Cinco De Mayo or Revenge of the Fifth?

Whatever your reason for celebrating today – maybe just “It’s Friday” – over here at YeahWrite we’re celebrating our popular vote winners and editorial staff picks. See, while there’s a popular vote winner every week, we don’t always give out a staff pick. So when we do, I get pretty excited.

Our editors comb the grids to find, not just the best writing on our grid this week, but what we think is pretty darn great writing anywhere anytime. Picks are based on writing quality, how successful the author is in conveying information, and just plain style. If you got a staff pick this week, grab your badge from the sidebar and wear it with pride!  The great part is that we don’t have a finite number of picks to hand out. That means that if two, three, five, or even all the works on one grid are fantastic, we can give them all kudos.

The other benefit of the editors’ pick, of course, is that unlike the popular vote we’ll tell you why we liked that post. So don’t just skip reading the blurb if it’s not about your post; you’ll pick up some handy pointers about what makes good writing great that you can apply to your own work. For more of that critical feedback, keep an eye on our Roundup for a quick rundown of trends we see each week. We try to highlight the good stuff and point out problems that more than one writer is struggling with. There’s probably a handy tip in there for you right now, so check it out!

Once you’re done reading through the Editorial Staff Picks and Roundup (and congratulating the winners in the comments), keep scrolling down to check out who won the popular vote on both grids. If you earned the highest number of votes in any challenge, you are this week’s Crowd Favorite! If you came in first, second or third, you get “Top Three” honors. Grab your badge from our sidebar!

Looking for your badge? All our grids have the same Winner, Editorial Staff Pick, and Top Three badges. It doesn’t clutter up our sidebar, and they’ll still look pretty on yours!

YeahWrite #316 Weekly Writing Challenge Staff Picks:

Microprose

It almost feels like cheating to give my pick to a piece that was also a runaway crowd favorite, but here we are. What do I like about this story? Frankly, everything. The dialogue is clear and used when necessary; you can tell who is speaking when, without any tags. The descriptions are just enough to let you see the scene. And that final line? Borrows from the grand tradition of exploration and echoes “Why did you climb the mountain?” “Because it was there.” By balancing dialogue, exposition, and evocation, this story fits whole worlds into 50 words.

What struck me first about this post was its gentleness, its kindness. While several other stories on the microprose grid took a prescriptive tone, this is the one that felt like a friend was sitting next to me, coaching me through the steps of leaving. Using the suitcase as both a physical object and a metaphor throughout the story also worked well – nonfictioneers, you’ll remember how Rowan often suggests you anchor your story with an object? You can do that in microprose, too! And without using extra words, the whole post has a sense of soft nostalgia rather than bitterness or determination, the way it feels when we look back on faded relationships.

Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #316

So I guess this is the place I get to dump my thoughts and feels about what happens when editors post, right? Because while I’d much rather have a full grid of your stories, that’s pretty much what happened this week (thanks a lot, Cindy). We’ve gone back and forth on editors posting on the grids, because we don’t want YeahWrite to be the place we go to stroke our egos (or get them crushed; I tend to either hover in the bottom 1/3 or top three, with nothing in between, and don’t tell me you don’t keep a mental record of your overall score, you know you do it too). So these are the two viewpoints I hear most frequently from the community, and they’re what we consider when we post:

  1. I hate having the editors on the grids, they always win, they’re professional writers and how is that even fair?
  2. I love having the editors on the grids even if it means I don’t win, because I have an example of the kind of writing that does well on the grids to look at.

As far as 1 goes, well, we don’t always win. And y’all are the ones voting 🙂 With regards to 2, gosh, folks, I’m flattered but we have tons of great writers here at YeahWrite. Check out our past winners and staff picks, and if you see a piece you love by a writer you know, go bug them to get writing again!

What are you trying to do? That’s the question I ask when, as an editor, I sit down to critique a post. And it’s the question you should ask yourself, if not at the start of your writing, certainly at some point during the editing process. With a grid as small as this week’s, it’s worth taking a look back and seeing whether we can identify that, and how successful each writer was. This week I feel like the popular vote has a strong correlation to how close each of us came to writing the post we were aiming for, so let’s just go down the list:

Tara was trying to write a realistic and bittersweet conversation between two ex-spouses. While there were a few spots that slid back into exposition, overall she achieved this goal and (deservedly) topped the popular vote. Asha stepped into second trying to write a humorous story about an anthropomorphic dragonfly. Another thing she was trying to do was save the reveal for the end of the story, which she successfully did by releasing well-researched details at precise points along the line. For me, the third and fourth place finishes really could have gone either way; Kalpanaa and I had approximately the same amount of success turning our original ideas into an actual story. I was trying to write a character study from the point of view of a character in my novel who is not my POV character, so that I could get a handle on how he was reacting and how he’d interact with the POV character. From that standpoint it’s a pretty successful piece, but it’s not very good at being both that and a standalone story, and could have used some more edits to fill in blanks or take out extraneous details for a reader who isn’t familiar with Sam, Michael, Sarah and Holly. Kalpanaa was trying to write a meet cute featuring chia seed pudding and our Prompt Up. She did all those things, but it was a little ambitious trying to cram all that into 750 words and the story fell flat in places and had a few awkward jumps. This is a great example of a time that maybe you’d want to pause in your editing and say “this is what I was trying to do, but this is what I did. Which one do I want to save?” and then edit your way closer to whichever goal you pick. Finally, Sara was trying to write a rhyming, scanning poem incorporating this week’s Prompt Up. That was a pretty hard goal considering that the chosen sentence didn’t follow a scansion pattern, so there was almost no way to successfully work it into a poem. This might have been a time to do what Nate sometimes suggests, and rework the phrase into something that would fit into a pattern, like “We’re popular at parties.” Instead, trying to force the phrase ended up forcing the whole poem a bit out of shape.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the microprose grid is our hardest challenge grid. You don’t have a lot of room for error. As you read back through the grid, check out how many micros were “almost there” except for that one sentence that stuck out like a sore thumb. When that happens to you, when you can’t cram that sentence into place, take a break from it. Look at the rest of your story: are there adjectives or adverbs you could cut in favor of using a more precise verb or noun? Do you have dialogue tags that you could remove? Where can you make the room you need to write the sentence you need to write and still hit that precise wordcount requirement?

That’s it for this week! Remember, we don’t always give out a pick on all of our grids; if we were impressed by several posts on one grid we’ll give them all picks, and if nothing really stood out for us we’ll hold off. If you didn’t get a pick this week, read back through the Roundup to see if you can use some of this week’s tips and tricks.

If you’re lost in the middle of the grid and wondering how you can get a little more feedback on your posts, check out our membership perks!

Everybody: before you go, please take some time to leave your favorites a little love in the comments, and don’t forget, the Weekend Writing Showcase opens tonight at 6pm Eastern US Time!

Congratulations to the Crowd Favorites at YeahWrite #316

The thumbnails are now sorted in order of most votes to fewest. Ties in the overall number of votes are broken by number of editor votes.

Congratulations if you’re at or near the top! Writing well is hard work, and we’re honored you’ve chosen us this week to showcase your entry.

If you’re at or near the bottom, don’t be discouraged. You’re in the right community for learning and growing as a writer, and we are always available with resources for those who ask nicely.

To our readers and voters: thank you! See you next week.

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About the author:

Rowan submitted exactly one piece of microfiction to YeahWrite before being consumed by the editorial darkside. She spent some time working hard as our Submissions Editor before becoming YeahWrite’s Managing Editor in 2016. In real life she’s been at various times an attorney, aerialist, professional knitter, artist, graphic designer (yes, they’re different things), editor, secretary, tailor, and martial artist. It bothers her vaguely that the preceding list isn’t alphabetized, but the Oxford comma makes up for it. She lives in Portlandia with a menagerie which includes at least one other human. She blogs at textwall and CrossKnit.

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