This is topic Collaborative Challenge - Rules, FAQ and Entries in forum Writing Challenges at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

To visit this topic, use this URL:;f=7;t=000230

Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
(Please don't use this thread for comments. Provision for discussion is found here.)

OK, let the courtship rituals begin. The cooperative challenge is run in two stages. The first stage is a first thirteen challenge. Write an opening using the trigger of survival. From post apocalyptic zombies, to stranded on a desert island, to surviving high school - whatever takes your fancy. But remember, the purpose is twofold - to write a great thirteen and to write enough to get a gist of where the story may go. This second criterion will allow suitors to understand enough of the story potential to choose which one they would like to finish. Send them in to me, as this stage is anonymous.

Each suitor will vote for their top three openings. Unlike normal voting, where the aim is to determine which you thought was best for whatever reason, the aim of this first thirteen vote is to identify stories that you want to continue. At the end, I will matchmake - everyone will be sent the name of their collaborator. It is then up to you to contact that person and begin your little creations. (After all, that is what matchmaking is all about, isn't it? The new generation?) At the end, send the finished works in to me and I will collate them and send them out for voting. We will see which offspring survive, and which thrive.

Timeframes: You will have one week to create your initial offerings/bowers. So, by next Thursday (July 11), I will close the opening round. Stories would take around three to four days to vote. Critiques are accepted for the first 13, but not required - votes are required. I will set a date for the finish - I expect around three dates, er, weeks will be enough time to test this relationship. After that, send in your stories and I will send out a reading list for votes and critiques. I expect that another week will be sufficient time to get the remaining work done. Both partners are expected to create critiques and to vote.

Scoring system: 5 points for 1st place votes, 4 points for 2nd, 3 points for 3rd. And don't vote for your own story.

Word limit: 4000 words.


I didn't get any of my choices. Why?

While I tried to match up everyone with a choice of theirs, it wasn't possible. But if you didn't receive one that you voted for, you can almost be sure that the person you are matched loved your opening enough to vote for it. Let's hope its not unrequited love.

Can we change the first 13 after we have formed pairs?

Yes, you can make minor changes, but it must be recognisable as one of the thirteens on the list - one of the two that are "owned" by the couple.

What do I do if my partner and I don't agree to the story direction?

Hmm, I've always been a believer that courtship is the time to have your first spat. How else would you know if you can learn how to make up? I do hope that by joining this challenge, people will agree to complete the exercise in good spirit, and make some compromises for the sake of the other.

Can I use a trunk story?

Something old, something new. No, not something old! If you like to dress in mouldy clothes, that's your problem, but you won't cross this door - we have standards here.

Unlike other challenges, where one can sometimes look into their trunk to find a story that fits, I ask you not to use a trunk story. Using a trunk story prevents the second author from bringing their uniqueness into the story direction. This is an exercise that needs to give both partners a fair chance at writing, idea generation and story direction.

[ July 04, 2013, 06:30 PM: Message edited by: Brendan ]
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :

Tyrus Judd put his back to an oak, while he slammed the ramrod down the barrel of his Baker rifle. A fog of gunpowder smoke permeated the forest, his nose and tongue with clouds of gray and white that tasted of sulfur. Dusk dimmed the forest around him. Tyrus slid the ramrod into its thimbles, along the underside of the rifle barrel, took three deep breaths and then peeked around the tree. His turnbull hat fell to the ground.

Every muscle in his body stiffened. The walkers were coming. They stalked him through the billowing smoke, sniffing him out like hellhounds. Two lead balls in the chest of one of them had only made it stagger.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #2 Untitled

Loki's grin turned belly-up.

He'd laid four Kings upon the table and was reaching to gather in the pot, when the stranger who'd joined us lowered his cards.

A straight flush. Hearts that were almost as red as the flush that bloomed across the Ravener god's face.

"You cheated!" Loki snarled, and again made to take the pot but, having lost, his attempt repelled him backwards against his chair which screeched as it slid a foot across the floor.

The stranger casually reached down and took the Andvaranaut and placed it upon his finger, taking with it the thousand cursed souls it held.

Divested of them, Loki looked haggard, but he leaned upon the table. "I vow I'll have my revenge upon you," he said, eyes
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #3 The Snowball Effect (Working title)

Celia felt her legs go from under her and responded in an awkward roll. She braced as she felt the shadow of the mannequin topple toward her, then the lights went out. She felt it glance off her back, then the smothering of a cashmere coat over her face. The floor grumbled, only dampened by a heavy rack of woollens landing over her body. And then its stopped, into eerie silence.

Celia scrabbled her head clear of the surrounding detritus, inhaling a panicky breath. She immediately caught herself, controlling her exhale in practiced poise. She breathed, twice, letting her eyes adjust to the dim light of the exit signs, then with deliberate calm stood and walked to the door. There would be aftershocks - she wanted to be near a doorway when they arrived. She had nearly reached her goal when she heard the first scream.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #4 Untitled as yet

Someplace far overhead, a dull incandescent light bulb flickers. It turns the grated shadows between my toes skittish.


Can't move, though. As little as a flinch, and I'm done for. Cora may have knocked out the Curfew Watchers' IR sensors, but bastards can still detect the sound of a drop of water hitting pavement fifty meters away. Bad news on any given night. And on a Transfer Night -- even a housefly's as good as fried.

The mutter of drone fans barely registers over the whisper of a draft inside the passage, but I know better than to chance skirting them. This time, the tip's good: the Clinic's getting delivery directly from an MRL warehouse. It may be our one lucky break before Windrise. Can't waste it just 'cause I'm twitchy.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #5 Utrek of the Shade

Utrek stopped breathing though his nose, but the stench tasted just as bad as it smelled. The blindfold kept him from casting his gaze on the predictably fetid cell deep in Queen Sibbala’s palace. He would share this cube of weeping stone with whatever rodents or insects inhabited such places in the jungle kingdom.

Kingdom? Is that what you called a land ruled by a queen that ritually killed her partner after mating? He would just as soon called it the Land of the Black Widow. His bonds were cut and he heard the scurrying of retreating guards and the clank of the door before he could yank off his blindfold.

This mission had turned into disaster. If Queen Sibbala’s now-deceased partner failed to impregnate her, Utrek, impersonating an ambassador of the Phonn, stood next in line.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #6 My Life-or-Death, Time-Looping, 78-Retakes Confession

I’m about to tell you a story from my high school days. I hope I remember all of it, because the story’s convoluted enough even without any plot holes. In fact, the only ordinary thing about this story is the central cliché –

I was going to confess to a girl. And I feared for my life.

And no, that was not a hyperbole. I meant that literally.

You see, I was caught in a time loop. If I couldn’t pull off this confession, I would’ve been stuck in there forever.

I’ll explain as we go.

So. Where to begin? Perhaps near the beginning.

It was summer. And with our tax dollars going into everything but the school’s cooling system, our classroom felt like a measly upgrade from a spa in purgatory. The instruction sheet for my
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Entry #7 A Small World After All

Log entry: October 27 1492 – Christopher Columbus

It is fortunate that we sailed westward from when we first found land two weeks before. The gentle, olive skinned natives in their low and thin boats were naïve primitives isolated on their tropical paradise. Their island will serve as an excellent base and colony for we have discovered the passage to the orient! We have come across a Junk vessel Polo had described in his journeys. Sailors of the fabled Cathay! Although the language barrier proved greater than our interpreter anticipated, we have learned Asia is within reach. My calculations of the width of the great ocean proved to be off – 500 miles further than my 2500 mile estimate. Hopefully, a hull full of spices will serve as a suitable apology for my lady Isabella.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Ok, time is up. One can only wait around so long to be asked to dance, so let's dance.

Send in your votes, and critiques of the openings, if you so wish. Critiques at this stage are voluntary. When I have all the votes, I can work out just who is most compatible, er, um, comparable.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
Some feedback on the openings

Entry #1:
Historic zombies. Interesting.
Creepy, well-written, but I have no idea where it’s going or what should be done with it.
The 'accuracy' of black powder shooting is a bit distracting, but the image is a strong one for a zombie story. There is a hook, if you like zombie stories, but there is no bigger sense of what has happened. The trigger is strong in this one.

Entry #2:
Not positive this where this story should start but I may be able to work with it.
Norse fantasy. Should be a good one to research.
I'm not sure what belly up means. To me, a frown, but then he's reading or the timing of the action is off a bit with the frown, the great hand and then being beaten. The survival hook isn't as strong because we don't know who the antagonist or protagonist all. It seems in this brief reading that they are both bad people.

Entry #3:
Odd way to start. Not sure what is going on and I have no idea where it is headed. Too much too soon.
I don't have a good sense about what's going on. At first it seems the grumbling floor is a literary device, but then we are told that something is happening to the floors? I'm a little unclear about the premise in the first 13.

Entry #4:
Sounds like the protagonist is all but dead already. Not enough to go on so far.
Sounds a bit like the opening of an episode of Sanctuary. Some potential in this.
I get the survival for the first three paragraphs, but the fourth is sort of contradictory. It's about a good tip, but the character seems to be in peril and that makes it a bit confusing.

Entry #5:
Could go the way of historical fiction or fantasy. Nice beginning.
Intriguing premise. I would be interested to know what this author has in mind.

Entry #6:
My Life-or-Death, Time-Looping, 78-Retakes Confession This is a mixed bag. Would have to know what the author has in mind. I see some possibilities with it.
Is this a new version of The Girl Who Jumped Through Time? or Groundhog day?
Intriguing. The premise outlasts the first 13 and I'd like to know more of it. I'd read on.

Entry #7:
Ok, alternative history. No America. Could go anywhere.
I liked the twist in this story. America doesn't exist and told by inference. I liked this and would want to read further.

[ July 14, 2013, 04:49 AM: Message edited by: Brendan ]

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2