June 04, 2020, 02:49:09 PM

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Re: Contest Theme Ideas You might consider some technically focused contests. For example, provide a short video of someone doing something complex with their fingers, a cat being spooked and jumping in a distinct way, and then setting the task at describing those motions in a very short space. These kinds of talents are, imho, just as worthy of study and arguably even more foundational to writing than the use of the broader brushes and landscapes of theme, plot, setting, etc.

With a little discussion I am sure you could gather a handful of similarly technical challenges that would stretch peoples' specific skills.

Food for thought.

-Gem Cutter

August 04, 2016, 05:39:49 PM
Re: Contest Theme Ideas 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

August 04, 2016, 07:47:32 PM
Re: Contest Theme Ideas 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

August 06, 2016, 07:35:31 AM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel Just a quick note to say that I have the deepest respect for you all and your candor and honesty. I found your stories and anecdotes moving, even inspiring. I respect your resilience, my favorite trait.

My circle of friends and colleagues from my former career field is littered with depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, broken marriages, and gods only know how many other issues. So I feel very at home here :)
Pardon the dark humor, it's not intended to make light of these problems - I have lost brothers to depression and its effects, and I suffer them myself. My coping reflex is to laugh or mock what I fear and loathe. (The most a man can do is smile back)

If it is any consolation, in addition to the overwhelming weight of hopelessness, dark ironies, and crushing sadness that many of you endure, I find that I can no longer trust my instincts, which once served me well. I can no longer reliably discern friend from foe as I once did. If there is a fear worthy of being the companion to the dreadful notion of hurting oneself, it is the fear of harming passersby without cause.

Ironically, I was trained to fight by the technical experts for the film The Hunted. Beyond the realistic knife-fighting and killing culture nuances, the film is interesting for its honest depiction of the book that inspired the Rambo movies. The Hunted's depictions of PTS/combat stress are cloudy and not very well done IMHO, beyond the fact that they are unsympathetic - which is why The Hunted looks and feels nothing like Stallone's movies. He balked at the idea of being an unsympathetic veteran. I can tell you, he made the right call.

-Gem Cutter

August 07, 2016, 05:59:21 AM
Re: Science for Science Fiction! (Articles and the Like) Kill it with fire. Do it now.
August 08, 2016, 01:11:06 AM
Re: How much did you write today? 3400 words for session 1 today, 85K in total. After dinner and coffee, I'll try to make it to 90K before the sun rises.
August 08, 2016, 10:14:37 PM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel A pox on people who bring up serious problems and then ignore good advice!!!!

[Deleted: extensive rant with colorful examples of the impacts of those with cavalier attitudes on those who sincerely care for their welfare and safety, and frequent bad outcomes of those who ignore advice to seek medical assistance]

August 09, 2016, 05:13:32 PM
Re: #22 Pushups Challenge I am a US military veteran, and I don't know if I am the only one or one of many on this board, so I'll step up and say thank you for your engagement.

In my time I served with members of the British Military, these being members of the RAF, the paras, and some Scots who damaged my psyche with renditions of the famous British Baboon.


August 09, 2016, 05:17:06 PM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel Here's some pure, unmitigated optimism for you:
"A recent study by Yale University researchers, published online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, concluded that “book readers experienced a 20 percent reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up compared to non-book readers.”
If a standard reader gets that kind of boost, well Hell's bells, you all should be just fine.

August 09, 2016, 08:16:01 PM
Re: Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel Ms. Scarlet, as crude and probably unsavory a suggestion as this is, enemas are an excellent method of rehydration and replenishing electrolytes. Keeping your strength and vitality up are key, or I wouldn't voice the suggestion. We used to run IVs on ourselves after training, but perhaps that's not an option for you? Anyway, I hope you feel better. We used to laugh and joke about drinking water to stay hydrated "Drink water - because it's hard to look cool with a tube in you [pants?]"
August 10, 2016, 04:14:48 AM