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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 7/1/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

Daniel Eness suggests a mid-week prompt, and generates a spontaneous challenge. • Join the discussion...

Allan Davis asks a reasonable question, and gets the equivalent of “buckshot?” for a response. • Join the discussion...

Ryan J manages to take the win — and avoids another tie, by not having a chance to vote! — in the Clarke's Third Law challenge... then passes the “Editor Hat” to Arvid Macenion, author of Ryan J's own personal selection for the best piece. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as M gets excited about the newly-announced Pentax Q on Camera Day, M's wife celebrates Waffle Iron Day by getting an æbleskiver pan (since she already has a waffle iron), and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

Pitch Black, and Then Some!

As of the deadline for our current challenge, we have received the following entries (listed in their order of appearance within Files > Friday Challenge for 7-1-11):

  • “Azrial in the dark” by Ryan J

  • “Neptune Night” by miko

An enthusiastic “Huzzah” to all who have entered! The judges are now considering your submissions. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 3 July 2011.

Everybody was Kung-Fu/Laser-Gun/Magic-Spell/Starship/Dinosaur Fighting!

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, courtesy of Arvid Macenion:

I am, as many have probably surmised, an incredible fan of Fight Scenes in writing. Fight Scenes get my blood pumping, my hair standing on end, and an intense, excited grin plastered on my face no matter where I’m reading. I have gotten some pretty strange looks for this in my day. Film Fight Scenes are great when done well, but there is quite simply no way for Sight or Sound to replace the powerful, intricate detail of my Imagination. Brand me as you will, but I have often reenacted critical fight scenes from my favorite books. Generally, but not always, out of sight or earshot of others.

I read a great battle and stand to wield a sword, or a toothpick, a pencil or anything else vaguely sword shaped, against imagined foes. I will admit that I have reenacted a solid 5 minute battle complex using a toothbrush in place of a Halberd. But I love it; fighters swaying back and forth in melee; that alien leaps out of hiding to be blasted back; this sword strikes sparks off of that one; this energy shield shatters and disintegrates; that bullet lodges in this shoulder...

Sadly however, not all authors I’ve found really put that level of effort into writing their fight scenes. There are a lot of descriptive shortcuts like: “The ringing of steel” or “Like dancing lights and cascading drum rolls” and not nearly enough real description. It’s as if you absolutely love Cotton Candy and you go to a new Amusement Park and they sell a handful of tasteless cotton candy for 30 dollars. It really just isn’t the same as the real thing. I’m of the school that a well written fight scene could be sent to a choreographer and set to music. The Music might be steel drums or “Through the Fire and the Flames,” and the actors might be the Blue Man Group, but still; solid, detailed fight scenes is what I’m looking for.

So that is our challenge. Give me a fight scene; write me a battle I can dance to! It can be any Genre you want: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Children’s Television, Soap Opera, Twilight, Christmas Carols or anything conceivable beyond or between. It can be in any format you want. There is no minimum word length and no maximum word length; if you can manage to make a 5000 word fight scene that works, please for the love of Fight Scene Enthusiasts everywhere, do it.

(M says: 5000 words of Children's Twilit Historical Soap Carols? Got it.)

Anyone can enter, except for Arvid Macenion. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. There is no word limit, large or small, but you are still not allowed to build on anyone else's setup.

Everyone is asked to vote, and to say a few words about what they liked, and why. Or to say a few words about what they disliked, as the case may be; by submitting an entry, you implicitly agree to accept criticism, because there will probably be some handed out, and no one is immune. When voting, please rank a work as either “0” (not so good), “1” (not as bad), “2” (could have been better) or “3” (pretty good stuff!). If you give either a “0” or “3” vote, feel free to argue in support of your reasoning.

Don't like the negativity? Feel free to think of the levels as “0” (Not bad for a first attempt), “1” (Right on!), “2” (Holy cow, I wanna buy this now...) or “3” (Sweet mother of God, how did you write something this awesome?!!). The point is to clearly differentiate, and rank according to your own preference.

For the purposes of this challenge Arvid Macenion will be serving as Ye Olde High Marker, Voluntarily Walking th' Plank.

As of now, we are playing by the loosely enforced and slightly modified rules of The Friday Challenge. All entries are due by 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 8 July May 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 10 July 2011.

The Thing without a Name (A Greater Challenge!)

Finally, as a reminder, there is one week of writing time left in our current Greater Challenge:

A little over a year ago, our founder said, "One of my deeply held beliefs is that science fiction is merely horror with an engineering degree, and that a lot of the "classic" stories of the genre are memorable not for their SF stage dressings, but for the emotional impact of their horrific stories."

We never really did anything with that, did we?

Okay, here is your chance! Think about the all things that frighten you. Think about the monsters under the bed. Think about the scary things that dwell deep down... and then show us how they tick. You can have up to 7,500 words to frighten me as much as possible. Your entry must be at least 1,000 words for me to even consider it.

For this challenge, I only want complete stories. If it's a beautiful fragment, but not convincing as a whole, it will be disqualified.

Anyone can enter. No exceptions. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. You are still not allowed to build on anyone else's setup... unless you receive their permission, and they agree to a collaborative effort.

All entries in this greater challenge are due by 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 8 July 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 24 July 2011. (That's approximately four one weeks in which to write, and two weeks in which to judge. Use your time well.)

Oh, there is one more thing... but it is the most important! Have fun. Always have fun.
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