GWJ Writer's Throwdown: October 2012: Monsters With Jobs

Prelude to Savant White.

I thought this was a good starting point for a larger story though I felt their descriptions were a bit awkwardly worded. It felt like there were a couple of words missing from those two sentences or something.

I like the hints of the worlds you have created to write this. World-building is my favourite procrastination time when I should be writing!

What's a-crackin'?

Poor Jim! I really sympathised with the poor little apocalypse-bringer. What, exactly, was his job and why did they get rid of him?

Cold

Loved this scene... the wording, the melancholia... Totally didn't get what he was until I read your spoiler! But still, bravo!

The Black Fen

I liked the ending, though perhaps it was a little light-hearted for the rest of the tale. I also felt the switching back and forth between the two characters was a bit too quick but the general story was a nice idea.

I'll read The Finer Things tomorrow, too tired tonight for ten pages!

First wave of feedback.

Beneath the Surface.

Spoiler:

I'll read the new story, but the short version of my initial feedback was, "Boy, that escalated quickly." I was not expecting Alex's death. I felt like I was just kind of following his path but I didn't have much of an emotional tie to him (for one, I mistook his motivations when he mentions rehearsing his explanation, which I translated as getting ready to lie).

What's a-Crackin'?

Spoiler:

At least the whales have our back. Some good stuff there, particularly liked the flying saucer bit. If you ever want to rewrite you could frame it within his taking action and sprinkling in the background as you go. Though I'm somehow guessing his action would somehow end in failure.

Finer Things.

Spoiler:

...ear? I was expecting Pennypinch to bring down the thunder at the end. I think it was a nice story, but not necessarily a compelling one. You do a good job of laying out the working ogre's plight of not being able to get ahead of their troubles, but there's no immediate conflict driving the story. I'm not suggesting you have to have a dragon swooping in and setting fire to the farm, but for me, the story could use a little more urgency at some points. Loved the poetry in the orchard and also the Surly Moon name.

I've got bad news, and I've got good news.

The bad news is that Duckilama, in trying to figure out a hardware problem on my box, installed an app with a new strain of ZeroAccess. A strain that even MalwareBytes hadn't seen before. This new 64 bit strain operates as a rootkit from user memory. It's evil and impossible to clean.

I backed up last week, but I lost everything since the back up. After chasing the bug down, and looking at it's code and how it was replicating; I sent payloads and vector pathing to some virus experts and then did the only thing you can do with a bug capable of replicating at practically cmos level. I nuked the box from space. It was the only way to be sure.

So, I lost a week of projects, but I also lost all of my installed programs until I can track down all the serial numbers.

So; my story won't be finished in time. I have to bake Halloween goodies, finish costumes, then trick or treating Wednesday...there's just no way I can get it installed, get my back ups and finish it. If y'all want, I probably have time to find the first part so you can read it; but I don't think I can finish it in the time allotted. I leave it up to y'all as to whether you want to read half a story.

Good news; I didn't commit murder, so I'll still be reading and commenting on everyone's story. And I won't even have to do it from prison. So that's nice.

McFinn wrote:

Cold.

This is an enigma of a story, in that I think the reader is responsible for filling in so much of the detail. I don't think that's a bad thing; in fact I find it a pretty challenging thing for a writer to do.

My takeaway: I thought of the Invisible Man, a novel serialized by HG Wells at the turn of the 20th century. And I thought, Marvel (the character in the TIM, not the comic book co), kept Griffin's notes. What if he sold those notes to the Russian scientists who were the parents, or even grandparents of the protagonist in your story...and this is just a vignette of a man who had been an invisible child...what if there's more of them, and we just don't know...cause they're invisible...

The story is itself an exercise in pareidolia. Well done, you!

duckideva wrote:

I've got bad news, and I've got good news.

The bad news is that Duckilama, in trying to figure out a hardware problem on my box, installed an app with a new strain of ZeroAccess. A strain that even MalwareBytes hadn't seen before. This new 64 bit strain operates as a rootkit from user memory. It's evil and impossible to clean.

I backed up last week, but I lost everything since the back up. After chasing the bug down, and looking at it's code and how it was replicating; I sent payloads and vector pathing to some virus experts and then did the only thing you can do with a bug capable of replicating at practically cmos level. I nuked the box from space. It was the only way to be sure.

So, I lost a week of projects, but I also lost all of my installed programs until I can track down all the serial numbers.

So; my story won't be finished in time. I have to bake Halloween goodies, finish costumes, then trick or treating Wednesday...there's just no way I can get it installed, get my back ups and finish it. If y'all want, I probably have time to find the first part so you can read it; but I don't think I can finish it in the time allotted. I leave it up to y'all as to whether you want to read half a story.

Good news; I didn't commit murder, so I'll still be reading and commenting on everyone's story. And I won't even have to do it from prison. So that's nice.

Wow. Sorry to hear about that Ducki. Hope you can get most if not everything back.

As for the story, I would like to read whatever you have so far. I don't think the other would mind, either

brokenclavicle wrote:

Well, here's my first crack at this month's challenge. I have another one being cooked up but it may do away with one or two of the bonus words

This one's not so job-ish, but I think it fits the bill, after all.

What's a-crackin'

Hee! I really like this one. I think the story flowed well, the character voice was magnificent, and the feeling of the main character was palpable. I giggled at the Office Space homage at the end.

Miashara wrote:

Oddly enough I was grinding over this idea a while ago. It's the prelude to something, but should make for a few pages of reading.

http://redchronicle.blogspot.com/

This is an interesting idea. I love the context; the monsters telling the kid stories...and I'd like to see where you go with it.

duckideva wrote:
brokenclavicle wrote:

Well, here's my first crack at this month's challenge. I have another one being cooked up but it may do away with one or two of the bonus words

This one's not so job-ish, but I think it fits the bill, after all.

What's a-crackin'

Hee! I really like this one. I think the story flowed well, the character voice was magnificent, and the feeling of the main character was palpable. I giggled at the Office Space homage at the end.

You got it! You are the first person to remark on the Office Space reference; that put a smile on my face.

Thanks for you comments on Beneath the surface/The black fen

Spoiler:

The story had an inherent pacing problem. The disaster had to unfold pretty slowly to be realistic, sinking, etc, but in the mean time all you have is someone rowing a boat down reedy channels. Version 2 was supposed to inject some tension into the proceedings but I may have sped everything up too much. In the end it's probably a very hard one to get right. The character didn't feel too sympathetic to me either. I considered having him returning to his wife and child to tug at the heart strings but it didn't feel like the right thing to do. The new extra bit at the end was intended to be serious, a posthumous revenge, but I can see now it has elements of levity. Some stories click into place. This one didn't. It was fun to write.

Edit:

Spoiler:

For those who haven't read the first version the lock keeper only appears at the start and his roll is more ambiguous throughout.

It's occurred to me today, while driving around, that Alex's personality may be the key. If I could find a way into his larger story and character it may slow the pace while adding useful details that raise the stakes by making you feel for the guy.

Higgledy wrote:

Thanks for you comments on Beneath the surface/The black fen

Spoiler:

The story had an inherent pacing problem. The disaster had to unfold pretty slowly to be realistic, sinking, etc, but in the mean time all you have is someone rowing a boat down reedy channels. Version 2 was supposed to inject some tension into the proceedings but I may have sped everything up too much. In the end it's probably a very hard one to get right. The character didn't feel too sympathetic to me either. I considered having him returning to his wife and child to tug at the heart strings but it didn't feel like the right thing to do. The new extra bit at the end was intended to be serious, a posthumous revenge, but I can see now it has elements of levity. Some stories click into place. This one didn't. It was fun to write.

Edit:

Spoiler:

For those who haven't read the first version the lock keeper only appears at the start and his roll is more ambiguous throughout.

It's occurred to me today, while driving around, that Alex's personality may be the key. If I could find a way into his larger story and character it may slow the pace while adding useful details that raise the stakes by making you feel for the guy.

Not to be a back-seat writer (though I will now do so!) but I might have a couple of suggestions:

Spoiler:

I think the boat sequence might work better with two protagonists. That way they can converse back and forth about the situation, reason it out and discover the holes and whatnot and have it relayed to a reader/watcher (I thought about how this would work on the screen and that's when I thought maybe a second person to have to explain things to [and thus the reader] might work).

Secondly, the ending falls a bit flat - mostly because it's not really foreshadowed (at least I didn't think so - maybe I missed it...) but also because the police and situation are not realistic. Real policemen would not just blurt out the info like that. It might work a bit better if the ticket becomes more of a focus during the story... maybe it's the play of his fiancée he's going to see in the small village hall and he was going to propose that night (his best man is along for the ride to make sure he gets there through the floods and it's his idea that they take the boat)... maybe she's a teacher and it's her kids play that's on... and there's a raffle draw on the back of the ticket where you fill out your details (hence the pencil/pen) and the two guys talk about what the prize might be or something while pondering whether to write rubbish on the back etc.

Sorry to just ride in there and jump all over the plot structure! Ignore me!

Duoae's story:

Spoiler:

I felt sorry for your beast (and somehow the story reminded me of Robbie Burns's poem, To a Mouse, On Turning Up Her Nest With a Plough). I thought the farmers were going to be decent and strike a bargain with the creature, I had hoped they would, and then they got greedy. I thought it was nice of your beast to not bury them alive. ;-)

duckideva wrote:

I've got bad news, and I've got good news....

We would have raised some money on Kickstarter to post your bail if it had come to murder I'm glad it didn't though. I'd still like to read whatever you managed to get written and save if you have it to share.

McFinn wrote:

First wave of feedback.

Finer Things.

Spoiler:

I was expecting Pennypinch to bring down the thunder at the end. I think it was a nice story, but not necessarily a compelling one. You do a good job of laying out the working ogre's plight of not being able to get ahead of their troubles, but there's no immediate conflict driving the story. I'm not suggesting you have to have a dragon swooping in and setting fire to the farm, but for me, the story could use a little more urgency at some points. Loved the poetry in the orchard and also the Surly Moon name.

The ending was the weakest bit for sure - it's a little too fairy tale and not very compelling. I had never intended for a nasty end, but I think this one needs a bit more of something (and as soon as I can figure out what that is I will write it). As for being compelling overall...I guess that's where some more, or more obvious, conflict might liven it up a bit.

The poem in the orchard was great fun to write - esp. as really bad poetry is the only kind I can write.

I'm working on reading The Black Fen and will comment a bit later on that one.

The Finer Things

I really liked the characters in this, nice solid story-telling. Though I can't imagine the pain you must have put yourself through to make up that poetry! I think the ending felt a little rushed but it was already fairly long (though it didn't feel so when reading it!) for a short story. I could see further adventures for these characters in the future!

Mimble wrote:

Duoae's story:

Spoiler:

I felt sorry for your beast (and somehow the story reminded me of Robbie Burns's poem, To a Mouse, On Turning Up Her Nest With a Plough). I thought the farmers were going to be decent and strike a bargain with the creature, I had hoped they would, and then they got greedy. I thought it was nice of your beast to not bury them alive. ;-)

Spoiler:

Haha, no such luck! In this world the Mundus and Fey are currently going through a bit of turmoil as magic is waning in light of technology. Thus magic is becoming harder to practice and ingredients harder to find... The poor country yokels that had turned to Jylich hunting just didn't really know the first thing about it other than the "juice" was worth a pretty penny! Ultimately, though, they would never have been able to make a real bargain with the Jylich because it can only make more Ginlesh through processing the earth like a worm. It would not return to them - especially because it needs to gather it for its queen.

Here's one of my other swings, though this one eschews the entirety of the challenge's premises. The intended third swing may not be done in time, but the story is turning out to tie into something bigger hehehe. In any case, this one's a bit more sombre. It's based on a creepy dream I had about a month ago. I figured since we're going with the Halloween theme, I may as well post it.

Goodnight

Duoae wrote:

Not to be a back-seat writer (though I will now do so!) but I might have a couple of suggestions:

Spoiler:

I think the boat sequence might work better with two protagonists. That way they can converse back and forth about the situation, reason it out and discover the holes and whatnot and have it relayed to a reader/watcher (I thought about how this would work on the screen and that's when I thought maybe a second person to have to explain things to [and thus the reader] might work).

Secondly, the ending falls a bit flat - mostly because it's not really foreshadowed (at least I didn't think so - maybe I missed it...) but also because the police and situation are not realistic. Real policemen would not just blurt out the info like that. It might work a bit better if the ticket becomes more of a focus during the story... maybe it's the play of his fiancée he's going to see in the small village hall and he was going to propose that night (his best man is along for the ride to make sure he gets there through the floods and it's his idea that they take the boat)... maybe she's a teacher and it's her kids play that's on... and there's a raffle draw on the back of the ticket where you fill out your details (hence the pencil/pen) and the two guys talk about what the prize might be or something while pondering whether to write rubbish on the back etc.

Sorry to just ride in there and jump all over the plot structure! Ignore me! :D

Spoiler:

The police thing came to me late in the game so it isn't woven into the plot I could probably do that (it's based on the true story of an Indian business man in the UK who was kidnapped, held in a flat for a while then killed and dumped at sea by a gang of men. The police found his clothed body at sea and it turned out that he had picked up a gas bill from the flat and stuffed it down into one of his socks. That was the vital thing that convicted them all. I though that was a brilliant bit of posthumous revenge.) There may be a better way. Perhaps I could just have the glasses case and note being found and the fisherman calling the police.

My brain is rebelling at the thought of a second person in the boat but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea :). It could solve a lot of the problems, as you say, and the idea of someone losing their life while trying to save another person horrible and therefore perfect for a story like this. I may well have a go at a third draft but I may need to let the ideas lie for a while so my brain can mature it like a fine wine.

The original idea for the story has two origins:

1. I had the mental image of a hand protruding from quicksand holding a mobile phone that was showing the phones precise location on Google earth.

2. I've always been intrigued by the story of Spanish conquistadors who crossed the mountains to the west of south America and launched rafts on the Amazon. Little did they know they were completely buggered from the moment they set sail.

Higgledy wrote:
Spoiler:

The police thing came to me late in the game so it isn't woven into the plot I could probably do that (it's based on the true story of an Indian business man in the UK who was kidnapped, held in a flat for a while then killed and dumped at sea by a gang of men. The police found his clothed body at sea and it turned out that he had picked up a gas bill from the flat and stuffed it down into one of his socks. That was the vital thing that convicted them all. I though that was a brilliant bit of posthumous revenge.) There may be a better way. Perhaps I could just have the glasses case and note being found and the fisherman calling the police.

I didn't read about that story! As for the actual finding - I don't think it needs to be changed. Just the presentation of it at the end.

What's the tolerance for straight up makes you feel dirty because people are really that evil, silence of the lambs kind of creepy in here? I have an idea in my head that's been rattling around all month, but it gets really dark. Tempted to bang it out tonight to prep for NaNoWriMo, but man, it's dark.

McFinn wrote:

What's a-Crackin'?

Spoiler:

At least the whales have our back. Some good stuff there, particularly liked the flying saucer bit. If you ever want to rewrite you could frame it within his taking action and sprinkling in the background as you go. Though I'm somehow guessing his action would somehow end in failure.

Thanks for the idea. It would certainly be interesting, though it might change the feel or flavor of the story to have him actually act it out when the idea was to convey his self-imposed impotence while he dreams about actually doing something. Having him commit to any course of action would make the story about a being that gets things done rather than a weak-willed employee. Whether he does go through with any of the plans ultimately matter little. I like leaving things open ended in many cases

The Black Fen: I like this version considerably better. You could do like Roger Zelazny who on a couple of occasions wrote one same story but slightly differently each instance. There are a couple of moments, for example, once it reads along the lines of "the lock keeper looked at him with mild amusement"... this might just be a personal issue of subjectivity, but seeing as the narrator appears to be third person rather than omniscient, would it better be written like "the lock keeper looked at him with what appeared to be mild amusement", since that particular bit of the story is being told from Alex's point of view?

Spoiler:

The ending was interesting. You convey that Alex did not make it, but he nonetheless managed to get something done after all. It changes the feel from "oh, crap, he's screwed" to "well, he bit it, but the lock keeper got retribution"

Thanks for reading both versions. That's above and beyond the call

and thanks for you're note. It's something I'll look out for.

Jolly Bill wrote:

What's the tolerance for straight up makes you feel dirty because people are really that evil, silence of the lambs kind of creepy in here? I have an idea in my head that's been rattling around all month, but it gets really dark. Tempted to bang it out tonight to prep for NaNoWriMo, but man, it's dark.

Dooooo EEEET. Do it! Never deny the muses, man...you don't know when they'll get insulted and not come back! I periodically write some insanely dark sh*t; I think it gets it out of my system, so I don't actually feed my enemies to the homeless...

duckideva wrote:
Jolly Bill wrote:

What's the tolerance for straight up makes you feel dirty because people are really that evil, silence of the lambs kind of creepy in here? I have an idea in my head that's been rattling around all month, but it gets really dark. Tempted to bang it out tonight to prep for NaNoWriMo, but man, it's dark.

Dooooo EEEET. Do it! Never deny the muses, man...you don't know when they'll get insulted and not come back! I periodically write some insanely dark sh*t; I think it gets it out of my system, so I don't actually feed my enemies to the homeless...

I feel so sorry for the homeless around your parts!

Also, did I miss it? Or were we promised some half-finished prose?

Ok, still need to go back and read more stories, I haven't forgotten, I promise. If I can't get to it before I have to start Halloween prep; I'm taking the day off tomorrow for my bday, and I'll get all caught up then.

And in at the very last minute, the beginning of The Case of The Spun Gold: A Detective Dash Dumpty Story. (I'm staying with the same Enchanted Forest theme that I was doing for last month's challenge...I'm pretty sure I'm world building in my head around this location. There's a lot of stories there that I think I want to tell; the question is how to get it all unified into one encompassing story...but I'm probably overthinking it.)

The link is a google docs link; I can't get to my domains, cause I haven't found the (insanely long, randomly generated) passwords yet. Recovering from a disk wipe is such a pain in the patootie. Lemme know if the link doesn't work for you, it's the first time I've shared something from google docs.

Oh hey; November Challenge: I was going to make it a Nano thing, or should we use the existing Nano thread for that, and just call a Challenge Hiatus for november? Is everyone doing Nano? If a bunch of us are not doing it; then I'll try to come up with a challenge for us that isn't Nano related. (For the record; I'm probably not doing Nano this year. I was thinking about it; but with the system recovery going on, and I have to recreate a bunch of art for the game we're building, and I just think that adding a 50k stress point is just too much for the tight-wire I'm already in the middle of.

Cool, the link is working for me, I'll give my thoughts later. Yeah, I was doing a Nano Hiatus for November.

I say challenge hiatus.

Man, it's draining writing really dark stuff AND really banal office stuff. And this is both. Way to tax myself / stretch myself going into NaNo

Jolly Bill wrote:

I say challenge hiatus.

Man, it's draining writing really dark stuff AND really banal office stuff. And this is both. Way to tax myself / stretch myself going into NaNo :)

Hey, last time I did Nano I literally started my current job halfway through. I think it's why I never managed to complete the challenge!

I concur with calling a hiatus for November. I will do NaNo myself, maybe this year I will finish the novel I started last year before I was rudely interrupted by a nervous breakdown lol (seriously)

brokenclavicle wrote:

...before I was rudely interrupted by a nervous breakdown lol (seriously) :D

NaNo actually gives me nervous breakdowns. I'm an extremely slow writer and I also rewrite as I go along. Basically the antithesis of NaNo, and it kills me trying to keep up. Evidently when I try to silence the inner editor, he tries to silence me.

That said, I'll probably try for a few days.

I might be starting a short term contract within the next couple of weeks which might put my dreams of NaNo to rest.

I think I would like the option of a November throw down so I can still get in some writing without feeling like a failure for not producing 50k words of mediocre story telling.

I may not get the contract, but I think I probably will as I've contracted with this company before.

Jylich.

Spoiler:

Good story and interesting. Kind of gross with all the naked wiggling, juices, and hooks. Poor guy. I agree that there were a few sentences I had to reread to understand. Were there ulterior motives in talking about electrical impulses to the brain when it felt the vibrations?

Goodnight.

Spoiler:

First off, the beginning of the story brought back an Eddie Murphy scene from Delirious: "In the Amityville Horror the ghost told them to get out of the house. White people stayed in there. Now that's a hint and a half for your ass. A ghost say get the f*** out, I would just tip the f*** out the door!" I'm guessing from their reactions that this type of haunting was not uncomon in their world (esp. when the entity resorted to violence).

I liked the story and could see it reworked as a (extra creepy) Twilight Zone episode. The "good night" detail really works.

It seemed to me that Lila is a little too young in the story, and it's not clear why she (as opposed to the wife, for example) is haunting her father. I don't necessarily like the way it ended. I think the story is almost there but could use some tweaking. Almost seems like the story needs to begin at the ending in an ambiguous way and then rewind back. Or start in the car with Lila trying to fall asleep and them playing the good night game right before the accident. Or I could be completely wrong. I also thought cats had a lock on staring creepingly into empty spaces.

Edit for something I forgot. You might add in some details like his job rather than just generic "job."

Spun Gold.

Spoiler:

Well I was entirely amused. I don't have much to add except that the beacon thing didn't really work for me. My only only idea was that gold from different areas/mines smelled differently to dwarves, and they went around until one smelled it strongly coming from the castle. You'd have to work fast though before the smell wore off ("nothing like that new ore smell") or it was melted down and mixed. Also you used Hamman/d in two different spots. You could almost use Hammond and save the joke for later (although I didn't see it at first and didn't know whey the prince was laughing).

Good luck with the computer. Sure you didn't commit just a little murder?

Miashara's story.

Spoiler:

I'm not sure what to think about this one. The story is kind of painted with a large brush without much detail. Why would monsters teach him (and what are they doing under his bed)? There also appear to be some contradictions, e.g., neither knowing how to talk to children, but then telling stories suitable for children (given, ones told by monsters). I did like the bit implying Daren was the one responsible for the death of Helen's father. (I thought Daren and Helen were siblings at first, but no?) So I guess, just hard to get a grip on what's happening right now.

Mimble wrote:

I might be starting a short term contract within the next couple of weeks which might put my dreams of NaNo to rest.

I think I would like the option of a November throw down so I can still get in some writing without feeling like a failure for not producing 50k words of mediocre story telling.

I may not get the contract, but I think I probably will as I've contracted with this company before.

Crossing my fingers for you!

Re: November:

How bout we make it a pretty loose thing? We're moving into holiday season, plus nano, plus our East Coast brethern and sisters may be a little under the weather. So; I'll come up with a challenge idea for non-nano, and something for the nanoers to check in; and we'll all keep our eye on turkey day! Mmmm...triptophan...

duckideva wrote:

Crossing my fingers for you!

Re: November:

How bout we make it a pretty loose thing? We're moving into holiday season, plus nano, plus our East Coast brethern and sisters may be a little under the weather. So; I'll come up with a challenge idea for non-nano, and something for the nanoers to check in; and we'll all keep our eye on turkey day! Mmmm...triptophan...

Random note because I failed this month to post anything for the throwdown: Chicken has more triptophan than turkey.