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. 


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.


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 

Interview with Keberly, winner of the May Challenge: Believe

Folklore can be many things, but it's usually a traditional piece of art, literature, song, dance, or knowledge, that has been passed down through oral and visual communication. Over time, many of the tales that inspired the modern versions we know have been softened, manipulated, or changed to suit various ends (Hi, Disney πŸ‘‹πŸΌ).

Yet, it is through the popularisation of these tales that many of our own interests in literature and storytelling evolved and, in many cases, formed the basis of the writers we are today. Say what you will about Disney; in reality many of the 'classic' tales we know were bastardised way before Walt had his wicked way with them. No doubt they'll be churned up, reformed and rewritten countless times, by countless authors, to suit various ends, for ever after - happy or not. 

For our May Challenge: Believe, we asked WEbook to delve in to the world of folklore and use this as their basis for composing a challenge entry. The criteria for 'folklore' was deliberately left wide open, allowing the judges to accept entries either in the form of an original retelling of a classic piece of folklore, or something original. The only criteria was that the folklore had to have a meaningful basis to it - whether this be a lesson, a moral or perhaps a revelation, was up to the author to decide.

The winner of the May Challenge: Believe was Keberly with her fantastic entry, 'All that Glitters'

Keberly was kind enough to take the time to have a chat with us and answer a few questions about her winning entry, her writing process and her involvement with WEbook. 

Read on for the full interview...

Photo Credit: Brian Froud

WEbook: Hi Keberly. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations of course on your winning entry! 

What was it that drew you towards the use of Irish folklore and fairies in particular when planning your story?

Keberly: Both Greek mythology and European folklore, Irish in particular, have always fascinated me. When I was about fourteen, I discovered a book of illustrations by Brian Froud and Alan Lee titled Faeries

Accompanying these amazing drawings were descriptions of the different types of fairies and their characteristics. I thumbed through those pages for hours, and when I got to the end I promptly began again. I couldn’t get enough. When I read the challenge for May involved folklore, that book and those drawings immediately came to mind. A girl in a tree house mistaking a shimmering green light for a firefly popped in there next, and the rest is All That Glitters.

WB: 'All that Glitters', relies on the reader not guessing the outcome of the story before the final reveal. Using fairies, this was a bit of a gamble as you’re hedging your bets that the average reader will rely on the mainstream depictions of fairies, rather than their traditional portrayal as sinister, mischievous, and/or manipulative beings. 

Did you actively try to mitigate this risk, or was it not something that concerned you when writing and how do you think this type of issue can be handled by authors?

Keberly: I knew there would be a chance that some readers would be familiar with fairy ring folklore, so I did actively try to keep readers from guessing the outcome. My first goal was to make them seem congenial rather than mischievous. I felt like the more Disney-like the fairies appeared, the less likely the reader would be to focus on their traditionally selfish nature.

My second goal was to purposely keep readers inside Kat’s head. I wanted to keep them engrossed in what she was experiencing rather than whether the fairies were real or not. I wanted readers to believe what was happening wasn’t possible because Kat didn’t believe it. I also banked on the more readers liking Kat, the more shocked they would be when things didn’t turn out so happily ever after. I wasn’t sure it would work, but it seems the luck of the Irish was on my side for this one.

Actively using common perception to sway readers away from guessing the outcome is a technique writers commonly use. Whether it works or not depends on several factors, the most important of which, in my opinion, are: Pointing them in the direction of the expected, clearing the path of least resistance for them to follow and surprising them with a twist they didn’t anticipate.

WB: You’ve utilised the ‘waking from a dream’ motif in your story, which has come to be a bit of a clichΓ©. However, in your story, you’ve used this in a very non-clichΓ© way, subverting the literary crutch of ‘It’ll all be alright in the end… it was only a dream’, for something much more grizzly! 

Did you actively attempt to use a subversion of the ‘waking from a dream’ motif like this to trick, and ultimately surprise your reader?

Keberly: There’s definitely an undertone of the “it was only a dream” motif in All That Glitters, and I wonder if perhaps this particular bit of folklore lends some amount of credence to the dream trope. Ponderous thoughts aside, I think this story’s path to becoming clichΓ© was subverted by the fact that, in the end, Kat discovers—in a very real and finite way—her dance with the fairies was not a dream. I also think staying true to the folklore, even if it meant an untimely (timely?) demise for Kat, helped me come out on the winning side of leaning on a literary crutch versus using it to create the desired response.

WB: Your use of colloquial speaking patterns in your entry is very effective. It really gives a great edge to the development of your character’s personality. 

Do you find it easy to write dialogue in this type of style, and, do you have any tips for others looking to try it out?

Keberly: I tend to gravitate toward informal dialogue to begin with, so I don’t find colloquial speaking patterns particularly difficult. One of my favorite parts of writing is character development, and the way characters speak is often a big part of their believability. Kat’s voice came through loud and clear from the get go, with her burgeoning use of cuss words clanging just as loudly behind. Luckily, I had the Internet at my disposal and was able to make the way she spoke as accurate to the time and place of the story as possible.

Writing natural sounding dialogue can be challenging. What we think people say and what people actually say doesn't always translate well from our heads to the page.

If your character has a certain speaking pattern or accent, try searching online for audio or video to ensure the most accurate pronunciations. Also, a few well-placed, phonetically spelled words are all it takes for reader to get the gist. They can do the rest in their head. In my experience, going overboard only tends to bog down the story and frustrate the reader.

WB: What are you reading at the moment?

Keberly: I’ve just finished Game of Thrones in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin and am now reading A Clash of Kings. I have my theories about who Azor Ahai is… Now I just have to go back through the intricately laid trail of breadcrumbs and massively intertwined branches of family trees to see if I can't prove some of them correct.

WB: What are your favourite projects on WEbook at the moment?

Keberly: I don't currently have a favorite project, but I am fond of the WEbook monthly challenges. My participation has been lacking as of late, but whenever I do enter a submission, I'm happy to say the feedback I receive is some of the most honest, insightful, thorough and helpful I've gotten anywhere online. WEbook is the truest definition of an online writing community I've found, with members who offer constructive criticism and objective advice because they genuinely want to help other writers hone their skills. Plus, the witty banter of the monthly challenge's "usual suspects" never disappoints.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Keberly and for giving us such brilliant and at times refreshing insights in to the way that you approach your writing. 

If you'd like to read through Keberly's winning entry, All that Glitters you can do so by checking out the challenge page for May's Challenge: Believe. If you like what you read, why not let us know by leaving a comment right here on the blog?

Fancy getting involved? There are always writing challenges going on on WEbook. Head over to the homepage to check out what challenges you could get involved with. No matter your experience level, the WEbook challenge is open to writers of all ages, talents and experience.

Happy writing and good luck :)

- Hannah from the WEbook Team

The WEbook Newsletter July / August 2016

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Write | Read | Critique | Compete |

Here are our favourite WEbook projects this month...

Check them out, and if you've got something to say don't forget to leave a comment! 


| Fiction | Fantasy Sci-Fi | YA |

Daughter of Praecentrix - Bloodline by RachelKay

'A journey of discovery, fear, hope and magic. Delving into the unknown while battling against life as life battles against you.'

| Fiction | Thriller | Suspense | YA |

Survival Instinct by ALGodina

'Would you dare to kill your friends to survive? A grand, bizarre, adventure...'

| Fiction | Thriller | Horror | Detective |

Nightstalker by RichT

'What do you do when someone you love is violently taken from you?  How far will you go to protect others from the same fate?'


Poetry Darkness | Rhyme |

Poems of Midnight by LucyHart

'Late at night, the mind will wonder into darkness...'

Poetry | Experimental | Short |

#amwriting by Nandalia

'poetry told in 140 characters'

Think your dialogue is top-notch?
Or is convincing conversation a fixture of frustration in your fiction?

Whatever category you think you fall in to, this month's challenge is the perfect place to practise your written oration skills, and get feedback from the WEbook community.

You've got three sentences to choose from and 1,000 words to work with this month - i.e. plenty of room for literary manoeuvre. Make sure to get your subs in early so that you can benefit from as much feedback as possible before entries close at the end of the month.

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 Challenge
Congratulations to everyone who entered the July Challenge: #6706428!

The judges were really impressed with the overall standard of submissions, especially entries from authors who thought outside the box and didn't necessarily go down the prisoner route.

We're really pleased to announce that the winner of the July Challenge: #6706428 is....

BDassing with Restorations


The following five are this month's runners up:

Uprising by DexterBateman | Unto the Breach... by FinneanNilsen | Take Twenty Seven by LilyFramboise | The Painter by KenWebb | Cryptonomicon by Sprayoncrayon |

Thanks for taking the time to write and submit your entries in July, we look forwards to reading and judging more of your brilliant stories in the August Challenge: Talk to Me
Read Last Month's Subs.
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