An Interview with the Winner of August's: Talk to Me Challenge + some thoughts on dialogue

The August Challenge: Talk To Me focused on the usage of dialogue. Dialogue can be a difficult thing to get right, but we had some awesome entries in the August Challenge that proved lots of WEbook members already have the skill down to a T. 

There are plenty of methods that you can use to get your written dialogue up to scratch if you think you need a bit of help in that area. We've scoured the web to find some of the best tips and tricks that you can use to help craft your own brilliant dialogue.





RULE 1
Contract that stilted exchange






A: "Hello. How are you? It is a nice day today."

B: "Yes, it is very nice and sunny. I am good thank you, and how are you?"

A: "I am very good, thank you. Have you had a nice day?"

B: "Yes, it was nice. I will tell you later. I do not want these nosy people to overhear what I have been getting up to. It is ridiculously funny, but it is not for public consumption."

A: "OK. I will wait then."

***

That was pretty boring. But we can jazz it up pretty easily. One word - CONTRACTIONS. When we speak to people IRL, we regularly use contractions in our speech. This applies to the typical 'do not' > 'don't' examples, but also to the use of superfluous words. Let's re-write this exchange using contractions and check out the difference it makes.

***

A: "Hi. How're you? It's a nice day today."

B: "Yes, it's very nice and sunny. I'm good thanks, and you?"

A: "I'm very good, thanks. You've had a nice day?"

B: "Yes, it was nice. I'll tell you later. I don't want these nosy people to overhear what I'm going to tell you. It's ridiculously funny, but it's not for public consumption."

A: "Ok. I'll wait then."
***

Still pretty boring, but it's less stunted because we have employed contractions. Whoopee, first hurdle overcome. Now, let's get on to the second point. 

***




RULE 2
Drop the small talk 






Small talk is awful enough in real life, but when you've got to read it it's like pulling teeth. Only give the reader information they actually need, don't bore them senseless with unnecessary information.

Let's see what we can do with our example to cut out that small talk:

***

A: "Hi. How're you?"

B: "I'm good thanks, and you?"

A: "I'm very good, thanks. You've had a nice day?"

B: "Yes, it was nice. I'll tell you later. I don't want these nosy people to overhear what I'm going to tell you. It's ridiculously funny, but it's not for public consumption."

A: "Ok. I'll wait then."

***

Ok, we're getting somewhere now. Still not that interesting though is it? The problem we need to tackle now is that we've got two people speaking, but it's nigh on impossible to tell them apart by their style of speech. Which takes us nicely on to point 3...

***



RULE 3
Distinction.



Both of the voices in the dialogue example are pretty well spoken. We had to force them to use contractions, and they insisted on discussing the weather at the beginning of their exchange. That may have been nice for them socially, but for us as readers it added absolutely zilch to our experience. In fact, all it did was bore us and make us want to shut the book, close the tab, and generally move on to something else. Obviously that's not the kind of effect you want to kindle in your reader, so we need to think about giving the characters a bit of... character!

***

A: "How's it goin'?"

B: "Yeah, not bad thanks, bud. How about yourself?"

A: "Gettin' there. Good day?"

B: "Yeah, it was nice. I'll tell you later, bud. I don't want this lot to overhear what I'm going to tell you. It's so funny, but it's not for public consumption."

A: "No worries."

***

So here we've used a few things to differentiate the style of dialogue between the two characters. Obviously space is somewhat limited, so for the purposes of the example, we've utilised some pretty standard tools to do this with. 

Character A: Uses short sentences, one of which is a statement, and drops letters from the ends of words.

Character B: Uses longer sentences and sometimes uses 'bud' at the end.

There are lots of things you can use to differentiate your speakers. You should base this on their personalities and let the character lead the way, don't feel like you've got to force qualities on to your character just to differentiate them in speech. If you've developed good, strong character profiles in your own mind, they will naturally find their own style of speech. Some things you may want to consider in your character are...

- Accent
- Background & class
- Strong / weak adjectives
- Positive / negative adjectives
- Colloquialisms
- Period
- Education level

***




RULE 4
Keep it interesting



We've touched on the pitfalls of small talk, but writing obvious dialogue can be just as tedious to read. Keep it interesting, show off some character, some excitement, and don't follow the obvious route.

***

A: "How's it goin'?"

B: "Yeah, not bad thanks, bud. How about yourself?"

A: "Gettin' there. Good day so far?"

B: "I'll tell you later, bud. I don't want this lot to overhear. It's so funny, but it's defo not for public consumption. This lot are a bit 'touché', if you get my drift. Anyway, think crocodiles, think Sylvia, and maybe you can start to piece it together."

A: "Again? Dude, she'll find out one of these days."

B: "Hardly. She didn't notice the last three times. Anyway, it's not nearly as bad as that... that one time, y'know?"

A: "How could I forget."

***



Rule 5 
Silence is a golden opportunity. 
Use it. 


Just like we convey things with body language as well as speech, you can use silences and narration to fill in the gaps. This and of course your reader's power of deduction. This is the point at which you can craft the rest of the scene around your characters' dialogue. Think of it like putting the skin on a skeleton, or the filling in a pie if you want a more palatable analogy...

***

     "How's it goin'?" asked Brad with some hesitation.

     "Yeah, not bad thanks, bud. How about yourself?" replied Peter over the top of Brad's head, his eyes searching out something at the back of the room. 

     "Gettin' there... Good day so far?" enquired Brad rather pointedly, annoyed that as usual Peter couldn't bother giving him his full attention.

     "I'll tell you later, bud. I don't want this lot to overhear. It's so funny, but it's defo not for public consumption. This lot are a bit 'touché', if you get my drift. Anyway, think crocodiles, think Sylvia, and maybe you can start to piece it together." Brad stared at his brother for just a moment too long, mouth agape, before collecting himself.

     "Again? Peter, she'll find out one of these days." Because it was true, she would. Everyone would, and Peter wouldn't be the only one facing recriminations. By association, Brad would likely find himself seen as some sort of co-hort. 'Darn it.' thought Brad, as he quickly started to consider how he could put as much distance between himself and his brother in the shortest amount of time without drawing any attention to himself. 

     "Hardly. She didn't notice the last three times. Anyway, it's not nearly as bad as that... that one time, y'know?"

     "How could I forget." Neither man said anything for a while, but whilst Brad's silence was one of shocked embarrassment, Peter was visibly enjoying reliving the memory, much to Brad's chagrin.



***

And then so now, what we're left with is a much more interesting dialogue between two brothers. It's not stunted, we don't have any more information than is strictly necessary and we've got two very distinct characters. Mission accomplished! 

Obviously this is not a fool-proof method, but they're some pretty solid rules to follow, so you've got more than enough here to give you an excuse to dust off your quill and start scribing your next dialogue!

***

WEBOOK INTERVIEWS OUR WINNER OF THE AUGUST: TALK TO ME CHALLENGE

S_WilsonDisher obviously knows all of these methods like the back of their hand, and probably has some even better tips and tricks up their sleeve than we can give you here (believe it or not). So we thought we'd pick their brains in an interview and find out if we could get them to divulge their author-ly secrets to us... 


WEbook: Congratulations on being crowned winner of the August Challenge: Talk to Me, with your entry ‘Them Earthies'! The August Challenge was all about using dialogue in your entry, and also you also had to use one of three sentences we had given you.

What made you pick the sentence you used? Was it a matter of the sentence inspiring the story, or did you feel like you had to make it fit in to the story you already wanted to write?

S_WilsonDisher: This is a good question – I had no difficulty picking the sentence I wanted to use. It leapt out at me and immediately images of the people, the interior of the house etc., were right in front of me.

WEbook: Do you find that this type of prescriptive writing challenge is good for your development as a writer, or does it stunt your creativity too much?

S_WilsonDisher: I enjoy such challenges, for, rather than stunt creativity they make me think ‘Now what can I do with this?’. It reminds me of my teaching where I give kids a whole pile of scraps and glue, a theme and the instruction to make a Cerberus dog. Creative solutions arise which I could never have predicted.

WEbook: The ability to write dialogue is a crucial skill for a successful author, yet it’s difficult to deliver convincingly. The one moment every author strives to avoid is the awkward squirm of the reader as they read a wholly unconvincing line; how did you initially develop the flow of your dialogue, and does it go through any testing?

S_WilsonDisher: I try to get into the heads of my characters – for instance, Jesphaxia the young girl. I wanted to make her sound like my young girl students and how they would react to a funny ‘alien’ baby turning up in their back yard, and what they would so and say. Would they feed it? Of course they would. I make sure as I write that what the characters say is consistent with their personalities. In editing, I take out or rewrite any words or expressions which would be out of character. For this story, there were hardly any changes.

WEbook: ‘Them Earthies’ is a humorous, and somewhat philosophical, role reversal for your characters and us as humans. How did you come up with the idea?

S_WilsonDisher: I have been playing around with the notions of parallel universes since I was a young girl. I invented an ongoing story of critters which looked a bit like horses – stories I told to my sister when she was a little girl. She called them the ‘funny stories’. 


Now when she read ‘Them Earthies’ she burst out laughing and said she was back in Mom’s kitchen, sitting at the table as I washed dishes and told her a ‘funny story’. These characters emerged in my head around the same time. I even drew one or two for my class mates who were always interested to see what I would come up with next.

WEbook: Your story is very well paced. We at no point feel as though the reveal of information or a climatical point is being rushed. This is in part to do with your very natural use of conversational dialogue. Did you find yourself having to cut bits of the story out to fit the word count, and if so, how did you manage to mitigate the potential disruption this could have caused to the flow of your story?

S_WilsonDisher: Fitting the word count was not too difficult. I usually go back and take out any superfluous ‘ands,’ ‘thens’ and so forth. I usually find ways to truncate a sentence without losing the flow, choosing one word which would encapsulate the idea.

WEbook: What are you working on at the moment? Is there somewhere that we can read some more of what you’ve written?

S_WilsonDisher: I’m working on a major project triggered by an idea which has been in my in-tray for some time. It is a philosophical set of ‘books’ about the very race of people in ‘Them Aliens’. 

 The first story is set 200 years in the future, and centres around a young dancer who is fixated with some ‘Earthies’ he spots on his inter-plane ambassador father’s communication machine. While it is not humour as such, it contains a lot of humour arising out of the exchanges between the characters. But the underlying themes, are of the interaction between people on Earth and the other Plane, their philosophies and the arts. 

Each story overlaps, so that the reader is taken on a journey through five generations of characters, with numerous twists and turns, disasters, and plagues as the characters negotiate their way through the Time Passages and Divides which connect Earth with the other plane, Ezskiasia. If you'd like to have a read of the first chapter, you can do here.

I also have two pieces of writing which I’ve blogged but which are set firmly on Earth! One of them had its first draft on WEbook. ‘The Biggest Gravel Mound on Earth’ which has since been subject to some serious editing.

WEbook: Who are your favourite authors / books and how have they influenced your writing?

S_WilsonDisher: My favorite authors are those who have helped my craft my ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Australian writer Colleen McCullough, has been hugely influential both for her writing skills and her intellect (she was a scientist). 

New Zealand Modernist writer Katherine Mansfield is another for the same reasons. Somerset Maugham is a favorite for his craftsmanship and portrayal of his characters. New Zealand writers such as Janet Frame and Elizabeth Knox have played a major part for the reasons already given but also more importantly, in the way they are able to suggest the unseen without ever resorting to clumsy in-your-face descriptions. Oddly enough I usually read non-fiction, such as biographies, history and the natural sciences because they form the background, for the background (!) of my current project.

WEbook: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and for giving such interesting answers! Best of luck with your upcoming entries in the monthly challenges, we certainly look forwards to reading them!

- Hannah from the WEbook Team

Interview with WEbook's June Challenge Winner: LillyFramboise


There are so many different things you can explore in literature, and sometimes you'll find that authors have been using little tricks to get you hooked on their stories. Sneaky, sneaky. Learning these tricks of the trade can help turn a so-so story in to a fantastic reading experience. Through our monthly competitions we've been exploring a few of the ways that writers have enhanced their stories by using different literary devices. 

In June we asked the members of WEbook to submit an entry that used the style of a vignette, or 'little vine'. 

Vignettes can be found in all kinds of literature from classics to the more modern. Authors use vignettes to really hone in on a moment, memory, object, or feeling that they want the reader to identify with. It's not only useful for you as a writer to be able to identify devices like these when reading other's work, but it's also incredibly beneficial for your own writing if you're able to utilise these devices effectively in your own writing. 

The winner of the June Challenge, LilyFramboise has been kind enough to have a chat with us about her winning vignette in the Little Vines challenge, but before we get to that let's have a look at what a vignette is and a few examples in popular literature.

So, what's a vignette?


vignette
viːˈnjɛt,vɪ-/
noun
  1. 1
    a brief evocative description, account, or episode.
    "a classic vignette of embassy life"
  2. 2
    a small illustration or portrait photograph which fades into its background without a definite border.
verb
  1. 1
    portray (someone) in the style of a vignette.


Essentially, a vignette makes the subject of your focus really stand out against the background. Perhaps it's a flashback, perhaps it's a current observation, or perhaps it's a rumination on things generally. Visualise it like a photograph taken at a party. You know there's lots more going on both in and around the wider frame, but you've picked a particular subject to focus on in that moment. 

Perhaps this one moment is a character sitting alone in a corner. Or perhaps the object of your character's affection is in conversation with another, and your protagonist is waxing lyrical on the contours of their face. Perhaps it's a song that comes on and transports your narrator back to a moment in their past. In each of these examples, a vignette can act as the descriptive vessel. 

The great thing about vignettes is that they're very malleable and therefore very useful. When it comes to providing more information about your character, you can utilise vignettes and avoid having to write an extensive background. You can also use vignettes to reveal new aspects to your characters and locations, etc. in dribs and drabs. This can help greatly with the development of your story as often the 'slow reveal' helps to develop and then hold your reader's interest. Definitely a top tool for your literary DIY box.

Here are some examples of vignettes in literature:


Carts were jammed solid on the bridge with camels bobbing along through them. Greek cavalry herded along the procession. Women and kids were in the carts crouched with mattresses, mirrors, sewing machines, bundles. There was a woman having a kid with a young girl holding a blanket over her and crying. Scared sick looking at it. It rained all through the evacuation.



Annie Dillard: An American Childhood

Some boys taught me to play football. This was fine sport. You thought up a new strategy for every play and whispered it to the others. You went out for a pass, fooling everyone. Best, you got to throw yourself mightily at someone’s running legs… In winter, in the snow, there was neither baseball nor football, so the boys and I threw snowballs at passing cars. I got in trouble throwing snowballs, and have seldom been happier since.

You'll notice these examples are pretty different from one another, and, the thing is that you could easily pop them into a paragraph and they wouldn't be a vignette at all. Yet perhaps that's one of the best things about a vignette, it's nothing fancy. It's easy to use, and it's super approachable. Readers won't be all like 'oh look at them with their fancy try-hard writing', because a vignette isn't fancy at all, it's just some focused writing with specific placement and context.

Think about when you get an idea for a story, or a book, or a poem. Usually this is inspired by one moment, a meeting, a smell, a place, or a feeling, right? Well, that's your vignette; it's the polarisation of a moment that inspired you. Your piece of writing is a wider analysis of that feeling, but the moment of inspiration is the (metaphorical) vignette. 

If you feel like reading some vignettes in literature, here's a Goodreads shelf dedicated to them.

📘📙📕

We had a great variety of vignettes - and some very good almost vignettes - in our June challenge. Our winner without a doubt was Liberty Rose by LilyFramboise! Congratulations again to LilyFramboise  and read on below for our interview with the winning author.


WEbook: So, what’s a vignette then?

LilyFramboise: Well, to me a vignette is like a photograph - a snapshop of a moment in time, where you have a chance to get to know one person, or scene, or thing in intense detail. Imagine seeing the scene through a microscope or a telescope without moving it around; when you look through the eyepiece you can't see what surrounds it but you can focus on the details and really close in on them.

WB: Your entry was a really beautiful insight in to the first moment between a mother and her newborn. What made you choose this moment for your entry? Was there something in particular that made you decide it was ideal to use as a frame when writing your vignette?

LF: I'm a mum of two. It was just after my daughter's birthday and she was my firstborn. I think it just seemed obvious to me as a moment where you hone in on the minutae of this incredible new life to the exclusion of everything around you. Growing a whole new person inside you and bringing it out into the world is simply mind-blowing and I wanted to share that; a vignette provides the most perfect frame.

WB: The imagery you use in your submission is really well structured, with an interesting balance of external observations and internal feelings.

The contrast in the types of words you’ve selected to use in your story help to aid the polarisation of focus that the mother has for her newborn. The hospital - and her direct relationship / interaction with it - is characterised by harsher words and phrases, such as ‘rough’, ‘drone’, ‘dimly’ and ‘mind-altering pain’, whereas her association with the baby is peppered with soft and soothing ones, such as ‘marshmallow’, ‘milky’, ‘velvet’, and ‘gentle swell’.

Was this an active linguistic decision when you were writing your story? How do you think that the choice of ‘harsh’ and ‘soft’ words can help the reader to feel more connected to a piece of writing?

LF: Yes, of course. that contrast of words is always going to be an essential tool to creating a difference between two things and this situation couldn't provide two more extreme scenarios. First of all you have the labour and birth and everything about that is hard: sharp spasms, crippling cramps, overwhelming aches and fear. Pain takes over your body and you have no control over that and no knowledge when it will end and that is terrifying. If birth takes place in a hospital it revolves around order, structure, regime, rules and bright lights. You are part of a huge picture.

Contrast this with the softness and innocence of a new baby and the intimacy you feel, where the focus becomes just you and the new person you think you know but also know nothing about, and of course the language has to change.

WB: You use this vignette to show us the depths of a mother’s love, and also their endless worry. In the moment when the baby stops moving and gurgling, we all, as readers, pause ‘on a cliff-edge of uncertainly’ with the mother. You plough this emotion back in to the next moment when the mother and her child lock eyes for the first time, and it’s an incredibly effective use of the emotion that you’ve built up for the characters. How do you mitigate the challenge of creating an effective, emotional moment like this, without straying in to territory that could be seen as overly-dramatic, or ‘too literary’?

LF: I think having experienced the situation and writing about what you know reduces the likelihood of that. I lived those emotions and know they are real. We are talking about creating and introducing new life; that's huge. What could be bigger than meeting a child, no more than that, a whole new person. I don't think it can BE overly-dramatic. And too literary? I talk about amniotic fluid, sweat and strings of blood and licking soap and marshmallows, so I don't think the language is elevated to that level. It's very real, although I hope the moments of engaging with the new baby are anything but mundane, contrasted with the sense of the everyday that surrounds them.

WB: What are you reading at the moment?

LF: A Jilly Cooper actually; it's her new one, Mount. I grew up - well in my late teens, anyway - on a diet of her books, Judith Krantzs and Barbara Taylor Bradfords. They made a nice contrast to the classics, like Shakespeare, Dickens and Eliot, that I was studying at college and university. I still love them today, alongide Jodi Picoult's brilliant books. They inspired me to write a chick lit/erotic fiction of my own.

WB: What is your favourite WEbook project at the moment?

LF: The NaNoWriMo competition; I haven't done anything with the novel I mentioned but was on the verge of self-publishing. So I thought I'd give this a go first.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us LilyFramboise, and congratulations again on your win. We look forwards to seeing lots more entries from you over the coming months, and best of luck in the NaNoWriMo competition.


WEBook's August / September Newsletter


Write | Read | Critique | Compete |

Hello lovely writers and readers of WEbook 👋🏼

It's been a busy month on WEbook with loads of brilliant, interesting and totally unique projects popping up every day. Below, we've selected some of our favourites that you've been adding to this month.

Happy reading!


✏️

| Fiction | Crime Thriller | Suspense |



Two Unsolved Mysteries by LouisaSweet

'Elena served the public of Minneapolis for seven years. After a sudden decision, she finds herself in the heart of London and teams up with Konstantin, a hardworking cop. Soon, they both start to follow a trail that is packed with danger and sadistic criminals.'

WEbook Member Review:
"... this is well written and seems well structured, I like the dialogue very much." - KenWebb 



| Fiction | Gay / Lesbian | Women's Fiction | NSFW |



Experience From the Past by QuietCreation

'Vivian Richmond is a respected criminal psychologist who consults with agencies across the country. She's engaged to the love her life but things don't turn out to be as they appear. Just when things are crumbling, light and dark appear in her life--what will prevail?'

What? No member reviews yet?
Get there first!



| Fiction |Historical | Action | Adventure |



Chronicle of Immortality: Matthew by KenWebb

'Mathias (Mathew) wakes on a beach of the Aegean and begins a journey of rediscovering himself, beset by immortals and monsters he travels a path that he himself had laid out in a previous life that he cannot remember.  What is the truth?  Is there a ultimate truth?  What hope has a man, when matched against the larger than life heroes and immortals that populate this world?

'In a game played by Immortals; humanity is the prize.'


WEbook Member Review:
"I like the sound of this story - were I an agent I would certainly read the first couple of chapters." - Satyr


Fiction Romance | Sci-Fi | Fantasy |



The Lady's Adviser by Crystal_Linn

“I have been hired to advise you, princess, and I will do my best, but you must make me a promise in return.” She wiped her face of her tears before offering her tiny hand. "What promise?" she asked warily. "Come to me first when you have a trouble and I will make certain to help you with it...In return, I promise to always be there for you when you need help."

What? No member reviews yet?
Get there first!



Fiction | YA | Sci-Fi | Fantasy |



Children of Little Might by The_Dragon

'Monty finds a manuscript that promises to grant him every wish he makes if he translates it. When he does and makes his first wish, that's when trouble starts.'

WEbook Member Review:
"I'm really loving the possibilities open to Monty as an action-driven ASD character. It is giving me a lot of warm fuzzies." - LisbethRose

"The stinging caress of wood smoke wound its way through the rainforest's mossy trees. Pulling me from sleep, its heavy tang drew me towards a jagged pathway littered with sharp debris. This pathway appeared to have been violently forced in to existence by those with no understanding of the rainforest's subtle guides. Pressing my foot down on to the path, treading in their wake, I knew I should follow." 

This month, we would like you to focus on using a full spectrum of sensory descriptions within your sub. We don't want you to rely on telling us what you, and therefore we, should be looking at. Rather, we want you to make us feel what's going on. Ignite our senses. Tell us what to smell, what to touch, and what to listen out for.

If you think you're a master of literary description and you've got this challenge down, then don't be afraid to show us - and the rest of WEbook - what you've got.

To read the full challenge description and find out how to enter, head over to the challenge page.

You've got until the end of the month to enter, but to take full advantage of feedback from other members you should make sure to get your entries in nice and early.

Up for grabs is a USD$25 Amazon gift voucher, or a hardback WEbook from the WEbook Store...

Good luck and happy writing!
Enter the September Challenge

Congratulations to all the entrants in the August Challenge: Talk to Me

Dialogue is a tricky thing to master, with some of the main hurdles being tied up in a writer's ability to capture the natural ebb and flow of conversation. Often we write in a very different way to the way we speak, so trying to combine the two can be fraught with unexpected hurdles leaving you in a battle against your instincts.

However, despite the difficulty presented by the challenge brief there were lots of top-class entries in the battle for the winning spot this month.

We're delighted to announce that the winner of the August Challenge: Talk to Me is....

Them Earthies by S_WilsonDisher

***

The following five are this month's runners up:

Snowbound by OrientalGal | My Family by DexterBateman | Disclosure by LilyFramboise | Casino AdVal by tonydonell | Penury by satyr

Thanks for taking the time to write and submit your entries in August, we look forwards to reading and judging more of your stories in the September Challenge: Sights & Sounds
Read Last Month's Subs.
Copyright © 2016 WEbook, All rights reserved.

Announcing the winners of the August Challenge: Talk to Me


The winner of the August Challenge: Talk to Me is....
***
 The following five were August's runners up:
Casino AdVal by tonydonell | Penury by satyr |
Thanks to everyone who took part! 


Happy writing and good luck

- Hannah from the WEbook Team

An Interview with the Winner of the July Challenge: BDassing & How to Break Away from the Obvious When Writing From a Prompt


In the heat of the summer sun, our creative juices can sometimes feel a little dried up. 

🌵🌵🌵🌵

What with all the BBQing, sunbathing, swimming, sweating, tanning (and of course if you live in Northern Europe, the wish that some of that were true), it can be easy to put your writing on the back burner until the winter months once again bring a darkness to our days.

Luckily for us, you WEbookers are such a devout lot that even in high summer we can still count on a slew of superb submissions for the WEbook monthly challenge. Last month's writing challenge prompt had a bit of a sci-fi slant to it. This was admittedly quite difficult to extract a top story from, whilst steadfastly ignoring the obvious route... However, as per usual, this difficulty was more than surpassed by many of the entrants who took the unexpected route by running, swimming, flying, and fleeing towards their climatic points.


💭💭💭

Working with a prompt that encourages you to take the obvious route is a good way to challenge and exercise your ability to think creatively. But how to get around being obvious? How do you know what everyone's going to write? How can you stand out from the crowd when you can't even see who's in it?! Well, luckily you've got a trick up your sleeve, and that's that nobody knows what you're planning either.

Be cunning, outwit your writing competitors and always begin with a b-r-a-i-n-s-t-o-r-m ⚡️.

The storm has highlighted some obvious things.

So how can we break out of this cloud?

The best way to start, is to think about it logically. 'Logical creativity' is a brilliant tool to rely on during the planning stage. You always need to start with the cloud, and then you just work your way out, up, down and around it, using your own powers of logical association. 

Super easy, and super effective. Plus you can use all sorts of colours and pens and sticky notes and fun things (glitter?), so everyone's a winner. 

📌📌📌

Looking at our prompt, we have two constants that we must maintain. The first is that #6706428 is a number that has been assigned to something, and the second is that this thing wakes up, suddenly. 

So, let's consider this list of some very general things that can wake up, followed by a bit of thinking on what each of these could relate to, and then inject some imagination in to each of the points. You may wish to think even deeper during this planning stage to further hone your ideas, but for the purposes of our example this level of depth will suffice.

You might find it beneficial to work through each option by writing a few scenes or sentences on each idea. From there, judge which story ideas fit best, which ones bore you and which ones you end up writing, and writing, and writing, and writing, and.... Oh &%$@! It's 3am.

Looking at the table, you might initially like the idea of writing about a colony of ants, but what if that story runs out of steam? The disease / virus option might be obvious, but you will likely have a lot of inspiration to work from ... and so on and so forth as you work through the list.

Each of the ideas will likely need some further attention paid to their logical diversifications, and a bit more creativity might be needed to turn what you have in to a stellar entry. However, it's fairly plain to see that almost none of these options are what one immediately thinks of when you hear the sentence, 'Number #6706428 woke with a start...'. 

The most important thing though is to keep your reader interested. Don't rehash an old story. Write something new for them. Show them what you've got and take them on a journey into your world. 

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The winner of our July Challenge certainly did their fair share of original thinking. BDassing's triumphantly excellent entry, Restorations, took us away from dungeons and war zones.
BDassing was wonderful enough to answer some questions we had for her about her winning entry, her writing process, and a couple of other things too!

So, without further ado, congratulations again to BDassing on your brilliant, winning entry in to WEbook's July Challenge: #6706428, Restorations.

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WEbook: Well done for thinking outside the box and not going down the 'prisoner' route with your story. It was refreshing to say the least! How did you manage to break away from the obvious with your entry?

BDassing: Thank you for the compliment! When I was younger, I belonged to a group of writers that went to competitions. My teacher at the time told us, “The first thing you think about with a prompt - throw it out. Everyone else is thinking the same thing. And go ahead and throw out the second thought too. Go for the unexpected.” That has always stayed with me. So, I thought to myself, ‘What kind of things have numbers?’ I originally thought of an airplane, but why not spice it up and go for a futuristic airship?

WB: How did you structure your approach to the challenge? Was it a matter of working from the prompt as a starting point, or did you make the prompt fit in with the story you wanted to write?

BDI actually wrote this based on an idea I have for a book. The cottage in the story is all about my other character, who collects items for spells. This is the future of that story. They seemed to go together, the mysterious airship that didn’t tell about its past, and Quinn who just wanted a future for her mother, colliding together in an unexpected way.

WB: Your entry adds small, almost undetectable hints of futuristic-fantasy in to the world your characters inhabit. They are so subtle they could be easily missed, except, that once we reach the hut in the forest Quinn's experience is a completely believable turn of events. This was very well done, and it takes some very close reading to wheedle these points out in the violet blue of the eyes, the helium mines, and of course the zeppelins. This was a challenging thing to achieve, and also quite a gamble! You have however achieved a great realistic / fantastical balance.

Was there a lot of editing that went in to developing this feel to your piece? Could you elaborate on the process that went in to this a bit for us?


BD: Thank you again for those compliments! Originally, I just wrote - disregarding word count. I ended up with a little over 1,500 words. So I began to pare down. What were the items that were absolutely essential to the story? I knew I needed the basic rules of the world to make sense, otherwise it would be difficult to become immersed within it. I took out so many things I wish could have stayed, mostly descriptions and extra knowledge about the characters, but in the end the story had what it needed to exist and that was all that mattered. I think I learned a lot about editing from this exercise!

WB: We really enjoyed how your MC, Quinn, took on an untypical role for a female character. Do you enjoy subverting gender norms in your writing? And was your final line a nod to this?

BD: I’m not usually purposeful about subverting gender norms, but sometimes my characters do come out that way. I’m usually inspired by a photo, a line in a movie, or a painting. I can’t explain it and usually when I begin writing they do things by themselves. 

After I’m done writing a scene I think - ‘Hey, I didn’t want you to be that way.’ But, there they are. And I can’t change it. Quinn decided to be spunky, curious, and risk taking. She only exists in this short story, but I can’t help but want to write more about her. My last line was more about a mother whose first thought is always about her daughter, no matter the circumstances.

WB: What are you writing at the moment? Is there more of your writing we can read somewhere?

BD: I have been working on a rewrite of a book that I wrote several years ago. It is young adult fiction and is based on the story of Nephilim and the angels. I’ve always been fascinated with that little story in the Bible - who were those angels? What were they like? If they were on earth right now, what would they be doing and who would they be? 

I don’t have anything else out there to read - just my ramblings on WEbook! I do it for the enjoyment of writing, and hope maybe someday to grab an editor’s attention!

WB: Do you have a favourite writer on WEbook? And / or a favourite project that a member has written?

BD: Well, since I am new to WEbook, I’m still learning who people are and what kind of stuff they write. My favorite thing to do so far has been to grab these little monthly challenges and see what I can create. I enjoy reading others’ entries and have gained some friends through simply responding to their reviews. It tickles my brain. All the time. And I like it.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your winning entry, 'Restorations', BDassing! We look forwards to reading more from you over the coming months. 

If you'd like to try your hand at one of our monthly challenges, head over to the WEbook homepage and check out the current monthly competition. Entry is free and anyone can submit an entry, amateur, professional, or somewhere in between. All skill levels are welcome!

Happy writing :)

Hannah from the WEbook Team 

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