Shapeshifting 13 #106 Kickoff

May 17, 2017

Hello out there, Ghoul Friends!

So, yesterday, we talked about using context clues in regards to unfamiliar words and phrases to aid our audience as they read our pieces. In that, though, I mentioned something that I want to talk about today.


How much research do you put in when writing something new? One of the greatest lessons I learned in my younger days, in regards to writing, was actually two different pieces of advice from two different teachers. The first say to remember the acronym “M.I.U.”–“make it up”. The second told me to “write what you know”. I try to employ both ideas regularly. When it comes to making something up, I tend to find inspiration in unlikely places. For instance, I’ve watched a lot of medical dramas on television, so I’ve become familiar with certain Latin-influenced terminology and lingo used in the medical field. For example, a fasciotomy is when a limb is sliced open to relieve pressure in order to restore circulation. A myocardial contusion is a bruise on the anterior, or front section, of the heart after a blunt trauma impact. For a recent short story that I wrote (which will be in my second book, BAD WORDS, coming this July), I found myself using this and similar jargon, but I ended up doing a lot of research about specific conditions that would be appropriate for the story. I know what I wanted to discuss, but to have the actual terms and the actual symptoms, conditions, etc., appear realistic was important. I wanted to convey that: a) I knew what I was talking about in that piece, or, at least it seemed plausible; and b) the story was not deterred or halted by the mix of medical lingo. Research ended up playing a huge part in my writing process for that story. I started with what I was familiar with, and wound up spiraling into multiple opened windows on my computer screen full of imagery and definitions, explanations of conditions that could happen in the event I was writing about. It was a lot of research for just a few paragraphs, but it seemed appropriate, and, I think, it worked. This brings me to our discussion today: How much research do you put in when writing something new, especially when it’s about a topic you are familiar with but in which you lack first-hand experience? Do you find yourself researching synonyms to find different ways of saying something, or do you tend to stick to the words you know and use regularly? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and let’s start a conversation!

Before we get to this week’s prompt, here are a few important reminders:

  • Submissions for our Mutant 750 close tomorrow (Thursday) at 8pm ET. You’ll have until Saturday at Noon ET to cast your votes for your three favorites.
  • Don’t forget to keep in touch: Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our mailing list.
  • The Shapeshifting 13 goes live every Wednesday at Noon ET. The grid will stay open until Sunday at 8:00 p.m., after which voting will open. Voting ends on Monday at 8:00 p.m., so you get about 24 hours to read and vote for your favorites pieces. Winners will be announced in a separate post on Tuesday at Noon ET. Further details can be found here.

Last week for THE SHAPESHIFTING 13 challenge, you were tasked with creating a story or poem in just 39 words. This week, your challenge is to write a story or poem in exactly 52 words inspired by/using the following image:

“Cloud Chasers” No artist listed.

The Rules

  •    Challenge submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  •    Submissions must be exactly the number of words specified; no more, no less.
  •    Submissions must use the prompt(s) as directed, but it can be in any tense.
  •    Submissions should be written in response to the challenge, so they shouldn’t pre-date the kickoff post.
  •    One submission per person.
  •    Make sure to give proper credit to the artist if you include the image in your post.
  •    Please put lengthy explanations at the end of your post, not at the beginning.
  •    Don’t forget to add the code for the challenge badge to your post.
  •    When voting, you are on the honor to not vote for your own piece.

Now, while you’re getting ready to post those wonderful words, don’t forget to grab the Shapeshifting 13 #106 badge from the right side of the page, and insert it into your post. Remember, you have until Sunday @ 8pm Eastern Time to submit something. Have fun!

Until next time, au revoir, and SHARE THE GEEKDOM!

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