Mini-Contest #8

The eighth mini-contest was held in April 2009. This mini-contest was an exercise in worldbuilding through use of key details. It challenged contestants to use detail to turn a bland, generic sentence into a sentence that evoked physical setting, time and place, mood, and (if relevant) character.

We received 93 entries from 56 authors. (For this contest only, authors were allowed to send us two entries. That’s why one author has two entries shown on this page.) Two reading judges selected 10 contenders from all the entries received. Five prize judges labeled one entry as their “favorite” and rated the rest as either “yes,” “maybe,” or “no.”

Our first and second place winners and one honorable mention have never been published in OTP before. The other authors have placed in either mini-contests or short story contests, and their works once again impressed the judges, who, please recall, judge every entry blindly. (Meaning, they have no idea who wrote the entries they are judging.)

Third Place ($5) by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

GENERIC: Billy sat in the chair, waiting for his haircut.

DETAILED: Billy slouched in the hard wooden chair, studiously ignoring the buzz of clippers around him and not meeting the gaze of Uncle Sam on the recruiting poster across from him.

Second Place ($10) by Jennifer R. Povey

GENERIC: Alex looked at the stars.

DETAILED: The stars seemed to hang in space bare inches from the other side of the transparent metal porthole, although Alex, regarding them, knew they were light years and lifetimes away.

First Place ($15) by Janet Hartman

ENERIC: Marie arose and began her daily chores.

DETAILED: Marie forced herself out of bed to face another morning – stoke the fires, feed the chickens, sweep the floors, and, worst of all, empty the chamberpots.

Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)

Six other entries, one of them from an author who placed in the top three, scored highly enough to earn an honorable mention. They are listed below in descending order by overall score.

GENERIC: Margaret poured a cup of coffee.

DETAILED: Margaret checked behind the coffeepot for hidden microphones before pouring her coffee, avoiding eye contact with the nurse so that she couldn’t read Margaret’s mind.
(by Laura Loomis)

GENERIC: The dog stole the bone.

DETAILED: Right under the High Priest’s nose, the mage hound nipped the Sacred Shinbone of Silverfist off the altar, and bolted out into the Old City’s labyrinth of alleys.
(by K. Stoddard Hayes)

GENERIC: The noise of the city woke Geoffrey early.

DETAILED: Long before sunlight pierced the cracks of the inn’s warped shutters, Geoffrey was jarred awake by clattering hooves, carriage wheels, and the shrieks of costermongers.
(by K. Curran Mayer)

GENERIC: Jane walked up the dark street.

DETAILED: Although it was barely an hour after lunch, the long night was upon them, and Jane walked along a darkened street, tugging her coat around her against the winter chill.
(by Jennifer R. Povey)

GENERIC: Leonard stood and looked out onto his farmland as he bit his egg sandwich.

DETAILED: Leonard clucked, ruffled his tail feathers, bit into an egg sandwich, all the while looking out his window onto his farm and the flock of stupid humans there.
(by Samuel Zane Farrell)

GENERIC: John watched Kat cross the street.

DETAILED: I love California, John thought and wiped his lips – his heart pounding in accelerando as Kat slinked across the hot asphalt, her slender legs weaving silken sin with each footfall.
(by Bryce Albertson)

Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.