TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Results and Discussion

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TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Results and Discussion

Postby Marcuse » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:55 pm

The writing contest is here!

Click here to read them!

Please feel free to discuss the entries here, the contest voting will run for one week from today, ending on the 12th January 2018 at about 8pm GMT-ish. Also I know there's only four and I said I would run when we have five, but I'm reasonably sure that there's no more pending contest entries and I didn't want to keep our kind authors waiting any longer.
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“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby CarrieVS » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:58 pm

I'm sorry. I didn't mean it when I complained about the wait. I was just excited about the contest.

[EDIT rather than double post]

So, here's what I thought.

Just Stories (the one with the fairies): Really like the concept. Little hint of Pratchett, I could almost think, in concept, not style. In terms of style, it was doing the whole fairy tale/folk tale bluntness thing, perhaps compounded by wanting to be short, and for me it just didn't quite work, came across with too much tell and not enough show.

Debbie, HR Troll (the funny one): The humour worked, it's the kind of grim humour that I often find misses the mark for me personally, and this didn't. Technically pretty good, one of the best in the respect. Somehow, I enjoyed reading it and have very little specific criticism, yet it feels like it's missing something and I don't know why. Maybe it's just not my thing.

Worlds Away (the meta one): Like the idea but I'm not altogether sure it's not too complicated and/or whether the whole meta thing works well. I don't think it's too bad technically but I don't know if you don't maybe have to be a writer to appreciate the concept. Also not sure the ending is clear.

Bows (the one with the alien/monster invasion): Liked the concept, liked the characters, loved the ending. Liked the bow motif with the different meanings of the word. But it felt rather stilted and the time lapse was abrupt. Getting a really good ending to a really short story is a really hard task and that one just did it for me. It's all about the implication.

N.B. One of them is mine, but if I left it out of the commentary, I'd be telling you which one it was, and I want y'all to have to guess. I tried to give an honest critique on it but I'm inevitably biased.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby IamNotCreepy » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:05 pm

Debbie the HR Troll: I really liked this one. It had a very Discworld feel to it. It was funny and clever. My only complaint is that I'd like to see more. Good job.

Bows: I like that there is a definite arc to the character and the whole dual-meaning of Bows. The backstory of the character was revealed slowly and subtly, in bits and pieces, which worked really well. I would have liked to see more descriptive language in describing the setting and characters. It's makes the writing here very prosaic and to-the-point.

Just Stories: This story had a lot of promise as a pseudo-fairy tale, but some of the writing was confusing. There were two princes and two castles, and sometimes it wouldn't specify which one, so I'd have to re-read a section multiple times to make sure I understood. As Carrie said, it would just state things explicitly instead of showing through the story.

Worlds Away: I'll admit, I had a little trouble getting into this story at first. It's kind of dense, and the beginning is a bit confusing as it starts in media res. It took me a couple tries before I could get past the beginning, but once I did, I really liked it. It reminds me of the World of Dreams (Tel'aran'rhiod) from Wheel of Time, only more meta. I thought the concept was overall great, and it was well-written.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby sunglasses » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:45 pm

As Carrie did, I also wrote one and am not going to not critique it so you can't tell.

A Day In the Life of Debbie, HR Troll: I feel like this story won't respond well to people who aren't used to office or bureaucratic culture. Ending felt rushed. I have so many questions: How good of a janitor would a gelatinous mound be? Did they have to hire him because of E'OAR?

Worlds Away: I liked the meta-ness and the idea of what writers may actually go through in the process. The idea of their imaginations accidentally killing them amuses me. That may not have been the authors intent but my imagination takes me where it takes me.

Bows: If I didn't realize recently just how big a long bow was, I'd have never realized that a bow without the string could double as a walking stick. Solid idea, but wish had been fleshed out more. The style of writing makes this story feel frantic, which I felt helping it. You felt the need of getting to the girl, et al.

Just Stories: Not going to lie, had a little trouble getting into it. The idea is good, and I can't put my finger on why I have trouble, but it might be the tense in which it's written.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby jbobsully11 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 8:55 pm

“Bows” - Maybe I need to read it again, but it didn’t really do anything for me.

“HR Troll” - I liked this one. I thought that the idea of having a literal troll for an HR rep was funny.

“Worlds Away” - I liked the reference to the twisted wish thread, and thought the concept reminded me of the movie What Dreams May Come (except without having to die, and also writing instead of painting).

“Just Stories” - I thought the lack of names was confusing, and too much was told instead of shown. I liked the concept, though.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby A Combustible Lemon » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:23 pm

"Bows" - is sort of a hard story to get working right. It starts and ends in the middle, and is entirely focused on one character. I don't think I liked it. It's competent, not overwritten, but it's not having a beginning and end works against it.

"Debbie" - is amazing. I loved the style of it and it's got the right length, the right writing, the right amount of humour.

"Worlds Away" - I loved this because it's a meta-story on fantasy, which is some of my favourite work ever. It's got the right feel of being in a transient world where anything can change at the drop of a hat, where you can write yourself into a horror story you get lost in. Imaginary worlds are the best, so I love everything about this.

"Just Stories" - Not the best work. It's a story about fairy tales written as a fairy tale. But it could be longer, even if fairy tales are supposed to be blunt. Characters aren't named but repeated, so it has the confusing effect of having two of everything. Not a big fan of the "humans are evil" suggestion at the end, it's the most telly bit of an already telly story.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Voting and Discussion

Postby Marcuse » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:15 pm

Voting is over! Congratulations to everyone who participated and thank you to everyone who took the time to read and vote on the stories.

The results are as follows:

A Day in the Life of Debbie, HR Troll - By Sunglasses - 10 votes and winner!
Worlds Away - By CarrieVS - 8 votes
Bows - By Iamnotcreepy - 4 votes
Just Stories - By A Combustible Lemon - 2 votes

That means that A Day in the Life of Debbie, HR Troll is our winner, and will be posted on the front page as is customary and traditional. Sadly the tradition of slaughtering a mechanic goblin and roasting him will have to be suspended, we ate them all.
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“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
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“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Results and Discussion

Postby sunglasses » Fri Jan 12, 2018 9:52 pm

I'm really happy you guys liked it so much.
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Re: TCS Writing Contest - Fantasy Results and Discussion

Postby A Combustible Lemon » Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:26 pm

Now that I no longer have to pretend I didn't write it, gonna lay out the ideas behind my story.

It's a story about belief and fantasy stuff, and I really wanted it written explicitly in a Hans Christian Andersen style, where names really aren't that important, everything's as blunt as can be, there's just a little bit of magic in descriptions, written as if answering a curious child pre-emptively, not to describe anything well or to answer every question.

It's a hard style to pull off with work, but half this story was written a month after the other one, and the first half mostly got edited down and away for consistency with the second half and the second half didn't get a proper cross out sentences look-over at all.

It's really not written well enough.

Tone wise the idea wasn't really what the cynical "humans are bastards" sentence that needs to be removed implies at all, except as a reflection of the reader's own idea of how the story should go. Ultimately, the end should be what real life is like right now, fairy tales are about how magic is every wonderful thing in the world around us, and spreading them around is the Prince's legacy to humankind. His own grandfather's supposed to be a high archetype of all grandfathers to come. Storytellers who make the world sound bigger and scarier and better and more wonderful than, to a man with Kay's mirror shard stuck in his eye, it really is.

As Carrie said, it's a discworldian reconstruction idea. Magic as natural wonders is an idea that's really gone away in the DnD age of fantasy, filled with people who liked Tolkien's style and his ideas but not his themes of mythology and storytelling-as-heritage. The idea of stories only living in how they're passed around is central to every bit of LotR and the Hobbit Tolkien wrote.
Tolkien digression:
Spoiler: show
This, as an aside, is why I hate the fact that Christopher edited the Silmarillion to be coherent but presented as-is. The Book of Lost Tales is what the Silmarillion should have been from the start, an incomplete work that fits together far better into Middle Earth than an encyclopedic origin myth nerds can learn "fun fact"s from. Tolkien himself did not think the Silmarillion as he'd written it should be published, as Christopher explains many times only for nerds to ignore him entirely. Its failure to be interesting comes entirely from known factors that Tolkien was actively trying to fix before he died. There's a reason only fans talk about the Silmarillion while LotR itself was popular in teenagers well well into the 80s. It is not an interesting book. Learning of Beren and Luthien's story from Aragorn and Frodo and the actual inhabitants of middle earth to which it had meaning is way more effective than to lay it out by itself. The Silmarillion as written by Eriol or Samwise Gamgee would've been a much better book.


Honestly wish I'd worked harder on it.

We should have a behind the scenes thread.

SO WHO ELSE HAS SUGGESTIONS FOR MY STORY OR WAYS THEIR STORY SHOULD'VE WORKED OUT?
This is like, my first story for actual public not-just-me-and-friends consumption, and I'm happy people actually got it and liked it.
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WE ARE ALL FLOATING IN THE WINDS OF TIME. BUT YOUR CANDLE WILL FLICKER FOR SOME TIME BEFORE IT GOES OUT -- A LITTLE REWARD FOR A LIFE WELL LIVED. FOR I CAN SEE THE BALANCE AND YOU HAVE LEFT THE WORLD MUCH BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT, AND IF YOU ASK ME, said Death, NOBODY COULD DO ANY BETTER THAN THAT...
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