Archive for January, 2013

Questions about the California Young Writers Contest 2013

January 15, 2013

Questions from students:

Can I enter more than one short story in the California Young Writers Contest?

Yes! You may write as many short stories, poems, and personal narratives as you like. You can mail them all in one large envelope (make sure you have enough postage!) or you can mail individually, as you write them. It doesn’t matter to us, as long as each entry has an entry form attached to it filled out correctly.

Must my short story be only five pages or can it be longer?

It must be five pages or less. If it comes in with teeny-tiny type, we won’t read it. If a short story is more than five pages or a personal narrative is longer than three pages, the judges are forbidden to consider it.

We are treating this contest just as writing contests are handled in the adult world of writing. This is how it is in the real world.

Writing succinctly is more difficult than writing any word that flows from your brain. This is why revision is so important. Rewrite your piece, finding just the perfect words to tell your story, personal narrative or poem.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them here.

The Couch IS Important

January 7, 2013

At a recent breakfast date, a friend leaned toward me over the table and asked, “Tell me, is Mary rich?”

I had been inside her home. “Everything in her house matches,” I said.

My friend laughed. We both had grown up poor so she knew what I meant. Mary was rich in our eyes.

Every piece in Mary’s lovely home did look expensive. Colorful tapestries showing European influences decorated the floors; delicate china and glassware displayed in dark cherry cabinets. A silver teapot and tray sparkled in the sunlight. Art work on the walls had been purchased from her travels from all around the world.

I remember a few years ago I was so proud we were able to get a matching white couch and chair for our living room. But when our son, who lives on the opposite coast, came for a visit and walked into our house, his jaw dropped. “Oh no!” he said. “One of those houses! It’s white and sterile and not comfy. This is not how we are.”

He turned and walked through our kitchen into our cluttered and mismatched family room. “Ah, he said. This is us.”

Writing Prompts:

1. Does your house reflect who you are? Describe the room that best shows your personality.
2. In your most recent project, write about your main character’s bedroom or favorite place to be. Does she hang out in the forest behind her back yard? Does she love her high-rise office overlooking the Oakland Bay Bridge? Does he cherish his music room? Describe your character’s actions in this room.
3. Write a short story or poem showing how setting is important to the theme or plot of the story.
4. Write about the importance of one object in an essay, poem or story. How can it fuel the plot?
5. Does your character collect any objects? Have a special style? Does she or he fit in with his surroundings? Stand out in any way? Write a scene to show the answers to these questions.