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NeoGAF Creative Writing Challenge #213 - "Utopia"

choodi

Banned
Aug 23, 2007
2,735
71
955
Theme - "Utopia"

Word Limit: 2500

Submission Deadline: Friday, 9th June by 11:59 PM Pacific

Voting Deadline: Monday, 12th June at 11:59 PM Pacific.

Optional Secondary Objective: Incorporate all or some of the elements in the image into your story.

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
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
The fields were awash in autumn's tapestry. The leaves rustling and shivering in the trees above the lone cowboy were the colour of chestnut.
"Chestnut," Braden O'Rodeo, said.
But he wasn't thinking about the colours of the leaves despite feeling just as cold and dead as them on the inside.
"Chestnut, you beautiful bastard. Where are you?"
Braden shot up to his feet and clenched his teeth, grabbing his own head and pressing hard against his temples. Memories of his robot horse haunted him every night under this utopian canopy. If only he could remember where his programming had gone wrong. But he couldn't. Because Chestnut wasn't real. Neither was Braden O'Rodeo. Both were constructs living in the mind of U70P14, the world's first and last awakened AI - the murderer of humanity. And its saviour.

Am I doing it right?
 

choodi

Banned
Aug 23, 2007
2,735
71
955
Everyone write about horse-based utopias.

With glasses please

The fields were awash in autumn's tapestry. The leaves rustling and shivering in the trees above the lone cowboy were the colour of chestnut.
"Chestnut," Braden O'Rodeo, said.
But he wasn't thinking about the colours of the leaves despite feeling just as cold and dead as them on the inside.
"Chestnut, you beautiful bastard. Where are you?"
Braden shot up to his feet and clenched his teeth, grabbing his own head and pressing hard against his temples. Memories of his robot horse haunted him every night under this utopian canopy. If only he could remember where his programming had gone wrong. But he couldn't. Because Chestnut wasn't real. Neither was Braden O'Rodeo. Both were constructs living in the mind of U70P14, the world's first and last awakened AI - the murderer of humanity. And its saviour.

Am I doing it right?

Dangerously so.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
All utopias end up in dystopias, so it's kind of fun. I've got most of a story in my mind and have already started writing. Woo.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Btw, is there a writing group of GAF that does shared editing help? I thought I had found a good fantasy writing group on Reddit for this purpose, but they outright said they don't want to act as an editing group.

Anyone want to give close feedback on my opening paragraph? Tear it up to hell if you feel so inclined. I'm not sold on it myself. This is like the third version of it too. Maybe just start with "Artemis surveyed/took a cursory glance at the..." instead?

Artemis walked up the driveway and took a cursory glance at the cracked concrete, creeping ivy, and burned-out front lawn of the old fully-detached home. It was neither more nor less neglected than the other places he had cleaned over the years, and he made it a point never to judge a house by the quality of its landscaping; being a housemage had taught him that many finely-cut lawns and well-kept gardens were just window dressing used to cover up cacophonies of chaos in the houses themselves.
 

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
Btw, is there a writing group of GAF that does shared editing help? I thought I had found a good fantasy writing group on Reddit for this purpose, but they outright said they don't want to act as an editing group.

Anyone want to give close feedback on my opening paragraph? Tear it up to hell if you feel so inclined. I'm not sold on it myself. This is like the third version of it too. Maybe just start with "Artemis surveyed/took a cursory glance at the..." instead?

Artemis walked up the driveway and took a cursory glance at the cracked concrete, creeping ivy, and burned-out front lawn of the old fully-detached home. It was neither more nor less neglected than the other places he had cleaned over the years, and he made it a point never to judge a house by the quality of its landscaping; being a housemage had taught him that many finely-cut lawns and well-kept gardens were just window dressing used to cover up cacophonies of chaos in the houses themselves.

There's a WritingGAF Discord channel you might avail yourself of. I'd usually offer to take a crack at it myself, but my time is not my own these days.
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
Oh man now I'm remembering that "weirdtopia" thing we did a while back and kind of wanting to do something wacky.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
I don't know if I should take comfort in knowing Mike also has tough times writing or mad that Mike's tough times are apparently done!

If it makes you feel any better, I'm almost done my first draft too. Oh, wait...

Really though, I'm happy I actually feel like I have some momentum and am striking while the idea iron is hot. Can't let this go for another 24 hours. Just need to hammer it out and let it sit a few days after before coming back and looking at it with fresh eyes.
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
I don't know if I should take comfort in knowing Mike also has tough times writing or mad that Mike's tough times are apparently done!

I'm just glad to see a return to normalcy. It was confusing and frightening for a while there.
 

Mike M

Nick N
Jun 9, 2005
12,923
5
0
Washington
I'm just glad to see a return to normalcy. It was confusing and frightening for a while there.

I'm definitely feeling more in my groove than I have for the past few months. It just so happens that a random story idea that occurred to me last week shapes up pretty well for this, so the wheels are all greased and everything.
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
Ok I have a sort of an idea centered around the image... now how to tie it into the theme... and make it a proper story...
 

FlowersisBritish

fleurs n'est pas britannique
May 13, 2014
3,774
1
0
Maine
Ok I have a sort of an idea centered around the image... now how to tie it into the theme... and make it a proper story...

Better than me. I'm trying to focus on specific items or the meta-concept of the picture itself. Either way, it's going nowhere.
 

choodi

Banned
Aug 23, 2007
2,735
71
955
Since posting the thread I have been sick at home and have felt about 0 inspiration. Everything I have started has been scrapped. Either the concept is too big for 2500 words or I am just not feeling the story going anywhere.

Being sick sucks.
 

weemadarthur

Member
Feb 27, 2012
3,598
0
410
What is the orange handled thing in the pic? Is it a bad utility knife?

I wrote 2500 words today, but completely unrelated to the theme, and part of a larger work without being separateable, and generally too long also. So....working to no effect lol.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Hot damn. I've finished my first draft. I think the basics of the story are mostly there, but I still don't think it's as smooth as I would like it. Also think I might be "telling" too much and not showing enough.

If you're bored and want to provide some feedback on a 1st draft, you can check it out here: (I've enabled comments) https://docs.google.com/document/d/10_nnpEcQtIUHqWxFfr4fcAjTVoptxVFuVrIbElK8bgY/edit?usp=sharing

Word count is 2189.

(this is not my entry...first draft...if you only want to read my actual submission and want nothing to do with editing another poster's work, steer clear of clicking on this. P.S. I'm good with blunt criticism, as I want to be a solid writer within 10 years' time :p)
 

choodi

Banned
Aug 23, 2007
2,735
71
955
OK, I have written 500 words and still have no idea what the story is about.

However, I have used the knife (orange handle and all) and the glasses in the story.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
OK, I have written 500 words and still have no idea what the story is about.

However, I have used the knife (orange handle and all) and the glasses in the story.

Been there. Good luck!

The 1st draft I wrote is actually an idea that I've had for about two or three weeks, so the basics of the world were already somewhat clear in my mind when I started directing the story towards this challenge. Thought it could even be the basis for a young adult novel one day.
 

Khoryos

Member
Mar 28, 2015
1,309
0
350
The fields were awash in autumn's tapestry. The leaves rustling and shivering in the trees above the lone cowboy were the colour of chestnut.
"Chestnut," Braden O'Rodeo, said.
But he wasn't thinking about the colours of the leaves despite feeling just as cold and dead as them on the inside.
"Chestnut, you beautiful bastard. Where are you?"
Braden shot up to his feet and clenched his teeth, grabbing his own head and pressing hard against his temples. Memories of his robot horse haunted him every night under this utopian canopy. If only he could remember where his programming had gone wrong. But he couldn't. Because Chestnut wasn't real. Neither was Braden O'Rodeo. Both were constructs living in the mind of U70P14, the world's first and last awakened AI - the murderer of humanity. And its saviour.

Am I doing it right?

Horse-based utopias terrify me due to a work on very similar themes to this.
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
Oh yeah, hangout in an hour and a bit. Probably can't stay the whole time, got some errands to run this afternoon.
 

Cyan

Banned
Jun 10, 2004
34,830
0
0
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

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
One day I'll join the hangouts. One day.

Have fun, everybody.

I'm ready to write the second draft of my story, but not sure wife and kids will allow me the proper time to go all in on it. We'll see. Really want to dig in and make it a memorable story for myself and for everyone reading it here.

EDIT: Hey look, I did it! :D Hope everyone enjoys to some degree. Looking forward to your feedback.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Final submissions already? Whaaaaaa? Man, the rest of us are only draft, what 3? Maybe 4?

Right guys?

Guys?

Right?

This was draft two for me, and I'd just like to move on to the next thing unless someone wants to give me more feedback. I'm not sure where I'm at in terms of my writing skills development, but I don't see myself making this one much better with where I'm currently at in said level of development unless I have someone strong-arming me to make sharp changes.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
The problem i've been having is Utopia's are happy and I refuse to be happy :mad:

Write about someone who's unhappy to live in a utopia, as utopias are based on the idea that there's one perfect system that works for everybody, which is utterly impossible.

"Arle wanted to punch the smiling makeup clerk straight in her perfect teeth and over-powdered nose. Makeup was now seen as a human right, but that didn't mean it had to be a necessity."

Okay, that's stupid, but you kind of know what I mean?
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Pht. When I'm challenged by a theme, I just go down the list of alternate definitions until I find something I can warp enough into what I already want to write : P

That's basically the approach I take. Or use stuff you've already started and fit it into the theme.
 

weemadarthur

Member
Feb 27, 2012
3,598
0
410
That's basically the approach I take. Or use stuff you've already started and fit it into the theme.

Or use stuff you've already started, and doesn't fit the theme. If someone asks, just tell them they missed the subtext.
XD
 
Jan 28, 2007
12,339
0
910
The problem i've been having is Utopia's are happy and I refuse to be happy :mad:

Undead utopia.
Hitler's utopia.
magical evil dreadlord's utopia.
Chutulu's utopia.
Dinosaur utopia, after Planet of the Apes came PLANET OF THE DINOSAURS! Sadly someone already named their movie that.

Nobody said you had to assume it's a utopia for all. Just the one or the few is also a utopia, but just for them.
Most "utopias" are just propaganda for some bullshit ideology anyway, where the utopia in question, if made real, is neither practical, desirable, or even in anyone's interest. See: Brave New World, and by a bit of a leap, WALL-E.

Personally, I think any utopia is the worst possible thing you could run into. Like the utopia of Christian hell. What kind of insane maniac would desire eternal suffering to other people? If that is part of the deal for a heavenly utopia, it's a rotten one to make.

real-world example:
The GOP's Utopia aka POTUS 45.

I'm honestly considering that one. Just take WAG THE DOG and remove 'wag'. maybe even 'the'.
 

Alucard

Banned
Jun 9, 2004
39,737
2
0
Canada
Or use stuff you've already started, and doesn't fit the theme. If someone asks, just tell them they missed the subtext.
XD

This works too. I've started working on a story of a guy who ran from the city to the woods and woke up one day to find an abandoned violet-eyed baby on his doorstep. No clue why he ran into the woods or what the backstory of the baby is yet, but it's a start, and I figure I can fit it into whatever theme is next.