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Writing Challenges Chronicles Writing Challenges including the popular '75 word challenge' and the new '300 word challenge'.

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Old 31st July 2011, 03:21 PM   #136 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

3PO was constantly getting messed up. In "Empire Strikes Back" Chewy even had to lug him around in a net sack on his back for a good portion of the film because he was in pieces. To be honest I didn't make the 3PO connection either, just the Star Wars one. Looking back its obvious. Maybe some of 3POs key buzzwords like protocol, master and programed might of made it clearer. Than again compared to a Wookie does an asthmatic in full body cybernetic prosthesis really look that odd?
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Old 31st July 2011, 03:30 PM   #137 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Culhwch View Post
As far as yours went, mosaix, I got that it was Threepio, got the bits scattered reference, and I got that he was talking about Darth Vader in the end, but as a former Star Wars tragic, it just didn't ring true to me. It didn't put me in mind of Threepio's voice - particularly the last line (even amended with 'to' for 'on'), which just doesn't sound like Threepio, and somehow doesn't flow with what had come before. It just sounded too casual, somehow. I can understand the difficulties you must have faced trying to nail Threepio's verbose voice in only seventy-five words, and still manage to have something of a narrative.
Thanks, Cul.

Roll on August.
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Old 1st August 2011, 03:08 AM   #138 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa Edgerton View Post
I didn't understand TDZ's story either, Parson. Didn't understand Mstr Tal's references to cartoons. We can be ignorant together.
Misery loves company.

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Originally posted by Mstrtal:
Its ok Parson sadly I am not surprised that you and others do not know or do not remember the cartoons I aluded to. My wife picks on me all the time for the odd and random things I remember. I oddly enough have an associative memory and my brain connects the wierdist things together, usually visual to sound.
In my case the real reason was by the time those were on the air I was long since an adult and did watched very few cartoons. I would soon there after leave comedies mostly alone. I don't think its funny when someone is made to look stupid. I enjoy self depreciating humor, but detest the "in-your-face" profane humor which passes for state of the art today.
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Old 1st August 2011, 03:41 AM   #139 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I think we can be humorless curmudgeons together, too, Parson, because my ideas about what is and is not funny are much the same as yours.
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Old 1st August 2011, 05:48 AM   #140 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I still watch cartoons, other than anime that is. I find it a great way to bond with my children.

I will admit though that a part of me never grew up and probably never will. In that sense I hope my girls give me grandchildren that I can keep on watching cartoons with!
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Old 31st August 2011, 07:52 PM   #141 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Okay, The Judge pointed me here if I wanted some critique on my entry...

So, please feel free to do so. I'd appreciate any help or advice on how to improve?! I think I may have the bug for joining in with the writing challenges and, depending on the next theme/genre, I may choose to enter again


My story was: -

Family

I can feel it inside, like a beast living beneath my skin! Unable to deal with the foreign entity taking over my body. I see the knife, so close to my hand. The only release is to cut this “thing” out!

But…

I hear the door open…

Daddy’s home! Here to play happy families as though what he does is a game and no consequences exist, nor harm can be done!!!
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Old 31st August 2011, 10:40 PM   #142 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hi Little Missy,

(I should say now that although I've been really lucky and won August, I find the 75-worder really difficult and I can only comment on yours as someone who read it, not as someone who knows anything about writing to that length).

I found your entry both intriguing and truly alarming, but I didn't totally understand it. I think I kind of understood it, but I didn't get the connection between the cutting a bit out and Daddy enough to be confident that I had understood.

Also, and this is just a mini-thing, there were a lot of exclaimation marks and I got a bit overwhelmed by the end.
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Old 31st August 2011, 10:50 PM   #143 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Little Missy,

I'm sure some of veteran critiquers will be along but from a pure amateur here are a couple of things. Let me say that I think the idea is good, and there could well be something creepy and filled with horror.

But...

First, I couldn't make the connection between the "thing" and "Daddy coming home." I assume we are hearing a child, but when I get the line "play happy families..." I wonder if it might be the "thing" speaking.

Second, I was unsure what Daddy coming home had to do with not cutting the the "thing" out, especially if Daddy wasn't really loved. In fact that last line "play happy families..." made me wonder if the "thing" might have been something Daddy was responsible for.

For me the real trick in a 75 word story (coming from a rank amateur writer) is to let the reader see what's going on as the conclusion comes without exceeding our word limit.

I've liked your stuff before. I know at least once before you've been on my short list.

Parson
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Old 31st August 2011, 11:19 PM   #144 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I agree that there were too many exclamation points. Three in a row is fine for ordinary online conversations, where we don't have the advantage of tone of voice to get our sentiments across, but not acceptable in fiction or formal writing.

As for the story itself, I think that I understood part of it, but I'm a bit hazier on the other.

Daddy and "happy families" I think refers to the father coming into the room to molest the child.

If so, the "thing" may be symbolic of the memories and the trauma she wishes she could cut out of her thoughts, out of her life. Or maybe it's a death wish.

But then there is the knife, and I wonder if Daddy may be about to get what he deserves.

Of course I could be entirely wrong about all of this.
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Old 1st September 2011, 04:34 AM   #145 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I also agree with the exclamation point excess.

My take on the story was that the child is being molested, and I concluded that she may be pregnant, thus cutting the "thing" out. But I wasn't sure about that.
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Old 1st September 2011, 08:42 AM   #146 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Oh right. I got molestation (or I thought I did) but not the baby. That would make sense. Yuck.

It was a good story, with a threatening and unbalanced tone. I find it's really hard to reduce a story to 75 words, when you know exactly what it's about, and keep it clear. In fact, I've never managed -- all my challenge stories have been written to the length because otherwise I don't manage.
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Old 1st September 2011, 10:08 AM   #147 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I also understood it as child abuse and that the daughter was pregnant by her father, the foetus being the "thing" to be cut out. A powerful idea, but I don't think it quite worked as a story, though.

One of the problems I had was the tone of voice. I couldn't work out if the child was a young child or someone in her teens -- incest and rape are horrific whatever the age, of course, but words like "foreign entity" and "consequences" are too adult to be really convincing. It doesn't come across as the tortured feelings of an abused girl.

Also, one of the tricks of a short story is to make the ending snappy. Here your ending goes on too long for my taste, drawing a moral, to boot. Fine in the middle of the story, but to me the ending should be more dramatic. For instance, if you'd referred to "he" or "the monster" throughout and ending with "Daddy's home..." that would have given more power to it.

And when it comes to word count -- make the title work. "Family" is too neutral to have much effect on its own, so if instead you had used the "Happy Families" of the story, that frees up two words for you and because of the edge to it (since we know this was a horror story from the genre) it starts to sway people from the get go (assuming they read the title first, of course!).

But although I'm picking out these issues, for a beginner I think you did fine! So definitely you should carry on and join in more Challenges -- as you get more experienced these things will come.
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Old 7th September 2011, 08:33 AM   #148 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I thought the content of the Family story one of the best in the month, strong enough to carry a couple of minor details like excessive exclamation marks(!)

The molestation was implied strongly enough for it to "work" for the reader. I did not pick up on pregnancy, if that was intended; I assumed the "thing" was a whole cluster of emotions and impacts on the child, and the "cut it out" a psychological response to that, perhaps leading to future self-harm which is what made the story fit well into the theme for the month.

I have now read and posted in two of the 75-word challenges. It seems to me that stories of that length are almost bound to have some ambiguity and that is part of their charm.

At risk of making a gross generalisation, stories which are closed and unambiguous in 75 words are probably not saying very much at all.
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Old 7th September 2011, 08:55 AM   #149 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I think there's absolutely a trade-off between complexity of ideas and clarity in these challenges. In fact, I think it comes over most clearly in the 300 word challenge, though I'm not sure why that would be.

I know some people feel that we're telling stories, so there should be some sense of movement as well. The June 75 word challenge in the style of Kipling was a good example of how hard this can be. All of it is pretty challenging in 75 words -- hence the title I suppose.
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Old 7th September 2011, 08:57 AM   #150 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I missed the molestation. Mainly because I only read the first paragraph. To my shame, I jumped to a wrong conclusion about how it was going to go and dismissed it.

I assumed it was the ranting of a disturbed child who was about to do herself in. Horrific enough, but up to that point in the story, not enough to make me want to get to the punch line.

Having read Teresa's analysis I now see I was a bad lad - for which I apologise profusely - and that the story had much more to offer.

However, I don't think this new insight would have swayed my vote.

I think the the problem may have been the layout.

The
Quote:

but...

I hear the door open...
Allowed me to break concentration and gave me the opportunity to skip.

It's possible that without these massive pauses I would have read to the end.

In fact, it would probably have read more true to life, if the father returning caused panic and a rush to the end. I fancy that is the more likely outcome of the situation you set up.

Similar to the panic instilled when anyone finds themselves up to 'no good' and on the point of discovery.
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