This is topic Inspiration from a dream: 13 line challenge in forum Writing Challenges at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
Been a while. Here goes:

For this challenge, please create/write and post the first 13 lines of a theoretical or eventual story whose inspiration came from one of your dreams. (The sleeping kind, not like when I see myself on stage accepting my WotF gold trophy.)

The idea is that you take an oddity that came from your subconscious mind, and turn it into something coherent. A story start.

Please create a title. (Titles can be difficult, thus, a challenge.)

Number your entries (ex: #1) below. More than one entry is acceptable. (This is an inspiration challenge, afterall.)


Contest starts today, Sept/16/15 and runs for two weeks. (Longer because folks don't stop by as often as they used to.)

Be sure to click the "full reply form" box below before measuring your 13 line entry. That box is 14 lines long. Keep em at 13, folks. If you see a scroll bar pop up in your window, you may have gone too far.

Voting goes from Sept/30 - Oct/7/15


Vote for your favorite three:
1st place gets 3 points
2nd place gets 2 points
3rd place gets 1 point

Short crits are welcome.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
#1: The Falling

Moses Durae sent a wild stare over the surging, roiling crowd, and then let out a final scream. Rhythms drove throbbing heads into frenzied waves, long hair whipping like swash raging up from the sea, as the guitars swept towards the climactic end. Surging on adrenaline, Moses charged towards the edge of the stage, and then dove out above the turmoil.

Moses turned in the air, looking to the ceiling, and waited for the reaching hands to accept his personal offering - a final trust in the adoring throng. And the noise receded, damped until his ears ached with melancholy and his body with vacuity.

And he kept falling. There was no one present. No crowd, no hands to save him. Just silence, piercing through with accusing voice.

"What have you done with your life, Moses? Anything worthwhile?"

[ September 27, 2015, 01:36 AM: Message edited by: Brendan ]
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
#2: Hel Rising

At any moment the noonday bell would ring and if Galloway Windspear wasn't walking through the door of the Ox and Fowl Tavern when it did, his last chance for a future would be gone forever. Only one thing stood between him and salvation, Felon's Plaza. Right now it was filled with a jostling crowd impatient for the six guillotines on the scaffold to do their bloody work and cast the condemned into the Abyss.

Gripping tightly to his resolve, Galloway strode forward into the gap between the crowd and the doomed, his gaze firmly on the prize ahead. To his right a sudden rumbling stopped him in his tracks and he turned in time to see a severed head slowly topple forward, fall, and hit the ground with a wet schlock. He looked back at his goal and started walking again. And, as if it were some cosmic joke,

[ September 30, 2015, 02:28 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
#3: A Saccharine Bitter Moment

This is B & E Gypped Inc.'s glass skyrise: the lobby. Matt is naked at reception's chromed marble barrier. Corporate crooks who stole his sugar snacks will answer his fury. Muscle suits see him as clothed, out the loading bay into a gritty alley, scrape him on pavement for pleasure, dump him into a wastewater torrent.

He flies naked to the penthouse conference room level and not past sealed windows. He flies to the roof and not past security doors. He flows through cement and metal walls. Plaster itches; paint chafes.

He hangs midair at the stairwell -- can't touch down. Mr. Chief Executive Officer climbs the stairs, crack pipe in hand to smoke on the roof. "Give back my Twinkees," Matt yells. Mr. CEO lights the bowl and exhales a noose around Matt's neck.

[ September 30, 2015, 02:12 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
Entery #4:Forgotten Faith

Cole leaned forward, craning his neck as far as he dared.

He jerked back. “Ain't no way I'm going in there.” Shades of darkness spiraled, descending into the depths of the earth. “No way in Hell.”

“You're frickin joking right?" Kailyn screamed. "I mean ... damn it, Cole. This trip was supposed to bring us together. Let us look into each others soul! And you're bailing?”

Cole reached for her, but she pulled free. “Let me go!”

“Go where? Down there? You can't see five feet in front of you, let alone the bottom.”

She turned back. “What? I see it all. You don't? The grass, the trees, the water. I can hear it. Can't you?"

“No." Jason closed his eyes. "I only hear the screams."
Posted by RoxyL (Member # 9096) on :
Entry #5 Transfer

"Whadda we do?" The girl's voice was shriller than the sirens.

I spared a momentary glance in the rearview from my white knuckled, bug-eyed careen toward the security gates. Sure enough, the faint banding on her arms was flushing green with stress. Did I really sign up to spring a van full of transhuman teens today? I thought back to this morning. Nope.

"Do? What do you think, Bambi the bamboo girl?" her seatmate smiled and licked his lips.

"Pick another seat, Panda Boy," I yelled. "Now."
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Entry #6: Cocoon Girls

Girls everywhere, all wrapped up.

I had to step around them and over them to avoid stepping on them as I came out of the house into the driveway. So many girls, all teens, lying scattered across the blacktop, each one of them wrapped in a cocoon of Saran wrap. Thankfully, I couldn't see their faces, not really, distorted as they were by the layers of thin plastic.

My stomach tried to crawl out my throat, but I shoved it back down. I prayed that Lauren was not wrapped up among the victims.

One of them moved, jack knifed her body against the driveway, and I knew instantly that it was her. She was still alive.
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
Entry #7: The Test

Seven men in gang colors stepped out of the darkness and surrounded my car. I managed to slip inside, but one of the gangbangers held the door open. Two more men seized my husband and pulled him away from the vehicle.
The man with a hold on my door grinned down at me. "Get out of the car."
I swallowed hard. "No." I was afraid for my husband, but the fear that they would rape me held equally strong.
"Give me the keys."
The gangbangers pushed my husband to the ground. One of them pulled a hammer out of his pocket and prepared to bring it down on my husband's skull.

[ September 30, 2015, 11:38 PM: Message edited by: Disgruntled Peony ]
Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
Egads. I forgot to enter my own contest!
I've been so wrapped up with my WotF entry, that I missed out.
Well, last night I dreamed I was huge, like body builder. I was all lean and ripped and I kept looking at myself in the mirror.
Then I woke up and struggled to push myself up out of bed.


Thanks for all who entered.
Please vote for your faves. I will add some critiques shortly, and announce the winner.

You can vote and critique right here in this thread.

Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
1st place: #6 wetwilly "Cocoon Girls"

-- for strong and artful complication exposition and curiosity arousal. Girls cocooned by plastic wrap for some nefarious purpose is an ample magnitude problem [introduction] for a potentially fully realized short story, or longer fiction. Lauren's rescue, the first-person viewpoint agonist's daughter [?] among them, an implied want that suits the problem. All of which imply, along with other features, what the story is really about -- a pod person narrative with a twist; that is, someone wants girls sterilely wrapped up and out of circulation -- an objectification of young women. Exquisite inspiration for what that says about the moral human condition, how society packages expectations of young women's social behavior.

Plus, the fragment evinces the challenge prompt -- dream inspired -- the Saran wrap implies a dream-like nature from being a highly odd idiosyncracy. The pivotal clause, though, is wordy from a vague and static verb and other clutter, that defuse warranted emphasis: "each one of them wrapped in a cocoon of Saran wrap" //-- each cocooned by Saran wrap//. Though both are passive voice!? The doer of the cocooning unknown, I assume, at this point and passive for not being named as doer. Active and dynamic voice: //-- Saran wrap cocooned them each and all//.

2nd place: #1 Brendan "The Falling"

Again, complication and exposition development, of a musician perhaps daydreaming about performing and audience approval and the leap into the crowd to realize no crowd is present, an artful and inevitable surprise for a proud dreamer. Limited curiosity arousal, though a setup for dramatic action and some curiosity about the musician's outcome of the pride vice action.

3rd place: #4 Tiergan "Forgotten Faith"

Likewise complication exposition development through problem and want, though the setting detail of substance is vague -- whatever the deeps are, that could be more specific.

Strongest Title: "Cocoon Girls"

Though a verb form rather than an adjective form for "Cocoon" could be more memorable and thus more artful and strong -- //Cocooned Girls//.

By exposition I mean theme and meaning development of a narrative's true import, not per se summary and explanation lecture: tell. Develop exposition -- what a story promises it is really about, moral human condition-wise -- through complication development: antagonizing wants and problems wanting satisfaction.

Overall considerations for all entries of stronger dynamic voice I feel are warranted. More static voice than necessary or artful is in each entry. Stronger finiteness of time depictions could develop stronger now-moment immediacy and reader appeals. Actually, for me, the voice of all is a sameness of downstyled Standard Written English's hidebound, formal rigidity and blandness. The language could be more lively.

Thanks for sharing and great efforts, and thanks to axeminister for arranging the challenge. And what a relevant prompt of dream inspiration and exhibition of dream-into-story challenges.

1st place: #6 wetwilly "Cocoon Girls"
2nd place: #1 Brendan "The Falling"
3rd place: #4 Tiergan "Forgotten Faith"
Title: "Cocoon Girls"

[ October 03, 2015, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
My votes go as follows:

1st place: #6, wetwilly's "Cocoon Girls".
2nd place: #1, Brendan's "The Fall".
3rd place: #4, Tiergan's "Forgotten Faith".
Honorable mention goes to #2, grumpy old guy's "Hel Rising".

I'll try to offer crits on all of the pieces later, if I manage to find the time.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
I'm casting my ballot.

1st place: #2 Grumpy old guy's Hel Rising.

Smooth writing; I found it the most readable of the lot. Also, a clear conflict and goal for the MC immediately made clear. I especially liked the word choice of the "wet schlock." Very vivid phrase for me. I could really hear that sucker hitting the ground when I read that. My complaint is, when he fixes his gaze on "the prize" ahead, I want to know what that prize is that he's looking at. Presumably he knows what it is, so I would like to know as well.

2nd place: Tiergan's Forgotten Faith

This scenario grabbed my interest, mostly with the promise of some kind of deep observation about human nature. Staring into the eternal abyss and all that, it just sounds like it's going to be meaningful, you know? And I really liked the last line. "I only hear the screams" makes for a nice dramatic beat.

3rd place: Disgruntled Peony's The Test

Full disclosure, the promise of extreme and disturbing violence actually kind of turned me off to this opener, but trying to look past my personal aversion to that, it's a gripping dramatic scenario. I do think this opening could be improved with some slower pacing; it felt pretty rushed to me. Feels like a whole scene's worth of stuff crammed into the first 13 lines, and I think these events would be more effectively related if you took a little time to describe them, show us some character reactions, maybe even some back story, etc. Rushing it like this gives it a pretty distant, objective feel. Of course, you may just have been rushing it to get to the crux of the matter--the hammer--in the 1st 13 for the contest entry.

Honorable mention: extrinsic's line "Mr. CEO lights the bowl and exhales a noose around Matt's neck." If the rest of the passage were as good as that line, it would be far and away my first place vote, no contest. (Unfortunately I found the rest of the passage a bit confusing and hard to visualize). That sentence, though, is a thing of beauty. I love it for several reasons. The surprise factor of a company's CEO openly smoking a crack pipe still hasn't worn off while I'm reading this line, so there's that attention grabber. The image itself--crack smoke pouring out of the CEO's mouth and wrapping a tendril around the dude's neck to choke him--is a very interesting and cool image, a great eyeball punch of the old-school cyberpunk tradition. The possibility of a double meaning is also intriguing; is there also a metaphorical noose around his neck from the company/CEO?

As always, I'm enjoying writing and discussing with you all!
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Also, just wanted to add:

Disgruntled Peony, is that actually a dream you had? That's terrifying. Dreaming that would make for a really effed up night.
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
Originally posted by wetwilly:
Also, just wanted to add:

Disgruntled Peony, is that actually a dream you had? That's terrifying. Dreaming that would make for a really effed up night.

Yeah, that one woke me up.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
For me, first place goes to Tiergan for Forgotten Faith. While there are some prose issues concerning relating what Cole saw to us, the readers, all in all I found the idea disturbing. Was Cole looking at the reality Kailyn couldn't/wouldn't see or was it his own daemons starring back at him?

second place to wetwilly for Cocoon Girls. While sparse on setting, the prose did invoke a claustrophobic, suffocating element to me. Don't know exactly how it was accomplished, but it was.

Third place goes to Disgruntled Peony for The Test. I thought she brought to life a horrible situation where the POV character can only watch helplessly as something unspeakable is about to happen.

Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
1st Place - #6 Cocoon Girls. I really liked this one. Vivid. Only thing that threw me was the use of step, and stepping in the same sentence. Small nit for sure.

2nd Place - #1 The Falling. Had me in the moment from the get go. I feel of the driving music fed into the prose.

3rd Place - #5 Transfer. The 1st 2 lines were a little off to me. The 1st not quite so tough, but was hard to get the shriller from just that little bit of dialogue. 2nd sentence seemed a little forced. But then it picked up and really liked the quirky name calling, etc. of the piece and it flowed well.

Honorable Mention - #3 - A Saccahrine Bitter Moment. Read exactly like a dream. Which tends to make the story a bit disjointed and less fluid. But really the hit the dream aspect solidly.

Best Title - "Cocoon Girls"

Other Notes
#2Hel Rising - I dont know why I passed on this one. After a couple reads I really liked it, but the 1st read felt forced in the 1st paragraph. I think it was too many names, or long names that threw me.

#4Forgotten Faith- Obviously sheer genius. Need I say more. Truth, it didnt come out quite as I had hoped, but was pleased with my effort. Not sure how the story ends though.

#7The Test - Not bad. I would have liked a little more than just gang colors. It was little off to me, the use of gangbangers, gang colors, it led to it being a little bit generic feeling about the gang. Which could easily have been the point of it all as far as I know. And I know its soooo hard to get the minute bits into 13 lines.

I was actually quite pleased with the beginnings. Some good stories, wide variety going there. Hope to see some more challenges in the near future.
Posted by Brendan (Member # 6044) on :
#2 Hel Rising: The vivid description of the guillotine action gave me confidence that I could trust the writer to deliver a good story. However, my lack of understanding of why he was in the situation allowed the promise of further violence to dominate my sensibility. In other words, too much too soon - the dilemma made me queasy without a stronger empathetic investment in the character.

#3 A Saccharine Bitter Moment: Hit several dream-story tropes - floating, naked, ghosting through walls, abrupt changes in reality - making for an amusing romp to explore. Loved the pun on the company name, if a thematic subtext (or direct text) is about the addictive nature of corporate greed within post-modern western society. Given the Mr. CEO reference, the potential for twinkies to be a seductive substitution for daily bread, and the MC's ghosting through walls alluding a wish for transparency, it's possible for Extrinsic to have deliberately put such references in. But then again, I could be reading too much into the story.

#4 Forgotten Faith: Fascinating concept - who has the correct perception? And if they both do, how long can this story go delivering both perspectives fully to the reader? I would certainly read on to find out.

#5 Transfer: To me, this story opening has huge potential within its promise, for a fascinating post-singularity transhuman world, for an examination of a generation gap (internal or external conflict), and how the use of technology exacerbates this and disrupts the associated power relationships. This opening does suffer from a confusing third sentence, some of which comes from too much assumed knowledge (does rearview mean rearview mirror or eyes in the back of the MC's head), and some of which comes from unexpected description from the POV (would he really see his white knuckles or notice his bug eyes at that moment?). But this is the story I most want to read on - due to its sheer potential.

#6 Cocoon Girls: This reminded me of a WOTF winner from a couple of years back. It hits a clear and interesting dilemma, one which tempts me to find out what it is all about. But I also felt some conflicting statements hold me back. How did he know they were girls if he couldn't see their faces? Or teenagers? If he could dispassionately walk over them, why the sudden extent of the revulsion a paragraph later? And how did he know that the very one he was looking for was the one that moved? Of course, if these statements were conflicts because of the nature of the story being within a dream state, then ignore my questions - they inherently come from a literal misinterpretation of the story intent (which is a habit of specfic readers). And these questions only represent one person's reading - they clearly did not affect other readers.

#7 The Test: It was only until sitting to write this that I realised I had totally misunderstood this story because of one word - gangbanger. Outside the USA (and perhaps Canada) it means a person who has committed group rape. This puts an entirely different wash on the opening, and leads to confusing moments like why was she afraid of the menace of rape, if she already had been? Or, why were they only now dealing with her husband - what had happened to him when she was being raped? And do I want to read on to find out? Now that I understand that the term means (for my American friends) a person that hangs with a street gang, it actually tones the opening down somewhat. But my initial impression was caught up in a misunderstanding.

So to my votes:
1st Place: #4 Forgotten Faith
2nd Place: #5 Transfer
3rd Place: #3 A Saccharine Bitter Moment

Best Title: Hel Rising (So nearly Cocoon Girls)
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Originally posted by Brendan:
#3 A Saccharine Bitter Moment: Hit several dream-story tropes - floating, naked, ghosting through walls, abrupt changes in reality - making for an amusing romp to explore. Loved the pun on the company name, if a thematic subtext (or direct text) is about the addictive nature of corporate greed within post-modern western society. Given the Mr. CEO reference, the potential for twinkies to be a seductive substitution for daily bread, and the MC's ghosting through walls alluding a wish for transparency, it's possible for Extrinsic to have deliberately put such references in. But then again, I could be reading too much into the story.

Actually, yes, all the above. One missed topos motif is the agonist's name Matt, as in a walked-on floor mat. The Socratic dissimulation rhetoric, though, is a shortfall: obtusely unstable irony that requires experience with dream state narratives and analysis and stronger signals the work is ironic, such that the ironic interpretation preempts straight reads, and for somewhat easier interpretation. More leisurely development and word count in any case.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
To answer you Brendan:

I don't know the answers to any of those questions. This is more or less a direct transcription of a dream scene that stuck with me. As of yet, there is no story behind (or after) it. In dream logic fashion, it just happened in its own moment of time, with no connection to anything before or after.

I am considering developing it into a story, though, because it's a pretty gripping image.
Posted by RoxyL (Member # 9096) on :
My votes go to:

#2 Hel Rising
#1 The Falling
#4 Forgotten Faith

Best Title: A Saccharine Bitter Moment

And I apologize, life just got hectic again and I probably won't have time for longer crits. Thanks for the challenge!
Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
Aaaaand, we have a tie!

1st place goes to both:
Entry #6, Wetwilly's Cocoon Girls (11)
Entry #4, Tiergan's Forgotten Faith (11)

3rd belongs to:
Entry #1, Brendan's The Falling (8)

Everyone garnered at least one vote/point.

I'm glad we had some turnout, and some crits. Sorry again that I missed out. I buried my face in my WotF entry and by the time I looked up, the contest was over.

I'll start a new contest soon. I'm thinking around the 15th to run through Halloween. Might have a spooky theme... [Wink]

Posted by Tiergan (Member # 7852) on :
Originally posted by axeminister:

I'll start a new contest soon. I'm thinking around the 15th to run through Halloween. Might have a spooky theme... [Wink]


Sounds good. Thanks for doing the challenge.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Thanks for hosting, Axe!
Posted by Disgruntled Peony (Member # 10416) on :
Yes! Much thanks. I look forward to the next challenge! [Smile]

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