“The Puerto Rican woman was there and she helped me clean up. She had dry papery hands and when she rubbed the towel on my chest, she did it hard, like I was a bumper she was waxing. She was very thin and had a cloud of brown hair rising above her narrow face and the sharpest blackest eyes you’ve ever seen.” –Junot Díaz, “Fiesta,” Drown
Junot Díaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao (you can read an excerpt of it here on Figment, for a limited time) and Drown, has been heralded for his unique, compelling, and downright masterful command of voice. His writing is instantly recognizable as his–the narration immerses the reader in the story from the first lines. So if we were to, say, team up with the National Writing Project to bring you a writing challenge judged by Junot Díaz himself, it would have to be all about tone.
Developing a strong voice is not easy. Developing a strong voice you have control over is even harder. So we’re not going to throw you into this contest-lake without first offering you some attractive, but effective, floaties for your arms. (We got an A in metaphors.) Junot Díaz is going to be offering up his secrets on narrative voice like a leprechaun offers up Lucky Charms. (Okay, A-minus.) He’ll be writing a blog post about how best to develop your tone, and he’ll be answering your questions on the forums, here.
After you get knowledged by Díaz, your task is to choose one of the following prompts and write your story. Entries must be no more than 1,000 words.
Creating the Voice: Narrative Voice Contest with Junot Díaz
Without naming or describing your narrator, write a story in which you make the narrator’s age, personality, and philosophy/outlook on life evident through his or her voice.
Write a story about an ordinary day in the life of an extraordinary person, such as the president, supermodel, or a homeless boy. Narrate the story entirely in the second person.
Write a story in which you describe a person using only attributes generally considered negative (for example a character who is usually late, sloppy, and mean), but through the voice of your narrator, make that character likable.
How to enter:
1. Read the full rules.
2. Sign up for an account on Figment.com
3. Write your entry.
4. Tag it “JunotDiazContest” on the “Details” tab
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. In about two hours or so, your story will appear among the submissions.
You have until November 30th to write your story. Voting will run until December 6th, at which point the 10 most-hearted stories will go to Junot Díaz for judging! Finalists will receive signed copies of Díaz’s books and the winner will receive a special Oscar Wao prize pack. Plus, you know, the extreme honor of being chosen by a Pulitzer Prize winner.