alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions

Writing For the Future With An Eye On the Past [Revised version]


My historical fantasy story just won First Place in the Writers of the Future contest (2nd Quarter, 2012). This is the only story I have ever written in a single sitting. I was floating around in the pool on a hot summer day, and I kept thinking about a little girl and an owl*. I paddled around, and the details trickled into my mind. Eventually, I had to drag my butt up out of the delicious water and go inside to sit at my hot desk because this story wasn’t going to go away. I wrote longhand in my notebook until I thought my fingers were going to fall off, but after a couple of sticky hours, I made it all the way to the end**.

[I’ve edited this post from the original, since it seems I’m maybe not supposed to give away the title or any details of my story that could identify it to the judges. So just pretend I am waffling on here about my research difficulties, and how since I sometimes earn my money for life’s necessities*** by working as a photo researcher, I like to use places like the National Archives for looking into the past.]

I’ll re-post the original content sometime next year, when all danger of judging is past, and when the story comes out in the WotF anthology.

*The owl didn’t make it into the final version.

**Neither did the original ending. Or the next one. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.

***Peaches, cat food, and blue ink Pilot G2 Extra-fine point pens

Author: Alisa Alering

I write stories. I read stories.

15 thoughts on “Writing For the Future With An Eye On the Past [Revised version]

  1. Congrats!! This is so awesome. Go, you!!



  2. Congrats Alisa! I cant wait to meet you in April!! (I’m one of the winners from Q1). FYI, I think first place winners have to keep their stories secret for the final Grand Prize judging at the workshop. Things have been different this year, so I’m not sure.

    See you in April!

    Tina Smith

    • Uh oh. Joni didn’t say anything about keeping the story name to myself (not after the Finalist round). But I’ll take it out of the post, just in case. (Too late to take it out of my tweets, I guess.)

      I am totally looking forward to meeting you, too. One of the most exciting things about all of this, is that I’m going to get to meet so many other writers at the workshop.

      • You’re probably totally fine. I doubt the judges are going to try to seek us out just yet! 🙂 I’m probably just overly cautious!! If you want to come by the WOTF blog and say hi, I’m sure a ton of the writers would love to congratulate you in person. Some of the other winners will probably stop by your blog too. So excited! I guess that means they’re half way though for the book now.

  3. Congratulations! See you in April.

    Steve Sottong (Q1, third place and ex Hoosier)

  4. Congratulations, Alisa! Great work!

  5. This is all so exciting. And it will be an awesome experience to see this story FIRST in its published form rather than in workshop. You’re all professionalized now. We did talk about it on a few writerly walks, though.

    Re. the all-in-one sitting bit: REALLY?? Pinky swear? Because that’s the kind of thing I never trust writers on when they say it. Remember the writer who shall not be named whose characters and stories were “implanted by God” into her brain or something equally unbelievable.

    If I were going to believe any writer, it’d be you, though. One thing’s sure: I believe IN you and in your amazing work.

    • Ashley, true story, I really did write it in one sitting. Meaning that I started at the beginning and didn’t stop until I got to the end. I can show you the original notebook pages. However, that was in 2010. It was not a publishable story in that first draft, not even a readable story. But, unlike my usual methods, I didn’t write it out of order and stitch it together later. I didn’t stop and think about it for three days or six or ten. The sequence of events, the setting & the characters were all set in that very first draft. The end did change substantially, but not until the very last revision. I wrote fast at CW last year, but even there I didn’t write all in one flow like this. I wish I could do it that way again.

  6. Hello Kary, Tina, Martin, & Steve. *waves* I’m new to all of this WotF stuff, so bear with me. I had been lurking on the forums the past few days, trying to figure out if the results were being announced. It was taking so long, I figured it could only mean bad news. From what I read, it seems that’s a pretty normal way to feel…:)

  7. Hello! Another Q1 winner here. Looking forward to meeting you next year–your story sounds awesome!

  8. Congratulations Alisa! I was over the moon with a HM so can only imagine how you feel on winning the thing 🙂

  9. Congratulations, Alisa, and welcome to the Club!

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