Wednesday, April 27, 2005

what i'm looking for

I'll be one of the judges for a short story competition this year. I agree, once in a while, to do things like this because it gives me perspective. I am able to see what is being written by whom in what manner. I am able to see a sample of what writers are thinking about, struggling about, setting to paper - a cross-section of zeitgeist, in miniature.

This helps me by contextualizing my position as a writer in the Philippines. It helps me determine where I am in the general scheme of things. This is important because I need to know where I am, where I stand. My voice is a small one - I may know my own little verse, but I need to know what other people are singing, and especially, what the chorus or refrain is, at this point in time.

Someone will get rewarded, of course.

To win my vote, you must (very simplified):

1. Tell a story. Make it interesting. Engage my mind and my heart. Do not make me feel like I've wasted my time or read/seen this somewhere else. Avoid tropes everyone uses (if you must show off your social-realism, do so in an invigorating way). This is not purely about plots, by the way.

2. Write well. You need not be flashy, trendy or interstitial. You can write in a traditional manner (gasp) with a beginning/middle/end. You can write in any manner for as long as you write well. This means you must be grammatically correct. Edit your work before you show it to me.

3. Up the ante. This is a competition, so your little story must be superb on multiple fronts. Break me, make me want more, make me want it never to end. Provoke a reaction.

See? I don't look for big words or big ideas. What matters to me is the core, the experience of story, the power of story, the elements of story.

Easy, right?


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