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Short Story General! 
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Post Short Story General!
There seem to be quite a few people around here who write rather well! There also seem to be quite a few people who might want to improve their writing! Whatever abilities you see yourself as having or wanting to have, I figured that a topic to house people's short stories would be a good idea. For one, because writing short stories regularly lets people practise their writing ability. Writing is a skill, and as any other, practising leads to improvement. For another, for the same reason there are art general topics – so people don't have to make a new topic every time they want to share something they've written.

For the sake of not cluttering the topic too badly and to offer a guideline for people who are concerned their story might be too long to be considered a "short story", a short story will be defined as a self-containing story that fits in one post. No "to be continued" and no sequels either because that is totally just an excuse. One post is the limit.

So yeah! That's all this topic is for! That's it! This is all that you need to know! You can stop reading now if you want, the rest of the post isn't important unless you're specifically interested. Just go ahead and post your stories, and talk about other people's stories, and whatever. :D




WRITING CHALLENGES

For interest and for practise, I figured I could come up with some challenges. If you do any of these, it's up to you to ensure you stick to the 'rules'. It's not like someone's gonna be a referee for you. You could also come up with your own challenges or modifications to challenges and do them! Nothing stopping you, and hey, anything that gets you to be creative is good, you know?

Obviously, when posting a story that you wrote for a challenge, give all the relevant information: what challenge you chose, what specifically within that challenge you decided to do (if there is any leeway or are any options in the challenge's rules), etc.



Constrained Writing Challenges (these can be ridiculously hard and the arbitrary rules mean they don't really help with practise)

Lipogram/reverse lipogram – A lipogram is a piece of writing in which one letter, or group of letters, is excluded. While this is obviously easy for uncommon letters like "q" or "x", it's very difficult with common letters like "t" or "e". The reverse is true for a reverse lipogram (uh, hence the name), which is where every word must contain a chosen letter or group of letters.

The rules of this challenge:
• Choose at least one letter – it doesn't matter which, but preferably something common for a lipogram, and something uncommon for a reverse lipogram. For an analysis of letter frequency in English words by Cornell University, go here.
• (For a lipogram) Don't use that letter/those letters!
• (For a reverse lipogram) Make sure to use that letter/those letters in every word!


Alliteration – alliteration refers to the repetitive use of the same letter to begin words. This thing's trouble-free to typify, though taxing to try. I kind of have my doubts this is even possible for a proper story, it's more a poetry thing.

The rules of this challenge:
• Choose one letter – this is hard to do no matter which you choose!
• Use that letter to start almost every word. True alliteration should use that letter for every word, however, I think that it's probably impossible to write a full-on story without deviating at least a little for grammatical purposes. Whether it's got "enough" alliteration or not is up to interpretation.
• Possible mutation: choose a series of letters and go through them one word at a time (this means you could also do one that gradually goes through the whole alphabet). Here, I chose h, i, c. Hard, indeed. Can't hate; it's cool.
• Possible mutation: To make it a whole lot easier, and so more 'for fun' than 'for challenge', use the same letter until you can't think of any more words that work off-hand and then just change the letter. Trying this type of ordeal ought to test the tolerance that this irredeemable individual – I – irretrievably killed with this challenge okay that is STILL seriously hard.


Fun with numbers – there are a bunch of weird things you can do here, and most have actually got names too, but I'm just going to skip that and give the variations to you straight in the rules.

The rules of this challenge:
• Form 1: The amount of letters in every word must increase or decrease in length in a uniform manner. That is, the length of the words will follow a pattern, perhaps going 7 letters, then 6, 5, etc. Or 2 letters, then 4, then 6, 8, etc. (This is reset for each sentence, or else these would end very very quickly.)
• Form 1 Mutation: The amount of words in every sentence must increase or decrease in length in a uniform manner. That is, the length of the sentences will follow a pattern, perhaps going 7 words, then 6, 5, etc. Or 2 words, then 4, then 6, 8, etc. (This is reset for each paragraph, or else these would also end fast.)
• Form 2: "Pilish" – 3.1415926535... The number of letters per word corresponds to each digit of pi (except for 0, which corresponds to 10 letters, and if you come across a series like "11121" or similar, you can combine them to make a word with 11 letters and then one with 12 letters). Man, I know I could doubtless do pilish stuff, but badly.
• Various Form 2 Mutations: Go ahead and replace pi with any other irrational number, such as the golden ratio or the square root of 2. Or instead of using the numbers to correspond to how many letters each word has, use them to correspond to how many words a sentence has. Or both. Whatever.




Vocabulary Challenges

Basic English/Special English – English is a very big language. English is hard for people who do not speak it. For people who do not speak English, English is made smaller so it is easier. This English has the name Basic English. Special English is different, but it was made for the same reason.

The rules of this challenge:
• Choose a vocabulary set – either Basic English, the extended version of Basic English used by Simple Wikipedia, or Special English.
• Note with Special English that the words may only mean what the listed definitions say!
• You may not use any words that aren't on your chosen vocab set. None at all. Nope. Not allowed. Don't even think about it, buster.


Legal English – It should be noted that this challenge ('challenge' is here defined as a set of instructions or restrictions intended to increase the difficulty of performing an action) is intended to be interpreted by the community ('community' is here defined as the group of every person who may encounter this document) as humour. It is a defense in court to say that the author did not make the intent of 'humour' clear, however it is not a defense to say that the accused did not find this 'humour' to be funny. ((Basically, this is a joke challenge. The 'style' of legal English varies greatly depending on where you live anyway!))

The rules of this challenge:
• Make it sound like it was written as a legal document!
• If you need help, look at any other legal document – the Terms and Conditions of a website, recent legislation (if you know where to find it), a judge's decisions (same), etc.


E-Prime – Scholars created E-Prime to make the language more 'direct'. It disallows any form of the verb "to be" (am, are, is, was, were, be, been, being). Besides the reference to the disallowed verb directly, this description shows you what writing in E-Prime looks like. By that I mean to make it clear that the verb doesn't have any use in this paragraph, and I hope you will realise that it only appears self-referentially. Besides that, E-Prime allows various words that could otherwise appear to serve a similar function to the disallowed verb. Words such as "will", "can", "do" or "has" may encounter use. E-Prime only disallows the first verb (and all its derivations) mentioned.

The rules of this challenge:
• Never use the word 'be'. Or 'been'. Or 'being' or 'am' or... oh, you already have the list, come on, it's just in the second sentence!


Anglish – This is a really weird and a really geeky one. You must only use words with a 'native' Germanic root. This disallows a pretty large amount of our language that have come from Latin and Greek (or stuff like French, which comes from Latin originally anyway). Like, even 'native' is disallowed by that rule. However, this is the one I find the most interesting because of how you deal with that. English is a Germanic language, and the majority of our words are in fact untouched. However, it can be really freaking hard to find replacements! And sometimes, it can even be hard to determine what needs replacing – "nordic" comes from the French "nordique" – however, "nord" in French was borrowed from Old English. You'll fall in love with this, this, and this. Note that if you cannot find an archaic or obsolete word to replace a word (such as "gleeman" for "musician"), you're allowed to coin a new word (though I only recommend this if you have a really in-depth understanding of how our words are formed). Some writers in the past have done this, for example offering "yeartide" instead of "anniversary", or "endsay" for "conclusion".

The rules of this challenge:
• Never use a word that does not come from a Germanic origin.
• If a word comes from a non-Germanic origin, replace it with a Germanic one
• The replacement may be a modern synonym ('wed' instead of 'marry'), or it may be an obsolete term or a coined word ('yblent' as an obsolete word meaning 'confused', or 'unwreaner' as a coined word for 'detective').




Word Length Challenges

New Times – Ever heard of Steve Moss? You have now! Let's pretend we're entering into a 55 Fiction contest!

The rules of this challenge:
• 55 words, no more, no less.
• Hyphenated words count as one word if they cannot be separated e.g. co-ordinated is one word), multiple words otherwise (e.g. one-of-a-kind is four words).
• The title may be no more than seven words, but it is luckily not a part of the word limit.
• Cannot be untitled.
• I want to emphasize that you must create a full story, with an orientation, a climax – the whole deal.


Less Than 100 – Self-explanatory!

The rules of this challenge:
• 100 words or less.
• Hyphenated words count as one word if they cannot be separated (e.g. co-ordinated is one word), multiple words otherwise (e.g. one-of-a-kind is four words).
• If titled, the title is not part of the word limit.
• Again, emphasizing that you must make a full story here.


8888 – Eight is a lucky number, right? Well it won't feel like it this time!

The rules of this challenge:
• 8888 characters exactly. Yes, characters. This does not include spaces, line breaks, etc.
• If titled, it is part of the character limit.
• To indicate the end of the story, use the character ◊. It will not be counted in the character limit. This is just in case of ambiguity.


2012 – Celebrate the new year!

The rules of this challenge:
• Approximately 2012 words. Approximately? Aww, I'm too nice. You have a twelve-word leeway.
• If titled, it is a part of the word limit.
• End it with "Happy New Year!!!" Okay, no, this is a joke, you don't have to do this.


The Full Post – Oh my goodness if you do this you are crazy and I wish you luck.

The rules of this challenge:
• Exactly 60,000 characters. Exactly. On the dot (because any more and you won't be able to post it). Not a single character less.
• I don't actually know if this includes spaces and line breaks or not. Assume it does!
Everything is a part of the character limit, because the point of this challenge is to fill the entire post.
• Seriously dude, good luck.



Other Challenges

Continuous Writing Challenge – A simple challenge to help you force yourself to write when you're not feeling inspired. Don't think about it too hard, just write about anything that comes to mind.

The rules of this challenge:
• Set yourself a time limit – 5 minutes, 15 minutes, half an hour, whatever.
• Don't delete any substance no matter how poor you think it may be, only correct spelling and grammatical mistakes.
• Do not stop writing until the limit is up. If you run out of ideas, end what you're writing and start writing a new thing, just don't stop.
• Attempt to construct a full story, but don't feel bad if you don't end up succeeding. Post it anyway, provided it's within the forum rules.


Speed Writing Challenge – Another simple time-based challenge, this time to help you with... I have no idea what this helps you do but it's fun and it's bound to help somehow.

The rules of this challenge:
• Set yourself a time limit – this time, like 1 minute, or 30 seconds.
• Only permit yourself to start planning the story after you have started the time.
• Construct a full story with the full narrative structure in the time you have.
• If you don't succeed, do it again, but do not attempt the same story. Think of a new one after you have started the time.


Thematic Challenges – If there's enough interest, I'll pop my head in every now and then and challenge people to write a story using a prompt, which may range from a single word to a full sentence (but never more).

The rules of this challenge:
• The prompt provided must be identifiably involved in a significant way, though the way it is involved is obviously completely up to the author.
• If this actually happens, I'll set more rules on the actual post initiating it.
• If other people want to, feel free to make up your own challenges and put them out there!




Other People's Challenges?

If you have an idea for a challenge that's different to the ones here, go ahead and post it. I, uh, won't exactly edit them in unless they're significantly different to the ones that are already here, but I mean an idea is an idea, so go put it out there. If you want to do something different to the listed ideas (7777 characters instead of 8888, for example), go ahead, and just tell us what the challenge you set yourself was when you post it!




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Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:25 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Oh man, this is the best topic. I'm in class at the moment, but when I get home or have some spare time I'll try to post something. I need to start writing more original fiction anyway, so this'll add a bit of flair to the process.

Thanks a ton for this, Ebly!

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Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:40 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Yessss! That is as much eagerness as I need to feel successful. I was actually kind of worried people would be like ~☢nope i don't care ebly go away☢~

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Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:47 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
(This should fit PG-13 guidelines. It's still depressing. I'm working on the 2012 Challenge whenever I get the time.

55-Word Challenge: Wishful Thinking

A woman lay in a hospital bed, eyes closed in dull pain.

She wanted to be home. A few days ago, she had tried to get out of bed herself – but she had no strength for that now.

Her vision clouded over. Everything stopped.

Only the sobbing of an old, widowed husband could be heard.

---

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Reminiscence: A Tale of Dreams - Complete
An Experiment - Ongoing: Story 2, 'The Babylon Incident', in progress!
Tired/Eternity/Broadsides: 'I did not have literary relations with those fanfics'

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Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:38 am
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Nicely done ... you really managed to convey a lot, even with the ridiculously constrained word count.

Though I've yet to actually write anything for this thread, I found a couple of additional challenges that might be interesting - both of which I'm planning to attempt myself.

1) Write a Feghoot.

A Feghoot is a short - often very short - story that serves no other purpose than to set up an awful pun at the end. For example, 'Neutron Tide', by Arthur C. Clarke, tells the story of a space battleship that flew too close to a neutron star. The only identifiable piece of debris was part of a mechanic's tool kit: a 'star-mangled spanner'. *groans*

2) Write a story using one of the pictures from this page.

The Harris Burdick pictures are part of a common writing exercise. The instructions are simply to choose one of the pictures and write a story based on it, using the image's caption as the first line. It seems a bit juvenile, sure (I remember doing this in about sixth grade) but you never know.

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Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:19 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
You guys don't discuss much, huh?

Rollofthedice wrote:
(This should fit PG-13 guidelines. It's still depressing. I'm working on the 2012 Challenge whenever I get the time.

55-Word Challenge: Wishful Thinking

A woman lay in a hospital bed, eyes closed in dull pain.

She wanted to be home. A few days ago, she had tried to get out of bed herself – but she had no strength for that now.

Her vision clouded over. Everything stopped.

Only the sobbing of an old, widowed husband could be heard.

---
Yes yes it's perfectly within rating, haha.

The thing about the 55 word challenges is that they are hard to make interesting. It is not actually difficult to write a story in 55 words. In fact, I can write a 'story' in a single sentence: I had grown tired of the daily routine only to realise that I had been deceived when I woke up. This story introduces the main character (I), a complication (growing tired of the daily routine), a climax (I had been deceived), and a resolution (I woke up). It's just boring.

The problem here is that every single line is foreshadowing her death, and then she dies. There's no suspense or surprise. We expect it to happen from the outset. You have written a story – you've introduced the ailing woman, the complication of an (implied) illness, the climax of everything stopping, and the resolution of a crying widower. It's just... kind of boring. I hope you understand what I mean and aren't offended, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me! And I would like them to, because I intended this topic to have discussion as well, not just be a short story dump. *giggles*

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Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:44 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Random thing I'm not even going to try because holy crap you guys:

Write a story where all 26 letters of the alphabet are equally represented.

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Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:28 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Ebly wrote:

The problem here is that every single line is foreshadowing her death, and then she dies. There's no suspense or surprise. We expect it to happen from the outset. You have written a story – you've introduced the ailing woman, the complication of an (implied) illness, the climax of everything stopping, and the resolution of a crying widower. It's just... kind of boring. I hope you understand what I mean and aren't offended, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me! And I would like them to, because I intended this topic to have discussion as well, not just be a short story dump. *giggles*


Don't worry, I completely understand what you're saying, and I'm not offended! Admittedly, the 55-word thing was something I typed out in five/ten minutes to give this thread a bit of content, so I'm sure someone could come up with something much better if some deep thought and skillful grasp of unpredictability was given.

I keep on wanting to type that 2012 Challenge, but I always end up with other, school-related stuff to do! :lol:

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Reminiscence: A Tale of Dreams - Complete
An Experiment - Ongoing: Story 2, 'The Babylon Incident', in progress!
Tired/Eternity/Broadsides: 'I did not have literary relations with those fanfics'

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Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:15 pm
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Post Re: Short Story General!
Rollofthedice wrote:
Ebly wrote:

The problem here is that every single line is foreshadowing her death, and then she dies. There's no suspense or surprise. We expect it to happen from the outset. You have written a story – you've introduced the ailing woman, the complication of an (implied) illness, the climax of everything stopping, and the resolution of a crying widower. It's just... kind of boring. I hope you understand what I mean and aren't offended, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me! And I would like them to, because I intended this topic to have discussion as well, not just be a short story dump. *giggles*


Don't worry, I completely understand what you're saying, and I'm not offended! Admittedly, the 55-word thing was something I typed out in five/ten minutes to give this thread a bit of content, so I'm sure someone could come up with something much better if some deep thought and skillful grasp of unpredictability was given.

I keep on wanting to type that 2012 Challenge, but I always end up with other, school-related stuff to do! :lol:

School stuff should definitely be done first!

That said, I have no excuse to not be writing myself, I just feel kind of blocked.

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Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:54 pm
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