26 April 2015 - 5:47 pm

Asylum preparations

Wouldn't it be cool to sail off in one of these, for lands unknown?  (Picture: scrimshaw drawing on a sperm whale tooth, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Wouldn’t it be cool to sail off in one of these, for lands unknown?
(Picture: scrimshaw drawing on a sperm whale tooth, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

It’s almost that time again: time to delve into the Writers’ Asylum, my day of writing challenges. It’s less than a week away now!

(All right, if I’m honest, it’s late this year, falling in May instead of April. This was due to some factors outside of my control and another event that cropped up; more on thay event later. But anyway!)

The pencils are sharpened, the straightjackets have been washed and pressed, and I’ve got the keys to all the doors. I think I’m just about ready!

Okay, I’m kidding. I haven’t really sharpened any pencils. Who gives asylum inmates sharp things to play with? Seriously.

This year, I’m trying something different. Following feedback last year that it might be fun to try linked challenges rather than standalone ones, I have created a series of challenges that builds upon a single, central story. It was both difficult and fun to write.

That’s part of why I love doing the Asylum: I get to write the challenges. It’s my challenge to myself, because they have to hit a particularly difficult line in specificity.

I read them out to a group of people (anything from 10 to 40 people, if previous years are anything to go by) and some people pick them up from this blog, which means that these challenges need to speak to a broad range of writers. They have to allow people to go into a world that they can connect and work with. This means that they can’t lean too heavily in a particular direction; they need to account for different time periods, magic and technology levels, genres, feels, and preferences.

At the same time, the challenges need to be focussed enough to guide the writers towards something that they can write, right there, on the spot. 1,000 words in an hour. So it has to be packed with sparks that can cross all those boundaries above. The challenge has to push them, and also be about something specific.

Broad, but directed. Allowing for different approaches and options, and yet on the same overall topic.

It’s not an easy target to hit. I’m not entirely sure how successful I am, most of the time, but I think I get there. This time, because the challenges are all linked, it’s harder because I can’t make any assumptions about what the previous challenge has set up.

It’s also immensely fun. It makes up for the fact that I’m so busy running the day, I don’t wind up doing the challenges myself.

Which isn’t to say that they don’t give me ideas. They do! Perhaps one day I’ll get around to writing them. Right now, I’m just happy that this year’s Asylum is all set up and ready to go. The challenges are written and scheduled up on this blog, ready to post in tandem with the live event.

What is this linked story going to be about, you ask? I’m not telling except that it has a name: Colonising Minds. Take from that what you will. True answers will emerge on Saturday, 2nd May. Join us!

I’m ready. Are you?

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  1. Alexander Hollins (Leaking Pen) says:

    ooo, crazy writing challenge. Bring it.

    April 27th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

  2. Mel says:

    Soooon, yes. 😀 Saturday!

    April 28th, 2015 at 10:40 am