They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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500 Words To Sell Your Story

It's August

And that means it is time for Ralan's Webstravaganza Grabber Contest.

Okay, yes, I know that "you" don't "do" contests. Especially ones with a fee. But this one is fun. Ralan's is a great resource for genre writers in terms of keeping up with markets. The annual contests are a way of improving his visibility and offering a chance to make donations to help pay for the website. Note that the entry fee goes into the prize pool. Donations go to the website. Pick one, the other or both.

Last year he ran a Clincher contest -- where you sent the last 500 words of a story and the judges picked the best stories by their endings. This year it's a Grabber contest -- you sent the FIRST 500 words of a 2000 to 6000 word story.

I've just written 570 words of a new story, so I've got my Grabber, at least in raw form. I'll go ahead and finish the story now, so I won't be rushed later, and there's still plenty of August to get this in.


The start of a story is the hook. It's the thing which an editor or a reader uses to decide whether to keep reading. The criteria for stopping can be quite brutal -- a bad first sentence, first paragraph, first page. Anywhere you care to draw a red line of death. So punching up a 500 word Grabber -- and that's all you're submitting -- is trusting that your opening is a sufficient teaser that the judges in this case will take a risk on having you submit the rest of the story. Such a deal!

A Clarion With Teeth

arcaedia wrote in a comment on jaylake's blog:

Over the weekend, at a conference I attended, there was a panel in which an American Idol audition style scenario occurred with the panelists hearing up to two pages of a work and stopping the readers immediately at the point of rejection. Apparently some people thought the panel a little harsh. Others thought it very honest. It's a hard line to walk.

At last week's Clarion reading with Kelly Link and Holly Black, there was a brief moment of discussion about reality TV. I made the comment that Clarion was like Project Runway, except no one gets voted off. That prompted the speculation that maybe BRAVO or someone could do a reality TV show of a Clarion Workshop "with teeth". (grin)

It would be brutal, but in this insane culture of ours, it would give some visibility... naw, it's too crazy. Isn't it?

Dr. Phil

PS – What’s 500 words? Well, this posting comes in at 471 words according to the misguided countings of Microsoft Word. Think it makes a point? Think it grabs you?

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