I’m back, did you miss me?
Did you even notice I was gone? I just spent a week in the mountains with no internet but lots of storytelling (and bears there were bears real live bears they were right next to us). My dad and I still go backpacking together when we can. This year our destination was the Rocky Mountains… which, if you were curious, are definitely full of smoke from the British Columbia wildfires. Be careful up there, Canadaland.
While I was gone we also wrapped up the last round of our Super Challenge. Stay tuned for the results next week, and if you missed out on Super Challenge #5, never fear: #6 is right around the corner. In fact, early bird registration is already open! We’re changing up the prompts a little bit this time, so if you’ve been dying to write that two-genre story, or wanted more prompts packed into a tiny space, check it out.
Anyway it’s nice to be home, even if I made it back a little late to get anything on the grids for the vote this week. And besides the popular vote, we also have the option of handing out an editorial staff pick to any post on our grids. Our editors comb the grids to find, not just the best writing on this 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. 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- and we’d love to, so keep that great work coming!
On weeks when we don’t award a staff pick, keep an extra close eye on the Roundup. That’s our rundown of trends we see from week to 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 Roundup, 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? Both 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!
Rowan’s Roundup: YeahWrite Weekly Writing Challenge #331
This week saw a lot of jumps in perspective on the grid – and not the metaphorical kind. As you re-read (there are only 4 posts, go on, and comment while you’re at it if you didn’t yet) pay attention to how each writer took you from moment to moment. One technique, that Laura used, is to pick up a little piece of preceding paragraphs after you make a big time and space jump, to tie them together like a daisy chain. She finished her daisy chain with the same flower she started at – rhododendrons – to reinforce structurally her internal point about the cyclical nature of time. Or look at Sara’s essay, tied together by the repeated phrase “I [verb] India.” Three separate stories, three separate people… but really the same story, as the phrase reminds us. These structural ‘tricks’ will help you keep an essay or story that has a tendency to jump around looking more like one coherent piece from beginning to end.
My nonfic roundup focused on what to do, so I guess I’ll balance it out here by giving a little what not to do advice. Several pieces on the grid this week bit off just a little more than they could chew, and suffered for it as stories. If you’ve got a complete scene, go ahead and stop. It’s okay if the next thing that happens to your character happens in another story, even if there’s still words left in your wordcount allowance. Alternately, if you’re reading through your story and you realize that big chunks of it are just you explaining hurriedly about five or six things that happened so that you can get to the next image you want to show the reader, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew for this wordcount, and might need to dial the scope of your story back a little. If you’re summarizing your story instead of telling it, you’re going to deliver a book report instead of a book.
One effect of trying to put the wrong amount of story in the space you have is that all the action and interest can end up jammed together at the beginning (chronic offenders, you know who you are) and then the story keeps going until the reader wonders why the story is still happening if nothing else is. Of course, the opposite is true too- don’t meander through words and words and words of setup while your reader loses interest and then try to jam a summary of all the action in at the end to recapture them. The same rhythm that applies to essays applies to stories you’ve made up: give your reader some breaks along the way, and pace yourself with rising and falling action.
Hitting the right balance of scope and wordcount is hard, but it’s doable if you’re not afraid to make some edits. (I’m sentimental: I like to save the original version of the story before I take a knife to it. But fact: I’ve never once come back later and thought the unedited version was better.) Um, and because I can’t not say it, can everyone please take a moment to grab a metaphorical napkin, ’cause a few of you’ve got some modifiers dangling and it’s making your serious stories unexpectedly funny in ways I know you didn’t intend.
That’s it for this week! 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! If you’re more the self-help type, remember to scroll through our writing help section for tips and tricks. Even if a post isn’t directed at your favorite grid, there’s probably a handy hint for you in there anyway!
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 #331
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.
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.