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Monday, September 26, 2011

And the winner is...

For some writers, 78 words is a standard paragraph. For some writers (cough, Steinbeck) it's half a sentence. But for some of you, oh what you can do, when constrained by an unreasonable limit!

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 numerically vote on the other entries. (Yes, we added a word. This shall henceforth be known as the “miko Rule.”)

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.

J.M. Perkins is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“'78 was a good year, Harry. I vaguely remember it...”), but a little less sarcastic.

78 R.P.M. (Rejections per Manuscript)

“Droid” by Topher

J.M. Perkins Neat little story that raises a lot of questions. Suggestion: Don't start the story with the passive voice 'Was locked' maybe instead use 'Three Technicians locked Unit 1246 into the magnetic harness.'

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 1 / topher: voted! / Vidad: 1.5 / xdpaul: 1
J.M. Perkins: 2
Total: 7.5

“Rage” by Topher

J.M. Perkins This one was pretty great. Only suggestion I have is 'God knows what' is cliche and can probably be substituted for something else.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 1.5 / topher: voted! / Vidad: ?? / xdpaul: 3
J.M. Perkins: 3
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 11.5

“Goatman” by Vidad

J.M. Perkins I adore the patent absurdity of this.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 2 / topher: 1 / Vidad: voted! / xdpaul: 2
J.M. Perkins: 3
Total: 10

“Human Resource ” by xdpaul

J.M. Perkins It was cool to read about all the work that went into this piece but I feel that you sacrificed some intelligibility at the altar of cleverness (*cough* Featherstonehaugh *cough*). I still really enjoyed all the telling details and the backing quest/goal.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 1.5 / topher: 1.5 / Vidad: ?? / xdpaul: voted!
J.M. Perkins: 3
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 10

“It wasn’t about the pants” by Vidad

J.M. Perkins I like all the little details in this story and the overall humor. Would love it if you could hint at a little more about who these characters.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 2 / topher: 1.5 / Vidad: voted! / xdpaul: 3
J.M. Perkins: 2
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 12.5

“O-Machidō Sama” by miko

J.M. Perkins Cool premise, but where's the conflict/characters?

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 1.5 / topher: 1 / Vidad: 1.5 / xdpaul: 0
J.M. Perkins: 1
Total: 7

“Shattered” by miko

J.M. Perkins Great story! We get a sense of character, a problem and a resolution all in 78 words. I personally like the lyricism of 'Her face had shattered her windshield and her windshield had shattered her face.' Although given Bradley's character, I doubt that he would use 'Frankenstein's Monster' as a description, instead opting for the far more common 'Frankenstein.' Only genre fans and pedants make that distinction ;P.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 2 / topher: 2 / Vidad: 2 / xdpaul: 3
J.M. Perkins: 3
Total: 14

“So What Did You Think Made It Work, Anyway?” by Avery

J.M. Perkins I can dig it! Wonderfully suggestive of a larger world.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 2.5 / topher: 2.5 / Vidad: 2 / xdpaul: 2
J.M. Perkins: 2
Total: 13

“Odyssey” by Topher

J.M. Perkins I personally don't like the 'internet predator' trope as it is a narrative that is wholly overused in our society. Also, I think making the username 'redrum' seems a little blunt, but I get that understatement might not be possible given the confines of the challenge.

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 2.5 / topher: voted! / Vidad: ?? / xdpaul: 2
J.M. Perkins: 1
Total: 7.5

“Pages” by Topher

J.M. Perkins I'm a fan of your recursivity. I like that you add one little detail (Alder tree) to give the world a bit more flavor. I would have liked to know a little about what Jabin was trying to do when the witch tricked him. But mostly, I'm a fan of your recursivity ;).

Arisia: 2 / Henry: 1 / topher: voted! / Vidad: ?? / xdpaul: 1
J.M. Perkins: 2
Total: 6

“The Plea” by Henry

J.M. Perkins Wow. Such evocative language, so much emotion in only 78 words. You should definitely submit this to the Esquire contest.

Arisia: 3 / Henry: voted! / miko: + / topher: 2.5 / Vidad: 3 / xdpaul: 3
J.M. Perkins: 4.5
Participation bonus: 2
Total: 18+

“Senescence” by spikerNSponge

J.M. Perkins I personally like how you you don't name characters and I also love the phrase 'her creams were dry and cracked in their tubs.' Well done!

Arisia: 2.5 / Henry: 3 / miko: ++ / topher: 2 / Vidad: 2 / xdpaul: 3
J.M. Perkins: 3.5
Total: 16++


Impressive results! Staggering brevity! Impeccable wit/drama/tension, not necessarily in that order. The final results are as follows:

3rd Place: 14 points — “Shattered” by miko

2nd Place: 16++ points — “Senescence” by spikerNSponge

1st Place: 18+ points — “The Plea” by Henry

Congratulations, Henry! As winner, you are hereby invited to propose next week's challenge, scheduled to be announced the morning of Friday, 30 September 2011.


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

J.M. Perkins Frigging Aye, judging is hard! Heh, everyone did great job and I really enjoyed all their stories.

M: What can you do with only 78 words? Although temptation leads you to say, “not a lot,” actuality depends upon the nature of the words you select, the degree to which they may be refined, and the finesse with which you wield your armament. Assuming you manage to select the right words, and always treat them well, they may do likewise by you. Choose them very well, and you may ultimately prevail upon the field of literary combat.

(Now, who was counting 'em?)
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