Monday, December 07, 2009

On the Premises #2

Here's a mini-contest from On the Premises. I'm thinking about taking a stab at it...what about you?

--- MINI-CONTEST #10 ---


The goal of mini-contest #10 is to imply/evoke a complete
story with just a short note written by someone, to someone.
Make sure the note specifies whom it is addressed to, and who
signed it. (You don't have to use the word "signed.") Make the
note no more than 30 words long. With only 30 words to work
with, you'll have to make a lot of decisions!

Here's a dull example to clarify what we want entries to look like.


I bought milk.


Remember, use no more than 30 words, and that includes the name(s) of the note's intended
recipient(s) and the name(s) of whoever's signing it. (So the example above is five words
long, not three!)

WORD COUNTS: Except when spelling out numbers, hyphens count as spaces.
"Half-baked" counts as two words, but "twenty-seven" counts as one
word because it could be rewritten as "27."

Deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern time, Thursday, December 31, 2009.

Prizes: $15 for 1st, $10 for 2nd, $5 for 3rd, publication but no money for honorable

Send entries to and put MINI-CONTEST
in the subject heading, please. One entry per author.

Finally, remember to put your contact information in the body of your e-mail and attach
your mini-contest entry as a .doc, .rtf, or .txt file. (No .wps files! We can't read

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Creative Writing Spark #2

Here's today's premise:

You've just moved to a new city and are unable to go home for Christmas. Feeling lonely, you decide to go into the office on Christmas Eve, where you find a co-worker...doing what?
Have fun!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Creative Writing Spark

To go along with the last entry, I've decided to periodically give you premises of my own to help you generate story ideas. On that note, the first premise is:

While house sitting for friends, you discover something unexpected on their property.

The first sentence could go something like:

"I couldn't believe my eyes..."

Feel free to post a comment letting me know what you think of this new feature, and telling me how it helped (or didn't help) your writing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the Premises

Some time ago, I wrote about using starter sentences to spark writing ideas. I recently ran across On the Premises, an online magazine devoted to a particular writing contest.

How does it work? Several times a year, On the Premises opens a contest to stories based on a story premise…supplied, of course, by their magazine. The premise for the current contest is:


One or more characters have a plan. They think it's a good plan. Are they right? That's up to you, but whether the plan is brilliant, stupid, or anywhere in-between, something goes terribly wrong when the characters try to execute it.

Even if you don’t enter the contest, imagine the possibilities for using that premise to spark your own writing. Your story could be about a bank robbery, a wedding proposal, a surprise party or a battle. Think of anything that requires a plan, and write about it. Of course, I do urge you to enter the contest if you write a story based on their premise…the deadline isn’t until September 30, and it offers a cash prize, a chance to be published and the chance at a critique if they reject your story. (Yes, they actually critique some rejected stories, a valuable service few magazines offer these days.)

If you are interested in their contest, by the way, here’s some more info.

Write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long that clearly uses the premise.

Deadline: September 30, 2009, 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Prizes: 1st - $140, 2nd - $100, 3rd - $70,

Honorable Mention - $25.

All payments in US dollars.

Between zero and three honorable mentions will be published.

No that you have another story idea, go forth and write!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pedal to the Metal

It's great to talk about creative writing techniques and tools, but what about an audience? Everywhere I turn, I hear about how tough times are economically. I've also seen it proven in my own immediate family. How much good does brilliant prose do you if there's no one to read it?

Don't get me wrong; the better your writing, the better your chance of getting published. Still, in these times, it doesn't hurt to put the pedal to the metal (uh-oh, cliche alert!) and dig up some work for yourself. Here are a few websites that have helped me:
This site doesn't pay for articles, but it does provide exposure. There's a lot of trash on the site (in my opinion), but real quality will stand out. You may wonder why you'd bother if it doesn't pay. Remember...exposure! Mainly, it allows you to put links in your bio to direct readers to your website, if you have one, where you can sell them your services. I'm not actively submitting to right now, but when I did, I saw a real uptick in my web traffic.
This one is my favorite. hooks up service providers with service seekers. It's a bit of a hassle to set up an account, but well worth the trouble. You can create a free or paid account. the free account limits the number of projects you can bid on, but it's good for a start. Yes, you have to bid on posted projects but, trust me, writing a good proposal will only sharpen your creative writing skills! You also get paid real money in a secure environment, since they offer an escrow service.
This one is new to me, and I haven't actually found work through them yet, but it looks promising. There is an application process. Try it out and tell us what you think.
Others may have a different opinion, but I wouldn't bother with this site. They offer a free membership, but most jobs seem restricted to paid members. If you have different information, please let me know and I'll be happy to put in an addendum!

Of course, you don't want to give up on the traditional creative writer's mainstays of literary journals--and tradition methods like finding them through the Writer's Market--but sites like these can provide a boost to your income if you're a struggling writer.

Best of luck!