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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 8/26/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

Daniel Eness asks the skunk for a lesson and defines publishers (while asking us to ignore the juxtaposition of publishers and skunks?). • Join the discussion... part 3 (see also part 1 and part 2)

Henry Vogel reviews the films of summer. He wisely skips the bucket-fish, saving ammunition for more deserving targets. • Join the discussion...

Kersley Fitzgerald is still distracted... thank goodness! • Join the discussion...

M returns from Renovation/Worldcon69, short of sleep and a possibly having misplaced few brain cells (but there still isn't a discussion... yet!).

miko belatedly breezes into position as the winner of our Don't Advance the Plot challenge. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as Kiss and Make Up Day causes couples everywhere to ask "What were we fighting for?" and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

Sniff the Gift Fish

As of the deadline for our current challenge, we have received the following entries (listed in their order of appearance within Files > Friday Challenge 2011 08 26):

  • “Cowrie” by Tyler Tork

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, 28 August 2011.

* Technically, "one" may be "all," but did we miss anyone? If so, please speak up! Analysis and feedback on all work(s) entered will still be given, as per the usual non-convention schedule.

What's My Line?

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, inflicted by M (due, this week, to the delay in posting results from the previous challenge):

Back in the fifties and sixties, What's My Line? was a popular television game show. A panel of four celebrities would ask a perfect stranger ("perfect" being defined as one none of the celebrity panelists had previously encountered) yes or no questions about her or his occupation... that is, his or her "line."

It was a simple concept, and the stakes were low. As a whole, it was also very entertaining.

Of course, any attempt to translate the setup to a real-life scenario is problematic. Relying on "yes" or "no" answers to make conversational progress tends to frustrate questioners, stifle interviewees, and lead to your conversational partner glancing across the room to exclaim, "Oh, look, it's George R. R. Martin!" Yet for some reason, when we are asked about our "line," many of us tense up, unsure of how to explain what we do.

At Worldcon I was frequently asked about my writing, and it only took fumbling the ball a few times to realize I needed a clearer answer to such interrogation. Here are the words I selected:

"I write science fiction. I also dabble with fantasy, horror and mystery, but when I do, the results tend to have scientific overtones."

That's twenty-three words. I'll give you forty.

So, what's your line? Be memorable, impressive, clear, and don't fumble your response. Remember, the person asking the question just might be your next publisher.

Anyone can enter, except for M. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others. Each entry must be less than forty 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 M 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, 2 September 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 4 September 2011.

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