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.

  • 122 Replies
Pois0nArr0w
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Pois0nArr0w
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We were the machinations of his love for her. When our iron hearts were rejected, his was bitter and jealous. She died, and we did nothing.

sauce citrus

halogunner
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halogunner
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She saw things in him she could see in no other man, but alas in her idle stare he had passed her by, and she without love, grew sorrowful.

aknerd
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aknerd
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Hey you guys! Enter this.

It is so comforting to wake up screaming as your dreams slip away. She never understood that. Her confused eyes stare and blink, sleepily.

Cenere
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Cenere
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Why must it be love? Oh, wait. Because it's an universal power of stupidity and insani-... I mean, universal power of all that is good.
Here, have some total misunderstanding of the theme:

He looked into her brown eyes with a warm, calm smile. Then he rose and threw the stick as far as he could, and the dog bounced after it.

Freakenstein
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Freakenstein
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The beautiful orchid cannot live without the company of the brave drone. Theirs is the most adamant relationship of all and the most important.

killersup10
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killersup10
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Forever reaping her grave, his soul refused to let go from the love that none has ever before felt. In his heart, they still walk together.

KingLemon
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KingLemon
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Here we go...Don't use twitter very often but I'll be willing to try! (and one day to spare, too!!)

"I will wait for you, as long as it takes!"
She watches the sea, every day.
Holding his gun, he steps off the ship.
Still watching, waiting.

pHacon
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pHacon
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Her heart beat frantically as he chuckled with bitter scorn. He's what she's always told herself she's wanted, and she's terrified of that.

Because who you want is so rarely who you need, and usually not good for you at all. Gods, I'm tired.

jeol
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jeol
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My husband had died in the War - sword down his throat... But his Child remains. I shall love him and cherish him till death, force us part.

killersup10
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killersup10
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Hello? Xzeno? anybody home? Did you lose your internet again or did you just run out of time to come on AG? Or do you just not feel like doing this anymore?

Zahz
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Zahz
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Since I'm an old fashioned not hipster type:

His shoulder still gets wet in the rain.

Xzeno
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Xzeno
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Dude, relax. I'm, what, 3 days late? That's normal. Of course I don't get to it until the weekend.

It is a shame that this is the second to last round, because I feel like you guys are really becoming savvy to my arbitrary judgements. You appear to have gotten that I'm into female protagonists. The lack of lesbians was a little disappointing. But yeah, I will do thematic awards as usual, in a loose order of how much I like certain gimmicks:

The Dux Feminia Facti award: For those who don't know latin, that means... well actually it's a very hard to literally translate phrase. Highly abbreviated. It says " leader (subject) woman (subject) of the deed." Usually read as "a woman is the leader of the deed" referring, as you know, to when Dido steals a bunch of ships in the Aeneid. By the way I feel it worth noting that everything I ever mention in these judgings is off the top of my head.

So anyway, a lot of these issues featured women's perspectives. Neat. That's fun. And they were largely not twilight-esque "date or die" sexist garbage.

Anyway: "I will wait for you, as long as it takes!"
She watches the sea, every day.
Holding his gun, he steps off the ship.
Still watching, waiting.
KingLemon is the leader of the pack for the female protagonists. Though his protagonist is a little passive for my taste, it IS twiction. His concept was incredibly cliche, but the story was executed competently. Of the two entries fighting for third, pH's was certainly more weighty and therefore better, but since it has the kind of philosophical implications I would staunchly ignore in my own personal life, I'm giving it to King. Yeah.

The Hipster/Zoophilia award goes to... Frank. One thing I like besides female protagonists? Pointed rejection of the norm and what is popular for the sake of innovation. Sometimes this produces great stuff, like the works of Joyce, and other times it has me ranting about how horrible Mass Effect was because people dared to like it. Still considered a felony in my home state, you don't get much more hipster than bestiality. At any rate: "The beautiful orchid cannot live without the company of the brave drone. Theirs is the most adamant relationship of all and the most important."

So for dramatic effect, we're gonna talk about out animal-loving runner up, Cenere before going on to Frank. Cenere's entry's main failure is actually the word dog. In pacing, here is a paraphrase of the entry: begin "typical" setup, begin clever inversion, execute cleverness, MAKE SURE THEY KNOW OKAY GUYS IT"S A DOG THAT"S THE JOKE IT"S NOT A HUMAN BEING IT"S LIKE HIS PET. See the issue? We sort of beat the audience over the head with information we should be allowed to come to on our own. Even though this appears at the end of the entry, I'd call it an issue of pacing broken by exposition.

Now, as I've implied before, Cenere has a rather unique on AG ability to often string together not just a sentence, but a whole series of events called a story together without making me want to punch a kitten right in its cute little face. This is one reason why I feel it important to mention more complex issues like pacing.

Putting my serious hat on for a second, Cenere's entry is all about challenging social norms. He's not saying "love between a man and a dog is the same as between two humans!", he's displaying that human-human love isn't the only way of creating meaning in life through positive interaction. And note that he SHOWS this, doesn't just try to tell us.

Taking my serious hat off, Cenere's entry is all about having sex with animals. As Sigmund Freud once said "sometimes a stick is just a stick, and sometimes a stick is a penis, and is also lodged in a dog's vagina." Speaking of sexy animal sex, Frank has some bee action going on.

As we know from Victorian lit, a flower is a metaphor for sex, and so is pretty much every other noun in Frank's entry. So his entry is actually probably about college kids boning in the woods.

So the main flaw with Frank's entry is OH MY GOD SHOW DON"T TELL YOU PEOPLE. Seriously, what is WRONG with you guys? ACTION! Not "cool story bro"! But it does have a kind of nature documentary theme, so I'll let it slide. Frank takes Cen's commentary about meaning and fully removes the human element, skirting the line between profound look into the purpose of our existence and transcendentalist bull****.

The Our Hero Slips Into A Bathtub As Lux Aeternia Plays in the Background and then ODs on Sleeping Pills award goes to: Alright. Wait for it.

Female protagonists. Check.
Hipsterness. Check.
Inter-species action. Check.

What else does Xzeno even LIKE? Well, I've hinted at it before. What I really like is sad endings. Sad stories are good and all, but the best part is a sad ENDING. While 3rd place WAS sad, it doesn't quite have the same good ol' existential horror of our winning entry. In the winning entry, Aknerd portrays a rather ambiguous look into the- oh he won last time. Crap. Need a new winner. Halogunner, are you doing anything right now? No? Good. You won.

"She saw things in him she could see in no other man, but alas in her idle stare he had passed her by, and she without love, grew sorrowful." I know there's a slim chance that you guys aren't as pathetic as I am, but I think I speak for all of us when I say "I know that feel." Our hero was a little too passive, which is the point. She's just left with a feeling of emptiness and a painful dream of what could have been, even as she marries a man she doesn't really love, raises children who hate her, works a job she never wanted to pay for a house she didn't dream of. She, as the song goes, looks at her average life and nothing has been alright. She follows the role of a suburban housewife for a few years until one day, on an impulse, she rents a car and drives off a cliff. On the way down, she realizes, she was dead long before now. Honestly, if more romantic comedies were like that, I'd like them even more.

Seriously, it'd be just like American Beauty, but it would star Anne Hathaway and have a lot of comic relief. So yes, I like sad endings. I absolutely hate it when a movie or play WOULD have been horribly depressing but the last scene gives it a happy ending. Why don't they just leave that off and make it arbitrarily depressing? I LIKE arbitrarily depressing.

Anyway, what really stood out to me in this entry, over the other sad ones, was the unique phrasing at the end, "and she without love, grew sorrowful." It reminds me of the Greek and Roman epics, something else I really like. It sounds so beautifully poetic. So yep. 1st place.

The Let's See Other People award: Aknerd! As the winner of the last round, aknerd wins humiliation and detest. The entry: "It is so comforting to wake up screaming as your dreams slip away. She never understood that. Her confused eyes stare and blink, sleepily."

One thing you learn from Aknerd is, like, 3 new adjectives. Adjectives, adverbs and participles compose about 90% of Aknerd's entry, presumably because he thought "oh no, 140 whole characters? I'm gonna need to pad this out a bit." He tries to pull some juxtaposition between happiness and sadness, because he knows I like combining opposites to make meaning, but when I say opposites, I don't mean opposite genders. Seriously, try to get on my good side with some literary stuff and you didn't even think to make it two women? Shows how savvy you are, Aknerd. Of course, I assume no one has any idea what this entry means, but let's just say that this is what happens when you blast Lux Aeterna and OD on sleeping pills.

Concluding the Love round, we have one final round. The last one. You see, school is starting soon, robbing me of my time and will to do this. I don't want to hand the contest off to another judge, who might be illiterate, uneducated, or worse, fair and impartial. So the contest will see one more round and end.

For themes, I'm sorta torn. We have 3 options:

-Death. Of course, it's ending, and it logically goes after love. Love and death a great way to end it. Death ends everything afterall.

-The Epic Tradition. This would challenge you to write a twiction that feels like an epic poem. Not epic in the youtube comments sense, but in the Homeric sense. I've wanted to do this since the contest started, but didn't get a chance.

-The Greatest Story Ever Told. This theme would be the themeless round. It is how I wanted to end the contest. There is no theme at all. Just write the best twiction you can. You will get no credit for making a clever joke about the theme title or going meta. There is no guiderail on this one. Just you and your ability to write twiction.

So which theme do you guys like? I'll officially decide one tomorrow (Sunday), and will take your input into account.

Xzeno
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Xzeno
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Oh, Zahz was late and ninjaed me, but what he posted was microfiction at its finest, in case anyone was looking to see what to try to emulate. Seriously, that was the bomb.

killersup10
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killersup10
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Didn't even place,****.Why was this the second to last contest?????

Cenere
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Even though this appears at the end of the entry, I'd call it an issue of pacing broken by exposition.

OR PERHAPS IT WAS JUST A CRAPPY THEME

Why was this the second to last contest?????

I am just going to take a wild guess and say that perhaps it's because school is starting and he doesn't have time to judge anymore, and the rest of us aren't smart enough to take over the contest (which I am kinda agreeing on).
Just based on those vague hints in the post, you know.

That said, if this is the last contest, I will just say I enjoyed this, you did well in judging us, making up some insightful comments, making hilarious fun of us when needed (and deserved. Heck, I knew this would be turned to bestiality the moment I thought of the idea), not to mention this as been genuinely something I have been looking forward to every week.
Thanks, Xzeno.

Oh, and I can't be arsed to choose a theme, so here's one for all the options.

âItâs amazing how fragile life can be, isnât it? It can end so quickly. I hope you enjoyed yours.â She smiled and tightened the rope.

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.

There was no going back now. The ship stalled sharply, though the pilot tried to force the nose down. She didnât hear him when she jumped.
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