Tuesday, September 7, 2010

CONTEST!! The Annual Autumnal Precis (pronounced PRAYSEE) Contest

HERE  it is, friends and followers, the time has come at last, to dazzle the world with your wit, wisdom, and elegance of prose.

The contest: 
1.Read the poem below by Robert Grave: The Devil's Advice to Story-Tellers. 
2. In a single grammatically correct sentence of no more than 140 characters (exactly like a normal post on Twitter, and your identity doesn't count towards the 140 characters) summarize the advice you believe Graves is giving story-tellers in this poem.  (No links, no abbreviations except those in common use in normal writing; in other words, no squinching.). Write your sentence precis as a post to this blog.
3. Any individual friend or follower of Welwyn Wilton Katz who is a member of  www.goodreads.com or http://twitter.com or www.facebook.com or more than one of them may enter. You may enter more than once, if you like.  A whole group following Welwyn cannot enter as a group, however.  

Entries:  must be posted to this blog by Wednesday September 15, 6 pm EST.
Short List of Winners: Chosen by Welwyn and announced on a post to this blog, Sunday Sept. 19 at 6 pm EST
Voting (for the clearest, most sensible and most elegantly written precis on the Short List) will be done by the followers and friends of Welwyn.  Only one vote per person is allowed.  Voting commences immediately after the short list is announced. 
Last vote: must be received before 6 pm, on the Autumnal Equinox, Thursday September 23, 6 pm EST. In the case of a tie Welwyn reserves the right to choose between the finalists. 
Announcement of the Winner will be made on Welwyn's Goodreads blog and shared through Twitter with Facebook, shortly after the voters decide.
The Prize: satisfaction in a difficult job well done, the honours of the millions of writers and readers on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, a-a-a-n-d-d... a new book of your choice written by Welwyn Wilton Katz, autographed as you request.

The Devil's Advice to Story-Tellers
Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue,
Keep probability - some say - in view.
But my advice to story-tellers is:
Weigh out no gross of probabilities,
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.
To forge a picture that will pass for true,
Do conscientiously what liars do -
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade:
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps
That may shake down into a world perhaps;
People this world, by chance created so,
With random persons whom you do not know-
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again;
Let the erratic course they steer surprise
Their own and your own and your readers' eyes;
Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact.
               - Robert Graves


At 08 September, 2010 , Anonymous Jessica Subject said...

I believe the poem by Robert Graves says:

To make your novel believable, apply behaviors, emotional and physical, you observe from society into your characters.

At 12 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

The power of observation is the story-teller's greatest asset for creating believable characters, rather than relying on clichéd archetypes.

~ Quenby Joanette

At 12 September, 2010 , Anonymous A.Fugue said...

Story tellers must lie elegantly about ordinary people in probable situations.

At 13 September, 2010 , Blogger Sylvia McNicoll said...

Sprinkle your stories with bits of real life and people but don't let truth get in the way of good fiction.

At 13 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

Observing the demeanour of strangers is essential to writing believable characters whose humanity is diminished by cookie-cutter lives.

At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

A believable character can live beyond the page and is made flesh by acknowledging the reality of human chaos and avoiding a polished finish.

At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

Human nature is contradictory, and believable characters must reflect as much, or else they become predictable, rather than probable.

At 14 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

A believable character consists of the perfect ratio of fact to fiction, where fact is behaviour acutely observed and fiction is probabilities imagined.

At 16 September, 2010 , Blogger James Bow said...

Sorry I'm late; here's my attempt: Go big, or go home. And details are important.

At 16 September, 2010 , Blogger Mike said...


My name is Michael Burnside and while looking for some writer support groups I came across your profile on Windows Live. Your profile mentions that part of your life’s work is helping writers avoid bad publishing behavior. Unfortunately, I have already started down the path of bad publishing choices. I had a short story called “Childe” that was part of the now defunct Amazon Shorts downloadable offerings. Although I know people who downloaded my work, I never received any compensation. I am also the author a role playing game called Baptism of Fire: World War Two Role play, but I would like to break farther into the world of fiction writing. The world of hobby gaming books and literary fiction are quite far apart.

I was wondering if you had any recommendations on where I could submit some short stories. I’m not looking for payment as much as I am looking for a way to earn enough writing credit that I might be able to attract the attention of an agent. Any advice you may have is most welcome.

Thank you for your time,

Michael Burnside

At 16 September, 2010 , Blogger Welwyn-on-books said...

Okay, this is really important and I'm so glad you wrote, Michael. I'm going to repost your whole question as a "post of my own" sort of, and then respond to it. I seriously hope other people do,too.

At 21 September, 2010 , Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

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