Glenn won my May Contest by writing a thrilling surprise ending to “Mayday: A Sci Fi Rescue.”
How did you get into Sci Fi writing?
I became interested in writing after watching a number of Drew Wagar’s Twitch streams. He is a Sci Fi/Fantasy author who wrote a number of books I loved reading, and he was using Twitch to do a “Sci Fi and Fantasy Writing Stream.”
After he had gone through several topics, he suggested it would be fun to do some hands-on and practical writing together, to put into practice what we had learned. We worked as a group to world-build and create a timeline of “epochs” surrounding our basic outline story. Every writer took one of these epochs and circumstances in the timeline and we each composed our own stories in that world that were stand-alone tales, but also could be connected because of the timeline and shared world. This project became the Nine Streams of Consciousness anthology, which we self-published on Amazon.
We wrote our stories independently, then critiqued, edited, and offered advice/constructive criticism on-stream and through a shared Word document online. Writers in the group were from Europe, the U.K. and the U.S. so everything was done online without ever meeting in person.
Everyone learned a lot and grew in their confidence and abilities through this process. I had originally intended to only write one 10,000-word story for the book, but I ended up writing three more in the 3,000- to 5,000-word size. In the end, we had fifteen stories, written by nine authors. Each story has its own unique style, point of view, and emphasis. It was a great first-time writing experience for a number of us. Only four or so of the authors in it had previously been published, but everyone did an amazing job and we are all very proud of how well it came out.
Other than writing and reporting for a non-profit organization in their newsletter, I have not really had a lot of writing experience, at least not in the realm of fiction writing. I really only have written fiction here and there for fun or myself, never intending to publish it. But the anthology project lit a fire under me and made me want to write fiction in a more focused way for publication.
I have always been a Sci Fi, and a space nerd, which of course makes Sci Fi my favorite type of book to read and write. I also love fantasy, ancient history, and military ships and aircraft, but Sci Fi is my true love. I hope to produce a Sci Fi novel of my own, or maybe a series, in the next year. I hope to tie some of my other interests, such as history and science, into this work in progress as well.
Why did you decide to enter the May Contest?
I decided it would be a fun challenge to try to match the style and feel of someone else’s unfinished story. I invited a number of friends, including a few from our anthology project, to give it a try, too, to give it a little more competition. I’m not sure how many others submitted endings for the contest, but I enjoyed solving the mystery that the original story introduced.
It was fun and challenging to take the hints, clues, and mysteries in the beginning of the story and imagine solutions and connections that they might hint at for the ending. It was a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle where the ending was hinted at and in relation to the completed part of the puzzle, but I could make the last part whatever I imagined it should be.
I have not co-written a single story before. The Nine Streams of Consciousness anthology project did allow a lot of shared world-building and editing collaboration, but we did write our stories independently of each other. Yet we also looked for places in the stories where we could connect them with one another. We shared some characters, places, and events which tied them together into a connected narrative.
How did you find the contest challenging?
The challenging part was fitting an ending which wrapped up the story into 500 words or less. I wanted to make sure the implications of the conflicts and details given in the beginning had payoff and were satisfactorily tied into the ending. Five hundred words can come up on you pretty fast when your imagination is flowing!
I read and re-read the given starting story a few times and made notes on elements that were hinted at, like the character Fram, which the point-of-view character talked about. I asked myself questions about the hints in the story like “What would be on the data chip?” and “Why would he be trying to get to planet 5 instead of 8? — Was 8 or 5 closer?” Writing out some of these details and questions helped me conceive of the ending I wrote.
I encourage others to give story writing a try and see what comes of it. This monthly challenge is a fun mental exercise–a creative puzzle to solve.