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Old 12-16-2011, 10:44 AM
Le Ministre de l'au-delà is offline
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SDMB Short Fiction Contest, late 2011/early 2012 edition - Logistics Thread.


Hello and welcome. We've had seven Short Fiction contests so far, in May 2010, September 2010, over the holidays between 2010 and 2011, February 2011, April 2011, June 2011 and September 2011. They've been tremendously fun, and there has been interest expressed in doing another. I'd like to congratulate our past winners once again -

The Hamster King, May 2010, for Quarrantine
Spoons, September 2010 for Homeward By Polaris
Spoons, Holiday Edition 2010 for He Knows a Lot of People
Justin Credible, February 2011 for Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart!
MsWhatsit, April 2011 for The Brickites
Savannah, June 2011 for The Summer Place
jackdavinci, September 2011 for T-shirt Junction

So, I'd like to suggest the following - the contest will run from 9 AM EST, Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 until 10 PM EST, Sunday, January 8th, 2012. That's an extra-long period which covers Christmas holidays and school break for most regions. Any writers interested in participating somewhere within that time can send an e-mail to sdmbpoetrysweatshop at gmail dot com - the required photo and the obligatory three words will be in an out-of-office auto reply. The writer will then have 60 (sixty) hours from the time and date of that auto-reply to submit a story of no more than 2,000 words.

The story can be any style or genre, but it must centre around 3 randomly selected words and one randomly selected photograph. (These requirements are partly to ensure no one dusts off a story they've been working on for months, and partly because it's really interesting to compare what different writers do with the same source material.) No specific theme this time - let your imaginations run free.

Sorry, but the contest is open only to Dopers - Guests, Mods, Administrators, Members, Charter Members, Goats, Squids, people with funny titles - but contestants must have the right to post here.

I will start an Anthology Thread of all the stories I've received before the close of the contest - I can't give an exact time, as I will be in and out of internet contact during the holidays. At 10 PM EDT, Sunday, January 8th, 2012, entries will be closed and I will establish a multiple-choice poll in the Anthology Thread. A week later, the poll will close and we will declare a winner.



A couple of editorial/logistics points to bring up. I will be doing some very minor editing - just for appearance on the computer screen, I will ensure that there are double returns between paragraphs. I would also strongly prefer that all the stories have a title, and if they don't come with a title, I'll refer to them as Untitled (First few words of the opening sentence.) If you use special text (italics in particular, but also bold face and underline.), please mention it in the return e-mail - the codes don't always come through properly in gmail and I do try to respect writers' conventions. Sometimes this means doing a search word by word to make sure the codes get written correctly.

Also for legibility and appearance, I would like to post the first ~ hundred words or first paragraph, whichever is most coherent, in the open reply. Then, I will put the rest of the story in a spoiler box. Then I'll have another spoiler box with the author's name. The reasoning here is to avoid the Gigantic Wall of Text effect. I'm open to other people's suggestions here, though I thought this worked very well the last few times.

I quite like the multiple choice polls and I would like to keep that as a feature of the Short Fiction contests. Placing the writers' names in spoiler boxes also seems to be a good compromise between giving credit where it is due and keeping the voting based on the merits of the individual stories, to the extent that is possible.

I think that's everything - I'm hoping many of you will be interested in giving it a go sometime in the next few days.

Best wishes,

Le Ministre de l'au-delà
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:22 AM
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Excellent. It's been too long since I've started a new story.
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:35 AM
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For a very long time I've wanted to try my hand at writing, but dragged my feet. Maybe this is the perfect excuse to finally do it.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:32 PM
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I'll do my best to battle the dreaded sophomore slump.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:47 PM
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For a very long time I've wanted to try my hand at writing, but dragged my feet. Maybe this is the perfect excuse to finally do it.
Will it seal the deal if we promise you it'll be fun?
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:56 PM
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I've never attempted one of these before...can't guarantee that I'll get something done to submit, but maybe...

Could you expand on what exactly:

it must centre around 3 randomly selected words and one randomly selected photograph


means?
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:04 PM
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Yay! I'm in.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Oakminster View Post
I've never attempted one of these before...can't guarantee that I'll get something done to submit, but maybe...

Could you expand on what exactly:

it must centre around 3 randomly selected words and one randomly selected photograph


means?
Well, from a previous participant's point of view...

When you send your email to Le Min's gmail address for these contests, you get an autoreply email with the three words and a link to a picture somewhere on Flickr. Everybody gets the same words and the same picture.

Exactly how you use the words and the picture is generally up to you. I don't know if there's ever been a submission thrown out of the contest because it didn't use them centrally enough. The idea is to use them as an inspiring prompt, and to demonstrate that you didn't pull out a story that you've been polishing for years and submit it to the contest.

Does that help?
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:50 PM
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Could you expand on what exactly:

it must centre around 3 randomly selected words and one randomly selected photograph


means?
Also, everybody got the same 3 words and photograph the one time I did it. Sounded strange to me too first time I saw that.

Last one was fun. This one is happening at a very busy time of year, which means if I have an entry, it will be flavored with late night sleep deprived madness. Sounds fun. I learned a little bit about writing from the last one.
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Oakminster View Post
I've never attempted one of these before...can't guarantee that I'll get something done to submit, but maybe...

Could you expand on what exactly:

it must centre around 3 randomly selected words and one randomly selected photograph


means?
I'll chime in with the others - the words can simply be present. If, for example 'Complete, Unleashed and Kinetic' were the three words, you could write 'Stan's exaggerated, kinetic energy, when he unleashes it, completely repels anyone he's dancing with.' Notice that I didn't feel compelled to stick with the words in their original form - I conjugated unleash as a verb, and turned complete into an adverb. Totally acceptable.

You can also use the words as an inspiration for the story - what is it that is 'complete'? Is it about to be completed? Has it been completed? What will be the effect when it is completed? Is it really completed, or did I just think it was? Will it never be completed?

The combination of the three can give you an idea as well - for me those three words send me in a scientific direction, especially 'kinetic'. 'Unleashed' with 'kinetic' make me think of some force suddenly set in motion by the completion of what? an experiment? a computer model?

The photograph also features in a similar way. If those really were the obligatory words, a picture of a laboratory would further send me in a scientific direction, whereas a picture of a dog might make me write a story about finishing a business deal and taking the dog for a run. What if it's a picture of a glacier? I dunno, there's something quirky about describing a glacier's kinetic movement as being unleashed, but there might be something really interesting in describing the 'mindset' of a glacier that feels like 'an inch an hour, two feet a day' is a roaring pace.

If you like, take a casual glance at some of the past contests to see how different writers have approached the same material. Or an in-depth glance - there are some great moments in there.

Hoping this helps and encourages.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:08 PM
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I believe that will be sufficient time for me to get something submitted again. I enjoyed it last time. Thanks for doing it again, Le Ministre de l'au-delà.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:25 PM
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Okay, I'm giving it a go.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:20 PM
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So I could, for example, describe a scene similar to the picture...but do not necessarily have to somehow copy/link the picture in the text?

And how specific do I need to be? For example, if the picture was a football game...would I have to refer to a game between the teams shown, or just any football game?
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:35 PM
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And how specific do I need to be? For example, if the picture was a football game...would I have to refer to a game between the teams shown, or just any football game?
"Jerry sat on his barstool, contemplating whether or not her should have another beer. Sure, the TV over the bar was showing the Steelers game, and Jerry had a hundred on it; but at the same time, Christy was back at home, probably pissed at the fact that Jerry was again at the bar, getting drunk."

There. See what is possible?

Looking forward to it, Le Ministre!
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:37 PM
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So I could, for example, describe a scene similar to the picture...but do not necessarily have to somehow copy/link the picture in the text?
Yes, by all means describe the scene and make your story make sense; no, you do not have to copy or link the picture.

Quote:
And how specific do I need to be? For example, if the picture was a football game...would I have to refer to a game between the teams shown, or just any football game?
No, there's no need to get that specific, though if the picture showed, say Michigan vs. Ohio State, that might give your story a different direction than a game between two unidentifiable high school teams or two teams in the CFL. Maybe the football game could be nothing more than the background to something that the words suggested.

It's not far off some of the things that I've done or seen in writers' classes or writers' groups - it's something to get you out of the habit of waiting for inspiration and into the habit of jumping in and putting words in order.
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:13 AM
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Le Ministre, is there a theme to this one?
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oakminster View Post
So I could, for example, describe a scene similar to the picture...but do not necessarily have to somehow copy/link the picture in the text?

And how specific do I need to be? For example, if the picture was a football game...would I have to refer to a game between the teams shown, or just any football game?
It would probably really help you understand if you read at least one of the threads from the previous rounds, then you can see the picture and what people did with it. Here's the last thread and the photo for it.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:39 PM
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Le Ministre, is there a theme to this one?
No, I thought we did quite well the last one without having a theme. There are still a couple of days to change that if enough people wish.

My apologies for a late response; I've been away from my computer for much of the day. Our show closes tomorrow, after which I have nothing to worry about other than Christmas shopping, cleaning the house, baking and figuring out what to do with two kids for the 18 days of Christmas break...
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:59 AM
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No, I thought we did quite well the last one without having a theme. There are still a couple of days to change that if enough people wish.
I thought about trying to organize a "continue the story" thread around a holiday song lyrics question that keeps coming up - what is meant by "scary ghost stories in 'The Most Wonderful Time of the Year'?" (weird british TV tradition, turns out) - but I think it's too late for that*. That's the only sort of theme I'd be in favor of, but I doubt it'd garner a lot of support. We had a theme last December, maybe every other year is best?







* but if people don't think it's too late for that, IM me and I'll start if a handful of people want to do it still. But only if you're committed to participating in writing such a multi-author story
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:37 AM
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I think that's a great idea but should be a separate project.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:45 AM
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I am determined not to let work ruin it for me this time. I missed two in a row, and I was bummed.

Look forward to it!
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:07 AM
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The auto-reply is set up and we are off and running. Best of luck to everyone.
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:00 PM
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Whew! I almost screwed this up! I saw this part of the instructions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Ministre de l'au-delà View Post
So, I'd like to suggest the following - the contest will run from 9 AM EST, Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 until 10 PM EST, Sunday, January 8th, 2012.
...and skimmed right over this part:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Ministre de l'au-delà View Post
The writer will then have 60 (sixty) hours from the time and date of that auto-reply to submit a story of no more than 2,000 words.
So of course, I sent for my auto-reply at 9:00 on Tuesday, thinking that would give me almost three full weeks to work on my story.



Fortunately, I started on it right away, and then checked back here today to review the rules, and... yikes! Got it in just under the wire.

So I just figured I'd mention this in case anyone else had the same reading impairment I did.

Last edited by Heart of Dorkness; 12-22-2011 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:03 PM
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Catching up - Heart of Dorkness, I received your story at around 4 PM yesterday. Well done!

For the first time for any of the Poetry Sweatshops/Short Fiction contests, I have to declare myself a drop-out. I knew that time was going to be tight, but between Christmas shopping, cleaning, baking, sorting out kids and a fund-raiser concert on Wednesday night, I didn't have time to write a word. If I get a chance to write something between now and the end, I may submit it, but it won't be in the voting.

Meanwhile - any other writers game? So far, Heart of Dorkness wins by acclimation...
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Old 12-26-2011, 03:59 AM
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I got the prompts earlier today. It immediately brought to mind an idea I've played with for years. I should have it in before my deadline. I'm excited by this one, hopefully it turns out well.

In other words, bump.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:21 PM
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Well, it's taken me nearly 32 hours, but I think I've finished hatching and outlining my story idea.

I decided that I wanted to do more planning this time instead of just starting writing as soon as the prompt gave me an idea. Hopefully that'll pay off, and I'll be able to get something good written in the next 28 hours. (And get some sleep.)
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:08 PM
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Yes, by all means describe the scene and make your story make sense; no, you do not have to copy or link the picture.
The reply to the email I sent said thusly:

"The story must incorporate photograph in the signature file ..."

Do I still need to do that? And if so, how is that done?
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:42 PM
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The reply to the email I sent said thusly:

"The story must incorporate photograph in the signature file ..."

Do I still need to do that? And if so, how is that done?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Le Ministre de l'au-delà View Post
I'll chime in with the others - the words can simply be present. If, for example 'Complete, Unleashed and Kinetic' were the three words, you could write 'Stan's exaggerated, kinetic energy, when he unleashes it, completely repels anyone he's dancing with.' Notice that I didn't feel compelled to stick with the words in their original form - I conjugated unleash as a verb, and turned complete into an adverb. Totally acceptable.

You can also use the words as an inspiration for the story - what is it that is 'complete'? Is it about to be completed? Has it been completed? What will be the effect when it is completed? Is it really completed, or did I just think it was? Will it never be completed?

The combination of the three can give you an idea as well - for me those three words send me in a scientific direction, especially 'kinetic'. 'Unleashed' with 'kinetic' make me think of some force suddenly set in motion by the completion of what? an experiment? a computer model?

The photograph also features in a similar way. If those really were the obligatory words, a picture of a laboratory would further send me in a scientific direction, whereas a picture of a dog might make me write a story about finishing a business deal and taking the dog for a run. What if it's a picture of a glacier? I dunno, there's something quirky about describing a glacier's kinetic movement as being unleashed, but there might be something really interesting in describing the 'mindset' of a glacier that feels like 'an inch an hour, two feet a day' is a roaring pace.

If you like, take a casual glance at some of the past contests to see how different writers have approached the same material. Or an in-depth glance - there are some great moments in there.

Hoping this helps and encourages.
The image in the photograph should be part of the story. You seem to have free rein in how to do that.
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:44 PM
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The reply to the email I sent said thusly:

"The story must incorporate photograph in the signature file ..."

Do I still need to do that? And if so, how is that done?
Sig file? Mine had a URL link to a photo on flickr.

Use it the same way you use the words. It doesn't have to be super literal, just inspirational.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:35 AM
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For the first time for any of the Poetry Sweatshops/Short Fiction contests, I have to declare myself a drop-out. I knew that time was going to be tight, but between Christmas shopping, cleaning, baking, sorting out kids and a fund-raiser concert on Wednesday night, I didn't have time to write a word. If I get a chance to write something between now and the end, I may submit it, but it won't be in the voting.
Le Ministre, you have two weeks (well, two weeks less a day from now). I hope we see something from you--your stories are always interesting.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:48 PM
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Okay, just sent my story in.

Does anybody else feel like they'd like to have just a few more hundred words to play with in one of these contests? 2000 is not much. Of course, that would mean longer stories to read during the voting, but still... sigh.

But I do rather like this one!
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:38 PM
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Does anybody else feel like they'd like to have just a few more hundred words to play with in one of these contests?
I occasionally would; and a few times, have found myself editing like mad to get the word count down. But I like the idea of a 2000-word cap. It keeps me from going on too long with unnecessary detail (like Arthur Hailey).
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:45 PM
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Sig file? Mine had a URL link to a photo on flickr.

Use it the same way you use the words. It doesn't have to be super literal, just inspirational.
Noted, and thanks. As an ancient former technical writer, I tend to wring out words in instructions until they beg for mercy. And I have a very cool way of incorporating the picture in my story - it's over halfway done and I'm just working on the weenie now.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:13 PM
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Okay, mine's sent, warts and all! Gotta work tomorrow.
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:38 AM
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Does anybody else feel like they'd like to have just a few more hundred words to play with in one of these contests?
Always. But as someone who also likes to write the occasional sestina, I like challenges with strict limitations too.
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Old 12-28-2011, 12:45 AM
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Does anybody else feel like they'd like to have just a few more hundred words to play with in one of these contests? 2000 is not much. Of course, that would mean longer stories to read during the voting, but still... sigh.
Not me. I already find this daunting, and I haven't even entered yet. I'd like a contest based on 100 words or less. But that's just me. And I'd probably run out of words right before the
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:47 AM
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Just sent mine in with minutes to spare. I'm just glad to have gotten something finished after missing out on the last three contests. Good luck everyone!
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:07 PM
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Submitted just under the wire!
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:35 PM
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Hello, I'm back, however briefly, and I just wanted to acknowledge that I have received stories from chrisk, Savannah, Jules Andre and jackdavinci. Well done, all of you - I'm sorry to have taken so long to re-assure you that the hamsters have done their work well. I've been in a reality-free zone where there is no internet to speak of...

With a little bit of luck, I'll be around a little more over the next week and change. There are still eleven more days in which to find 60 hours of writing time, for anyone else who wants to try. And yes, I still hope to have something to submit (outside of the poll, of course).
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:30 AM
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...and there's a fresh submission from Baker - bravo!
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Old 12-29-2011, 10:21 AM
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I just submitted my story. I'm well under the word limit, which is nice because I didn't have to hack out anything. The goal this time was speed, and I think I did well finishing in under 2 hours.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:34 PM
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I just submitted my story. I'm well under the word limit, which is nice because I didn't have to hack out anything. The goal this time was speed, and I think I did well finishing in under 2 hours.
Two hours?! Great!!
I too work on the speed system and give myself 3 hours - I need to practice how to write quickly and not overdo it with re-writes.
Hope to have the three hours time sometime soon!
(Maybe I will try to match or beat your two hours!)

Last edited by DMark; 12-29-2011 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 12-29-2011, 02:57 PM
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Okay, mine has been sent. Seems like we'll have plenty of stories in this one--I'm looking forward to the anthology!
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Old 12-29-2011, 03:58 PM
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Two hours?! Great!!
I too work on the speed system and give myself 3 hours - I need to practice how to write quickly and not overdo it with re-writes.
Hope to have the three hours time sometime soon!
(Maybe I will try to match or beat your two hours!)
I wasn't really trying to challenge myself for creative purposes, I just don't have a lot of time and I know if I leave it and come back to it later I'll probably make wholesale changes and get frustrated. I barely even proofread it after I wrote it.

I'm really looking forwadrd to seeing everyone's stories. Too bad we have to wait over a week!
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:06 PM
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I'm really looking forwadrd to seeing everyone's stories. Too bad we have to wait over a week!
I think I recall that, in a few past contests, Le Ministre began the anthology thread early, but didn't establish the poll until the proper date and time. So we may see stories sooner, rather than later.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:23 PM
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Gah, mine's not going to make it and I just flushed it. It just wasn't going well and I had a couple of fires to put out which pulled my focus. I'll try again later.
  #47  
Old 12-30-2011, 11:37 AM
DMark is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chi NYC Berlin LA Vegas
Posts: 13,728
Submitted mine a few minutes ago.
Beat my record (but not Barkis') by completing it in 2 1/2 hours.

Looking forward to reading them all.
  #48  
Old 12-31-2011, 01:00 AM
GIGObuster's Avatar
GIGObuster is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Arizona
Posts: 29,022
Just sent mine, warts and all, as usual I welcome the harsh criticism from a tough crowd as this is the best way to learn IMHO.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 12-31-2011 at 01:01 AM.
  #49  
Old 01-01-2012, 12:17 PM
TriPolar is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 40,372
Alas, fruit flies like a banana, and I've had no inspiration. Perhaps next time.
  #50  
Old 01-02-2012, 01:24 PM
DMark is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chi NYC Berlin LA Vegas
Posts: 13,728
Still time to enter and write a story!

And for those of you who have decided not to enter this time, please join in reading them all and voting! We usually have a dearth of readers and it would be great to have more people to comment on the stories - I know it helps me when I read the comments from others.
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