Win a signed Joyce Carol Oates novel

Sep 22, 2009 by

Readers, even though the Joyce Carol Oates novel has been given away, please feel free to continue offering recommendations for the literary challenges. I may use one of the suggestions for a future round. If I do, I will offer a prize of some kind.

*STEPHEN GEE of Nicosia, Cyprus receives the signed copy of the Joyce Carol Oates novel for proposing that the next challenge involve including a line from a book or play. The Round 6 challenge is to incorporate a White Russian and the words “Over the Line” in the next passage, which should be no more than 500 words. Both are taken from “The Big Lebowski” (see the Round 6 video, shot at the Lebowski Fest, for details). It’s not a book or play, but it’s close enough.

This round I’m taking suggestions for the Round 6 literary challenge. The person whose challenge I select will receive a signed copy of an uncorrected proof of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Little Bird of Heaven and will receive mention in the next  video. (For an overview of the competition, click here). The suggestion must be received by midnight this Wednesday, Sep 23 (EST), the same time that the elimination poll closes (don’t forget to vote!).

Previous challenges included writing something that was about interactions taking place over the web, that involved the death of a dog, and that incorporated this image. It can be anything. Send your suggestions as comments below, as an email to me, or via Twitter to @FourthFiction.

Again, the deadline for suggestions is Thursday at midnight EST, when the Round 5 elimination poll closes. Please do cast your elimination vote if you haven’t done so yet.

No, I’m not accepting suggestions on challenges from the contestants.

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  1. How about having the contestants include a specific sentence in their next round – something tricky and obscure. It might be fun to see how they’d pull something like that off.

  2. Yes. This is where I get stuck!

    Amazing. Everyone seems to have very strong opinions about everyone else’s writing and stories on here, but when you actually ask people for suggestions… look how quiet they all go!


  3. Ooh! Ooh! Wait. I have one.

    How about… if the contestants had to incorporate a certain element of any of the outside participants’ responses into their own (i.e., the style of writing or a part of the plot)?

    That could be a great chance for outside participants to get good readership, and for the contestants themselves to have to read guest responses… although I do think it a bit ambiguous.

    • Love it!!

      And what about to combine both ideas, as in picking a sentence of an outsider to incorporate?
      The contestants could chose randomly, or our very nice and clever host could chose one, I myself have lots of them to be picked… (ok, I´d to try! :))

      • I love both. As outside contestants how could we not love the possiblity of some how making our way into the official contest.

        I’m thumbs up for both versions suggested here. As for putting forth my own ideas, as I’m writing on the other side, feel it is wrong to want to suggest something. I revel in the anticipation and suprise on the 24th!

  4. Interesting.

    Another option would be to have them include a chase scene :)

    I would have suggested a sex scene, but these Fourth Fiction writers have already sexed things up quite enough on their own!

  5. How about a flash forward or back which includes dialogue with a character that has not yet been introduced.

  6. Thanks to everyone for the excellent suggestions. I’ve received quite few by email too so there’s plenty to select from. I thought throwing the challenge out to readers to decide would make things easier for me but it’s only making it harder. There’s so many good ones to choose from…

    Much appreciated. Keep them coming!

  7. Beran

    There are some good suggestions there,so let me add one more, how about every remaining contestant, 8 of them, incorporates other contestants bios in to their story. You can match them in duos ( as they are 8 its possible) and let them shift their stories by adding the story of thier rivals real selfs. Or dont match them, but let them to put all other 7 in their story. Ha ha its so fun to be a reader.

  8. Since life sometimes involves events over which we have no control but never the less dramatically change the course of our lives , how about incorporating such an event in the next round – by way of honouring Igor.

  9. Down here in Australia lots of us on the east coast have been dealing with a freak dust storm today , so I’d be interested to see how the contestants incorporate a massive, extended dust storm into their writing.

    • It’s been freaky hasn’t it Maree. We’re visiting Cairns at the moment so have missed it (we seem to miss all the big weather events somehow)

      Here’s the link to the photo gallery of the Sydney Morning Herald Website.

      (not sure how the hell I’d incorporate a dust storm into my snow storm – lol!)

      • Had a look at the SMH site – some incredible pictures but I dread to think what the clean up might end up being like, although surprising the pictures don’t actually show a lot of sign of the dust settling.

      • Apocalyptic images. Was it really so red? It’s hard to imagine some of those images weren’t color-enhanced.

        • It really was that red – we were watching it live on TV (most of those pics on the link were amateur photographers shooting their neighbourhood). It was a function of the dust and the rising sun that got the colour – a bit like getting a vivid red of a sunset if there’s smoke or pollution.

          We’ve got it here today – more just a yellow-ish grey blotting out everything thankfully and some blustery winds.

  10. Riffing off Maree’s suggestion – what about an unseasonal or cataclysmic weather event. There seems to be plenty of them around at the moment.


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