Okay, let’s kick off the New Year with one of Jim Harstad’s favorites. Some of you have done this before, so you know that it’s an exercise in revising your work. For this exercise, you’ll be posting a pair companion pieces in the same post.
The first piece will be exactly 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 words. Exactly. Count them using your word processor tools, or if you don’t have a built in word counter, count them yourself.
The second piece, the one that will be posted along with your first one, will be exactly 50 words shorter than the first. So, if your first piece is 100 words exactly, your revised piece will be 50 words exactly. This is Jim’s favorite. To cut your piece in half.
If your first piece is exactly 500 words, then your companion piece will be a revision of exactly 450 words. This would be the least stressful revision. If you’ve not tried this exercise before, maybe exactly 500 word pieces chopped down to exactly 450 words is the best way to go.
As Jim would say, it’s easier to overwrite your first piece than to try to keep adding stuff to get up to, say, 300 words. Pump out your words over the count, revise down to the first count, then revise down to the second count. Or do the add on to get up to your exact first count if you like. Whatever.
Okay, here are the prompts you can use to generate your first piece of exactly 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 words. Exactly. And remember, as always, these are also the suggested prompts you can completely ignore if you want to write whatever.
Happy New Year
What a mess
You’re the best
Taking a test
Making the grade
The ace of spades
It was a very good year
Why are you here?
Why am I here?
Where’s the beer?
What was the question?
Gotta find a restroom
Falling off a ladder
What could be sadder?
Why does it matter?
It’s a balloon
Hand me the broom
It’s a sweep
Take a flying leap
Okay. Poem, story, essay, play, hybrid, whatever.
First piece exactly 100, 200 300, 400, or 500 words. Count the words.
Second piece is 50 words cut out of the first piece. Exactly 50 words chopped. Count the words.
Post both pieces. Give the word count for each piece with the title:
Class Reunion (400 words)
Blah blah blah blah.
Class Reunion (350 words)
Blah, blah, blah bl.
Oh. The title is not included in the word count.
Got a question? Email me: email@example.com
Okay, folks, let us get down and write like Jim Harstad would write with this challenge.
- We reserve the right to remove content that promotes hate or gratuitous violence. Be respectful and courteous to others.
- All contest challenge entries must be submitted by the designated
- Enter as many times as you like using a trigger/prompt (this page).
- Contest Challenge entries can be prose (including short stories, nonfiction essays, or whatever you write), poetry, or plays -- or any type of hybrid writing you dream up.
- Every entry must have a title -- unless you choose to enter a haiku, in which case you can simply enter the word haiku in the title section.
- All content/entries should be original work. You retain ownership of your entries; however, we may ask to use them elsewhere on the site or on social media to help promote Bamboo Ridge and/or the Bamboo Shoots online writing community.
- Winners will be announced with all possible speed after the end of each month. Winners receive 10 Bamboo Bucks credit to spend in the BRP online bookstore. Bamboo Bucks have no monetary value outside of the online store.
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- Please note that you need not enter the contest challenge in order to post on Bamboo Shoots. You may post other writing if you choose. We welcome that here: Click this link to go to Shoot da Breeze.
This prompt is closed for submissions.