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We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to…

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We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges. Please make sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Friday, and in our monthly newsletter.

Be kind, don’t rewind

We’re taught to think that a well-told story — fictional or not — starts with A, goes on to B, and ends with Z. We automatically follow the rule established by the King of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. ‘Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

(Louis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

For this Writing Challenge, we’re asking you to disobey the King.

Sure — logical, clean order has its virtues. So does a bit of chaos, though (every once in a while). Instead of starting at your story’s Big Bang, drop us off right at the End of Time: the final line of a conversation, the last, dramatic moment of a journey, the messy aftermath of a wild night out. Then, devote the rest of your post to showing us how you got there.

True, you won’t surprise us — at least not in the traditional sense. This is an exercise in control: the pace in which you reveal important information, the richness of the details you provide and that keep us engaged. Your readers’ pleasure will depend on these qualities, not on the (cheap?) thrill of finding out what actually happens in the end.

You can start at the end, and then lead us straight back to a traditionally ordered sequence of events (it worked for Citizen Kane). Or you can give us the full Memento treatment and take us backward one step at a time to the very origin of your story. Whatever works: just hook your readers with a powerful conclusion (that comes first!), and then captivate them with the story of how it came to pass.

Are you burning with desire to start writing? Go for it! Still in need of some ideas? How about one of the following:

  • Show us a picture and tell us the story of how it became possible to take it.
  • Share a major life decision you’ve taken, and then walk us through the decision-making process.
  • Tell us how you’ve lost, broken, or destroyed an object that was meaningful to you, then describe how it obtained its significance.
  • Describe a dramatic confrontation you witnessed (or in which you took part), then lead us through the signs that should have told you it was inevitable.

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  1. It will be longer this time…. I choose a movie, not telling the end of the story but the end of my advice before telling you why and the idea of the movie. But I’ll do it in french and english…so, i’m going backward to the source of the movie.

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  2. I think I’m gonna go with the second one. Why I have decided to study journalism and become a journalist myself despite the growing concern that this industry is losing its potential to job-seekers. For those interested, please add my blog to your reading list. :)

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  3. Reblogged this on Gerry Wilson and commented:
    This is an interesting challenge: to start with an ending moment and then go back and show how you got to that point. As the author of this post, Ben Huberman, says, your readers may not be surprised, but it’s a great “exercise in control.” Some great stories start by telling us an end result, but it doesn’t matter; we want to read anyway. If you try it, post a link here. I may

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  4. I will no longer be participating in Daily Post Challenges. People will link to my posts for daily prompts and challenges without even visiting my blog in an effort to increase there own traffic. I also don’t believe you people at WordPress view each submission which I think you should be if you are putting prompts and challenges out there. It is because of what I perceive as a lack of ethic as the reason I am citing for my permanent withdraw from your prompts and challenges.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear you won’t be participating in our future challenges. I hope you might reconsider the decision at a later time.

      I completely understand your frustration regarding phantom links; if it’s any consolation, I highly doubt any blog that does this regularly gets any uptick in traffic.

      Finally, I want to stress that we do, in fact, read all writing challenge submissions – it’s always a treat to see how many different takes people have on our prompts. That’s also how we select a number of challenge entries each week to be featured on Freshly Pressed; every entry gets read.

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      1. May I ask why almost all the poetry selected to appear on Freshly Pressed is Free Verse and so little poetry is of proper form if one of the criteria for Freshly pressed is technical merit of writing. In my eyes it is the equivalent to selecting prose that does not adhere to the rules of grammar over that which does. Why the absence of Sonnet, Villanelle, Sestina and the like? There are fine examples being produced by bloggers here on WordPress that seem to be neglected by the popularity contest that is Freshly Pressed. I do say popularity contest because Free Verse is the popular Form but is not anywhere near as technical as writing in form.

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      2. I think your observation that most poetry featured on Freshly Pressed is free verse is apt. That that is the case, though, is because free verse dominates the poetry we see. I personally love formal poetry in the traditional sense and would always consider it.

        I would beg to differ, though, on two points:
        1. That Freshly Pressed is a popularity test: most posts we feature are from less-read blogs, and deal with topics and forms that span the gamut from the extremely offbeat to the mainstream.
        2. Free verse, at its best, is just as technical as any other form of poetry. Good poetry, and good writing in general, are extremely democratic in that sense.

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      3. I am a relatively recent arrival upon the WordPress scene – and am wondering, as a pretty obscure writer, how one actually goes about getting Freshly Pressed? How, when one has the technological ability of a small rock, does a blogger like myself attract that kind of attention? Sorry, by the way, if I have put this in the wrong place; I am struggling to navigate my way around! Alienora Taylor

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      4. @Alienorajt: For all the information on the Freshly Pressed process, you can check out this page:

        http://en.support.wordpress.com/freshly-pressed/

        It’s important to bear in mind, though, that WordPress.com users write more than a million posts a day (this is one prolific community!). We feature eight posts daily, so we’re bound to miss out on thousands of great posts just by the sheer force of math and the finite resources (i.e. one pair of eyes) we have.

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      5. If Free Verse is the most dominant of forms you see then when you come across poetry written in form that is well written then why not shine the spotlight on that if you run the gamut as you have stated. almost all of my poems which I have done in the challenges appear in an established form, mostly in Sonnet or Huitain, and I know I am not the only one writing in form. In fact a number of blogs I follow also write in form. You see by spotlighting Free Verse you reinforce that Freshly Pressed is a popularity contest as far as poetry is concerned anyway. I will agree that good writing is just that good writing but on technical merit alone Free Verse cannot touch forms like the Sestina, the Chant Royal or any other complex and stringent form. Most Free Verse is merely Prose…it is not poetry…Poetry has rules the same way that prose does…it is the equivalent to not adhering to proper grammar while writing prose…would you at freshly pressed say that something is well written if the only punctuation used was the dreaded dot dot dot that I used to close this statement… I am uneducated and left school almost illiterate and even I can see the technical merit of form versus that of Free Verse… and that has nothing to do with the quality of writing, just the technical merits… Anything with rules is going to be more difficult than that which has no rules…

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      6. Whilst absolutely appreciating your feelings of frustration on this one, TJTHERIEN, I have to disagree with some of what you are saying! I do not think there is a clear and logical link between free verse and ungrammatical prose writing. In order to write effective free verse, you need, I think, to have mastered at least some elements of form; moving away from strict and rigid form then becomes a choice, an inspirational move and a conduit for true passion and originality. Ungrammatical writing is often simply bad writing – unless the writer has made a conscious choice to subvert the rules for effect!

        Before I launched myself upon the writing world, I was an English teacher for thirty years – and I used to have many a heated discussion with colleagues about the rigid insistence upon the worst strait jackets of form! Of course they are important, and of course they are a wonderful and enriching part of our culture and tradition – but they CAN maim a writer’s voice if used without feeling, passion, spirit and love.

        Sometimes, I would receive perfect poetry from pupils I taught – and yet there was something essentially lifeless, moribund, tedious about such perfection! I always look for spark, for aliveness over and above form!

        I am very glad you are flagging up this important topic. Thank you so much for doing so.

        Alienora

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      7. thank you Alienora. I won’t say that most, but a lot of my writing is in that straitjacket of form and I know for a fact I can stir emotions in others with my straitjacketed writings. If an author’s voice is lacking in form I would say it is because they have chosen the wrong form or the wrong subject or they have not recognized their voice and are imitating the voice of another or that they are not very good writers to begin with. If form is such a “enriching part of our culture and tradition” then why is WordPress letting it fade into obscurity by not featuring such writings on Freshly Pressed. I would argue that most of the people writing Free Verse do not understand form and do not attempt it, They write Free Verse to rebel, but they are sadly mistaken and are also late to jump on that bandwagon, the rebelling occurred with writers like Ginsberg and Kerouac and those who write Free Verse now are merely conforming to what is popular and that is the idea that poetry has no rules. The rules for poetry can be found in any dictionary.
        As I said I am uneducated and self taught, I was illiterate when I left school at age 15 and could not even fill out a job application if it deviated from the standard so I am greatly outmatched in such discussions, but I will stick to my opinion because I believe my logic is sound.

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      8. Most interesting, and thank you for responding so fully and speedily. I think what you are noticing is something I, too, have a problem with – and that is this: Rewards do not always go to those who are excellent writers! It seems an arbitrary system – and, although you and I may have to agree to disagree on some aspects of the poetry and form argument, I suspect that we are both getting at a fundamental inequality, if that is the right word!

        A friend of mine said to me – when I was bemoaning the low sales of my novel – that it is not about how well you write; it is more about how loud you can shout!!!

        It does sometimes seem that fabulous presentation and attention-blasting titles take precedence over the actual quality of the writing.

        I rarely venture into poetry because, though I love it, I am not that good at writing it! I am a prose writer and am very particular about accuracy.

        I think the truth of the matter is that life is no more fair in the writing world than it is anywhere else!

        I do think, however, that, with so many pieces flooding in every day, the WordPress readers are going to be grabbed initially by appearance, or by a title that grabs them by the proverbials – and that some superb pieces of writing are probably missed simply because they look dull. I am quite sure this is not true of your blog – but I’m afraid it is true of mine!!!

        I do get very hung up about statistics, being successful, awards and so on – and sometimes I need to remind myself that the people I love in this world do appreciate my writing (and say so regularly) – and, therefore, if I never reach the dizzying heights of the Freshly Pressed List (judged by people I do not know and probably never will!), maybe it does not matter as much as I sometimes think it does!

        Alienora

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      1. solomenska what I said is no reason for giving up on your blog. Blog for your enjoyment and write the things you want to write…there is a good community on WordPress…I am just jaded on the issues I’ve mentioned in regards to these prompts and with Freshly Pressed…

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      2. Solomenska, don’t give up on your blog. I too am new, and in the short time (say 4/5 weeks) I’ve been on here I’ve stumbled into a neat little community of poets, writers, and other sorts of bloggers. My main suggestion would be to stop by the “Community Pool” and checkout other new bloggers. It’s a great way to get started and get some feed back on your own blog. Good luck and enjoy. :)

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    2. The writing challenges are just that; a prompt to challenge your brain and possibly improve your writing. You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. The prompt is not meant to increase traffic to your web-site. Only you can attract traffic. And there is nothing wrong with people reading your writing challenge and not visiting your web-site. The writing challenges are about the exchange of ideas, seeing how others approach a topic. If the challenges aren’t meeting your specific needs, maybe you should re-evaluate what you expect from wordpress.

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      1. thank you very much Read&write, I would beg to differ that the prompts and challenges are merely just that if they dangle the carrot of being Freshly Pressed as a reward for the best of the best this makes it a contest. If it was about the exchange of ideas how is that suppose to happen if people just link to every blog that takes part and does not visit those blogs. Is this not in definition Spam. I have evaluated and re evaluated what I expect and require of WordPress and that is simply a blogging platform…All I was doing is voicing why I would be no longer participating because if we don’t voice what we see as a problem then how are remedies found? I apologies if you were personally offended by my comments…you can console yourself in that I am only one vote.

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      2. Uh,…not offended. I’m not sure what you mean by “link to every blog that takes part and does not visit those blogs.” Do you mean that people that post their response to the writing challenge aren’t looking at other people’s responses? If that’s your complaint, I agree it becomes a dead end road if no one is looking at the writing challenges except the wordpress.com people. But I don’t know how you remedy that. That happens with comments too; you are never assured that someone who has commented or responds to your comment has taken the time to read your blog. But I do like to browse the Fresh Pressed and visit the blogs with post I find compelling. I also like to search for blogs under specific tags, like writing or art. I’m not sure if I’m helping you in any way but, at least we’re exchanging ideas, right?

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    3. Hey! I just noticed that you have nearly 800 followers! That’s fantastic! And makes it harder to understand why your unhappy with lack of visitors to your site. You should be proud! Your site looks great and the poems are compelling, obviously, if you have 800 people following you! I only have 20 people so far. Made the mistake of taking down my old site before letting my readers know where my new site is located. Duh!

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      1. thank you Read&Write I am not unhappy about lack of visitors but it is what I mentioned people who participate in the prompts (Not all but a great number of them) link their post to all the other posts in the challenge or prompt, They do not visit they link from the comments section here on Daily Post. I manage 3 blogs of my own and contribute to 3 other blogs. I have learned to see through the numbers and I know or at least I think I know how to interpret stats provided. Of 800 followers I reduce that number to 30-50 that visit my primary blog on a daily basis and another 20-30 casual readers. that is roughly ten percent of my following. I believe most people on WordPress follow a blog for the obligatory follow back. My third blog which I have not announced yet to my readers already has 17 followers yet it has only been visited 10 times and some of those visits are repeat visits. Numbers are deceiving and stats can be misleading if they are not read properly… If I wanted to increase my numbers by means of false traffic I would be taking part in the awards that circulate on WP (I don’t accept awards) and I too would be linking to all the participants in challenges and prompts that I take part in…I don’t want false traffic and I would be happy with a couple genuine readers.

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      2. Gotcha. I see how the numbers don’t really add up on one side of the ledger. But I could also look at it this way: 17 people signed up to get your posts! I’m still not clear about why visiting the blog is the criteria for success. If people are reading our posts, isn’t that, well, successful? I guess unless wordpress can come out with stats showing the number of followers who actually visit the site, we’ll never know. Now, that’s an idea for improvement.

        And on a technical matter, what do you mean by the “obligatory follow back.” I’ve never followed a blog just because they follow me. Is this bad blogging on my part? I hope you don’t mind my continuing replies. I’m actually learning a few things through my “discussions” with you.

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      3. there are better forums in which to discuss this…if you wish to message me through my Facebook fan page I will be more than happy to explain these things and answer any other questions you may have…

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  5. Hi,

    Great thoughts. I immediately flashed to a similar approach. For lack of a better choice, I will call it the Catch-22 approach.

    Think of the story as a deck of cards. The write pulled three cards from the deck – the final-scene, the next-to-last-scene (which raises all the questions), and the keystone-scene (the one where all the pieces finally come together). All the other cards are shuffled into a seeming random order (with the writer providing some order if it is really needed).

    The writer then deals the next-to-last-scene card. Then, the writer deals out the other scenes, until they are all played, making everything appear to be random and chaotic. The writer then deals the capstone-scene, which pulled everything together (almost). And, finally, the final-scene, which has some additional twist.

    It is a lot of fun.

    Thanks.

    Pat

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    1. Sweet idea! I’m doing the same thing, though it was not intended for this challenge. It just happens to fit it, I think. (It’s about creating the right Gluten-free, vegan pie crust recipe…) When I got to a good stall point, I thought, hmm. This post is already super long, so maybe I should just cut it off now and post more in another part. I was hesitant at first because I thought no one would come back to read the next part, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one splitting their story! :) Yay chapter posts!

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  6. What a great idea! I think I am going to give it a try. I lack inspiration at the beginning of the week, these Monday prompts may be what I need. It’s September, school has started…time to learn something new.

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