I entered my first writing contest (one of very few) after I graduated from high school—a national novel-writing contest specifically for teenagers. I don't remember the name of it, only that a synopsis and 20-page excerpt were required, and that the entry was to be mailed to Hawaii. The sole motivator for my entry was the grand prize—an IBM Thinkpad. I didn't have a computer in my home growing up, and at 18, the notion of my own laptop was very much a dream. I figured if I had any chance of winning, I had to at least give it a shot.
Though I recall few details about the contest, I still have the original synopsis and excerpt I wrote for my entry. I still have these documents because I typed them on an old typewriter belonging to my now ex-stepmother in which some of the capital letters didn't work. In attempt to compensate, I hand-wrote in the missing letters, and made photocopies—which I convinced myself concealed some of the poor presentation.
I didn't know if I'd get any kind of response, but sure enough, after I'd started college, my reply came in the mail. I hadn't won the ThinkPad, but had received an honorable mention. An honorable mention in a pool of unknown candidates. I took it for what it was—a learning experience—and moved on.
Looking back at the story now, it wasn't a terrible idea. It's something that could very well be developed into a novel. My problem with it is that I was writing what I thought someone else wanted to read instead of writing for myself. I wrote what I thought would impress a panel of strangers, not a story from my heart. And that's probably why I haven't held onto that honorable mention—because whether I was the only recipient of said award, or one of thousands, it didn't feel honest.
By Michelle (Reeves) Bredeson
1997, Age 18
In 1944 two young scientists are sent to the northern regions of Greenland to do research for a plant located in California. They discover a miracle bacteria that can ultimately change the world as we know it. Tragically, the two men do not live to tell their story. However, a young man named Christopher Noble and his friend Pete Caan learn of the bacteria and set out to find it. Noble's new assistant, the young and beautiful Darian Slater, also becomes involved.
When the evil Richard Morgan learns of Noble's discovery, he tricks him using the only means he has—Noble's newly acclaimed love for Miss Slater. Now Noble must choose between the girl and keeping all that it took him so long to obtain.
All the while, Noble has begun to experiment with bacteria. Ty Newbrook was lying in a hospital in Denver in a coma, brain dead. When Noble decides to use the bacteria in order to save Ty's life, the experiment is a success. But not long after Ty has his life back, the bacteria starts to change him. Now Ty is a savage creature, after the man who turned him into a monster. Noble is now on the run from both Newbrook and Morgan. Noble must save his life as well as the life of Slater while keeping alive himself, and the clock is ticking to see how fast he can run from his reverse diagnosis.