Friday, September 16, 2011

YDR writing challenge: Write trite (for a reason); win a gift card

Buffy's post on her blog about getting rid of trite expressions in your writing got me thinking: What if we challenged YDR staffers to see who could write the most cliche-filled passage, with the winner being the "worst" of the bunch?

So, yeah, we're doing it. A friend of mine, a creative writer and career journalist whom none of you know, will judge it. (Thus I won't be entering). 

Your assignment: Write the first three paragraphs (150-word limit) of a main day-after-flooding news story, using the photo below as your inspiration/reference. Although this is a real picture, your entries do not need to be completely nonfiction. However, do write something that could be printed in the next day's paper as the main news story; in other words, don't write opinion or something silly, and be courteous to the gentleman in the photo.

 For example, if I was allowed to enter, you know how I love ad-campaign-based newswriting, so my entry might be something like, "Waders: $75. Waste-deep water: Free, from Mother Nature. Beer and dog food to ride out the flood: Priceless." And so on.

How to enter: E-mail me your submissions. One entry per person, please.

Deadline: 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23

Open to: Anyone in the YDR newsroom. (If any YDR alums or anyone else reading this want to participate, leave your passages in the comments, but only YDR staffers are eligible to win the gift card).

Prize: $25 Rutter's gift card.

Why are we doing this? Because by intentionally writing cliche-filled passages, we can become better self-editors by recognizing when those cliches are creeping in to our own stories ... and we can rub them out and replace them with fresh phrasing.

For your reading (and perhaps research) pleasure, here is more from this blog on cliches.