Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spookymilk Survivor VIII: Punch To a Quick End

Last week went pretty well. This week, the challenge was to write as short a complete story (or at least something that told a complete part of a complete story) as possible. To complicate matters, the story had to fit within two bookending sentences (helpfully provided by the judges).

Better get used to these bars, kid.
Your stunned silence is very reassuring.

It didn't matter which one started the story, and which finished so long as the story was bookended by those two sentences. In addition to the standard "x points out of 5" scale, additional points would be added or taken away based on the length of the piece in comparison to the other entrants. The shortest three (again, assuming the entrant told a self-contained story) would be given extra points. The longest three would lose points.

Was I able to top last week's top notch score and grab an almost impossible '7'? Read on...

My entry:

“Better get used to these bars, kid.”

The words snapped me back to reality as I stood in front of the dessert table at my wedding reception. The man’s voice went on, “after all, you did marry into a Lutheran family. Goes with the territory”. I faked a chuckle.

My new wife approached. “What a whirlwind of a day. Is there anything I can get for you? Have you met my family?”

I wanted to say something but nothing was coming. I couldn’t do anything but stare dumbly at those damned brownies. I guess I had a lifetime of those to look forward to, at least. Lisa gave me a quizzical look before playfully jabbing me with her finger, “Your stunned silence is very reassuring.”

Kelly and Beau's Critiques

K: I do like the sad internal monologues of people in regret. Always interesting stuff. I assume this one will be on the long side, but it’s good. 4

B: Cute. I’m not much into denomination jokes. I am very into brownies. 3

For fun, here's the breakdown of what everyone's "bars" were:

Dessert: 4
Prison or Other Cage: 3
Musical Notation: 2
Drinking Establishment: 2
Handlebars: 1
Generic Metal Bars: 1

So first things first, I guess I completely failed in my intention to pick something others might not. I figured more people would go for either the prison or drinking establishment routes. My first thought was to go a more comedic route, with the bars tasting terrible or something of the like. I'm glad I didn't do that, as a couple of the other entrants went in that direction, and were more successful than I probably would have been.

I'm not entirely certain where I got the idea of a semi-regretful groom staring at a dessert table. I've never actually seen one of the stereotypical Lutheran "Potlucks" at a wedding reception - certainly not mine, though I did marry into a Lutheran family (more on that in a moment). The "Lutheran family" joke was actually meant to lampoon those who DO subscribe to denominational humor (I really dislike humor of that ilk), so I had the speaker of that joke be a nameless, faceless annoyance. It looks like that didn't come across quite the way I wanted for it to.

The "stunned silence" line simply would not fit into the story, no matter what I tried. I still don't like the look of it. It's not a phrase that is very easy to shoehorn into "normal" dialogue. It sounds sarcastic, but stiltedly so. The bride is playfully ribbing the protagonist, and it doesn't quite look right, but I don't it's so bad that it throws everything off.

I didn't even bother with length. I know that length was precisely half the challenge, but I couldn't find a way to tell the story I wanted to tell without having three characters, and it's quite difficult to have three characters and describe them in only a couple throwaway sentences. As it turns out, I think I made the right call on disregarding the length (but only barely so, a couple more sentences and I would've lost points). I think the idea of "short as possible" stories is a good one, and the challenge on whole is solid, but most of the shortest ones read as jumbled and somewhat static (and received low "story" scores as a result), and most of the longest ones ended up being the best. In the end everyone who submitted was within a point and a half of each other. That probably says something about the level playing field almost as much as it does about the challenge, but I digress.

More nonsubs this week, so of course, it only mattered insomuch as it's always fun to read the submissions. Maybe next week we'll get a full quorum and things will get interesting.

1 comment:

  1. We have indeed set a record for weeks at the beginning of the game with at least one non-submitter. In fact, we have not yet had fewer than two in any week.

    We're making a run at the record for weeks with at least one (in Survivor IV, fourteen of eighteen people eliminated were a result of non-submissions).

    I keep thinking this is the week we'll finally stop having them, but there are still three people in the game who've missed a week before. That's the same thing I said three weeks ago, and here I am again. Argh...