SSX

  1. Starbeast

    Starbeast Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    @sinister42 - Gosh. I didn't know that "premises" that are, out-of-the-ordinary, can be difficult for any writer. Had I'd known, I would have just done what two other authors have done, made it super simple: "a rainy day" or "a brick in an opera house". Next time I may just say, "I want a story about...GREEN."

    But I'm with you on this, Sinister42, that you prefer really-out-there tales.

    Perehaps "two categories" is the way to go, so everyone is happy.

    Just let me know bro. What's it going to be then, eh? My CABIN story, or GREEN?
     
  2. Dan Jones

    Dan Jones Refreshed

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    @Starbeast - I don't actually think your story was balls-out wacky; in fact it's pretty straightforward horror comedy and could be played pretty well. And @sinister42, the examples you just mentioned (Fish Market / remote control / action adventure etc), they are brilliant prompts! The reason that's a good prompt is that it contains a genre, a location, and a motif / item of potential relevance. And that's it.

    The difference between those and some of the others on here is that the wacky stories here feel simply like shopping lists of random items / characters. If I stop and think for a second I can see the fish market story already,

    Last point: FWIW, I think that your prompt of upside down rain in your request was fascinating; if that was combined with one or possibly two other prompts, it would have made for a prompt that could start sparking people's imaginations. The problem with being so prescriptive with the zany shopping list approach is that I think it actually inhibits people's imaginations rather than stimulates them.
     
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  3. Shyrka

    Shyrka Friend of Ulysses

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    My mind immediately went to a military sci-fi about a unit of human pilots called The Wildcats. Maybe that's cheating, but I figure the story requests aren't something to take too literally. If I get a wacky one, I immediately try to think how it could be twisted into something more serious. Someone mentioned a meerkat named Steve earlier and my mind instantly went to a Blade Runner-esque scene with a dead meerkat in a case labeled 'Steve'. Okay, so maybe I need help, but the point is that Steve the meerkat doesn't immediately need to be a character in the story but could just be part of the flavour and background to whatever piece you eventually write.

    There's a classic example of someone taking a 'bad' writing prompt and turning it into something vastly more that I've heard banded about (not one I've read myself) called Codex Alera:

    'The inspiration for the series came from a bet Butcher was challenged to by a member of the Del Rey Online Writer's Workshop. The challenger bet that Butcher could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and he countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger's choosing. The "lame" ideas given were "Lost Roman Legion", and "Pokémon".'
     
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  4. Joshua Jones

    Joshua Jones Well-Known Member

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    I am of the same mind on challenges. I know that I only improve when I am pushed, which is why I joined the forum in the first place. I don't know if anyone agrees with my assessment or not, but I believe I have improved since being here, and I owe that to the challenges.

    That being said, I also know how intimidating some of these challenges may be, especially to a new writer or someone who has a distaste for weird or absurdist fiction. If someone is of the former sort, I would encourage you to go for it and learn from your mistakes. No one is going to come back ranting about how bad the story was, so what do you have to loose? But you stand to gain much from the experience, as every time you are taken from your comfort zone, you get better, even if you flop. If someone is of the latter sort, I sympathize, as I mainly write Hard SF, to the point where I looked up the centrifugal force equation and the tensile strengths of different construction materials to ensure my theorized orbital colonies wouldn't break apart. But, my regular writing has improved significantly from the challenges outside of my preferred genre. Heck, my most well received challenge story was on the theme of "Toy Story", and this was my first story even remotely addressing that theme.

    So, while I still support the idea of two pools, I would encourage everyone to give the zany a chance, even if it is to convert it into something more typical. For me, give me the most challenging you can find, and I will fail miserably to meet the expectations of the requester, but darn it, I will be a better writer for it.

    Now I will return to my cave and prepare to eat my words and bang my head on the desk when my assignment comes, as well as get my muse rabies vaccination, just in case.
     
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  5. Joshua Jones

    Joshua Jones Well-Known Member

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    I love the idea. That is a really creative way to take it out of absurd and into, potentially, Hard SF, if you so wanted. Of course, I will now know if it came from you...
     
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  6. Shyrka

    Shyrka Friend of Ulysses

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    Not if I call them the Wyld Kats!

    ...

    Dammit!
     
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  7. DragonAether

    DragonAether A penguin undercover

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    Guess my stories might be pretty simple, just check grammar.... yeah.
     
  8. Venusian Broon

    Venusian Broon Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity

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    Okay, eveyone's imagination works differently and how we tackle writing stories and the topics that excite us are wildly varied.

    So I have a suggestion. A 'veto' system of sorts. Bear with me...

    -Keep every story idea as they were suggested originally.

    - when we get to the cutoff date we will have a list of stories, that P. could publish.

    -each person in the game could then send P. What stories they definitely could not make any sense of, and which they would be fine to recieve.

    -also i'd suggest you could mark ideas that 'you'd be willing to do if I could avoid/change some of the constraints' (wriggle room should be allowed?) as an 'intermediate' category.

    -P. would then match up stories to the willing, without a need to have seperate streams. A bit like doing the seating arrangements at a wedding. If you get an 'intermediate' as a SS then try your best, but disregard the element/s that just doesn't work for you.

    - now it may not work out, if, say, someone's story get's veto'd entirely by everyone else, and it's more work for P. So I'd say to everyone to try and use the Veto sparingly and also if a lot of elements in a story could work for you do mark it as 'don't mind doing it - with a few alterations'

    Anyway just a suggestion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  9. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    You seem to be missing the point of the SS challenge.

    This was started so that writers here could see if they had a unique voice that others recognise. If you get a story prompt that it's common knowledge you asked for, then it defeats the object, doesn't it? Furthermore, no particpant gets to implement their own specific request simply because they don't like the way things are.

    You don't have to understand writers who say that, but you do have to accept that there are many. We are all different with different values. For example, I'm a horror writer here on a SFF website. I find the 75 word challenge themes incredibly difficult most months, but I continue to enter because, like you, I want to challenge myself and because Chrons is such a unique corner of support on the WWW. It's always good to have a certain level of challenge but when it becomes too prescriptive, and too challenging, people disengage; you've got to learn addition before you can calculate long division. Writing to someone else's prompt is challenging enough, I think, but I think a lot of the reasons people have dropped out isn't because of the challenge of the stimulus, but the stupidity of it.

    You are not here to train us as writers. Or to replicate your craft in others. You're here to participate in a community event that finds a balance of your expectations and others.

    pH
     
  10. The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    In the immortal words of TheDustyZebra:

    Do you want me to take it away? Because if you're going to fight over it, I can just throw it out now.


    If you all want these Secret Santa things to continue, I rather suggest everyone calms down a bit.

    Presumably you would like this SSX to be a success. In my view, that means enticing as many people to join in -- and complete their assignments -- as possible. To me, as an outsider here, it's self-evident that the more esoteric the requests -- especially those which have the appearance of being outright demands -- the fewer participants and the fewer stories available at the end.

    To maximise participation and enjoyment of the process, both as writers and readers, it makes sense to go for the fewest possible constraints. Those who want to write zany, can write zany on the basis of a couple of words, as Starbeast has shown on innumerable Challenge entries. Those who want more restrictions than given on their allocation can stick pins in a dictionary to come up with another half-dozen words they need to include and write the story on that basis. Those who want to challenge themselves can do so; imposing challenges on other people is another matter entirely.


    My suggestion for moving matters forward is very simple. Phyrebrat draws up a list of potential participants and their requests at this point. Those who have put forward alternatives by way of requests should have them listed as "preferred: [blah]; will accept: [blah]". Those members who haven't given alternatives to esoteric requests might now think of doing so, in the hope that something less restrictive might encourage participation. Contrariwise, those who have given plain requests might think of adding esoterica by way of their "will accept" option. Every so often Phyrebrat can update the list with the extra/alternative requests. In that way, everyone can see what is available and can make a decision whether to take part, and accordingly throw their hat into the ring, or ask for it to be returned. The beauty of giving preferred and acceptable requests is that those who eventually receive their assignments can choose which of the two to write, increasing the chances of the assignments actually being written and not left half-finished, or even not-started.

    Accept my solution or not, as you wish. Frankly, though, from my mod's perspective it's time to draw a line under this debate which has been less than edifying at times.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  11. Joshua Jones

    Joshua Jones Well-Known Member

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    If we decide to go the route of everyone encouraged to have an alternate request, and whoever received my request has a hard time thinking of anything, I would be very happy with simply a military (or political would be interesting) SF with a (preferably forbidden) romance subplot somewhere. And, if this goes to someone who only writes High Fantasy or something like that, feel free to reach out to me through someone else and I will figure out an alternative. Again, my biggest concern is for people to participate, and while I love seeing people pushed outside of their comfort zone, I want the process to be beneficial, not frustrating.

    Unless it is for me. Frustration is the fuel of my creativity. If someone gives me something that seems impossible, I will dwell on it for weeks until I figure out some way to make it possible. So, for me, frustrate away!
     
  12. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    Don't worry @Joshua Jones, I'll post up all the requests I've had at the deadline so people will be able to see at a glance if their request is right.

    pH
     
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  13. Cathbad

    Cathbad Level 30 Geek Master

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    "Out of my comfort zone", for me, is writing sci-fi. ;)
     
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  14. sinister42

    sinister42 The sinister resister.

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    So my last post may have been more dickish than I intended. I apologize. Just got laid off and I'm a little prickly right now. No intention to insult people who can't hang with the weird sh*t. I live and breathe weird, but I understand that's not everyone's bag.

    Onward!
     
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  15. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    Really sorry to hear that; it sucks. You're the third person I know in as many weeks to have been laid off. It seems to be the season for it. Hope you get something sorted.

    Have you read The Raw Shark Texts or House of Leaves? I think they're great examples of weird fiction. Actually I'm a fan of the weird fiction genre but preferably in the horror vein or weird (I've been said to write weird fiction myself!).

    pH
     
  16. sinister42

    sinister42 The sinister resister.

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    I couldn't get through House of Leaves, though I understand why it's brilliant. My primary weird influencers are Lovecraft, China Mieville, the Welcome to Night Vale guys, Christopher Moore, Jasper Fforde, along with Pratchett and Douglas Adams of course - basically anyone who subverts or innovates genre in ways that grab my brain and shake it around.

    Not familiar with The Raw Shark Texts - who's it by?
     
  17. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    Raw Shark Texts is Stephen Hall. House of Leaves took me a long time to read but I enjoyed it.

    Love Welcome to Nightvale. I missed the live show here in London last November because the tickets were extortionate.

    pH
     
  18. Starbeast

    Starbeast Benevolent Galaxy Being

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    Very sorry to hear you're laid off. Hang in there bro. I admire your strength to press on, here. And, I love the weird and unusual stuff too. I'm also a big fan of Lovecraft. A lot of my private writing, is very similar to his.


    [​IMG]
     
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  19. johnnyjet

    johnnyjet Western PA High Tech Country Boy

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    I'm actually one of those ones who enjoy "stepping out of my comfort zone" and trying something totally different. However, I tend to be more scared of certain broader categories (like military sf or a murder mystery or a story about a horse) that are out of my areas of expertise than I am about a list of odd items. But I do enjoy challenging myself with even the scariest and strangest requests.
     
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  20. Phyrebrat

    Phyrebrat ba-Ba-ba-brat

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    This is me. In the 75 word challenges, when the genre is SF or Fantasy I really struggle. @HareBrain 's Tudorpunk or @Teresa Edgerton 's Weird Western is far easier somehow. (Although I've yet to come up with something this month.)

    pH
     
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