Is it too soon? If it is too soon I can wait.
This challenge is not anonymous. This is a discussion challenge. The more you discuss, the more I think we can get from it. So here goes.
You have two hours to write a story. These two hours can begin at any point from today to the end of march, but you cannot spend more than two hours total finishing the story. As soon as your hours are up, send your rough drafts to me through email, and then post the first thirteen on the site.
When March ends and the stories are all up, I will send the stories out to everyone in anthology form. We read and make comments (on the site) about everyone's stories.
Then, you have a month to revise the story. Clean up the grammar, flesh out the details, start in the right place, whatever it takes. When the story is clean, send it to me again, and then I will send out first and final drafts to everyone to compare. At which point we vote for best story, and most improved.
Again, discussion is encouraged.
Rough drafts due: last day in March Final drafts due: last day in April Trigger: Price of Peace
Newbies and seasoned pros, you want to play? ~Sheena firstname.lastname@example.org
Edited to make the trigger more noticeable.
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited March 09, 2010).]
Write a story in two hours. Writers are encouraged to be messy in their prose. Then, when April hits, writers are assigned a random story (not their own) to edit. This way no emotional attachment is generated to the original content. They make the changes and recommendations, and those edits are judged.
[This message has been edited by Rhaythe (edited March 09, 2010).]
Interesting question. This will be tough to be sure a writer really took 2 hours to write.
Would you like each person that wants to play provide a trigger then they can be randomly assigned? That way when a writer is ready they can bug someone (this is teh weak part of this idea) for a trigger.
Edit to add...
oops. Just noticed the trigger in the first post
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited March 09, 2010).]
Rhaythe's idea is interesting, what do the rest of you think? I personally wonder if that takes away from the authors content. For example, If I wrote a weird story with sloppy prose(been known to happen) and Satate edits it into a nubula finalist, would I get the rights to it?
I think it is best to just edit your own, however if someone wants to, I have no issue if two people swap.
That's the good thing about discussion. Who ever talks gets to mold the challenge into whatever they want it to be.
I personally just want to peek over someones shoulder as they edit, see why they made the choices they made, see the thought process, etc.
I think Rhaythe's idea would work in a classroom, but I like the idea that I could potentially walk away from any of our challenges with a nearly publishable story. I don't see how that would be manageable if it had two authors.
Either way I'm in. Lately I need motivation to write, for which both the trigger and competitiveness are invaluable.
(And thanks for volunteering, shimiqua)
[This message has been edited by BenM (edited March 09, 2010).]
And while I hate double-posting, I have to ask: Do we get to plot out our story beforehand, and just spend the 2 hours writing? I assume so, but want to check.
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One of the ways authors collaborate is for one to write the first draft, the other to edit it, then the first one edits it again (and possibly back and forth until they both like the results), though this usually works better with a novel where each author writes a different part of the first draft.
But maybe you would want to try that kind of collaboration in a different challenge.
Yep, you can think it out before writing. If you need help with the trigger, a few interesting things have popped out at me. One, is the new essay by OSC where he talks about airport security, and how the need to be politically correct is distracting from security.
I think that concept could be expanded upon for a really interesting story.
And second, is a short story by Ursula K. Leguin, The Ones who walk away from Omelas, which is about a traveler who comes to this perfect place, and the cause for the peace is they torture a disabled boy. It's brilliant. Read it if you can find it.
Research, discussion, outlining, or brain storming does not count in the time. Unless you want it to. ~Sheena email@example.com
Sigh. I guess I don't have enough writing projects, or maybe they're simply not pressing enough, or who knows what, because this sounds fun. So, anyway, I'm in.
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Yeah I was thinking that too - I "can" type 90wpm, so I figured if I could rip out 11,000 words of pure nonsensical gibberish I might stand a chance at "most improved" to boot hehe. But more than likely I'll lay off the caffeine and plod along with something short. ;)
Posts: 921 | Registered: Nov 2008
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Okay, I'll be precise. If it squashes your creativity blame those who want rules.
The challenge is to write a first draft of a story in two hours. This story should be inspired or based from the trigger, Price of Peace. It should be spec fiction, or at least that is what tends to play best to this audience. There isn't a length limit, though >2000 words will be the normal.
Only one entry per challenger.
Email entries when the first draft is finished to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the month. I'll send out the stories to everyone's email and we do a brief and helpful crit (keeping in mind it's a first draft) Crits should be posted in the Editing Challenge First Thirteen post within a week or so of receiving the stories.
Then, using the crits, and the time you have from now until the end of April, you clean up the story until it is ready to be submitted, or the best you can possibly make it, and then send it back to me @ email@example.com. I send the clean versions around again, and we then vote on best story overall, and Most Improved. No crits this time, unless you really want to say something, at which case do it here.
You can comment on this post at anytime about your story, about others stories, about the process, about what changes you made...etc. Even why you decided to name your MC what you did,(Frank) or anything that comes to mind.
This challenge is about the process, more than the result. If it works out the way I want you should learn a lot about why people change a word, a structure, or perhaps even a main characters name (Frank).
Does that make sense? Any specific questions, please, feel more than free to ask. ~Sheena
[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited March 22, 2010).]
Time's up. If you can get me your story in the next few minutes you have time to add it to the challenge, but if not... Send me an email if you want me to wait for you. ~Sheena
Posts: 1201 | Registered: Jan 2008
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quote:By the time someone found him he only hours from death itself.
Missing a ‘was’
quote:Death itself was an experiment and some where not as reserved in their attitudes toward the living as Roland was.
‘where’ should be were.
quote:It made his nauseous to think that he, who loved his beloved wife more than his own life, had killed his her
quote:But he could not allow himself to subcomb to death.
Major issue for me: The story is one big info-dump. The narration is so distant that it almost reads like an encyclopedia entry. Try making this a more active story. I suggest you write next version in a 1st person POV than see what you got.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited April 03, 2010).]
Funny draft. I am impressed considering you did this in an hour. Lots of potential. Needs lots of work though. This premise needs a bit of added silliness. Think of ways in which you can exploit the similarities of our world with one involving supreme beings. Hopefully I can give you a few examples that you’ll find useful.
quote:God stood in his heavens with a shopping list. He was a man (surprise) and he wore long white robes that piled up in lines on his arms as if the robes were made for someone larger. You think God would have a better tailor.
This opening paragraph needs a better mixture of divine superlatives mixed in with not so divine images. Remember, when you are talking about God, using capital letters in your pronouns can highlight the absurdity of the scene. If you want this to be about a deity shopping in a universal department store for a universe, really play it up.
God thumbed through His shopping list as He walked down the isle pushing His heavenly cart. Not the first time I saw Him in the store, but it was the one time when He wasn’t just window-shopping. His Holiness, (Yes, I said ‘his’ not ‘hers’. What else would you expect?) wore the same long white robes that He always wore, triple-thick bleached hooded cowl, layered in lines on His arms. As if they were made in a ‘one size fits all’ and for someone a lot larger than Himself. You would think He would have created a better tailor.
quote:tinny music playing in the back ground Super-Walmart
Two suggestions for you here. Use emdashes… tinny-music-playing-in-the-background-Super-Walmart …and consider changing the name of the store to a more universal one, and how about a competitor? Big Bang Emporium, right across the street from Steady-State Supermarket.
quote:Elephants came in a wrapping that looked like a sugar taffy, humans one tiny toy doll
Cut ‘a’ in front of the ‘sugar taffy’. Also change to ‘humans were tiny toy dolls’
quote: When the cart (i.e. the earth)
consider changing ‘the earth’ to ‘planet’
quote:He's not a bad man, God
change ‘man’ to ‘guy’
quote: or open a can of you know what on my you know where
Emdashes or open a can of you-know-what on my you-know-where
I could tweak your whole story I like the idea so much. But it is yours so…\ One thing I would like to see is more interaction between Harvey and God. Just like a kindly shopper would make with a supermarket cashier he meets once a week.
“Lovely nova today,” I say as I scan. “How did those dinosaurs you bought work out for your world?” He shrugged and grunted. “Some kids threw an asteroid at my world, spoiled the great plan I spent 200 million years working on.”
Another suggestion for you; when God is putting things back that he can’t afford, make them mythological creatures. Fire breathing dragons, unicorns, centaurs…that kinda of thing. Keep up the good work. Can’t wait to see the rewrite.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited April 04, 2010).]
quote:His father’s voice sounded inside his head and even in death his voice held that hint of cynicism.
got an echo with your ‘voice’. Divide that sentence.
His father said inside his head. Even in death his voice held that hint of cynicism.
quote:Can’t you send an earthquake to the Empire’s capital, or famine, anything to draw them away.
quote:Escaped strands of black hair framed her face. Even with dirt on her face she was a beauty and her brown shift couldn’t hide what was underneath. She curtsied.
You have a ‘her face’ echo. Change second sentence to something like… Her beauty shined through even under the layers of dirt. Her brown shift couldn’t hide what was underneath. Also, move ‘She curtsied’ to the beginning of the next paragraph.
quote:If he had been free to choose his own wife he would choose her
Try… If he had been free to choose his own wife, it would have been her
quote:“Get out of my head father,” he said inside of his head.
Cut tag. You could axe ‘father’ as well.
quote:He had no idea how to woe a woman and his own fiancé was supposed to be hear any day.
quote:The sound of footsteps rang down the hall and Fenrich looked behind him to see Thane striding toward him with several papers in his arms.
Take out ‘and’ and make two sentences. ‘rang’ doesn’t sound correct. ‘echo’? Change ‘with several papers’ to ‘with a stack of papers’.
quote:Stopping he waited as his advisor approached
quote:“You’re not going to let him get away with this?” Thane said.
This question is incomplete.
This draft is a bit overwritten, quite a few redundancies. You are missing several commas as well. You could cut 10 to 20 percent. Not at all sure where you are headed, which is a good thing (still an element of mystery). Keep up the good work.
Thanks Snapper. My first drafts almost always have a lot of redundancies and I usually have to scale things back a bit too. I'm glad you can't yet see where it's going because once you know where a story is going then it can get boring, unless you love the character so much you don't care.
A sad story and I think it has the makings to be epic. I have to agree with Snapper though. The narration is incredibly distant. Everything is told and summarized and nothing is happening live. Perhaps this is how you write your first drafts. It reads a little like how I write my notes. Here are some comments from my reading.
"No one was quite sure if he choose that dreadful school of magic for evil or for power" - Who is no one? His friends, family, fellow school chums, the other death mages? Who else is in his life. Who wonders about this choice, his mother, his sister, his best friend? Be more specific and get more into his life.
"But now, his studies required a living human subject and it was possible they could die from it. That was a risk he was unwilling to take." - Why? The whole intro section talked about how he went into this evil field (without ever saying why)Surely he knew what went into being a death mage before going into it. Why would he choose this subject without being willing to do a little killing? What about this guy makes him want to be a death mage and yet at the same time not kill anyone. This is an interesting contradiction that could make for a good character.
"At first he experimented upon insects, and then animals. There were complications. With each step up the food chain, his experiment adapted" - How did the experiment adapt? What were the experiments? Show me an experiment? Does it involve spells or real knowledge of the body. Try having a scene where he does these experiments so I can see what it means that the experiment adapts.
I'll stop the commentary there. I wasn't expecting the ending and I like that. As I was reading it became obvious real early that Claire goes and saves Roland so I was glad that the story went beyond that. The other death mages seem like dunces though. You might want to put in how advanced Roland and Claire are in the beginning somewhere.
The biggest obstacle right now is the distant narrator. Trying first person like Snapper suggested might help. Also try writing in scenes and get into the head of your character. You have an interesting story with a cool altruistic death mage. He must be conflicted within himself. Show me his thoughts, his desires, his reasoning.
I just have to say that it was so cute. I loved it and laughed out loud at least once. (It was at the can of you know what you know where part) At first I wasn't sure what to tell you besides that it was good, but I think it missing something. I loved the voice but I think your main character need more. He's mysterious and I want to know more about him. Where does he live and how come he's so special to work at the God store? Right now the story is like a good candy you can pop into your mouth and enjoy but it needs something to go from a yummy quick dessert to something that is more sustaining. Maybe more conflict, maybe more dirt on the cashier. What are his desires? Does he envy the Gods? Where does he go when he's done with work or is he some sort of God creation and he lives at the store and has no outside life?
There is no strong conflict in the piece and perhaps that is what is holding it back. I'm not sure though. Definetly a good fun story.
I am sending line edits to each author via email.
Here are my overall impressions:
Life & Death by RillSoji This is a tale with no dialogue and little action as it is a told love story. I thought it a bit dull without real-time interaction. There are some issues with references. The worldbuilding was interesting, though
Blue Light Special by Shimiqua A little rough in its current form. Part of the problem is calling a god "God" when there are others. The idea is very cute, but the "joining" thing didn't quite to it for me. I think it needs to be worked on for reader understanding.
A Burden of Purity by Snapper Obviously more to come. The story is fine as far as it goes. The writing was engaging. The voice is enjoyable. Lots of little mistakes (intentional to get a good score? Hmmm)
Gods & Kings by Satate Not really the end. I felt myself pulled into this tableau, but this story requires a great deal more scope in order to satisfy the reader. A few editing issues but mostly well written.
In the Fullness of Time by Brendan The flashback strategy is a very ambitious plan. The character issue is very important as the alien/human confrontation is very well traveled ground. I think flashbacks in a short story are often problematic and are difficult to interleave well with the current story.
[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited April 06, 2010).]
I’d cut. It would be unusual if he were relaxed. Tense is what any normal person would be going through, considering the extraordinary circumstances.
quote:“We’ve learned more about their power in that last hour than we did since we were contacted, six months ago.”
consider changing ‘their power’ to ‘them’. It would encompass more. On your notes If you want to improve on the character development of this piece may I suggest you start at an earlier point of the story. A time before the aliens chose his daughter as their advocate. Other things… We need to know more about the mysterious vistors, a description of them and/or vessel? You will need an antagonist, one of the president’s men that is opposed to it all. The negotiations, your MC’s conflict of interest, where the negotiations are held, what should and shouldn’t be said in your MC’s presence; just a general pessimistic prick. He/she could be the one that challenges your MC’s loyality. Build on milieu, characters, settings… Your story may end up twice the size you are intending to pull what you want off.
A fun story and I was drawn into it. The beginning though was hard to get into, too much of an infodump/summary. I was a little confused as to why she doesn't just, well, you know, do it and get it over with. It makes her character seem a little silly, unless she had a good reason, or has she never had the opportunity. I'm interested in seeing where this story goes.
Yes, it's unfinished. I'm about halfway through the story...I think. I like what Brendan did at the end of his story. I probably should have done something like that, adding a little summary and eventual goal.
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I think the flashbacks are definetly risky but could be cool if you can pull it off.
I agree with Snapper about starting before the negotiations to show some prealien father/daughter relationship stuff. I'd like to know how the father and daughter stand before he's thrown in there with her. Were they close or distant. Did he even know she was consorting with the aliens? Did they ever argue about the aliens? Does she still live at home? Is she away at college? Is she married with five kids? All of these factors would create a different kind of relationship and dynamic with her father.
I also want to know more about these aliens. I was frustrated when the negotiations went from meeting his daughter and bascially saying hi to discussing what they don't know with the other guys.
This reads like a synopsis for a novel, or perhaps a novelette. Fleshing this out to make a story that conforms to the current expectation of readers will probably make a longer story than this challenge is aiming at (although maybe not). So, are you doing a nano in April?
Plot-wise, have you considered a cute-meet at the start? This will get us tuned to the potential that this is a romance. Also, the key character draw-card is why does a death-mage have an issue with experimenting on people. So why does he have this qualm? Also, why do they continue to experiment after nearly dying? There needs to be a purpose behind it, or else I feel the mages are simply stupid since they do not learn from their mistakes.
Blue Light Special by Shimiqua
Well, where do you want to go from here? Do you want to keep it as flash (which works for me)? If so, it may need a trim, possibly cutting the paragraph focused entirely on the cashier (which is a complication rather than the main idea). If you want to explore the idea further, as satate said, it needs a stronger conflict – the idea alone won’t sustain a longer story. Perhaps some conflict between the cashier and God. Also, I wonder, does the invisible bunny have horns?
There are a couple of places where you imply that you aren’t allowed to say certain things. They are great, funny lines, but they do draw the attention to the material that preceded them. You probably need to show us why those pieces of information were so important that you couldn’t help but tell us. Otherwise we could be holding them in memory as important pieces of the plot, only to feel they are unresolved at the end.
A Burden of Purity by Snapper
Some really funny bits in this one. I loved the GPS. And the broom – I initially thought that he was implying that Sheena was a witch.
Obviously the story isn’t finished yet, so I can’t really comment about the plot. However, I am still somewhat confused as to why virginity is so useful yet not – for the other people, not for Sheena. The reasons for the “inability to capitalize on Sheena’s purity” (and perhaps the “disappointment” after rescue) seemed withheld from the reader. This was a key driver to the story, and withholding this may turn readers off.
Gods and Kings by satate
I did enjoy this. It has some good ideas and enough familiarity too. I am not sure about the romance side of it – if a king is distracted by romance at the key time of dealing with a major calamity such as war, then is he really fit to be king? And to me, the main focus was the war. If he is outnumbered 5 to 1, doubling the size of the army, particularly with sub-standard troops, isn’t going to do much. I may have missed it, but I don’t have any sense of why the war was started or why they don’t attempt to surrender and the king simply escape. These are important points to help understand why the allies don’t automatically join and why they believe they can negotiate their way out of this threat to them.
By the way, was this a Freudian slip? “He had no idea how to woe a woman”
The Fugitive Princess by Owasm
Ok, got back to this. The writing style of this was quite fine - clear and well paced. However, there were some key story elements which I thought severely weakened the story. I found the Brull's history as a great warrior/hunter was quite inconsistent with his actions of getting drunk just before attacking the camp. His character, as demonstrated by his early sleuthing and strong reputation, would be much more careful. His blundering therefore just didn't ring true. Furthermore, when he was invisible, why didn't he simply kill Porto? It would have been much easier than revealing himself to be attacked.
Secondly, the kidnapping party did a number of plain silly things - left Brull alive (given his reputation), didn't find his horse (just 50 yards away) or take it, attacked with a lightning attack, instead of the originally effective air wall spell. Nor did any of the men attack Brull from behind, rather they wasted time listening to conversation, letting Porto face Brull alone.
Finally, the last section about the price of peace seemed tacked on. While it is a good (although well covered) concept, it needs significantly more focus right throughout the story. Otherwise, it won't produce any real payload at the end. As it is, the focus is on explaining the dual magic systems, with little about peace, war or politics.
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited April 08, 2010).]
Snapper - Thanks. The antagonistic president aide is a great thought. I am wondering whether I have too many people in the group (realistic size but too many for a story). Having a single antagonist, an information giver and a leader is perhaps all I need, apart from Henry. What is everyone's thoughts on this?
Starting earlier is something I am considering, at least at the point where she is chosen as a advocate rather than already being one. FYI, the aliens have only made contact, they are not there is any physical form, although they certainly have the ability to manipulate matter in the solar system. They are still very much a mystery.
Satate - some great character questions that I will have to interleave into the story. FYI, Anna is early career and single, therefore in the most free to choose stage in her life.
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited April 07, 2010).]
A couple of questions. What is the Empire General's role in the Empire? Is it as supreme ruler, or just a general? What are his ambitions? How do these differ to the Empire's ambitions?
If the general is to be such a pivotal element to the resolution of the story, it needs direct contact with him at a much earlier stage in the story. We need to know what we are up against. A scene from his point of view, or an early scene where negotiations are made that tries to avert the war before it becomes obvious who is winning, could work.
Also, for an invading force, being able to protect the supply is the real issue. What is Fenrick trying to do to upset the supply of the army from the Empire? Why is he trying to pit poorly equipped soldiers in pitch battle, rather than fight a guerrilla style war?
The General is the man who is directing the Empire's war in that part of the region. He is simply the one who accepts Fenrich's surrender because the empress is not present.
A little backstory I did not put in simply because I didn't think the story needed it, but I see the Empire similar to the Roman Empire. They attack because of two reasons, 1 - they want to extend their influence and borders as far as possible, and 2 - because they see Fenrich and his God/King family as a threat and something they'd like to control. The Empire is massive and has more than one front. Fenrich's little kingdom is just one of many they are trying to gobble up. The Empress isn't present because there's a lot going on and she trusts her generals to carry out most of the war. So it is to the general that he surrenders.
I'm not sure that he is a very important character. He doesn't really need to be there. I could just end it with Fenrich walking toward the opposing army.
Disrupting the supply lines is a good idea though. My idea bank was running dry when I was thinking of ways Fenrich is fighting back. I will incorporate more guerilla style warfare and have him try to disrupt supply lines. Maybe he'll try some surprise tactic. He loses though.