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Story Challenge: A Writing Community's Journal

Monday, October 15, 2007

7:03PM - Hello?

There had been a bit of activity on here, but it seems to have died down again. Just wondering if people were still interested in trying to start up again. Just in case, I figured I'd throw out a random challenge (which actually goes along with what I'm trying to write at the moment. Handy how that works out...)

Ahem:

Describe a character's favourite place.

Go!

Current mood: hopeful
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

2:12PM - CreateSpace Book

I have a number of projects lined up with Amazon.com's new publishing imprint- two collections of my own fiction short stories and one of new stuff.

What I would also be interested in doing is editing/caretaking a collection of short pieces by other people. I'd be interested in giving it some kind of shape and putting the basics up here if poeple would be interested. You would of course keep your own copyrights with me functioning as editor and publisher.

But it would mean you would get published in a collection that would be available on Amazon.com for anyone interested to buy.

Thoughts?

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1:39PM - Posting

I made a test post here yesterday whilst checking on some stories of mine from ages ago and immediately got four replies. It would seem that there is still a lot of interest in the site and the idea(s) behind it.

Who is running the challenges? And do they want to do any more? And if not, how many people are interested in doing something similar?

You can also email me personally on thecolin1@gmail.com

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Monday, September 17, 2007

4:47PM

test

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

11:45PM - Banana Challenge #1

I realize this is late, and the second banana challenge is already up. But I was given this idea by one of the guy's I work with, and I liked it so much I had to persue it. So, apologies for the tardiness, and enjoy.

diary of a captiveCollapse )

Current mood: pleased
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

5:06PM - Banana challenge #2

Banana challenge #2

I’ve noticed that fairytale plots are almost universal in their appeal, and the plots reoccur in many other stories, consciously or unconsciously. Everyone knows Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, even if they only know the Disney versions. The plots are familiar and the characters are comfortable. When people think they know what to expect, it can be easier to surprise them.

Rewrite a fairytale any way you like. You can change the setting, tell it from the villain’s POV, a minor character’s POV, retell it without magic, Disney-fy it or any other variation you can think of. You can also simply take the tale and flesh it out.

There are an incredible number of examples out there, but here are a few that I could think of right off.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf
Once Upon a Winters Night
The Fire Rose
"Snow Glass Apples"

And, if you don’t know of any fairy tales that you want to use, here are a few links that might help you find some you aren’t familiar with.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
a Collection of links

Current mood: creative
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Wednesday, August 6, 2003

6:25PM - Banana Challenge #1

Ok, sorry about the huge delay between challenges, but we were working out some victimization technical issues on posting challenges, and since I dodged slowest when Kass swung the big stick volunteered, it looks like I’m presenting the first banana challenge, as explained here.

Out of respect for tradition (or something), the first banana challenge is to write a story in which a banana plays a vital role. The banana need not be present for the entire story, but it must be vital. I’d wish you good luck, but I’m sure you can all come up with something a-peel-ing.

For examples of works containing bananas, try Why the Banana Split by Rick Walton or I Want My Banana, by Mary Risk. (Yes, they exist. I checked on amazon.com.)

Current mood: mischievous
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Friday, July 25, 2003

10:24AM - Now I am needing some clarification

I debated putting this in the comments for Challenge #4, and chose to make it a post, since it's been a while since the original post was made.

I was utterly swamped last month and couldn't get to the challenge but this is a question I had regarding it: I came away with the feeling that the challenge is to tell a story, don't show the story.

TELL: Janice found herself in a room with three exits, a door to the north, a door to the south, and a door to the east. An old Chinese tapestry covered the western wall.

SHOW: Janice turned around slowly, carefully examining the three doors leading out of the room. The doors were to the north, south, and east. She ignored the faded tapestry on the west wall.

Did I understand it right? (I realize I am simplifying this greatly)

My confustion arises from the example given in the challenge:
describing, for example, a tidy room which is in every way normal, but never saying it is normal, simply the very prosaic objects in it which create that effect... except for the cracked, dusty, and cobwebbed vase on the middle of the otherwise immaculate mantel piece...You could, of course, do that by having the narrator walk into the room, look around, and ask, "What's with the vase?" but as you can see, that creates a vastly different effect.

I would think that describing the room, focusing on its normal-ness, *is* "Show" and having the narrator ask about the vase is "Tell". Then, haven't we just flipped the definitions from what I had defined using my own exmaple?

I wasn't clear whether show/tell and action/no action were defined as two distinct components or if action was defined as a means for showing.

Have I confused anyone?

Current mood: perplexed
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Saturday, June 28, 2003

10:39PM - Challenge 4

Not my best work, and I feel like I cheated with the whole "Expositiion only", because writing in 1st person is more or less writing dialogue for a whole story anyway. But in any event, here we are.

From Dark to ShadowCollapse )

Current mood: calm
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

4:10AM - Challenge #4: The Fine Art of Story-*Telling*

We now have nearly 40 members (though two of them don't exist anymore), which is somewhat embarrassing considering how behind I am on challenge posting. Oh well. Hello to everyone! If you're interested, there's a locked-to-members-only post here where you can read the introductions of other members and, if you wish to, add your own.

Based on the handful of responses to my previous post, I'm going to be posting these big challenges once every three weeks (on time, I swear! I've got a backlog of ideas for them now anyway), and on the weeks in between posting smaller, less ambitious, and more random challenges which you can, of course, completely ignore. So it's open season to send me banana challenges (explained in previous post) if you have ideas for any.

This challenge was inspired in a really oblique way by something rosaleendhu said, which made me think of something I've ranted about rather a lot--which come to think of it, I could probably get a couple challenges out of.

There are three 'golden rules', if you will, that new writers get hit with constantly. The rules in and of themselves are not bad things. In a lot of situations they're good rules. The problem is, too many people have started to take them as gospel. The three rules are:

Write Sympathetic Characters.
Write What You Know.
Show, Don't Tell.


As I said, these rules are fine and dandy and have their place, but there's no reason to act like they were given to the writers of the world, on a stone tablet, by a voice from on high. No bushes were spontaneously burned in the making of these rules. They are not gospel, despite the fact they get treated like that (actually, I believe a good way to tell the quality if the writing group you're in is to see how often those rules get quoted, but this is another story). I'm actually not the only writer to notice and get irritated by the enshrinement of these rules; Ursula K. LeGuin wrote a fabulous essay/rant about these rules, which, when Neil Gaiman quoted it in his journal, was what prompted my own examination of them. (Sadly, I can't find this anywhere online anymore. Anyone who does will get a virtual cookie.)

So what we're going to do, just to show you what can happen when it's done, is deliberately break one of those rules, and break it hard. Eventually we might break all three, but doing that in one piece is a bit ambitious (like I said, they were invented for a reason).

Which brings us to: Challenge #4: The Fine Art of Story-Telling.

The general idea is to write a piece in which at least two-thirds of the story contains no real action. Exposition, description, it doesn't matter, so long as the story is being told, rather than 'happening' as is the conventional thing. In fact, if you really want to have fun with it, you can literally just 'tell' the story; if you've read fairy-tales, the style is along those lines.

You might, of course, wonder what the point is to this. There's a certain bias in most writing and reading circles these days to assume action, any action, is superior to pausing to explain things, which is why I've read some trilogies where the entire first book had me going, "Huh? What? Wait. Would someone explain this world to me a bit before we plunge into some more action?" If nothing else, not being afraid to tell rather than show will help you avoid doing that to your readers.

But a rather underrated benefit to doing more telling than showing is that it can be a wonderfully subtle way to evoke reactions in your readers. Massively detailed description in certain spots is one of the best ways I've found to convey, for example, dissonance; describing, for example, a tidy room which is in every way normal, but never saying it is normal, simply the very prosaic objects in it which create that effect... except for the cracked, dusty, and cobwebbed vase on the middle of the otherwise immaculate mantel piece, to which the narrators eyes keep returning in puzzlement. You could, of course, do that by having the narrator walk into the room, look around, and ask, "What's with the vase?" but as you can see, that creates a vastly different effect.

Contrary to popular belief, immediacy can actually sometimes get in the way of the story you're trying to write.

Now, you'll notice in this case I'm not saying to write a piece where, the entire time, you tell, rather than show. I'd love to see that if anyone manages to pull it off, but I think even doing a piece where 2/3rds of it is that way is somewhat ambitious. Then again, people also usually seem to working in shorter formats here, which also limits things--a comparative challenge for anyone who's working on a novel right now would be to do an entire chapter, or almost an entire chapter, in this style.

If you've got any questions, or want any examples--or for that matter, have any examples--feel free to leave a comment or contact me. A preference has been expressed for having these come up due/the next challenge being posted on Mondays, so our next major challenge will, hopefully, be up on the 30th. Next Monday, the 16th, look for our first banana challenge, which may or may not feature an actual banana.

Current mood: awake
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Thursday, May 22, 2003

5:03PM - You Never Call/You Never Write

Since we seem to be a bit behind on posting #4, I spent the last few days reformatting what I wrote for #3 to take advantage of the power of the web. (Show versus tell and all that...so hopefully you will forgive page 2...)

You Never Call, You Never Write

Comments always welcome, to make it better.

Current mood: amused
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Saturday, May 3, 2003

9:43AM - Challenge #3: You Never Call, You Never Write

So it's becoming apparent the 'Irregular' in our unofficial name stands for "Irregular schedule". Oh well. Hypothetically, me being late just gives all of you more time to write. However, there are now more members of this community that I don't know than members that I do, so mostly this means I'm embarrassed a lot.

Well, on to challenge number three:

You've just been abducted for four days and nights by aliens from the planet Myerf, who took you to their space-fortress of Meep, and fed you chocolate and uppers for three days and nights as part of an experiment, then turned you loose back on earth with $10,000 and a dazed expression.

Meanwhile, your mother has left a message on your answering machine complaining that you never write or call. Considering the fact that you can't manage a coherent sentence out loud without having to start over three times, you set pen to paper, or fingers to keys, and start to tell her what happened to you.

And that is the nature of this challenge. Not, mind you, a story about being abducted by aliens--although I will not promise never to challenge you with that, although at this time I can't think of how. No, this challenge is to do an epistolary: a story told through letters, or if you prefer, just a letter. All of the relevant information has to come out in that letter or those letters--personalities, characters, plot, world details, and so on and so forth.

Does it sound easy? Well, it can be. A lot of it depends on what you're trying to do. It can also, if you like the characters involved, be ridiculously fun. Further, I'd like to point out it doesn't absolutely have to be print letters or notes--emails are a perfectly natural extension, and if you want to get very odd, you could play with phone messages or interstellar audio communications or something. I leave medium in your hands.

This will come up due--in as much as we have due dates--around the 19th, at which point I will put up a new challenge. I also promise to get my back-critiques for the first two challenges done before then. Honestly. I swear.

I'm now taking applications for someone to poke me until I remember to do things. A stick will be provided.

Have fun!

Current mood: embarrassed
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Tuesday, April 29, 2003

11:19AM - #2

Here's my sound only post. The characters in it are from a PBEM that is based on many many things. I didn't bother explaining many things because they are common knowledge in the group I'm planning to post it to eventually. The character whose perspective I'm following is blind. (Kass, the scene is for sometime very very far away from now after I actually do get Mirria raised. ;) )

Oh, I'd love a suggestion for the title.

violinsCollapse )

Current mood: frustrated
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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

11:10AM - just a beginning

Ok... I like this challenge.... it's fun...this is a beginning... I honestly have no clur where I'm going with it, I'm just having fun. Tell me what you think... be nice to grammar and such...
Read more...Collapse )

Current mood: hopeful
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Thursday, April 10, 2003

10:58PM - Challenge #2: Challenge for the Visually Impaired

Okay, one person expressed a request that the challenges be kept on a Monday schedule, so the next challenge will go up two weeks from this Monday--the 28th, I think it will be. Sorry about the delay; my Aprils have a tendency to be generally unpleasant. But hey, no hospitalization this time! (so far....)

Thanks to everybody who posted for the first challenge--I'm working on critiques, I swear! Thanks to metaph0rKate for helping me decide to use this challenge. Thanks to my cat Lucy for ignoring me while I leafed through my files going, "I know I have a few written up somewhere; where the bloody frell are they?"

I'm calling this one the "Challenge for the Visually Impaired" though I don't actually think anyone blind will be participating in it--though, judging by myself and some of my friends, we have quite a few myopic people. Then again, with modern technology the way it is, who knows? Anyway, it's something of a variation on an old theme you've doubtless either done yourself or know someone who has done; lots of people end up doing it in writing classes and such. That challenge is to write something using only dialogue, or at least, having every sentence beginning with dialogue.

This is a little different, though it will, or likely should, feature heavy on dialogue. The trick of this challenge is to write a story that's purely auditory--that is, a story in which you are ignoring all of the senses but the one. Losing the ability to describe how anything feels, tastes, or smells isn't too much of a hardship, but losing the ability to describe anything visual is. For example, if you want to write that someone pushed back their chair and stood, you cannot write, "He pushed back his chair and stood," since that is something you'd see--you'd have to write, "There came a sound of wood dragging over the floor, as if a chair was being pushed back so he could stand," or something along those lines--I leave the precise method of conveyance to you, mostly because I'm curious to see how this gets handled by people other than myself.

If it helps, imagine that you're essentially listening to a tape-recording of an event and filling in the action.

Current mood: tired
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Wednesday, April 9, 2003

3:34PM - Challenge Status Update: Delay, Delay, Delay

I'll be posting the new challenge and then doing critiques of the others later on today. A thousand apologies for the delay; I've been in contact lense purgatory. I've got a question for you all, though: should I post the third challenge two weeks from today, or should I post it the first Monday after two weeks from today? Or do you not care? Feel free to let me know in comment.

Also, the the rules have been updated.

Current mood: working
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Tuesday, April 8, 2003

5:11PM - My Story Challenge #1

I thought of posting it here, and then it got long, so I decided to post it in mine, and then it got too long so I posted it off-livejournal. So, here goes, A Fairy Tale for your reading pleasure, posted here in text form.

For exclamations of "Man, how cliched!" and other such criticims, I guess, post here, or at the end of this post.

Thanks.

Current mood: cliched
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Thursday, April 3, 2003

2:07AM - Challenge Status

While technically the next challenge should have been posted Monday, you're getting something of a reprieve--and an extension--because I've run into some health-snags which means I have neither my cliche story done, nor the next challenge. I hope to have both posted by Saturday at the latest... at any rate, I'll at least put up the next challenge then, since I'm sure most of you are going, "Grrr, argh, KILL THE CLICHE!" by now. ;)

For my own curiosity, does anyone else have a story they intend to finish and post?

Current mood: tired
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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

2:52PM - My Real Entry

So, when I read the challenge, I had a full blown novel idea pop into my head along with several scenes that might nor might not be relevant to the plot. Real life acted up, so what I managed to write is a series of parts of the first few key scenes. "yadda" basicly indicates an abrupt jump in plot. I know where the first... half or so of the thing is going. I don't know what I want to do with the ending. Anyway, please be honest. I need to know what to ditch and what to trash. And even what to keep. Oy. Love the edit function, I do.

read it hereCollapse )

Current mood: crazy
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Sunday, March 23, 2003

3:15PM - Curiosity killed the Kass.

All right, it's been nearly a week. How's it going?


Poll #115928 Week One

How goes it? Check as many as apply.

I'm done!
1(7.1%)
I've got something partially written.
1(7.1%)
I've got an idea.
1(7.1%)
I've been waiting for Grindstone to start.
2(14.3%)
I've got several ideas and can't pick one!
0(0.0%)
I don't have the slightest idea what to do.
5(35.7%)
I'm regretting signing up.
0(0.0%)

Does two weeks seem like a good schedule?

I don't even need that much.
0(0.0%)
I need more time!
2(14.3%)
It's fine.
12(85.7%)

What do you think of this challenge?

I keeel you!
3(21.4%)
It's okay, but I'm hoping for more out of the next one.
6(42.9%)
I love it!
5(35.7%)

Current mood: curious
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