For the past few weeks I've been following the activities of a creative writing trail, Finish the Story Contest. The concept that drives this contest draws energy from a stable of contributors who never seem to run out of inspiration. The format is ingenious. Each week a story fragment is posted. The fragment begins a tale, and then leaves off before completion of the story line. Contestants carry the narrative thread forward and, in 500 words or less, provide a resolution.
I contributed to a couple of these story fragments, but find sometimes, as the deadline approaches, that I come up short. However, there is so much potential in Finish the Story Contest that I would like to direct other Steemians to it. To me, this is less a contest than an opportunity to let loose the muse that resides in even the dullest of us.
But make no mistake, this is a contest. There are winners, and there are rewards, although I think all the contestants "win" simply by participating. There's a strong sense of community and mutual support.
Even if you don't choose to finish a story, you are likely to be surprised by the novel interpretations offered by contestants. Occasionally authors cannot contain their enthusiasm and ignore the 500 word limit. I'm not sure if this dooms their pieces, but it doesn't seem to matter because they've had such a good time writing.
The most recent story idea (deadline Tuesday, July 24 at 12PM, PDT) offers an excellent example of how richly textured the story fragments may be. Crafted by @marcoriccardi, it drops us without warning into the tense universe of a young Legionnaire who is patrolling the border of hostile territory. The name of the story is, appropriately, Border. That in itself can be an inspiration for so many offshoots. It can be literal: this is a barrier intended to keep hostile forces out. Or, it can be a metaphor: the young man is beginning a new phase in life. He is equipped with knowledge transmitted to him by authorities. Will this information govern his actions, or will he learn to break from received wisdom and form his own judgments about experience? I think @marcoriccardi has given us license to explore the second option as he introduces an element of surprise in his last line.
And then there is the enemy, the "Others". From the mind of the young Legionnaire we receive an impression of these "Others", but what are they, truly? We are invited to decide. The nature of the Others is presented to us almost as a "Tabula Rasa". What we write becomes their fate. This is the charm of creation--ownership and design.
Another theme suggested is scarce resources, a theme that has become a staple of science fiction. But how exactly is it intended here? There's a concept of managems, a fuel that is not defined--although as a compound word, managems offers provocative possibilities. Manna (mystical gift from the gods), and gem (a rare and precious commodity). Surely the name of this fuel cannot be accidental.
You see from my brief description how open the possibilities are. The limitation does not reside in the story fragment, but in the imagination of the writer who picks it up. There, I'm afraid, is where I fall short this time around. I can see the issues, but I cannot summon the magic that will make my interpretation irresistible. So I offer the baton to others.
If you are inclined at all to creative writing, give this contest a look. Maybe some weeks you will find yourself coming up with something satisfying. Your writing doesn't have to meet an objective standard of excellence. It has to answer to your own hunger for expression. How can that be anything but good?