Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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August 2018 Microstory contest - COMMENTS ONLY

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments The following rules are from Jot Russell, moderator for this contest:

To help polish our skills and present a flavour of our art to other members in the group, I am continuing this friendly contest for those who would like to participate. There is no money involved, but there is also no telling what a little recognition and respect might generate. The rules are simple:

1) The story needs to be your own work and should be posted on the goodreads (GR) Discussion board, which is a public group. You maintain responsibility and ownership of your work to do with as you please. You may withdraw your story at any time.

2) The stories must be 750 words or less.

3) The stories have to be science fiction, follow a specific theme and potentially include reference to items as requested by the prior month's contest winner.

4) You have until midnight EST on the 22nd day of the month to post your story to the GR Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion. One story per author per month.

5) After, anyone from the LI Sci-Fi group or the GR Science Fiction Microstory Discussion group has until midnight EST of the 25th day of the month to send me a single private vote (via GR or to author.jotrussell@gmail.com) for a story other than their own. This vote will be made public once voting is closed. Voting is required. If you do not vote, your story will be disqualified from the contest. You don't need a qualifying story to cast a vote, but must offer the reason for your vote if you don’t have an entry.

6) To win, a story needs at least half of the votes, or be the only one left after excluding those with the fewest votes. Runoffs will be run each day until a winner is declared. Stories with vote totals that add up to at least half, discarding those with the fewest votes, will be carried forward to the next runoff election. Prior votes will be carried forward to support runoff stories. If you voted for a story that did not make it into the runoff, you need to vote again before midnight EST of that day. Only people who voted in the initial round may vote in the runoffs.

7) Please have all posts abide by the rules of GR and the LI Sci-Fi group.

8) For each month, there will be three discussion threads:
a) Stories - For the stories and the contest results only.
b) Comments - For discussions about the stories and contest. Constructive criticism is okay, but please avoid any spoilers about the stories or degrading comments directed towards any individuals. If you want to suggest a change to the contest, feel free to start a discussion about the idea before making a formal motion. If another member seconds a motion, a vote can be held. I will abstain from voting, but will require a strong two-thirds majority to override my veto.
c) Critiques - Each member can provide at most one critique per story, with a single rebuttal by the author to thank the critic and/or comment to offer the readers the mind set of the story to account for issues raised by the critique. Critiques should be of a professional and constructive manner. Feel free to describe elements that you do and don't like, as these help us gain a better perspective of our potential readers. Remarks deemed inflammatory or derogatory will be flagged and/or removed by the moderator.

9) The winner has THREE days after the start of the new month to make a copy of these rules and post a new contest thread using the theme/items of their choosing. Otherwise, I will post the new contest threads.

**********

Theme: Illegal Aliens

Required elements:

1) Families shattered
2) Vices indulged


message 2: by Carrie (last edited Aug 02, 2018 11:38AM) (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments I miss the old group. I don't really participate because it seems now all the prompts are so political. (I wonder if that's why so many writers have disappeared over the last year or two.)
Maybe they were all along and I just wasn't so hypersensitive to all the political everything being shoved down my throat every where I look.

I'm still here, probably not to writ but I still enjoy reading the stories!


message 3: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1174 comments Mod
Thanks Carrie for speaking your mind. I think people create themes based on what is on their mind, which can lean toward the political. The next time I win, if that happens, I was planning on having a best of round, where stories are pick from each writer over the years.

Also, I'm working on a crossword game for smart phones and am looking to build a website to host this and the contest. Maybe if I can push one, I can push more people toward the other.


message 4: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments Oh I know, I know current climate always influences people and the prompts they come up with.

I also don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, I have a hard time participating in prompts that force me to write about something that might offend someone (or will obviously get no votes because my political views don't align with the rest of the group - which is ok).

I write to escape reality and merging fiction with all the preaching and what gets shoved down my throat via the news and social media is impossible.

But that's just me. I just miss the basic sci fi prompts that make you write for the sake of fictional entertainment.

I do however, enjoy reading the stories these talented folks come up with!!


That game sounds really, really cool Jot. The Goodreads app is somewhat buggy so dedicated site would be awesome!!


message 5: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 442 comments Carrie wrote: "Oh I know, I know current climate always influences people and the prompts they come up with.

I also don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, I have a hard time participating in prompts that forc..."


I think that's always a danger with writing about controversial topics. You run the risk of alienating certain readers, especially nowadays. People are so dogmatic and will defend their own positions to a fault, even when their position doesn't make any sense.

That being said, some of the greatest books in history had political undertones, like Animal Farm or 1984. Even Starship Troopers and Dune had political messages. Though some of that could definitely be chalked up to interpretation. So, what to do?

I, for one, would love to see you return to the group, no matter what, even if our opinions were diametrically opposed. It's tough to open a closed mind, and especially so if it's never exposed to other opinions or something new.

:)


message 6: by Tom (last edited Aug 02, 2018 04:40PM) (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments The prompts are political? I hadn't noticed. All in the interpretation, maybe. Something's only political if the reader thinks it is.

Social and political allegory have certainly been prominent in popular science fiction over the years. Star Trek is certainly one example. George Lucas has been accused of it, too.

I say, so what? One thing's for sure: If I worried about offending people, I'd never write at all. No one should ever feel afraid to express whatever they may be thinking or feeling. And, a diversity of viewpoints is always enriching, if not always tranquil.

If you want to write allegorically, the challenge is to avoid being overtly preachy or heavy-handed, but get your message across and be entertaining at the same time. I have issues on my mind, yes, and writing has always been catharsis for me, not escape.

That said, the topic I chose this month was timely, yes, but also wide open. You can use it allegorically or not, as you choose. Your story can take place on the U.S./Mexican border, or at the edge of the Andromeda galaxy, as you wish. Express anger, humor, or anything else.

Above all, just be yourself.


message 7: by Chris (last edited Aug 02, 2018 06:13PM) (new)

Chris Nance | 442 comments Tom wrote: "The prompts are political? I hadn't noticed. All in the interpretation, maybe. Something's only political if the reader thinks it is.

Social and political allegory have certainly been prominent in..."


I also agree that I haven't noticed any sort of political undertone to the topics posted. Then again, that's just my observation. Last month was a family vacation. The month before that, the fall of an empire. And before that was a space opera. Pretty basic topics as far as I can tell.

Even so, I think a lot of science fiction is very political, and there's nothing wrong with that. Everything from Isaac Asimov's Foundation, to 2001, to the Hunger Games has political undertones. And some of the most successful, even poignant, novels ever written reflected current events of the time, most of them political. It made the stories relevant and realistic.

I agree, just be yourself. Write to your comfort level.


message 8: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments Like I said probably just me as I visit every so often!

Didn't mean to accuse anyone or anything.
Just a feeling I've gotten over the last year or two.

😊


message 9: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Alleson (goodreadscomjjalleson) | 105 comments Liked both stories .... had to mentally shift to the US politics but that's part of the art form - expressing real life to some extent.

Having been out of the loop here for aeons I've been inspired to try something. So thanks, guys.


message 10: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments If you want to control the story criteria ya gotta win the contest.

People who don't contribute but want to influence the criteria are like people who don't vote but shout at their TV's. : )


message 11: by Carrie (last edited Aug 07, 2018 10:18AM) (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments C. wrote: "If you want to control the story criteria ya gotta win the contest.

People who don't contribute but want to influence the criteria are like people who don't vote but shout at their TV's. : )"



lol I've contributed a ton over the years and never won. That wasn't my point. That's not even my goal. I could give a shit less about winning or influencing criteria.

I'm sorry I even commented my thoughts on the matter.


message 12: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments I for one am not sorry you did, Carrie.

I think everyone should feel welcome to comment. I hope we can keep this constructive and encourage each other to write, share impressions, make observations. All of it.


message 13: by Chris (last edited Aug 08, 2018 10:02PM) (new)

Chris Nance | 442 comments I am also glad you commented. It's important to have these types of of conversations and everyone should have a voice. Sure, some of our responses may be a little more than direct and a little less than diplomatic, but your opinions and comments really do matter.

:)


message 14: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Was I too direct, folks? OK, maybe so. I get annoyed sometimes with loud complaining from way back in the cheap seats.

All opinions do matter, I'll grant you that. Mine too. But If all the people who value fantasy oriented rather than science oriented "science fiction" stories actually contributed as much as some of the rest of us do, then the science guys would be the ones whining. And that would be just as lame.

I'd like to see more of these contributors add to and change the character of this board because I agree it's become too narrow in focus and players. But complaining won't accomplish this, new stories will. And I've voted for some of these stories myself, even though I'm definitely a Darth Vader devotee.

So roll up your sleeves rather than gather up rocks, and let's get cracking!

Just one opinion among many. : )

-C


message 15: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments C. wrote: "Was I too direct, folks? OK, maybe so. I get annoyed sometimes with loud complaining from way back in the cheap seats.

All opinions do matter, I'll grant you that. Mine too. But If all the people ..."


Nah I was just commenting, water cooler talk, not complaining per se. I do enjoy reading the stories, I've never claimed to be a true science fiction writer, from the very beginning I've not hidden the fact that I'm a fantasy writer through and through.

But that's why I started participating all the way back in 2014. Literally my favorite memory from this group was when Andrew Gurcak tore me a new one via messenger because my story sucked so bad!

I took everything he said to heart and came out swinging with 7 Deadly Sins.

Instead of insulting me, a simple "No Carrie, I think you're wrong and here's why" like Tom, Jot and Chris did would have sufficed. And they were right, they pointed out that I was being to general, not seeing the forest for the trees.

I like your writing and I like your style (most of the time). I actually prefer directness. But alienating a contest participant by insinuating that I'm just a cheap seat, non contributor really just makes you look like a pompous ass.


message 16: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments Actually, I think the move from LinkedIn to Goodreads caused a larger drop in participants than any prompt.

I do miss a lot of the old participants and their particular flare.

But more than that I miss a lot of the water cooler talk that would go on!

.....but I sure don't miss the knock down drag out fights that would go on I promise you that!! :) :)


message 17: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Hah Carrie

I like most of your stuff too. And I appreciate directness also. Seems you just couldn't help but throw that last rock, eh? Lol

I'm sorry that's the best you can come up with right now, but you do have about 11 more days to show something a bit more creative!

-C.


message 18: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments Just for that I'm totally writing a story about space dragons who seek asylum from another planet inhabited by fairies....... 🤣


message 19: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Love it. If you think you can pull it off, that is. : )


message 20: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments Carrie wrote: "Just for that I'm totally writing a story about space dragons who seek asylum from another planet inhabited by fairies....... 🤣"

Here, here! Go for it!


message 21: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments I miss the old days, too. Hope we go on making good memories. With less argument.


message 22: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments Just wanted to say, the stories so far this month are among the best I've read here. Well done, everyone.


message 23: by G.C. (new)

G.C. Groover | 78 comments My story is up. No matter what the themes are, I always find it interesting to see where everyone ends up. There are usually a few stories that I read and think, "I could have written that...", and then there is always at least one that I read and am envious of because I couldn't have thought of that, or have presented it so effectively.


message 24: by C. (last edited Aug 13, 2018 10:35AM) (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Nice job, GC!

Good to see you back in the SF saddle.

-C


message 25: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 442 comments Okay, mine's up.


message 26: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments Announcement: With one week left in the contest, and seven stories posted, I'm going to begin posting critiques tomorrow evening.

If anyone does not wish their story critiqued, please indicate that on the comments thread between now and then.


P.S.: I hope other people choose to post some critiques this month.


message 27: by G.C. (new)

G.C. Groover | 78 comments C. wrote: "Nice job, GC!

Good to see you back in the SF saddle.

-C"


Thanks C.

I'll try to do some critiques this month as well, Tom.


message 28: by Paula (last edited Aug 23, 2018 01:48AM) (new)

Paula | 886 comments I think the main reason many people left this group during the past 2-3 years or so is that there was always a split in the group between the hard/old-fashioned/etc. sf aesthetic and the more recent/diverse (in many senses) sf aesthetic, and under the pressure of a couple of added elements, it split. Plus, people may shift the focus of their writings over time. Some of us have heavily concentrated on novels or a series or simply on family or income-gaining over the past year or two. Specific to the group's choice of themes etc., probably what puts persons A, C, and E off may be entirely different from what turns off B, D, and F---hard to generalize there.
I'd say this has been an unusually helpful, germinative, and valuable group for many of us. And Jot and many others deserve much credit for this.


message 29: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Paula,

"Germnative?" : )

If you contributed a story once a quarter like your mind-blowing little tale "Dem Bones" a couple of years back, the entire SF profile of this board would swing around to point towards fantasy, and our group writing bar would be raised about a mile-and-a-half. All Darth Vader devotees would head for the hills or whimper in their lairs, trying their best to contribute something worthy.

Who else has the power to influence events like this? Darth Vader? Compared to your writing skills, he's wimpnative. : )

-C


message 30: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments I'm really enjoying everyone's stories this month. I finally just got an idea this morning so I'll be working on it this evening. It is a timely concept and controversial, but I think all of the authors have handled it very well and in their own unique ways.

Nicely done people!


message 31: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Tom,

Great suggestion. An example of where another set of eyes makes for a better story.

Thanks for your critique and suggestion.

-C


message 32: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments Got mine done Friday night but worked all weekend at Boeing Family Day. Just need to do a final proof and post!


message 33: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Justin,

"Bring it, don't sing it!" Lol

(I had a sales manager years ago that used to say that about purchase orders.)

-C


message 34: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments I hear you!


message 35: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments C. wrote: "Justin,

"Bring it, don't sing it!" Lol

(I had a sales manager years ago that used to say that about purchase orders.)

Purchase order fulfilled.



message 36: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Nice story Justin!


message 37: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1174 comments Mod
Hey Justin, saw your post about parking that fighter jet. Do you get to fly those things?


message 38: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments C. wrote: "Nice story Justin!"

Thanks C!!


message 39: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments Jot wrote: "Hey Justin, saw your post about parking that fighter jet. Do you get to fly those things?"

Hi Jot! I wish! My illustrious military career was one quarter of Air Force ROTC at the University of Washington back in 1990. My eyesight was only 20/70 uncorrected and the Air Force wanted 20/20 to start. So I did not continue pursuing a military career. I work at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center doing internal communications. I'm also their go to event guy so I was responsible for a large piece of Boeing Family Day. I just got to direct the Growler off of Paine Field and to its parking spot so we could hook it up to a tug and tow it into position. Besides... I get air sick... :)


message 40: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Carrie wrote: "Just for that I'm totally writing a story about space dragons who seek asylum from another planet inhabited by fairies....... 🤣"

Here's a little reminder: "You have until midnight EST on the 22nd day of the month to post your story to the GR Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion. One story per author per month."

Did it turn into a novel? : )

-C


message 41: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1048 comments C. wrote: "Tom,

Great suggestion. An example of where another set of eyes makes for a better story.

Thanks for your critique and suggestion.

-C"


You're welcome, C. I liked your modification to your story; well-placed and to the point.


message 42: by Paula (last edited Aug 23, 2018 01:45AM) (new)

Paula | 886 comments Just posted one. It's not at all edited--written in the past hour or two, and now I have to make dinner. Nice to get it done, though; I've known its basics for two days.
Oh, I forgot the vices. Well, I see a very nasty vice there, though unstated as such. Okay, rubbed/slipped the vice indicator in there now.


message 43: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Alleson (goodreadscomjjalleson) | 105 comments Popped something in - probably out of time but not in for the voting as such. Just getting my gears back after lots of illnesses, long absences and ups and downs.


message 44: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Alleson (goodreadscomjjalleson) | 105 comments To add to Paula's comment, I left this group because one individual clearly had issues with ... well everyone really! I felt some comments were targeted personally at me and some at others. It was getting to be a form of epic nasty rambling; but what was worse is that other members started piling in - the deferential bully. Then other things took priority over the in-fighting.

I commend both Jot and Paula for keeping things going on their respective groups which I'd like to keep supporting as much as I'm able. Superb job, guys.


message 45: by Paula (new)

Paula | 886 comments Thank you, C. That is very flattering and kind. I'm delighted you like "Dem Bones" so much. :)
Oh--and thanks--spelling error is now fixed!
C. wrote: "Paula,

"Germnative?" : )

If you contributed a story once a quarter like your mind-blowing little tale "Dem Bones" a couple of years back, the entire SF profile of this board would swing around to..."



message 46: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Paula,

Bout dam time.

Your story is fine wine for the palate, haunting perfume for the nose.

Well done.

-C


message 47: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments I read it again. It's like the echo of a midnight saxophone jazz riff down a New York alleyway. Wow.


message 48: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments Paula,

I appreciate how your stories illustrate how far I need to go to become a good writer!!!! :)


message 49: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments J.J., good story. It had a lot of texture and detail that I enjoyed.


message 50: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1008 comments Hello everyone,

I just submitted my votes. It was very hard to choose this month! Great stories by all!!


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