A challenge has been issued to local writers: go big on creativity while short on time.
Okanagan College’s English department is once again inviting up-and-coming writers to step out of their comfort zones and into the frenzied creative world of the popular 3-Hour Short Story Contest, returning Saturday, Nov. 5 at all four campuses.
The contest is open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. As in previous years, writers will not only be tested by a time constraint, they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate a “secret phrase” that won’t be revealed until the moment the contest begins.
“It’s an atmosphere unlike any other I’ve encountered as a writer,” said last year’s overall winner Daniel Greene, an arts student at the college’s Penticton campus. “It challenged me, focused me and spurred me to take an idea for a story I had been turning over in my head and bring it to life.”
Greene’s winning story, Watercolours, available online here, illustrates a moment of connection between grandmother and grandson. Despite the tight timeframe in which he had to craft the story, Greene was able to delve deeply, and explore in remarkable clarity, themes of love, loss and memory. He says the process helped him hone his craft.
“It definitely gave me confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer. I went from sharing stories with a few peers in class to having my work read by professors and other writers across the region. The feedback and affirmation I took away from that was helpful. It was the first time I thought to myself ‘Hey, I can do this. I can write.’”
Greene will graduate with an associate of arts degree in December and plans to continue on to university to complete his bachelor of arts in English and sociology. He is currently at work on a number of short stories for publication and future competitions.
The 3-Hour Short Story Contest takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 at the college’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses. Writers will work on college computers and will not be able to access any pre-written materials or outside sources – print or online.
Four prizes of a $250 tuition credit will be awarded, one for each campus winner. From the four campus winners, a grand prize winner will be chosen to receive an additional $250 tuition credit. The grand prize winner will also have their story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.
This contest is free but can only accommodate a limited number of entrants, so interested writers are encouraged to register online early. Deadline for entry is 12 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4.
Visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting to sign up and to view works by previous years’ winners.