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Twiction Contest -- The Greatest Story Ever Told [Conclusion Pg. 12]

Posted Sep 4, '12 at 2:03am

aknerd

aknerd

1,431 posts

This is seriously going to be my entry, because I won't be around to read the judging anyway:

Jokes and Daydreams
Knock knock
Who's there?
It's me.

But my reality was its own punchline.

 

Posted Sep 10, '12 at 1:05am

pHacon

pHacon

1,939 posts

Oh, right. Forgot to put this here. Well, it's still the ninth where I am. Probably.

The wanderer walked out into the avenue, taking a moment to survey the decaying world. He smiled, proud of his creation. It's a good day.

Real is brown, guys.

 

Posted Sep 15, '12 at 8:44am

killersup10

killersup10

2,782 posts

*starts playing with thumbs and whistling*

 

Posted Sep 17, '12 at 7:59pm

killersup10

killersup10

2,782 posts

*starts throwing kittens for fun*

IB

 

Posted Sep 17, '12 at 8:12pm

Xzeno

Xzeno

2,354 posts

This thread will be ignored until I feel like judging it. I'm busy. It's not as if I'm delaying the next round. And there weren't many entries, so I'm hoping more people will enter.

 

Posted Sep 17, '12 at 9:48pm

Kyouzou

Kyouzou

5,178 posts

You may want to have the title changed to reflect that, odds are most people will see September 9 and not even bother looking.

 

Posted Sep 18, '12 at 6:28pm

killersup10

killersup10

2,782 posts

And there weren't many entries


dude,it has been over a week,Killersup is pretty sure that if nobody would have posted in it for about 2-4 days then it would have been okay to start the judging.

This thread will be ignored until I feel like judging it


sounding pretty over-confident ain't you?


It's not as if I'm delaying the next round


thats kinda what it sounds like...
 

Posted Sep 19, '12 at 5:40am

Cenere

Cenere

14,023 posts

Knight

Kill, you should chill. He's busy. Just because you have time for this, doesn't mean he should or would do the same.
Oh, and he can't delay the next round, since there is none.

Now, stop bumping this thread, so we can see when there is actual new content in it, will ya.

 

Posted Sep 21, '12 at 8:23pm

thewolf52

thewolf52

28 posts

After the annihilation of humanity in a nuclear war, the alone survivor was sitting in his room. When suddenly some one knocked on the door.

 

Posted May 14, '15 at 2:35pm

Xzeno

Xzeno

2,354 posts

And so, well over a year late, I'm going to judge the final round. It's nbd, though.

This round is going to work a little bit differently. First of all, there was no theme. As I mentioned, I actually considered running the whole contest like this. More on that in a moment. It was just an open call to write the best twiction you could. The idea was that everyone would take the lessons learned in the contest and write one final piece, from the heart.

That kinda didn't happen. Instead, people just sorta produced the same quality of work they always have, without really acting on the lessons. That's fine, I don't expect anyone to really improve visibly in the span of a few months.

But at least I got to see people not working under the yoke of a an arbitrary theme, right? That... kinda didn't happen either. Look guys, saying there is no theme doesn't mean there's a hidden theme, or that you need to ferret out the theme, or that there's some sort of puzzle you need to to solve for the theme to be clear. What "there is no theme" means is quite simple:
There.
Is.
No.
Mother ****ing.
Theme.

That's it. Write good twiction. No specific theme. Instead, people seemed to just look at the title of the round and sort of deduce a theme from there. "The Greatest Story Ever Told? Okay. Woah, description, too long. What could that theme mean?" At which point everyone put their thinking caps on. They decided that if that was the theme (again, it wasn't, but you people are stubborn), then really there was no way to capture it by telling a story in so few characters. Instead, they decided to just tell me about the theme, because telling is a winning strategy in this contest.

I was looking for unthemed stories. I... kinda got that, maybe sorta? It's just that what I was specifically trying to avoid in this round was the mindset of looking at the title for the theme, writing something that sorta feels like that, and hoping for the best without much thought as to what the theme means and how their writing evokes it.

A good piece of writing is like a drop of water and the ocean. Each sentence, every phrase, contributes to the overall aesthetic of the whole. Each discrete part (the drop) is fundamentally representative of the meaning of the work as a whole. It's hard to give your writing a soul like that, especially in so few characters.

Which is why, perhaps, people on AG contests seem so desperate to cling to a context -- any context -- created for them. You notice all of AG's artists -- writers, draw-ers, whatever -- are much more prolific when given a theme or contest? It gives them a jumping off point. But that point doesn't "get the creative juices flowing" so much as it "corrupts the creative process and produces largely ingenuine art". There are exceptions: I NOSTALGICALLY remember Gantic's entry in one Art Skills Competition in which the context made the piece. But I think the culture of themes is largely detrimental to the creative process on AG.

For these reasons, my next contest may be unthemed. Of course, for the above reasons, no one will participate.

By the way, if you disagree I'm interested in hearing your perspective.

Anyway, while the twiction contest is in part an answer to the question "what the hell is wrong with budding writers and their online communities?", we've mainly focused on answering that through demonstration. The primary question we look into in this thread is the eternal question of readers and writers alike: How does the author use literary devices to create meaning?

So, like I said, this judging will be a little different. We won't be looking at the top three. I will discuss every single entry in the final round. The good ones. The bad ones. All three of Cenere's. There will be no second and third places. There will, however, be a winner and plenty of judgemental teasing. This is the Twiction contest, after all. Now, let's judge these suckers.

-------------------------------------

I wrote the above three or four years ago. I'll leave it as is, for posterity's sake. I've come to have a more nuanced view on the concept of themes and prompts, I guess, so whatever. The judgement is being written today, now.

First up is Cenere. He has three entries. He wrote one for each proposed theme. One such theme was “the epic tradition" although I don't really recall what any of the others were.

It's amazing how fragile life can be, isn't it? It can end so quickly. I hope you enjoyed yours." She smiled and tightened the rope.
--Cenere

So one thing I remember about this is that I blatantly hyped having female leads. People really seemed to run with that and this is by no means an exception. Here, the female character is the lead, driving the plot of the story. This is obviously worth more points.

The main criticism of this piece is that the conceit is a bit silly. The premise is that the lead character is killing someone, and delivering the kind of cool muderin' line one would expect to hear in an anime. I'm just sort of left unconvinced. It's not real. I don't believe you. When writing microfiction, the reader's ability to key in on the premise of the piece is important. This piece asks the reader to accept a lot for the situation to work.

On the plus side, it is very competent. It is clear what is happening, and we even get a glimpse into the psychology or philosophy of our protagonist. She at least appreciates irony. This piece definitely does tell a story in the allotted characters, and gives us a glimpse into a larger story.

For this piece, Cenere has earned the Uncomfortably Anime award, and can feel free to fill in another space in Weeaboo bingo.

He stepped out of the fire, the brave son of gods, and raised his sword to the world. Oh glory! Suddenly he fell, with an arrow to the knee.
--Cenere

First of all, male protagonist. Come on. The epic in particular is a genre oversaturated with male protagonists. Odysseus, Achilles, Yudhishthira, Adam, even Billy Wordsworth's author insertion. All dudes. But I'm sure I've talked enough about that issue for one lifetime. So let's talk the piece.

Obviously it hits some important epic tropes. The hero is not a mere mortal. Rather, he is the son of gods. Two or more gods it would seem. At first it seems like the protagonist is merely a god himself, being born of the union of two gods. I read it as a bit more metaphorical, however. The protagonist is the descendant of gods, not as individuals, but as concepts. Cenere is invoking a nonspecific divine nature for his epic hero.

Continuing the epic theme, I enjoy the inclusion of “Oh glory!" These kinds of exclamations from the narrator are not uncommon in epics, cf. “Mirabile dictu!" in Vergil's Aeneid. I would have also enjoyed an invocation of the muse, but there's only so much you can pack into 140 characters.

Anyway, the ending isn't great. It's trite, obvious, and dated. It might not have been dated in 2011, but the fact that it is now shows it was maybe not a great idea. Epics should be timeless. Moreover, it isn't very epic. Hubris is a common theme, and I see that Cenere is attempting to contrast something pretty lofty like the characters of epics with something mundane and humbling, enhanced by the use of a common meme. Is it cute? I guess. Is it original? Not really.

For this piece, Cen receives the Epically Cute award, which is, fittingly, only a good thing on the Internet.

There was no going back now. The ship stalled sharply, though the pilot tried to force the nose down. She didn't hear him when she jumped.
--Cenere

One of the great things about microfiction is that it is evocative. It says a lot with a little by playing with audience expectations and previously held worldviews. I don't feel too bad, then, saying that I don't know what this story is about. Simply put, I don't remember. I'm sure it made more sense at the time. I could read through the thread for context. But honestly the story itself should do enough to convey what's happening.

The story has some technical problems as well. What does it mean to stall sharply? Stalling I understand, it does a good job of conveying the sci-fi overtones of the story with the action (sailing ships don't stall catastrophically, I at least read this as a spaceship of some kind) but sharply? You only have 140 characters. Why waste them on adjectives, especially adjectives that don't make any sense. Anyway, the pilot's efforts to counteract the stall seem to be in line with the view that it is an airship. Who didn't hear whom when she jumped? Why did she jump? What's happening? Did someone miss something crucial that led to tragedy? Was Death one of the themes I mentioned? Maybe. I forget. Honestly I know so little I can't even give points for female lead here.

For this entry, Cenere wins the Stalled Out award, for not really going anywhere.

Hero's journey, lovers' lament, tale of blood and glory. Tis naught but the maddened ramblings of a blind man, the only tale born unwritten.
--Kyouzou

People give a lot of advice. Like “write how you speak." Do you say “Tis" in real life? I hope not. So why write like that? Well there are of course a lot of reasons to write like that. Sometimes people need to write in voices not their own. You can refine the directive though. People also tell you to write genuinely. Surely this isn't that. If you aren't speaking in your own voice, speak in a voice. A voice that's real, a voice that means something. Not just a collection of cliches. Well you know, that's a load too. You can be disingenuine and good, and genuine and bad. The truth is, write well. You gotta write well. And you kinda sorta didn't here. Why? Because it isn't your voice, and because it isn't a genuine voice. Maybe those aren't really the reasons, but whatever the true cause is, it rhymes with those well enough.

Anyway, the first sentence is a little tell, don't show-y for my tastes. It scans nicely enough I guess. Not the most beautiful prose I've ever seen but I understand what you're going for, and I approve. Anyway, once we get past the awkward, disingenuous, and frankly poor “tis naught," we learn that the kind of story set up in the first half is perhaps not that realistic. Especially the final clause seems to be going for a deconstructive analysis of tropes like the Hero's Journey, which is a driving force of many of our stories.

I could try to talk about how good or bad of a job it does at that, but I'm too lazy. Instead I'll talk about that artistic choice in the context of the contest. For this round, I asked for your best twiction. Is deconstructive metafiction the best? I'm not being incredulous, I'm asking. I wonder this a lot.

Imagine the theatre scene. Someone writes a play about theatre. People in theatre read it, and think it is so deep and artistic. Why? Is it really deeper and more artistic than other things, or do they just like it because they recognize it? It being self-referential really artistic, or does the author just know more about the topic and is therefore more able to write deeply about it? Again, actual questions.
For instance, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a play about theatre, and it is amazing for it. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a novel about writing and what it means to be an artist. The Man With the Iron Fists is a good movie, but what makes it truly great is that it's about more than cool violence. It's about more than the story. It's about the RZA, and growing up where he grew up, and it's about Hong Kong cinema, and about how those things are related. Its greatest triumphs are how it evokes that which came before, and its greatest failures are the ways in which it does not successfully live up to those things. These are their own stories, but they also have this element of self-referential metafiction.

Personally I tend to see metafiction as largely good. If card game design could be said to be an art, then Future Sight would be its crown jewel. Partly because the design is brilliant, but partly because of what the design is about. In the same way that Innistrad is about gothic horror or Invasion is about playing as many colors as possible, Future Sight is about Magic: The Gathering. It may be the greatest, but it is necessarily standing on the shoulders of all that came before it.

Similarly, I often object when people call Majora's Mask better than Ocarina of Time. MM is a great game, but it's about Ocarina of Time. The question is, could you make something that deep and that good without doing this kind of self-reference? I think OoT did, at least.

Anyway, for his entry, Kyouzou receives the 2Deep5Me award, for semi-competent deconstruction of the theme.

His shoulder still gets wet in the rain.
Zahz

808s & Heartbreaks is actually one of my favorite Kanye albums. Zahz's story works for the same reason all love stories work. His story of love, of togetherness, and then of loss is just so fundamentally human. Zahz's story is great because it distills the entire story down to just one simple image, but we do know the story. We know it because it's our story. All of our stories. We can fill in our own blanks. Maybe betrayal. Maybe death. Maybe she felt like they didn't share any interests. Maybe he's just an ******* who couldn't sweet talk the princess. All he has to show for it is a wet shoulder. A wet shoulder and the melancholy that pervades the piece.

I'm tempted to leave it at that because I think it helps illustrate why it's good twiction, but it wouldn't be the twiction contest if I didn't talk about why the piece sucks. And boy, does it suck. Zahz's piece works because of implication and audience understanding of the stock characters. The characters themselves boil down to little more than gender roles. We recognize it as a heteronormative love story. Why is his shoulder wet? Because he's performing the male role of holding the umbrella.

This type of depiction of romance, of individuals coming together to perform traditional gender roles is common, popular, and evil. I recall there is some sort of comic going around, drawn by some Korean, I assume your friends have also posted it all over facebook like mine, that depicts “what love really is" by showing heterosexual couples happily performing traditional gender roles. People like it because it takes their individual stories and makes them universal by connecting the common humanity. That's why it speaks to people.

Well, it makes me sick. Because the common thread isn't humanity, it's the gender roles we create for humans. It takes these oppressive gender roles and tries to package them as fun, cute, and the ultimate human goal. People share it and say it's so deep but it's not about love, it just looks cute while working quietly to teach women how to be Woman. You can argue that Zahz's story isn't about that because the details aren't explicit, but the deliberate implications are that way.

For his sexist but competent efforts, Zahz has earned the Too Close to Home award.

Through the caverns of hell, he claims his mighty prize, with this prize though came the cost of his blood that will forever stain the walls
Killersup

Some of the grammar of this entry is a little unfortunate. Claiming a prize through a location feels awkward. The second comma should probably be a period. The repetition of prize feels awkward.

But Xz, you're saying, we know you believe repetition of language is how you make meaning! It is, narratively convenient person, but it has to be performed correctly. In this case, the repetition of prize could have been used to emphasize and mystify it. But it needed a linking language structure. A “however" or “although" or even a “but" would have gone a long way towards making it feel like an artistic choice rather than an awkwardly worded sentence.

Another issue is the attempt at grandiose themes. This was a global issue. I ask for the greatest story ever told and for some reason people want to start talking about the fate of the world and eternity. Are you guys insane? I don't know if you're radical counterculturals or just ignorant. Art isn't about epic fantasy stories or saving the world! Art hasn't been about anything important in like a hundred years! You want to tell the greatest story ever told? Try something simple. Something autobiographical.

Talk about your childhood dog, or how you hate your mom. Talk about wistful 20 somethings in New York City. If you must talk about the state of the world talk about how hard it was being the only Jew boy in suburbia but don't talk about the fate of the world. No one cares about that. It's not real or cathartic or whatever we want these days. Realism. Simplicity. Author insertion. Things pretentious hipsters can relate to. That's where art is. I don't want heroes or villains. I don't want the world saved. ****, I don't even want a political allegory! If you tell me about the Iraq war it better be a metaphor to examine the gay experience in the midwest, because that's what people want.
I'm not saying that's right or wrong. I think there's a lot of good in that kind of thing and there's more to life than that. But if you aren't writing what you do to be a throwback countercultural and are just doing what you like, then you just don't know how to interact with the living art scene. Learn about modern art. Learn about the older styles you want to emulate. And, Jesus Christ, feel the room.

For his efforts, Killersup has earned the Award Award. Just let the repetition sink in.

Jokes and Daydreams
Knock knock
Who's there?
It's me.

But my reality was its own punchline.
Aknerd

I seem to vaguely recall wanting to make a note of vaguely thinking that “Jokes and Daydreams" was a title. I'm not going to bother looking at the thread, so we'll have to trust my dual layers of vague recollection.

Anyway this entry definitely earns points for using the title system. Probably the only one that did. Anyway, like most things here, it has issues showing. It isn't really twiction at all now that I think about it. Microfiction isn't about saying something quick or clever. It's not telling a quick story or a funny joke. The whole concept is that you tell a story. It's fiction, like any other. Trying to circumvent literary tradition is a solid, if banal, method of writing. But when what you're circumventing is storytelling, you're not really being clever. You're not really playing the game at all.

Another thing I don't like is the use of the word “but." It implies that the final line is contrary to expectations or defies the rest of the story. It isn't. The last line is merely descriptive of the story. Saying but there would suggest that the ending is somehow a twist, which it isn't, since it follows and describes the action perfectly. The story itself is ironic, because it's an antijoke, and more broadly because it works against western values of individualism, but that specific part isn't.

Aknerd gets the Anti-Participation Award, for going for irony and, well, just not participating.

The wanderer walked out into the avenue, taking a moment to survey the decaying world. He smiled, proud of his creation. It's a good day.
pHacon

Ah pHac. Little pHac, tiny pHac, friend pHac. My boy. My road dog. My homie. It wasn't you, it was me. It was both of us. I hope you're doing alright.

Anyway this story is pretty solidly some pHac ****. What an emo. Haha. So technically speaking, the story has an issue where it shifts to present tense in the last sentence. This is actually a deliberate artistic choice, not a simple grammar error. The concept is that the past tense would imply that it was a good day once in a singular moment of time. Switching to the present tense encourages the reader to imagine the situation as one describing the world as it currently is. The satisfaction with the destroyed word is a continuing thing.

Anyway let's talk flaws. Some quick questions for pHacon:
-Do you own a skateboard?
-Are you currently in 10th grade?
Because those are the big ticket accessories you need to write a story like this. The wanderer suggests a mysterious character who has potential beyond what he may appear because of heroic cliches- shut up. Wanderer. Get that tween **** out of here. The protagonist is able to see the benefits in destroying the world because- who cares why. I assume I don't need to explain to pHac why he should be ashamed of himself now because I assume he is. If not, it's just because this story was so edge factor teen trash.

However, he deserves credit for a) actually writing a story and b) using even one literary device.

For his efforts, pHac receives the Tween Award. Take it and leave this decaying site.

After the annihilation of humanity in a nuclear war, the alone survivor was sitting in his room. When suddenly some one knocked on the door.
thewolf52

This is a rough one to end on. This story raises an interesting question. What is plagiarism in the context of twiction? The thing is, he added the nuclear war bit, but otherwise, the basic action of this story is ripped straight up from a fairly popular piece of micro horror whose origin I don't know. It circles the Internet. It goes something like “The last man on earth hears a knock at the door." Besides being a cleaner and more elegant version, the original is the same as Wolf's version except for the dressing that has little to do with the actual point of the story. Sure, some of the story contrivances to get to that point is different, but the kernel of truth that fuels it is the same.

So is it plagiarism? If you take someone's story idea and retell it, it's a bit sketch. But microfiction is so much about the point. It's about coming up with a clever point to make that you can tell the reader in so short a time. So is it plagiarism? I don't know. Is it disgusting and pathetic to take a well-known microfiction -- like I wouldn't know it? Like I don't spend time on the Internet? Like I'm not a lit***? -- and to try to pass it off as your own to win a contest? To try to call it the [i]greatest story ever told[i]? Of course it is.

Wolf takes the Last Man on Contest Award.

Alright guys that's it- Oh wait there's a winner. Um, okay, ****, who hasn't won in a while? Cene- wait he probably won last round.

If it isn't obvious, Zahz wins. His story was stupid and sexist and cliche and if I ever catch any of you writing like that I will slap you. But like, it had the most artistic competence. It told a story, it told a meaningful story, and it told it in the way microfiction is truly supposed to. The content is flawed and everyone needs to understand how and why, but it was clearly and obviously the best piece of writing submitted for this round, and probably the contest as a whole. ‘grats I guess.

Alright. That's it. Thanks for playing guys. Lock the thread or whatever.

EDIT: And they gave me a quest. You ****ers.


last edited May 14 2015 02:36 pm by Xzeno
 
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