Doctor Avant:  Writing Beach Tour

The Motivation

I wrote Beach Tour for the AnthroStory Summer '05 Contest . It was early August when I heard of the contest and I had less than a month to prepare an entry. The rules were:

The Process

At first I didn't know if I wanted to take the time off of writing Melpomene's Daughter to work on another story. Three weeks is not a lot of time and I was at a point with Melpomene where I was struggling. The biggest challenge would be coming up with an idea that would fit the contest rules. As I had been thinking over how the events of Melpomene's Daughter would reshape Doctor Avant's life, the idea began to grow that I could use her as one of the principle characters in the contest story. The obvious was to create a story with her lying about on some beach somewhere, but I wanted to write something that had some conflict, something to be gained or lost, some kind of goal that the readers could care about.

I'm not sure where I got the idea of a "beach tour". Sex on the Beach (the drink, not the act) popped into my head and I wondered how many other mixed drinks had "beach" in their name, so I went Googling for recipes and found Drinknation , which has plenty of recipes.

It took me only two days to complete a first draft. Unfortunately, my first draft was more than 400 words over the contest limit. It took another four days of rewrites to get the story size down to about 3450 words. Then about a week-and-a-half, on an accelerated track, for two passes through my critique group. A final rewrite brought the word count to 3491. After some file preparation I was ready and got the story entered with about four hours to spare.

Contest Results

Out of ten stories entered in the contest, Beach Tour came in tied for fourth place overall. However, it took first in creativity and tied for second in enjoyability. In fact, the combined scores for creativity plus enjoyability put Beach Tour on top of the pile. It was the dismal ninth place in theme that pulled it down. Obviously, some people felt it did not meet the criteria for theme. I can't say I blame them. Beach Tour takes place in a hotel: nowhere near an ocean, there's not any sand in sight, and the characters don't even hang out by the hotel's pool. However, I'm quite pleased with this result. I knew treating the contest theme in an abstract way was risky.

What's Next?

I'm an engineer and I can't help but tinker with things. Writing is no different. I see a few flaws with Beach Tour I'd like to fix. I may even let word count rise above the contest limit.