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Proposed new challenge: The Paragraph Prompt (2 Viewers)

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
They're great but really, really not the whole story. Not by a long shot.

(except for microfiction, of course)

Words > sentences > paragraphs = story

I like stories too, but feel it's more important to hone the first three before considering them as a competent whole. If you can nail the first three, then an editor/publisher is more likely to continue reading and eventually find out whether you've written a bad story, good story or excellent story. If you don't nail the first three, chances are, even if you've written the greatest story ever written, the editor/publisher will likely never find out.

That's my thinking and why I'm taking a year to well and truly hone all three before committing to what I would consider a marketable story.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Words > sentences > paragraphs = story

I like stories too, but feel it's more important to hone the first three before considering them as a competent whole. If you can nail the first three, then an editor/publisher is more likely to continue reading and eventually find out whether you've written a bad story, good story or excellent story. If you don't nail the first three, chances are, even if you've written the greatest story ever written, the editor/publisher will likely never find out.

That's my thinking and why I'm taking a year to well and truly hone all three before committing to what I would consider a marketable story.
I understand your viewpoint and have seen it played out across the boards. I don't entirely agree with you, honing too soon is like trying to gild a wilting lily. It's not that it's not important - you're right about that - but looking at the story as a whole is just as important as polishing its parts.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
I understand your viewpoint and have seen it played out across the boards. I don't entirely agree with you, honing too soon is like trying to gild a wilting lily. It's not that it's not important - you're right about that - but looking at the story as a whole is just as important as polishing its parts.

I can't disagree with that at all. :) I just find it easier to take an element at a time. I do have the complete story in mind though. It takes longer to get there though ... all that back tracking to edit, all that self loathing, all that howling at the moon. lol
 

Gumby

Staff member
Co-Owner
A molten snake of lava slithered down the side of the mountain, a wound, alive and spreading out as wide as a man’s hand in some places. Hissing, crackling with red embers spewing into the trees, burning leaves. The pressure was palpable and filled the air with a heavy, soundless throb, an invisible force, pushing the wildlife away with the smell of impending death.

 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
I understand your viewpoint and have seen it played out across the boards. I don't entirely agree with you, honing too soon is like trying to gild a wilting lily. It's not that it's not important - you're right about that - but looking at the story as a whole is just as important as polishing its parts.

Moreso the longer a story runs on. If writing good scenes is art, so's learning how to tie them together. Most people seem to pick up one or the other and spend an inordinate amount of time stumbling in darkness wondering why their story doesn't work (anybody care to guess where my twenties went? Yeah...).

At any rate I suspect a lot of the difficulty here comes from the uneasy marriage of two disparate worlds. Technicians make poor artists because they bog down in the clinical details and lose sight of the finished product. Artists, while gifted to the see the big picture, tend to distract easily and gloss over just how complex the surgical necessities can get. Ideally you can get both harnessed and pulling more or less in the same direction...but sooner or later I suspect most would-be authors have to hew on way or the other.

And may God have mercy, because when that big frying pan of truth smacks you in the head and makes you realize there's no one particular way to do this...that's when you get philosophers, and believe me it's all downhill from there.
 
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Foxee

Patron
Patron
A molten snake of lava slithered down the side of the mountain, a wound, alive and spreading out as wide as a man’s hand in some places. Hissing, crackling with red embers spewing into the trees, burning leaves. The pressure was palpable and filled the air with a heavy, soundless throb, an invisible force, pushing the wildlife away with the smell of impending death.
Dang, woman. I nominate, no I demand! That you be the next paragraph prompt contributor!
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Moreso the longer a story runs on. If writing good scenes is art, so's learning how to tie them together. Most people seem to pick up one or the other and spend an inordinate amount of time stumbling in darkness wondering why their story doesn't work (anybody care to guess where my twenties went? Yeah...).

At any rate I suspect a lot of the difficulty here comes from the uneasy marriage of two disparate worlds. Technicians make poor artists because they bog down in the clinical details and lose sight of the finished product. Artists, while gifted to the see the big picture, tend to distract easily and gloss over just how complex the surgical necessities can get. Ideally you can get both harnessed and pulling more or less in the same direction...but sooner or later I suspect most would-be authors have to hew on way or the other.

And may God have mercy on your writing career, because when that big frying pan of truth smacks you in the head and makes you realize there's no one particular way to do this...that's when you get philosophers, and believe me it's all downhill from there.

I used to just write but found the process lead to cementing bad habits. I approached everything other than writing in the way I approach writing now. Running, bowling, snooker, you name it. I'd break it down into its component parts and hone each part until eventually the whole worked better. Once I establish each part as part of my general 'habits' I let lose and see where I am. That will come in terms of my writing too. A pole vaulter, a runner, a shot putter, a pianist, a guitarist, a golfer etc doesn't just 'do it', they practice every single element to find their weakest points. It may look mechanical or too logical when related to something construed as 'art'.

I'd love to get published eventually, but my only objective is to hone my craft right now. Even if, at the end of it all, I never get published, the process itself is interesting to me and so I wouldn't consider it a waste of time.

I remember when I first started running. There was a 4 mile run I did every day except Sundays. I'd concentrate on breathing, concentrate on taking measured steps, concentrate on honing a focused mindset, concentrate on 'heal to toe, heal to toe', concentrate on an internal rhythm. Every single element of running.

During that time, another runner was running the same course I ran. I'd be focused on my objectives and he'd be passing me every single time. I'd just watch him pass. He was better than me. After around 4 months of concentrating on all the elements that went into running well, and topping up my resistance to fatigue, that runner ran past me as usual. It was time to let lose and see the results of my focus.

I tore that guy UP! Oh ... the look on his face.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
A molten snake of lava slithered down the side of the mountain, a wound, alive and spreading out as wide as a man’s hand in some places. Hissing, crackling with red embers spewing into the trees, burning leaves. The pressure was palpable and filled the air with a heavy, soundless throb, an invisible force, pushing the wildlife away with the smell of impending death.


I did like this, a couple of things struck me. The molten snake image suggested the familiar flow of larva across the surface, one has to adjust the idea when getting to 'a wound'. May I suggest putting it first
'A wound, a molten snake ...'

A couple of extra words, there is no real difference between 'some places' and 'places'. 'Palpable pressure filled the air' is such a lovely aliterative phrase I would be very tempted to lose 'the, was, and'.
 

Gumby

Staff member
Co-Owner
New Prompt
(Okay, tell me if I'm doing this wrong and we aren't supposed to have characters, but only a scene? If so, just skip over this and I'll pick it up, eventually. Lol!)


Confused, she studied the bright crimson beads sliding down her arm, pooling at her fingertips, dropping into endless sky below. How could that be? Sky is above, not below. Even in her muddled state she knew that much. Blood, it was blood. She froze, instinct told her that moving was a bad idea, as her fuzzy mind began to clear, she realized she was standing at the edge of a terrifying drop off, so high that it seemed blue sky was both above and far below her. Roar, slap, hiss, roar, slap, hiss, beating in her head, her ears pounding with the rhythm of it. The distinct sound of angry waves beating against rocks. Licking dry lips, she tasted salt, sand, felt wind whipping her hair into a frenzy as it lashed around her head like Medusa's snakes.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
New Prompt
(Okay, tell me if I'm doing this wrong and we aren't supposed to have characters, but only a scene? If so, just skip over this and I'll pick it up, eventually. Lol!)


Confused, she studied the bright crimson beads sliding down her arm, pooling at her fingertips, dropping into endless sky below. How could that be? Sky is above, not below. Even in her muddled state she knew that much. Blood, it was blood. She froze, instinct told her that moving was a bad idea, as her fuzzy mind began to clear, she realized she was standing at the edge of a terrifying drop off, so high that it seemed blue sky was both above and far below her. Roar, slap, hiss, roar, slap, hiss, beating in her head, her ears pounding with the rhythm of it. The distinct sound of angry waves beating against rocks. Licking dry lips, she tasted salt, sand, felt wind whipping her hair into a frenzy as it lashed around her head like Medusa's snakes.

Wow, this is a tough one. I think I'll deal with this tomorrow. lol. This is just SO good! I fear tampering.

edit: It looks like Foxee felt the same :)
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Darn it, I had to give it a go before I go to bed:

She observed the crimson beads slipping down her arm, pooling at her fingertips and dripping into endless sky. That could not be. Even in her confusion, she knew that much. It was blood. An instinct held her rigid, as her senses slowly returned. She realised she stood on the precipice of a sheer cliff, so high the sky seemed endless above and below. Angry waves roared and slapped and hissed rhythmically in her head, ears resonating in accord. Below the ocean battered and clawed at the cliff on which she stood. She tasted salt on her lips, her hair whipping in a violent wind, striking forward like snakes as if to meet in battle an enemy of the land.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
There is a lot to this one so I hope I've done it justice. My time to play with it is being cut a little short today. Last sentence is a tad too long and I think it could stand more work, really, but here we go:

Brightcrimson beads slid down her arm, pooled at her fingertips, droppedinto thin sky below. Red so beautiful in the pearly blue, like art. Acrash-and-roar hissed through her head and sucked at her ears like afalling-dream that turned her to fear-struck stone. She stood at theedge of a cliff so high the sky appeared to be both above and farbelow. Licking dry lips she smelled blood and tasted sand and salt.Her hair lashed her face like frenzied Medusa's snakes that woulddrive her from the edge to where waves punished rocks and hissed withfrustration at the foot of the dizzying drop.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
There is a lot to this one so I hope I've done it justice. My time to play with it is being cut a little short today. Last sentence is a tad too long and I think it could stand more work, really, but here we go:

Bright crimson beads slid down her arm, pooled at her fingertips, dropped into thin sky below. Red so very beautiful in the pearly blue, like art. A crash-and-roar hissed through her head and sucked at her ears in a falling-dream tilt that turned her to fear-struck stone. She stood at the edge of a cliff so high the sky appeared to be both above and far below. Licking dry lips she smelled blood and tasted sand and salt. Her hair lashed her face like frenzied Medusa's snakes that wished to drive her from the edge to where waves punished rocks and foamed with frustration at the foot of the dizzying drop.
 

Gumby

Staff member
Co-Owner
Az:

Below the ocean battered and clawed at the cliff on which she stood.
I loved this line. :) And think you've managed to condense some of my ramblings nicely. I know I tend to ramble and always have to come back and condense/cut.


Foxee:
Bright crimson beads slid down her arm, pooled at her fingertips, dropped into thin sky below.
"thin sky" now that is a great term and you immediately get it.

A crash-and-roar hissed through her head and sucked at her ears in a falling-dream tilt
That's great! Love 'sucked at her ears' that's exactly what it feels like and you managed to get the sense of 'vertigo' in there with the falling dream tilt.

Honestly, I wasn't sure if this was a correct interpretation of the challenge, as they mostly seemed to be scenes without inner dialog and an outward, looking in perspective, where this is almost all her perspective, looking out. I love this challenge, though!
 
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TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Az:

I loved this line. :) And think you've managed to condense some of my ramblings nicely. I know I tend to ramble and always have to come back and condense/cut.


There was a slight confusion there and I forgot to iron it out. At the point she looks down at the sky and thinks this cannot be. Immediately following that, the revelation is 'it's blood'. It kinda creates a slight confusion in the image. I meant to iron that out but forgot. I was knackered.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Honestly, I wasn't sure if this was a correct interpretation of the challenge, as they mostly seemed to be scenes without inner dialog and an outward, looking in perspective, where this is almost all her perspective, looking out. I love this challenge, though!
I think any paragraph should be fair game within reason (don't offer up the longest paragraph ever written and probably not a one-word remark with a dialogue tag or something) doesn't really matter if it's from a character's perspective or a narrative description. I think we're ready to have at lots of types of material.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Olly, I appreciate your attempts to make me better, however, from my understanding this is a "let's see how the paragraph worked" challenge and not a critique thread.
Get a bit of alliteration and lose 'like art'.
Nope. This was meant to show her confusion rather than saying that she is confused. I'd rather have that than the alliteration.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
NEW PROMPT:

I'm loath to see this thread faltering! Here's one of mine fresh off the press.

Reverend Thompson pulled up in a rickety old horse and carriage, two large wooden wheels at the back and two smaller wheels at the front. He sat bolt upright in the open top package crate. The horse looked weary, as if it knew it carried a messenger of weight. The leather of the elevated seat squeaked on rusted springs as Reverend Thompson stepped down. Green Wellington boots squelched in the mud. He adjusted a floppy khaki-coloured hat atop a cliff face, his eyes potholes, nose craggy and mouth a cool, calm pool. Smile already installed, he approached Blake’s farm, a man in black, white collar a grin at his throat. There couldn’t be a more definitive representation of a country reverend, with the biblical sandwiched between the rustic. His finger habitually tapped a bible. A rhythmical, hypnotic beat, a subliminal indication of where the enthralled should meet.
 
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