A story Well Told

The winning writers from left to right: Leah Perri ’16, Kasey Price ’16 and Ana Alexander ’16.

The Written Word Is
The First Technology Developed By Humankind.
From the earliest cave drawings to the origination of writing systems and the dawn of the alphabet, humankind has used the written word to chronicle its existence. Memories and traditions of generations of people have been preserved by the written word. Wars have been incited and armistice effected through the written word. The written word has governed humankind from the earliest of times.

There is power in the written word. We can visit lands that do not exist; experience life outside our realm; and open the mind to a world of wonder, beauty, and amazement. The written word can, and does, change lives.

And that is exactly the hope and intention of an anonymous WSU Foundation donor and WSU graduate who recently established the Creative Writing Contest Fund. This annual/endowed fund is to encourage, inspire and support students in their writing and literary pursuits, while helping them financially to reach their educational goals.

Three literary prizes will be awarded yearly, one each for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, with a fourth option for play or screen-writing. WSU creative writing faculty members are charged with reviewing and screening all manuscripts, with external judges chosen from visiting writers selected by the WSU English Department. Student winners of the contest will each receive a $1,500 scholarship and have their manuscripts published in Satori, WSU’s fine arts magazine.

“There is nothing more enjoyable than a story well told,” said an anonymous benefactor, who grew up in a single-parent family near the WSU campus.

“The campus (then known as Winona State College) at the time was a small collection of buildings divided by intersecting streets,” recalled the benefactor who now resides in Arizona. “The college was a physical presence in my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was the glow from the lights of the football field, walking through campus on my way to junior high school, or playing on the empty campus during the summer months, Winona State was always there.”

Life was different then. There were no personal communication devices. Children relied on the power of their imagination
and books. “Growing up, reading was not only an escape, but was also one of the ways I learned about a world outside my hometown. Early in life you hear about the power of words, but the more I read the more I grew to appreciate the beauty of words.”

“My mother, who was and remains a voracious reader, encouraged me early on by dragging me to the library and bringing books home for me to read. I was lucky to grow up where I did and I was lucky to attend WSU. Like a lot of people, I had to work to put myself through college. My work schedule, combined with other commitments, left little free time.”

Several years ago this WSU benefactor started thinking about doing something to show appreciation to the university, and so the first annual WSU Creative Writing Contest was conceived. Supervised by WSU English Professor Elizabeth Oness, the first contest, held in February, put the students’ writing skills to the test. English Department faculty screened the nearly 100 submissions down to 10, and passed the finalists to the visiting judges, each an acclaimed published author in their own right. The judges did not have an easy time adjudicating the entries. Three winners eventually emerged and three very excited students were awarded $1,500 scholarships.

“My colleagues and I were pleased to have so many wonderful submissions for the first Creative Writing Contest,” said Oness. “We have a really talented and energetic group of students, and we feel fortunate to have them become the beneficiaries of such a generous gift.”

In conclusion, the benefactor commented, “As a student, I left little imprint on the college, but as I’ve grown older and enjoyed some success in life, I realize the college left a major impact on me. I hope that the writing contest will be not only an opportunity, but also a challenge to students and faculty alike. I’m not sure where it will take us, but I’ll bet it will be interesting and fun.
You never know, the writing contest may even change someone’s life.”

Meet the winning writers.

So. You Want to Write?

Turn off the TV and read. The way you learn how to write is by observing the work of other writers.

Disconnect from the world. Put down the cell phone and step away from the computer. Get out and do interesting things. Experience is knowledge. It is the writer’s palate.

Live passionately. Passion forms the color of words.

Develop your listening skills.


Don’t write for others, write for yourself first. The audience will come.

Assemble words with the purpose to connect with someone outside yourself.

Master the art of description. It is the storyteller’s golden egg.

Write something every single day.

Start with stories and metaphors.


Write to agitate your reader and stir emotions.

Use the mini-skirt rule: Make it long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting.

Believe in yourself.

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