculative elements, or the suggestion of such, but entries will not be disqualified because of their omission.
• Readers will give a thumbs up (NO THUMBS DOWN, PLEASE!) to the ones they like the most (unlimited number of thumbs up), and, if they wish, they may give a comment to the various entries, telling what particularly grabbed their attention. They may also wish to critique other entries in a positive way that would benefit and/or encourage the writer.
By the way, I’m hoping we get lots of those type of responses—it’s always helpful for entrants to know what they did right and what they could have done to improve.
• After the designated time, I’ll re-post the top three (based on the number of thumbs up) and visitors will have a chance to vote on which they believe is the best (one vote only).
• I’ll again sweeten the pot and offer a $25 gift card (from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble) to the writer of the entry that receives the most votes (as opposed to the most thumbs up). In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held between the top vote-getters to determine the winner.
And now, the first line:
Jag couldn’t be a part of the rebellion any more—not with what he knew now—but could he convince the other rebels to lay down their arms?
Finally, those silly little details we all need to know:
- You must include the given first line without changing it. (IE don’t switch verb tenses, don’t write in first person instead of third, don’t add description, or make any other changes to the first line. Pour your creativity into what comes after this line).
- Your word count does not include this first line.
- You will have between now and midnight (Pacific time) this coming Sunday, August 4, to post your challenge entries in the comments section below.
- You may reply to entries and give thumbs up, this week and next. To have your thumbs up counted to determine the top three entries, mark your favorite entries before Sunday, August 11.
- Voting begins Monday, August 12.
Feel free to invite your friends to participate, either as writers or readers, and even those who have participated before. The 2019 challenge is open to published or unpublished authors, those who have won the award before and those who are just starting out. The more entries and the more feedback, the better the challenge.
However, please note, the 2019 challenge is NOT a popularity contest. We want to give writers a chance to find out what readers actually think of their writing. Consequently, please do not ask your social media followers to give your selection a vote unless they read the other entries as well. Thanks for making this little exercise a valuable help to all who enter.