Friday 31 July 2015

WEP First Challenge -- SPECTACULAR SETTINGS -- sign up here!


This first challenge has two parts. You may do both parts or just one. Your choice.

For this challenge you will:

1.    Firstly share a paragraph from a novel, or an extract from a poem, or a photograph that stopped your heart with a spectacular setting etc. 

2.    Describe how your chosen 'setting' spoke to you. Why did you like it?

3.    Then you have the option to:

     a)     write your own 'setting' piece in any genre, or share a ‘setting’ from your WIP, or…
     b)     write your own poem which highlights 'setting', or 
     c)     share a photograph that blows you away every time you look at it and tell us why.
     d)     share an artwork that shows a 'setting' you love and tell us why you love it.
     e)     write a small playscript which highlights 'setting'.

Here is the InLinkz code if you want to paste onto your blog:

<!-- start InLinkz script -->

<script type="text/javascript" src="//"></script>

<!-- end InLinkz script -->

Don't forget to share the Challenge
We'd love it if you'd Tweet one of these:

Spectacular Settings Flash Fiction Challenge Link is up Join us! @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee join the fun #WEPFF

 Time to get serious about the Spectacular Settings Challenge Sign up now!  @DeniseCCovey and @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Link to Spectacular Settings Flash Fiction Challenge August 19 - Prizes awarded @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Spectacular Settings mean Spectacular Reads

Hi there!

This week I'm introducing our first challenge with Yolanda and me at the helm. We will be taking it in turns to host challenges and this first one is one that I've been wanting to do for a long time.

Spectacular setting at the tip of New Caledonia
Writers have their strengths and weaknesses. Writing a story, especially a full-length novel, requires many components to make it work. There's the story idea which develops into the Premise, there's those characters that pop up into your head, introduce themselves, and help you tell their story, then there's conflict, because things can't go easy for these characters or the story will be boring to most--so this leads to plot points where there should be at least 3 in a novel. But all of these pale if we forget one thing--the setting. There has to be a backdrop to add more intrigue, exoticism, beauty or terror to your story. This is my favourite aspect of writing--I come up with the setting first, then the characters people this setting.

So, does it matter where your story unfolds? Yes! Here are some points about setting:
  1. Your setting can help reveal your characters and plot (think Harry Potter and friends--the settings add so much to the plot)
  2. Setting is far more than place--it establishes a story's mood, feeling and historical era. 
  3. Setting gives your story veracity--the truer your setting, the more believable the fictional world you invite your reader to enter. (The old write-what-you-know thingo.)
Now that we have the theory out of the way, how about we look at some different aspects of setting.

We need to choose details that are right for our particular story. Think Scout Finch in the opening pages of Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM).
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then; a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
In this brief paragraph, Lee sets the stage for all that follows by her accuracy of setting.

Reading the above paragraph, we can see how Lee sets the mood for her novel. It's going to be full of slow, hot days, during which even the slightest of movements will take effort.

Let's look at Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep to see how a different mood is created.
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid-October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie, and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved, and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
You might disagree that Chandler's excerpt is about setting. Maybe you just think it's about his wardrobe of the day. But there's the precise time (11am, mid-October), the weather, Marlowe's voice, character and point of view, and the setting (Marlowe's calling on four million dollars). It sets us right in the scene.

Even if your story's not a mystery, you can establish questions in a reader's mind via your setting. Check this excerpt from a short story by Lisa Lenard-Cook entitled 'Wild Horses.'
Neighbors watched for her little pickup along the country road. Sometimes Althea would pull over, or not pull over, and stop. Janet Kendall once found her sitting on her tailgate in the middle of the road just over a rise, had slammed on her brakes and skidded to a dusty halt just short of the rear bumper. 
We get that something's not quite right with Anthea, but we don't yet know.We see that it's a country setting and we expect to find out what it is about Anthea as we read on.

Think just about anything by Stephen King. He lulls readers into a false sense of security by his every-day openings. Also, re-look at TKAM where Lee practically rocks us to sleep.

Setting includes time as well as place. Don't you get a sense of Maycomb being sometime in the past, and Chandler's dressed-to-the-nines private investigator being in a more elegant time period?

Here's a few lines from Judith Freeman's Red Water.
We landed at the port of Boston and traveled across country by train, in boxcars fitted out with special seats, reaching Iowa City on July 5th. With the help of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, which advanced us much-needed money for our journey, we were able to secure a place with the Willy Handcart Company, and although it was late in the year to begin the crossing of the plains, our party was anxious to set out, for nothing less than Zion awaited us in the mountains in the west.
This selection establishes voice (nineteenth-century phrasings) and mood (anticipation, fear, longing), as well as its historical period. 

Setting is enhanced through a point of view character's eyes, creating an immediate connection with the reader.

Two examples: George Eliot's Adam Bede and Shield's Unless.
1. It is a very fine old place, of red brick, softened by a pale powdery lichen, which has dispersed itself with happy irregularity, so as to bring the red brick into terms of friendly companionship with the limestone ornaments surrounding the three gables, the windows and the door-place...
2. On a December morning I went walking hand in hand with Tom in the Orangetown cemetery...The cold weather had broken, and the tops of the old limestone monuments, sun-plucked in their neat rows, were shiny with melting snow.
1. The setting is reported as if it were a gift from author to reader. This is accomplished by using vague adjectival clauses ('very fine'), 'happy irregularity' and lacklustre verbs like 'is', 'has'.

2. The vivid point of view first person narrative, we are looking at one thing, rows of gravestones. Even the limestone seems clearer to the reader.

Setting is always clearer when viewed from one pair of eyes, rather than an omniscient third person point of view.

So, when you're creating a setting, don't settle for the tried and trite. Make your setting work for you and for your story.

I'm hoping this blog post sets the scene nicely for our upcoming challenge on August 19th!

Couldn't resist reading the first chapter of Harper Lee's 'To Set a Watchman' available here online if you missed it!

Here's the first paragraph. Check out the setting. Don't we get a similar feel as the familiar voice of Harper Lee draws us into the landscape:

Image for the news resultSince Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical. Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia’s hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires. She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose.
Here is a link to a Writers Digest article on SETTING.

So watch for August 5th, when the link-up for our inaugural challenge, Spectacular Settings, will fire up!

Don't forget to share the Challenge
We'd love it if you'd Tweet one of these:

Spectacular Settings Flash Fiction Challenge for August 19 @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee join the fun #WEPFF

Do you know an unbelievable place or a Spectacular Setting. Share it with us @DeniseCCovey and @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Join the Spectacular Settings Flash Fiction Challenge August 19 - Prizes awarded @DeniseCCovey  & @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Wednesday 22 July 2015


"Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category."

So goes one of the popular definitions for flash fiction. Today, flash fiction challenges impose caps as low as six words or 140 characters, while others consider stories as long as a 1500 words to be flash fiction. Some give credit for the flash fiction genre to Ernest Hemingway attributing the following to him: "For Sale, Baby shoes, Never worn." The story regarding Hemingway's contribution is also considered by some as an Urban Legend. They say he wrote it on a dare from someone to write a complete story in one sentence. Whether true or not, it's a wonderful story.

The point is that flash fiction comes in many formats. But one thing's for sure, your story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end, regardless of the length. It must tell a complete story.

For the WEP, we've gone with the limit of 1000 words or less, and it's why the challenges will run every other month. This will give you, the writer, time to write, edit, and then publish and link your short story for the edification of your peers, and with prizes awarded.

So how do you get started? Writing prompts. Whether it's a few words, a full sentence, a title, or a picture – the writing prompt is essential to starting the creative juices flowing. Prompts include a sentence, a title, a photograph, or even a list of words that must be used in the piece.

Here at the WEP we'll give a title or phrase as a suggestion such as Spectacular Settings for August, Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears for October, and Holiday Celebrations that are out of this world in December. To learn more about these prompts just click the link titled Upcoming-Challenges for 2015.

While it's considered a challenge to write with such brevity, I consider it training. As a wordy writer, I can write a sentence as long as 40 + words. I enjoy flash fiction because it's an opportunity to write, edit, and publish a masterpiece quickly. You achieve a goal – a completed story, and then you have an opportunity for immediate feedback – especially when you post on your blog and link to others participating in the same challenge. You also learn the craft from reading what others have done.

Brevity in writing is a good thing especially if you want your story ready for publication in a magazine or want to enter a competition. Word limits are imposed because of space limitations. I've used several of my flash fiction stories as a jumping off place for entries to the WOW! Women On Writing Flash Fiction Challenges, and recently won Honorable Mention (placed in the top twenty out of a possible 300 entries). WOW Judges are a tough lot, besides a 750-word limit and a complete story, editing is crucial – they accept only perfection when it comes to grammar. Their challenges run quarterly, but cash prizes are awarded.

The WEP is your opportunity to get your work in front of an audience, receive constructive feedback, and then enter it into a cash challenge or send it for submission to a magazine. The Copyright for any challenge posted for the WEP stay with the author.

For those familiar with Flash Fiction Challenges and want more places to share your craft or for those interested in learning more about the genre, here are a few sites for other Flash Fiction competitions – as you'll see the requirements for length varies considerably.

What do you think? Are writing prompts helpful? Have you entered any of your work from the WEP into a contest, or to a magazine? Do you think Ernest Hemingway can be credited with the father of Flash Fiction and the Six Word Story?

Don't forget to share the Challenge
Tweet one of these:

Did you know Ernest Hemingway is credited for the Flash Fiction craze? @DeniseCCovey  @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Would you like your work read in a magazine? Test it out with the WEP @DeniseCCovey @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Work out the writing kinks through Flash Fiction Challenges and the WEP @DeniseCCovery @YolandaRenee #WEPFF

Tuesday 14 July 2015

WEP challenges for 2015. Why we believe in WEP.

Hello there!

Denise here. It's taken awhile to get to our second post, but Yolanda has had edits of her third novel, and I've been travelling up and down New Caledonia. You can check out my trip here. Now Yolanda's edits are all but done and I'm back, so let's get down to the fun part of WEP.

We present to you our Challenge Badge for what remains of 2015. As you see there are only three. We don't want to wear you out, so we'll go slow. This way there's plenty of time for you to participate in other challenges you may be involved in, and of course, November is NaNoWriMo for most of us.

We'd love it if you would copy this badge and post it onto your blog .
You are most welcome to post it in a blog post to help promote WEP.
For this we would be very grateful. Just send us a link so we can visit your blog!

So on August 19, we have our first challenge, Spectacular Settings. Very soon I will publish a post on settings as a prelude to our challenge. Meanwhile, think about some aspect of setting that comes to you. As you know, you are welcome to post flash fiction, non fiction, poetry, photographs, artwork...go for it, but try to keep under the 1,000 word limit. 

Our Halloween challenge, Youthful Frights Vs Adult Fears, will be posted early, so you can participate in other Halloween challenges if you wish. Yolanda is the horror Queen, so she has taken charge of this one! As well as a winner's badge, there will be an Amazon $10 gift card to the entry that catches our eye and disturbs our dreams!

The December challenge, Holiday Celebrations that are out of this world, will have a definite sci-fi flavour, so that will be an excellent way for those of us who don't write in this genre to think outside the square. It will be fun!

For further information on all three challenges, click on the page above. 

Now as mentioned in our previous post, there will be judges for each challenge, and we will return to the RFW (RomanticFridayWriters) idea of choosing a WINNER,  a RUNNER UP, and an ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD for each challenge. A guest judge will read through our 3 choices, then decide on the winning order. There will also be a wrap up of each entry.


Can't you just see your name and a link to your story on one of these?


So in case you're wondering, why do we feel so passionately about running an online writing challenge group? Let's try to put our passion into words...

Writing prompts are designed to help us start writing. And I don't just mean fiction. You may be a poet, a creative non fiction writer, an essayist. It doesn't matter. Sure, most who accept the WEP challenge write either flash fiction or poetry, but all writing is creative. Many creative writers use prompts every day to get into the writing groove. Some call these exercises free writing. Once they've jump-started their writing, they often move on to their WIP, energised and refreshed. 

Not that anyone here suffers from writer's block, but just say you did, a writing prompt can hasten the return of your muse. Sometimes when nothing else works, a writing exercise will! 

The best part of writing challenges such as we host here at WEP, is that your entry could be edited, rewritten, transformed into a longer piece, a short story, or even a novel. Many of us have had this experience. And it all started with a writing challenge, a very powerful tool.

Often someone leaves a comment about how we have improved as a writer with each challenge. It's true. We learn our craft by writing to prompts and editing for clarity and a word limit. Sentence structure, paragraphing, punctuation, grammar, dialogue...all can be improved in this little writer's laboratory. 

Hi folks, Yolanda here. Are those badges awesome or what? Kudos to Denise. She out-did herself with those! As a collector of old typewriters, that Winner's badge is way too cool!

Just popping in to say Hi! and let you and Denise know that first edits are done, so my attention is back on WEP. And to reiterate Denise--I know first hand that participating in Flash Fiction challenges are an excellent way of honing our writing skills. When you have to write a story with a beginning, middle and ending in only 1,000 words, well, it's called a challenge for a reason. Cutting, tightening, and rewriting until only the meat of the story remains, is a skill your editors will appreciate.

Please join us. We promise to make the journey informative, rewarding and fun!

Don't forget to share the Challenge!
We'd love it if you would Tweet one of these:

#WEPFF 2015 Challenges and dates are now up join the WEP Flash Fiction Challenge  @DeniseCCovey &@YolandaRenee  

#WEPFF The first Challenge is Spectacular Settings – join the fun on August 19 believe.html  @DeniseCCovey &  @YolandaRenee

#WEPFF Winners badges designed by Denise are Perfection! Join the WEP to win at  @DeniseCCovey & @YolandaRenee