And the Kick-Off Winner Is . . . ?!

Hey writers,

After gobbling up mobsters, distopian doctors, cracked families and even old ghosts, it’s time for the results of the Promptly Kick-Off Breaking-Block Challenge. Even though I was frequently overtaken by interrobang-like feelings (?!) of indecision, I won’t go into the usual long-winded rant about how difficult it was to pick a winner.

Or how I lavish special props on my heroes who entered all three prompts, some of whom even tied them together in incredibly cool ways.

Or how we loved how everyone took the prompts and spread them out in their own directions and genres.

Or, simply, how appreciative I am to everyone who participated, and how I hope they’ll stick around for more stories.

In the end, longtime WD editor/online guru Brian A. Klems and I selected Patricia A. Hawkenson’s* “Hedge Fund” and its lively, weighted lines as our favorite entry. For winning, she’ll lay claim to a stack of swag containing The Whatchamacallit: Those Everyday Objects You Just Can’t Name (And Things You Think You Know About, But Don’t), Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling, a copy of Writer’s Digest’s new Novel Writing magazine, and a one-year subscription or renewal to WD magazine.

From now on, our favorite-story swag will be dolled out on a monthly schedule. So don’t stop writing. Ever.

Thanks again to everyone who jumped into the challenge, and see you all tomorrow with a new prompt.

Yours in writing,


*Patricia, please send an e-mail to writersdigest [at] fwmedia [dot] com marked “Attn: Zachary Petit,” so I can get the goods shipped out to you!

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20 thoughts on “And the Kick-Off Winner Is . . . ?!

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  4. J. Alvey

    Patricia, congratulations on your well-deserved selection.

    For what it’s worth, what I appreciated about your piece, beyond its evident economy, was that clever — and humorous — twist at the end that also just as cleverly –and humorously — revealed the source of the title.

    There is much to be said, too, for the way you used a ticklish feather rather than a bludgeoning sledgehammer to recognize the do-forever-loop that is an apt description for some rather failing but persistent relationships.

    It was, again, a most deserving selection.

    Take care,


  5. Zachary Petit

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for weighing in! After brainstorming with a fellow WD editor, here’s what we’ll do: Every week, I’ll go through and pick a great story to call out in an entry as a "Notable Story of the Week." At the end of every month, we’ll have the usual swag-off, and I’ll rotate my co-judges to keep the perspectives fresh (I’ll also get a logo drawn up for the winners, in case they have websites they want to use it on).

    Oh–Almost forgot: The runner-up from the kick-off was Danielle Nash’s Damaging Dispute story.

    Hope everyone’s having a good Wednesday,


  6. Marie Elena

    Congratulations, Patricia! I haven’t spent much time in this site, but it certainly looks interesting. As you know, I always enjoy your poetry on Robert’s site. Your Hedge Fund here did not disappoint. Write on! 🙂

    P.S. I like Jason D’s suggestion.

  7. Jason Dougherty

    Zach (and Brian),
    I have a great idea for you. What if you continued to choose a winner (or semi-finalist if you will) each week. Then, every 4th week, you send out one final prompt only for those previous 3 winners (semi-finalists). They each write one more excerpt/story and thus the monthly winner is chosen, whether by you or by the readers. So the semi-finalist weekly winners wouldn’t win any swag, only the monthly overall winner. But it would continue to satiate the writer’s (read: my) hunger for a more immediate and faster paced contest. 🙂

    What do you think?

  8. De Jackson

    Congratulations, Patricia! Great to see such a familiar, well-loved name here. I’m looking forward to reading all of the offerings. I enjoy your work very much on the weekly prompts, and I’m sure the title is well deserved!

  9. Jason Dougherty

    I would vote for a winner just as you’re doing. For me, it would be simply because it’s something I can add to the addendum on my query letters: Winner of recent Writer’s Digest writing contest. Any little bit helps! Frankly my submissions aren’t to win the swag (though that would be fun), but to earn the bragging rights. 🙂

    It might also be nice to see who was the runner up. Not to win anything but just for encouragement for that writer.

    Also, just to clarify, when you say that you’ll choose a winner on a monthly schedule, does that mean you’ll still choose a winner from each week of the month, or only one winner from the entire month? (and still 3 prompts per week?)


    This has been lots of fun for me!

  10. Zachary Petit

    Hi Interested,

    Thanks for reading throughout the first few days of posts, and for your question. Simply put, Brian and I sorted through the stories, fell in love with a handful, compared notes, and in the end, Patricia’s story was a point of consensus in our subjective takes (having judged or observed many writing competitions, I think it’s important to remember how subjective judging really is). For me, I liked the language, the simple flow, the depth and the intriguing concept.

    Looking ahead, I’ve been thinking, too, about regularly awarding the swag in a random drawing instead of judging. What does everyone think? As readers/writers of the prompts, your thoughts are crucial, so let me know.

    Thanks again for reading!

  11. Padgett Posey

    Patricia–I enjoyed reading your April PAD Challenge work (especially your take on the inaugural poem–manic genius!) so I’m not surprised to see your name here. Congrats!

    P.S. I see pliers in a whole new light now. 🙂 Loved this.

    To Interested, as far as listing criteria–I read a quote once by a fashion photographer after he was asked to name who he thought was the "most" beautiful woman. He said, "After a certain level of pretty, it becomes a matter of taste." (Okay, borderline sexism maybe, but…)

    Happy Writing!

  12. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    No offense taken at all. Actually, I agree. There were many wonderfully written stories posted. I think it is very appropriate to ask for criteria. Knowing what the goal is is always the best way to get there. It would be nice to know how the next prompts will be judged so that we all approach the process with our expectations understood.

  13. Interested

    Hey Zach,
    I found your choice interesting. Patricia did a nice job, but, while I did not submit, I read. And, I thought there were quite a few others that were better than hers offence to Patricia.

    I am curious as to what your criteria is. What are you basing your selection on? Other stories had more depth, more story, more background, more originality. So I’m interested to know what made this one stick out to you.

    Again, I do not mean to offend, and I apologize to Patricia and her fans if I am. I agree that Patricia’s story was one of the more thought-provoking stories, and many submissions were far worse. But I personally would not have chosen hers as the winner. Then again, I’m not a writer, just a reader so… again, I’m curious. Thanks.


  14. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Zach and Brian,
    WOW! If ever a poet was at a loss for words, it’s me. Thank you so much for selecting Hedge Fund as the winner of the first Promptly competition, especially considering the quality of the other writing posted here. It is great to be connected with Writer’s Digest for these last few months. I know my writing has improved because of it. Thanks again. This is only the beginning.