Honestly, I'd love to hear the back story of some of these stories. Is your story just a story? Does it have a deeper meaning? Did you write it for a reason? Had you thought of the idea in the past, but use this trigger to bring it out? Who was the wizard with the glowing eyes?
I think part of why Iterum succeeded is because I felt there was a much larger world than was shown in the small word count. The MC is about to enter a bar, on a space station at the crossroads of countless worm holes.
So what about your story? Tell us what we don't already know.
I will explain about the story tomorrow... I wanted to anyway... but I will just say that in case anyone hasn't figured it out my last comment about my story was just a sort of red herring. I am curious to know why someone chose that story to be mine and I wanted to see if they really were sure.
Since a couple of hatrakers have admitted which story is there's I assume it's okay so
Or has a winner been chosen for that last little contest?
Okay, I expected the winner to be listed here.
So my story is based on an old national ad. Well, maybe not that old, but I don't recall when it was. I recalled the ad and my muse took it form there. It came out something different then usual. I must say that I really thought with the nitpicks and writing more people would have known it was mine.
So I wonder if anyone can say what ad? No prize of any type but you get the thrill of winning...
of a small bit of trivia.
[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited July 16, 2011).]
Alright, Axe, you asked for it... And can I ask for a favor at the bottom in return?
You asked how we thought of our stories. It was an act of desperation, fleeing from my current WIP. No, really. These contests are the perfect place to get lots of feedback for trying something new. So, the challenges I set myself writing Iterum were:
1) Write something completely different from my normal YA fantasy (but I don't have enough science brains to go true hard sci-fi, so I guess it was quasi-hard-sci-fi)
2) Rereading my WIP everyone was 'looking', or 'glancing,' and don't get me started on the 'shrugging' *cringe*. So, could I write a story where no one could see or move on their own and still make it interesting? My dh says sometimes limitations force creative leaps, and I think it was this limitation that really made the story take shape.
3) And this is where I need input to understand, please, please. My favorite author, Megan Whalen Turner, writes her stories so that when you get to the end you realize all the assumptions you blithely made were wrong and the story you just read was not the one you thought you read. BUT, if you reread it, every word in the story still makes sense in the new context. It's like getting two stories in one. That's what I tried to do. Granted, it was a poor first attempt, but could someone explain specifically what made them feel cheated? (I love being fooled by the text, but I'm weird that way) I want to get this right and try to send it out. Thanks!
And that's the motivation behind Iterum. So, Axe, especially, what's yours?
I'm not really sure what inspired me to write On The Pull. I've done a few short troll stories. I guess I just have an odd fixation with flatulence, fuelled by alcohol and moments of insanity.
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I only got to read the four finalists but from the first-13s it looked like there was a great selection of stories on offer. Well done everyone, and congrats RoxyL on the winning story! Posts: 921 | Registered: Nov 2008
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Congrats to the winner, whether it be Snapper or Roxy. You both done good.
I do apologize for my editing or lack of in my story. It was the 3rd story I wrote in the challenge time frame and it suffered, it was the 2nd one I had intended for the contest. The first ran too long. And I ran out of time trying to get another done, and didn't get a very good edit on.
But come on, tell me you don't want the recipe for the "dessert" that cracks doors. You know you do. For a pesky in-law maybe?
I've read a few of those stories too, and I think they generally boil down to one of a couple main flavours:
a) Reliable Narrator. The narrator doesn't know it's all going to be changed either. When they get to the end, they're just as surprised as the reader. Thus, the surprise to the reader is genuine - they don't feel that the narrator has lied to them, they feel that the situation itself (perhaps through the actions of other characters) has not been what it seems.
b) Unreliable Narrator. The narrator is established as unreliable in some way, so we don't feel cheated. For example, an explicit method: If the opening lines were "Sure, people call me a liar, a cheat and a scoundrel. I'll bend the truth for them, for you - anyone, so long as it gets the job done," then we know that the narrator can't be trusted. But also, we know that they know - so when they spring withheld information on us it doesn't come as a complete surprise. Then again (imho), they'd better acknowledge the withholding at some point ("See? Told you I was a liar") and there be a reason they're withholding it: otherwise the narrator just seems like he's not intending to tell a story but to trick the reader - and who likes that?
You asked for the story behind the story, Axe. This was one of three that I started writing from the trigger. Both of the other two were variants on time travel, but very different ideas on how that happened. It seemed that every idea I got from the trigger was about time travel. Then the opening sentence came to me.
It was originally going to be a simple escape story, but I struggled initially for a strong enough motivation. I then remembered one of my most painful moments - the final minute before I went under a general anaesthetic for a very minor operation, when the anaesthetic was burning up my veins, and tried to write that experience. It wasn’t initially a political/moral point – that came later. So, to the reader that disagreed strongly with the politics that it presented, email me, I would love to hear your viewpoint, particularly as I am toying with turning the tables on our current understanding of Taylor (who says that Daphne told the whole truth? And if Jafeez finds out…), but don’t fully know if I understand the counter arguments well enough to pull that off. (Why would someone take a job to do what he did?) The critiques will help make this into a much stronger story, and have already spawned a number of ideas toward that goal.
A couple hit an interesting issue on the head – when I first wrote the story, it ended up 3500 words long, and I had to pare it back. I think the ending suffered a bit due to that. Did anyone else run into that issue?
Now that I have my internet back, here's the story on mine, although most here probably don't care.
I started two different stories, but they just weren't going anywhere and I felt I needed a lot more time to work them into something worthwhile. This idea came to me with about three days left in the contest and like some stories it basically wrote itself. I really didn't get a lot of time to work on it to clean it up, and then when I was about to send it I found out it was about half again as long as the contest allowed so I smushed it down. Because I only had about two hours to do that in I didn't clean it, I just hacked it together. Hence the somewhat "unfinished" story. When I read the first 13 I was aghast because it didn't even read like english. I almost pulled it then, but I wanted to get a sense for how everyone reacted to it.
As for the "disturbing" ending, I can only say that I probably read too much Poe and H.P. Lovecraft growing up. I am a vietnamn veteran so I wanted to give the reader a sense of hoplessness that a lot of vets have coming back. I was concerned about the flashback sequences. I wanted to give the reader a little bit of disorientation, but still push the story along. It seems like only one reader was really put off by that so that was good.
As for the ending, if you think about it, there's really no other way it could end. Because of that I probably won't submit it to WOTF because it sounds like they don't like sad endings. I hope that everyone that read it has a little more empathy when they see those rows of coffins that the news media like to show. I don't know anyone who served who won't tell you the best of us are the ones that never came back.
Roxy - I felt duped because you told me the MC hadn't been there done that. (Even tho the title says otherwise.) Then we get to the end, and it's cool, but then "Hey, wait a minute..." clicks in and it can be annoying.
Just remove the bits where you come right out and say he's not been down this road and you'll be fine. You don't have to say he has been, just avoid the issue.
Yeah, I try to be funny by being grouchy. It never works. I just end up being grouchy. I tried to throw a curve in there with my not funny bit but I think I only ended up proving my point.
Ute That is interesting. You spoke of disorientation with the flashbacks, but it went just over the edge to confusion. (for me.) But I bet you could clean that up in editing. If you wrote this whole thing with only a few days left it turned out damn good.
I'll tell all in a different post. Just skip the next one if you have better things to do with five minutes of your life, like file your toenails down to the skin. That'd probably be more fun.
My story ("The Seeker") was actually written a couple of years ago and inspired by a different trigger challenge. (the obsidian blade was one of the triggrs for that challenge.) I didn't finished it in time for that challenge. Doesn't matter; it would have been too long for that one anyway. It's been sitting on my hard drive ever since.
The subject was just too perfect for this trigger, though. So I dusted it off, revised it a little (evidently not enough ) and sent it off.
The story actually takes place in the same world (although not using any of the characters or settings) as my first two (now shelved) novels. Which, BTW, I am now totally rewriting in a very different (MG) form.
I noticed a few people have said they wrote multiple stories for this contest. I am no different.
My first story was about Tom Wiseman, the man who read in the future paper that he would save a nuclear power plant from a meltdown in Washington state.
He travels there and meets the grateful workers who show him everything they can, but since Tom alone saves the place, and wasn't interviewed afterward, no one knows how he does it.
When the meltdown begins, Tom finds himself with seconds to go before lock down and a decision to enter a room where he might make a difference, or exit the room and hope for the best.
He enters the room, saves the day, but is hopelessly irradiated. He peruses his past failings and the story ends.
I thought of writing a bit where he comes to in a hospital, which is why he wasn't interviewed by the future paper, because he was out for two days, but I didn't get this far because I got so pissed at myself for writing another damn story about the end of someone's life and how they felt about it that I scrapped everything and went as far to the other spectrum as I could, starting with the cliche of saving a bus load of nuns... Who cares about boring and depressing nuclear power plants. Bah!
I have an acquaintance named Johann D... His mother has four kids, but you'd never know it. She only has eyes for him. He is, in a word, amazing. I worked with his mother for years and have heard stories like you wouldn't believe. He has super powers, for real. I would joke that Johann would find a cure for cancer while simultaneously rescuing a bus load of nuns. (Johann is in school studying none other than cancer research.)
Now I have the future paper left over from my first story, a new and more interesting name for my MC, and a definable goal. I spent the rest of the story putting this fish out of water (unfamiliar territory) while decorating it with as many Harry Potterisms as I could. (goofy things like the Barrowman Mirror, and the mono-escalator and zip-fly. Based on the zip-car rentals.)
It was my hope that there would be some laughter out there in the world based on my story. However, since humor is subjective, I understood my chances of bringing home the big prize were slim. I'm happy to have made it to the second round.
And yet - there's more. Still reading? Why for heaven's sake?
Johan lives in a dystopian society. Despite my aimed lighting of this tale, there's some sad things lurking in the shadows. Corporate mergers have grown into a synergous nightmare. They overshadow all but page one news. Who will buy out who and will there be jobs for all the following week?
Ads have grown to absurd levels. They are placed directly in the wording of news articles without commas separating them from what one might be reading. They can be cleared, but there's a price in missing important information.
This is a paperless society, but not by choice. Synthetics have taken their place, which in and of itself isn't bad, but the lack of trees can mean only one thing... the population is out of control.
Based on these unfortunate skulking truisms, I've written a follow up story which takes place around 150 years later. This time I show the negative and inevitable future of this society.
The paper has been outlawed and the Barrowman mirrors have grown in popularity to the point they've become mandatory. In order to fit in society, one must look their best, or be unaccepted. Everyone works for Zorg-like conglomerates, and if one becomes unemployed, eviction notices arrive at the domicile before the terminated employee.
Care for a read? No, let's not ruin the good times.
I mention this to promote world building, even for short little stories. We all know any thought or idea or even an image can spark something great. So I say pack as much society and atmosphere into your stories as you can, even if it's just a short story for a contest, think about the world outside your characters.
This may sound like a no brainer, but it's the first time I've really done it, and I'm hoping I've succeeded in creating a world which seemed much larger than the simple story within it.
Whew Axe, that's a long way to go to get there. That said your treatise was an interesting glimpse into the process, as convoluted as your mind is.
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My story came out on the heels of an idea that I had for this next quarter's WotF entry. I needed an excuse to play with the main character a little bit and took the opportunity of Snapper's little contest to do it. My three goals here were to 1) intro the character, 2) intro the idea (which I obviously didn't do enough of as so many people thought the guy was a vampire/zombie/etc), and 3) have the MC getting out of a little pickle he got himself into after doing his first knock-off job for his new boss. I mostly got all that out, but didn't spend near enough time in working the ideas, or with getting much past the first draft for that matter, as I ran out of time. Priorities and all, I guess.
On the up side, the comments from the final crit I got tell me to do all the stuff that I've already been planning on doing with the WotF entry. So, yes, I was happy to see that the vague idea that I gave in this short story would be doable in the real one if I explored certain things.