Fortnightly Writing Competition: After the Fire (RESULT)

Started by RootBound, Tue 14/11/2023 16:15:30

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Choose your vote for the winner of this FWC!

MANDLE: The Greatest Novel of All Ti...
1 (11.1%)
WIGGY: Untitled
2 (22.2%)
SINITRENA: In Miller's Ash
0 (0%)
SINITRENA: After the Fever
2 (22.2%)
BARON: Fires of the Heart
2 (22.2%)
STUPOT: That Night
2 (22.2%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: Fri 08/12/2023 01:03:10


Wow, what a bumper crop of entries! Amazing work, everyone! Before I close out the contest at the end of the day, one quick question--how long does the voting phase usually last? One week?

They/them. Here are some of my games:


Depends on when you have time to close the competition and how many entries there are. I'd say a week is about right, but usually not more than that.


SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW CLOSED! Thanks to everyone for a great number of entries.  ;-D

Please use the poll above to cast your vote! There should be plenty of time to read all the entries.

Also, I encourage everyone to comment with their reactions. (I'm very happy to hear any responses to mine as well even though it wasn't a formal entry). Let us know why you voted the way you did!

Good luck, everyone!  ;-D
They/them. Here are some of my games:


Just finished reading the last few entries, so here are my thoughts. I didn't vote because I wasn't sure if I'm supposed to, but I do have some favorites.

Spoilers below.

@Mandle Clever and fun. Very short, but it works and I enjoyed it. Probably it wouldn't work as a longer piece, so I think you ended it at the right time. Simple and effective.

@Wiggy This was in my top two entries. Really concise and also moving, conveying things well without big exposition. You accomplished a lot in a very short space. Nicely done.

@Sinitrena First of all, great job getting two complete short stories done within the two weeks. That takes some dedication!  8-0 I'm impressed. Your first entry was good but a little grim for my tastes. Nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea. Still well written.

Your second entry, however, was actually my favorite of the contest. It's bleak, but I felt a lot of heart while reading it. It's absolutely gutting. The prose was also very well done--so much emotion is conveyed not through explanation but through action and through the juxtaposition of past and present. I also really like the metaphor of fever as fire--definitely counts toward the theme in my opinion.  (nod)  Really great work. If I get a vote, it goes here.

@Baron I enjoyed this one too. I might have to read it again to piece the whole past-story together, but the gist was clear and effective for me, and the ending works. Nicely done.

@Stupot I found the overall characterization of the boys effective (though only one or two them were given enough detail to be fully distinct from the others, but as a group it still works well). I also enjoyed the twists and turns throughout, and found the decision at the end believable. Really solid entry!

Thanks for all the participation! It was great to see so many entries and so much work put into them. A very successful contest in my opinion. Glad you all liked the theme!
They/them. Here are some of my games:


My brief feedbacks and vote:

Rootbound: I liked the story. Not sure if I could see the world in which it took place in completely. It had an impact on me considering the religious group that goes into the battlefields in current times to retrieve the dead at the risk of their own lives, but that's probably just a personal reaction.

Wiggy: The story felt like an authentic experience the whole way through, and then that turned out to be because it actually was you writing about something that had really happened. The shock twist at the end about the death certainly hit you harder in real life, but I think I did feel a slight bit of that through your writing. Amazing entry and was a contender for me for my vote.

Sinitrena: "In Miller's Ash" was extremely well written. But I did find myself a bit lost about what exactly was going on until the villagers started talking. Then, by the end of the story I understood that it was about a person with superpowers traveling the land to punish evil wrongdoers, and that sounded like a great story I would like to read, except I would want to know what was going on a bit earlier in the story than you could manage in this short format. I couldn't really feel much for the killed children as I never really knew them except through some brief lines later on. Feels like the start of a longer story that I would definitely read!

                   "After the Fever" was a powerful and centered story around the viewpoint of the main character, so I never felt lost as I sometimes felt during your other entry. A very dark tale that I took as a bit of an analogy for the paranoia we all went through about disease all too recently. The denial of the main character reminded me a lot of the shocking aftermath of the brother in the movie Hereditary after the drive back from the party: just trying to deny what had happened in their shock... trying to pretend that everything was normal, even though they knew otherwise. Not being able to cope with the horror. Was a very strong contender for my vote.

Baron: I was caught up in the story as soon as the characters started talking. Then I realized that there was a lot of backstory that I had to keep reading to understand. And I did read on, intrigued with their history together, but by the end I couldn't really figure it out, except that maybe he was regretting having burned down the church in a fire that killed his love and was returning her bones to that resting place? Probably I just didn't get it completely.

Stupot: The core strength of your piece is the realistic banter back and forth between the kids. The secret of the fire in what I read as basically a mystery story kept me plugging on and forgetting that I was just reading words on a screen. The twist at the end was unexpected but logical. And the final decision of the hush-up was brutally honest and left me haunted a bit by what the future holds for Kenny. Your story got my vote, but just barely above Wiggy's story and Sinitrena's second one.   


RootBound: I liked what I read, though I don't think it feels finished. The action, yes - the background and world - no. It's a bit difficult to really get the world this is set in, but a few clarifying lines should be enough to give us this sense of the general world. Is Tess an oficial or is she just in it for herself? What exactly exploded? Why? This story feels like it is set in a world we are supposed to already know. But it reads very well and I'd love to read more about Tess.

Mandle: Short, very short; and very meta. I think it's an interesting choice to post this entry as a picture - which made me wonder why you didn't go all the way with it and added some traces of burning to it? It's good for what it is, though.

Wiggy: I was utterly confused by the comment about "The chinese guy licking your feet" on the first read-through, even with the explanation later in the text. It's so inredibly random. Also, it's not really clear what happened to the airplane. A fire on board, but no crash - is what I gathered, but it could be clearer. There are so many details in this story that sound interesting and need more details, but are brushed aside as something the writer clearly already knows. Intersting over all.

Baron: I'm not sure what caused the fire in your story, if it was an accident or not. I like the twist in the end, though I think it could have been stronger if the whole set-up wasn't about saying goodbye and seperating anyway. I'm also not sure if what Tangam did was according to their traditions or not. He seems to go against the rules of the elders, but at the same time it feels like a practiced, normal ritual, something that Aeria wanted. Nevertheless, without a doubt, my favorite story this round.

Stupot: For such a short piece, there are a lot of twists here, though I actually would have prefered the first idea the boys had as to the culprits (their own parents) to the actual solution in the end. Or rather, I might have combined the two (Kenny lies to his parents that Thurlow touched him in order to get rid of him). As it stands, I'm surpried the other boys didn't know about the photos: Thurlow told Kenny he had pictures; didn't he ever tell something similar to the other boys? Anyway, my second favorite of the bunch.


Voted! Really good variety of entries. Tough to pick a favorite.


Quote from: Sinitrena on Mon 04/12/2023 20:39:45Mandle: Short, very short; and very meta. I think it's an interesting choice to post this entry as a picture - which made me wonder why you didn't go all the way with it and added some traces of burning to it? It's good for what it is, though.

I did actually consider making a graphic of the story as if it were on a charred piece of corner paper, but then I thought that that would spoil the reader's fun of finding out for themself what the situation was. I did post this story as just text at first, but then the fact that that the format did not work on all devices was brought to my attention. So, I had to make it a graphic, because the format is the main point.


Just a couple more days to vote! Anyone else want to weigh in?  :)
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Voted. Thanks to all for the entertainment.

If you're wondering what was burning on our plane:

It was the wiring, a very rare occurence evidenced by high generator loads (100% on both) and a dreadful electrical burning smell. If one of the generators had exceeded its load limit and dropped off line we would have lost all electrics, therefore all flight instruments. Naturally the weather on that day was horrible with widespread rain and cloud down to 100 metres so with no flight instruments we would have spudded into the ground or water. When I declared our emergency to Air Traffic Control I requested a "Radar marshall to cloud break" (i.e. send me where it's clear) which is a military term with which not all civilian controllers are familiar. As it happened, a departing aircraft on the same radio frequency was flown by an ex-military pilot who heard this and transmitted "Send him to Deception Bay - it's clear over that way." The controller put us on a south-easterly heading and we continued our emergency descent and sure enough there was a break in the cloud and no rain. Lo and Behold the Deception Bay area, visible in the distance the threshold of Brisbane runway 14 and no finer sight have I ever beheld.

Unfortunately this "very rare occurence" happened again on 2nd September 1998 off Halifax Nova Scotia to Swissair flight 111 an MD-11 New York to Geneva with 229 passengers and crew. They hit the water at 300 knots and were all killed instantly, the accident report stated the cause was "electrical and instrument failure due to fire".

There but for the Grace of God, and a few fortunate coincidences, go I...


Nice work everyone.  (nod)

@Mandle: It's like, a fragment of a novel about a fragment of a novel of a... whoa!

@Wiggy: I read your story with great interest, but the tone bounced around so quickly it felt like my head (and heart) were just balls in a ping pong game.  The MC seems to be a very cavalier joker, but maybe that's just how manly men deal with all the pain?  He seems to be conflating the near-miss at the airport back in '95 with the pain of losing Julie 15 years later, although the tangential connection between the incidents makes it hard to follow the point he's trying to narrate.  Is life just funny like that, in a tragic kind of way?  I did try some token research to see the significance of Feb 17, 1995, but couldn't come up with any major reported aviation incident.  The piece was certainly well-written, but I think a few more details and a bit more insight into MC's thought process jumping between incidents would make the story more impactful.

@Sini: The idea of a vigilante witch travelling from town to town to solve murders (à la Fugitive) is intriguing, although I did find it difficult to empathise with Rivina despite her obvious righteousness.  She was just always so angry and... burny.  I think if we were able to see her in another light, even just briefly, we readers could root for her more.

      I liked your fever story more, despite it being a wrenching emotional ride.  The feeling of tragic grimness is present right from the start - there's just a gnawing feeling in your gut that the story is not going good places.  If I had just one complaint it's that the poor cows being burned alive hit me harder than the death of the mother and baby brother, probably due to the desperate vividness with which you portrayed them.  It was great writing but... I think strategically it distracts the reader from the deeper pain of Ines losing her family.

@RootBound: I really liked the running theme of the settlement's body being ripped apart by this tragedy.  The hospital orbiter becomes the weak heart of the surviving settlers, the debris of the explosion being the shattered bones, and the dead plant filling in as a kind of soul that is now lost.  Although brilliantly written, I think the metaphor of Tess being insulated from the incident by time and (physical protective) space somewhat detracts from the power of the piece, as we really don't feel much emotional connection to human tragedies that must have unfolded: in the end I felt more for the poor plant than whomever had their glasses blasted off of their face.

@Stupot: A savagely raw indictment of growing up poor in the projects (er, council housing).  I loved the realistic banter and the authentic if ill-considered logic of the friend group.  The mystery of what exactly was going down at the lingerie party still gnaws at me, as well as what else old Thurlow might have been hiding (why were the boys never allowed in the room - if because of the pictures, why did he carelessly reveal their presence to Little Kenny?).  In the end I was disappointed in the complete lack of justice in this world, but I suppose that's a fitting moral for the denizens of such a desolate housing complex.


Voting is over and wow is it spread out far too evenly! A four-way tie seems like a bit much to me, so I think I should go ahead and cast a tiebreaker vote (I did not vote in the poll) unless that's against the rules. If that's not the way things work, then the four of you will have to sort the next theme out together!

As stated in my comment from a few days ago, my favorite story was "After the Fever" by Sinitrena. So if my vote counts, I therefore declare this the winning entry unless someone wishes to object. @Stupot care to weigh in?

Congratulations on a great contest, everyone!
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@RootBound Yeah, I'm not sure we've had a consistent policy on tie-breakers for a while, but it is quite normal for the host to decide the winner if they didn't vote in the initial round. And as you say, if you had voted, you'd have gone for After the Fever, so it makes sense that this should be the winning story.

It also happens to be the story I voted for.
(Forgive my delayed feedback but I did read the stories.)



Congratulations @Sinitrena ! Fantastic job. The next round is yours!

Thanks to everyone for putting in so many quality entries this time!
They/them. Here are some of my games:


QuoteShe [Rivina] was just always so angry and... burny.  I think if we were able to see her in another light, even just briefly, we readers could root for her more.

When I started writing the Fever story, for a moment I considered connecting the two stories, making Ines and Rivina one and the same, giving Rivina a bit of a backstory and showing that Ines managed to live through it and come out stronger, but still clearly damaged. Interestingly enough, the third idea I didn't manage to finish would have been about someone harvesting the energy of a volcano, basically showing Ines turn into Rivina (although all three ideas were seperate in the beginning.)
In the end, I decided to let both stories stand independently from each other.

Thanks for your votes, everyone.

Yeah, a four-way-tie would have been a bit much, and that's why we keep the tie-breaking vote with the admin.

Anyway, it's this time of the year, so I have a question: Are you all in the mood for some seasonal theme or not?


Quote from: Sinitrena on Fri 08/12/2023 13:50:36Anyway, it's this time of the year, so I have a question: Are you all in the mood for some seasonal theme or not?
Colour me jingled.

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