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Articles > Short Story Challenge 2008 > Midwest Writers Rock the Challenge!

 

Midwest Writers Rock the Challenge!

by Joan Philo (Chicago, IL)

 

Writers from the Midwest represent! Drum roll please… Emily La Fratta (Cincinnati, OH), Carolyn Damon (Cincinnati, OH), Anthony Ramirez (Chicago, IL) and Stephanie Ruopp (Royal Oak, MI) come on down! They not only rocked out their original short stories in record time to compete in “The Short Story Challenge 2008” they also spent a few minutes with NYC Midnight and shared their experiences going for the gold.

 

NYC Midnight: The genre/subject that you were given, upon first glance, what thoughts did you have?

 

Emily La Fratta

I had fairy tale/credit cards. I loved the genre I was given. It is easier for me to write the sort of things I like to read, and I love fairy tales.

 

Anthony Ramirez

I liked the idea of “laundry” as a subject, it immediately put in my mind the location of a Laundromat. Which I think is a great place to tell a story, cleaning clothes, kind of like washing out the past where things can come to the surface.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

At first glance, when I saw my genre was ghost story, I said, “What the hell?” The only thing I knew of ghost stories were the slumber party scare tales we told after consuming three bags of Doritos, four liters of Coke and unfathomable amounts of chocolate.

 

Carolyn Damon

OH, crap!! I have no idea how to write “action/adventure” and I didn’t know a thing about submarines.

 

NYC Midnight: How long did it take you to write your short story and how many days later, from the start of the challenge, did you turn it in?

 

Emily La Fratta

It took three or four hours to write. But in between then were lots of days where it went untouched. I started the first day we got the assignment, but didn’t write the bulk of it until Thursday. I turned it in a few hours before the deadline.

 

Anthony Ramirez

I worked on it in an odd way, like in sections so combined together it was about 3 or 4 days cause I waited till the last minute but I did finally turn it in.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

I sat down and wrote the rough draft in one three-hour sitting. I spent another 9 or 10 hours on the rewrites through the week and submitted it 12 hours before the deadline.

 

Carolyn Damon

I started my research right away, because I didn’t know anything about submarines. I didn’t actually write it until Friday and finished it up on Saturday around 9pm.

 

NYC Midnight: How excited are you about how your story turned out (scale from one to ten: Ten being, huge glittery excitement, one being “can’t get out of bed, so not excited.”)

 

Emily La Fratta

I definitely am at ten! Which is weird for me because usually I look back and feel like I could have done something better. But after getting my family to read it and hearing how much they loved it, I really feel great a bout it!

 

Anthony Ramirez

I’m at about a 6… or low 7.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

I’m quite satisfied with what I wrote which is a rarity. I suspect I’m hovering somewhere around a glossy, though not entirely glittery, nine.

 

Carolyn Damon

Hmmm, probably just a 3. I didn’t work on it nearly enough.

 

NYC Midnight: Did you get hit with an idea and take off like a shot, or did you find yourself wallowing in the murky water of “good lord, what-have-I-done-ripped-up-your-first-idea and jump into a completely different direction?”

 

Emily La Fratta

I had messed around with fairy tales in the past so I used them as a springboard for ideas. At certain points I realized certain things didn’t work, but never had to start totally from scratch.

 

Anthony Ramirez

I stood with my initial idea. I wrote on, committed, and determined.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

The idea germinated for two days before I actually sat down and wrote. I wasn’t sure where it would take me, but I had enough of an idea that when the time came to write, it just swept me away with it. Though the story changed and morphed with rewrites, the crux of it remained the same.

 

Carolyn Damon

I did have an idea right of f the bat, and then found myself in the “murky waters”, but I honestly couldn’t come up with anything else in time to start over.

 

NYC Midnight: Did you have any celebratory going-ons after the completion of your short story? (For example – purchase of exquisite jeweled watch, weekend in Paris, purchase of a small dog to coordinate with excellent new Coach purse, and/or new leather many bag.)

 

Emily La Fratta

Actually no! I hung out with my roommate and was just happy.

 

Anthony Ramirez

Hehe… I probably went out to see a movie. Watch some great storytelling, loving it and secretly be so envious of it. Would love for one day to have one of my short stories made into a feature film.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

There was no celebration, per se. I had several Belgian beers on Sunday. But frankly, I do that every Sunday.

 

Carolyn Damon

Just a couple of glasses of red zin.

 

NYC Midnight: Who is your writing idol?

 

Emily La Fratta

I honestly don’t have an idol. There are many people I look up to. My family, fiancé and friends mean the world to me. I take their advice and guidance to.

 

Anthony Ramirez

I was and still am heavily influenced by Douglas Coupland. Also Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk like every other kid out there. Heh.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

As my tastes change and evolve, so does my attraction to different writers.

 

Carolyn Damon

David Sedaris.

 

NYC Midnight: Where were you in 2007 the year the short story challenge was launched?

 

Emily La Fratta

I was mostly in Ohio at Miami University in my Junior-Senior year. I was also in Switzerland visiting my family.

 

Anthony Ramirez

I had just graduated from Columbia with my degree in Fiction Writing and wondering now what to do with all this newfound knowledge.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

Where was I? I suppose I was sitting on my couch, where I am now.

 

Carolyn Damon

I would have done it last year, but I only found out about it a couple of weeks before the competition started this year.

 

NYC Midnight: Is writing your career, your passion? Do you have any other talents that rank as high on your list as writing?

 

Emily La Fratta

Writing has been my favorite hobby since I was little. Also up there on my list of favorite things is Theatre -- I love working with kids and allowing them a space to be creative and express themselves.

 

Anthony Ramirez

Filmmaking is a definite skill which is something I would probably be doing if I didn’t go to school for writing. Also being a good DJ, is a talent many people think they have, and is often taken for granted.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

Writing is probably my greatest passion. I am also a cartoonist, which incorporates my writing as well. And I love to dance, though I don’t do so on any sort of performance level (unless backyard parties qualify).

 

Carolyn Damon

I would love for writing to be my career (screenwriting actually), but I have to pay the bills in the meantime. Other talents include web design and working with animals. I have volunteered at a local animal shelter (Save the Animals Foundation) for 8 years.

 

NYC Midnight: What is the one thing that you would like us to know about your experience in this weeklong challenge?

 

Emily La Fratta

Um, just that it was fun! I loved having a deadline and a goal assigned to me; it really got me motivated!

 

Anthony Ramirez

A week seems like more than enough time to write, but in reality it really isn’t. It sure was fun though.

 

Stephanie Ruopp

Mostly, I felt really energized and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in that week. It was more motivational than the Dalai Lama, Marianne Williamson and Wayne Dyer, combined.

 

Carolyn Damon

I thought it was a really fun, and challenging, way to get re-focused on my writing.

 

Well there you have it – tales from the 2008 Short Story Challenge Matrix of the Midwest. Go Midwest Writers go!!

 

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This article is part of a series of articles on writers participating in the 2nd Annual Short Story Challenge.  In 2008, over 550 writers from around the world were challenged to write an original short story (2,500 words max.)  based on a genre and subject assignment.  Click here to view the 1st Round Assignments.  The winners advance to compete for thousands in cash and prizes by writing a short story in just 24 hours.

 

 

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