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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deadline Reminder *AND* the winner is...

Here are the belated results, reminders and such! We should be back on schedule, now.

The deadline for the current Friday Challenge, Sniff the Gift Fish, is 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 26 August 2011... less than twenty-four hours away.

Entries may be added to The Friday Challenge Yahoo Group, hosted on your personal blog(s) and linked within the comments for the challenge, or copied directly into the comments section as a post.

In previous challenges, we have accommodated late entries. This time, we have no such luxury; if you post an entry much later than 6 AM Eastern time, there is a chance the judges will not be able to properly consider your work. Should you anticipate a need to snowdog, please mentally back the deadline up as much as necessary. If the deadline hits and you are very, very close, please publicly announce your intention to enter.

A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 28 August 2011.

We set out to not advance the plot. As an exercise in impracticality, we almost failed to advance the challenge! (Again, my sincere apologies for the delay! Next time I go party at a convention, I'll try to arrange coverage in advance.)

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 be 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.

Tyler Tork is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“You didn't get very far with only character and setting, did you, Potter?”), but a little less sarcastic.

Tyler Tork: We had two entries this week, neither of which really did what I asked for. Brother Anders was doing something that doesn't advance the plot (I presume) and he was doing it in a place whose description tells us something about the setting of the story, but he wasn't doing it in a place that he spent a lot of time in or that was in any way his own, so the description of the place doesn't tell us anything about him. Still, the setting was fairly creative and vividly described, and I liked the idea that the god needed a periodic haircut. I wonder what they do with the clippings.

Miko's Martian fellow was in his own place that told us something about his character, but there doesn't seem to be anything about the setting that's different from everyday reality. I'm assuming here that they aren't really from Mars and Venus; I took that as a metaphor.

So neither entrant really followed instructions, and I have nothing to choose between them on that point. 2 points to each for the challenge.

Two Out of Three (a.k.a. "Don't Advance the Plot")

“A Cool Breeze” by miko

Tyler Tork: From the standpoint of technical excellence, I appreciated miko's use of metaphor and simile and the humorous turns of phrase, e.g. the camo not being very effective. His piece read very smoothly; a professional job. 6 points for miko on style.

(challenge score 2, technical 6, total 8)

miko: voted! / Ryan J: 2.5-
Tyler Tork: 8
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 12.5-

“Brother Anders approaches God” by Ryan J

Tyler Tork: Ryan J's piece had a certain grandeur of tone, consistent with the content. However, I felt a certain lack of those detailed touches that make a scene vivid. For instance, Anders' guide had ornate shoes; that's vague. What was special about the shoes? Were they geometrically involved? Embroidered with eyes in gold thread? Made of wood and carved with quotes from scripture? What color is the marble floor? Though I did appreciate that we got more sensory detail than just sight; there's incense (what kind?), the marble is cool, his knees hurt.

I thought there were too many adjectives, though not a lot too many, and maybe it was more that they didn't give the level of detail that could've been done with the same number of words, but words that were more specific. I felt from a technical standpoint, this is a professional job, but it didn't read quite as seamlessly as miko's piece, so I'm giving it only 5 points.

(challenge score 2, technical 5, total 7)

miko: forgot to vote with an actual number! / Ryan J: voted!
Tyler Tork: 7
“Miko's Breezy Error” bonus: 2+
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 11+


Unforeseen voting anomalies seem to be easier to anticipate, with every successive challenge. A decisive result? Well, no, not exactly:

2nd Place: 11+ points — “Brother Anders approaches God” by Ryan J

1st Place: 12.5- points — “A Cool Breeze” by miko

Congratulations? All right, since neither entry managed to cross the spontaneously designated thirteen-point threshold, and since these results are being announced on such short notice, I am invoking executive privilege to supply a new challenge (assuming no objections from either of this week's participants... if either of you want to claim the Editor Hat, I will yield).


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

Tyler Tork: I had hoped that we could have some good examples of character development and setting through description of living environment and of everyday actions. When we learn something about a person in an indirect way, it colors our perception of them, sometimes without our being consciously aware of it. Later when they act in ways that are consistent with what we've absorbed about them through these hints, it seems natural. It's a way to give the reader important information somewhat seamlessly and subliminally, making it less obvious that's what you're doing. It's a nice thing to practice.
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