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Author Topic: Contest Theme Ideas  (Read 35220 times)

Offline Deads

Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #105 on: August 04, 2016, 07:17:06 PM »
I think I understand your point. However, couldn't this particular idea be a secondary goal, perhaps? It wouldn't have to be a trope, either.

Offline Raptori

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #106 on: August 04, 2016, 07:34:57 PM »
Evil Weapons sounds good to me - just as good as any of the other "normal" themes like Potions or Nightmares. It's just a theme. You can do what you want with it.


TGC does have a valid point in that such skills are very important, but it doesn't really fit with it being a story contest. It's the kind of thing that most of the time you should be trying to work in to your stories anyway - for example, in this story from last year we decided to to focus on dialogue since we had felt uncomfortable writing dialogue in previous stories. It's easy to do if you have a number of things to potentially work on, so that at least one of them would fit the theme.

That said, themes designed to encourage different types of writing could still work. For example, something like Physical Crafts to encourage description of intricate physical actions, or Arguments to encourage depiction of conflict through dialogue. That kind of thing would be broad enough to allow flexibility and variety while still encouraging people to focus on things they might not otherwise make central to their story.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 07:36:43 PM by Raptori »
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #107 on: August 04, 2016, 07:47:32 PM »
The assumption that it would be dull sells people (and the challenge itself) short, in my opinion.
I see no cause for such an exercise to be any less interesting than stories written to include randomly selected and deliberately dissonant elements. But certainly it is much more difficult to envision an unconventional departure from the standard approach.

I think seeing the variety of approaches, and how they succeed or fail, and how they can be harnessed to move the story forward would be very interesting indeed. True, it would compel people to dig deeper into their tool boxes - and of course, organizers would have to dig deeper into theirs as well. Critiquing for clarity is more difficult and demanding than choosing works for how fun they were to read - even though, ironically, the clarity of writing is directly related to how enjoyable it is!

We all know that creative plot-design, distinct characters, and the conventional appreciations of creative writing are worthwhile. It takes a harder look and deeper thought to embrace the beauty and value of concepts such as clarity, specificity, and other "technical" appreciations. Again, it is ironic that all successful creative writing is built on these things first.

I anticipated that this idea would fail. Our technical brothers avoid creativity like the plague, wrongfully believing that because their projects are technical, they should not be entertaining. At all. Ever. lol Just as technical writers tend to be formulaic and preoccupied with brevity and simplicity and run from creativity (and god forbid, novelty!), it seems creative writers are no more prepared to embrace technical issues that are just as worthy of development, study, and yes, appreciation.

I sought to expand the definition of a creative writing contest, but I'll drop the suggestion and move on. But I think we underestimate how interesting it might be to see various writers approach a technical assignment, the kind of thought and discussion it might stimulate, and most importantly - the value of creative solutions to technical knots that are inseparable from narratives that deliver across the four Big Cs: clear, concise, compelling, and compliant.

-Gem Cutter
« Last Edit: August 04, 2016, 08:15:56 PM by The Gem Cutter »
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #108 on: August 04, 2016, 08:24:36 PM »
I didn't think it'd be dull at all, just that it didn't quite fit the current definition of the story contest. Since the contest in its current form is a huge success, it's probably not a good idea to change it...though I guess trying it out for a month might not be an issue.

However, it could be better, if there was enough interest, to have it as a concurrent contest. Keep the story contest running as is, and have a writing contest at the same time. Or something along those lines. Doesn't even necessarily have to be a contest with a winner or anything like that!
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Offline Nora

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #109 on: August 05, 2016, 02:04:18 AM »
Again, as I said, nothing prevents you from making a new thread in the writers corner to start such an exercise.

Just because I said that your initial description of your technical paragraphs doesn't fit our current contest doesn't mean it shouldn't be done (elsewhere) but it also doesn't mean that I haven't painstakingly tried to be concise, clear and compelling in my own stories.
If you think that fitting a good story and entirely new world in 1500 words is easy and doesn't require us to be concise, then I don't know what to say.

Have you read much of our monthly stories, to hint at the fact that we seem to abandon "vital technicality" in favor of only plot and character? Or else we mustn't be having the same definition of your 4 Cs.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2016, 02:11:26 AM by Nora »
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #110 on: August 06, 2016, 07:35:31 AM »
It was just a suggestion Nora, and I abandoned it.

I don't know what you were reacting to so angrily/snarkily in your last post, so I'll clarify, in the hopes you'll realize you missed my points entirely, and seemingly inserted your own? I'm not sure.

- First, my indirect and non-specific terms did not signify you or anyone in particular, on these boards, or elsewhere, hence their indirectness and non-specificity.  I never suggested that you or anyone else wasn't concise, or didn't try to be concise, clear, compelling, or compliant.

- Neither did I suggest or imply that the challenges of short forms is easy.

In fact, it is a challenging form that can be laborious, and it is one I know very well. I earned half a million in the past 6 years writing under very (ludicrously) tight space constraints, on the clock. "Explain how you will deliver complex services that take 3 pages to describe, what your metrics are for success, and how you plan to interface with customers - in 1.5 pages." That's not even hyperbole. I say this so you have some idea that I know what I am talking about, and how off-base your assumption was.

- I did not mean to imply that anyone [neither you nor anyone else] abandons anything in their writing. If that was the perception, I apologize for failing to be clear.

We were discussing a contest, the purpose of which I assumed was intended to develop skills and foster discussion of the craft. And although I agree that short-form writing is very good at developing skills, it's neither the only way, nor is it superior to a varied approach.

- I did say that "creative writers [in general, not yourself nor anyone else in particular] are no more prepared to embrace technical issues that are just as worthy of development, study, and yes, appreciation."

In places I used the pronoun "we" to foster a collaborative tone. Apparently, there are landmines laying about, and I stepped on one. Not the first time, metaphorically or literally.

What I meant was that, in general, many creative writers love discussing/studying creating cool weapons or novel approaches to crafting in-world languages, etc., but tend (i.e., with many exceptions) to avoid topics covering such things as brevity, or eliminating unintended ambiguity, or advanced techniques like deliberate ambiguity. Or maybe, it's simply that creative writing communities do not discuss them much? I am not sure.

In short, I meant only that we tend to embrace the STUDY of certain elements of writing over others. I would never presume to discuss anyone's writing critically in an open forum - and I do not "hint." If I was going to be so rude, I would be direct and plain in my language and references.

My idea was to introduce technical elements and techniques into the paradigm as an experiment, and not necessarily in an all-exclusive way. You dismissed the idea as rubbish, which it is not. I dropped the idea, but had the temerity to point out the short-sightedness of your dismissal of it.

I'm not going to start a new thread for the idea because it would require coordination and experience that I don't have in organizing such things. I'm new and don't know enough people with the right skills and interest. The challenges for such an exercise are just as real as its potential value.

I was really just looking for a way to participate that might be fun, novel, and interesting. You assumed I was suggesting some kind of technical drill that would exclude all other considerations. You poo-pooed my idea and dismissed it without any thought, essentially proving the point of my last post.

-Gem Cutter
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Offline Nora

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #111 on: August 06, 2016, 12:34:27 PM »
It was just a suggestion Nora, and I abandoned it.

I don't know what you were reacting to so angrily/snarkily in your last post, so I'll clarify, in the hopes you'll realize you missed my points entirely, and seemingly inserted your own? I'm not sure.

Sorry, I stopped reading there. Your own tone is so "snarky", and you seem so entirely self assured that you can't possibly have been interpreted wrong because you expressed yourself poorly, that there simply is no talking to you.

Maybe someday reread yourself, the post before last of yours, I answered to, and maybe one day you'll see all your implications and hints. Maybe you don't mean what you say, or don't realise how it can be read.
If you read my own answer, you'll see me being annoyed, mildly pissed off and defensive, but most certainly not "sarcastic"and witty.
I was just plain offended by your cloudy implications.
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Offline Arry

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #112 on: August 06, 2016, 01:18:58 PM »
Alright, I  am going to kindly ask for everyone to step back from this before things get too heated.

The whole concept of themes is to stretch your comfort zone a bit, so something very different and unexpected is not necessarily a wrong fit.

I think at this point, the Writing Group Powers That Be (@xiagan and @ScarletBea) can make a call if they want to use the idea or not, but I do think it was an interesting suggestion that was not meant to be an insult to anyone.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #113 on: August 06, 2016, 03:46:32 PM »
Well, I apologize to the thread and the board.

I was really just looking for a way to participate that might be fun and different. Nora dismissed my idea in a way I felt out of hand, and I apologize for holding her accountable for that and for not backing down. I don't deal with hierarchies well anymore.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2016, 03:49:08 PM by The Gem Cutter »
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Offline Nora

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #114 on: August 06, 2016, 05:24:14 PM »
I apologize for daring to voice another personal opinion. Whenever I do that these days, people seem to jump at me like I shot the discussed concept in the head in cold blood. I must be doing it wrong, maybe I need to take a long, real break.

I have nothing against stretching limits, it's why I participate in a contest with fixed themes and word limits to begin with.

For the record, I am nowhere in a "hierarchy" here, so my opinion on anyone's suggestions are just that, just opinions. If Xiagan likes your idea and makes a theme of it, so be it, I've got nothing to do in that choice. 

And lastly, I'm sorry but if this :

Quote
I don't think that is something for the writing contest. The contest is for stories or poems, not technical paragraphs.
However, working on description and all that is always good and nothing really stops you from starting a thread in the writer's corner with such a plan. I'd definitely give it a shot.

corresponds to this :

Nora dismissed my idea in a way I felt out of hand

then I can't apologize for my words to Gem Cutter. To my eyes my comment might be taken as haughty, though I meant well, but nowhere near "out of hand".

I'm sorry @Arry, I certainly didn't intend to cause any stirs. I'll just back off from the topic and manage my friend lists.
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #115 on: August 07, 2016, 04:19:27 AM »
OK @xiagan and @ScarletBea you've given us potions for all the dedicated drinkers on the Forum, a blatantly obvious invitation to include all sorts of weird spirits and liqueurs into the proceedings. Nothing wrong with that. Not at all. Brilliant

However, nevertheless, on the other hand, etc, in the pursuit of equity may I humbly submit that Feasts or Banquets or Fantastic Dining Experiences become a theme one day in the future?

Perhaps including lavish illustrations or even step-by-step how to cook videos?


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Offline xiagan

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #116 on: August 07, 2016, 07:10:15 AM »
I apologize for having been absent from this thread. I worked late shifts this week AND my parents are visiting, so there was next to no time.

As mentioned before, I have enough themes on hold for at least the next one and a half years, so new ideas may not be used for a while. (It does happen that I'm not in the mood for one of those and choose a new one, though.)

I think Gem Cutter's idea would be great as a special challenge (something I was thinking about including for a while now but haven't done yet). That could work like this:
Contest theme: Potions and Elixirs.
Special challenge (voluntary; for those who want to make it a bit more difficult): Your potion needs frog parts! Describe in detail how you dissect the animal and which parts you use.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #117 on: August 17, 2016, 08:08:36 PM »
How about a Sports theme?  ::)

How would football be played with magic, or what sport you would create? Or the struggles faced before the win, and so on.

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Offline AFrasier

Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #118 on: September 09, 2016, 09:41:59 PM »
I know you said you have enough ideas to last quite some time, but i was reading through old contests and a few idea came to mind:

- Revolution

- Secret Societies

- Posession (As in by a spirit or other conciousness, wether good or evil)

- Rituals (Relgious or otherwise)

- Clockwork and Gears (for all you steampunk fans!)

- Sacrifice (in any context of the word)

Offline Raptori

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas
« Reply #119 on: October 06, 2016, 03:11:43 AM »
If there's another fanfic month, Mixed Media could be cool. You'd have to include at least two characters from who originated in different types of media, so for example Harry Potter (books) vs Superman (comics), or Indiana Jones (films) vs Solid Snake (videogames). Nice and open in terms of what you can actually do with it too.

Another cool one would be a New Joker month. One or two slight changes from the previous Joker Month: you can't choose a theme you've already written a story for, and possibly allow people to choose themes from longer than 12 months ago. For that second change, allowing any theme from all time could be really cool since some of the very early ones have a lot of potential. Alternatively, it could be something like the previous 12 months in which you didn't enter are allowed, so for example the twelve months @Lanko would be able to choose from would then be Aug 2016 (since he missed that month) and Jan-Nov 2015 (since he first entered in Dec 2014 and has only missed August since).
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