11.11.2013

Baltimore Review Winter Contest - Ideas to Get You Writing

by Barbara Westwood Diehl

Counting down to the Winter Contest November 30 deadline. Each day, we're posting a writing prompt on the BR Facebook page--and re-posting them here. Hope you enjoy!
 

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #13: Epigraphs. Surf through science websites looking for articles on future-focused subjects of interest to you. What grabs your attention? Cut and paste a provocative quote onto your big blank screen and see where it leads you. Poem? Short story? Creative nonfiction? Deadline is November 30.

Here's one:  "By directly manipulating the human genome, some humans could be altered so significantly that, if reproductively isolated from other humans, they might become a separate species." - From "The Future of Human Evolution," American Museum of Natural History website  http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/human-origins/the-future-of-human-evolution

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #12: Deus ex machina. Break a rule. Merriam Webster defines “deus ex machina” as “1. a god introduced by means of a crane in ancient Greek and Roman drama to decide the final outcome, 2. a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty.” Fiction writers are often told not to employ this device; instead, endings should be the natural result of all that has preceded them in the story. They should be “earned.” Rebel. Crank up the crane. But maybe your characters won’t be too accepting of their fate. Maybe they’ll have other ideas. A long list of deus ex machine examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:T1980/List_of_deus_ex_machina_examples

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #11: Destiny. Call it destiny, fate, karma, predestination, or simply—the inevitable. Yes, these words have distinct connotations, but they all imply a lessening of free will, of personal agency, of some sort of control over the future. Or do your characters bludgeon their way into the future? Deadline is November 30. http://movieclips.com/fDqT7-no-country-for-old-men-movie-you-dont-have-to-do-this/

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #10: Beginnings. Beginnings as a bridge to the future. Sometimes a few beginning words are all we need to get us started.

Tomorrow—
When she is grown—
We plan—
You will be born—
If we are ever able to—

Or let the end of a well-known story serve as a beginning. What happens next? Give some characters a little more time to live.

Contest deadline: November 30. Please submit all contest submissions (poems, short stories, creative nonfiction) through the Contest link on the Submit page. See Contest link for word limits. Do interpret the theme, "The Future," in any way you'd like. Surprise us. Non-theme submissions may also be submitted through the end of the current submission period, November 30.

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #9: Eschatologies. All things must come to an end—or must they? Apocalyptic or, in the words of T.S. Eliot’s "The Hollow Men”:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Consider the way our world, at the least the world we know now, may end. And what may be next.

Contest deadline: November 30. Please submit all contest submissions through the Contest link on the Submit page. Do interpret the theme, "The Future," in any way you'd like. Surprise us. Non-theme submissions may also be submitted through the end of the current submission period, November 30. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eschatology

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #8: Tempo. In composing the future, what tempo do you assign to it? Or are you the listener, feeling the future approaching or stretching out away from you allegro, adagio, misterioso, grazioso, scherzando? Do you hear a metronome--or no? Or is the future one sustained note, foot on the damper pedal? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #7: Plans. We try to manipulate the future. Strategic plans, battle plans, business plans, retirement plans, funeral plans. Every possible insurance plan. Blueprints. Outlines. Instruction manuals. Match-making. Schemes. Arranged marriages. Plotting our children’s lives. From daily to-do lists to genetic engineering. We think we have it all figured out. Sometimes life goes as planned. Other times—not so much. Deadline: November 30. Speaking of plotting and planning—or not—here are thoughts from Andre Dubus III in The Atlantic. But whatever works for *you.* http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/10/the-case-for-writing-a-story-before-knowing-how-it-ends/280387/

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #6: Stances. Enter the keyword “future” on the poetryfoundation.org page, and your search will yield over 1,400 results. Consider the stance in a number of the poems here—both stance as position and stance as attitude. Does the poet face the past or the future, and from where? Is the tone one of regret, of hope, of resistance, of acceptance? Or is it complicated? A gorgeous complexity. Consider your own stance. Deadline: November 30. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/search/?q=future&page=1

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #5: Consequences. The Butterfly Effect, the Avalanche Effect, the Domino Effect, and other types of unintended consequences have long reached beyond the sciences into literature. One small action can cause a disproportionate effect. The results can be beneficial or devastating—or a radical swerve into the future that’s somewhere in between. Consider unintentional consequences on any scale you’d like. From the far-reaching consequences of the death of a butterfly in Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” to a moment that forever changes the dynamics of a marriage. Deadline November 30. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/Time-and-The-Physics-of-Ray-Bradbury--.html?c=r

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #4: Inventions. Throughout history, inventions have changed our present and future lives. Explore the idea of invention in a poem, short story, or work of creative nonfiction. Place yourself anywhere in time. Consider how an invention has changed us for better or for worse, or simply made life, well, different. From movable type (1041) to the artificial heart (2001). Enjoy research? Here's an opportunity. Submit through Baltimore Review website. Deadline November 30. http://www.inventions-guide.com/list-of-inventions.php?itkw=famous+inventions+throughout+history&cmp=3607

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #3: Speculation. Did you spend considerable time under the covers with a flashlight and the science fiction greats? I did. And every now and then, I imagine my own future worlds. So many possible worlds. So many visions. Maybe this interview with Margaret Atwood will stir your imagination. Then ask yourself: What if? Or you can go back under the covers with your flashlight.  http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/10/12/margaret-atwood

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #2: Promises. We give them. We receive them. We ritualize them. We mean them with all our hearts. We mean them at the time. We never really meant them at all. We make them frivolously. We regret them. We demand them. We would like to believe them. We have our doubts. We break them. We fulfill them. Oaths, vows, pacts, pledges, covenants, commitments, contracts. Promises shape the future. http://www.quotegarden.com/promises.html

BR Winter Contest Theme: The Future. Idea to get you writing #1: Ouija Board. Think of questions a poet might ask of the Ouija board and how a Ouija board with a poet's spirit and gift of language might respond. Fiction writers, work a Ouija board into a story. CNF writers, weave together an experience with the board (or other tool of divination) and some research. http://www.brainjar.com/dhtml/ouija/

 

 

Comments: