Friday, 31 July 2009

The power of story

My son's band was auditioning for the right to play the main stage at a local festival. American Idol-style, these second-round auditions were open to the public. My son's band was playing the last set of the evening.

There was just one problem. One of their guitarists had already committed to playing a nursing home (yes, you read that right) earlier that evening. But they figured he'd be able to turn up on time. It would be tight, but he'd make it. When set-up time came, he still wasn't there. They set up as slowly as they possibly could, and the MC was as helpful as he could be, hamming it up and even singing a song of his own to keep the audience engaged. Still no guitarist, and there was just no way to delay any longer. So they picked a song in which his contribution wasn't too central, improvised a bit to fill in the holes, and performed the song.

Still no guitarist. This is only a four-man band, so it matters.

They looked at each other, picked another song, and started in. What else could they do? And then, partway in, the missing guitarist came sprinting up the aisle, bounded onto the stage, plugged in his guitar... just in time for his solo. It could not have been better timed if they had deliberately staged it.

And they won the competition. One of the organizers told them afterwards that they were serious contenders from the outset, but once their performance turned into a story, and one with a happy ending at that, they were a shoo-in. This despite the fact they were not a local band, and the audience vote counted for 50% of the final outcome.

And that, my friends, illustrates the power of story about as well as anything could.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Contest for science fiction/fantasy writers

Tor UK, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited, is holding a contest, War of the Words, to find the next big thing in SFF. That's science fiction and fantasy, for the uninitiated, but if you didn't know that, this blog post probably isn't for you anyway. ;o)

War of the Words

You need to have a completed manuscript in the 80-150K range, plus a full synopsis (they still haven't defined what they mean by that, but I'm guessing that 1-2 page deal isn't going to cut it). You have until August 20 to submit the synopsis and the first three chapters.

We had a rather lengthy discussion on the contract terms over at A Dribble of Ink and have more or less come to the conclusion that it would be a decent contract. Victoria Strauss of Writers Beware has given it her Imprimatur in a private email too, so go ahead, send in your opus. There's no entry fee, so what have you got to lose?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

From first to last

Noveldoctor has a contest going on. He provides a choice of first lines and a choice of last lines, you provide the words in between, to a maximum of 400. And he's actually got real prizes.

It's all for the fun of it more than anything else, as well as learning how to get from Point A to Point B, but it looks like fun. Entries have to be in by the 31st so sharpen your cyberpencils and start typing.

And subscribe to his blog while you're at it. It's fun and useful. Well, sometimes it's useful.

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