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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Winners of 6-Word Story Contest revealed

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Kevin Figueroa, one of the two runner-ups. 

Beginning at 3 p.m. on Nov. 20, heads were tilted and focus was palpable as rows of listeners learned the results of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Six-Word Story Contest. Many of the words spoken held considerable weight. At the end of the event, someone commented on the beauty of a six-word story reading being that in only half an hour, everyone present in the Campus Center ballroom had heard 20 complete stories.
Selected from 213 submissions, the winning stories’ subject matter ranged from whimsical to melancholic, at times thought provoking, and occasionally bittersweet. Reading them at the podium were the judges of the contest, first year MFAs, and teachers of “Intro to Creative Writing,” Ryan Spellman Vautour, Peter Picetti, Lauren von Hagel, Theadora Siranian, Karen Locascio, and Lewis Feuer.
First place and a $100 gift card to the campus book store was awarded to English major Keller McGuinness for his story, “Day nineteen: Burned the last chair.” The Somerville, MA resident in his senior year at UMass Boston commented, “The greater part of the story exists outside of the words written. It’s about leading the reader through the door.”
A $50 dollar gift card was awarded to each runner-up. Kevin Figueroa, a freshman studying English and communications, and junior Evan Arndt, an English major.
“Music, lights — gone. Still, we danced” was Figueroa’s submission. The 19-year-old, who lives on Harbor Point, said that for him, “Writing the six-word stories was reminiscent of writing haikus. It takes time to develop an idea, and then more time to try and condense the idea without losing its meaning.”
“It really makes you think about the economy of your word choice,” said 24-year-old Arndt, who currently lives in Brighton, MA but is originally from Wisconsin. He submitted the story, “Stay tonight, the kids won’t know.”
Video coverage of the Six-Word Story reading is on the UMass Boston YouTube channel and was provided by Colleen Locke, the university’s Digital Communication Editor. It is titled, “Tell Me a (Short) Story: Winners Announced in 2013 Six-Word Story Contest.”
“The Watermark,” UMass Boston’s literary and art publication, has expressed interest in publishing the top 20 stories from the contest in the journal’s upcoming spring edition.
When comparing the recently concluded Six-Word Story Contest to the initial run of last year, main organizer Lauren von Hagel said the caliber, content, and variety of the stories was consistent, but noted that there was an overall theme of playfulness which stood out. Von Hagel says that the contest will become an annual tradition, with the possibility of there instead being one every semester.
When questioned about the likelihood of other types of creative writing contests, she said nothing was in the works, but that they were a hope of hers and students should keep their eyes open. Those who have a interest in creative writing are encouraged to take the university’s introductory course, “ENGL 210.”