3-Word Challenge

Writer to Writer: The 3-Word Challenge

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Editor’s Note: Please read the following as if you are lying in bed late at night, watching an infomercial that you have been trapped into tolerating because the TV remote has fallen on the floor and you’re too uninspired to go after it. And here we go…

Announcer: “Do you love a challenge?”

You: “Not if I actually have to do anything or pay a fee.”

Announcer: “Are you a writer?”

You, interest slightly piqued: “Oh.  Well, now that you mention it…“

Announcer: “Do you have a blog?”

You, more interested, adjusting your pillow so you can hear better: “Why, yes I do. It’s about my thoughts on-“

Announcer: “Do you sometimes suffer from content dysfunction?”

You: “I’m not sure what that is, so…maybe?”

Announcer: “Are there days when your well is dry?”

You: “Aw, hell, this is an ad for personal lubricant.”

Announcer: “Days when you can’t think of what to write about for your next blog post?”

You: “Whoops, I fumbled on that call. Yes, Announcer Guy, I know of those days.”

Announcer: “Wouldn’t it be swell if you had an alternate source of inspiration for those days when your flow is not regular?”

You: “And we’re somehow back to feminine hygiene. What channel is this? I’ve got to find that remote.” [Sounds of grunting and violated mattress springs and flailing about on the floor.] “Got it. Let’s see if we can find a Golden Girls episode that we’ve only seen five times.”

Announcer: “Don’t push that button just yet.”

You, glancing around for hidden cameras: “Wow. Can he see me? Oh God, could he see me earlier when I was-”

Announcer: “No, I can’t really see you, but this is the part of the script where we usually lose people. Writers don’t like to admit that they have blockage.”

You: “Who likes to admit to any kind of blockage? It’s not something you put on a to-do list.”

Announcer: “Lucky for you, we have just the answer. We are happy to present you with The 3-Word Challenge!”

You: “I really wasn’t looking for answers, and what the hell is that?”

Announcer: “You may recall that Brian Lageose, who is on our advisory board and always remembers to bring donuts to the staff meetings, posted a blog on this very subject.”

You: “Who?”

Announcer: “The post was entitled Sushi in the Sky, With Rhinestones.”

You: “Ohhh. I think I remember seeing that in my feed. But I didn’t really-”

Announcer: “You probably saw it in your feed, and you might have clicked Like, but you didn’t really read it. That’s the dark underside of the blogging network. We all strive to get as many followers as we can, but then we don’t always pay it forward. If you really want to support your fellow bloggers, you should support your fellow bloggers. Not just expect them to support you without any effort on your part.”

You: “Um, I might have been a little bit guilty of the not supporting. Is this an intervention?”

Announcer: “See, you’re making it about you again. But really, Brian is aware that he also has not always followed through with the support angle. So he’s trying to do the right thing, and the start of that is the 3-Word Challenge.”

You: “And this entails?”

Announcer: “Well, if you had read the blog post, which you can find here, you would know that Brian was once challenged to concoct a short story around three randomly-chosen words. Now he is challenging other writers to do the same.”

You: “And this works how?”

Announcer: “You simply send an email to BonnywoodManor@gmail.com with a subject of  ‘3-Word Challenge’and a brief snippet about accepting the quest. (Examples: “I can twerk that!” for you youngsters, or “I’ll take the Nestea plunge!” for those of us a bit longer in the tooth.) Brian will respond with three carefully chosen words, a selection process that may or may not involve margaritas. Then you send your completed masterpiece back to Bonnywood. Brian will review your artwork, and if he feels the earth move, he will post it on the Bonnywood Manor blog, with links back to you.”

You, first instinct: “Do I get any money for this?”

Announcer: “Of course not. This is a writing challenge, not a 401k with company match.”

You, becoming all Ayn Rand: “Then what’s in it for me?”

Announcer: “A chance to develop your writing skills and possibly get some exposure. Isn’t that what all writers want? Well, that, and some decent reviews on Amazon that weren’t written by obvious psychotics.”

You, still leery: “What if Brian doesn’t like my story?”

Announcer: “Then he won’t post it.”

You, smirking: “See! There’s always a catch with these damn infomercials.”

Announcer: “There’s also a catch with not putting any real effort into what you do. If you are serious about it, you’ll succeed.”

[Sounds of commotion in the studio background, and then a strange man walks onto the set.]

Announcer: “Oh my. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Brian Lageose has joined us for the show!”

You: “Who?”

Brian: “Hi, folks. I just wanted to clear up a few things.”

Announcer: “He just wants to clear up a few things!”

Brian, turning to Announcer Guy: “Thank you so much for your performance. But you’re done now. Bye!”

Announcer: “But I was hired for the full hour. I have a contract.”

Brian: “You don’t even exist. I made you up. And I’m done with you. Let me just start hitting this backspace key and…”

Announcer: “I’m melting! I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little blog too-“

[Puff of smoke.]

Brian: “Okay, I’m glad that’s over. I just wanted to share my thoughts with the audience about this little project. It’s fairly basic, really. If you’d like to contribute a story, I am more than happy to give it a gander. There may be some folks who don’t get their submissions posted, it’s a possibility. But it’s a small one. What I hope to do here is get people to flex their imagination muscle. I don’t care what the genre is, or the length, or the subject, or the format. Take the three words and create something. As long as the end result feels real, and honest, I’ll post it.”

You, still doubting: “But what’s in it for YOU.”

Brian: “Everything and nothing. I just know that I constantly stumble across fascinating blogs, with satisfying posts and great writing, but those folks have very few likes and a tiny contingent of followers. I understand that we live in an oversaturated world now, and there’s a lot of crap out there not worth your time, so some good writers are going to get lost in all the mess. I just want to provide an opportunity for folks to possibly get a little more exposure.”

You, still looking for a catch: “Does this mean you own my piece?”

Brian: “No, not at all. You created it. It’s yours. I’d just like to post it first. Then you can do whatever you want with it. Now, the writer-supportive thing to do, if you choose to post it on your own blog, is to add a little snippet about the project and a link back to this post. But that’s up to you, your call, your blog.

You: “Hmm. I’ll have to think about it.”

Brian: “That’s all I ask. Now, before you go, because I know it’s about that time of night when you pull the pint of Ben and Jerry’s out of the fridge and teach it who’s boss, let me suggest one final thing.”

You: “Is this where you ask me to donate to your PayPal account?”

Brian: “Even if you choose not to participate, how about you come back around to Bonnywood and read the work of those who do, maybe give them some support and check out their blogs? Think about that as well. Now go get that pint.”

You: “This Ben and Jerry’s is the one with peanut butter cups in it.”

Brian: “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”


Update – The following entries are now available for your viewing pleasure:

“Something Blue” by Amy Bledsoe

“The Object of My Affections” by Lily

“Under the Square” by Anne Marie Andrus




20 replies »

  1. Great post…I mean I haven’t read it, but I did ‘Like’ it and isn’t that what’s most important?

    Seriously though, after having read the epic ‘Sushi in the sky with Rhinestones’, (where the hell in Morgan Freeman is part 2?) I’d feel a bit intimidated by such a challenge. Pretty such my writing standard isn’t up to such a task, but it will be interesting to see what everyone else comes up with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Mr Brian,not true, I read that whole story word for word and waiting for part two.
    Sigh…. I wish so much I can get involved in this writing project but alas my terrible four and affairs at home take too much time but I will definitely visit your blog for a quick read submissions of fellow bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s not true that everyone clicks Like on my posts without actually reading them. You have been a very faithful writer friend and I truly thank you for that. I just hope that someday soon you can convince the terrible four to simply read a book and remain quiet for a few hours so you can join our project… 😉


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