This is topic Challenge with Character(s) #1 starts NOW in forum Writing Challenges at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
Welcome to the first running of the Challenge with Character(s).

The object of this challenge is to write a scene where selected characters (posted below) interact with one another (and it does not necessarily have to be verbally). The contestants may use any setting, timeframe, plot, etc. they desire, just as long as the focus is on character interaction. Other primary characters can be added, but the characters provided in this challenge must be featured in the interaction.

The word count limit is 1K.

To remain loyal to the Hatrack Board's focus on a story's First 13, the scene should be written as if it were the opening scene of the story.

Send your entries to me via email: steve at 46thcyber dot com

The last day for submissions is Monday, December 21.

At some point on the 21st or 22nd, I will post the first 13 lines of all the entries. All contestants will remain anonymous during the challenge. If the voters like what they read, they can follow a link to a third party web site so they can read the full 1K. Keep this in mind: a voter not following the link to the full version is equivalent to an editor not turning to page two of your manuscript, so pay close attention to your 13 line hook.

Votes and comments can be posted on Hatrack for all to see. Suffice it to say, all contestants are expected vote. Non-contestants are highly encouraged to vote as well. Votes may be cast based on any criteria you choose, but this challenge is all about character interaction, so my votes will go to the stories that excel in that capacity.

First place votes get three points, second place votes get two, and third place votes get one.

I will announce the winners when all contestants have cast their votes and made their comments.

Now, with that out of the way, let's meet the characters you will be writing about. Please welcome Ungollo and Emma.


Disgruntled warrior of the Ixxypok clan. Wanted to be chief due to his prowess with the club and the spear. The last opportunity to be chief ended with his much smarter opponent tricking him by looking over his shoulder. Ungollo followed the gaze and was rewarded with a day of memory loss and a cracked skull.

He's cranky and il-tempered unless he is in an alcoholic stupor brought on by the tribe's berry wine. Then he cries and looks for someone who will commiserate with him. He's a big man with shaggy black hair and a scar that runs from his right ear to his right eye. He blinks a lot and his shoulders twitch when he's unusually upset.

His truculent streak makes him a bad follower and his dissatisfaction easily turns to hatred. It's been more than a warrior or two who have gone on a hunting party with Ungollo, never to return. The women in the tribe hate him, but he gets his fill of women since he is a consummate carver of wooly mammoth tusks and can give them precious jewelry to wear around their necks.


My name is high princess Emma of Geld. I am an only child and will someday inherit the throne from my father since we do not believe in male only rulers.

I like things perfect and rarely show emotion so they call me the ice princess. Not to my face of course, but I know what they whisper. I have no real friends, instead I have assigned friends. They even have a title, handmaids, and all from noble families who vie for the honor. The noble families get more access to the throne and I get a bunch of backstabbing, emotionally unstable girls following me around.

If I wasn’t princess I’d be friends with the guards. As a child I only ever had friends who were boys, never girls. They're much simpler, straightforward and if they want to say something mean they say it to you, and don’t smile and laugh then spread gossip.

Noblemen are as bad as the noblewomen and maybe worse. Don’t misunderstand they are kind, attentive, affectionate and each one would love to see themselves as King, which is the problem. They don’t love me, they love the idea of being King.

Other than that life is good. I’ve never wanted for anything or done a single chore. There are just times I feel isolated. Even my father is not just my father. He’s King first and always and then if there’s time he’s my father. Mother is Queen and preoccupied by business. I’ve had several care takers and they’ve come and gone. Sometimes I wish for a real friend. I hear of people who have close relationships but I’ve never known one.

Any questions? Don't hesitate to ask.

Now, let's have some fun!!!


[This message has been edited by Crank (edited December 09, 2009).]

Posted by ScardeyDog (Member # 8707) on :
I'm not sure I can get something done by the 21st...
But I'll definately be in for the next one.
Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
Crank, it's the 23. Where are the thirteens?
Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :

My apologies for the delay, folks. I was derailed by emergency dental surgery. I got home last night and sat down to post the entries, but decided that the PC was swaying too much so I decided to crash for the night and reset for tonight; I could be on the crumbling ledge of death, and I'll still find a way to write, but I will not work with anyone else's writings when I'm impaired.



Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
No worries, I'm just curious. Hope you get feeling better soon.

[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited December 23, 2009).]

Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :

At long last...!

Again, my apologies for being behind on posting the entries. On my list of all-time most uncomfortable situations in life, I rank dental surgery somewhere between paying taxes and forgetting what I was going to write.

Post your reviews and your top three votes on this thread. I'd very much like to see non-contestants participate in the voting.

And, don't forget to send me your character bios for future challenges.




Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
ENTRY ONE - "Ice Princess"

“Are those boots?” Jaqui asked. Emma lifted her skirt a bit to show them off. They went to her calf and she was told they were very stylish.
“I've been thinking of buying a pair of those forever, but I never do.” Jaqui said.
“I just bought them,” Emma said, her voice trembling a little.
Jaqui smile didn't reach her eyes as she spoke. “When they first came out four years ago my sister said they were the ugliest things ever, yet now she owns a pair. You know my sister, the one who owns the cattle yard.”
Emma lowered her dress.
“Apparently those boots are perfect for trudging through mud.” Jaqui smile was in her eyes now. “I applaud your selection,

Read Entry One in its entirety here

[This message has been edited by Crank (edited December 23, 2009).]

Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
ENTRY TWO - "High Princess Emma and Ungollo"

Emma walked into the great hall, a trail of girls following like a line of ducks. At the other end of the room a beast slouched. He looked like a troll and was supposed to be intelligent but his eyes looked dull. With unkempt black hair and a scar slanting across his face he was the ugliest thing she’d ever seen.
Head high she walked toward the man. Her father had asked, no demanded she talk to the delegate. He said a queen needed to be able to deal with all kinds of people. She had to admit that he was right, though she suspected that he didn’t even want to deal with this one.
When she was close enough to smell his body odor (and she was rather far away) she stopped. Her handmaids fanned out behind her.
“I welcome you Ungollo of the Ixxypok tribe. How may I be of

Read Entry Two in its entirety here


Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
ENTRY THREE - "With Dual Consideration"

There was already enough blood and skin staining Ungollo's battle club to convince Emma the task was complete. There was no way Lord Harmonson was still alive. Except, the mammoth warrior of the Ixxypok Clan remained poised over the battered body. "You dead yet?" he grunted at his opponent.
Lord Harmonson's scarred face wrenched, and a barely audible moan escaped his mouth. Ungollo sounded an angry battle growl, then slammed his club into Lord Harmonson's chest and stomach until the moans ceased. Ungollo held his club at rest to his side, then turned his head towards the edge of the alleyway, where Emma stood in concealment. "Ungollo did good."
High Princess Emma of Geld stepped out from behind the corner so Ungollo could see her. "You did fantastic! I request that you join

Read Entry Three in its entirety here


Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
ENTRY FOUR - "Princess Emma's Abduction"

Pain shot from her feet and up her legs with every step. When Emma and the savage stopped at the bottom of a small verdant valley, the bird song and babbling brook hardly penetrated her consciousness. Emma swallowed her pride. "I cannot go farther today."
"Ungollo know. We far enough from tribe." As he said that, she thought back to vicious attack by the savages on her coach.
The others grabbed the horses and weapons and escaped to the north. This man took the liquor, kidnapped her and fled south. Her cousin's men-at-arms would not follow their footsteps when there were hoofprints to track.
"What now?" she asked, not wanting to hear the answer.
"This Ungollo's secret place. We live here. Start new tribe."
Emma shivered, then collected herself and said with her chin

Read Entry Four in its entirety here


Posted by ScardeyDog (Member # 8707) on :
Do we vote on this thread or the other? Either way I think I will vote for Entry #2 for the first 13.
Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
First 13s
Entry #2 - first place
Liked the bit of worldbuilding and imagery with the ladies in waiting.

Entry #3 - second place
The first 13 was a bit grisly, but the characters came out loud and strong.

Entry #4 - third place
We get a feeling for place and Emma's predicament with a good introduction of the characters.

Entry #2 - first place
The worldbuilding continued. I was a bit confused about the other tribe with the unreadable name. The setting was good. A nit that bothered me is the last line was meant to be dramatic, but it was something the reader already knew in the course of the conversation, so it lost it's punch.

Entry #4 - second place
The interaction improved from the first 13. This ended up being a nice little episode that gave Emma some character depth. (Like Jane Austen's Emma? The project?) Ungollo also became a bit more complex as he reasoned out what might make more sense to him and agreed to leave, although his reason was a bit too unclear for me.

Entry #3 - third place
This dropped because the characters were so unlikeable. I had a harder time with the little pavilion set up so close to the scene of the murder. The jargon (fantastic/guy) jarred me a bit from the story.

Entry #1
This didn't place because the story had two unrelated parts. Emma is despised by her ladies-in-waiting and since her boots don't fit, she can't flee from some savage who ends up in her bedchamber? It didn't flow as a scene as well as the other three. I couldn't see the relationship becoming so close so quickly.


Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :

Entry 1: "Ice Princess"
The cattiness between Emma and her maids did not hold my interest, but I continued reading because I wanted to see how Ungollo interacted with Emma. Unfortunately, that didn't really catch much of my attention either. Still...I very much liked how Emma struggled with determining who---and what---Ungollo was.

Entry 2: "High Princess Emma and Ungollo"
The interaction between Emma and Ungollo didn't go any further than what is to be expected from an 'emissary gives a warning to a dominant kingdom'-esque scene, but I will say there were just enough seeds of interest planted to make me believe that subsequent interactions might lead in much more interesting---and, hopefully, unexpected---directions.

Entry 3: "With Dual Consideration"
This entry was an attempt to cram lots of action and information into a small number of lines. Perhaps, a 2K word limit would have been more accommodating.

Entry 4: "Princess Emma's Abduction"
This is another scene that I feel was rushed by the 1K word limit. Exempli gratia: I'm not sold on how quickly---and, seemingly, how easily---Ungollo was swayed into changing his M.O. for starting his own tribe. Still...his decision to accomplish this by becoming a 'city man' just might taunt me to read further.

1st place: Entry 4
2nd place: Entry 2
3rd place: Entry 1



Posted by shimiqua (Member # 7760) on :
For first thirteen,
Entry 1- I like how Emma the princess is being bullied. That seemed unexpected to me, however far to much time is spent focusing on the ladies maids and their interactions.

Entry 2- first place. I like how you introduce both characters, and the motivation so quick and so clearly. I like both the characters and the attitude that flavors the prose.

Entry 3- third place, Well written. My only issue is that I didn't care for either character.

Entry 4- second place. The line start new tribe really resonated with me. The reason it didn't win for me is that it seemed a bit overwritten at the beginning. The first line especially. I think if you described it more, like her nerves cramped, or there was a pebble at the bottom of her shoe, or say she had never walked a pace longer that her walkway, and to walk two days straight or something. You just haven't sold me enough to buy the first line.


Entry One- I like the voice on this one a lot. I feel like you can really get to know Emma, and I like that. However this isn't a story. There was no explanation where the dude came from, and Ungollo isn't buy-able the way you've sold him.

Entry two- I liked this story. I liked both characters, and saw something redeemable about both of them. I like the voice and the attitude very much, and the succinct ending. One thing that could help the story, I think, is on the line, "tribe plans to raid Iffensburg.” It was supposed to be Emma of Geld, but that does kind of sound like Ella of Frell, so I don't mind you changing it. I did however think he meant they were going to raid some different, town. Maybe earlier you could say Emma of Iffensburg, or something like that it would ease confusion. Also, isn't it treason for him to tell his enemy that they were coming. None of his motivation is showing, I wish for a bit more.

Entry three. I didn't really understand this story. So they kill someone and then go to a bar for a drink. Emma seemed way too cold and unlikable. She seemed much older than she does in the character prompt or the other stories. Ungollo talks like Tarzan. I don't know. It's a well written piece, with the espionage and political twists, I just think there is too much stuff and not enough characterization. Maybe the 1000 words is not enough for this one. I want to see them get in trouble.

Entry four. I like this one a lot, I like the shift of power, and that both characters receive a happy ending. Well written. I think a bit too much time was spent with the liquor, but a good story. A strong sense of dread throughout, and then a happy ending. Good work.

Votes for stories,
First place- Entry four
Second place-Entry two
Third place - Entry three

Great work Crank, I like this challenge a lot, and your website looks fantastic. Next time can we expand the word limit to 2000 words? Pretty please.

I thought it was interesting how all the stories were in Emma's point of view. I think it was because the character bio for Emma really explained her motivations, and made her sympathetic. Ungollo was a great character too, but the bio didn't really give enough information, in my opinion, to live inside his head.


Thanks again Crank,

Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :

your website looks fantastic

Thanx! I hope a few of you noticed that the site's header graphic and the color scheme changes automatically every day.

Next time can we expand the word limit to 2000 words?

That can be arranged. Although, I might take a week or two away from challenges to focus on one of my novels. Expect the next challenge to start in mid-ish January. In the meantime, I'm accepting character bios all the time.




Posted by satate (Member # 8082) on :

1 - Entry four - I thought the interaction between Ungollo and Emma was pretty balanced and liked the character exploration.

2- Entry One - This one made me laugh since the middle kind of had Emma and Ungollo in a pillow fight. I liked the character development but felt that too much was simply told.

3- Entry three - The plot sounded interesting but too indepth for this short of story. I didn't buy the characters as much.

Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
Congratulations to everyone who participated in the first-ever Challenge with Character(s) contest. I've always enjoyed using this exercise to fill out my own characters, and I'm happy to say I had just as much fun this time working with someone else's.

There seemed to be some confusion as to what part of the story we were supposed to vote on, so I counted the votes that were cast for both the First Thirteen and the full thousand words.

First 13
First place: Entry 2 – "High Princess Emma and Ungollo"
Second place (tie): Entries 3 and 4

Full Thousand
First place: Entry 4 – "Princess Emma's Abduction"
Second place: Entry 2 – "High Princess Emma and Ungollo"
Third place (tie): Entries 1 and 3

Thanx also to ScardeyDog for casting a vote. Hope to see you in the next challenge!

The Contestants
Entry 1- "Ice Princess": shimiqua
Entry 2 – "High Princess Emma and Ungollo": satate
Entry 3 – "With Dual Consideration": Crank
Entry 4 – "Princess Emma's Abduction": Owasm

The Characters
Ungollo: Owasm
Emma: satate

In a writing challenge like this, having great characters to work with is extremely important, so thank you to all those who have sent me bios. I have plenty of characters to choose from for the next challenge, but am always willing to collect more.

Let's do this again in a week or so!


[This message has been edited by Crank (edited January 08, 2010).]

Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
It was fun, Crank. The 1,000 word limit made it a challenge to get everything in and that's a good thing.

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