By B.Y. Rogers
The Iron Writer Challenge was created in February 2013 as a way to have fun while improving one’s writing skills. The concept is simple yet can be confounding. Every Thursday four authors are invited to compete in a writing challenge. Each author writes a five hundred word story utilizing four elements. The elements are not announced until the challenge begins. Their stories are due four days later. The following Thursday, the same day the next challenge is posted, the stories for the previous challenge are posted on the website and available for voting. Voting remains open for one week.
The winners of each challenge are invited to compete in a quarterly tournament; Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox, Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. There are sixteen writers per tournaments, comprising the challenge winners and second place finishers to round out the field.
The sixteen writers are ranked and placed into four brackets. The challenge rules apply: five hundred words, four elements, four-day deadline.
The winners of the four brackets then compete in a final round, where one champion is declared.
Every May, the quarterly winners are invited to compete in an annual tournament where a champion is crowned.
Additionally, The Iron Writer offers two other non-competitive ‘challenges’. The Weekend Quickie is meant to be a practice challenge. Every Saturday a Weekend Quickie is posted, comprising of an image prompt, an object and an emotion. Submissions are posted in the comment section. The Iron Writer Rely is a collaborative effort, where a short story is written by several authors, with a single theme.
Other programs are in the works, particularly an Apprentice program for high school and college age writers.
The objective is this. When an author writes a scene for their novel, every word in every sentence, in every paragraph, in every scene, in every chapter is important. As Faulkner said, we must be willing to kill the little babies. When you have to write a five hundred word story, utilizing four elements, every word must be carefully chosen. Taking an Iron Writer challenge focuses on achieving and making concise writing a habit. Your writing will get better, but only if you are serious.
A Feedback area is available on the website. If a writer desires and craves feedback, take the challenge (weekly or the weekend quickie) and add it to the comments in that section. But expect harsh, honest, objective criticism.
The Iron Writer is not for the faint hearted. We take writing seriously.
You can find B.Y. Rogers on Twitter, and you can learn more about the Iron Writers Challenge on his website at theironwriter.com.