Out in the world, Year 2021 was almost as rough as 2020, why did we ever think it would be otherwise?– BUT, as we all know by now, WEP is a pandemic proof space! Bad things pause just outside its borders. Not only that, good things happen in here, in spite of the raging challenges that have affected all of us to a greater or lesser extent these last couple of years. Your hosts Denise, Renee and Jemi have had books released in 2020/21, Olga’s fiction has found a place in the IWSG’s annual 2020 anthology, while Laura, Nila and several WEP members have reached different milestones in their writing journeys. Who knows, maybe you could be the next!…because many of our long time participants have gone onto publication with a flash first seeded at WEP. Come join us and beef up your writing mojo!
After the smash hit success of the artwork prompts, your hosts unanimously and instinctively turned to…MUSIC. Not only is music food for love, it is food for thought also. How many of us listen to a favourite number while working...relaxing...exercising? It provides the soundtrack to our lives, from lullabies to love songs to laments. We often peg our memories with a certain music or song and equally, turn to them for comfort when all other communications fail. Music is a bottomless source of inspiration as primal or as sophisticated as the context demands.
So here we are again - do join us for this yearlong, thought provoking and creative blogfest from your own creative writing community - it’s going to take your writing to the next level, guaranteed. Each of these Challenges was developed after intense and long brainstorming by your hosts. Most are drawn from chart toppers and/or award winners, their iconic composers/lyricists/singers famous across the world, the melodies covered by current artistes and amateurs alike long after they were first released. Come, immerse yourself in the music and see what it sparks off in you…
A quick recap of the house rules - we welcome any genre except erotica, max word count 1000. Present your interpretation of the prompt in flash fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction. Remember the blurbs here are just to get your creative juices flowing; you can take them or leave them as you wish. Help yourself to an option here, or devise your own inspiration and blaze your own unique trail. It's totally up to you.
First, a big round of applause for Olga Godim, our inhouse badge designer par excellence, who has drawn up another set of sumptuous badges in consultation with the team for display on our sidebars. Put the annual badge on yours and let's get writing!
Welcome to Challenges 2022!
What could be more appropriate for the Valentine month than All You Need is Love, by the Beatles? (Listen to this number by clicking on the title.)
The Beatles were an iconic band formed in Liverpool, UK in 1960 who revolutionised Western popular music. Their music was a crucial factor in the development of the 1960’s counterculture and their influence on contemporary music and performers cannot be over estimated. They are revered as the most popular band of all time - pioneers in recording, song writing and presentation, the Beatles’ works were pivotal to popular music being recognised as an artform in its own right. They have sold around 600 million records worldwide, their music has shaped the entire music industry of the 20th century and beyond. Read more about the Beatles and about this song by clicking on the links.
All you need is love – interpret this any which way you like.
Tell us a story about lovers overcoming unsurmountable odds with the power of their love.
Or spin a flash about parental love, unconditional and endless.
Or about platonic love, the support network that friends provide without which individuals can’t function.
All you need is love...or do you? Turn it on its head and tell us how insufficient it is to get by on love alone.
Put the words of the title into the mouth of your MC. Or a minor character. Or have it play somewhere in the background, barely noticeable...
You see, there are as many takes as there are forms of love.
Remember, there’s no genre restrictions – it’s not necessary to write a traditional romance just because it’s February. Interpret the prompt in the most unValentine-y manner if you like – satire, horror, fantasy, any and all are welcome here, except erotica.
A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall has been described as the ‘most idiosyncratic protest song ever written.’ Bob Dylan, the Nobel Laureate and another 60's icon, wrote, composed and sung it in 1962 when he was only 21. It’s been covered by many artistes including Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and has never really stopped being sung ever since. Dylan has sold more than 125 million records/albums making him one of the most popular artistes of all time.
The form is modelled on the traditional ballad in the question and answer format, the themes being human suffering – pollution, warfare, isolation, angst. Sixty years after Dylan presented it at a performance at Carnegie Hall, the lyrics are striking in that how relevant they are still, how contemporary their feel and the depth of their appeal. Read more about the song here and here.
This one is wide open to all kinds of interpretations. Because human suffering – it’s as wide, deep and long as life is, of a trillion takes potential.
Use it to zoom in on our current ‘hard rain’ of covid. Chisel out your own pandemic flash from what’s going on around you.
Or weave a tale of some other woe – bleeding hammers, broken tongues, dead oceans, homes in the valley meeting damp, dirty prisons. The lyrics are epic, apocalyptic and offer rich pickings. Set your tale around the climate issues; the refugee crisis; the endless hardships that the hard rains of bullets and bombs, volcanic eruptions, oil spills have brought.
Or bypass all the bleakness and melancholy and simply spin a conversation between a parent and a child on some deep life issue. Or a light-hearted one. A million directions to go. The possibilities are endless.
A free hand is what we give you, you give the song a listen and see what happens...
This month's prompt is based on Please Read the Letter by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - a break up song and a moving plea for understanding at the termination of a relationship. Neither of these musicians need an introduction of course, both have umpteen awards to their names individually. The album Raising Sand where the track is included is a platinum with more than a million sold.
The song was first composed and recorded by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and appeared on their album Walking into Clarksdale in 1998. It was rerecorded later again by Plant and Krauss in 2007 and was well received by critics. It went on to win the Grammy for the Record of the Year in 2009.
There could be many possible ways to treat this prompt. Who's going to write that letter? And who's it addressed to? Will you let it remain a letter or update it to a text? Or even a voicemail message? And most importantly, what's it going to be about - what's it going to say?
This prompt could be used for a straight forward break up flash - a dear John/Jane letter.
Or a note to self on the loneliness that comes with the realisation that the initial promise of a relationship will not, for some reason or other, materialise. The yearning for someone or something elusive, unreal, ethereal.
Or maybe nothing to do with a break up. Just a story that speaks to the sense of some unfinished business between two people, not necessarily romantic. Maybe a letter from a former student to a teacher... work colleagues,...social media 'friends.'
See what we mean? - just so many possibilities! Spin your own version of Please Read the Letter, we are waiting to read it...
This challenge is based on Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven a nod to Western classical music from the 19th century. A timeless masterpiece that he composed in 1801, dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, who was briefly his student and who he fell in love with. but could not marry due to the strict social conventions of the time. The sonata, originally titled Sonata una quasi Fantasia -Piano Sonata No 14 in C sharp minor, became extremely popular during the composer's lifetime, so much so that Beethoven himself seemed to tire of it, writing to a friend that it is the only thing of his that people want to hear. It acquired its evocative nickname five years after Beethoven's death in 1832, after the poet and music critic Ludwig Relistab said it brought to mind the moon setting over Lake Lucerne.
There are a million potential ways to interpret this challenge - use the title to define your setting, a water body, a full moon, a floating craft, a romantic evening...
Use it to devise your character - a werewolf, a vampire, a modern-day witch/wizard...
Use the backstory to create your flash about circumstances scuppering a relationship...or a nickname coming to define something/someone...
Beethoven's life itself can inspire a thousand stories - listen to his music composed 200+ years ago and go where the muse takes you. And take us right along with you for the ride.
This is the Fear fest Challenge in which we ramp up the spook factor over here, welcoming your creepiest compositions, your most haunting and haunted tales running the gamut of paranormal, speculative, crime and horror genre. However, as always, there are no rigid rules. Feel free to write to any genre if those mentioned are not your thing.
The prompt is based on Thriller, released in the early 80's, an unofficial anthem for Halloween and horror. Both singer and song are music industry icons. Thriller has sold 70 million+ copies worldwide and Michael Jackson, known as the King of Pop, is one of the controversial and culturally significant figures of the 20th century. He is credited with some landmark music as well as reinventing complex dance moves like the moonwalk to make it his own signature. Just like the Beatles, MJ was, during his lifetime and remains, more than a decade after his death, one of the best selling artistes of all time. He has left a massive and unique thumbprint on the music/entertainment scene of the late twentieth century.
The prompt has endless possibilities. Take the lyrics to this song - they can inspire myriad flashes - the forty thousand years of funk, the beast about to strike, the thing with forty eyes - the imagery is vivid and specific and boy! can they be used to craft a creepy tale or what? Or you could use the video's own storyline to write to. Use that iconic dance with the undead, the MC's morphing into a zombie, to spin a horror flash.
Or maybe not...because, hang on...not everyone needs to be a horror/Halloween junkie. Use the demons as a metaphor. Let the dance with the zombies become an inner wrestling bout with some tragic character flaw(s) in your MC. Or weave a girl-boy-movie-night narrative. Or one of a rescue mission where the hero snatches the damsel in distress from the jaws of monsters real or imaginary. Or...just write to the title 'Thriller' - no end to the tales you could tell. You see? - a million ways to go, a million things to be!
The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face) is a folk song written by Scottish musician and political activist Ewan MacColl in 1957 for Peggy Seeger, a relative of Pete Seeger and MacColl's lover at the time and wife later on. It was performed through the 60's around Britain. The track became a major break out hit in 1969 for Roberta Flack, who sang a much slower version than the original MacColl had composed. It exploded in popularity when Clint Eastwood used it to score a love scene in his directorial debut Play Misty for Me, reaching no 1 in the US Billboards and winning the Record of the Year in 1972. Many covers exist - Peter, Paul & Mary, George Michael, Celine Dion, Leona Lewis etc. Read more about this song here.
Roberta herself said about the song - I think it's the kind of song that has two unique & distinct qualities: it tells a story, and it has lyrics that mean something....Because of [its meaningful lyrics] the [song] can be interpreted by a lot of people in a lot of different ways: the love of a mother for a child, for example, or [that of] two lovers.
Yup, she nailed it - it is meaningful, and it can be many things to many people, what's going to be your take? How are you going to interpret this title? What will happen the first time your MC sees the face?
Will it be a romantic love like Ewan wrote for Peggy?...Or will your MC recoil in fear, anger or unease? ...Will some light-hearted mischief be hatched leading to a lifelong friendship?...Maybe it will be a job interview and the employer will know that the face will bring nothing but trouble?...Or might a stressed, lonely soul find his Man Friday?
The possibilities are only bounded by your imagination - the sky's the limit...show us the heights you want to reach, we're standing by to take off with you.
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