Updated: Jun 8
Some years ago I thought to try my hand at finally completing one of my short stories. I can't recall how I came to find the Writers of the Future Competition (WOTF) but it quickly became my motivator to submit a story and put myself out there. My first submission was a <10k word science fiction and fantasy story about a group of survivors trying to escape the grasp of an elusive yet powerful entity. This also became my first Honorable Mention.
Honorable Mentions in a worldwide contest like the Writers of the Future Competition is deemed to be quite an achievement. Based on some discussion in the forum here is the significance of getting an HM:
"With the number of entries in each quarter to be a verified "several thousand," earning an HM means that you are in the top two percent, assuming that several thousand means at least 4000. I think it's probably a little more than that, but that's another thread to unravel. The point is, earning an HM is not a fluke. It means the story was good enough to rise to the top of the slush pile and get a second pass. It's something, I think, to be proud of." - Preston Dennett
Though at this point in my writing career, being on my eleventh honorable mention is sometimes hard to smile at as I had hoped to see improvement. But, I need to remember that this contest is growing and the stories I have submitted were all separate stories and some of them were different in style and narration.
In the spirit of tracking my writing progress, I thought it would be fun to revisit my submissions as a motivator and reminder of what I have already achieved.
Since this is a public blog I want to avoid bias on the stories I intend to revise and resubmit for any judges who happen to skim through my post. I will omit the title and explicit details about the story for those marked RR (revise &resubmit).
Without further ado, here are my current honorable mentions:
"The Amolith" as mentioned above, is a fantasy and science fiction story about a group of refugees. There are Lovecraftian elements regarding the entity that was pursuing the survivors, and there is also a lot of mysticism throughout the story. Though this had more plot than the stories I wrote after this, I think this could use some revisions. I intend to submit it elsewhere because I want to explore darker and more mature themes that may not be appropriate for the competition.
"Red Dawn" is a fantasy prequel to my novel which looking back was pretty weak in structure. In my memory, the story was maybe about 5k words but astonishingly it is nearly 12k words. If I revisit this it would probably become an entirely different story.
"A Whisper from the South" is a fantasy origin story about one of my novel's antagonists. There was too much sword and sorcery and revenge that clouded other potential aspects of this character.
"To Deny the Stars" is a hyper-fantasy story about a discussion among star-like entities. This was the original first chapter of the first draft of my novel. With the revisions that took place, it no longer fits, so I submitted it. Though nothing of a plot really happened I think this would be fun to submit elsewhere, after some edits of course!
"A Fate in Clay" is a speculative science fiction with needed revisions, but one that I don't think will be submitted for the WOTF. This involves a connection between the future and the past (real original, I know). I explore how magic can be perceived as actually advanced technology. There are 'dangerous mystics' that occur in this story that the characters of this story fear and will never understand. I'm also not a big fan of the title I chose, so whenever it is revised it will likely have a new name.
RR - this was a fantasy short story from the perspective of another character in my novel. I wanted to explore their origins in depth. This was however lacking in characterisation and plot.
RR - this is a rehash of my antagonist's origin story which resonated better with me. It is currently in resubmission.
"Celebrity Station" is a very limited take on the future of Hollywood because I couldn't reference current idols. It was meant to be more of a humorous yet cautionary piece about idol worship and its power of influence. I feel this may be rewritten someday but with more to offer in terms of a plot. I don't intend to resubmit it specifically to the WOTF competition.
RR - this was a speculative fantasy story and also my shortest submission of nearly 3k words. This was so fun to write because I remember being in the most whimsical mood and wanted to explore 2nd-person narration. The problem with this one was very clear, it was empty of a real plot.
"Final Storm" is a wistful fantasy side story I created that served as a semi-sequel to my novel. This was my second-shortest submission of >5k words. In it, I explore a "citizen's perspective" on all the battles and intensities that happened in the novel.
RR - this was a heavy science fiction and semi-horror story which deserves a better rewrite. It lacked character and urgency and is currently in the rewrite stages. I never got bored writing this because my inspiration was drawn from two interests, one of which was one of my favorite childhood video games, Final Fantasy 7.
There is a trend I have noticed in my writing and it's one I am working to improve - I don't really explore the character's emotions and what truly makes them tick, and even when I do have an idea, I have difficulty applying that through writing. I keep creating incomplete characters and putting them through a plot that doesn't offer a lot of room for them to make decisions with actual consequences.
I'm currently in the revision process of an HM and the creation of a new story that thoroughly explores characterization and I'm excited to see how it does!