Tag Archives: Play With The Prose

Play With the Prose VII–Challenge 1: Bret Highum

This will be my fourth Play with the Prose contest. I’ve made the semifinals once and the finals twice, but remain a bridesmaid. This time around we have 17 contestants. The moderator’s prompt this season is to write like previous contestants. There may even be a week where other people have to write like me! While that seems bound for lots of in-jokes, the themes should be general enough.

There will be 12 challenges, I think. Top 8 make the playoffs. This might be the strongest group of writers yet. Wish me luck.

The first challenge was to write like Bret Highum. Or specifically, about an emotionally repressed redneck.
Continue reading Play With the Prose VII–Challenge 1: Bret Highum

Play With The Prose II, Semifinals: Road Trip

With one week to go, we had to write a 59-word story about a road trip.  I was story #1.

The sun fell over Puget Sound as the crisp autumn wind rolled through Nelson’s yellow Mustang.  Thirty-seven years they had made this trip to the Northwest.  As tradition, they’d be staying somewhere new.  This year, Robinswood House. In two days, they’d be married.

Turning east on Interstate 405, Nelson shifted gears. Ethan’s hand met his. The sky turned red.

Matthew: Well, Ethan’s a funny name for a girl! Okay, just kidding, story 1, but I dig what you were trying to do here. I think you were a bit too reliant on the twist delivering some potency, however, that you didn’t really give much meat in the story. Maybe the twist was given up a bit early. WINNER: Story 2

Novak – These stories both really bring it.  They both manage to imply so much, without going too far.  #1 is definitely clearer in its meaning.  It capitalizes on recent political developments without being political itself.  I’m ok with political commentary, so I wouldn’t have held that against the story, but not everyone feels that way.  It isn’t the biggest reveal in the world, but the personal character history contained in the story is amazingly profound, and is deepened with the revelation. In the Close Call, #1 wins.

ANDY: I see you guys rolled your way into the semis. These entries are certainly worthy of a top four. #1 is a sweet little tableau. I enjoyed it, and the emotion comes across as sincere. In most circumstances, I wouldn’t have any gripes. Unfortunately, I have to be a little more critical as we approach the end, and my nitpick is that it feels like it’s just barely crossing the line into sappy territory. Well done to both, but my winner is #2.

Result vs. Sarah Johnson: LOSS (1-2)

And so my season ends.  It wasn’t my favorite story of the season, but I did put quite a bit of work into it.  I hoped to gain some poignancy without being corny, and I’m not sure I completely achieved that.

So far I’ve played three writing competitions at Casa de Leche.  I’ve finished 4th, 2nd, and now 4th again.  One of these days, Alice…

Play With The Prose II, Quarterfinals: Revenge

In the first round of the playoffs, our job was to write a 59-word story about revenge.  I was contestant #2 this week.

Juror eight was quite proud.  After days of exhausting effort, he finally organized a swing in the verdict.

“On the sole charge, attempted murder, how does the jury find?”

“Not guilty,” the foreman replied.  Gasps filled the courtroom.  The victim turned pale.

Juror eight knew the defendant was guilty.  But the defendant didn’t run over Buster sixteen years ago.

MATTHEW:  Story 2…I feel bad about this one. 12 Angry Men is one of my all-time favorite films (and plays, and Westinghouse Studio One teleplays), so I appreciate that you worked that reference into the story, and did so with a soft and nimble touch. But the reasoning you left us with, necessarily truncated by a need to adhere to the word-count, wound up lacking some needed heft. Arranging to sway the jury of an attempted murder charge is a pretty serious undertaking. The reasoning behind it feels barely there. WINNER: Story 1. 

ANDY: I’m missing the subtlety in both these pieces. They both just kind of lay it out there for you and there’s not much between the lines, or any edge to either piece. Sorry. I’m going to give the win to #2 for at least trying for a twist ending, although I didn’t find it that compelling.

Novak – #2 is a strong story, with great showing vs. telling.  The ultimate impact of the revenge being on the victim of the crime is a solid twist, but somehow the motivation felt like a let down.  Still, it does everything else right, so for me #2 wins.

Result vs. Christina Pepper: WIN (2-1)

Semi-final Matchup: Sarah Johnson (#2 seed)

Whew.  I agree with the judge’s critiques.  My motivation for juror #8’s revenge is not fleshed out enough, and this story really needs 100 words.  I rewrote the last paragraph several times and was never quite satisfied with it.  Thankfully, the concept was strong enough to advance me to the semifinals.

Play With The Prose II, Challenge 15: Christmas Carol Ghosts

For the final week of the regular season, we had to write a story that involved the aftermath for one or more of the Christmas Carol ghosts.  I decided to delve more into the private life of one of them.

Ghost Bar had been a respite.  Nowadays, every two-bit ghost and his uncle wanted their future told.  Inky and Clyde kept to themselves, but Casper was incorrigible.  Every night: Yes, you’ll always be friendly; No, never with Ricci.

“This one’s on the house.”  The bartender opened a beer, nodding at the door.

He looked behind him.  Patrick Swayze.  Shit.

MATTHEW: So Ghost Bar is becoming….Ghost ROAD HOUSE? Story 2 made me laugh, and I liked the way it played with the idea of downtime for ghosts. That’s an angle I wasn’t anticipating. But there was something very sweetly melancholy about the way Story 1 posed Xmas Past as a ghost who wanted to make up for the job he’d been saddled with the rest of the year. Tugged at my heartstrings, it did. WINNER: #1

Novak – Dang, these are some good stories.  #1 gives some serious new weight to an already weighty character.  And it’s fun to boot!  #2 is so chock full of references that it makes any of those Scary Movie/Epic Movie/Date Movie movies look like they’re trying to be original comedy.  But for as fun as it is, it doesn’t bring the new, like #1 does, so #1 is my winner.

ANDY: This seems like a great theme for you guys. We’ve already seen some great, original ideas, which I love. This one’s a hard one to call, but I’m going with #1. I like the concept a bit better, but #2 was really great as well. Nice work.

Result vs. Kelly Wells: LOSS (0-3)

Current Record: 9-6

I worked my ass off on this one, but I’m still not even sure what the last line is supposed to mean. But it made several people laugh, so that’s all that matters.  I was just up against a great story this week. Only the second time I got swept.

Still, I made the playoffs!  I am the sixth seed and will be facing Christina Pepper, who swept me all the way back in week 2.