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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Friday Challenge — 11/11/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

... will be posted a little later in the morning! Re-writing the time stream ain't like it used to be...

Bruce Bethke presents a second episode of the “Slushpile Survival Guide,” in which our hero learns to see in the dark. • Join the discussion...

Bruce Bethke assures us that sometimes it's more effective to fling strawberry jam at a window. • Join the discussion...

Kersley Fitzgerald commiserates over the plight of chaste elves. • Join the discussion...

J.M. Perkins wins our CTRL+ALT+DELDELDEL...∞ challenge, by being bewildering, powerless and alone. • Join the discussion...

All this and more, as Veteran's Day reminds us that freedom isn't really free, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

Ambrosia Manna Gruel

As of this morning, we have received the following entries for our current challenge:

An enthusiastic “Huzzah” to all who have entered! The judges are considering your submissions, and a winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 13 November 2011.

Limbo! (a.k.a., "How Low Can You Go?")

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, courtesy of J.M. Perkins:

So here's my prompt for this week. Find a passage from your oldest and shittiest work you have access to (your first 16 year old short story, your first novel, that thing you wrote right after Jennie dumped you) and rewrite it. With luck, this will give everyone a sense of encouragement about just how far we've come as writers.

M: Sounds interesting, right? I did a little digging through my own files, in search of the most execrable prose ever vomited from my pen:

Sammy was a skunk. He was a good skunk but he stunk. He played in the road and a car almost ran over him but the driver said something smell's bad and turned the car. That is why it is good that skunks smell bad.

I've typed that exactly as it was written, thirty-one years ago, in blunt pencil upon faded construction paper.

Doing so left me feeling conflicted about the challenge. My head was filled with visions of Friday Challengers ransacking the refrigerator-magnet mementos of ages past, for victims.

But surely, the notion of rewriting a work to salvage it is noble, right?

Sammy was a skunk. He was a good skunk but he stunk...

All right, I could rewrite that. Spacefaring skunk-boy is saved from becoming a handful of strawberry jam, flung at the nearest window, when the careless driver of a flying car realizes methyl and butyl thiols shouldn't be detectable in the upper troposphere.

Maybe not.

But maybe you'll have better luck than I did?

Anyone can enter, except for J.M. Perkins. You may enter as many times as you wish, but each entry must be independent of the others, and you may not build on anyone else's work.

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, J.M. Perkins 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, 18 November 2011. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 20 November 2011.

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