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ZD Writing Competition: Round 44 - Results

Which Entry Did You Enjoy?

  • Entry 1

    Votes: 2 100.0%
  • Entry 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    2
  • Poll closed .

Spiritual Mask Salesman

CHIMer Dragonborn
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After a bit of a hiatus the writing competion has returned! I'm going to add a bit of a foreword, if you prefer to skip and go straight to seeing the theme, scroll down and look for the large bolded text, as always. I'd prefer if those interested in this competition take the time to read this, though.

First, I apologize for not getting themes up at all earlier in the year. Truth be told, towards the end of last year I watched as participation in the competition increasingly dwindled. I started to lose steam as host, and did a lot of introspection on the future of this competition over the last 6 months.

I've mulled over different things, like changing the format with alternating between poetry and short stories each month rather than poetry months being rare. I've thought about bringing back multiple thematic elements that each entry has to incorperate somehow, i.e. include a scene with a blue car in your story, add a sunset into the story. Things along those lines. Originally when I took over the competition I opted against continuing that because I wondered if it was making the competition less approachable. I think my intuition on avoiding it is right considering in the past I've given themes that are very broad in scope but I've still had members respond "this is too limited". Regardless, I'd rather open dialog to see what you all want this competition to provide, because ultimately it's for your fun and entertainment.

If you have any ideas you're dying to pitch, I'm interested to hear it!

With that out of the way let's get to this months theme! Lately I've been obsessed with cityscapes. I've been hunting down images of them on pintrest to use as references for little art studies I've been doing. So the theme is:

Cities

Create a short story set within a city. It could be a real city, or a fictional one!

Submit all entries to me via DM by August 24th, 2023 at 11:59 PM EST (GMT -4)

As always, message me if there are any questions. Always keep in mind if you are feeling writing block, send me a message and we can throw ideas at a wall to get a concept going. Happy writing ZD!
 
Last edited:

Mikey the Moblin

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No, but I just looked it up. Provide illustrations that the writers have to create a whole story around? Or maybe even do rounds based on images in that book?
not really suggesting anything here, but that was just what it reminded me of. It would be cool to use the art from the drawing comp, you write a single Harris Burdick line for each artwork, and the writing comp goes from there. I had a lot of fun with harris burdick in middle school
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

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any length restriction?
I don't really enforce any hard rule on length as long as the piece can still be classified as a short story. So about 10,000 words is the max. That said, I don't think using the full 10,000 words is optimal because I think people have a bad tendency to not fully read something that is longer.

I'd love to see stories on the longer end, though, especially if it's a story that is gripping.
 

Chevywolf30

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What if there was a longer prompt? Instead of a general topic, give a sentence or a paragraph to get things going. Would that be worth trying or nah?
 
D

Deleted member 97076

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I have never written any short story aside from narrating my own life stories on reddit/forums. I sometimes like writing down strange dreams I had but really just for myself. I am curious how bad/good a writer i can be.
Like I understand writing is probably a feat requires countless hours to perfect. I wonder how fun it would be for a complete newb to join.
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

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What if there was a longer prompt? Instead of a general topic, give a sentence or a paragraph to get things going. Would that be worth trying or nah?
If we tried that I would do the sentence rather than the paragraph. An intro paragraph can give so much establishing info, like a character, a setting, and a tone, that I feel like it could diminish the creative freedom to craft a completely unique story.

A very loose sentence is probably managable, if people think it would help I would start doing it.

I have never written any short story aside from narrating my own life stories on reddit/forums. I sometimes like writing down strange dreams I had but really just for myself. I am curious how bad/good a writer i can be.
Like I understand writing is probably a feat requires countless hours to perfect. I wonder how fun it would be for a complete newb to join.
I always advocate to just jump into creative writing and have fun with it, regardless of experience! When I first joined these forums I had never written a piece of creative writing in my life. I started entering this competition back then and eventually I got pretty decent at making stories.
 

Dizzi

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You could give the new things as an option to add in to the theme like say the theme is Christmas and you give the blue car it could help if we have no inspiration???
 

Spiritual Mask Salesman

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We got two entries for last month!

Cities had been so noisy, he thought as he shambled through the urban sprawl searching for supplies, as he remembered when there were cars pootling around in quiet times and sat spewing acrid fumes out of their exhausts in the busy hours. Then the Troubles had come, no one knew how the Rip had appeared, expelling the Tansers as they were called, the army had done their thing of suppressing any news, of the attempts at nuking other cities failing but images had got out of large, white, scaly quadrupeds with sharp spines jutting out of their backs, large talons that ripped the roofs and skyscrapers where they lived. The old man peered up, those who went up never came down so they didn’t know what happened to the people, werethere more Tansers he wondered? He found what he was looking for, opening the bottle, sniffed the strong alcohol, took a slug of dutch courage and started up the Rhys tower , the tallest. The offices were empty, he walked through going up all 60 floors, he reached the top being blown around by the gusts that threatened to knocked him off, he stared around at the metropolitan spread surrounding the tower, his memory reminiscing on the little diners and shops that had been the fuel stations of the city, the rivers that had become clogged with sewage, peoples refuses the roads that had been the citys lifeblood. This building had been his own business a R&D firm, he had been proud of it. He pulled a small switch out of his pocket, he glared around at all the Tansers and ran as fast as his old legs could carry him, toward the Rip flicking the switch as he hit it, the bomb he had transplanted in his stomach, exploded destroying the Tansers and the Rip, his last thought was 'I hoped it works destroying both!'
Insomnia

Another restless night as scribbled thoughts swarm my head. A contorting body uncomfortably squirming struggles to find a decent position in a bed that seems too big and too small at the same time. Is it anxiety? Libido? Caffeine from the Coke? Mosquitoes? Temperature? A chronic sleep disease slowly dooming me? Doesn't really matter. I don't care if the city never sleeps, I just wish I could. In the background, a loud silence acts as the late night's ambient noise. A bizarre urban orchestra is the soundtrack, bringing life to the city darkened by the bleak starless sky:
  • the fast whirring of my computer (ugh I should turn it off);
  • jackhammers and saws transforming the streets ('improving quality of life' they say trying to earn a vote);
  • artificial insomniac birds desperately seeking for love (chirp chirp chirp);
  • a tuneless choir drunkenly singing songs that don't play on the radio anymore (this song feels so so nostalgic);
  • the sharp screeching of car tire every now and then (did they get hurt?);
  • hurt neighbors fighting, bored neighbors jogging, inspired neighbors revolutionizing (restless neighbors copycatting).
Ah. No. That's wrong. Not a starless sky. Plastic glow-in-the-dark stars, almost as old as me, are still glued both to the ceiling and the single window of the bedroom. The realization jogs my long lost memories. The magic shop from a few blocks away... that's where I got them. I miss that place, used to go there every week. Now it's a store that sells stuff for parties... no... a fast food restaurant... a hairdresser...?

This city changes too quickly. In the past three months there's been countless changes just in the neighborhood, too many new failed business quickly closing down. The hopeful manifestation of a dream quickly shot down by apathy and economics. Reality can be cruel, but unfortunately that's life, c'est la vie. At least they had a dream... a dream... how can people have dreams if they're not even asleep?

Across the street, a bright blue neon sign is strobing as if hanging on for its life, begging to be put out of its misery. It tries to announce a nearby adult club through uninspired lettering and a sexy silhouette. The fact a sign like this exists is... kinda cartoony, kinda gross. How this one survived the test of time is beyond me. I guess it helps a notable amount of people to cruise through the night. I wonder if having a business like this even is someone's dream.

Hm. A Dream. For some reason, while watching the sign, the famous Zhuang Zhou's story crosses my mind. Maybe it's because I've always imagined a blue butterfly. Bluetterfly? The sign would be waaaay more elegant if it was the drawing of a butterfly. In the story a philosopher dreams they're a butterfly, and upon waking up they wonder if they're not a butterfly dreaming they're human instead. If I'm a butterfly I better be getting the best sleep of my life right now.

... Morpheus must finally be blessing me. With heavy eyelids finally resting, and overfixated by the idea of the butterfly, the thoughts hop once again into more philosophical ponderations. Nonsensical ones, but still. Chaos theory. Something about the flap of a butterfly's wing causing a hurricane on the other side of the world. How is that even chaotic? It's just a domino effect. Dreams are chaotic. A flap of a butterfly in a dream could turn me into a pile of LEGOs. Now that's chaos.

A domino effect is just... just life. Just people's lives intertwining. Last week our city broke a record, over a hundred miles of traffic. An accident led to it, a mugger tried escaping and ended up hit by a car. While waiting for an ambulance, cars and buses and trucks started to form a seemingly endless line. Easily hundreds of thousand of people affected by such a simple everyday event, a mugging.

I remember being on one of the city's main avenues, which was also affected by the atrocious traffic. The drivers nonstop honking, not because they expected the multitude of vehicles to part like the Red Sea, it was just their way to scream. A mechanical yet feral scream (plus doesn't hurt their throats). At first people on the buildings shyly put their heads out to see what the commotion was, but would quickly get annoyed and lose interest. That day the city looked quite nice.

A cerulean sky. The buildings protruding and pointing towards as if challenging the blue. Modern Towers of Babel, but are those successful? Those in it had finally achieved a heaven, as opposed to the vagabonds who still struggled to find a haven. Somehow, these two groups don't speak the same language... Maybe it wasn't as pretty.

When imagining the view from above, the horde of exorbitant parallelepipeds made of concrete, iron, and glass, now seemed less like an engineering wonder and more like a giant nail bed. A nail bad full of uneven and blunt nails. A nail bed for the greatest fakir. Maybe God. Maybe He uses this huge city as one to sleep. Maybe the night is when His back lays over and covers the sky. I wonder if He has trouble sleeping. Maybe He...

...
......

...The alarm is ringing. I have to go to work. Upon opening my eyes, an uninvited greeting by the sunshine: it has already crept into the room. An welcoming sunrise tainting the smog filled sky with unimaginable warm colors, somehow even more colorful than the iridescent polluted rivers of the city. The sight is too much. As if an ignorant who had just escaped Plato's cave, I hurriedly bury my head inside the blankets to deny the start of a new day.

"I think I'll call in sick."​
 

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