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NeoGAF Creative Writing Challenge #207 - "Honour & Virtue"

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mu cephei

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Theme - "Honour & Virtue"

Word Limit: 2000

Submission Deadline: Friday 10th March by 11:59 PM Pacific.

Voting Deadline: Monday 13th March at 11:59 PM Pacific.

Optional Secondary Objective: Repetition

Use of repetition in language. From 'The Art of Fiction' by David Lodge: "The traditional model of good literary prose requires "elegant variation": if you have to refer to something more than once, you should try to find alternative ways of describing it; and you should give your syntax the same kind of variety..." but repetition has its uses and Lodge goes on to discuss how Hemingway used it, for example how a series of repeated words all relate to (the unspoken word) death, or how a series of separately repeated words can come together for poetic effect. Lodge also mentions how it can be used in mystical and religious writing, used by orators and preachers, and for comic effect:

"Intriguingly enough, the only way I can make Selina actually want to go to bed with me is by not wanting to go to bed with her. It never fails. It really puts her in the mood. The trouble is, when I don't want to go to bed with her (and it does happen), I don't want to go to bed with her. When does it happen? When don't I want to go to bed with her? When she wants to go to bed with me. I like going to bed with her when going to bed with me is the last thing she wants. She nearly always does go to bed with me, if I shout at her a lot or threaten her or give her enough money." ('Money' by Martin Amis). Lodge points out the choice of the phrase 'go to bed with' and the final-word placing of the thematically important word 'money'.

Feel free to use any other form of repetition as well.

Submission Guidelines:

- One entry per poster.
- All submissions must be written during the time of the challenge.
- Using the topic as the title of your piece is discouraged.
- Keep to the word count!

Voting Guidelines:

- Three votes per voter. Please denote in your voting your 1st (3 pts), 2nd (2 pts), and 3rd (1 pt) place votes.
- Please read all submissions before voting.
- You must vote in order to be eligible to win the challenge.
- When voting ends, the winner gets a collective pat on the back, and starts the new challenge.

Important side note: A lot of our regulars like to write out short critiques/comments for the stories, but you can always opt out by simply adding a note like "I'd prefer no critiques" in the post where you submit your story. We're an understanding group and respect that not everyone wants comments on their work. Above all, we just want to read your story.

NeoGAF Creative Writing Challenge FAQ
Previous Challenge Threads and Themes
 

Nezumi

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Hmm, let's see if I can actually manage a story before this Friday, so that I have this out of the way for when BotW arrives... I like the theme, not sure if I can do the secondary at will though. I think it is something that is hard to actually plan.
 

Cyan

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Jun 10, 2004
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I don't know how much you know about Creative Writing thread culture...
 

Alucard

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Jun 9, 2004
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I'm in! I only submitted one work like five years ago, but my goal is to become a published author within ten years, so I anticipate being a regular in these things. Currently at 12,000 words of a novel that's going...okay.

I'm going to write a side story or maybe something that could work as a chapter of the book I'm working on. Woo.

Excitement level is high!
 

MilkBeard

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Jun 20, 2013
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I'll be brainstorming the next few days to see if I can come up with something to write.
 

Alucard

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I'm in! I only submitted one work like five years ago, but my goal is to become a published author within ten years, so I anticipate being a regular in these things. Currently at 12,000 words of a novel that's going...okay.

I'm going to write a side story or maybe something that could work as a chapter of the book I'm working on. Woo.

Excitement level is high!
And as I say this, I'm totally blank the next day. Arrrrgh.
 

Ashes

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Dec 11, 2008
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One of these days, I'll see a story published by crowphoenix, and I'd be like: I knew that gaffer before he was famous/infamous.
 

FlowersisBritish

fleurs n'est pas britannique
May 13, 2014
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My gut is telling me to go fantasy or something with this. But its been so long since i did a fantasy i kinda forgot how.

One of these days, I'll see a story published by crowphoenix, and I'd be like: I knew that gaffer before he was famous/infamous.
One of these days i just want to see a story published. . .
 

Tangent

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Mar 15, 2010
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Congrats, mu!

Honour & Virtue. These are things I know not about.
I'm with you! *scratches forehead*

Flowers, I believe Nezumi has published some of her work, but I don't think they were GAF challenges. It's pretty cool! And, Cyan has published a short story in a sci fi magazine. And I think there are a few other published authors here! But yeah, it'd be cool if you took some of your own favorite stories and compiled them into something!
 

Nezumi

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Congrats, mu!


I'm with you! *scratches forehead*

Flowers, I believe Nezumi has published some of her work, but I don't think they were GAF challenges. It's pretty cool! And, Cyan has published a short story in a sci fi magazine. And I think there are a few other published authors here! But yeah, it'd be cool if you took some of your own favorite stories and compiled them into something!
Nope that one fell through, due to the publisher going bankrupt. Would have been a Gaf story though.
 

Alucard

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1,100 words written and going into the meat of the story now. Should be able to wrap it up before I hit 2,000 words. The themes are only thinly referenced at the moment. I'll see how it fits together at the end and edit a bit...
 

Alucard

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Jun 9, 2004
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Dammit. I'm over 2,000 words. Is it a hard target, or can we go over if it benefits the story? Or should I find a way to cut cut cut? I need at least 300 more words to close it out in a way that feels satisfying.
 

Nezumi

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Dammit. I'm over 2,000 words. Is it a hard target, or can we go over if it benefits the story? Or should I find a way to cut cut cut? I need at least 300 more words to close it out in a way that feels satisfying.
Hard target. We are incredible flexible when it comes to deadlines, but incredible strict when it comes to the word count. So cut, cut, cut it is :)

Unless you don't care about winning. In this case you can just submit, people will probably still read and comment your story, it's just not elegible for voting.
 

Alucard

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Hard target. We are incredible flexible when it comes to deadlines, but incredible strict when it comes to the word count. So cut, cut, cut it is :)

Unless you don't care about winning. In this case you can just submit, people will probably still read and comment your story, it's just not elegible for voting.
I'll revise. I want to be eligible. It's basically a three-part/three-location story, and I took up too many words in the first two locations, when the final location is supposed to explain a five-level tournament and then still have room for reflection at the end. I only left myself six hundred words to work with at that point, which just isn't enough. Booooo.

I'll make it work. I've got time and this will be good editing practice.
 
Jun 28, 2012
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chainsawkitten.net
Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary? Now, how to incorporate the secondary?
 

Cyan

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Jun 10, 2004
34,830
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Oh forgot to post earlier, regular hangout in two hours an hour and a half. Details half an hour in advance.
 

Cyan

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Writing hangout in about half an hour. Standard quick recap: it's on Google Hangouts, and the format is ten minutes of chat, then thirty minutes of writing with mics muted, repeated until we've gone for two hours. Webcams aren't required, though several of us will have them. Mics are recommended but also not required, as you can use the text chat.

The hangout link is (quote to see):
 

Alucard

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Okay, I think this is as good as it's going to get with the word limit. Feedback is welcome. Keep in mind I've only decided to take writing seriously since the start of 2017...I'm 35 and hoping to publish something by the time I'm 45. Giving myself 10 years to get good at this.

EDIT: See post below.
 

Alucard

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Editing doesn't seem to work properly. Here's the text again...

#entry

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jbhvd-ilddE-0Si7ftbSafjRekDi9b0PUZaOU_Z_CPg/edit?usp=sharing

A Guard's Tale

Taris' body ached.
It had been an exhausting afternoon of training, and Dreggar hadn't taken it easy on him; he never did. Taris wondered if it was because Dreggar believed in Taris or because he wanted to break him. It didn't matter, as the result was always the same - bruises, cuts, and a humbled ego.
Hate to think what he'd do with a real sword.
Now, he was glad to be indoors and sitting at the kitchen table. The warmth of the hearth fire and the smell of his mother's cooking filled the room, a bowl of chicken, carrot, and potato stew looking thick and filling in front of him.
”How did it go today?" his father asked.
”Well, I think. My parries are getting better."
His father nodded in approval. ”Good."
”I wish you'd keep your clothes clean," his mother said, ”You've been going through three pairs a week. You'll wear them out before you know it."
”Tell that to Dregs," Taris muttered.
His father glanced at him. ”Dregs is only doing what's best for you, Taris. No one ever got to Kingsroot without a scratch or some mud on him."
”Still," Taris' mother said, ”it's very inconvenient." She hesitated a moment, then continued speaking. ”And those clothes of yours will never do in a battle. You're lucky that your father and I have planned ahead."
Taris swallowed another helping of stew and creased his brow. ”What do you mean?" he asked. His parents looked at each other, and his father gave a slight nod. His mother stood and walked across the room to the wardrobe in the corner.
”Well, if you're going to Kingsroot for the trials, you'll need to look presentable," she said, then opened the door of the wardrobe and fetched something from inside. When she turned around, she held a black leather jerkin in her hands.
Taris' eyes widened. ”Is that for me?"
”Well, I doubt it would fit your father," his mother said.
”Too harsh, Martha," Taris' father said, feigning a look of wounded pride.
Taris' mother rolled her eyes and ignored her husband. ”Your father made it. Come on, try it on," she said. Taris did. It fit perfectly.
”Thanks, mom. Thanks, dad. But I don't get it," he said, still standing. ”Why now?"
”Come and sit first," his father said. Taris took his seat once more. ”That leather was imported from Drethar. It won't stop a piercing blade, but it'll do all right for your mobility. From what I know of the swordsman trials, you'll need that more than anything."
Taris was grateful but slightly confused. ”Okay, but why now?"
His mother smiled. ”You tell him," she said to her husband. Taris had never seen his parents so conspiratorial.
”The next swordsman trials begin in less than a week. There's a wagon leaving Barrington tomorrow morning," his father said. ”I've paid your way."
”What? You mean?..."
”Yes," his mother cut in, ”You're going to Kingsroot."
A surge of uncertainty welled up in Taris' throat. ”But...I'm not ready."
His father tapped the table. ”Dregs told me otherwise."
”He did?" Just that day, Dregs had told him he needed to learn to focus. The whole soliloquy stuck in his head:
”The thing about focus is that if you are truly in its grasp, you don't focus on the man in front of you; you reach inside yourself, feel the world around you, and react to the chaos."
How could he go to the trials if he hadn't mastered the foundational principle of Dreg's lessons?
”There's nothing more he can teach you," his father said, ”Listen, Taris. You were never cut out to be a tailor. I know that, as hard as it was to accept that you wouldn't follow my trade. I know this is your path, and it's time to take the next step."
Taris wanted to blurt out his doubts in a flurry, but seeing his parents now made him hold his tongue. He didn't want to disappoint his mom and dad; they believed in him. While all of Taris' friends had been taking up their family trades, his father had allowed him to pursue his passion. That alone made the words catch in his throat.
Taris had always wanted to become a member of Kingsroot's First Guard for himself, but suddenly felt it was for his family as well. He wouldn't fail them. He couldn't - especially not after his father had paid for a wagon all the way to Kingsroot. That was no small price.
”Thank you. I...don't know what to say. I won't let you down."
”You never could, Taris," his mother said, ”Do this for you."
They ate and talked of the future.
The next day, Taris' parents watched their son get on the wagon to Kingsroot. Taris wasn't sure when he'd see his parents or his village again.
Not until I'm a member of the First Guard.

The journey was three days of rain and harsh winds. Taris was relieved when they crested the mountainside to reveal Kingsroot. It was mid-afternoon and the sun was finally coming out of hiding. Taris had heard descriptions of the mid-sized valley kingdom, but like most things, the reality offered something different.
The castle rested on the northern slope of the valley. It overlooked markets, taverns, farms, and cottages on the outskirts. Most impressive of all, Taris could see the fabled oak tree standing in the middle of the castle courtyard.
The tree of Vargas - Kingsroot's first king and founder.
He enjoyed the view for as long as he could, then focused on the castle. He wasn't here for the sights; he was here to pass the swordsman trials and become a member of the First Guard.
The wagon stopped outside the walls surrounding the castle. Taris thanked the horse and driver for a safe journey.
A man at the castle gates led Taris to the registration centre for the trials. He sloppily wrote his signature and was escorted to the common room where the other candidates laughed, practiced, and commiserated. Taris was surprised by how relaxed everyone seemed, especially with the tournament only a day away.
In the common room, Taris counted nineteen other boys. Only one of them would become a member of the First Guard.
Not great odds, he thought. But better than nothing.
Taris slept and dreamed.

The next day, the trials started in earnest in the castle courtyard. There were no spectators outside of King Cardin himself and a handful of his aides. For some reason, Taris had expected more pomp and circumstance - an arena or a crowd - but he told himself it didn't matter.
The castle wall gates were closed, and Cardin stood before the tree of Vargas. In front of him, twenty swords were planted in the ground in a perfect line. The twenty boys stood abreast behind a line in the sand far from the tree.
”Let's thin the herd, shall we?" Cardin walked up and down the row of blades and pulled five out of the ground at random, handing them to a young aide just behind him. ”Now, claim your blade." Taris and the rest of the boys stared in confusion at each other. ”Now!" Cardin yelled.
The boys suddenly understood, scrambled and rushed towards king Cardin. Some tripped while others were shouldered away, as fifteen boys grabbed fifteen swords. Taris fought through forearms and elbows and managed to get a blade, rolling in the dirt just after getting his hand on the hilt. He was grateful for his speed.
Just like that, five of the boys became spectators.
There was barely a moment to catch one's breath as the boys walked to the other side of the tree. They lined up, and before each boy, a vertical log stood on the ground. ”The first ten to split their log in two will continue. Begin!"
Taris hacked at the wood. Using swords for the task felt wrong. He focused on the swing of his blade and the ever-increasing chasm in his piece of wood. He heard five logs split around him before he finished his, but he had gotten through to the next round.
Halfway there, he thought.
Cardin and the remaining ten walked towards the castle wall for the next round. Ten ropes were hanging from the top of the parapets and touching the ground at the bottom. ”I've got a long day ahead of me, so let's say that the first four to climb to the ramparts will continue," Cardin said, a little too casually for Taris' ears. ”Begin!"
Taris was fast. He scampered to the top before anybody and beamed with pride as he crawled onto the parapet. Now, there was only him and three others.
Next, Cardin had the boys draw lots to see who would face whom in the semi-final duels. Taris drew a tall boy with lanky legs. For the one-on-one fights, they used wooden practice blades, much like the ones he'd grown accustomed to in Kingsroot.
”The first to strike three mortal blows will continue to the final."
Taris and the lanky boy were up. At the king's command, they began their duel. Taris did his best to focus, but didn't need the level of concentration that Dregs had usually demanded of him. This was because the tall boy moved quickly but gracelessly, and he clearly lacked training. Taris easily whacked him on his legs, his back, and finally his abdomen to claim the round and move on to the final.
All or nothing now, Taris thought.
The final round was set to begin. Taris looked across at a stone-faced boy who looked slightly older than himself. The tree of Vargas stood firm behind them, and they got into their defensive stances. Suddenly, Cardin yelled.
”Stop!"
He walked up to them, took their wooden practice blades and handed them real swords. The boy opposite Taris smirked while Taris wondered how he was supposed to win. Was Cardin serious? Did he want them to kill each other? He wanted to win more than anything, but not if it meant killing for sport.
Cardin cut into Taris' thoughts. ”The first to make his opponent submit, or to slay him, will be declared the victor."
So there's another way, Taris thought. He just had to figure out a way to make the boy give up. He tried to recall Dreg's words to help him - to focus and react to the chaos.
Now's as good a time as any, right Dregs? He thought, trying to drown the fear. Focus, focus, focus.
”Begin!"
The boy came hard at Taris with an overhead slice.
Focus!
Adrenaline rushed through him, and time seemed to slow. Taris stared ahead vacantly. He dodged the cut. The boy slashed again, this time going for Taris' left side. Taris avoided him with ease. He ducked another particularly vicious attempt then drove the pommel of his sword into the boy's stomach; he fell to the ground, struggling for breath. Taris swung his blade through the air and stopped it a finger's length from the boy's neck. The boy dropped his sword.
”Stop!" Cardin said. ”We have a victor!" He then whispered to one of his aides and nodded. ”Welcome to the First Guard, master Taris of Barrington!"
The other eighteen boys stood by and clapped. Taris held out his hand to his downed opponent and helped him up. He then walked towards the waiting king, standing before the tree of Vargas, an ornate blade held across his palms.
”Welcome, master Taris. You have proven yourself worthy," he said, and held out the blade. Taris took it and faced the small gathering.
He'd done it.
He'd become a member of the First Guard.
His father's confidence in him had not been in vain. His training had not been useless. From Barrington to Kingsroot, he had made himself and his family proud.
He raised his blade.
 

mu cephei

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Only vague idea I have is of setting it on an alien planet (but then what's new) with a red sky and a poisonous atmosphere (probably from reading the comic 'Low' and 2312 by KSR). Nothing else yet.
 

FlowersisBritish

fleurs n'est pas britannique
May 13, 2014
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I've finally written a legit rough draft, going to sit on it for another day or so before I start to edit through it. I've been trying something new, I've been doing little character paragraphs before I got too far into the story just so I get a better feel for the characters and I think its been helping a little. Certainly makes my goofs more interesting to me at least.
 

Alucard

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By the way, for those who use Scrivener to write, do you make a new folder every time you start a new chapter in a book, or do you just keep adding new text/notes/post-its under the main folder? Getting used to the software and just wondering what others are doing.

(the name generator is badass)
 

Sch1sm

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By the way, for those who use Scrivener to write, do you make a new folder every time you start a new chapter in a book, or do you just keep adding new text/notes/post-its under the main folder? Getting used to the software and just wondering what others are doing.

(the name generator is badass)

When I used Scrivener, I created a new folder for every chapter. Cleaner that way, honestly. I tried it this past NaNo, and I'm pretty sure the tutorial suggests you do it that way as well. The amount of things on that cork board will become immense if you keep everything under that main folder. Sometimes, if I was having trouble with particular scenes, I'd even break off further within that folder. It gives you a nice overview that way. Easier to find things.
 

FlowersisBritish

fleurs n'est pas britannique
May 13, 2014
3,776
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Bleeeeeh, I really don't feel like editing this thing. No particular reason, no depression, not too busy with other things, weather isn't even that terrible or amazing. I'm just being too lazy to sit down :/
 

Autoignition

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Apr 13, 2016
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Damn it. Literally just found this thread, and it's way too late for me to whip something up (I'm an exceptionally slow writer by nature). Had no idea that you guys did stuff like this! I'll catch you all on the next round. Good luck for this one!
 

weemadarthur

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Damn it. Literally just found this thread, and it's way too late for me to whip something up (I'm an exceptionally slow writer by nature). Had no idea that you guys did stuff like this! I'll catch you all on the next round. Good luck for this one!
Just subscribe. According to standard timing, a new challenge should start monday. And writers are very consistent about getting standard deadlines met you know.
 
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