Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Supporter
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
5,740
Even getting the title right can be a challenge too, the one you chose may or may not be fitting to the overall story. I fail at that a lot as well!


100% agree with this. The title is free words, you can set the scene or the right atmosphere or provide some background info with right choice.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,093
Location
Iowa
100% agree with this. The title is free words, you can set the scene or the right atmosphere or provide some background info with right choice.
There has never been a limit to the size of a title but perhaps someday someone is going to write the story in the title and then the rules will have to get more specific. I hope that day never comes. I have had my fill of politicians and lawyers parsing the far limits of the language to defeat the spirit of the law while staying technically within the letter of the law.

It's like the sporting maxim: "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." ---- It's enough to make a Parson blow a gasket.
 

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
Supporter
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
775
Location
SW WY
Since I’m already reeling from the blows of nonresponse to my piece this month, I suppose I’ll let y’all finish the knock-out by telling me exactly why. Thanks in advance!

###

God’s Eye

Blood ran down the steps of the pyramid in crimson rivers. For ten-thousand days two tribes battled, cutting each other’s hearts out with obsidian blades.

Midday faded to dusk. A blotted disk in the sky—fringes of fire around a dark circle—replaced the sun. They fell to their knees; the prophecy was true!

Two warriors, one painted orange, the other white, dropped stone knives and embraced. The time for renewal had come.
 

Paul J. Menzies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2023
Messages
54
@JS Wiig

In general, I had no problem with your story. I just thought there were a whole bunch of stories along that same theme and found little to separate them. I didn't shortlist Peter's story (sorry!) for that very reason. My shortlist would've been a long list.

I'm a little unsure myself as to the voting as I'm new here. Tough to find patterns in one example of a thing. I'd say that reader resonance played a bigger role than I expected. Which is all good, but when you have a bunch of similar tales, you're going to need a particularly resonant or satisfying conclusion to stand out (if voting actually went down those lines).

To be more specific to your story, here are some thoughts:

--The pyramid played no role other than scene-setting. Kind of an unfulfilled promise.
--The color of the warriors at the end seemed important but I couldn't figure out why. We already know or assume they're on different teams.
--Prophecy, eclipse, big change is a pretty generic story. But most of the stories submitted leaned on other stories to some degree---what else you gonna do in 75 words---so that couldn't have been a deal-breaker, but maybe you got nicked for that.
--On the generic note, would it have been better if you had subverted something along the way? Something like these were advanced weapons, and advanced warriors, but still behaved in a primitive war-like way and thus obeyed a primitive superstition.
--The most interesting points your story raises to me (and likely interesting questions raised had little impact on the voting) is why does it take a prophecy and an eclipse for humans to stop warring? And also the ambiguity that all war on this world could be on a schedule governed by prophecy and astrological events. Just speculating, but maybe a second derivative might have made a better story?

But, as I said, I'm new, and thus unlikely to be representative of the group's voting choices, so take my comments with a huge grain of salt.
 

Bowler1

Senile Supporter
Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
4,395
Location
High Wycombe
For me you missed the brief. The idea was good, but it had nothing to do with construction that I could see. I remember reading this and thinking it's good, but no building or monthly theme that I could see. That's it from me JS.
 

Paul J. Menzies

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2023
Messages
54
@Bowler1

The brief was actually broader than that. Construction or destruction or deconstruction, or any combo of the three, was the challenge.

IMO, JS has a story about destructive war turned into the implied construction of renewal by the eclipse/prophecy..
 

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
Supporter
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
775
Location
SW WY
For me you missed the brief. The idea was good, but it had nothing to do with construction that I could see. I remember reading this and thinking it's good, but no building or monthly theme that I could see. That's it from me JS.

The pyramid doesn’t count as a building? :LOL:
 

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Supporter
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
5,740
It seemed well written, but tbh I had no idea what it was about. As mentioned above, the orange and white colourings seemed to signify something, but I couldn't figure out what.
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
1,439
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
I would have started with the second line and then build from there to show the construction of renewal.
Maybe the first line something like:

Midday faded to dusk as a fiery disk replaced the sun. Weary from war, the two factions fell to their knees; the prophecy was true!

Then go into a regret of the destruction done and a pledge for renewal, like building of the pyramid together. Or something like that. :)
 

Hugh

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Mar 27, 2016
Messages
2,187
Since I’m already reeling from the blows of nonresponse to my piece this month, I suppose I’ll let y’all finish the knock-out by telling me exactly why. Thanks in advance!

###

God’s Eye

Blood ran down the steps of the pyramid in crimson rivers. For ten-thousand days two tribes battled, cutting each other’s hearts out with obsidian blades.

Midday faded to dusk. A blotted disk in the sky—fringes of fire around a dark circle—replaced the sun. They fell to their knees; the prophecy was true!

Two warriors, one painted orange, the other white, dropped stone knives and embraced. The time for renewal had come.
I'm one of those who passed this by without getting hooked. There was stuff I liked - pyramids, obsidian blades, eclipses, prophecies - I mean, what's not to like in those - but overall I felt it was a bit bland despite these ingredients and there was nothing that took me that little bit deeper into feeling interested. The basic plot was a bit too unreal too. I mean who's going to battle on a pyramid for ten thousand days? I think I'd have liked it better if it'd been told from the perspective of one individual as then I might have connected better- as it is, I felt a little detached and uninterested.
 

Phyrebrat

www.beanwriting.com
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
5,947
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Some general thoughts:

I think it’s often confusing when asking for advice in our 75 word challenge entries because so much of the advice is not actually advice but personal preference.

Technically the piece has to be beyond reproach (in terms of grammar etc) for me to give a vote (often my fave is shortlisted instead of getting my vote because of a typo or some such error).

On top of that, every word has to carry more than its own weight. Word choice is crucial.

I like to think of the 75ers (or at least mine) as a chance to give an ethereal sense. One of the reasons I love short stories and anthos is because I love the open-ended nature of them, the oft-unexplained elements, that makes them so memorable.

I tend to shy away from stories that use the actual words given in the them; but I expect a clear reference to them.

But if it’s not a ‘story’ — ie a set up with some kind of resolve (whether that is worded so the reader infers their own, or not) — I won’t vote for it. There’ve been some lovely prose and turns of phrases over the years that have been more just scenes than stories that I’d have loved to vote for.

Use of archetypes are a great way to sneak in more info than a word can give. For example I often use water (lakes, sea, rivers) and such as they carry their own associations for a reader.

With all that said, you can write something you’re proud or happy with and people might give feedback as simple as ‘it’s not my thing’. No matter how well you wrote it, they won’t change their minds. My version of this is humour. I rarely vote for anything funny because it’s so subjective to us. And I have an incredibly dark sense of humour so…

The most important thing to do I think is write it, then leave it to stew until a few days before the deadline; seeing it with fresh eyes always brings narrative and/or technical improvements IMO.

So, whilst there was nothing empirically wrong with your entry, it can still be overlooked because of preference. I knew I was taking a huge risk with my entry and was surprised to get even one vote let alone two. But I wrote it for myself. Many of us do: Starbeast, Dan, Luiglin, Antoine ultra spring to mind as people who keep their authentic voice in all their entries.

I’m on Booktok and I post my old 75ers. Some of them have had 5k views with only 30 likes (and a keyboard warrior there recently trolled me — so what. Block and go). So it’s anyone’s guess as to why people prefer something over another.

And on the subject of block. If you have upset someone they may have you on ignore and not even see your entry. I have to be unblock some members before I vote so I can see their entries. Others may not be so fair.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,093
Location
Iowa
@JS Wiig there are two things in your story that bothered me, but neither of them should be a deal breaker. We are getting pretty in the weeds here and mostly about my feelings.

First, I thought that the setting was too grand. 10,000 years of war?!* Blood running down the pyramid in "rivers?" and all this from two tribes who continue in a stone age setting? (I took stone age from the use of obsidian knives.) And then only one eclipse in 10,000 years? I suppose that's possible but it's way out there to the point where no visible eclipses has to be more likely.

Second, For me the utter transformation of the characters with no obvious lead in rang very false to me.

I thought the idea of change was great, but I think it would have been better if it had been foreshadowed. Maybe by giving us a taste of the prophecy and that it was the cause of the war?

* (On a final re-read I note that it was 10,000 days of war. I'm sorry for my poor reading and that might have changed my view. Twenty eight years is easily within the realm of possibility)
 

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
Supporter
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
775
Location
SW WY
@Parson thank you, appreciate the feedback and your perspective on my story. For a little explanation:

I really enjoy reading, learning, and writing about Central American historical cultures such as Aztec and Mayan. There are indeed references to human sacrificial ceremonies where thousands—such as prisoners—would be sacrificed on the pyramids over the course of several days. I can’t imagine that blood wouldn’t be flowing in rivers.


Eclipses were also a huge part of their culture and also a reason for committing human sacrifice, in order to appease the gods so that the sun would come back. If an eclipses was enough to compel them to bloodletting, perhaps it could also compel them to stop.
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
12,093
Location
Iowa
@JS Wiig --- I did indeed catch the reflection of the Central American civilizations. But for me for something to be a "river" it has to be feet deep and feet wide. I can't imagine the amount of simultaneous executions it would take to achieve that. Like I said at the beginning this pretty much about how I read the story and my feelings about it. I'm still flummoxed that I misread 10,000 years for 10,000 days.
 

Similar threads


Top