Shapeshifting 13 #82 Kickoff

November 30, 2016

‘Ello, Ghoul Friends!

I struggle with something, y’all. One of the things I always ask in my interviews is how important names are, but this is always in reference to character names. However, when I write, there’s always something I struggle with.

Where am I?

Setting. Namely, the names of places–cities, towns, streets, etc. I started writing a couple of stories recently, each one set in a city. I have this idealistic image of a city–it’s like a mix of the Portlands, Manhattans, and New Yorks we see in television and movies. However, I don’t want to place these stories there, necessarily, because, if anything, I’ve never been to those places and would rather place my stories somewhere with which I’m more familiar. Plus, I think it’s more charming if the city is more rural and less well-known. The problem? The only city I know relatively well is Birmingham, and it doesn’t fit the image in my mind. But where is that image located? If not Portland or Manhattan or New York or Chicago or Detroit or D.C., then where? Where is the apartment building my main character lives in located if not next to Monica and Rachel’s place? What street do these characters drive on to get to work if not Privet Drive? What town do these characters move to if not some other place that I can’t quite conjure up yet? When it comes to locations and settings, I tend to struggle with names more often than description, more often than I struggle with character names. One of my main concerns is keeping the environment real–or as close to real as I can muster. I’ve considered creating a faux location–describing the cities in my mind and creating a name for them altogether with a small passage at the end of the text that suggests these places are purely fictional and any similarities to real people or places is purely coincidental, but I fear that fake names are like faux pas in writing and can take the readers out of the story in such a way that you lose them. (Listen to me–readers! HA!) But it’s a real concern. This brings us to our discussion today: When it comes to places in your stories, do you tend to focus on naming the location or simply describing it and allowing the reader to fill in the blanks? Do you, too, struggle with determining where to locate a story, or do you find that this comes rather easily for you? Do you have an image of a city in mind? Describe it to us. Tell us all about it 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:

  • 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 Check out past celebrations here. Our latest celebration with Susan Shuman is now live, and you can check it out here!
  • 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.

Last week for THE SHAPESHIFTING 13 challenge, you were tasked with creating a story or poem in just 13 words. This week, in exactly 26 words, your challenge is to write a story or poem inspired by the following visual/auditory prompt:

“Sacrilege” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs


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 #82 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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