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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » The bookend challenge (Page 1)

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Author Topic: The bookend challenge
snapper
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Feeling blue? Down in the dumps? Have you’ve been struck with the holiday ho-hums? The winter woah-is-me’s? December defeatisms? Well, snap out of it!

Sure you’re depressed, despaired, demoralized, and de-mused. Doesn’t mean you can’t write. Some of the best writers in history seemed to have their own personal black cloud for a companion. Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Path, and sci-fi’s own H. Beam Piper, were all severely depressed. If they can do it, you can too!

“But Mr Snapper,” you might say, “I can’t even think of a first line to write and I sputter out way before I get to the end. And you’re scaring me when you yell into my ear like that.”

Oh, boo-hoo. Hatrack is a writers support group, so I’m going to do the equivalent of dragging you out of bed and into the sunshine, and quit acting like a moleman when the bright light hits you in the eyes. It’s good for you. Time for a writer’s challenge!

Since so many are inspirational-less, we’re going to jump start you’re muse for you. I know getting the first line can be so difficult, so we’re going to write the first line for you. And since you’ve been having trouble with your endings as well, we’re going to write that one for you too.

So this what we are going to do: I invite all who are intrigued, to write a single line (only one, please). Your story must start and end with a line from the list. If you choose, your story can begin and end with the same line. The only restriction will be you cannot use your own line (I’ll be keeping track). This challenge will have a low ceiling, 1500 words. I am intentionally keeping it short because so many publications are begging for flash (like the recently reopened Flashfiction Online), and short assignments will help you to remain focused.

Here are the rules for this challenge (subject to change).

1) Write a story using one of the lines as your first line, and one for the last line of your story. They can be the same line, if it pleases you.

2) There is a 1500 word limit.

3) All people who join in this challenge must read and vote for your first, second, and third favorite. You will be expected to critique each story (we are a writers workshop after all). We don’t expect a lot, just a paragraph on general thoughts on what the author wrote.

4) We will be using our standard point system (5 pts for 1st, 4 for 2nd, and 3 for 3rd) for our voting. You can’t vote for your own (even if it is the most awesomeness)

5) I invite everyone to write a line that would be good for a story opening, or ending. Only one per customer.

6) I would really like to know why half of my original post was erased. Now I got to remember what I wrote and retype it

7) The competition is open to all members of hatrack. If you just joined, welcome aboard.

8) The official beginning to this challenge will be Christmas day. That will be the last day I will be accepting opening (and ending) lines.

9) This will be an anonymous competition. Send all entries to me. You'll find my email address in the little envelope in the bar in this post (in case your new to hatrack)

10) The last day for entries will be Jan 14th and midnight (EST). I will send all who participated a copy of all entries. Vote for your top three. No voting for your own (even if it is the most awesomeness)

And here are the bookend lines....


On his first day as supreme ruler, Emperor Jen awoke to discover he was at war.

Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead.

Every time she fell asleep, she'd awake somewhere else.

Elves and reindeer do not mix well with vodka, but Santa always had to try.

I always wondered what it would be like to walk the plank; but now that I am here, I no longer want to find out.

Fifteen dragons, three of every color, flew across the sky in a wedge, like geese flying south.

I pulled my cloak tight around me, and ducked lower into its folds, but still I couldn’t shake the chill that rose.

Beware the smiling face that bears its gift.

Vanity, all is vanity, especially the end of the world

Death is now a welcome guest

Walter Mizlansky looked in the mirror and saw the face of the person he hated the most, Walter Mizlansky.

Molly Rose Hawkins was angry at Christmas.

When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast, my daughter answered, "Jesus."

The girl was so absolutely average it was astonishing.

The face that had been so beautiful in life, death had rendered exquisite.

Peace is only for the ignorant.

[ December 23, 2011, 09:24 PM: Message edited by: snapper ]

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snapper
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Oh my. The prize!

Winner will receive a no-strings-attached critique for me (up to 10000 words, or the first few chapters of novel up to 10000 words (I'm willing to fudge with that number)

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Corin224
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My line:

"Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead."

And a follow up question.

Is paraphrasing allowed? Six feet of dirt? was never enough, etc? Empress Nancy? Or are we going verbatim here?

And another question . . .

Honorable mention for the line that gets used the most? [Smile]

Give me a minute or two, and I'll find some more questions to complicate things.

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History
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Every time she fell asleep, she'd awake somewhere else.
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History
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P.S. You mean I'd have to write something under 10K if I win? Haven't done that in a while.

P.S.S. Just noticed you also used "woke" in your line, Snapper. Sorry, I did not see it.

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pdblake
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Elves and reindeer do not mix well with vodka, but Santa always had to try.
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LeetahWest
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- I always wondered what it would be like to walk the plank; but now that I am here, I no longer want to find out. -
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snapper
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Is paraphrasing allowed? Six feet of dirt? was never enough, etc?

Sure, why not.

Empress Nancy? Or are we going verbatim here?

Hmmmm, good question. I do not see why a change in the name or pronouns wouldn't be okay. As long as the spirit of the first line remains.

Honorable mention for the line that gets used the most?

Good idea. Free crit (up to 3k) for the winner of this.


You mean I'd have to write something under 10K if I win? Haven't done that in a while.

That's okay, History. How about I critique the first 10k of your Mammoth endeavor then? If read more...consider it a bonus [Big Grin]

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Meredith
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Fifteen dragons, three of every color, flew across the sky in a wedge, like geese flying south.
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Tiergan
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I pulled my cloak tight around me, and ducked lower into its folds, but still I couldn’t shake the chill that rose.
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Rhaythe
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Beware the smiling face that bears its gift.
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Brendan
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I thought I would concentrate on endings. Would "The End" be going against the spirit of this? ;-)

I also considered "You didn't think this would end with a bang, did you?" but I am going for the more dramatic

Vanity, all is vanity, especially the end of the world.

Or era. Or civilisation, whatever is similarly dramatic.

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snapper
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Okay Bendan, I'm not quite clear what line is the one you want to use. Is it "I thought I would concentrate on the ending". Guess I'll go with the vanity line.
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OliverBuckram
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Death is now a welcome guest.
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Utahute72
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Walter Mizlansky looked in the mirror and saw the face of the person he hated the most, Walter Mizlansky.

I've always loved that line as an opening, but I think we need a ruling from the She Who Must Be Obeyed since it is a Neal Simon line.

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snapper
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I do not have a problem with it, but if She Who Must Be Obeyed does, I shall change it.
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telflonmail
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Molly Rose Hawkins was angry at Christmas.

("Standing in the Spirit" © 1997 by Janet Kagan. First published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, December 1997 pages 26 through 43. Now available at http://janetkagan.com/standing.html )

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shimiqua
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When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast, my daughter answered, "Jesus."
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RoxyL
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The girl was so absolutely average it was astonishing.

(We could all do with a little holiday alliteration cheer, couldn't we?)

[ December 21, 2011, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: RoxyL ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by snapper:
I do not have a problem with it, but if She Who Must Be Obeyed does, I shall change it.

Nah. After all, it's shorter than 13 lines, and Utahute72 gave the originator credit. What more can I ask?
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annepin
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The face that had been so beautiful in life, death had rendered exquisite.

Question: can we change names/ genders?

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snapper
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That is a good question, Annepin. My first answer was Why not?, but with a line like the one shimiqua wrote, changing the name would be changing the spirit of the line.

Here's my answer - it's your call. I will leave it up to the voters whether you violated the competetion or not.

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shimiqua
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By the way, that line came from personal experience.

We've been pushing the real reason for Christmas...perhaps too hard, so when I asked my kids what they wanted to have for Christmas breakfast, my daughter really did yell out, "Jesus."

It seemed profound, and creepy, and story producing.

[ December 22, 2011, 03:55 PM: Message edited by: shimiqua ]

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Brendan
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I told my wife the above story, not realising some big two-year-old ears were listening. Half an hour later, my wife asked our daughter what she wanted on her toast. With a twinkle in her eye, she replied the exact line above. Seems like its catchy.
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snapper
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I better add this to the rules...

11) Only one entry per author


If you have a story ready, send it. When I get enough, I'll start posting 13 line openings.

And since I am dishing out the prize, 2 bonus points for the first entry received and 1 bonus point to the second entry received.

I may have a second place (and maybe third as well) prize if I got a lot of entries.

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aspirit
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Peace is only for the ignorant.
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aspirit
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Question: Since you started accepting stories, did you no longer need lines?
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History
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Snapper, would you kindly list all the lines to be considered. We do have a lot of chatter (my own included) obscuring them.

Repectfully,
Dr. Bob

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snapper
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History, I edited the first post of this thread with all the lines at the bottom of it.

Aspirit, anyone can still post a line up to christmas day.

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snapper
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Okay then. We have 15 lines to work with. Allow me to post them again here.

quote:
On his first day as supreme ruler, Emperor Jen awoke to discover he was at war.

Six feet of earth is never enough to truly bury the dead.

Every time she fell asleep, she'd awake somewhere else.

Elves and reindeer do not mix well with vodka, but Santa always had to try.

I always wondered what it would be like to walk the plank; but now that I am here, I no longer want to find out.

Fifteen dragons, three of every color, flew across the sky in a wedge, like geese flying south.

I pulled my cloak tight around me, and ducked lower into its folds, but still I couldn’t shake the chill that rose.

Beware the smiling face that bears its gift.

Vanity, all is vanity, especially the end of the world

Death is now a welcome guest

Walter Mizlansky looked in the mirror and saw the face of the person he hated the most, Walter Mizlansky.

Molly Rose Hawkins was angry at Christmas.

When I asked my children what they wanted for breakfast, my daughter answered, "Jesus."

The girl was so absolutely average it was astonishing.

The face that had been so beautiful in life, death had rendered exquisite.

Peace is only for the ignorant.

Even if you haven't written a line, the competetion is still open to you.

Thanks for all the great lines! I'll start posting 13 line openings, just to whet your appetite.

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axeminister
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Would anyone be opposed to Snapps listing the entrants when the comp is closed?

Not who wrote what, of course, but just the names so we can speculate about who wrote what. That's the best part of waiting for the results.

Axe

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pdblake
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No, I insist on retaining my anonymity!

Oh, er wait a minute. Bugger! [Big Grin]

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Corin224
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Thumbs up from me. [Smile]

And while we're at it, any chance we can get some of those stories early and start reading? [Smile] I'm SERIOUSLY impatient to get started on this one.

This is gonna be fun.

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LDWriter2
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Corin I agree even though I missed it by my own actions, or lack thereof, but it does sound interesting and fun.
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Corin224
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I think it's still open, LD! Come write a story!

quote:
Even if you haven't written a line, the competetion is still open to you.
Still got a week! 1500 words max.

JOO CAHN DOO EET!

...

...

Sorry . . . too early in the morning.

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LDWriter2
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I may have misunderstood the rules or my memory mixed them up but wasn't there a part that said I would have had to send in an opening line first? And those were due before Christmas? Than later I could choose what line to use for a story.
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RobED
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No. Take the opening/closing lines from the list, write your story, and email it to him.
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Tiergan
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LDWriter2 you are fine. No opening line was required. If you didnt send 1 in dont worry. Write your story and email.
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LDWriter2
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Okay EEEI DOODED EET.

But one question. I must be misremembering this one too or it's in a later note because I couldn't find it again. Are we restricted to one?

Four of the lines would be great to do and I have two ideas for the one I did. Even if we can do more than one I doubt I would do five but maybe one more.

And about rule number six. Do we answer that here or in the E-mail we send the story with to snapper? [Smile]
I would guess the E-mail since I haven't seen any attempts here. [Smile] That could take pages of E-mail. Got to use to technical terms then explain what each term meant then go one and explain the technical terms I used to explain the technical terms. Of course if I did that I would have a text book I might be able to sell. And then I would need a scholarly sounding pen name.

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Tiergan
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@LDwriter2 yes, 1 entry for the challenge.

But dont let that stop you from writing more. [Smile] If the muse hits, write it, then submit, just not to Snapper, unless he is now editor of a magazine that I dont know about. And if he is, and hasnt told me, I am not so happy.

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LDWriter2
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I may just do that. Since they will be shorter pieces it may not take me that long. Don't have to be 1500, or even use one of the lines as a first and last line, of course but what I have in mind is still short. And I probably would use the line somewhere in the story.
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snapper
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I've concluded no one cares about rule # 6.

Deadline approaches.

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SuziQ
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Maybe I'm just a clueless newbie, but I don't understand rule #6.
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pdblake
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The answer to number six is it was the God of Lost Posts, or maybe the Post Eating Monster of the Pit. It might even have been that harbinger of doom, The Shredder of Social Intercourse, or just the Internet Fairy cleaning up a bit.

Of course there must have been a surplus of belief at the time for any one of them to manifest. Which of course means we have much more pressing matters to worry about than your vanishing posts Snapper.

There, number 6 answered. Please present my prize to Mr Prachett whose idea I plagiarised just a tad there (but the gods were all mine) [Wink]

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Utahute72
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What was rule number 6?
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snapper
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Explanation needed:

My original post had a lengthy set of rules, smart alec quips, and writer goading comments. I had about 12 rules written. Then for reasons I have yet to figure out (probably from my clumsy edit), everything after rule 5 was erased.

So I had to rewrite all the rules I could remember, and everyones contributing lines. And that is how rule 6 came to be.

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LDWriter2
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Hey, I commented on it.

basically I said, in a short paragraph, that it was too complicated to explain.

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axeminister
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Rule #6 is the only one I plan on following in this thing. I wear my sunglasses at night. I jaywalk. I DO enter. And I'm not beware of dog.

Axe

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Rhaythe
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I started an entry for this. It swelled to 900 words before I realized I hadn't even gotten past the opening scene. So much for that idea.
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snapper
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One day left to get your entry in. My deadline is noon eastern time. If you really, really, need a few more minutes (cripes, you only had 3 weeks to write 1500 words) email me.

I'll send the entries all out tomorrow. Excited

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