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Sunday, December 4, 2011

And the winner is...

Show? Tell? Beuller?

If 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.

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 (unless there is only one entry, in which case the silly restriction is lifted!), and there is no requirement for a judge to use the entire 30 point allocation.

Jack Calverley is about to put on the “Editor Hat.” It's sort of like the “Sorting Hat” they use at Hogwarts (“Tellurian shower, my ratty fringe! If those kids would start taking real showers, the Sorting Hat wouldn't smell so bad.”), but a little less sarcastic.

The Tellurian Shower

“The Tellurian Showers challenge” by Arisia

Jack Calverley: First, thank you for responding to the challenge. And thank you for responding so very thoroughly (and I like the framing device).

As I read I find five sentences of telling:
• two sentences tell the reader about emotional states
• one sentence tells the reader that people stop talking
• one sentence summarising a verbal exchange
• one sentence telling the reader of the narrator's attitude

And in the reworked text, I find:
• Maryann performs a specific action at a specific time for a specific purpose
• Maryann speculates about Dr Conrad's actions and praises him
• Allan shows (by smiling) his emotional state to the camera
• Allan speaks to us and tells us about a specific alien encounter and so on

To the effect that emotional states are shown through speech and actions, and the story events unfold by people (and aliens) doing things (including speaking).

As to the question "Is that really better?", my understanding of the conventional wisdom (and since I'm still learning, I may not have grasped this correctly) is that, by showing, the reader is placed in the middle of the scene, can engage more intimately with the story world, is more likely to see from the protagonist's viewpoint, and so becomes emotionally sympathetic to the protagonist i.e. emotionally involved in the story and care about what happens.

Although something which I haven't quite grasped is when to stop showing. Even in a scene which is shown, the reader is told many things in single sentences, e.g. "The TV showed a strange object sitting on a runway at an airport" tells us something, and in principle could we not expand that into the cameraman focusing on the object, or someone running away from the object? - and even then analyse the sentences used for showing the sub-scene, down into something else, and so on. Maybe I'm over-analysing but, thinking in terms of a tree diagram, we might have the original tell sentence as the trunk, which we break up into show sentences for each branch, but many of those branch sentences are themselves tell sentences and can be broken up yet further... Where does one stop or is someone about to tell me I've missed the point?

In any case, thank you Arisia for a very clear example and for making me think!

Jack Calverley: 30
Total: 30


This was easily the simplest job I've ever had, of scoring a challenge:

1st Place: 30 points — “The Tellurian Showers challenge” by Arisia

Congratulations, Arisia!


So what was the lesson of this challenge?

M: The lesson may be that we need to take a short holiday break, rather than proposing a new challenge this coming Friday. Quite a few schedules are in flux at the moment, and participation has been (predictably) down for a few weeks.

Discussion? Are there people who have been aching to enter a challenge, or propose a challenge, who have not yet had time or opportunity? Or is it better for us to take a brief respite to focus on the season, on our loved ones, and to allow a little back-of-the-stove literary simmering?
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