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Official (Unofficial) Rules for the Ekphrastic Challenge Part 2!

From "ekphrasis," meaning, "a clear, intense, self-contained argument or pictorial description of an object, especially of an artwork."

By Mackenzie DavisPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Photo Credit: isa-bell on Flickr

Your photos are so BEAUTIFUL! We got 14 gems and I’m very excited to announce the assignments for the writing part of this challenge. Oh, and before I forget to mention it, I WILL be doing this again in the future, so if anybody missed it, no worries. I’ll be back in the fall!

Without wanting to bore you, I basically had two lists, one of creators and one of photos, and the number generator served to assign the photos to the creators, the latter of whom were in alphabetical order and numbered 1-14. It took like 5 minutes and no favorites were played!

To reiterate my last article on the subject, I will be judging this challenge purely on the photo assignments that I’ve published here. No trades, and please be respectful of the photographers. 😀

Check out the end of the article for the photo assignments!

The Criteria

For the writing itself, I’m open to stories and poetry.

  • Fiction: between 800 and 1500 words. (Not super fussy about this. I won't be checking. Just length "vibes.")
  • Poetry: between 1-3 pages.

ADD A SONG IF YOU WANT! (Not part of judging. Optional.)

If you have a mind to, add a song to your story or poem. Ideally, this song is relevant to your piece in some way. Include the title and the artist in whatever format you see fit, from it being in the title, the narration, dialogue, split across lines or paragraphs, etc..

If I get enough songs, I'll compile a playlist at the end of this challenge and use it in the winner’s article. Who knows? I might even create a different challenge using that playlist… 🙃 But, only do it if you think this would be fun and cool!

The Rubric

Total: 110 points.

Story/poem contains an arc of some kind = 50 total points.

  • Reader ends the story/poem feeling transformed in some way = 25 pts.
  • Emotional heart = 15 pts.
  • Solid premise = 10 pts.
  • Story/poem is based on the photo = 40 total points.

    • Takes any clear element in the photo and incorporates it into the story/poem = 20 pts.
    • Story/poem complements the photo in a satisfying way (i.e., the two go together well) = 10 pts.
    • Photo adds meaning to story/poem and doesn’t become superfluous to it = 10 pts.

    Story/poem clearly demonstrates a unique and careful thought process. 20 total points.

  • Does not fall back on easy tropes, tired plots, predictable characters, etc = 10 pts.
  • Contains moments of narrative surprise = 5 pts.
  • Clear use of literary devices = 5 pts.
  • Please note: This is essentially the same rubric as the first iteration of this challenge. I edited it for clarity and to include poetry.


    YES there will be prizes!!

    • 1st Place: $25.00
    • 2nd Place: $15.00
    • 2 Runners-Up: $5.00 each

    I'll send these as tips, unless anybody has Ko-Fi or a different payment method they prefer.

    Other Rules

    • Download and use your assigned photo as your featured image. (Download from here)
    • Credit the photographer!
    • Fiction is between 800 and 1500 words. (Again, not checking this.) Poetry is between 1-3 pages.
    • No submission limit.
    • Highest scores win. Creators can only win with one submission.
    • The deadline is July 21st at 11:59 MST.


    This is gonna be so fun! I hope you are all excited as I am! I will be posting one or two reminders as time progresses, and will post them to Discord as well as Vocal itself.

    Happy writing!

    Any questions or comments? Just let me know!

    (The Tag! Photo Challenge will be readdressed once this one concludes. For those who couldn't commit, this will interest you, particularly! The folder is open for the next 6 weeks, and possibly longer, until I write the challenge/prompt article.)


    The Photo Assignments!

    Alexander McEvoy =

    Photo Credit: Gerard DiLeo


    Andrei Z. =

    Photo Credit: Leslie Writes


    Christy Munson =

    Photo Credit: Natalie Wilkinson


    D.K. Shepard =

    Photo Credit: Paul Stewart


    Donna Fox =

    Photo Credit: D.K. Shepard


    Gerard DiLeo =

    Photo Credit: Nagoh Creative (Greg)


    Nagoh Creative =

    Photo Credit: Andrei Z.


    Judey Kalchik =

    Photo Credit: Christy Munson


    Kenny Penn =

    Photo Credit: Donna Fox


    Lamar Wiggins =

    Photo Credit: Kenny Penn


    Leslie Writes =

    Photo Credit: Judey Kalchik


    Natalie Wilkinson =

    Photo Credit: Alexander McEvoy


    Paul Stewart =

    Photo Credit: Suze Kay


    14 Suze Kay =

    Photo Credit: Lamar Wiggins


    Also, isn't the featured image so interesting? It's just mesmerizing...


    About the Creator

    Mackenzie Davis

    “When you are describing a shape, or sound, or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” Lewis Carroll

    Find me elsewhere.

    Copyright Mackenzie Davis.

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    Reader insights


    Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Comments (26)

    • Natalie Wilkinsona day ago

      Mackenzie! I did it, I finished on time with the right photo. Here is my entry using Alexander's photo. It would be great if you create a post with links to all the stories in one place. Thanks for running this- Natalie https://vocal.media/fiction/i-first-saw-him

    • Lamar Wiggins3 days ago

      Finally, here is my entry using Kenny Penn’s photo. https://vocal.media/fiction/reverence-ozipj01nw

    • D.K. Shepard17 days ago

      Here’s my entry featuring Paul’s photo! https://vocal.media/poets/clean-start Thanks, Mackenzie!

    • oh this is a super cool challenge! I would like to participate in the next round too! Congrats on top story!

    • Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

    • Alexander McEvoyabout a month ago

      Hi ho friendo! Just going to sneak this in here, don't mind me... https://vocal.media/fiction/silence-d39031w#comment-88e00e72-99ce-4175-a066-ce2f7494810a

    • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

      Here is my entry, inspired by Christ’s photo. https://vocal.media/poets/new-song-training

    • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

      Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

    • Kenny Pennabout a month ago

      Woohoo! Can't wait to get started on this!

    • TahimaAniabout a month ago

      great writing line♥️

    • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

      excited to start on my entry. Love the photo I drew!

    • Donna Fox (HKB)about a month ago

      Yay!! Congrats on Top Story Mackenzie!! Love that you get the recognition for this!!

    • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

      Cool that this got Top Story!

    • Alexander McEvoyabout a month ago

      Oh boy! I can't wait to play this game again! Looking forward to seeing what people come up with and really excited to see what I can do with Gerard's awesome photo!

    • Anna about a month ago

      Great challenge, will check this out later😊

    • Donna Fox (HKB)about a month ago

      Yay!!!!!! I've been eagerly awaiting this!!! Best of luck to everyone, may the odds be ever in your favour!!

    • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

      Cool! Can’t wait to start seeing the results of this one roll in. And like DK said, Thanks for the generous time line.

    • D.K. Shepardabout a month ago

      Thanks, Mackenzie! Excited to participate! And thank you for the generous deadline!!

    • Natalie Wilkinsonabout a month ago

      Thanks Mackenzie, this should be interesting. Going to start thinking about it this week, there are lots of ways to go on the photo so thanks Alexander! If Christy wants to know more about the bronze in my photo, I can give a little more background info here- just leave a comment. Or wing it...

    • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

      ooooh. This is exciting...was waiting for this! Excited about the image I get to work with and who has my image to work with! Well done on putting this all together, as always, Mackenzie! Stellar job!

    • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

      Your imagery of this poetry is wonderful. Hope this would be a great entry. Lol!

    • Kayleigh Fraser ✨about a month ago

      Excited to see what they come up with! Those are some interesting photos! 💜 Ps. I misread the top prize as $2500 😂 My mind immediately wondered how you had hidden your millionaire status for so long 😅

    • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

      As always, I had so much joy reading the rubrics hehehehehe. Looking forward to reading everyone's entries!

    Mackenzie DavisWritten by Mackenzie Davis

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