Welcome, honourable authors, fellow participants and lovers of dedicated exchange,
here now, as announced, the first round of the reawakened "Finish the Story" competition!
Before I serve the beginning of the story, a few things about the procedure and the criteria.
How this contest works:
- An unfinished fiction story is posted.
- You finish it with your own post on your blog.
- Use the #finishthestory as your first tag.
- Make your entry visible by linking it in the comment section.
- Duration of the competition: One week.
- A limit of 500-700 words is recommended.
If you don't slavishly adhere to it, it's no big deal. But going over the limit too rampantly will result in few or no people being inclined to read and engage with your story.
- Rating/voting on the entries of other authors are highly welcomed - you can vote by whim or use the suggested rating system, like shown below. For this, cast also your numbers next to your given feedback. Like so: "my ratings to this story are 7/3". If you decide against the rating system, announce your personal winner in the comment section down below.
- 8 Hive for the winner
- 5 Hive for the 2nd
- 3 Hive for the 3d
Commenter reward - most helpful/inspiring comment:
- 8 Hive
Anyone planning to improve their writing style will welcome an engaging commentary that points out weaknesses as well as strengths. Commenting is not about exclusively praising and expressing enthusiasm (which, of course, is gratefully welcomed). Use constructive feedback.
Within the 7 day window, this feedback might be used for alterations of the finished story by the author, so you may give your final vote in Hive value more to the end of the time window. But give your feedback/rating early on.
Experimentation - reflection on rating mechanism
I would like to experiment a bit, so I also suggest scaling in reactions to published finished stories.
Emotional response (measuring yours - the reader's - willingness to engage with the story on a scale of 0-10) to the story content:
- 0 = zero willingness to engage with the content of the story
- 10 = absolute willingness to engage with the content of the story
- All values in between assigned by feel.
In this graph you see some examples of how you can rate a story.
Unlike, a non-fiction topic, the emotional response to a fiction text can be highly negative (anger, annoyance, horror, disgust, alienation, irritation). Just as deeply positive (joy, laughter, surprise, well-being, irritation). And everything in between.
Both are well known phenomena. The author may want to achieve exactly that: that someone gets irritated by the narrative.
As may have been noticed, I listed the term "irritation" on both engagement measures. Irritation can be perceived both positively and negatively.
Anything that doesn't feel emotional, such as the tense, form of text (headlines, paragraphs etc.), stylistic devices, the number of adjectives used, the number of characters, the amount of effort evident in the elaboration of scenes and characters, then feeds into the rest of a story's rating.
[Note: As fluidly and effortlessly as a story may seem to have been created, it is perhaps precisely this that defines the quality of a text. Therefore, neither the length of the text nor the multitude of adjectives are decisive, but their composition. A winning text can also be very short and still be convincing.]
Here, you can see an example how the winners can be selected:
Ultimately, you can decide completely spontaneously - without scaling and factors - and no one shall cry "Foul!".
As much as I like to use some aid for evaluating, in fiction writing some rule braking actually can spice up the performance. Irritating the audience uses often disruptive and unusual elements.
And now, let's get to the given story!
I've turned up the heating because my freezing limbs are overtired and I had eaten little. I was one of the last suits to leave the event. In my briefcase, smelling of men's perfume, the deposit slips and signatures. The initiated guests had clapped and hoorayed like silly, the uninitiated had wondered, some sceptic, others curios. Like every time at these gatherings. The job was to bring them in. Appelt's charismatic speech has become a stoic repetition. How did Appelt manage to look like a fresh breeze up there on stage, every single time?
The warmth makes me all too comfortable in the leather driver's seat and I have trouble staying awake behind the wheel. The ride is monotonous.
At half past two in the night, there is hardly any business on the roads. In a deserted village, the traffic light turns red. Really?! After stopping briefly to see if any other vehicles cross the lane, I speed up. Car obeys nicely. It momentarily gives me a sense of unreality, just like a flash of guilt, which I immediately drown out with a laugh. What a lawbreaker I am!
On the highway, things get even worse. At over a hundred kilometers per hour and driving only straight ahead, I find myself closing my eyes, amazed and more than irritated with myself for continuing to drive even though it could end with me at any time. The inner struggle, however, wants to go on. ... Why don't I drive off and look for a parking space? But even for that I am just too tired, as crazy as it feels. I chuckle, a dazed man, from my own thoughts, for sure a stupid grin on my face.
Well, I'll be! I must have fallen asleep again, my vehicle already almost touching the guardrail, I quickly correct the course. I find myself strange, because I hardly take my foot off the gas. I tear my eyes wide open, just like my mouth, imagining I have frog eyes and my face is as felxible as chewing gum. That helps. For about two seconds. Oncoming vehicles blind me. I inwardly salute the nocturnal drivers who get another quarter of a second out of it with their lights.
"Stay awake," I command, muttering it to myself. "Stay awake stay awake stay awake stayawake stayawake awakesaywake ... ." This turns into a beautiful melody I can hear in my mind "Sail away, sail away, sail away ... "
I am delighted, feels good. My eyes fall shut.
Continue the story, dear lovers of storytelling!
P.S. Anyone here with talent in graphic design? I have not yet received a response from f3nix, the previous creator of the contest and the graphic used. So it might be good to come up with a new design. Who is up for it?
Edit: I changed the title picture. Please, don't be irritated. It might need a new design.