StoryhackVT: How We Did It

With 82 votes, The Burlington Writers Workshop took fourth place in the first annual StoryhackVT. It’s an admirable finish and I’m proud of what our team has written/produced.

As fans of “Patch-22” will note, we focused on as linear a narrative as possible. The theme was: “And none of this would have happened if you hadn’t arrived 5 minutes earlier.” Here’s how we did it.

After getting the theme, we headed over to our workspace at The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (these spaces were assigned randomly to each team). We began throwing out ideas and writing them on our giant notepad.

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Once we had settled on a basic story (an overbearing “helicopter” pumpkin mom who thinks her son has disappeared to hang out with his junkie squash friend and/or his “tart” of an apple girlfriend) we began to design the arc of the story, using the traditional Freytag pyramid to keep track of our rising action.

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You’ll note that we were still changing ideas at this point. Fiona Badapple, for example, was an eggplant, a carrot, and a pomegranate before becoming an apple.

From there, we went shopping. Erika Nichols and I went to a pumpkin patch and found some pumpkins. John Carter, Erin Post, and Paul Hobday went to Price Chopper for the rest of our cast of characters, including Buddy Nutsquash.

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At VPR’s studios, we began our arts and crafts project. We also recorded the audio there.

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While the arts and crafts went on, John Carter and I went down to the bridge between Burlington and Winooski and recorded the way Jackie O’Lantern imagined her son Albert’s death.

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Back to the studio for edits.

Work wrapped up on most of our story by 10:30. Erin and I stayed late, making changes to the photoshopped pictures. Later that night, I made edits to the slideshow on WordPress. Then, done!

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It’s worth noting that we did this without once falling into nasty disagreements. Nobody was criticized for having “stupid ideas” because, as I told the team early in the process, there’s no such thing as a stupid idea here. As we brainstormed, we were encouraged to throw out whatever ideas came up. In this way, we were able to build on each other’s ideas, top each other’s jokes, and point out inconsistencies. Like our workshops, it was a cordial, respectful, fun process!

“I smile every time I see Fiona Badapple, Albert O’Lantern and company in my Facebook chat list,” said Erin Post. “It’s nice being friends with vegetables.”

“We had so much fun crafting and implementing our story, that I really don’t care how we actually finished,” Paul Hobday said this morning.

“The real prize was the fun of getting to know everyone a bit better,” said John Carter.

I couldn’t agree more. Thanks to John, Erika, Paul, and Erin, and to everyone who supported us on this StoryhackVT adventure. And congrats to the all the teams, with special kudos to the teams that placed first, second, and third. Well done!

About Peter Biello

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered on New Hampshire Public Radio and a writer of short stories, novels, book reviews, and essays. He's also the host of The Bookshelf, a series of interviews with authors from or writing about the Granite State.
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