ForumsArt, Music, and WritingTwiction Contest -- The Greatest Story Ever Told [Conclusion Pg. 12]

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Xzeno
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Xzeno
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Armor Games has seen its fair share of writing contests. Tellingly, only the poetry has really caught on -- all prose contests tend to fall through within the first round. Perhaps more tellingly, the haiku contest is the only contest that's particularly active and receives broad participation. This is because the haiku is so constrained and short that people can get away with hackish excuses for poetry by merely stringing a few sentence fragments together with a vague nod to poetic form, giving the work the title &quotoetry" without giving the poet any need to worry about minor details like "rhyme" or "meter" or "meaning".

However, pretentious merit factory that it is, the haiku contest is successful because it appeals to our desire to do something artistic without actually putting any work into it. Constrained writing is good for that. Now, while I clearly have some issues with how constrained writing manifests itself sometimes, I do think it's really cool in principle. It's cool to see how a ridged form can mean so many different things to different people, and it does give a good metric for judging.

I, personally, never had much of a taste for Facebook statuses or tweets: as you can see, I much prefer to ramble. However, I am charmed by the ridiculously tiny character count. It's a beautiful thing when someone uses so few words to make meaning. And besides, this is the Internet, so what could be more fitting? If our attention span can't handle a short story contest (I know mine can't), then perhaps this is the prose contest AG needs.

So here's the idea: I'll be running a Twiction contest. Twiction is a genre of microfiction that asks the author to compose a work of prose that is exactly 140 characters long, inspired by the character limit of a tweet (hence the name).

So, without further inflammatory ramblings, here are the rules:
1. All entries must be 140 characters in length. No more, no less. Entries not meeting this standard are automatically disqualified. If no one meets the standard, no one wins. Titles and/or author attribution will be counted towards this total.
2. Any characters count. Punctuation marks are characters. Spaces are characters. Newlines are characters. Tabs* are characters.
3. This is a prose contest. Do not submit a poem. Feel free to make use of meter and rhyme if you want, as you would in prose, but entries will be judged to the standards of prose microfiction.

*Subrule that hardly matters: What? Tabs? AG doesn't support tab characters, I don't think, but I will. Five consecutive spaces will be counted as a single character. This will probably be a pointless rule, because I don't see anyone having such a dire need to indent, but here you go. Note that this only applies to five consecutive spaces, not spaces broken up by any other characters, and not newlines. Just spaces. Furthermore, it's worth noting that five spaces will always count as a single character: it will not be counted as five, even if that would be more convenient.

Now, basic judging standards:
1. Overall quality of work. Good writing is important. Good ideas are important. This contest asks the writer to create something with a meaningful impact on the reader in very few characters.
2. Spelling and grammar. Because of the character limit, this standard will be used to discourage weaseling one's way around the limit by omitting or adding characters in defiance of English spelling and grammar. Not all entries need perfect grammar and spelling, of course, but it helps. If you deliberately choose to violate grammar/spelling rules, do so because it helps the story make meaning, not to fit within the character limit.
3. There will be a theme I guess maybe. Themes help people write these things, I think. I just always worry that people will adhere to them far too closely, which is often the case in other contests. If the theme is "freedom", you don't need to write about people seeking freedom, or enjoying freedom, or an essay on the nature of freedom. The only requirement is that you write something esoterically related to the vague concept of freedom.

And... I think that's it. So there you have it: Twiction contest. First entries due a week from today at midnight AG time (that is, Monday, May 28th). This week's theme is the Internet. I guess. If y'all are into themes. Seemed fitting, given the inspiration of the contest.

I'll be judging the first round. While I'm clearly not qualified to offer a merit as a prize, the winner will receive a merit if there is enough interest.

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Xzeno
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Is this when I manage to write a 141 character long story, just to spite you?
Now now, that'd just be unreasonable. You made your arguments, and when I didn't listen, you made a petty protest entry. I'd complain, but that's exactly what I would do if I wasn't the one running this contest. Like, down to the detail. Then I caved and went with your admittedly reasonable rules alteration :P

3rd place "I wonder how much fear could have been averted, how many lives could have been saved, if we had just whipped out the old ruler back in 1947."

Ha. Cute. I liked this entry because it creates an amusingly ironic contrast between something small and simple and something very complex and dangerous. I like its whimsical approach to the issue. One thing I particularly like is how the date at the end is the only clear reference to the war in question. It gives the entry a good sense of progression, from an abstract description of a good possibility to the simplified specific.

It's not all rainbows and butterflies, however, which is why this entry didn't win. It perfectly captures the spirit of a tweet -- a thought that says it all in a short span, shared with the world. But this isn't the World's Cleverist Tweet contest. This is the Twiction contest. The entries in general force me to make a reminder: This is a twiction contest. The goal here is to write a work of fiction in 140 (or fewer. *grumbles*) characters. That is, this contest is primarily about writing stories. Some sort of story would be better than ruminations on the topic. While one might argue that Aknerd and Strop's profound misunderstanding of the events of the cold war might qualify them as fiction, the element of the story is the main issue here.

2nd: "Words like daggers, poised at the backs of government. Bullets cast of subterfuge fire from the dark. Men of many faces hide in the shadows."

This was my favorite of what I considered the "capture the feel" entries, which were Poison, Cen and ellock. TO be honest, I liked all three. I thought the "data gained and lost simultaneously" bit of ellock's was brilliant, but the second sentence of the entry was too awkward to compete with Poison's. I really liked Cenere's theme: how the rejection of one source of angst (paranoia about being doomed) is a direct result of another source of angst (a feeling of powerlessness). That feeling of hopelessness just really stuck me. You guys all know I like depressing stuff, so there's that.

Poison's entry beats Cenere's for no good reason whatsoever. You can both feel free to consider yourselves in 2nd place. As with last contest, I really like Poison's imagery. "Bullets cast of subterfuge" is my favorite image of the contest. He did an excellent job of showing the mood of the cold war, rather than telling it. I liked how he focused on the spy thriller elements of the war rather than the nukes. Refreshing change of pace. Again, the main problem is that it sets a mood, but doesn't tell a story.

1st place:
"People said they would do things. The world fearfully stood, waiting for them to do the things they said they would do. Nobody did anything." I also considered Tacky's entry as the winner, and it was Tacky vs. Strop until I realized only one of those two could count.

Strop says he doesn't know much about the cold war and oh man, that is so clear in this entry. **** went down. Just not nuclear war. Also, Australia was involved, of course. Everyone was. Just not very involved. I don't know much, but basically it goes like this: The US, New Zealand and Australia form an alliance in which they all support and defend each other: each nation would offer the others military relief in the Pacific theater. Then America told New Zealand to lube up and let them park nuclear subs in New Zealand waters, in violation of New Zealand's anti-nuke policies. New Zealand was like "no way" and America was all "fine then!" and it took its toys and left the sandbox by way of terminating its obligation to New Zealand. Thereafter, Australia and New Zealand entered their own, separate agreement, about which I of course know nothing by definition: It didn't involve America.

Anyway, onto the entry: I couldn't decide whether this was a really good entry, or a really bad entry. The main issue is this: does the vacuousness of the entry help or harm it? For 140 characters, Strop sure does repeat ideas and phrases a lot. However, I chose to interpret it as unquestionably deliberate: At the end, the reader feels as though absolutely nothing has been achieved. By choosing to not use fresh images, instead relying solely on the phrases used in his short first sentence, Strop perfectly captures the way in which the cold war was less dramatic than it seemed. Like the real "war", this entry ends not with a bang but a fizzle.

Strop has, ultimately, managed to write an entry that is annoyingly free of content and frustratingly long-winded, all through his repeated use of overly plain, detached images. And it's really, really clever.

Also, his entry has a story. It had a narrative arc. It was actual historic twiction, not a tweet on history. So for that reason, this entry wins.

Next theme: Nature! This one is always a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves talking about nature, from pretentious hacks with their abstract haikus to rich poets with nothing better to do than tour natural scenery. It is a source of inspiration to many, a source of beauty to others and a source of allergies to the rest of us.

As you can guess, this theme doesn't have to be about singing nature's praises, although it can be if you want. So come on, AGers, whether you're Romantic or Enlightened, write 140 characters or fewer about nature! It'll take you 30 seconds tops. You don't even have to think it through! I'll over-analyze it for you. Due on Saturday. Not this Saturday, but next. June 30th, I think.
Strop
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A Twiction about Nature? That's not easy. Let's see what I can do...

"That which we attempt to apprehend, existed since the beginning of time; it swallowed us and scatters us like the insignificant dust we are."

Zahz
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"Poor baby!"
"Fire is nothing to sneeze at." I grumbled.
"What?"
"Jes' sayin'."


I felt this appropriate directly after Strop's hippy nonsense. Punctuation sure breaks down in dialect don' it?
jeol
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Nature? Really? Really?

I wasn't quite sure how to approach this one, so I'll just give it a shot and see how it turns out.

"Often the subject for those who try to remain original yet aren't creative, nature is overused, justifying one thing: nature is everywhere."

killersup10
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cruel nature


The hounds from hell invade the land and rip apart youth souls, for yet an easy meal that will never quench the needs of the beast of death



kinda proud of this one.

aknerd
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We dove into the densest forests to determine what is natural, what is normal. In the empty skies above, the stars simply laughed.

Xzeno
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It's good to be proud of your work. However, your entry is currently too long.

While the first rule was amended, allowing entries to be up to, rather than exactly, 140 character, that is still the upper limit. Entries longer than 140 characters will be disqualified.

And again, while the rule was amended, the subpoint that titles, dedications and author attributions do count towards the character limit was not altered. So yeah. Titles count.

killersup10
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Titles count.


opps,let Killersup fix that right up.



The hounds from hell invade the land and rip apart youth souls, for yet an easy meal that will never quench the needs of the beast of death



There,no title. Killersup checked it on miccrosoft office and it said it only had 140 characters before the title was added so it should onlyhave 140 characters now.
KingOfAthlum
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Trying to control what made us leaves black scars across the Earth. Soon it will be all but destroyed, leaving us to die and it to survive.

Cenere
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Narratives, eh?
Let's see if this qualifies.

She ran through over the snow, her hooves hardly touching frozen ground. Yet, the grey hunters still narrowed in on her life, soon to feed.

(hint: it probably doesn't.)

invisibleninjagirl
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Well...let's answer this last minute! This looks fun!

Thunder cracks and lightening flashes, scaring everything away. How could something so mysteriously beautiful be so terrifying?

I used the first character count I saw on Google and counted by hand, so if I miscouned, PLEASE DON'T SMITE ME! Anyways...yeah, this is a cool idea. I like this idea more than the poetry, although regardless I sporadically enter those. Anyways, I've never been much for poetry, but I fancy myself an alright writer. So...yeah, don't let it die, please.

pHacon
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Nature?! I think I'm going to be sick..

Blah.. If I HAVE to...

Always changing, yet forever the same. Evolving both in life and death, it will remain. Don't worry for its own sake, but for yours in it.

Xzeno
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Xzeno
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...and then I said: "I'll judge it on Saturday!" HAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anyway, here's the judging.

3rd place: "Often the subject for those who try to remain original yet aren't creative, nature is overused, justifying one thing: nature is everywhere." Jeol's entry. Alright, in case no one's figured it out by now, entries are ranked with a loose nod to quality, with first being the best by some metric. Really, I just place entries I kinda wanna talk about. So let's talk about the flaws with this entry. Well, it lacks any sort of story. It definitely falls into the tweetlike commentary about theme category. I'd also accuse it of being somewhat unoriginal, as it is more or less parroting my sentiments in the opening post about themes like nature. Ladies and gentlemen, I don't hold this contest so you can tell me what I already know. Writing paraphrases of the arbiter's view is a wonderful skill in college, but I like to pretend to have more integrity than that. Of course, so do professors...

So the half-baked justification for this entry being placed above other entries is that it does a good job of embracing the thematic overtones of the contest. He's willing to write an entry that's more about how the theme and contest are stupid, and that's a plus. Not the only way to enter this contest, of course, probably not even the best, but a good strategy.

2nd place: Aknerd! "We dove into the densest forests to determine what is natural, what is normal. In the empty skies above, the stars simply laughed."

Ah aknerd, the king of second place. I don't know what I place you, but you haven't won yet and I always consider you for the top spot. You woulda had this theme locked down, but Cen brought some pretty compelling **** to the floor, so better luck next time.

So first: Hey, check it, ak's tells a story. And you know what it uses to tell that story? It uses well-defined contrasts between humanity and nature as well as the scale of space and the finite nature of human knowledge. It uses form and literary devices to juxtapose opposites and make meaning. Which is awesome. That's like good writing and stuff. That's all I feel like I have to say on the matter. Which is a shame. Because it's a big deal... moving on.

W1nnar: Cenere! "She ran through over the snow, her hooves hardly touching frozen ground. Yet, the grey hunters still narrowed in on her life, soon to feed."

Right, so I wasn't joking when I spoiled the winner in the last entry. Eeyup, Cenny won. I like how Cenere got the memo that a nature theme doesn't have to be about nature. The rest of the entries wrote general responses to nature as a whole concept. Cenere's entry, in contrast, incorporates the theme without allowing it to dominate the entire piece. While the rest of the entries were general responses to the concept of nature, Cen wrote a piece with its own personality. While by itself, his piece might raise lotsa questions it doesn't answer ("grey hunters? hooves? h'wah?&quot, Cenere uses context to fill in the holes. Instead of being trapped by the admittedly stupid theme, Cen used it to tell a story. So mad props.

It also included clear-cut characters. Which isn't a requirement of course, but characterization in 140 characters is no easy feat and deserves some recognition. But we're ignoring the elephant in the room: Why did Cen win? Beyond all the reasons I suggested above, a careful reader will notice that Cen's entry has a female protagonist. Which is the surest way to my heart. Which is why Cen's entry won. That was seriously the final deciding factor.

So now Cen, you win a merit. So go and ask Gantic to give you a merit. Not just any ol' mod. It doesn't work if it's not Gantic. Now, I know you're Cen, so you're gonna wanna not ask Gantic, so let me repeat: Ask Gantic for a merit. This contest has not point if it's not Gantic. :3

So that wraps up the theme "The Nature" (thank Strop for that pro title). So, now for the opposite on multiple levels: instead of focusing on the reality around us and using it as a bull**** pretentious way to seem artistic without actually being artistic, we're moving to a more imaginary genre that resolutely defends its right to exist despite its utter lack of literary merit.

While some might argue that this theme is better suited to teaching children to read rather than an artistic contest (some being me) we're moving on to Science Fiction and Fantasy. Some tips: it doesn't have to be both Sci Fi AND fantasy, but mixing the two is fun as well. On that note, those with metaentry aspirations like Jeol should notice the difference between sci fi, fantasy and sci fi & fantasy. Entries are due Saturday. The 7th. Of July.

Xzeno
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Lol jk guys, it's due on Tuesday the 10th. Also, I forgot:

Champion's Corner: "That which we attempt to apprehend, existed since the beginning of time; it swallowed us and scatters us like the insignificant dust we are."

Strop's entry features an EPIC comma splice in the best spot ever: right between the subject and the main verb. "The girl, kicks the ball." That's what you sound like. In the other direction, I dig the semi-colon. Speaking of a colon, I'm having fun imagining the swallowing and subsequent scattering. Tee hee.

dust is pretty trite, but it does win existentialism points. And I'm all about existentialism. Existentialism and female protagonists. That's me.

KingOfAthlum
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His space helmet shattered, he stared at star and planet light by night. Waiting for the end for it was nigh. His luck....an alien flew by.

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