Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Kind of a Contest Should We Have Next Week?

Much like a new mother, I have sufficiently forgotten the pain of birthing the past few blog contests and am ready for another. So..... contest next week! Who can stop me? No one! (Remind me of my bravado next week when I'm nursing a drink and a shot of good old-fashioned remorse).

But since this is your blog and you have been kind enough to let me write here for a while, I'm wondering: what kind of a contest should it be? A hook contest? Another title contest? A worst contest? Book covers? Short fiction? Random lottery?

And, for that matter, short of an outright offer of representation (which I can't do) or money (which I don't have), what should the winner receive?

It's going to be fun! I think!






93 comments:

Adaora A. said...

We should have a 'worst agent pick up line contest.' That is, worst line you've ever heard at a conference when an author had to pitch you on the fly.

You could do a worst novel title contest? One winner for every category.

Cam said...

How about these ideas?
- a "short short" fiction contest (1,000 words or less) with a prompt provided by you, much in the way that Writer's Digest runs the 24-hr. fiction contest
- a worst query letter contest; writers come up with horrid queries; you choose the winner based on who was most off the mark.

The prize? Winner gets to be a guest blogger on this space for one day and winning entry to be posted on the blog. Recommend providing a disclaimer that you can edit the winner's guest-blog as deemed necessary/appropriate!

I'm sure someone out there can come up with something even more clever than these. Ideas anyone?

Cameron Sullivan

Sophie W. said...

I think a title contest sounds ridiculously awesome. Titles are hard to think up, and when someone comes up with the perfect title, they should be rewarded! :D

Maybe each title should come with an explanation as to why it's appropriate for the book?

And as to prizes, free books are always exciting for us bibliophiles...

Adaora A. said...

Cam I like the worst query letter idea, it sounds awesome.

Time for spicy food and gin and tonic. Who is buying?

Hélène Boudreau said...

I think a 'Design your own book cover'contest would be cool, but I'm not sure how those could be submitted. PDF to e-mail maybe?

I'm thinking it would include cover design, title and back cover copy.

Prize as guest blogger sounds great!

sylvia said...

Short fiction would be fun. :)

I like the idea of a title contest but it might be nice to have everyone trying to title the same story/synopsis to have something to really compare.

Steve Axelrod said...

gHow about a dialogue contest? No context -- just a fly-on-the wall eavesdropping glimpse at a page of talk ... part of a scene or a whole scene, whatever. You can tell a lot about a writer by their dialogue. In MFA programs you constantly read student writing starving from 'scene deprivation' -- confrontations alluded to, remembered, summarized ... but never shown. The reader is left to fill in the gaps and do the primary work himself: a game of narrative karaoke that gets old fast. So let's see some of that dreaded dialogue! For a prize ... fittingly: a ten minute phone call with you!

Heidi said...

Are you insane???? I had three kids and at the beginning of the third pregnancy I said, "This has got to stop! Let the insanity end now!"

Take my advice: words to live by!

But as you are offering, bring it on! I'll tune in for the fun!

I've been browsing the website A Book A Minute, which condenses real books to a few sentences. This might be fun to do as a contest - the best (and funniest) concise summary of a well-known book... or not. You be the judge. The website is here:

www.rinkworks.com/bookaminute/classics.shtml

Anne-Marie said...

I like the idea of a title contest.

Scott said...

I like the worst query idea. I've been thinking of writing one anyway.

Ozal said...

I like the worst query idea, or suggesting a title for a book, blurb supplied so we are all naming the same book.

I have no desire to be a guest blogger, though.
I'm pretty sure most people would kill for feedback from you - how about on their query letter?

Jess said...

title contest or pitch contest, what you know best :)

I don't suppose a first-page critique or anything like that could be the prize?

calendula said...

Worst query-opening rhetorical question! :-)

Will said...

I'd like a fix this line contest. Give us a really, really terrible line or paragraph describing a scene and see who can rewrite it well.

Other than that title contest.

HipWriterMama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steph Leite said...

Dude, I love the horrid query idea! And also the guest blog thing sounds cool, though to be honest, I think writers would benefit a lot more if they could get some sort of critique from you, Nathan. Unless the winner gets to put 'guest blogger on Nathan Bransford's blog' as a writing credential in their queries :P

Contest: Worst Query
Prize: Real query letter critique + some few chapters, like three or so. And if you're feeling really, über generous, a guest blogger spot :P

- Steph

David said...

Worst Last Sentence contest.

Why is it always the best first something? Worst last would be an interesting change. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Forget? I'm with Heidi, Nathan. Oh dear God, I'll never forget the torture of giving birth to a 10.6 pound baby.

AM

Nathan Bransford said...

Heidi and Anon-

As a man, let me tell you how it looks from my perspective -- complete and utter amnesia seems to be the only rational explanation. I mean, I cringe just pulling off a band-aid because I REMEMBER how that stings. I don't know how you women do it.

Emily said...

I have to vote for the hook contest. Let us send in our ideas and you can judge them!

As for a prize... um... you tell everyone what's good about the hook and what's bad? And then the winner gets a guest blog.

John said...

I already wrote a mock-query with as many cliches as I could muster.

My votes: title contest ("Changes in the Lithuanian Tax Code")

In the discussion boards on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (amazon.com/abna ... I'm in the semis--such agony and ecstasy!), someone proposed the most self-deprecating review. There were some really funny ones.

Josephine Damian said...

Well, how about a back cover synopsis contest? :-) We could post our back cover copy to our blogs so as to not bog down your blog with lengthy posts, and our entry could be a link back to our blog.

That way we'd all be stopping by each other's blogs (and making friends) plus stopping by your blog to click on the links posted here.

Karen Duvall said...

I absolutely LOVE the dialog idea. How original! And how fun! Maybe Nathan can set the scene and we provide the characters and dialog. That would be awesome. I even like the prize. A ten minute phone call with Nathan.

Dare to be different! 8^)

Adaora A. said...

Agreed Nathan. I've reasoned with myself that the only way I will be able to give birth is with an epidural. Did you use one ladies? Pain is not my friend

My mom wants 10 grand children from my twin sister and I. Is she nutters? Come again mom.

Heidi you did it naturally? WOW.

Anonymous said...

I like Josephine's idea about the back cover, afterall, books are often bought by what is written there.

Tom

Val L said...

Contest: Query letter as Will Shakespeare would have written it in an attempt to coax Nathan to represent one of his plays (Nathan chooses which one).

Prize: Nathan critiques query or 1st page or (my preference) 1st chapter. (Well, yes, my 1st chapters are often 3 to 4 hundred pages long. Aren't yours?;)

Val L

Heather Wardell said...

I vote for a title contest. Either our own titles, or creating titles for a given pitch.

As for a prize, if you're willing, a critique is always useful. First five pages, perhaps? More useful to agented writers than a query letter critique but still useful to the unagented.

The 'guest blogger' prize doesn't really interest me. I prefer to read your brilliant insights as opposed to someone else's ramblings. :)

Heather

CarBeyond said...

I love the idea of a writing contest, like a short story.
One of the funnest exercises is to have a starter line or paragraph
("It was a dark and stormy night.." I know, ugh, but fun too.)
and then maybe, if not a whole short story, the first 2-4 paragraphs and see which ones you wish you could read more of. We could even vote?

The prize? Well, I think it would be great if you could critique someone's short work (privately) or say what you thought it needed.

Josephine Damian said...

Nathan, while you're mulling this over, I'm attending a day-long workshop with Donald Maass on Saturday...

Do you have any pointers on how I can stand out in the crowd and get his attention (besides wearing my new red suit and push up bra)?

A group of us are taking him out for dinner afterwards. Would it be appropriate for me to slip a copy of my synopsis in his brief case when he goes to the men's room? Or should I just try to get him good and liquored up so he'll love my pitch?

Signed,
Anxious and Eager in Florida

Nathan Bransford said...

josephine-

The best way to stand out is by not trying to stand out.

Polenth said...

I like the short fiction idea, but you could go shorter than the 'short short' limits. 100 word stories, one paragraph stories, that sort of thing.

Whatever happens, I'd put a vote in for a basic theme for whatever it is. It's always fun to see how people interpret the theme.

Josephine Damian said...

Bummer. I've already cut the tags off my red suit......

Seriously, Nathan - it's his "writing the breakout novel" interactive workshop, and my goal (along with the 75 other people attending) is to dazzle him with my story idea, since we'll be brainstorming our WIP's with him all day - kinda like a writer's boot camp. If I don't participate, then it's nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nathan Bransford said...

josephine-

By all means participate, but my advice stands -- don't try too hard. Agents can smell desperation across seven states.

Josephine Damian said...

Ok, but I'm bringing a print out of my synopsis just is case there's a snowball's chance in hell he's interested. I'd kick myself if I had nothing tangible to give him to take home and read on the plane should he express interest.

"Come prepared, or not at all," that's my motto (I'll give a prize to the first person who stops by my blog and guesses what novel that phrase/motto comes from).

Tammie said...

I like the title and pitch idea. And I like the winner gets to guest blog here on how they came up with their idea.

Josephine - Good luck with Donald Maass and have fun with or without the push up bra :o)

Adaora A. said...

He josie good luck. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

midnight oil said...

I would love to see a best pitch contest or something to that effect. I already know I can write a bad query. As for the prize? A Mulligan for those of us who have tried and failed but remain faithful. Or, for those of us who haven’t tried yet, a free shot at a query, possibly allowing a Mulligan in the future.

And yes you are insane. But we like it!

Anonymous said...

Y'all are wimps!
I was laughing when both of my kids were born... no, not drug related

at home no drugs!!!

And I think Nathan reads enough bad queries per day

Let's not slam him with a zillion bad query letters!

We need strength

How about: The best line you've ever written

Strongest line contest

?????

I'll admit to being a major weanie because I'm posting anonymous after calling you wimps!!!

In case you want to guess my initials are . . .

-not!

John Arkwright said...

The prize should be something that money can't buy.

A full critique of the query letter and the first 10 pages of the manuscript.

Dave Wood said...

Josephine,

I met Donald Maass at a conference in th Fall and I think Nathan is spot on.

Donald is a really nice guy and very easy to talk to -- and he'll be listening to you, your ideas, and your writing throughout the workshop. So you'll have lots of opportunity to stand out just by contributing. He also does many public appearances, so you can bet he's already been "dazzled" in every way anyone could think of. Just relax, enjoy the workshop, and he'll remember when you reference it in your query letter (not that I've queried him yet). Oh, and do have something ready to give him if he says he's interested, but I don't recall him encouraging people to slip him their work at the conference.

Good luck!

Sam Hranac said...

I'll stand in the dialogue contest line. But I suggest it be from something the writer is working on. Other stipulations could be 2 speakers only, and 250 words or less.

Prizes? I'll add one more to the free book line.

Aimless Writer said...

First paragraph? (Opening) If we win you give us a read? Request a full?
:)

Other Lisa said...

I don't know about the contest, but I don't think you can beat a partial read as a prize.

Aimless Writer said...

Josephine: I hear it works best if you just crawl under the bathroom stall. That way you give him something to read while he's in there. It's more intimate that way.
;)
Seriously, I don't think an agent would want to carry it home but he might request you send it to his office. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

nbnkgubn- BEST OF:
- Talking names in your book
- The funniest sentence
- A hook with brutal word count restrictions
- A hook without using the following words: parents, intergalactic, alcohol, midlife, murder, supermarket, decision, war, housewife, money, weight loss, snow tires and Katie Couric.
- Rhyming hook

I must remind you, be careful of many contests. Miss Snark kicked the bucket right after one of hers.

Lovingly, Larisa

Hope Clark said...

I adore a great hook. Can't get enough of them.

Prize? Amazon gift card - in any amount. I can always find an excuse to read a good mystery.

pjd said...

I would argue against any contest involving "the best line" kind of thing. Usually what makes a single line spectacular is the buildup or context in which it lives. I mean, what contest would "You had me at hello" win? Or "Do you feel lucky, punk?" Or "It was a half-shaved weasel, lady"?

I think the best contest would be one where everyone reads my WIP, and the best critique wins. The winner would be allowed to type up the revision.

Otherwise, I'd probably vote for a best hook or opening, or best 500 word short story (fiction or nonfiction, doesn't matter, but a complete story).

Allen B. Ogey said...

I like the Shakespeare idea.

One or two paragraph pitch of A Midsummer Night's Dream or the play of Nathan's choosing.

Best pitch (why try to write a bad one?) wins a query letter/first 50 pages review.

Elyssa Papa said...

I really like the dialogue idea because I do agree that you can tell a lot about a writer, especially if they're "good" or "bad."

We can kind of also do a parody contest... where you give us a bunch of genres or even little paragraphs and then we snark on them.

Ummm... prizes? Well, whatever you want to do is fine with me or the winner. I mean, if it included a ten-day all expense trip to Bora Bora, I don't think any of us would complain.

But... books would always be good (maybe even an ARC) or even... a critique, although that's probably not fun for you.

And Nathan... I know this is a totally stupid question and not even related to your blog, but question: if an agent doesn't represent romances, but you think that you and the agent would "click" because his blogs are funny and informative, should you take a chance and query? Or is that a rhetorical question that deserves to be shot down?

Ernest said...

I like David's idea for a "last-line" contest, though last paragraph might work better. Give us the title and one-sentence hook, we'll imagine the first 85,000 words and then provide the last 25 or so.

Best prize would be a short read -- first chapters, query letter, synopsis, whatever, up to a dozen pages. But don't make it a stunt, make it a real read -- if Nathan likes it and wants to request whatever's next, that's what happens.

cc said...

Title contest with a one sentence tag line so it's clear that the book matches the title.

** Free books are good prizes.


(I'd vote for dialogue, but dang, that's a lotta dialogue from books we don't know anything about pitch-wise...


-- CC

Taylor said...

I like the dialogue idea as well, and the terrible query letter idea. As far as the prize goes, I think a read of the first 10 pages or so of the winner's manuscript would be an excellent prize. I say pages instead of chapters because 1 chapter to one writer is sometimes ten times as long as one chapter for another.

Nadine said...

I really liked the design your own book cover idea or the one thinking up a title to some paragraphs you provide.

As for a prize, I'm not much up for guest blogging, but feedback back from you would be awesome, maybe on the first chapter?

Janet said...

You are insane. You know that, don't you?

Make it something short and easy for you to read. Titles or pitches or something. We don't want you to burn yourself out.

Query and/or pages critique would be a great prize.

Josephine Damian said...

Dave, thanks so much for the heads up. We're expected to workshop our WIP's and hopefully I'll get to run mine past him. No doubt any story advice he gives me will be golden.

Aimless: I figure it's like the advice my mother gave me about umbrellas on a cloudy day - better to take it along just in case.

*note to self: wear men's suit and minimizer bra so as not to look conspicuous following Donald into the bathroom*

Nathan: If you wanna keep the entries short and sweet and funny, how about a "title to my memoir" contest - do you remember the one you told us about months back where people came up with a name for George W. Bush's memoir? I believe the winner was "WTF?" Ha!

Or we could come up with a title for your memoir!

"Loving Cormac McCarthy"
"There's Gold in them thar Hills"
"How to Win Friends and Eliminate Rhetorical Questions"
"Watching The Wire With Eyes Wide Shut"

Well, you get the idea.

And yeah, I think the prize should be a critique of some kind - query, syn, first five pages of MS.

Nathan Bransford said...

Elyssa-

When in doubt: query.

Adrian said...

I'm a sucker for enteraining, spontaeous posts, so I'd vote for you providing three normally unrelated, preferably outrageous, words and a challenge to come up with the most compelling query/ hook/ back cover blurb (whatever) that uses the words in a way integral to the plot.

Or a dialogue contest. ; )

Marva said...

Elevator pitch. Twenty-five words or less. No more than two sentences.

Prize: A critique of the full query letter. The author must, of course, submit themselves to public humiliation.

Scott said...

Shakespearian queries?!?!

Now that's something I could get really excited about. It could be hilarious, and reading everybody else's entries would be a kick in the pants!

Tammie said...

While the partial read as a prize is great - some (dare I say - many) have already submitted and been rejected.

We stick around because Nathans a great guy :o) But I suppose we could still come up with something.

Since newspapers report that we aren't reading as much as we used to - a free book would be great!

Tammie said...

Marva - love the idea of getting a query letter critiqued and elevator pitch.

I'm with Marva - good one!

Elyssa Papa said...

Nathan, thanks for answering my question. I have another one--or maybe it's two in one.

Okay, say you queried this agency (but the NY one) months ago with the first draft of the now revised manuscript. One agent had the full but rejected it.

What's the policy on requerying? Do you requery the agent that originally rejected you? Or can you query someone else?

Sorry, I guess that was really three in one.

What about back blurbs of books? Or did someone suggest that, too?

Nathan Bransford said...

elyssa-

I posted a few months ago on re-querying: http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/11/re-re-querying.html

Elyssa Papa said...

Thanks again, Nathan. I really appreciate it.

Elyssa Papa said...

And can I say how impressed how I am you knew what blog to direct me to? I'm lucky if I find my car keys in the morning.

Cam said...

OK, I take back my suggestions. The worst query letters would have been fun but surely painful, and the 1,000 word short stories would be too much work and take time away from real work -- unless pulled from existing writing. My favorite new suggestion is Adrian's idea of taking "three normally unrelated, preferably outrageous, words" and have contestants write an opening, a title, a closing, back cover, etc.; something with a set word or sentence limit. This is quite entertaining. Can't wait to see the resulting contest.
Cam

Anonymous said...

That anyone would suggest a worst of anything disgusts me. Reading your blog should not be viewed as 'let's make fun of the unfortunate'. Rather, it should be viewed for the value your information means to those aspiring writers who've not yet been published.

Precie said...

Wow, this is tough. And, Nathan, I honestly must doubt your sanity...Do you have a death wish, man?

But...if a short fiction contest, then SERIOUSLY SHORT...like 100 words total.

Personally, I prefer your earnest contests to your comedic ones...people really seemed to bring out their best work in the first line and the opening. But...you're the one who has to suffer through it all.

Dude...really...take a look through your archives...are you sure you want to put yourself through that again? LOL!

burgy61 said...

I like the idea of a short story with you providing the opening line. Everyone starts at the same point and takes it from there. A query critique or partial read would make a nice prize.

Merry Monteleone said...

Nathan, you're a brave brave man...

I'd love to be one of those women who 'forget' the pain of childbirth... so, after having three, I secretly think they're all lying about it... okay, not so secretly now...

Anyhoo, I'm with Precie, whatever you do for a contest, it should be relatively short, after all, you have to wade through a lot of entries. I do like the idea of dialogue, it sounds like a fun exercise, but with a low word count...

Prize - I think the best would be a partial critique from you, even just the first chapter would be great!

Josephine,

I think you can go ahead with the red suit and push up bra - Nathan never said not to look nice, but I would approach it as an opportunity to learn more and participate. Bring your pitch and synopsis in case, but plan on making notes and querying him, with mention of meeting him of course, a few weeks after the conference, once he's waded through the bombardment from all the other writers that attended with you...

Besides, I've read your pitch, you don't need to chase agents into bathrooms, just present it as is because it's really good.

Liz Wolfe said...

A tag line. Erica Orloff blogged recently about writing the synopsis and mentioned starting with a tag line. Of course, I'm suggesting this because I actually came up with a tag line for my current wip.

Josephine Damian said...

Merry, thanks for the words of encourangement! I read on an agent blog where it said to go prepared with some tanigible write-up to give the agent to take away from the conf. - a verbal pitch can go in one ear and out the other, and God knows, as Nathan stated, people do lie about having gotten a positive reaction from a verbal pitch.

Nathan, you have months - years - ago of you here blogging *Nathan cringes at the prospect* - you can have a fun contest now, and amore serious one later.

I'm surprised no one (where is Moonrat?) suggested a sonnet about Nathan? Or how about a limerick about the book biz in general?

"There once was a publisher from Nantucket....." :-O

Church Lady said...

Josephine,
You can borrow my purple suit since Nathan thinks red might be too loud. (but not my hat. Danette gave it to me)

For your contest, I thought it might be a great idea to tie it into support for author Patry Francis. Writers blogs will be uniting on Jan 29 to support the release of her book. Here are the details from Backspace:

Have a blog? Want to help a fellow author?

Patry Francis is a talented author and lovely person whose debut suspense novel THE LIAR'S DIARY came out last spring in hardcover from Dutton. The trade paper release is January 29th, but a few weeks ago, Patry was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She's had several surgeries, and her prognosis is good, but given that Patry won't have much energy for promoting, a number of bloggers are banding together to do it for her.

'THE LIAR'S DIARY Blog Day' is going to be held January 29th. Folks who wish to participate are asked to mention the book on their blog that day and link to Patry's website (www.patryfrancis.com) and the book's purchase page on Amazon. You can do a liars themed blog, review the book, sponsor a contest, or anything else you think might help Patry get some much-deserved notice. Bloggers are also asked to encourage their readers to buy one/buy one for a friend between January 29th and Feb 1.

Brilliance audio is putting together a special audio clip that bloggers can use, and Circle of Seven productions is making a "cover story" promo video, which will also be available to bloggers. And Susan Henderson, of LitPark, says if you like, you can come to her blog on the 29th and copy what she writes.

Just to give you a very small idea of what you'll see on the 29th, here are the folks who have already stepped forward to help: Laura Benedict, who came up with the idea. Patry's editor at Dutton, Julie Doughty. Her agent at the Jean Naggar Literary Agency, Alice Tasman. Her publicist, Laurie Connors. Eileen Hutton at Brilliance Audio. Jessica Brilliant Keener. The brilliant Susan Henderson. Tish Cohen. Dan Conaway from Writers House. Sheila Clover English, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions. Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management. Neil Gaiman. Jennifer Weiner. Robin Slick from In Her Own Write. Ellen Meister. Bella Stander. M.J. Rose. Robin Grantham. Kamela Cody of ModernGirlStyle.com. Kathryn Esplin at Gather.com. Clair Lamb at her Answer Girl blog. Sarah Weinman at Confessions of An Idiosyncratic Mind. Hank Ryan from JungleRedWriters. Sisters In Crime. Raven Bower. CJ Lyons. Jordan Dane. Murderati. Jen Jordan at Crimespree. Richard Lewis. Gail Baker and The Debutante Ball. Eileen Cook. Kelli Stanley. David Thayer. Amy Nathan. Karin Gillespie. Melanie Lynn Hauser. Amy MacKinnon. Anthony S. Policastro. Carolyn Burns Bass. WOW! Women On Writing. And you, too, right?

McKoala said...

Oh my. Childbirth. Looooong labour. Much screaming. Gave in. Got drugs. Much better.

I like the three weird words idea, maybe in a short piece. Or the elevator pitch. Short, but practical. Like my sentences today. Apparently.

Luc2 said...

Hmm, I think most ideas that come to mind for a contests have already been mentioned.

As for the prize, I think a critique of a query letter and pages by Nathan coupled with helpful comments from the blogreaders is a great prize for every prepublished writer (not my term, I wish it were).

Southern Writer said...

Book trailers. That way, we'd all have to work as hard as you will in this contest. Except me. I've had one a long time.

As for a prize, I can buy my own books, but I can't buy the eyes of a good agent. A critique of anything would be great.

Chris said...

Hook contests have been done. I really would like to see a first page contest. In the past couple of months two agents have requested the first three chapters of my book. So, now that I got them to bite, I'm terrified that my first few pages aren't good enough. I think this is a much needed contest; you could even do a first paragraph contest if the first page is too much. Perhaps the winner would receive a partial request from you.

R.C. said...

I think it's funny to read your last two posts - first you are bummed about the stock market, the weather, and some other things I'm unfamiliar with, but they sound just terrible. Then, there you are offering up yourself to more pain and anguish by having another contest. How generous!

My vote, if it's not too late, is for the three unrelated words turned into an opening. I like this because everyone starts at the same place.

Childbirth is painful, but you end up with an incredible gift. So, you forgetting the pain of contests is much more admirable. Somehow, I don't think having our undying devotion isn't the same.

R.C. said...

It's early and I'm trying to give up coffee, of course I meant "is" where I wrote "isn't." This is going to be a tough week.

DeadlyAccurate said...

How about a "You, sir, are truly a crazy and nice man" contest.

A few ideas:

1) Flash fiction -- maybe 250 words or less?

2) Angry writer rejection letter response -- the winner writes the funniest response to your form rejection.

3) First line contests are still good.

As for prizes, the best is still your offer to critique query letters or sample chapters.

Melody O said...

Ooh, ooh! I also vote for the elevator pitch. They're always so much fun to read. Writing them, OTOH, is more like...child birth: time-consuming, messy, and with a lot of swearing. Heh.

Nathan, you brave and/or crazy man, thanks for doing another contest. You're probably going to need a painkiller for this. ::knocks you on head with hammer::

Roxan said...

A horrible query letter. That's way too easy. What kind of a challenge is that?

How about most descriptive paragraph?

I don't like the idea of being a guest blogger. I have a hard enough time writing my own blog!

Brigid said...

I still love hook contests, but you'd probably get 600 entries, a la Miss Snark, and then you'd never do another one. I wouldn't mind a dialogue contest, where people could post 250 words of dialogue from their novel or work in progress. Really, I'm all about contests where people can learn something. While the "bad query letter" ideas or "worst title ever" contests might be amusing at first, don't you already get all that all day long anyway? :-P

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I forget the childbirth part of it, since I had caesarians, but the six months of throwing up prior to delivery are indelibly etched upon my memory. I'll be a crooked hag with Alzheimers and I'll still remember.

Yeah, the kids made up for it, but just barely.

Vinnie Sorce said...

Well you had a first sentence contest how about a last paragraph contest?

Anonymous said...

The prize: A Nathan Bransford critique of three chapters.

Anonymous said...

"Well you had a first sentence contest how about a last paragraph contest?"

Wouldn't that give away the ending of your novel? Who wants to do that?

StiflersMom said...

Pitch 101 - Writers have 101 words to pitch their book to an agent.

- 101 word limit would making judging this contest easier

- good practice for making a concise pitch.

lk said...

I like:

- Design a book cover (different)
- Flash fiction
- Dialog
- Last paragraph

Prize: guest blogger

I think having Nathan critique work is a very bad idea. If the army was holding a contest would you ask that they shoot you as a prize?

Lady Whimsy said...

Contest: Hook
Prize: 3 Chapter eval of work-in-progress...that's the currency of an agent at a top lit agency, folks. The only thing better is a contract for representation and then a sold the manuscript phone call.

superwench83 said...

Okay, these are my favorite ideas so far:

A flash fiction story
A drabble (100 words, but it has to be 100 exactly) story
DIALOGUE!!! (My most favorite, as if the all-caps didn't give that away)
First page
Angry writer response


Favorite prize ideas:

A critique of any sort
10 minute phone call

cheri said...

I vote for title or dialogue from the writer's own work.

How fun! Thanks Nathan! You really are a brave man.

Can't wait to see what you decide.

jerzegurl said...

Real verses Fiction

Find a recent article in your local paper. Copy it exactly the way it appears and then write a 500 word fiction piece on how that story came to be, or what happened afterwards.

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