Shapeshifting 13 #60 Kickoff

June 29, 2016

Hello there, Ghoul Friends!

Welcome back to the Shapeshifting 13! I am truly excited to kick off our latest challenge series, but let’s continue our conversation from yesterday before we get to all of that. Yesterday, we began discussing creativity–namely, what one might do when there is a severe lack of creative output and/or when the snippets of ideas can’t seem to get themselves down on paper or screen in front of us.


Such a fickle beast creativity is, like a minotaur we’ve let go hungry in a labyrinth for far too long as we’ve tried to find it while baking ourselves beneath the heat of the sun, crisping our flesh and tempting the beast to devour us while it refuses just to spite us. Today, though, I want to talk about beginnings–where we start, if you will. It’s funny that I used that phrase, at least funny to me. I have a story that I’ve wanted to write for some times now. Snippets have come over the past year or so, and I’ve wanted to call it, “Where We Start”–it seemed like such a fitting title when I started writing it over a year ago. That first bit of writing, though, seems to me, today, to be more fitting for a prologue than the opening of a novel, and what I had written as the prologue seems so revolting now. As I stated yesterday, for the past week I’ve been itching to write anything, but specifically two stories that I want to tell. While creativity has eluded me, part of the problem is deciding where to start all together. You see, I think I may have a problem. Call it OCD, call it being anally retentive, call it lack of confidence in ability, call it failure to succumb the creativity that is there but that I am blind to see–call it what you will, but I can’t seem to start writing a story anywhere but at the beginning. Those strings of ideas that are webbed and jumbled in my mind need somewhere to stem from, and I can’t seem to find the roots. When it comes to writing, namely for past challenges here at Grammar Ghoul Press, I’ve often just begun writing, letting my imagination run wild with no intent or pre-conceived idea to write about. It seems that when I start writing with no story in mind, the story comes easily, especially the beginning. Then, if I feel an urge to change the beginning while editing (though I, shamefully, seldom self-edit), it seems, somehow, easier to modify the beginning now that the story is out there–living, breathing–on my screen. But when I have an idea for what I want to write a story around–a general plot with no conclusion or starting point to join it–I can’t seem to jot it down. Is the beginning really that important? Yes, where we end up–the destination–that is what’s most important, but how important is the beginning? I think part of the problem is that I want to grip a reader with an opening that will make them want to read the story, and somewhere deep inside I feel that if I can’t find a worthy opening then, perhaps, it’s not a worthy story to tell. But that is a voice that blooms, constantly, from a lack of self-confidence. This, however, brings me to our discussion today: When it comes to writing–whether it be for our challenges, or the novels/novellas/etc. that we are ceaselessly itching to write–how important is the beginning to you? Do you place a high emphasis on the beginning, or do you feel the beginning will come once you start writing bits and pieces of the overall story? Do you plan everything down–the plot points, the character interactions, the fine details–or do you simply start writing and build the world as it comes, from the ground up? Let’s start a conversation, and, perhaps, I’m not the only anally-retentive person who wants to write who happens to be reading this and may be helped!

Before we get to our new challenge series, here are a few important reminders:

  • On the last Friday of each month, we will celebrate a fellow writer here at Grammar Ghoul Press, in a segment we’re calling “Celebrating the Ghouls”! If you’re interested in being a part of this project, please email out past celebrations here. Our latest interview was with Jen Brunett! Check it out and feel free to leave some feedback in the comments section.
  • Our Lair is currently taking a hiatus, as is our Mutant 750 challenge. Should either one open up, we’ll announce it here!
  • 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.

Today, we are kicking off our latest challenge series that, this time, we’re calling:

Inquisitive Ghouls

In this challenge series, you will be tasked with creating a story or poem, still adhering to our shapeshifting word count, that answers a question. Your story can be in the form of direct dialogue or a narrative. All we ask is that the story answers the question. The question is the prompt! It will be direct enough to prompt you, but vague enough for your creativity to be fueled. For example, if we asked, “Who let the dogs out,” we wouldn’t be providing you very much to go on. But if we asked, “Why did you let the dogs out,” well, now, there’s suddenly room for you to tell us a grand-ol’ story! I don’t presume this to be an easy challenge, especially with the fluctuating word-count, so the question difficulty may ease with lower word-counts, and the vagueness may increase as our word count grows from week to week. For this first go-around, we will have a five-week challenge series, but we would like your feedback. Is this challenge series too difficult? Too easy? Simply not fun? Do you have suggestions to improve this challenge series? Or do you simply have a challenge series in mind that you’d like to share for our consideration? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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

Why was the line cut?


The General Shapeshifting 13 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 as directed.
  •    Submissions should be written in response to the challenge, so they shouldn’t pre-date the kickoff post.
  •    One submission per person.
  •    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 #60 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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