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Sunday, June 12, 2011

And the winner is...

Our seventh challenge sees us keeping a steady pace, as we enjoy a scattering of views through a childish lens. As four competing works vie for the favor of four voluntary judges (yes, the same four who submitted works!), we surprisingly encounter no new rules, and are amazed by a very grown up adherence to the existing rules.

If any of you are able to take a second look at your own work, and see ways in which to improve a concept so that it can be more successfully developed, the effort will have been worthwhile.

Those of you who vote are allowed to assign a range of “0” to “3” points, per entry. Since challengers may not vote for their own stories, a bonus of 2 points is given to a participant's highest-ranked work, if that participant also takes the time to vote on the other entries.

Official judges receive a 30 point allocation, to assign as they see fit. The only restriction is that at most, only half of those points may be given to any single entry, and there is no requirement for a judge to use the entire 30 point allocation.

Ryan J is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“Oh Ron Weasley, you are such a child sometimes!”), but a little more nearsighted, since it can only see a maximum of 250 words.

Childhood's Lend (of an Idea or Two...)

“Enough - A Dialogue” by miko

Ryan J: I think Miko's second, longer piece was the better piece (though it might be improved further with some editing, less telling what people are thinking and more showing it), but it also was outside the word limit, so I have to ignore it. (I think it's cool that the challenge spurred a longer piece though- I wound up doing a piece longer than the original "Luck" challenge that inspired it as well. If you wind up getting inspired to write something beyond the scope of the challenge, that surely means that the intent of the Friday Challenge is being met.)

I've had conversations like this with and around my kids before- it's pretty genuine and funny. There's a stage that is very frustrating for kids, in which they know what they mean, but can't express it in a manner that adults can follow. This feels a bit like that. And having the father impishly interpret it as a philosophical statement of the problem of desire was humorous.

Arisia: 2 / miko: voted! / Triton: 1 / xdpaul: 1
Ryan J: 5
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 11

“Sock for Shark” by xdpaul

Ryan J: This was really weird. But I have to say, it is weird in the way that I am quite certain no adult mind could have produced. And that's awesome.

I was mildly distracted by the comparison of sharks to pepper and soap- that image, while a great visual that did a wonderful job of helping me see how the sharks were moving, does not seem to belong to a world of sapient sharks that fly/swim in a world that probably includes neither pepper nor soap. I think it would strengthen the atmosphere to use an image that humans could understand, but belonged to their world- like a school of fish spinning in the water or something like that.

This is the story, as far as I can tell (and it's really packed in there, no wasted words at all)- intelligent sharks have opened a portal in a glacier to another dimension, where the sharks dig up a magical sock that they use to heal the terrible injuries suffered by their Great White God-King. That is just plain awesome. That's the sort of story my son might have devised. (He's three, and this morning asked me who would win in a fight- a vampire, or a tick. They obviously belong in the same category, after all. He decided on the vampire, by the way. Because they can squish ticks)

I'm giving this a high score because I feel like xdpaul did a wonderful job shutting off the 'adult filters' that normalize our ideas before we put them to paper. Nothing normal here. Also, sharks rock.

The line "dead eyes, like a doll's eyes" seemed out of place in the piece of writing, and yet is almost a story in itself. A really scary story. I presume it is a direct quote from your source of inspiration.

Arisia: 2 / miko: 1 / Triton: 2 / xdpaul: voted!
Ryan J: 8
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 15

“Stormtrooper Knights” by Triton

Ryan J: This one was perhaps less overtly weird than the one with the sharks, but it really channeled a sense of getting lost in imagination to me. Sorry, Mr Lucas, but kids don't care about the canon. They just want to have fun. Having a legion of clone troopers brace themselves under an onslaught of 8 cylinder car people makes no sense whatsover- but that's not the point. It's too busy being awesome to notice it makes no sense. That's being lost in the world of a child's imagination, with all of our jaded filters shut off.

I'm giving this one a 10. Also, introduce the kid who inspired this to the Transformers cartoons from the 80s as soon as possible. :)

Arisia: 1 / miko: 2 / Triton: voted! / xdpaul: 3
Ryan J: 10
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 18

“The Magic Radio” by Arisia

Ryan J: I had to reread this a couple of times before I felt like I'd followed what happened- it almost seemed like the magic of the radio was to replay a missed section of the game, along with a volume knob that controlled Cynthia's volume.

I'm not totally sure who's narrating this, it seems to be a sort of third person limited omniscient. We have information on how Cythia feels- "beyond bored." We know a lot about what she thinks in the first two paragraphs. In the third we get an observation about "quality sound" that doesn't seem to fit the mind of a bored little girl.

Then we have her voice becoming even more sulky, which was even more annoying. To who? Clearly we're not in her point of view after all. Is the faceless narrator annoyed? The parent overhearing? There's nothing wrong with an omniscient point of view that allows access to the thoughts of all, but in those cases it's important to make it clear whose thoughts belong to which character.

The magic of the radio is subtle, if the magic I saw in it was what you intended- but subtle in an awesome way. I'd just suggest making it a little more clear what happened, and who owns each thought.

I just reread the last line in the context of the current horror themed greater challenge, and it freaked me out. ;)

Arisia: voted! / miko: 2 / Triton: 0 / xdpaul: 2
Ryan J: 4
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 10


Based on the numbers, a former winner made a very strong showing, but pure sugar-cereal awesome must have been fueling the imagination of our new champion:

2nd Place: 15 points — “Sock for Shark” by xdpaul

1st Place: 18 points — “Stormtrooper Knights” by Triton

Congratulations, Triton! As winner, you are hereby invited to propose next week's challenge, scheduled to be announced the morning of Friday, 17 June 2011.


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

Ryan J: All of the participants submitted something appropriate to the challenge. I felt like two were immersed in the imaginative world of a child, while two seemed to be a more adult perspective on a child's world. Both approaches address the challenge, I just thought it was interesting how the approaches were distributed.

What lesson can we learn from this whole exercise? I'm tempted to say that there's no lesson intended- like lots of things children do, there doesn't have to be a point as long as you are having fun. But that's a lesson. And not a bad one- I think it's important not to lose the sense of fun that I presume got most of us interested in telling stories in the first place. And it's not a bad idea to turn off our 'grown up' filters once in a while. We have them for a reason- most of the crazy stuff they filter out is filtered for a good reason. But once in a while, I think if we let something quirky get past them, something that we'd forgotten was awesome because we're so busy being grownups, it will liven our writing. Or at least, make it memorable. And that's important too.
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