Posts Tagged ‘essays’

500 Word Essay Competition

Tuesday, April 23rd, 20132013-04-23T13:33:25Zl, F jS, Y

Essays are one of the most powerful forms of writing in the world, with the power to persuade, convince or outrage. Whether you realize it or not, you read essays almost daily. Most bloggers are in essence essayists. Essays can be short or they can be long, depending on the subject matter, the publication or website they appear on and the intended audience.

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg (Con Air, Gone in Sixty Seconds) once wrote an essay, just after 9/11, that was so emotionally pitch perfect and gorgeous that I wept.

Essay writing is alive and well as a respected and powerful medium. Check out This I Believe, a wonderful website for essays. Click this link to read what is considered the most famous admission essay ever and discover a very witty piece of writing. The Best American Essays is a great publication that I have read for many years.

Whether you are a screenwriter, novelist or blogger (which is, in essence, essay writing), striking out and trying a new form of writing is excellent for your writing muscles.

What can you do with only 500 words? How would you like to give that a try right here on Just Effing Entertain Me?

Click here to read the best 500 word essays submitted in 2010, when we last had this wonderful writing exercise.


500 words on any topic, in essay form. With a beginning, a middle and an end.

Change us, teach us, shine a light on a moment that we may never have experienced personally.

I will post the top three essays for all to read and explain why the top essay won.

Just effing entertain us. Or touch us. Or make us angry and yearn for change. Remember, this is a non-fiction essay.

The 500 word count will be strictly enforced. Please proofread carefully and make sure your word count is exactly 500 words.

Wednesday, May 8th, by 12am PST.

Submit HERE and please write 500 WORDS in the subject line. The last time we did this in 2010, I received an overwhelming number of submissions so give me a few days to find the top three.

Treat yourself to Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas

Get notes and feedback on your script or manuscript from Julie Gray

Best 500 Word Essays

Thursday, September 30th, 20102010-09-30T13:22:04Zl, F jS, Y

What a delight reading all the 500 word essay submissions was! I was surprised at how many I received – over 100! And those were just the people who took this challenge and motivated – I know many more may have felt intimidated or overwhelmed by the assignment, or as if doing such a thing was beyond their ken.

Here’s what I look for in a good essay: a beginning, a middle and an end, a provocative or revealing subject, an intimacy in the writing, and an essay that leaves me either having learned or felt something. I love essays that are courageous and confessional. I love essays that make me crave the outcome and wonder where it’s all leading. I ADORE essays that open with a provocative statement. The winning essay opens with this: My father didn’t recognize his sister when he carried her on the stretcher to the ambulance. What the what? Who could resist reading the rest? I couldn’t.

Essay writing may be new for many of you but I encourage you to continue to work on that skill set. How can you jump start your essay with a provocative or interesting opening statement? How can you summarize your thesis in a way that satisfies us mightily? How can you tease us along and make us crave the outcome?

Writing something in only 500 words is a creative exercise both in restraint and in meaning. These essays would have been significantly less compelling if another 250 words were added – unless the thesis at the top of each essay were more complex. The word count limit (again, a reality in writing for publications) demands an essay that can fit within it. The more words you have, the more complex your essay and the more you must fill in that middle section.

We will most definitely do this exercise again: The submissions were astounding and I get the feeling, by the number of submissions, that it was an exercise that felt good to do as well. I do feel that we writers must widen our vistas to include more than screenwriting. Plays, essays, short fiction, flash fiction, even copy – it’s all good for your writer’s brain and heart. Blogging for many is a great way to express and also touch the lives of others in doing so. And that, I think, was what I was looking for in the top essays – not just reflections, observations or stories, but essays that were emotionally revealing and that left us with a feeling – a real feeling for the subject.

So without further ado, here is the winning essay, by Janet Stilson. I chose this essay because it opens beautifully and knits together two events that illustrate the strangeness of life. The essay is by turns funny and painful and life-affirming.

“Shatter and Build”

The first runner up is Mickey Fisher, for “Addicted to That Rush.” I loved the very first sentence and the mirthfulness of the story itself. The slightly melancholic tone present throughout the piece had a universal feel and I liked that Mickey shared intimately something that is a part of himself. And that is part of a good essay, guys, really being brave and revealing about oneself.

“Addicted to That Rush”

The second runner up is “45 and Regressing” by Edward Joers, who shared a point of view about the good (and evil) of Facebook and the way it impacts middle-aged users when it comes to reconnecting with people from the past. The piece is thoughtful and honest and also ends in a touching melancholy tone.

“45 and Regressing”