Remember Iron Writers? This competitive flash fiction group is still going strong and looking for new blood. The founder, Brian Rogers, is here today to discuss how Iron Writers has changed, and how you can be involved. You can read more about Iron Writers from a past interview I did here.
Brian—We have chugging along, pretty much the same for a couple of years now. We still do the weekly challenge, the weekend quickies. The grudge matches have wandered off to who knows where. The usual issues are still there, voting, feedback, etc.
At the suggestion of one of the writers, Josh Flores out of Chicago, we are now doing feedback events. We use Facebook events to create a place for giving feedback. That started a month or so ago. It seems to be working, but it has slowed down a little as the newness wears off.
Second, and surprisingly this started this past week, we are now going to war. I created a separate FB group, titled The Iron Writer Wars. It is a semi-annual event, where you pay to play. I want to keep the entry fee as low as possible. It will be $15 per entry. I am capping the number of participants at 100. The payout is by percentage.
First place gets 25%, second receives 20%, third 15% and fourth 10%. The remaining 30% goes to the judges, at $1 per story. I will not make any money off of this, at least not in the beginning. I am currently searching for qualified judges. I want good judges, with a degree in English Lit, or journalism, or writers who are more than self-published.
I am also in contact with a university professor who is the director of the MFA creative writing program. I do not want people, say off Craigslist, to vote. That does not bring credibility to the Iron Writer. This whole thing, if I can get the judges and enough writers, will launch in February 2018.
Regarding the money, I do not mind spending the time I currently do on the Iron Writer. It is about 3 hours a week, aside from all the little minutiae, like answering questions, email, FB posts and comments. The project costs me about $35 a month. If the Wars takes off, I suppose that will go up, the cost of the bandwidth will increase, as well as my time.
At some point I will probably say enough is enough and start taking a little of the Wars revenue to cover the costs and my time. I mean, that is the American way, is it not? But for now, nothing for myself. I want as much as possible going to those who actually do the writing.
Oh, if this works and we do have 100 writers, all the writers will be in an anthology, similar to the one we do now. Right now, The Iron Writer Challenge publishes an anthology each year called Ironology. It includes all the winning stories from the previous years challenges. For the Iron Writer Wars, I want to publish an anthology that includes each and every story in the particular war.
Can you explain how an IW challenge works?
Brian—Well, first I must admit, the rules are more or less guidelines. Every Thursday, from late December to late September, I issue a writing challenge. The challenge is meant to be a challenge to the writer, not between writers.
Each challenge is limited to 500 words but I do accept up to 525 words. The deadline is suppose to be five days later, but most miss that. So I accept all submissions all the way to the next challenge, the following Thursday. Oh, and you have to include four elements or prompts.
How do writers benefit from IW challenges?
Brian—This is the key, the reason I started the Iron Writer. Flash fiction is an amazing tool to hone those writing skills. You have to try it to understand. It sounds difficult, daunting. But once you have done a few, it is amazing what it does for you creativity, your first draft becomes better so you editing is less. Then you realize how it affects your novel writing. Every scene in a novel is really flash fiction. Approach it that way and it all comes together. All of it.
When is the next challenge and how do we sign up?
Brian—Any Thursday. Just go to theironwriter.com and find the ‘take a challenge’ icon in the right sidebar. Click on it and your email will open. Ask and you shall receive.
Where do you hope to see IW go in the future?
Brian—I do not know. Truly, I do not. I just want to keep it going. There will be more bumps along the way, and the old obstacles will always be there, voting, writers committing but then not submitting, participation, etc. Those will ever be there.