show case, Writers Co-op, writing prompt

Go Ahead, Write It

by S.T. Ranscht

Photo credit: S.T. Ranscht

I don’t write quickly. Well, except for those weekly 500-word book reports for Honors English in twelfth grade. I churned out each of those A-graded babies in 30 minutes or less before class — In ink. On college ruled notebook paper — while hiding in the cafeteria where my friends never thought to look for me. But since then? I’ve written slowly, deliberately, editing as I go, and editing again before I start writing anew when I return to any WIP. And then I continue to edit.

Now I’m heading up the Show Case Writing Prompt Challenge here, for the Writers Co-op. One prompt every two weeks, and I’ve committed to responding to every single one of them. Or maybe I should just be committed. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Writing for these prompts is a huge challenge for me because, contrary to what Carl Reed thinks, I’m not prolific, and I don’t have the luxury of time to write any of them.

  1. I still have a labor-intensive livelihood to attend to. (I’m plenty old enough to retire. I’m just not anywhere near plenty rich enough.)
  2. I spent many, many hours over a six month period last year re-writing the first part of a YA Sci-fi trilogy as a standalone with series potential so I could enter it in ScreenCraft’s Cinematic Book Competition last November. Obviously, this hasn’t impacted the time I’ve spent writing for Show Case this year, but it does demonstrate my inherent slowness as a writer. AND, it sets up a bit of a boast: Last week, ENHANCED made the cut to the quarterfinals. (Shout out to Victor Acquista, whose sci-fi novel SENTIENT also advanced to the quarterfinals!)
  3. I’m currently writing a full synopsis — ugh — in order to enter ENHANCED in another competition in March.
  4. I’m also working on a different novel I am completely in love with that I am determined to enter in this year’s ScreenCraft competition in the fall. It’s based on a short story I wrote three years ago, and I’m only on Chapter 4. Long way to go. Limited amount of time to get there.
  5. There’s a household to take care of. You know the drill: shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, et cetera.)
  6. And a dog.
  7. There are front and back yards screaming for attention. Get a yard guy, you suggest? See number 1 above.
  8. And there’s reading to be done. Lots of reading, and I don’t read for speed.

In other words, I’m a lot like you.

Here’s my pitch. We all have lives outside of Writers Co-op, and even outside of writing. But we also have a talented, thoughtful, caring community here that urges its members to push beyond whatever point they are at in their writing journey. We lift each other up with each interaction.

That’s been particularly clear around Show Case. The feedback is not only appreciative, but in many cases, critically helpful, prodding good writers to show flashes of brilliance. And maybe brilliant writers to show flashes of genius. Do you want a piece of that?

You can learn the prompt two weeks in advance, so you have some time to mull it over while you’re driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry or yard work, walking the dog or taking a shower. And by sharing these posts on other sites, I know for a fact that we have attracted some new readers, even though they haven’t submitted any of their own writing — yet. (I’m looking at you, Tre!)

Most of all, writing to these prompts is fun. It’s a chance to flesh out projects you’ve been working on for a while or take short, creative detours in directions you didn’t anticipate going. I never imagined that everyone would respond to every prompt, but I suspect each of you who has contributed to Show Case so far would agree that the exercise was stimulating and satisfying.

So shake off any hesitation you have and add your creative energy to Show Case. Start small or go big. You might unleash a new voice hiding in your brain. You might discover each piece you write feeds your growth as a writer. You might decide to compile all your contributions in a published anthology that brings you wealth and fame. But no matter what comes of your efforts, you won’t be sorry.

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27 thoughts on “Go Ahead, Write It

  1. An anthology of stories compiled from Show Case entries is a good idea, Sue!

    “WRITERS CO-OP SHOWCASE!”

    The anthology could be used to stimulate submissions to the Show Case and to promote the Writers Co-op.

    Disclaimer: The title used here is for illustration purposes only. We could kick off this anthology with a contest to see who comes up with the best title.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes! I like both the anthology and the contest ideas, GD. Would you suggest an editorial team to select the pieces to include, or ask the authors to submit their own favorite pieces so everyone who contributes will be represented? Or a People’s Choice approach? I look forward to everyone’s feedback on these ideas.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    I figure the more pieces about Sly and Maisie I have floating around the web, the better my chances that my books will be discovered.

    I’m working my ass off to get Maisie Book One done. I’m not only creating new outfits and incidental art that pair with the text distribution in my expanded layout better than others do, outfits that were among the earliest I created now beg to be revamped. The quality doesn’t hold up compared to recent work.

    In addition to the costumes, I have a dozen faux-vintage photos mocked up, tailored to the layout, providing a counterpoint to the large full-page images. These still need to be finalized.

    Between Showcase, Rabbit Hole, regular Coop articles, Maisie and Sly text and art, I’m scrambling every day to meet my production goals.

    I feel very good about building a portfolio of collateral pieces to circulate after I have a book published. And your prompts do jumpstart my thinking in unexploited areas of story.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    Thank you for this post, Sue.

    The concept of Show Case suits me. I am trying to write short fiction, including flash fiction sometimes. I am only submitting to Show Case about every other time, though. I am currently writing for two other interests, a writing class and a writers’ group, and I am enjoying those.

    We all have our own methods. I will think about a story idea for a long time. When I finally sit down to it I’ll write 2000 words in two or three hours. Then the fun begins. The final draft is much better than the first, and shorter by a third or by half. Or by more.

    I’ve had things appear in magazines and journals and have had two story collections published. I don’t care if I never publish another thing. It’s freeing, really, to think that way. I’ve written a novel, and I’m vain enough to think it’s a good one, but I don’t know if it will ever be published. I like to go back and play with scenes, to see if I can make them different or better. If I published it I would lose that.

    Writing used to be an escape from the stress of a job. I threw off the yoke of paid employment several years ago, and happy to be able to do it. But I still have plenty of diversions. I’ll be going out to shovel and plow snow (again!) after posting this comment.

    I don’t know that Show Case will bring me wealth and fame. But that’s okay. It’s a good feature to the site. I’d be happy to see new people join in.

    Thank you Sue, for managing Show Case.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m happy to do it, Perry. And your contributions are welcome whenever you choose to make them.

      I can identify with the joys of going back to a work and re-working parts of it — especially without the weight of a looming deadline. On the other hand, one of the things I love most about working in theatre is that everyone is working toward the same goal under the same absolute deadline.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    One thing that Norman Mailer has done for me is, he’s given me a lot of ideas of things to write about. These ideas are for nonfiction articles.

    The idea on my mind right now has to do with writers and ego. Which, he says, every writer needs to have. And he had a big one. Is this suitable for Showcase?

    Ot should I save it for a regular Coop piece?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Mimi,
    You might also enjoy Hunter S. Thompson. He was an iconic writer, known for his invention of “Gonzo Journalism”, where he would become a part of the articles he was writing by throwing himself into the subject with (extremely) reckless abandon.

    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

    He rode with the infamous Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.
    “The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
    ― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels

    To his biographer, William McKeen, Hunter sent this in a letter,
    “…you shit-eating freak. I warned you not to write that vicious trash about me — Now you better get fitted for a black eyepatch in case one of yours gets gouged out by a bushy-haired stranger in a dimly-lit parking lot. How fast can you learn Braille? You are scum.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Another one I read way back, and liked a lot. Yes, I have to read him again.

      I still read a lot. But given a choice between an obscure, lost-in-the-march-of-time writer and a well known name that I’ve probably already sampled, I go with the obscurity. So while I’m tempted to grab Hunter Thompson at those book fairs, I generally go with someone I’ve never heard of. After doing my three-try investigation, of course. I open at random to a dozen pages. If I see three paragraphs that excite me, I grab the book.

      That’s how I discovered Charles Reade. I love his flow and his lush description. It’s time to reread Cloister and the Hearth. I read it about every five years. Very inspirational! (His plot is tiresome in the extreme. Don’t read him for a plot.)

      Liked by 3 people

  6. victoracquista says:

    Oh my! Sue, you have unleashed a flurry of thoughts and emotions. I feel some sense of guilt about not writing more submissions to the excellent prompts. And, I am not as active in commenting and providing feedback to the fellow Co-op members who do. Me bad!
    Thanks for the shout out, by the way.
    I am actively writing another novel and find myself immersed, engrossed, and thoroughly involved in that task. I am not good at multi-tasking. At one time I was, but that is no longer the case. Not an excuse, just a reality. I feel that certain requirements, beyond those you mention that refer to activities of daily living, home maintenance, and the like, things specific to being an author such as marketing and promotion, are sometimes overwhelming. And I am no longer working full time, so what is my excuse?
    Despite the passion about writing and ALL the things that go into it, life strikes me as needing balance. Everything seems out of whack when that balance is lost. Everyone’s balance point is different; I think mine is on the tail end of the normal distribution curve and skews heavily toward needing down time. I can gear up for a few days and do just about anything. After that I’m done and need to decompress. I am doing the best writing of my life and I am not staying up late to do it. Balance for me might be baking a loaf of bread or going for a walk. And those are the times, the snippet of dialogue, the next scene, or plot reveal seems to emerge.
    For the times I am not actively writing, it could be that I am just lazy and full of excuses. My hat is off for you and all my colleagues who multitask and manage to write something substantive for the prompts and beyond. Write on!

    Liked by 5 people

    • I agree balance is a key to good health in every facet of our lives, Victor. So is having a realistic view of our necessary limits.

      “I am doing the best writing of my life…” I’m fascinated. Did you know that as soon as it began or was it a slow recognition? Has your writing process become easier?

      Liked by 2 people

      • victoracquista says:

        My writing has improved primarily from reading. I have an appreciation for the technical aspects of writing (such as sentence construction, grammar, use of passive verbs, etc.) and storytelling. I recently read something that was technically okay, but terrible storytelling with rambling, disjointed narration and trite dialogue. I can objectively look at my own past work along with other writers’ works and see the skill in these two areas (technical and storytelling). As I am now writing another novel, I immediately noted improvement in both areas of my writing.
        I cannot say whether my process is easier, but it is different in two major ways. I have spent more time developing character sheets for my main characters along with character arcs. Now, as the plot unfolds, I have a better approach to using biographical character elements to weave into the plot and to make progress in the two main character arcs. The other major shift for me is having a clear understanding as I write the next scene, what I want to accomplish in that particular scene. For example: do I want to drop backstory elements, introduce a subplot, drop a plot twist, advance the plot, advance the character, or some combination of these? These are the two major ways that I have changed my writing process. I believe they have resulted in improved storytelling.
        I hope this makes sense.

        Liked by 5 people

        • It does make sense. I agree reading other author’s writing with an editor’s eye brings deliberation to our own writing. Without good storytelling, can a technically competent work make an emotional impact on a reader?

          Liked by 3 people

          • mimispeike says:

            Model your style on styles you admire. Eventually your own voice will assert itself. I do not say to copy styles you admire. I think this is impossible. We have our own direction, even at the outset.

            Liked by 3 people

    • I echo your comment fully, Victor – the novel in progress, the need for balance, the difficulty multi-tasking (or at least multi-writing), the doffed hat to all who contribute. The prompts are good, Sue’s commitment is exemplary, but unless an idea comes to me more or less straightaway, one I think promising enough to give me the motivation to develop it, the prompt falls on barren ground. I’m currently giving serious thought to a YouTube channel (something you already do), so that’s also eating up my brain space. I think when the Showcase idea was mooted, I mentioned that my participation could only be sporadic; for the foreseeable future, that will remain the case, I’m afraid.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I respect your self-knowledge and commitment to caring for your well-being, Curtis. And thank you for the kind words. I do hope you’ll eke out time every couple of weeks to read and maybe comment here. We value your opinions.

        Best of luck with your budding YouTube channel project. Let us know how it progresses.

        Liked by 4 people

      • victoracquista says:

        Please keep us posted on the YouTube channel. I lost some enthusiasm for mine because developing the content became too time consuming. I also became discouraged at how few subscribers signed up to follow the channel. This, despite some advertising and promotion using google ads. If I can be helpful, let me know.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Thanks, Victor. I’m still weighing up the implications of a YouTube channel in terms of time and work involved, so nothing is decided. It’s not actually about writing, though I guess there’ll be the occasional mention.

          Liked by 2 people

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