“As I write now, I always have your voice in my head saying, ‘show not tell’ lol”
– comment from Word Weaver contestant
– comment from Word Weaver contestant
I’m kicking around an idea, and I’d like your thoughts.
Can you see my evil grin?
I’m looking at my original announcement and I said “winners will be announced on or around December 20” – I don’t think doing it this way would change that.
Previously I’ve announced everything in one day. If everyone has to come at one time to find out who won, does that get more people tuning in because they all think they might have won? Or is it better to stagger it out, Miss America style?
Right now there is a large group of people who don’t know if they won or not. As soon as I announce a group, say, of eight finalists, all the other contestants know they did not win first place because they weren’t named as a finalist. Do those people stop tuning in?
In our prior contest, we had about 1000 total people came to the blog between the day I announced the winner and the next day when the winning story was posted.
If I stagger the winning announcements Miss America style, do we get more people tuning in? (Because there weren’t 1000 entries. Or 500, if they all came both days.) We might get more people, though, because the audience for the contest is larger than the pool of contestants – by a lot.
There’s one issue. Views might be down because the 20th is so close to the holidays. TV shows are in reruns during that time. We might get fewer views and think the experiment was a failure. This would have been the week to do it, starting a few days ago.
What do you think? Go for it Miss America style starting Sunday, or do it all at once like last time?
Or some of you do. With most of my stuff, I think it’s ready for print the moment I’m done doing it. With the typos in there and everything.
But since that’s not the case – darn it – here’s a little sample of things I change between drafts.
What follows was for a newsletter that went out in November, but it’s like any process I do for any writing.
For a newsletter, It gets the first two.
Below are the first and final drafts of an essay for your perusal. (FINAL draft followed by FIRST draft, highlighted in red for you to spot easily.) Maybe there’s something here to help you see where to flesh things out, to rearrange, and to do that hardest of all things for me: trim.
If you want to learn how I revise things and hone them, open each draft in a separate window and read them side by side. It’s quite insightful that way.
But of course, to me, if someone is paying attention to the world around them, they’ll see things that show how everything interacts. That’s the mechanics that go into a story. Seeing the moment, and building what’s necessary around it.
It’s been said – and I believe – the more personal an author makes a story, the more universal its appeal.
The other day I was in the grocery store with my daughter and wife, grabbing a few last-minute things for Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s.
My daughter says, “I think I saw Iliana from school!” (Not the girl’s real name, because I didn’t ask her mom first. I’m nice that way.)
Of course, if your kid says they saw their friend in the store, you wanna be nice. I mean, Santa watches you, too – and Santa was inspecting peanut butter in the next aisle. That new computer isn’t gonna buy itself.
I said, “You saw Iliana? Okay, go say ‘Hi.’ I’ll wait h—”
“No!” My daughter recoiled. She was smiling but she had the whole twisty-leg, wringing-hands thing going on.
So here you have a kid who was excited to see her friend but too shy to go say “Hi.” It’s worth noting, if Iliana had been in my daughter’s class, where they’d see each other every day, Savvy probably would’ve sprinted across the store to say hi without even letting me know she was going. I’d have had to follow the vapor trail from the jet stream like in an old Road Runner cartoon. But this is one of those interesting dichotomies that happens with little kids. A classmate, she would go say hi to. And probably hug. And insist we have to shop with while they hold hands and waltz up and own the aisles of Publix.
A girl who she doesn’t know quite that well, but who she definitely knows, but who is in the next grade… Nope. That, we can’t do. That’s over the top.
The lines of comfort zone would definitely be crossed somehow, and like crossing the pluton particle streams in Ghost Busters, one never knows what cataclysmic result might result. Besides, for all I know I’m still be on probation with Publix from the meltdown Savvy had in the toy aisle when she was two. I’m not sure I wanna risk it.
But good parenting must triumph, so it’s time for as good parenting moment. I decide we’ll both go say, “Hi” together – an idea I suggest to Savvy.
But at this point we probably have to do the good parent thing and say, “Oh, come on. You know her. She’s your friend. She goes to your store school…”
Nope. My daughter discovers an urgent need to be in the peanut butter aisle inspecting Buy One Get One deals with my wife, and disappears
I will go say hi to them.
I walk up behind the little girl and her father. At the last moment it occurs to me that I’m taking Savvy’s word for it and these might not actually be people I know.
“I thought that was you!” I say in a jovial voice. The two of them turn around. Smiles all around. I say hi and I explain to Iliana that my daughter thought she saw her but was too shy to come over and say hello.
There was also a nice release of tension, finding it was her friend and that I wasn’t accosting total strangers.
Iliana smiled as I explained to her father that I run the Young Authors Club at school, and Iliana has been to the YAC writing camp we did last summer. He probably knew anyway, but it never hurts to let people know who the heck you are just in case they don’t remember. I’ve never met him before, so why put him on the spot, you know?
We chat for a moment and he says that Iliana thought she saw Savvy, too.
In any event, you could see how this would easily fall into a story in a book, or give credibility to a scene, because it’s one of those everyday things that happen to all of us. We’ve all had this happen.
Adults do it differently.
I had never met Iliana’s dad before, but it seemed appropriate to go say hi because I knew his kid, and honestly what’s more awkward than seeing somebody you know and then not saying hi? Or they see you and then look away like they didn’t? Or you think they saw you and then think they didn’t, and then you have to wave two or three times until you’re sure they did so you aren’t the jerk who saw them and didn’t say hi???
At least it’s awkward as adults.
As kids, it’s totally appropriate to run the other way, down the aisle to investigate peanut butter.
People ask where I get my ideas from, and saying “everywhere” isn’t helpful. I know that.
But of course, if you’re paying attention to the world around you, you’re going to see things that show you how everything interacts.
Kids are so funny
The other day I was in the grocery store with my daughter and wife, grabbing a few last minute things for Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law‘s.
My daughter says, “I think I saw Iliana from school!“
Iliana is in the next grade higher than my daughters, but she has been to our house for a young authors club camp I did over the summer, so savvy knew her.
Of course, if your kid says they saw their friend in the store, your reaction is to go say hi.
So I said, you saw Iliana? OK. Let’s go say hi.“
No! My daughter recoiled. Apparently that was too much for her.
So here you have a kid who was excited to see her friend but too shy to go say hi. Also, it’s worth noting,If Iliana had been in my daughters class, my daughter probably would’ve just run Across the store to say hi without even letting me know she was going. So this is one of those little interesting dichotomy is that happening with little kids. A classmate, she would go say hi to. Probably hug.
A girl who she doesn’t know quite that well but who she definitely knows, but who is in the next grade into, she was too shy to go say hi to.
So I decide I’ll go say hi and take my daughter and will go see her together.
Still too shy for that.
But at this point we have to do the parent thing and say oh come on you know her she’s your friend she goes to your store school. I will go say hi to them.
My daughter Discover is an urgent need to be down the peanut butter aisle with my wife, it disappears – as I walk up to the little girl and her father.
“I thought that was you!“ I say in a jovial voice. The two of them turn around. Smiles all around I say hi and I explain to Iliana that my daughter thought she saw her but was too shy to come over and say hello.
Iliana smiled at that and I explain to her father that I run the young authors club at school in Iliana has been to my camp. He probably knew anyway but it never hurts to let people know who the heck you are just in case they don’t remember. I’ve never met him before so why put him on the hook, you know?
We chat for a moment and he says that Iliana thought she saw Saturday, too.
So maybe there’s a little bit of shyness all the way around.
In any event, you could see how this would easily fall itself into our story in the book because it’s just one of those every day things, but adults do it differently. I had never met that man before but it seemed appropriate to go say hi because I knew his kid and honestly what’s more awkward than seeing somebody you know and then I’m not saying hi? We’re looking away or whatever? It’s awkward!
At least it’s awkward as adults
As kids, it’s totally appropriate to run the other way down the aisle to investigate peanut butter.
A secret list has been sent to our celebrity judges, who are now working on reading the stories and casting their votes for the winners.
Because there were so many good entries, it will be hard work.
I think they’re up to it.
Which was a relief. I’ll admit that.
One writer who shall remain nameless, has allowed me to read several stories of his/hers and the one entered for THIS contest is far and away the best I’ve seen from him/her. Expect to be a finalist, unnamed writer!
A few people who entered a Word Weaver Writing Contest for the first time have REALLY done well. We have at least two finalists there.
A couple of friends from the blog and newsletter are doing well… a few finalists there, too.
That’s what makes it fun. They’re all so good, it’s picking the best from a group of the best.
So ALL of the people who were the first 50 entries should have received the critique of their story by now. If you think you should have gotten one and didn’t, check your spam folder. I logged each entry as they came in and I’ll know if you were in the first 50 received. Mainly because I did a critique of your story if it was one of the first 50.
I’ll be emailing the contestants again tomorrow because it occurred to me, we had email issues a few days ago; maybe the critiques didn’t all get through to the recipients. I know some did, but I can’t say they all did. So I’ll shoot out a quick please RSVP email and that, plus this, should do it.
One person in the first 50 who should have, has not yet received a critique from me for this contest. (On purpose.)
Tomorrow I do that person’s and then the celebrity judges swing into action to help determine the BIG GRAND PRIZE WINNER.
The finalists don’t know they are finalists – yet.
The suspense is palpable.
That’s good tension right there.
Calm down. Then our celebrity judges get my selection for finalists.
…and then a winner is decided…
* Checks original contest announcement *
unless I get an overwhelming amount of entries, and then I’ll delay that part but trust me you’ll know way in advance because I’ll be whining about it here on the blog.
(That was all in the rules, honest.)
I know, I say that every time, but it’s true every time. You guys are really raising the bar.
Many of the stories will be considered for an upcoming anthology even if they don’t win. Remember that. Some stuff just doesn’t lend itself to a 3000 word contest but makes for a great book or a terrific piece in an anthology – where it can have a little more wiggle room.
I’m interested in getting your thoughts about stuff I see and hear, quotes I read, stuff that passes as knowledge – and starting an authorey conversation.
I think the more personal the story, the more universal its appeal.