Adventure Game Studio | Forums

Creative Production => Competitions & Activities => Topic started by: Baron on 22 Jul 2018, 19:05

Title: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Results)
Post by: Baron on 22 Jul 2018, 19:05
Beautiful Brevity

(http://www.vanwijst.com/games/Published/short_montage.jpg)

Brevity is beautiful in writing.  Every word is carefully chosen and curated to have the maximum impact.  There's no beating around the bush, no redundancy, and certainly no eight-paragraph descriptions of the furnishings (back in the grave with you, zombie Charlotte Bronte!).

This fortnight we are writing shorter than usual stories.  Well, in most cases anyway.....(roll)  You are free to write about any topic or genre that you want, but your submission must meet the following criteria:

Be exactly 144 words. This includes titles. Hyphenated or contracted words only count as one.  Be creative to meet the limit!
Be submitted by Sunday August 5, 2018.  No exceptions: it's only 144 words!

We will be voting in the following categories:

Best character: Quite a challenge, given there's not much room for actions or descriptions.  See what you can do!
Best word choice: getting the most mileage out of each individual word is the hallmark of a successful short story.
Best overall: Which story combined the above categories but also had great atmosphere, entertainment value, heart-string tuggery, etc?

Remember that deadline is August 5.  Don't forget.  August 5. (nod) 

August 5th.

August 5th....

August 5th...........

Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Please clarify
Post by: Wiggy on 23 Jul 2018, 11:36
If I write a year, e.g. 2018, is that considered one word "2018", two words "Twenty-Eighteen", or many words "In the year of our Lord, Two thousand and Eighteen"? Some people may be looking to economize on words, but some may be needing to use them up. Shakespeare wrote some beautiful sonnets (14 lines), and also wrote plays of many acts. I look forward to the challenge, but this has to be clarified please.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 23 Jul 2018, 12:54
The Ball...

...I was chasing bounces on down the sloping road past the point I am able to follow it beyond, and yet, somehow, I do follow it.

The bounces grow lower until it is rolling faster and faster. At the bottom of the hill it strikes the gutter on the opposite side and, again, bounces briefly on the grass beyond before settling back into a roll.

I can still see the bright yellow ball clearly as it reaches the edge of the cliff and plunges off towards the crashing ocean below. I see it clearly though I am far above it now and still climbing.

Farther away, at the intersection at the top of the hill, I see flashing red lights and something tiny being loaded into a white van.

I drift higher. I think it has little to do with me anymore.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 23 Jul 2018, 15:53
I will count a consecutive series of digits and symbols as one word.  So 2018 and 3.14159265359 would be counted as one word.  Even the words, if hyphenated, would count as only one word (i.e. nineteen-fifteen).  Lets think of it this way: you only get 143 spaces. ;)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Wiggy on 24 Jul 2018, 09:09
Oh Mandle, I loved that story - you have "set the bar" very high, rather high indeed. Thanks Baron for the clarification, 143 spaces you will get. Methinks this will be a great competition! (I saved a few words there!)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 24 Jul 2018, 11:23
Oh Mandle, I loved that story - you have "set the bar" very high, rather high indeed.

Wow, thanks so much for the good word! It means a lot and put a smile on my face at a time when I really need that!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: SilverSpook on 24 Jul 2018, 23:49
Feetshot

010JCDanton101:"nice headshot! Yer on fire, girl."

StellaSaurus:"thanks!"

010JCDanton101:"Your skill is getting me hard."

StellSaurus:"hehe..."

JuggernautsFist(MOD):"Woah. Take a chill redpill, my dude."

xMemeykitsune88x:"Nice cat-ears. do u have kitty-feet? cn I see ur feet?"

StellaSaurus:"what? no"

JuggernautsFist(MOD):"foot-clan creepers in stream early, today!"

aLpHaBruh:"STFU memeFAG you fucking limpdick"

aLpHaBruh:"this is what a real woman wants"

aLpHaBruh:(pic of shirtless fitness-instructor guy with 8-pack abs)

StellaSaurus:"ooookkkk....  no."

StellaSaurus:"over-inflated 'roid-bois with over-inflated egos? Hard pass."

aLpHaBruh:"all female streamers r sluts taking money form beta cuck orbiter loosers jerking to them."

StellaSaurus:"ummmm, I cross-referenced your registration with your Facebook, and your timeline is filled with muscle guys."

aLpHaBruh:"fuck u lying feminist-cancer whore. ur face is barely a 6/10 plus crap tits."

StellaSaurus:"aaaand your avatar is an Instagram fitness guru named Brad2049. Go cry to sleep in your anime catgirl bodypillow thinking of Brad's biceps."

*aLpHaBruh was perma-banned*

xMemeykitsune88x:"...so... feet pics?"
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 25 Jul 2018, 00:32
Nice slice of reality there Silver Spook!

I can't stand watching the chat on streams. I wish I could even say it makes my brain-cells die because then maybe I wouldn't lose so much faith in mankind each time.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: SilverSpook on 25 Jul 2018, 01:00
Haha, right!?!?

If you still have faith in humanity, remember Pewdiepie and a bunch of other streamers made tens of millions of dollars having other people watch them play video games and scream.

Also, great job on the yellow ball story, Mandle! Quite fascinating, although I may not have 100% understood it. (I blame that on the dying brain-cells.)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 25 Jul 2018, 03:11
although I may not have 100% understood it.

I was wondering how understandable it was. Could you post your theory on what happened in the story?
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Stupot on 25 Jul 2018, 08:40
SilverSpook. Are you allowed to cut and paste? This is too realistic. I don't know how people think it's okay to talk to strangers like that on the internet (coming from someone who frequently calls the president of the United States things like “fucking moron” on Twitter).

Mandle. I liked yours too. I think I understood it:
Spoiler: ShowHide
The character is a child who was chasing a ball down the road but has actually been hit my a car at the intersection. The child's spirit keeps following the ball until it falls off the cliff and then the child starts to ascend to heaven.

correct me if I got it wrong.



As for my entry:

Something
Dark


Three months ago, en route to a nearby hardware store, I noticed an SD card on the track of a level-crossing. I hesitated at first but then took a step back and picked it up.

Not wanting to contaminate my laptop (after all, it could contain all sorts of nasty stuff; someone probably threw it on the track for a reason), I slid the SD card into my old digicam.

It contained just one file, a photograph of the same crossing where I'd found the card. In the faint moonlight there appeared to be something dark lying on the track. It was hard to tell but it looked like a body. I checked the time stamp. It was dated July 25th 2018. That's today.

Tonight I'm going back to that crossing to see what I can find. And I'm taking my camera.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 26 Jul 2018, 08:52
Stu, amazing story, mate!!!

Nice creepypasta/J-horror thing going on. Also creepy that you used the real date.

Wonderful stuff!

Stu?

You there, Stu?!

Uh-oh... 8-0
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Stupot on 27 Jul 2018, 00:19
Hehe. Thanks man. I actually did find an SD card at a level-crossing more like 8 months ago and I still haven't checked it in case something dodgy ends up on my laptop. It only occurred to me a little while ago that I could put it in my old camera. Probably just some salaryman's spreadsheets, but what a strange place to leave it.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 27 Jul 2018, 00:35
Probably just some salaryman's spreadsheets, but what a strange place to leave it.

Or it could be thousands of bitcoin?!

By the way, concerning your analysis of my story:

Spoiler: ShowHide
100% correct kinda. I didn't really want to confirm in the story if the child was headed to heaven in particular, more that he or she was just letting go of their life at its end. Kind of a Jacob's Ladder thing.

I actually had a different ending in mind where someone approaches the child and hands them a bright yellow ball to play with but decided against it for that reason and also because it seemed a bit too sappy an end for a story about a dead child.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Wiggy on 27 Jul 2018, 07:04
Here is my effort, against great competition I must say. The effort starts... wait for it... wait for it... Now!

Is the glass half full, or half empty?


…is a question that is designed to determine whether you are an optimistic or pessimistic. The optimist says “Half full”, while vice-versa. I say it depends upon who you are.
A theoretical physicist, such as Schroedinger (a cat-lover) would say the glass simultaneously exists in both states.
A God-Botherer would say that the glass has been created to hold fluid, so it fulfills its purpose while containing anything – and will therefore earn its place in “glass heaven”.
An existentialist will say that the glass spends most of its time empty, so its current state is an absurdity.

It's not about the glass. How much is left in the bottle? Do we have any more bottles, or is anyone right to drive to get more?
If the glass is all I have – it must be bed time!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 29 Jul 2018, 15:52
Sweet!  Four entries and we're only half-way to the deadline. ;-D 

A few teensy weensy little issues with the format:

@SilverSpook: Nice twisting of the intent of the rules, you extra-word sneaker-inner you!;)  But even according to your own logic and the strictest interpretation of the rules, you still have only 143 words. :P

@Wiggy: This is trickier....  Do I count the word "Now!"?;)  My word count program tells me you have 146 words even without it, probably due to your isolated dashes (and the 145 spaces that they create :P).  Traditionally they wouldn't be counted as words, true, but the spaces Wiggy!  You were the one who hounded me for specific clarification! ;-D

In all seriousness, I think intent to meet the rules is more important than strictly following them, so I'll allow both entries as they stand.  A few quick space-bar or back-space edits would make them conform anyway.  I had even more deep and insightful things to say, but my son tells me it's time to play lego so I'll have to leave it at that.

One more week! 
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 29 Jul 2018, 16:50
BUZZ...

I land on a wall.

Giant creatures are saying stuff:

"I might have..."

"Listen, you should just pay her..."

BUUUUUZZZZZZ...

I land on a tape recorder.

"...cash, but..."

"Could that..."

BUUUUUZZZZZZ...

I land on a shoe tip.

"...she might..."

"Naw, she wouldn't..."

BUUUUUZZZZZZ...

I land on a TV screen.

The giant creature on the TV is saying more stuff:

"..so wish I could have been a fly on the..."

BUZZZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ...

BUUUUUZZZZZ.... BUUUUZZZZ...BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUUUUUUUZZZZZ...

BUUUUUUUUUZZZZZZZZZ.... BUUUUZZZZ... BUUUZZZZ... BUZZ... BUUUUZZZZ...

BUUUUZZZZ... BUZZZ.... BUUUUUZZZZZZ... BUZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZ...

BUZZZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ...

BUUUUUZZZZZ.... BUUUUZZZZ...BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUUUUUUUZZZZZ...

BUUUUUUUUUZZZZZZZZZ.... BUUUUZZZZ... BUUUZZZZ... BUZZ... BUUUUZZZZ...

BUUUUZZZZ... BUZZZ.... BUUUUUZZZZZZ... BUZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZ...

BUZZZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ...

BUUUUUZZZZZ.... BUUUUZZZZ...BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUUUUUUUZZZZZ...

BUUUUZZZZ... BUZZZ.... BUUUUUZZZZZZ... BUZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZ...

BUZZZZZZZ... BUUUUZZZZZ... BUZZZ... BUUZZZZ... BUZZZ...

BUUUUZZZZ... BUZZZZ... BUUUUUUUZZZZZZZ... BUZZZZ...
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 29 Jul 2018, 16:55
I hope multiple entries are alright.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: SilverSpook on 29 Jul 2018, 22:05
@Baron: Ok, my entry should be fixed!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Wiggy on 30 Jul 2018, 08:53
Sorry Baron, but when I wrote it the Microsoft Word "Tools Menu, word count" option came out at 144. Bloody Microsoft's fault I say! Thanks for letting it stand - and no, don't count "now".;-D
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: CaptainD on 30 Jul 2018, 12:32
Okay, it's been forever since I entered one of these so here goes...


At least the darkness kept us from seeing the horrors around us, but it couldn't shield us from the sounds.

“Ready?” I whispered.  My wife nodded.

We crept towards the perimeter fence and found the section we had painstakingly weakened over the last 4 months.  We waited for the searchlight to pass over us – we now had exactly 125 seconds till it came again. 

Pushing against the weakened area of fencing, we struggled to force it free without making too much noise.  At last we managed; sweating from the effort, we scrambled through and put the section back in place, diving for cover as the search light illuminated the area just behind us.  For an awful moment it seemed to linger in place, or maybe it was our frenzied imaginations.  It moved on.

Okay, we were outside the camp.  Now came the hard part…
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Frodo on 01 Aug 2018, 07:17
CURSE OF THE MOON

He's DEAD?  NO!  He CAN'T be dead!  I love him!  He is my LIFE!  Yet here he lies, in my arms.  His beautiful body, torn to shreds.  Because of ME! 

He only ever tried to help me.  Even after he knew the truth about me, he wasn't afraid of me.  But he SHOULD have been.  Look what his love has done to him. 

He KNEW the moon was full last night, but still he stayed with me.  I remember his comforting words, as he locked me in the cage.  And how he held my hand through the steel bars.  How could he know that I would break through the cage door? 

His gun was loaded with silver bullets - why didn't he use it?  Why is it HIM that's dead, instead of me?  Now his death is on my hands! 
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Wiggy on 01 Aug 2018, 09:10
Great story Frodo! Seeing as how Mandle has had "two bites of the cherry" as we say here, here's something to think about:

Climate change – the real cause.

In 1930 the population of the Earth reached 1 billion people after 250,000 generations. In 1969 men walked on the moon, and the population was 3 billion, after 39 years which included a war which killed 50 million. Today it is closing on 8 billion. Can any of you see where this is going? Everyone of them wants a western middle-class lifestyle with cars and appliances.

Overstock a paddock, and all feed is depleted; the whole herd dies. Already people are making protein from insects, and harvesting Antarctic krill for human consumption; save the whales?

People with large families are actually proud of their acheivement, and smile like the newly lobotomized. Mathematics says carrying capacity will be reached by 2150, and you cannot run from mathematics.

But we'll be dead by then, so it's not our problem, is it?
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 01 Aug 2018, 15:24
Where are all the double entries when we set the 3000 word limit, I wonder? ;)

I'm going to allow double and triple entries, but NO QUADRUPLES! I'm not putting up with that bullshit.  >:( ;-D

However, this is slightly going to complicate the voting process.  If voters specify which particular story by that author they are voting for that's fine, but if I get any unspecified votes for an author then that vote will be automatically assigned to that author's less popular story.  Agreed?

Well, it doesn't matter if you agree or not, because this is a dictatorship! (http://www.vanwijst.com/games/smileys/baron_cup.gif)  The only way to topple me is to type like you have huntsman spiders grafted on to your wrists instead of hands.  Well, that and not vote splitting. :)

Four more days!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: CaptainD on 01 Aug 2018, 15:35
I vote for a change of dictator! :grin:
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Mandle on 01 Aug 2018, 18:19
The Other Dolphin...

...breaks the sweet point of the cresting wave, has a moment in the air where she is a bird, and then spashes back into the surf.

I'm still powering through the following wave, trying to copy her feat, when she darts in and rubs up beside me in that way that only means something to me and her.

My dolphin cackle makes her cackle back as she surges ahead. I've forgotten all about the next wave and I chase her, hoping to... hoping to...

Something cold comes down over my head.

NO!

No. Everything is fine.

I'm in the place where nothing can hurt me. I've caught up to her and I nuzzle her tail to let her know.

I deserve this.

I...

...deserve the forgiveness of my victims!

Don't I?!

Electricity surges through my body.

The prison lights flicker.

Her...

Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: KyriakosCH on 01 Aug 2018, 18:47
Ok, here my is own story...: (tried to make it adventury := )
(note: edited the story a few times, but I am now finished editing; also now the story has 144 WITH the title itself!)

196

The clue said “196”, and that “This is a heathen place”. Which I take to mean that the correct chess piece to move can only be the rook (14^2 distinct possibilities for two consecutive moves, for a total of 196; no bishops allowed). Fine, but which of the two rooks?
Does it matter? Can I pick either of them, without running the risk of activating whatever deadly trap has been installed in this room?
But I don't feel like ignoring the possibility that just one of the pieces will lead me to safety.
So I examine both of them, for any minute difference in their form or texture; which might render one as false in some way. And I find none.
I am sure that something will happen at the moment I pick up the rook. I observe the chessboard, powerless to decide.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Frodo on 01 Aug 2018, 19:41
Can I suggest that voters are only allowed to vote on one story per author?  :cool:

Otherwise, it's just a case of, the more times you enter, the more advantage you have over single entrants.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 01 Aug 2018, 20:05
I'm not so sure.  Consider this (possibly) ficticious voting card:

Best Whatsamajigger: I vote for Mandle II
Best Voice Modulation Through the Use of Fonts: Gotta be Frodo
Best Serifs: A tough one, but I'm going with Mandle's first
Best Contrary Opinion: Easily Frodo by a mile.
Best Use of Dim Sum in a Diversion Very close, but I have to give it to Mandle by a nose hair.

Mandle gets three votes, and Frodo gets only two.  Is it unfair because Mandle had more chances?  Not with the new Baronic Uber GeVoteschaft Mechanism! ;-D  In this scenario Mandle's votes are split three ways between his first, second, and third entry (because the last vote was unspecified, it goes towards his least popular story).  Frodo wins!  The crowd goes wild!  Rhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! :-D :grin: ;-D :cheesy: 8-) := (roll)

But wait, there's more!  The new Baronic Uber GeVoteschaft Mechanism also slices and dices!  It saves hours of food prep time.  And look, no more pesky rinds and leftovers: the Baronic Uber GeVoteschaft Mechanism digests them into a futuristic bio-fuel cum soylent green product!  It simultaneously feeds the starving and prevents overpopulation!  Teapot dictatorships the world over are ordering them by the thousands, so don't delay.  Buy now! :=
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Frodo on 01 Aug 2018, 20:53
Quote
The new Baronic Uber GeVoteschaft Mechanism

Gotta love that terminology.   :cheesy:
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: WHAM on 03 Aug 2018, 13:02
Brevity

Papa-Six, this is Zulu-One!
The barrier is breached! I say again, barrier is breached!
I'm seeing lots of movement across sectors two through six, additionals around eight and niner. Seven looks clear for now, recommend using that for immediate evac. Over.

Negative, I have no clear line of fire. Too many civvies and... Sir, that would... No Sir. Negative. Yes, sir, danger close, understood. Over.

All allied forces across sector six, fall back, I say again, fall back! CAS coming in hot. You with me Zulu-two? Aim for the bigger clusters, disregard the civvies, we need to put them back down! Confirmed! I'm rolling in now... GUNS, GUNS, GUNS!

RADAR SPIKE! I'M LIT UP! Who the fuck is... Negative, I know it's close, but we're friendly! FRIENDLY, DAMMIT! DO NOT FIRE! DO NOT- INCOMING A-A! Zulu-Two, take that A-A out, now! NOW DAMMIT!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Sinitrena on 04 Aug 2018, 10:37
Bear

You run on the ice and breathe in the cold air. You expect your paws to slip but your steps are sure. With every one you become more aware of the power in your muscles, of the force you are.

Ice-cold wind rushes through your fur, ruffles you, cools you.

You hunt. You stop in your tracks, you sneak up to a seal not too far from you. It doesn't notice you.

Then a church bell rings. You don't remember a church being here, but the bell echoes loud and clear through the ice beneath your feet and your very muscles. The seal slithers away on melting ice. The bell brings heat with it, invading, hurting.

You close your eyes and roar, a primal scream from the depth of your very being. When you turn off the alarm, the summer's heat is back.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 04 Aug 2018, 14:26
About thirty-six hours to go!  We've got an astonishing 12 entries so far, and something resembling 8 entrants. ;-D  But I think we can beat that with a surge of last minute entries.  Get typing, folks!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Deadline Aug 5)
Post by: Baron on 06 Aug 2018, 04:30
So that's a wrap folks.  Get your scorecards out 'cause voting might get a bit complicated this time! :P ;-D :undecided: :~( :=

Let's start off with our entrants, in alphabetical order:

CaptainD: Okay, it's been forever since I entered one of these so here goes...
Frodo: Curse of the Moon
KyriakosCH: 196
Mandle I: The Ball
Mandle II: Buzz...
Mandle III: The Other Dolphin...
SilverSpook: Feetshot
Sinitrena: Bear
Stupot: Something Dark
WHAM: Brevity
Wiggy I: Is the Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?
Wiggy II: Climate Change - The Real Cause

That's twelve entries.  That's almost exactly 123 words, depending on how you count.  Whoa..... (roll)

So voting.  Read this carefully so there won't be any confusion later on.  Votes are to be cast for entries, not for authors.  As this runs somewhat against our usual conventions in this competition I will accept votes for authors as implying that you are voting for their least popular work, unless you specifically specify which work of the author's you are voting for (e.g. Mandle III).

Also, by convention when we have five or more entries we allow multiple votes per category for those of us who see merit in multiple entries and just can't make up our minds.  You are under no obligation to cast multiple votes per category, but be aware that each vote carries the same weight regardless of how many votes a given voter casts so, heck, you might as well spread the love around.  Usually we just have two votes per category, but if you write your reasons out I will accept three due to the large number of entries.

Finally, as an experiment to incentivize voting this round you will receive one bonus vote for each of your entries if you bother to show up to vote.  Theoretically this will completely balance out.  Theoretically.... ;)

The categories for voting this round are:

Best Character: the character that most seized your imagination, for good reasons or bad.
Best Word Choice: which story got the most mileage out of each individual word?
Best Overall: which story combined the above categories but also had great atmosphere, entertainment value, heart-string tuggery, etc?

Finally, voting will extend to Friday August 10, 2018, partly because we have a lot of stories to read through, but mostly because I'm off camping and won't be around to close the competition until then.  Good luck to all entrants, and happy reading everyone! ;-D
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Frodo on 06 Aug 2018, 22:31
My votes  :smiley:

BEST CHARACTER:  Something Dark

BEST WORD CHOICE:  Is The Glass Half Full Or Half Empty?

BEST OVERALL:  Okay It's Been Forever Since I Entered One Of These
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: CaptainD on 06 Aug 2018, 22:39
Best Character: Bear
Best Word Choice: Climate change – the real cause.
Best Overall: 196

Wow... tough choices!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Wiggy on 07 Aug 2018, 08:26
Thanks to Baron for a great comp, and wonderful to see the engagement of the community!

The competion has been tough, and I have read and re-read all posts - but my voting goes as follows:

Best character : Captain D - I look forward to the sequel:-)

Best overall: MandleI -the ball; I love that story as I have said before.

Best word choice: KyriakosCH - it really made me think. Well done all, and hoping for similar or greater participation in the next one!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Mandle on 07 Aug 2018, 09:06
I think people might have either missed the rule that two or three votes per category are allowed or didn't like that rule and are ignoring it.

I might also ignore that rule as (sorry) I didn't really like it:

Best Character: 196 (I love the theme of feeling powerless over a vital but random choice. Feels like real life.)

Best Word Choice: Brevity (I had to re-read this a few times to understand the story which I think is about soldiers rebelling against an insane order by a superior and making a moral choice to kill the superior instead of the innocents. I'll just think I'm right and award this category to this story for telling that story so well and so briefly.)

Best Overall: Something Dark (The classic O.Henry ending of this brief story reminded me a lot of the writings of...erm...O.Henry who was famous for writing stories with twist endings in the briefest form possible. He wrote stories like they were 4-panel comic strips before that structure was even a thing. He never lost the attention of the reader. He provided character sympathy and motivation. Yet his strories were rarely even a page long. And he didn't have the advantage of the 4-panel comic where the reader already knew the characters. Oops, went a bit off point there but didn't want to delete my wise insights...)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: KyriakosCH on 07 Aug 2018, 10:30
Really high level contest! I loved some of the stories!!!

Not sure if i can choose the same for more than one category? (no one else seems to have, so i won't, to stay on the safe side- but i really loved The Ball!!!)

So:

Best Character: Bear (inspired by the north euro heat-wave? I loved the rest, but imo the ending was a bit of a common twist := )
Best Word Choice: Something Dark (i like this type of story; there are a few very creepy ones using a similar progression)
Best Overall: The Ball (just excellent. Well done, Mandle!!!)

Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Sinitrena on 07 Aug 2018, 11:19
The following are random thoughts I had to all the stories and might sound harsher than I intend them to be.

CaptainD: Okay, it's been forever since I entered one of these so here goes...
It is incredibly difficult to create a mystery and provide answers in such a short piece. You delivered on the mystery part but not so much on the answers, which leaves the reader unsatidfied at the "end" of your story. This reads like a (very short) scene from a much longer text. That's not a bad thing, but it makes it more difficult to like or not like it because it is not actually finished. You do manage to build a fair amount of suspence for such a short piece, though.

Frodo: Curse of the Moon
Someone has werwolves on their mind. Did you, by any chance, lurk in the werwolf game threads? Kidding asside, this is a strong character piece. The two characters have motivation, tragic circumstances, sorrow. This story also has a fair amount of plot for the allowed length. We learn what happened, why it happened, what could have gone differently... In short, very well done.

KyriakosCH: 196
This is a good clue for an actual adventure game. It's also an interesting (short) look into the emotions an explorer might have in a situation like that. But due to the limit of the word count, it leads to nothing. We never learn if his decision is right or wrong, not even if he decides at all. There is also no sense of urgency or necessity. We don't know if he has to choose a shess piece or if he could just walk away. He lacks motivation, which makes it difficult to put oneself in his shoes and feel for him.

Mandle I: The Ball
Plot, drama, a clear end. This story uses the limited word count to great effect. It manages to catch your attantion and create an appropriately horrified reaction. You mentioned that you are not sure if readers understand what is going on; I can't speak for everyone, of course, but for me it was clear, no problem understanding it at all. Good job.

Mandle II: Buzz...
Well, you cheated. Kidding. It's a good way to use the limitations of the rules. I just wish there was more of a plot here. It's basically just an "illustartion" of the saying "to be a fly on the wall". There's really not much else to it. It made me smile, though.

Mandle III: The Other Dolphin...
I... have no idea what is going on. The beginning seems clear: Two dolphins play in the ocean. Then one gets caught? Possibly, maybe? But what is this about "victims"? Did you change the perspective? Is this suddenly the one who caught the dolphin speaking? But why would he deserve forgivness? No, sorry, I don't get this story.

SilverSpook: Feetshot
It's no secret between us that I don't like your stories. I still try to be neutral in my comments. This is a fairly accurate description of what comments on a stream can be like - which usually means the moderators are not doing their job properly. What this is not is a proper story. It really feels like something just, randomly, copied out of a chat-log. There is no beginning, no plot, maybe a proper ending. The last line works fairly well as a "punch-line" (not exactly the right word, but I think you get my meaning.)

Sinitrena: Bear
(I can critizise my own writing.) The All Just a Dream (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AllJustADream) trope is usually not a good way to end a story. It's a cheap way out. In my defense, it is incredibly hot here right now and I would really love to be a polar bear right about now.

Stupot: Something Dark
For some reason I immedieately though of driving when I read "en route" which gave the story a far more surreal spin than you intended (How the hell do you see an SD card on the ground when driving?) But, yes, I realize I was mistaken. Why do I even mention it? No idea. These comments are all fairly random. I liked your story, even though it feels like a fairly standard set-up for a timetravel/horror story and the situation where the writer would give it an original spin doesn't come up, because the story ends before it could. It still doesn't feel unfinished. The end is a mystery but fits the rest of the story.

WHAM: Brevity
Okay, it is clear that this is some kind of military operation and I think it's one that goes fubar. But other than that, I can't really tell what is going on. I can't even tell how many people are talking, let alone who is talking when. There's also a lot of "useless" information here, or unecessary repitiotions that are words that yould have been used more efectively ("The barrier is breached! I say again, barrier is breached!") It might be that people would repeat certain things in such a situation, but with a word limit of 144 words, you don't have the luxury to go for autenticity over clarity.

Wiggy I: Is the Glass Half Full, or Half Empty?
That's not a story. Admittedly, it is not a requirement of the FWC to write a story, even though Baron actually talked about stories in his introduction. Still, this is a philosophical contemplation, which is, unfortunately, about a topic that's philosophied to death.

Wiggy II: Climate Change - The Real Cause
Again, not a story. It reads a bit like part of or the introduction to an essay. You might state correct facts, but that doesn't make it interesting to read. Basically, it's going nowhere. It might work as the beginning of a story set in a dystopia, but even for this purpose, this text sounds a bit dry, unemotional.


Votes:

Best Character: Curse of the Moon by Frodo
Best Word Choice: Curse of the Moon by Frodo
Best Overall: The Ball by Mandle
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Stupot on 08 Aug 2018, 08:52
Character - Frodo's Curse of the Moon (heartbreaking)
Word Choice - Wiggy's Climate Change (bleak as Hell, I love it)
Overall - Mandle's The Ball (touching stuff)

Honorable mentions to Captain D and Wham's stories, either of which came 2nd in each catogory for me.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: WHAM on 10 Aug 2018, 08:32
Char: Frodo - Curse of the Moon
Word: Frodo - Curse of the Moon
Overall: Stupot - Something dark
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: SilverSpook on 10 Aug 2018, 22:52
Word Choice: Kyriakos - The "Cube" (1997) vibes here, man. Right in the feels.
Best Character: CaptainD - Obviously, always.
Best Overall: Mandle - The best thing I have ever read. This is like the end of Sixth Sense distilled to a potent microfictive tweet-length elixir, except there's no one to sap its dankness! (More Bruce Willis next time tho) :)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Baron on 11 Aug 2018, 22:34
Alrighty then.  After careful tabulation of the results I see a two-way tie for first and a three-way tie for second, even with extra votes and points factored in.  I therefore enact my right as contest administrant to bust this tie up, old school style! :=

So the contenders for first place are Mandle and Frodo with six votes each, including their bonus point for voting.  Mandle's work got five separate votes for best overall, but I refuse to allow myself to be swayed by popular opinion. :P  Frodo's piece had a much stronger character element, and several mentions for great word choice.  I thought Mandle's was the cleverer story, but for me it loses the lustre of perfection due to the awkward sentence that starts it.

...I was chasing bounces on down the sloping road past the point I am able to follow it beyond, and yet, somehow, I do follow it.

To be honest, it was because of this sentence that I had to read the work twice to really feel that I understood it.  I know as a writer you are really painted into a corner here with few words to set up a whole scenario, but I feel that Mandle tried to economise a bit too much here and lost some of us readers.  On the flip side, the concept was brilliant and the execution, besides the first sentence, was inspired.  The last sentence was simply haunting!

Frodo's story had great emotional intensity, and I liked how she dripped out the character development so that you only really understood the depth of the love felt by "him" for "it" by the end.  The one draw back for me, however, was the last sentence.

Now his death is on my hands! 

It just kills the pathos I was feeling for this clearly grief-struck character.  She's already recognized that his death is because of her.  Repeating this detail in the most important slot of a very short story seems to imply an egocentricism that I didn't detect through the rest of the piece.  It seems to cheapen her feelings of guilt.  But otherwise fantastic story!

So...  Eeny meeny miny oh heck let's just say Frodo wins!  For your trouble you receive the golden "to the point" trophy of succinct awesomeness!  (http://www.vanwijst.com/games/Published/tothepoint_gold.png)   

So let's sort out this mess at second.  Mandle's in for sure at 6 votes, but KyriakosCH, Stupot, and CaptainD all had 5 votes and I feel obliged to vote for one of them to break the tie (I'm counting Stupot's runner up vote for CaptainD if anyone's having a hard time following my math). 

I liked the puzzle concept of KyriakosCH's work, but I had a hard time following the logic.  Sure, it's possible that an unhindered rook could move 7 spaces sideways, or seven spaces front or back.  But it can't move to 14 unique places from each of those spaces as a second move, due to the fact that other pieces must mathematically block its progress (certainly your own king and the second rook, but also the implied bishops and perhaps other pieces).  This for me makes the connection between the clue and the rook less certain, somewhat spoiling the puzzle for me.  The sense of indecision and hopelessness at the end also detract from the story's potential power as a clever riddle to be solved.

Stupot's creepy horror story worked for me as either a time-warp-inevitability or a cyclical-serial-murder-place.  Bringing the camera as almost an afterthought really made the rest of the story work.  The real-life plausibility of it adds to the power of the story.

CaptainD's story had a degree of emotional intensity that was lacking in the other second place finalists, but the cliché ending just killed it for me.  C'mon!  We all know it's hard: toss me a bone to chew over as I contemplate their predicament. ;)

So I guess I'm voting for Stupot, bringing him up to tie Mandle with six votes.  So to the two of you I present the coveted silver trophy of brevity. (http://www.vanwijst.com/games/Published/tothepoint_silver.png) 

Which means KyriakosCH and CaptainD share the bronze trophy of shortness! (http://www.vanwijst.com/games/Published/tothepoint_bronze.png) 

Congratulations to all the winners!

Some quick thoughts on the other entries:

Mandle II: Buzz...  Er, actually I don't actually have any thoughts on this one.  Great gag entry, though! :P

Mandle III: The Other Dolphin...   So I got that he was a serial killer being executed and that he was in his happy place for the final moment.  The ending was powerful, being his final thought in this life.  But... did he think he was a dolphin?? (roll)

SilverSpook: Feetshot Hilarious, despite the lamentable state of online interactions between youth these days that it portrays.  But... it seemed like aLpHaBruh was banned for being outed as a gayish incel hypocrite instead of for his abusive language toward the implausibly tolerant internet female?  I'm not sure if that's social commentary on the hopelessness of achieving civil interactions on a chat stream or if you're challenging the relevance of modding at all.  Anyway, the confused message seems to have cost you votes this time.

Sinitrena: Bear Your own comments show that you own the cliché.  But, what if it was the bear dreaming of being a sweaty human all along...? ;)

WHAM: Brevity  Not enough love for this entry. :undecided:  It was an awesome attempt to portray the confusion of battle in an action-packed 144 words.  If only your contest adminstrant had the foresight to invoke a Most Intense category....  Maybe Stupot's time warp murder SD card could help us out with that.  What could possibly go wrong? ;-D

Wiggy I: Is the Glass Half Full, or Half Empty? I appreciated the philosophical perspectives, but not quite a story.  Was the trailing off into drunken utilitarianism just a comment on the absurdity of over-thinking something?  In the end I think it was a bit too esoteric for garnering votes from the masses.

Wiggy II: Climate Change - The Real Cause This struck a chord with a couple people.  It certainly conveys a powerful message, but I think the reasoning is a bit simplistic (Malthus's followers are still waiting for the "inevitable" population crash 200 years on....).  Consider this: if you are one of the seven billion mouths that need feeding then you're part of the problem.  Given that humanity has yet to "solve" its overpopulation problem, but that solving it is certainly the desired solution (the alternative being the problem solving us), it stands to reason that the best shot humanity has is bringing fresher minds to the problem through a massive all-out around-the-clock propagation effort! :=

So that's it for me as contest administrator.  I've spent all my power at the height of my glory, like some kind of salmon way up the creek.(roll)  We turn now to Frodo to take us into the next round.  I look forward to seeing you all back, with friends in tow, for the next exciting instalment of....

The Fortnightly Writing Competition!!!!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Voting until Aug 10)
Post by: Mandle on 12 Aug 2018, 01:02
I thought Mandle's was the cleverer story, but for me it loses the lustre of perfection due to the awkward sentence that starts it.

...I was chasing bounces on down the sloping road past the point I am able to follow it beyond, and yet, somehow, I do follow it.

The title was a part of the first sentence. So it should read: "The ball I was chasing..." etc. Is that the point that made the sentence weird for you? The bit about being not able, and yet able, to follow the ball is the moment the child's spirit leaves their body, although the child does not understand this.

Mandle II: Buzz...  Er, actually I don't actually have any thoughts on this one.  Great gag entry, though! :P

Mandle III: The Other Dolphin...   So I got that he was a serial killer being executed and that he was in his happy place for the final moment.  The ending was powerful, being his final thought in this life.  But... did he think he was a dolphin?? (roll)

"Buzz" was actually a serious entry but not done very well it seems. I was watching the news about the secret tape Trump's ex-lawyer released concerning paying off the Playboy model to stay quiet and thinking what a tempest-in-a-teacup the whole thing was. I mean, JFK was a huge womanizer yet he seems to be a lot less demonized for it than Trump. Why? Because he was good-looking? I really, really dislike Trump but sometimes certain media really tips its hand when blowing "scandals" way out of proportion. Anyway, the anchorwoman said "I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at that meeting." and I thought "Yeah, it's not like you don't buzz (drone) on enough as it is.". So, yeah, all the buzzing at the end is both the fly buzzing around the room and a representation of the media droning on about pointless stuff. Not very well done though I guess.

"The Other Dolphin": Yes, that's exactly what the story was about. A killer is sitting on the electric chair and his "happy place" he is escaping to is imagining he is a dolphin swimming with his mate. When the metal cap is placed over his head it breaks him out of this illusion for a moment and he tries to escape back into it as the chair is turned on. But no, he doesn't actually think he is a dolphin. (laugh)

Anyway, cheers for the great round, Baron! Really strong entries made for a great contest!

Can't wait to see what Frodo comes up with for the next one!
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Results)
Post by: Frodo on 12 Aug 2018, 09:49
Yippeee! 

Thanks everyone.  Really excited to have won first place.  :cheesy:
I enjoyed reading everyone's stories.   :grin:


Frodo's story had great emotional intensity, and I liked how she dripped out the character development so that you only really understood the depth of the love felt by "him" for "it" by the end.  The one draw back for me, however, was the last sentence.

Now his death is on my hands! 

It just kills the pathos I was feeling for this clearly grief-struck character.  She's already recognized that his death is because of her.  Repeating this detail in the most important slot of a very short story seems to imply an egocentricism that I didn't detect through the rest of the piece.  It seems to cheapen her feelings of guilt.  But otherwise fantastic story!

Thanks Baron, I'm glad you liked the story.  :smiley:
She loved him just as much as he loved her.  And the guilt and the grief are overwhelming for her. 
I was going to end it with 'How can I go on without him?' , but that took it over the word count, so I had to take that sentence out. 
Damn you and your evil word count, Baron.  Damn you, I say!   :tongue:

The next fortnightly competition will be up soon.  :wink:
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Results)
Post by: KyriakosCH on 12 Aug 2018, 11:06
It was a nice contest :)
Mandle's story was excellent, really. It could be in a number of flash fiction collections of note, in my view (nod)

Re my own story, it should be noted, of course, that the chessboard moves of the rook are to be counted for when the chessboard is empty other than with the piece moving. Obviously those are 14^2.
If it was a game, one of the variations (not the only one by far) would be the chessboard having just two rooks and two bishops, the bishops being there to confuse you if you didn't solve the clue about them; to be taken out.
Really nice that so many liked my story. I actually do write (I am a published author := ) although English isn't the language I write my original work in (laugh)

Well done, everyone 8-)
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Results)
Post by: Baron on 13 Aug 2018, 03:06
@ Mandle:  Sorry for not being more clear.  Let's look at this in more detail:

...I was chasing bounces on down the sloping road past the point I am able to follow it beyond, and yet, somehow, I do follow it.

Yeah, so I did understand it, after a second reading.  So it is understandable.  I think it's just needlessly complex, which I found initially confusing.  He's chasing the ball down the sloping road, that much is obvious.  But then past the point I am able to follow it beyond.  Would a kid really think that?  Kids think they can do anything, so it's not a matter of being able.  A kid would probably think in terms of being allowed.  And you've swapped subjects and objects mid-sentence:  The ball I was chasing is the subject, but then I am able to follow it makes the ball the object.  And the beyond bit....  That's just extra complexity and most un-kid-like.  I would just say past the point I am able to follow it.  And then you contradict the complicated fact that he is not able to pass beyond the point by stating that he manages to anyway.  What?!  I think breaking the whole idea into simpler sentences, each with a distinct function and more kid-like vocabulary would have made the scenario set-up cleaner and stronger.  Something like:
 
Quote
The ball I was chasing bounces on down the sloping road.  It passes the point I am not allowed past.  Yet somehow... I do follow it.

Still 26 words. ;-D

Anyway, I guess it's more of a stylistic preference, but that's my two cents.
Title: Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Beautiful Brevity (Results)
Post by: WHAM on 17 Aug 2018, 16:54
Congrats to the winners!
My entry was heavily reliant on theme, of portraying a place and situation where brevity, but also clarity, are absolutely vital. In my mind this tale of mine was also connected to my past entry, but that's wholly beside the point. Suffice to say it was a lot more interesting in my head, than what those 144 words could rely in the way I used them.

WHAM: Brevity
Okay, it is clear that this is some kind of military operation and I think it's one that goes fubar. But other than that, I can't really tell what is going on. I can't even tell how many people are talking, let alone who is talking when. There's also a lot of "useless" information here, or unecessary repitiotions that are words that yould have been used more efectively ("The barrier is breached! I say again, barrier is breached!") It might be that people would repeat certain things in such a situation, but with a word limit of 144 words, you don't have the luxury to go for autenticity over clarity.

The jist of the tale was basically one of an overwhelming enemy, and military aircraft struggling to use the precious seconds they have to understand, communicate and confirm the situation, while also receiving conflicting orders and being put in a difficult position. In this case that difficult position was having to fire at positions dangerously close to friendly units, which results in a retaliation similar to those seen regularly in WWII as the allied aircraft had a tendency to strafe friendly positions, with infantry struggling, and often failing, to not return fire on friendly aircraft.

WHAM: Brevity  Not enough love for this entry. :undecided:  It was an awesome attempt to portray the confusion of battle in an action-packed 144 words.  If only your contest adminstrant had the foresight to invoke a Most Intense category....  Maybe Stupot's time warp murder SD card could help us out with that.  What could possibly go wrong? ;-D

You are too kind, as always, Baron!
Alas: no. 'Brevity' was barely a story at all, and thus deserved to fail compared to the more skillfully crafted narratives on offer this fortnight.

I already have an idea for the next competition, though, so I hope to redeem myself with the DRAGONS!