Wordsmith Contest


CONTEST CLOSED (9/26/2011)

I have chosen the winners! See my comment at the bottom of the page for the list of winners and next steps for the selected participants.

Thank you all for participating!

This blog post contains a challenge for you.
If you meet the challenge, you may win a free book, tote bag, or subscription to Amazon Prime!

As many of you know, I’m a prolific writer about writing. Writing is how we communicate, and communicating is how we keep relationships and societies strong. Fortunately, good writing is not magic. Rather, good writing results when you use effective strategies and reflect on key concepts.

With this in mind, I have a challenge for you. If you take this challenge, you may win a really great prize! In fact, these are the best prizes we’ve ever offered for a contest. (Thank you, Stack Exchange English Language & Usage, for sweetening the prizes!)

The Challenge

To enter this challenge, revise the following poorly written sentence and put your revision in the comments below

Once the business opened, which occurred after much effort, expense and planning, the owner, a long-term veteran of new business ventures, some successful and others not, found, to his dismay, though not to his surprise, that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

You may need more than one sentence. A valid entry has the same meaning as the original and is mechanically (spelling, punctuation, grammar) correct. Make sure to use a valid e-mail address!

This contest closes at 11:59 p.m. on September 25, 2011. I will reveal the winners on Monday, September 26, 2011. 

Win These Prizes

1st Prize:
300 Days of Better Writing
(in hardcopy if the winner is in the continental U.S.; otherwise in PDF) and a subscription to Amazon Prime. After examining all entries, I will choose the one that I think best exemplifies good writing. If two or more entries seem equally well written to me, I will choose one of them at random.

2nd & 3rd prize:
From the remaining valid entries, I will select two entries at random. These 2 winners will receive a great—and useful—tote bag from Stack Exchange. (The pictures below are the actual bags.) 

      

4th & 5th prize: After I select the 1st–3rd place winners, I’ll choose two more at random. Each selected participant will receive a copy of Zen Comma (PDF). 

Once the winners are selected, I’ll reveal my revision for comparison. (Yours doesn’t have to look like mine to win.) 

Of the prizes, the books are from us. You can find more information about the books at http://hostileediting.com/

Stack Exchange English Language & Usage is providing the subscription to Amazon Prime (part of 1st place prize) and the tote bags (2nd & 3rd place prizes).

Who is Stack Exchange?

Stack Exchange English Language & Usage is “a collaboratively edited website focusing on high quality Q&A about grammar, etymology, word choice, and dialect differences.” One of the things I like about the Stack Exchange site is the discussions about meanings and connotations of words and phrases. Overall, the questions and responses are more informed, thoughtful,  and intelligent than is typical with this type of discussion format. It’s worth checking out.

Helpful Strategies

If you are not sure where to start, or if you need guidance as you fine tune your revised text, you may find the following strategies useful. 

Finding and using the rhetorical subject
Sentence-level transitions 
Choosing the right main verbs
Using introductory phrases
Serial commas or not 
Commas with introductory phrases and clauses (first message)

Contest Details: The “Small” Print

  1. You may only enter once.
  2. A valid entry has the same meaning as the original text and is mechanically correct.
  3. Use a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win.
  4. My selection of the winners is non-negotiable, not open for discussion, and not subject to re-consideration. All randomly selected winners will be assigned a random number using http://www.random.org/ and ranked.
  5. No late entry will be considered.
  6. If you are selected for the first prize (and you are in the continental U.S.), I will request your mailing address so I can send you your new copy of 300 Days of Better Writing.

If you have any questions about this contest, ask them below as comments.

Advertisements

26 Comments

Filed under Writing

26 responses to “Wordsmith Contest

  1. Here is my proposition.

    Once the business opened, which occurred after much effort, expense, and planning, the owner, a long-term veteran of new business ventures, both successful and unsuccessful, found, to his dismay but not to his surprise, that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

  2. listen2thisguy

    Once the business opened (which occurred after much effort, expense and planning) the owner, a long-term veteran of new business ventures, found – to his dismay – that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

  3. After much effort, expense, and planning, the business finally opened. However, it ultimately failed due to the inability to acquire the necessary workforce. The owner was dismayed but not surprised. No stranger to new businesses, he has taken part in many such ventures, some of which turned out to be more successful than others.

  4. The business having opened following much effort, expense and planning, the owner, who was a long-term veteran of new business ventures – some successful, others not – was faced with a problem: to his dismay (though not to his surprise) he found that he was unable to acquire the workforce necessary to keep his business open every day.

  5. Ian

    After a great deal of effort, the business finally opened, but did not stay open long. Despite his extensive (but uneven) entrepreneurial experience, the owner unhappily found his suspicions confirmed: the workforce he needed just wasn’t there.

  6. The owner was a long-term veteran of new business ventures. Some of those ventures had been successful, others had not. He opened the business after much effort and quickly found that he couldn’t hire enough staff to keep his business open each day. He was dismayed, but not surprised.

  7. After much effort was put forth through expenses and planning, the owner of the newly opened business, a long-term veteran of such ventures, to his dismay, though not to his surprise, that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

  8. Despite much effort, expense, and planning the business opened understaffed and unable to open every day. This was a disappointment but not a surprise to the new business veteran owner, who has seen both success and failure in the market.

  9. Daniel Heisler

    After much effort and expense, a new business opened by a seasoned entrepreneuer begrudgingly accepted the fact this new endeavor would have to shut down unless it could meet its’ workforce requirements.

  10. Once the business opened – after much effort, expense, and planning -, the owner found that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day. A dismaying – though not surprising – outcome for him, a long-term veteran of successful and unsuccessful business ventures.

  11. Lanny Heidbreder

    This time, just like many times before, he had put in the effort, the thought, and the money necessary to make his latest business idea into reality. Sometimes his ventures had been successful; other times they hadn’t. This time, he was dismayed but not surprised to find that once his new business opened, he couldn’t hire the people he needed to keep it open.

  12. He wasn’t surprised. He’d done this so often before with mixed success that nothing surprised him anymore; But he certainly was dismayed that all of his effort, expense, and planning would be undermined by unreliable workers. His latest effort would be another failure if he couldn’t keep staffed consistently.

  13. Gerald

    After much effort, expense and planning, the business opened. Once it did however, the owner found that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day. For this long-term veteran of new business ventures – some successful and others not – this was dismaying, though not surprising.

  14. The owner opened his business after much effort, expense, and planning. As a long-term veteran of new business ventures, some more successful than others, the owner was dismayed, but not surprised, when he was unable to recruit an adequate workforce. As a result, he could not keep his business open every day.

  15. Lanny Heidbreder

    Upon rereading my entry, I can’t believe I said “make … into” rather than “turn … into”. I also think I might have a suboptimal (though perhaps not strictly incorrect) verb tense in my last sentence. Ah, well. This was fun, anyway.

  16. After much planning, expense and effort put into the business, the owner, a long-term veteran of both successful and unsuccessful new business ventures, found out to his dismay that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

  17. The owner, a long-term veteran of new business ventures, was not surprised that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day. Though dismayed, and having previously found some ventures successful and others not, the business opened with much effort, expense, and planning.

  18. S Jack Horne

    Timing is everything and to his dismay the veteran of new business ventures missed that critacal element of good timing in launching the new business. His timing was bad.

  19. Tiffanny Brooks

    He was familiar with the flush of success as well as the torment of defeat. His experience had taught him that there are three basic ingredients in business transactions; a product, a consumer and a means of selling the goods or service.

    With his latest venture, he divided his investment accordingly, doling his funds into equal thirds: the first third went to research and purchase a viable product; the second third was used to test the product in market and identify his target consumer, and the final third went to market the product and build his establishment. “Success!” he thought. And, yet, when the consumers came, and the demand grew, he realized he had failed to identify a fourth, crucial ingredient…delivery. Unable to keep up with the demand on his own, and without the funds to hire a sales team, the disquieted entrepreneur was forced to shutter his doors part-time until he could resolve his quandary.

  20. Bill

    Despite the effort, expense, and planning that went into opening the new business, the owner was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep it open every day. As a long-term veteran of both successful and unsuccessful new business ventures, he was dismayed but not entirely surpised by this outcome.

  21. Roxanne

    The business opened after much effort, expense, and planning. Unfortunately, the owner was unable to acquire enough employees to keep it open. He was dismayed, but not surprised, considering his track record with new business ventures.

  22. In spite of his effort, expense, and planning, the experienced business enterpreneur couldn’t find the workforce to keep the business open daily.

  23. Sanjay Chandra

    The seasoned and occasionally successful entrepreneur opened his new business following considerable effort, expense and planning. He was dismayed but not surprised to find that he could not get sufficient workforce to keep his business open every day

  24. Dale Sizemore

    After much effort, expense and planning, the owner opened his new business. After all, he was a long-time veteran of new business ventures (some successful, some not). But this one was different: to his dismay, but though not to his surprise, he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep his business open every day.

  25. Thank you all for entering the Wordsmith Contest. I have determined the results–and the winners!
    I’m impressed, as I expected to be, by the variety of revisions and by the creativity with which people responded.

    First, because this is the information you are waiting for, here are the winners.
    1. Bill (entry #20): A very nice interpretation and revision of the initial sentence. Here is his entry:

    Despite the effort, expense, and planning that went into opening the new business, the owner was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep it open every day. As a long-term veteran of both successful and unsuccessful new business ventures, he was dismayed but not entirely surpised by this outcome.

    Two things I liked about this entry were that in each sentence, (a) Bill named the subject (“the owner” and “he”), and (b) he kept the subject close to the main verb, which is a fundamental principle of clear writing.

    The following winners were selected at random from the mechanically correct entries that did not fundamentally change the meaning of the original sentence.

    2: Aoryst (entry #1)

    3. Phil (entry #6)

    4. Chuck (entry #3)

    5. Lianna (entry #14)

    Second: What’s next for the first three winners?
    I need the mailing addresses for Bill, Aoryst, and Phil, each of whom will receive a nice present in the mail. Please send your mailing information to me at info@preciseedit.com.

    Bill will receive a hard copy of 300 Days of Better Writing (via mail) and a subscription to Amazon Prime.

    Aoryst and Phil will receive a great tote bag from Stack Exchange English Language and Usage (hence the need for the mailing address). These will be sent directly from Stack Exchange.

    Third: What’s next for the fourth and fifth place winners?
    I’ll check your e-mail addresses used to enter, and I’ll send you my latest book, Zen Comma.

    CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL WINNERS and THANK YOU TO ALL PARTICIPANTS.
    I hope you enjoyed participating and turning the original crummy sentence into clear and interesting writing.

    Fourth: Here’s my revision, for the sake of comparison.
    After much effort, expense, and planning, the owner opened his new business. He found that he was unable to acquire the necessary workforce to keep it open every day. As a veteran of new business ventures, some successful and others not, he was dismayed but not surprised.

  26. Congrats to all the winners! Thank you David, your books and tweets are very helpful to me. I look forward to reading Zen Comma. Maybe I can kick my comma overuse/misuse/abuse problem!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s