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Friday, July 29, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 7/29/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

STUPEFYING STORIES gets mo' bunches of stuff 'n updates. • Join the discussion...

Allan Davis admits that he must sometimes be nagged into productivity. Thank goodness for “supportive” wives! • Join the discussion...

Daniel Eness puts the ol' flash lamp down long enough to geek out. • Join the discussion...

miko wins the (lesser) Make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar challenge, and judging of The Thing without a Name (Greater Challenge) is temporarily deferred, as the STUPEFYING STORIES deadline looms ever nearer. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as All or Nothing Day stymies all who hedge their bets, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

An Elegant Weapon, from a More Civilized Age

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 7-29-11):

  • “No Business on the Night” by Tyler Tork

  • “Nanites” by Ryan J

** UPDATE: We now have access to Tyler Tork's entry! **

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, 31 July 2011.

You Should Have Seen

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

Ryan J recently asked us to look at the familiar with new eyes. This week I propose we exercise our powers of observation by simply noticing the people in view around us. We need people in our stories, so for writers there might be gold in them thar hills.

It's summer. We're all outside. Things are happening. We see people. People are strange. Even when they're not actually strange, their being strangers to us means we're not privy to what they're really doing (or why) when we observe them from afar. What could they be intending? Is something going on?

This mystery might make observing such people more interesting than actually knowing them. I saw a woman crying amongst general revelry. I saw a man disregarding a woman whom he was very solicitous of a half hour later. I saw a girl absently playing with her hair while being chatted up by a boy trying too hard to be cool.

Anyway, the exercise for this week does not begin with your imagination but with your observation. As you are out and about, look around at what people are doing, at how they are behaving, at what's going on out there. Find something that seems curious or telling in what you see. Then write what you saw with the idea that the observation will be the story, that what we don't know from afar is as much the story as what is seen. Describe the nuances, the small yet revealing things most people wouldn't notice, specifically showing readers what struck you as intriguing (figuratively or literally), so that we may see with your eyes.

You might relate only what you saw and leave it to readers' imaginations to discover a story from the details you provide, or you might tell the scene from your own POV and include the impression it made on you. The key, however, is to construct the core from your observation of real people doing real things.

There's no need to be epic, so a budget of 500 words should be more than enough.

(WARNING: When deploying your amazing powers of observation in public, my advice is to be careful near playgrounds and girlfriends.)

Anyone can enter, except for miko. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. Your entry must be no longer than 500 words, and you are 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 miko 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, 5 August 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 7 August 2011.

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