As I mentioned on my weekend post my latest writing dilemma- trying to write 250 words on a set theme-for this coming Wednesday evening's Manuscript of the Year Competition at Nottingham Writers' Club.
Now every October I'm wracking my brains to come up with an idea, each year the theme is different, but we do know the subject from early September. Sometimes the result emerges much quicker, but not this year.
Members hand in their 250 words of prose on the night with a pseudonym, and whether they need a male or female reader. We have 4 readers, two men and two women who read each entry, and if there's not too many entries that year, they are read a second time by the other male or female reader.
It does illustrate how different a story can sound with another reader.
The winner is the entry that gets the most votes from the audience on the night- we often have visitors to meetings and they are able to join in the fun and vote.
Earlier in the year the Committee asked members for theme suggestions, and in the month or two following that a longlist/shortlist of possibilities was compiled- depending on suitability.
The criteria for suitability is that the suggestions give scope for interpretation by the writers. The Committee vote by e-mail for their preferred suggestion, until there is a winner.
A couple of years ago we were given a set line that had to appear somewhere in the story, but didn't count toward the 250 words...That was difficult, but it produced a wide variety of stories- a perfect example of how 15+ writers tackle the same theme totally differently.
The list often also provides the theme for the annual Verse of the Year Competition for the poets among the membership in the following March.
This year's Verse theme was 'Sat-Nav'. The competition was won by Keith- who blogs as 'Dream it, then do it' and another member Graham. As the vote is anonymous we couldn't ask for another vote to decide, so they got to share the trophy...
So to this year.
My problem is my character, she keeps providing me with snippets and the circumstances keep changing, as does her name. But I do have the last line...
So, now I have until Wednesday lunchtime to finally get my story together.