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WCT - The Writing Competition Thread [Short Story Results]

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I just received an entry from ZeaLitY. Believe it or not, even without formatting the title/writing credit, the whole entry came to a whopping 14 characters too large for a forum post. So, since I received it via Gmail, I just decided to publish it as a Google Doc for everyone to read:

At Last, Atlantis.

A Glimpse of Fulfillment

by ZeaLitY

(Click on the title/writing credit to access it. Also, please let me know if you can access it, because I'm not entirely sure I did the whole Google Docs thing correctly.)

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At the risk of sounding utterly pedantic, Zeality's entry is over the 2500 word limit. It's not over by much, only about 60 words, but those 60 words would make the difference between being able to post the entry in the forum...

Would it be so terrible to ask Zeality to trim the entry to fit with the rules of the competition? I don't want to discourage participation so if that is too unbearable a request than feel free to disregard my suggestion. But really, everyone else played by the rules and it's not unreasonable to ask Zeality to make a slight revision...I'm sure he could find 60 unnecessary words in his piece.

It might even increase his chances of winning (remember Hemingway)!

I'm just a humble participant, so if I'm out of line you can just ignore me.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to re-apply the masking tape on the bridge of my glasses. *snort*

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In Zeality's defense, I believe we've essentially been following the engineering way of doing things when applying that word limit in the past; there's a certain margin of error that is acceptable when taking data as an engineer, and the same can be said of our application of the word limit. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, that we've accepted entries that have fallen over a hundred words too long in the past... I'll have to check on that, though.

In any case, there's been some leeway with the word limit in the past. But only some leeway. I doubt a 3000-word entry would be allowed into this 2500-word-limit competition. And we definitely stress to people to try to keep the word count below the limit if at all possible. So if Zeality can bring down the word count to below 2500, great! If not, I don't think we'll be too concerned...

Of course, Imagery has the final say right now. What say you, O Mighty Rulebook-Holding One? :-P

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GAJK, you've got my view on the matter pretty solidly. Zeality was aware of the word limit and his excess when he sent it to me. I assumed he had done his part in revising his story and found that its current state was its best. And since it was a difference of so few words (well, you say 60, 47, my lazy Microsoft Word count says 35 without title/signature), at most 2% or so of the total, I wasn't going to reject it. Maybe if he was pushing 100 (I know we have accepted one or two slightly over the limit, but I don't think by over 100; I could be mistaken), which is enough to be a story all on its own, I might have held off until he brought it down.

Of course, I don't really have the final say. I do like to defer to you guys as the voting public whenever I can. If you guys would like to see him edit it, that can probably be done. And it may be for the better, as if we start accepting a certain amount of excess, then who's to say future entrants won't try to push the boundary further and further until we might as well not have the rules any more? So if anyone else shares ubernym's view, I can easily request that he try to trim it down. Just let me know.

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Let me clarify my view, also. It's possible that my word count is off too, but you (Imagery) said that you couldn't post the entry because it was too long by a mere 14 characters...so imagine if he were to try and whittle down the entry even a little bit. Then we would be able to have all the entries actually in the thread, which is a lot easier (IMHO) to parse out when it comes time to review everything.

So I'm looking at this from a rules perspective and a simple ease-of-use perspective.

I'm also looking at this from a trying-to-help-a-fellow-writer perspective, because I think asking Zeality to try and shave off a few extra words accomplishes something else for his benefit, in that is forces him to look for things in his piece that might not be as good as the rest. Again, I'll cite Ernest Hemingway:

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

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I agree with Imagery and GAJK, although I see where Ubernym is coming from as well. But this is less a contest (Okay, so it is a contest, but we're not playing for a million dollars here.) then a freindly competition. It's important to manage your word count when it comes to a competition, but I think fudging a little when one has gone over by less than a hundred words isn't horrible and doesn't give an unfair advantage.

My suggestion would be to have him see if he can trim it down to a satisfactory level before the deadline, but if he can't, I don't see any reason not to let him enter.

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All right guys, two days left for us late folk to submit. That means you, GA Jedi Knight! And you, Imagery!

Er, wait...

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Almost forgot to submit. Again. But I remembered in time, so here we go!

I wrote this for my Creative Writing class with the intent of submitting it for this competition (yes, the assignment was assigned during the submission stage of this round). We had to write something that was in the style of How to be an Other Woman, by Lorrie Moore. It's in second person, something I've never done before, so I didn't have high expectations. But apparently the teacher liked it more than I expected, so... maybe you guys will find it interesting enough! Here's to hoping!

How to Fail at Practicing Good Kendo

by GA Jedi Knight

Left-right. Right-left. Left-right. Right-left. Your feet continue in this pattern, your legs carrying you back and forth across the rough, rubber mat. Swing your arms up and down in smooth, firm strikes with each pass.

"Kote! Kote! Kote! Kote!" Your voice mixes in unison with the dozen-or-so people with you in the room; you've never bothered to count how many people actually come to practice anymore. For a Kendo practitioner, such things aren't important. Focus, clarity of mind and strength of spirit are what matters. You want to improve yourself, and in doing so you'll improve your abilities in Kendo. To improve, you need to focus yourself fully.

Thirty minutes in and the whole group is still practicing. Your hands feel raw from holding the shinai too tightly for three-hundred-something strikes. Your arms feel somewhat numb but still functional. Your focus is only so strong. The repetitive nature of this part of practice always makes it hard to keep the mind clear. Even so, you know the practice itself isn't the problem.

Slip your eyes to the left. For a moment, try to pull your eyes away. Realize that, despite the session still having an hour left, your practice is over for the night.

The person standing in front and to the left of you continues practicing her strikes, completely unaware that she has, once again, shattered your hopes of practicing with spirit this evening. There's no way for you to pick up the pieces, just go with it. Again.

Your sensei calls an end to the strikes. Walk slowly to the end of the room with everyone else. She's wearing the blue uniform tonight, the color most everyone else wears, not the white uniform that some of the other females prefer. Wonder whether you prefer the blue or the white uniform on her. The blue one doesn't let her stand out among the crowd that has gathered around the end of the room. You can still pick her out of a crowd, though.

The people around you have lined up. The first line is starting to slide across the room in classic Kendo footwork. Her line is up next. Watch her as she makes her way across. You've always liked how she moves outside practice; her Kendo steps are no different to your eyes. Don't turn away when she finishes and looks directly at you. Smile and nod approvingly. Your heart jumps when she smiles back. Your line is next. Your steps are smooth, but lack the focus needed in practice. The sensei notices and points it out. Respond confidently, but absentmindedly. Smile as you pass by her side. Don't look back to see if she responds silently.

The new recruits are once again making a mess of the line ordering. You've been counting on this. Without being too overt, push your way into the next line. You end up standing next to her. Wonder if luck is finally on your side. The first line is already back across the room, time for your line to do the same. Your heart is racing, and you stumble on the rough floor. She doesn't seem to have noticed; she's too busy focusing on her own steps. The sensei tells you to focus more and gives some advice. Put the advice in the back of your mind for later, you know you won't be able to put it into practice tonight.

The rest of the lines are back across, and this time there isn't any confusion. Work up the courage to talk to her between each exercise. She isn't looking at you. A deep breath somehow makes it into your lungs.

"Hey." Your voice is hushed, you're not supposed to talk during practice. She turns slightly so she can see you better. She smiles. Assure yourself it's a good sign.

"Hey," she whispers back, smiling.

"You're doing pretty good today."

Curse the timing of your sensei. You're caught off-guard and the line is already ahead of you. No way to impress her, for sure. Let your irritation ease, since you now have a good view of her graceful movements.

Curse your sensei again for noticing your lack of focus and bringing it to your attention. You know this isn't looking good for your abilities to everyone else. Hope that she doesn't think too much about it.

Try to strike up a conversation with her again between exercises. Get cut off every time you manage to say a few words. Realize this isn't working and wait for a break in practice. Keep smiling at her whenever she looks your way. Try to regain your focus on practice repeatedly. Fail every time, of course; she's too much of an attention-grabber for you to ignore.

The long-awaited break comes and you know it's time to talk again. Get pulled aside by the sensei just as you've caught her attention. Listen half-heartedly to the advice your sensei gives you on how to focus more on practice. Try to assure him that you are, in fact, having a rough couple of days and that you'll be back to your normal self soon. He walks away and calls everyone back to practice.

Question whether he knows the truth or not.

Spend the rest of the practice trying harder to concentrate on performing your strikes as best as possible and ignore her. Your sensei watches approvingly at the improvement, until you happen to catch a glimpse of the girl and lose every shred of focus you just had moments ago. Slip up many times due to this. Continue to smile at her when she looks your way, and hope she doesn't notice you making mistakes. Start to wonder if she's deliberately watching you. Your hopes rise. Your mind races with the possibilities that could unfold after practice. Stop concentrating on the practice altogether to entertain this line of thought.

The practice ends. Your sensei guides the students through ending meditation. Meditation does not come easy right now. You are too preoccupied with telling yourself how you're screwing up practice again and again and that you'll never get better if you keep it up. Tell yourself that you accomplished nothing tonight again. Assure yourself that it's only because she's distracting you, and after you finally talk to her tonight, it won't be a problem anymore.

Two claps of the sensei's hands signal the end of meditation. Everyone bows to the wall, and then to the sensei. He releases the class from practice. You hear some of your fellow practitioners start a conversation nearby. Send a one-liner their way and laugh with them. Say your goodbyes. You have your resolve built up tonight. You will finally talk to her and get to know this beauty. Your eyes sweep the room for her.

She's already left.

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So I am pretty terrible at being a writer right now! But it's okay, I've got other things to take care of. I'll always be able to write (I hope...) later in life.

So, anyway, submission is closed! And has been for several hours. Here's a list of the entries, which I will be compiling at the beginning of the thread shortly:

Persistence of Memory by TheHands

Revelations by Darklink42

The Night's Apprentice by Opterion

The Golden Zither by ubernym

Classified Glow by just64helpin

At Last, Atlantis by ZeaLitY

How to Fail at Practicing Good Kendo by GA Jedi Knight

All in all a reasonable turn out for the short story competition. So, get to voting! You have two weeks.

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...And I still have only two votes. Well, two and a half, including my own. That's just not gonna fly. I can give you all three more days to vote, but no more or we'll be running into November!

Tonight was my last night at work, so tomorrow I'll be sending PMs around to tell everyone to get on the ball, and hopefully getting around to some critiques (or at least the ones I promised in July's competition!) in the next week and a half before I leave.

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Last day to vote. I believe all the entrants have voted, but if anyone else was planning on doing so, now is the time.

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It's that time you've all been waiting for... yes, you know it...

THE RESULTS ARE IN!

Runner-Up: GA Jedi Knight

1st Place: Ubernym

Here's the vote spread:

TheHands - 5

Darklink42 - 2

Opterion - 3

Ubernym - 14

just64helpin - 5

ZeaLitY - 5

GA Jedi Knight - 10

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard, not just in this competition, but in all the competitions of the past year. It has been a fun time, and I'm really going to miss doing this with you guys every couple months.

That said, the future of the competition is now in the hands of GA Jedi Knight. I've spoken with him and he's agreed to take over the responsibility for it, so you guys won't have to go without a forum for your writing jitters. So basically, as of now, everything is up to him! He is an incredibly responsible fellow with a keen eye and mind for writing, probably even more so than me, so I trust you guys will hardly miss me. :-P

I have almost a week left until I leave, so I still plan on finishing those critiques I promised (and I've already started! Honest!), plus maybe some more for this competition if I get to it. But you won't see much of me, anyway, so I guess this is goodbye, folks.

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Runner-Up: Imagery

1st Place: Washington Maverick

Here's the vote spread:

TheHands - 5

Darklink42 - 2

Opterion - 3

Ubernym - 14

just64helpin - 5

ZeaLitY - 5

GA Jedi Knight - 10

Wow, both of the winners for this competition didn't even enter anything for this round! AMAZING! :wink:

:<

Congrats to everyone who entered, and to Ubernym for winning this round! I have more to say, but I have to take a test right now, so I'll come back later and hopefully the results post will be corrected, right, Imagery? :-P

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I don't know what you're talking about. Slaaaash I swear I changed those names! A forum ghost must have messed with them when I wasn't looking.

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