Itsy-Bitsy Writing Challenges

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Write-up & Winner

Dear all,

Thank you so much for taking part in the first exercise of the Itsy-Bitsy Writing Challenges. I felt it went very well, and I hope you enjoyed the opportunity for a short creative writing exercise as much as I did.

The first challenge was about writing a blurb. A blurb, which is similar in function to the first chapter of a story, is challenging in that writers need to introduce the main character(s), the genre and, most importantly, give an outlook that is both concise and compelling.

Blurb texts should be intriguing but not give too much away.

In this exercise, you were given a picture to inspire your creativity. The photo showed a house in the middle of the Slovenian autumn landscape. I liked the idea of the house because, in literary studies, we come across a number of narratives in which the house is much more than just a setting.

Think of Rebecca and her famous opening lines, “Last night I dreamt I went back to Manderley”. Or the novels of the Brontë sisters, such as Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. Think of the famous tale The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, and you will find that in all cases, the house is a character in its own right, influencing and shaping the fate of the protagonists.

It is also not surprising that all the above stories belong to the horror or gothic genre; and yes, it is not unusual that most writers in this competition have also chosen these genres - after all, it is the month of Halloween :-)

To cut a long story short: I am pleased to announce the winners of the first competition.

Congratulations to GWEN THAMES AND A.E. ROBERTS, who received an equal number of votes in the poll and did a fantastic job!

I classify A.E. Roberts’ blurb as horror/mystery. She draws her readers in by imagining the fate of an author struggling with writer’s block. It involves a murder, a conspiracy against the protagonist and a terrible secret that the heroine uncovers. I imagine a strong yet struggling female main character trapped in an environment that is beautiful and terrifying at the same time; lots of shocking scenes and moments of epiphany.

On the other hand, Gwen’s text is quite different, and I’m pleased that she has dared to go for her favourite genre - or at least that’s what I read in the text - a mix of romance and drama. Gwen once again delivers a beautifully crafted text that paints a wonderful picture and leaves the reader wondering how the short holiday will turn out for the couple. I imagine a story where the couple is forced to deal with their problems - the house and the beautiful autumn landscape are both a blessing and a curse. I imagine readers switching between sympathising with the main characters, not understanding their actions and sometimes even hating them for it.

In both cases, Gwen Thames and A.E. Roberts have done an excellent job, and if you haven’t read their stories yet, believe me when I say it’s worth visiting their walls and browsing their books.

Until then, have a great, creative October!

See you at the next challenge on Wednesday, November 3rd!

PS: If you have any good ideas for more challenges, feel free to email me. Don’t worry, I haven’t run out of ideas, but I like these writing exercises to be a collaborative project, so please feel free to do that :-)

PPS: If you would like some brief feedback on your blurb, feel free to contact me. Please note, however, that I can only give you my personal opinion, which does not reflect the decisions of those who voted.

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