LitReactor's First Official Writing Challenge: "Scare Us"

LitReactor's First Official Writing Challenge: "Scare Us"

UPDATE: We are now live! Go submit your story today!

One of our goals when we began developing LitReactor was to create a network for up-and-coming writers. And by network, we didn't just want a forum and a workshop--we wanted a platform where we could celebrate the immense talent of the writers in our community.

Too many sites take a stripped-down, sloppy approach to hosting writing workshops. With LitReactor, we feel we've created a home for some of the best writing classes online, and we feel our writers workshop is unmatched. But we want to take it deeper. We want to grow our community, to bridge the gap between our loyal fanbase and the people who see us as just another place to read a blog post. We want people to get inspired. We want to celebrate the act of writing. 

So today, we're kicking off our first big writing challenge.

The Goals

Goals, you have two of them:

  1. Produce and complete a finished short story.
  2. Have fun.

It's a little like NaNoWriMo, except we want you to come out of it with a tight, finished story, not a rough first draft. And we're doing this with an eye toward making this a regular occurrence.

The Conditions

Now, don't think we're going to give you an uninspired mandate. We want to box you in a little, because we don't want you heading to your comfort zone. We want you to break out and try something new. We want to force you to get creative. Part of the point of this is to challenge you to try something different. Each challenge will come with a specific genre or theme. And for the first, we've decided on horror

Here are your prompts:

  1. Must be a horror story
  2. Must feature an original creature, of your own creation (no werewolves, vampires or zombies)
  3. Must feature three deaths 
  4. Must take place in the town where you grew up
  5. Must be more than 1,500 words but less than 4,000 words

The Rewards

There won't be any winners or losers, but we are developing and offering a set of rewards for highly rated stories. We don't want to announce all of these just yet, but what we can tell you that we've enlisted the help of some of our past instructors. As of now, the following authors have agreed to read, review, and provide feedback on some of the stories:

  • Ed Sikov
  • Holiday Reinhorn
  • Suzy Vitello
  • Lidia Yuknavitch
  • Christa Faust
  • Joe Nassise

This number will grow as we reach out to more authors, and could even include some special guests who haven't yet taught for LitReactor.

Important Details

Today is June 4th. You have from now until the end of this month to finish your story. On July 1st we will open the submission process. Stories will be submitted to a special new section of our writers workshop, specifically built for this challenge. 

The submission process will be open. This means that, as long as you register for the site, you can enter this. You don't need to be a paying workshop member. 

On midnight, July 31st, the submission process will close, and from August 1st on, we will begin rewarding the top stories. All along the way, we will report on the progress of this event on our front page.

Our own Joshua Moyes (workshop member Utah), who was recently named our Defender of the People, will represent this event to our community and will be on hand to help us answer any questions you might have along the way. He'll be covering top stories and exciting developments as they occur. (And as this is the first time we're doing this, there will no doubt be some kinks along the way. We're still learning. Bear with us, and if you have a suggestion, don't be afraid to share it.)

You have almost a full month to prepare. Some of you will prefer to have your stories written, so that you can submit them as soon as the calendar hits July 1st. Others may want to develop them first, and then wait for July to happen so you can start reading other entries, to get inspired before you submit yours.

Regardless, the next big step of LitReactor happens today. If this all goes well, we plan to enhance these challenges for the future.

Godspeed, and get writing!

Dennis Widmyer

News by Dennis Widmyer

Dennis Widmyer is the founder of ChuckPalahniuk.net, best-selling author Chuck Palahniuk's (Fight Club, Choke) official website.  His passion in life is making movies.  With partner Kevin Kölsch, he founded Parallactic Pictures, a banner for all of their independent film projects.  To date, the duo have directed two features, a number of shorts, and have penned over a dozen screenplays.  He recently co-directed a feature horror film called STARRY EYES for Snowfort Pictures and Dark Sky Films that had its world premiere at the 2014 SXSW film festival.  You can see more of his work at www.parallacticpictures.com. When he's not making movies and working on websites, he enjoys going to the movies, writing, reading, photography, hiking, cats and hanging out with friends.

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Comments

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz June 4, 2012 - 10:33am

Curious. Very curious...

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books June 4, 2012 - 10:56am

Oh my...

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies June 4, 2012 - 10:56am

hmmmmmmmmmmm...i needed a prompt anyway

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind June 4, 2012 - 11:44am

SWEET! Now, if I could somehow manage to keep it under 4,000 words...

.'s picture
. June 4, 2012 - 11:49am

Someone loan me ten bucks for the workshop. Richard? Anybody?

Bill Tucker's picture
Bill Tucker from Austin, Texas is reading Grimm's Fairy Tales (1st Edition) June 4, 2012 - 12:28pm

Question: I'm involved in a Lit Battle with another workshop member, first draft due end of this week.  Can my story idea for this battle be expanded to this contest?  The battle idea could turn into a horror story with the right prodding, and if it does, I'd like to kill two birds with one story.  If not, I'll do something totally orginal for this but I just want to know my options. 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books June 4, 2012 - 1:38pm

So...hometown... Does this mean where you live or where you grew up? Or could it be either?

Vinny Mannering's picture
Vinny Mannering from Boston, MA. USA is reading On Fiction Writing June 4, 2012 - 7:43pm

Shit just got real.

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks June 4, 2012 - 10:25pm

yay

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff June 5, 2012 - 2:40am

I'm loving every bit of this.

Connor Anthony Chapman's picture
Connor Anthony ... June 6, 2012 - 9:57am

Is this open to all ages? This sounds pretty awesome.

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like June 6, 2012 - 12:35pm

*

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade June 7, 2012 - 1:03pm

Richard's latest Storyville column nicely complements this news...and, I love that latest Storyville...

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 7, 2012 - 2:06pm

Some answers:

@jacks:  The contest is open to all.  No paid membership needed.

@Bill:  Your contest story should be an original.  Thank you for asking this question, because I believe it will result in an "official clarification".

@SparrowStark:  First, I find it funny that Dennis thinks you're a man because you use Diaz's photo as your avatar.  Second, interpretation of your hometown is pretty loose.  Town you were born in, town you grew up in.  In Mattack's case, some town he was close to, since he grew up in Arkansas, where they have no towns.  That's right, isn't it?  Arkansas?

MyNameIsJorden's picture
MyNameIsJorden from Denmark, Wisconsin is reading Survivor June 10, 2012 - 8:04pm

Okay, I can write this in Microsoft Word, right? Or is there a place on this site for writing the short story or something?

 

P.S.- What is your policy on vulgarity in the short story?

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 11, 2012 - 6:38am

MSWord is just fine.  I'd recommend using .doc format. 

Vulgarity:  Just like anything else.  Use it as it works for your story.  Most people here are pretty profane in their writing.  So we're not shy about it.  Just use your vulgarity where it fits.  Kinda like adjectives and quotation marks.

MyNameIsJorden's picture
MyNameIsJorden from Denmark, Wisconsin is reading Survivor June 11, 2012 - 11:58am

Thanks!

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics June 14, 2012 - 5:23am

Utah, I'm curious as to just how stringent your interpretation of the requirement for an original creature might be.

I'm not trying to finagle the use of vamps, or wolfies, or the walking dead, but am wondering if I absolutely must have a tangible, individualized creature/monster.

I realize my query is a bit ambiguous,. and if you'd like further clarification, I will run my idea by you via private email if you need further details before answering my question.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 14, 2012 - 6:44am

@Strange Photon:  Were I to be the arbiter of these rules, I would allow a bit of latitude in interpretation.  This is, after all, a writing prompt, and prompts are designed to spur you into creative overdrive.  That said, there was also a definitive exclusion of the Big 3 (vampires, werewolves, and zombies), so I would avoid those.  Beyond that, I would say, go nuts and do what you do.

Feel free to PM me with your idea.  I can at least help you vet it with regard to what the powers behind the game have in mind.  And I promise not to steal it.

Andrew Kelly's picture
Andrew Kelly from Florida is reading Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton June 18, 2012 - 10:54pm

What's the policy on submitting under a pseudonym? I put together a story based on a character written under a pseudonym.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 19, 2012 - 5:30am

@Andrew Kelly:  The story would be submitted under your LitReactor profile.  Aside from that, I don't think there would be any issue with whatever you want to put down as your byline.  Just be clear about that when you submit so that LR can make sure credit winds up where it's due.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut June 19, 2012 - 7:00am

This is so awesome. Like Ray Bradbury has said, "The story was always within me."

I get to incorperate my own heritage into a contemperary story within one of my favorite genres!!!

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies June 23, 2012 - 9:23am

finally had an idea for this.

Fritz's picture
Fritz June 28, 2012 - 10:24pm

Wow - I'm late to the party...

So, just to sum up - we wave till the end of July to submit this bad boy?

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 29, 2012 - 6:18am

Yes.  Plenty of time for you, Captain Prolific.

Fritz's picture
Fritz June 29, 2012 - 8:05am

Cool deal
Btw - i got an extra 'creature' if anybody is interested. All i ask for is cowriter credit upon submission. Ha
Or can we submit more than one story for consideration? (figure no. :) )
Still working on the captain rank.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry June 29, 2012 - 8:06am

You're still a Leftenant?

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies June 30, 2012 - 8:06pm

thought it was the end of JUNE. cool, i still have time.

Andrew Kelly's picture
Andrew Kelly from Florida is reading Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton July 1, 2012 - 12:34pm

Please clarify, Utah. Are you recommending I create a new profile under the pseudonym to submit the story? If so, then how would I link it back to me? I looked at the submission process and didn't see any way. There's only title, the file, and the description. I'm guessing the title and description are public when posted, and both would be associated with the profile they're submitted under.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut July 1, 2012 - 5:26pm

I know I'm like just reaching the end, and it's still a rough copy. Ima bust ass though an get this shyt on paper, cuz the story has been in my mind my whole life. I just needed a push.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry July 2, 2012 - 6:22am

@Andrew Kelly:  Are you wanting your story submitted with a pseudonym but somehow also linked with your real name?  Or are you worried that if you submit with the pseudonym that someone will find out that the pseudonym is actually you? 

Basically, what is the real end result that you're looking for?  I don't know that I'll immediately have the answer, but I can probably find it.  Feel free to PM me.