So, many times at cons, we authors are asked to read things and evaluate them. Most of the time the work needs polishing, but is pretty good. Occasionally, though, we get handed something that makes The Eye of Argon look like frickin’ Tolkein.
But here’s what’s interesting: when we authors talk about it, the unintentional humor of the bad work tends to be the focus of the conversation. We don’t discuss who is fabulous; we revel in the horrific. It’s this amazing catharsis to talk about how bad some things can get.
So, when Grant Theron Riddell and I started talking, we realized we had hit on something big. Something new. Something that will change literary history. All we had to do was create a style in which the writer was forced to write one of these works so bad that it passed through the abyss and came out the other side awesome again.
Remember, the Eye of Argon is still read aloud at cons. Can you say the same for your short story? I can’t.
So here’s what’s up: I am offering a free Kindle, pre-loaded with Grace Under Fire, to the story that makes us laugh the most in its atrociousness. But you need to do it following the strict rules of the Grant-Frog Style, as follows:
1. You are allowed to use pronouns, but if you are using any noun it must be immediately preceded (no intervening adjectives) with the definite article. You don’t take a breath, you take the breath. It is encouraged that your pronouns have indefinite antecedents (read: what the hell does “it” refer to?).
2. Your story must present an interesting genre idea, then completely fail to make use of it. If the question of the story is, say, whether a certain new medical procedure is ethical, the story may not show us anyone receiving such a medical procedure.
3. Be as overly dramatic as possible while following rules #1 and #2. We need some serious ham on these bones.
Here’s some contest submission guidelines:
1. By submitting, you are giving me permission to re-post your work here on this blog. They’re going to be funny, so let’s get others to share in this. In the highly unlikely event that these works are anthologized for profit, I will seek your permission to include your work for a share of that profit.
2. 1000 words maximum. After that, the humor starts to fade and I’m simply left with a desire to tear my eyeballs from my head like Oedipus after clicking the wrong profile on OK Cupid.
3. To submit, send an email to email@example.com with the subject “Grant-Frog Style Submission.” Place the text of your story into the body of this e-mail, after your contact information. No attachments will be opened.
4. Contest submissions end September 1, 2015. I will then enter a reading period, though I may have reposts from time to time on the blog as submissions come in. A winner will be announced on this blog, December 31, 2015.
5. To receive your Kindle, please include a name and shipping address. To receive a link to your site/blog/other work in the event of a repost, please include that URL.
5. Have fun with this. The point here is to take a break from trying to write well and instead take 1000 words and be God-Awful. Enjoy.
EDIT: We’ve had some questions about the no-intervening-adjectives rule. That simple means that the adjective cannot come between the definite article and the noun. So, “the blue car” violates the Grant-Frog style rules, but “the car of blue” or “blue, the car” is perfectly acceptable.