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

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

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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.


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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. 

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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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