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SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments

02 Mar 2006 12:47 #4750 by admin
There were 5 entries submitted for SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 (Theme: "Sibling Rivalry", no word limit). Huge thanks to all our authors for their contributions.

Read them in the SuperWomenMania StoryBank:
http://www.superwomenmania.com/storybank/index-d.html
and then vote for your favourite and post feedback and comments here.

The poll will run for the usual 7 days.


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02 Mar 2006 20:39 #4754 by helix111
Replied by helix111 on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Quick question. Is there anything new in Ultrafemme Gemini? (just so I don't have to read it again if there isn't).

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02 Mar 2006 20:42 #4755 by lfan
Other than typos, nope.....sorry!


Quick question. Is there anything new in Ultrafemme Gemini? (just so I don't have to read it again if there isn't).

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03 Mar 2006 17:35 #4760 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Dangit Addy! When I sent it to you as a .txt, everything ran smooth and clean in the two or three editors I tested it on. But when you added that header of yours and resaved out--you FRAKKED UP half the line returns!

Again.

That’s 75+ pages of stutters I ain’t gonna go back and fix for ya.

Not just mine either--you did it to everybody's. Can't read ANY of them smooth no more. It's worse than the "carriage bump" verse numbers in scripture (which are just that in places). The authors who aren’t joining me in complaining about it apparently aren't writing with any cares for flow or rhythm. My stuff for one’s hard enough to read w/o all that random line returns frakking up the flow.

I go through great pains to avoid all fancy formats and express it all in .txt. Please post it exactly as I send it to you.

I’m posting a clean copy on my site for those who’d like to survive reading it without jarring your teeth from your skull. You don’t need your “downloaded from here” headers. I hype up your site quite a bit on mine-- the only other source for my stuff.

Thanks.

-White Paw

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03 Mar 2006 17:50 #4762 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Ah, now I know why asides, etc., got interspersed with the actual story.

Mine wasn't affected as badly, because I didn't have fancy subheadings and the like, although italics and bolds were lost. But I've found that if you cut and paste an addy text into a Word file there aren't any returns -- on the Story Bank screen, or a printout from same, you don't notice that because the text fills the screen. At least, on my browser. (I think once or twice we got files where the text was like six feet wide and a couple of lines deep.

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03 Mar 2006 18:11 #4763 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
And I was just coming back in to say that this time I bothered to write mine with a full movie title bump sequece, soundtrack and everything (twice). There's nothing Addy added in his header that wasn't already there in my embedded credits (twice). The second opening title sequence is there as a little treat for those who spent the effort to read all the way down to page 60 or so, with my compliments. The second credit sequence is as just plain wide-screen high-def georgeous, as the first one was dream-sequence surreal. The second one burns through every emotion on my writting pallete inside 3 pages.

I was rather proud of that little embedded credit and rolling credits innovation--still am in the clean copy on my site. I'll be writing more of those as I found the pantomime VERY delicious to write in an art-film kind of way.

Well, the Guild sued Spielburg for his Star Wars splash opening (the demanded the credits go first, not last). I suppose my innovation is not to meet without some resistance here too. We'll just call the clean copy on my site the "director's cut" (has a few extra pages too).

Wuv,
-White Paw.

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03 Mar 2006 18:51 #4764 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
I've got a music link as well as several pix in the version of my story that's going up at my site but, fortunately, I didn't EXPECT to see those in Addy's text. But in text, alas, everything's in the same font, same point size, with no italics, etc. Maybe Addy used to post fancier stuff at it didn't work with some browsers (By the way, I just discovered the other day that most of the links ion my homepage don't work in Netscape.).

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03 Mar 2006 21:29 #4765 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
One of these daze I'll have a Flash-driven site to offer off a dedicated mac/unix server at my house with streaming soundtrack-sized bandwidth. Then again, from what I've seen of my true hacker friends at work, that's no way to remain nameless. Nothing exists that can't be hacked. "Classified" computers only remain that way by being completely unconnected to anything.

Until then, I limp along offsite at Yahoo (whom I've heard is now open to government "counter-terrorist" data-mining). I some daze I miss the 90's when you could get quality for free online.

Anywho:

In the order I've read them (lightest to heaviest, by word count):

"Cop Story". Bloodthirsty as always from you, but with a refreshing non-poetic delivery. I got the grit in that noir street style. The dialogue's a bit hard to follow in spots on first read, but I should speak. I felt the creep of metaphor around the edges. Nicely done, but dare I say you could go grittier? I could feel you holding back on us in spots, perhaps just to get that slick shadowy cinematography.

"Penile Colony". Subterfuge painted with the brush and stroke of contrasting intercourse--and all the trimmings. I like your style, surprisingly so. The subterfuge and intercourse are weakly bound, but none will notice (what subterfuge?). Your best work by far from what little I've read. She treats you well.

And yes, I'm always in the market for a good waltz track for my collection. I DJ that sort of party weekly.

The other two later as my palette needs the cleansing of a good night's "sleep". Thus far I can see we've all written wildly different works, a solid workshop indeed.

Wuv,
-White Paw.

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04 Mar 2006 02:16 #4769 by xoronewithnature
Replied by xoronewithnature on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Just made it through all the stories. (Wow, Whitepaw, you can sure put ink on paper).

Thank you all for writing. I look forward to reading each and every workshop entry, every workshop. Awesome work.

Still haven't decided how to vote. Like I said, great stories, here are some of my comments, (warning: I can be a harsh critic, proceed with caution, and remember you can always just say "to hell with what xor thinks, he's dumb, fat and ugly"):

Ultrafemme: Gemini
LFan/Stoneyman/Ultragirl

Good stuff. It only suffers because some of the other writers pulled out all the stops. Some minor typos - and I know that sounds hypocritical coming from me.

In the Penile Colony
Brantley T. Elkins

I think I have to go back and reread this one. The story still seems a little fuzzy, though the tensions between the characters come through really well. There is a tendency in science fiction to have the story bogged down in references so that the reader feels like an outsider. I think this happens here. You've got to give poor little dumb people like me a way in. Slowly bring us into this new world, start somewhere familiar and then show has strange and unfamiliar this world is. As it is the story is told from the point of view of a jaded government agent who knows so much more than the reader that she never has to slow down and let it sink in. Maybe if it had been written from the perspective of someone inexperienced and wide-eyed this would have worked a little better.

Don't get me wrong, I did really like it. What can I say, I'm a romantic at heart, and would love to trade places with Franz in a heartbeat :). I'm definitely going to have to reread this one before voting. Nice addition to an impresive resume of stories.

Family Reunion
Alexa Papas

What I liked was the premise: a supervillian's homecoming, her mentoring of her little sister advising her not to live the life she did. I guess even Dr. Doom has parents, right? This set up is absolute brilliance.

But, the backstory kept shifting out from under me. At first it seems like the little sister is in the know, then it just seems like she only knows another version of her older sisters cover story. I never really get a sense of how the competeing factions of this world interact with each other - the Patheon (which I get the impression is now defunct, is that right?) and the Justice Legion (who I got the impression that the older sister worked for, then the sense that she didn't). I'm glad you didn't reveal the backstory all at once, there's obviously too much. It always is painful when someone stops the narrative cold to do an 'information dump', and I appreciate your restraint in that department.

Anyways, I really liked the story, especially the premise, great job!

Galaxy
Whitepaw

First let me say this is the front runner for my vote. So many cool events and characters, ideas and scenes, maybe even too many that instead of building on each other, they weaken the story.

Three major suggestions:

1) Differentiate your characters.

The first time, I stopped reading about half way through. I started again with a notepad file with the names of the characters I'd been introduced to and their powers. When I did that it was so much easier to read. You've got to spend more time coddling the reader, slowly introducing your main characters. I may be duller than most because it took me 15,000 words to get the point: Mel=blue fire chick, Liz=telepath and sister of VE, and Jen = leopard chick (though to be fair I didn't have any trouble recognizing Jen, she stands out even in this crowd). Add to that the fact that there are at least a dozen supporting characters at the university, that it became nearly impossible for me to remember who was who. Greg, Sue, etc., I could remember their gender and not much else.

2) Impose some narrative structure.

It might just be the side effect of trying to reach epic heights with you word count, but so many of the story elements just seem thrown together: You want to create this post-orgasm-apocolyptic world, but you still want there to be a college campus with the normal college day rythyms. But you also want to have a collection of supers living in the dorms. Some kind of superhero university, I suppose. You say civilization is collapsing, but aside from that assertion - and the (maybe only slight) exagerated lustfulness of college students - you don't give any other impression. The students still worry about what there RA's will think, the water still works, and you can still go down to the drugstore and get a bottle of hair bleach. You don't go anywhere with the Supergirl death thing. It's introduced and then dropped like a rock (aside from Angies moping). I think if you had only ran with 2 of these ideas your story would have been better off. You drop hints of sequels, so you could even use them then, but please not all at once.

Example: does Angie live at home or at the dorm? I get the sense that the answer is somehow both. We have scenes of her at home iterspliced with scenes that make her seem like a university student living in the dorm. We have the scenes with her father and rabbit, the scenes with her roomies trying on her clothes at the dorms, and her using the universtiy showers. What gives?

My last suggestion is the one that you should take with a grain of salt, its just my personally preference about the kind of things I read.

3) I don't really have a pithy way of summing this one up, and again this may just refer to my personal preference.

Imagine if you could put writing styles on a scale. At 1 you have boring, flat, academic writing. At 10 you have highly-styled, almost impressionistic prose. The problem with being at 1 is you put your audience to sleep. The problem with being at 10 is that your writing becomes difficult to follow. I'd put you at maybe 11 or 13. (For reference I'd put myself at about 3). Not every sentence has to be about style. You need to mix in some of those boring "workhorse" sentences, the ones that establish the mundane in-between details without flourish and without references to pop culture. Maybe sometimes your characters could say 'damn' instead of 'daewm' or 'okay' instead of 'k'. Of course this could just be the jealous ramblings of a '3' writer.

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04 Mar 2006 02:52 #4771 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Whitepaw: "She treats you well."

Who? Subterfuge?

Xoronewithnature: Well, the AU people will get it. They know the lingo and the lore.

When I thought up the story, I wasn't thinking of the Workshop -- but I realized that I could shoehorn it in if the characters were sisters.

Got to get down to reading myself. Been busy with my day job AND an anniversary uodate to The Bright Empire.

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04 Mar 2006 03:30 #4773 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Thank you most generously X for the time and effort you spent with my behemoth. Many of your issues I answer (accept) below in my own review written before I saw yours.

Anywho:
“Family Reunion.” Wow. It’s simple, clean, and wall-to-wall sexy. You’ve definitely brought the silver age piece to this workshop, writing-style-wise. The action’s a parade of one money shot after another, but you’ve just enough character in there to squeeze some depth into your girls and keep me reading on. I’d have juiced up the description voltage about a bazillionfold-- but would have ruined the youthful mood. Thank you for reminding us all about what this genre is. Please write on my friend, write on. You’ve earned my ‘non-me’ vote fair and square and I’d bow gracefully if you won the election.

Yes. The mountain bows, grasshopper. More skilled than I? Hardly, Vanessa. Just of better aim tonight. Some days I overcomplicate matters (days ending in ‘y’). I’ve started writing a piece I call “Tight” after meditating on the Zen of yours. Most inspiring. I hope this inspires other authors as well to fire up their keyboards as well.

“Galaxy”, (lest I play favorites): A locomotive of epic cinema shattering through a sub-compact of TV sitcom in a blistering blaze of glory--buts of both scattered everywhere in slow motion awe-shots. At twice the length of the nearest competitor, this star destroyer’s plumbing is immensely more complex than all other entrants combined...and it clogs. Every inch of it’s gorgeously unique and original, as usual from this author. It contains mind-blowing power levels and soul-shattering descriptions as usual from this author-- but remains unfocused. Like a senseless train wreck the sum of its parts doesn’t seem to fit all together again like it should. The world you’ve built here breathes fire, but its heroine’s motivations are shadowy and shifting at best. Stick to blistering through the shorter shootouts, gunwriter. You’ve just no aim for holding the longer shots together cross-country like this.

And then there was one…

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04 Mar 2006 06:55 #4774 by xoronewithnature
Replied by xoronewithnature on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments

Xoronewithnature: Well, the AU people will get it. They know the lingo and the lore.


Well then, I've got quite a lot of catching up to do.

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04 Mar 2006 08:17 #4775 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Um, yeah, about that "AU people will get it" remark: Um fellas? We gave you UNLIMITED word count here. Make your own worlds. I did. TWO of them. Didn't take me long either, just a bit of inbetween-lining and a bit of imagination. Neither of the worlds I hacked together for Galaxy were any where near as complex as Raja's world in my Tangerine Dreams, and even that one pitiful little star system dwarfs everything AU ever sketchily was.

A bit of advice: the AU in all it's generations is so 90's. Even among both my fans who know about it anymore, they didn't all like it. We're a new generation of writers and fans, new sensibilities included. Creativity is held in higher esteem of late than conformity.

A bit of further advice: people relate to their home world (Earth, in most cases). The minute you take your story off-planet, you leave a big chunk of your reader's heart behind. If you're not going to bother back-filling their understanding and stitching they're hearts back together with your new planet--don't go. Modify Earth instead. It's cheaper. 90% of the text of Tangerine Dreams was devoted to this kind of worldbuilding--far beyond what anybody ever bothered to do for Velor or any of the other environs of the AU. Don't rely on name-dropping the AU for much of anything in communicating understanding w/ your reader. Not even the word "Krypton" ilicits any more understanding than some pie-in-the-sky super paradise because nobody at DC ever bothered to flesh THAT out either. They're chicken. They know their writing skills fall short of the myths they've been spreading about the place for years.

I find that even Earth orbit looses people. Perhaps that's just because I'm one of the very few people intimately familiar w/ the environment in all its nausiatingly academic glory.

Wuv,
-White Paw.

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04 Mar 2006 16:27 #4778 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Mr. X: While the playfulness of "Family Reunion" is no place for heavy writing, "Cop Story"...is. Consider all the great gumeshoe of the classic erra. They all start out with something like "She walked into my office like a candle in the dark...a ROMAN candle in the dark." and procede on a heavy-handed grand tour of metaphor from the ridiculous to the sublime and back again...twice. That's what I meant by 'you're holding out on us'. :wink:

Wuv,
-White Paw.

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04 Mar 2006 16:42 #4779 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Well, I could plead that I was writing "In the Penile Colony" within just a few days of the contest, and that the contest was almost an afterthought. But I have to defend myself against the charge of conformity.

I see writing in the AU as the equivalent of writing in Larry Niven's Man-Kzin wars shared universe. The contributors may start with Niven's ideas, but they don't FINISH with them -- they stretch the boundaries as far as they can without breaking them. They ADD to the canon rather than just slavishly adhering to it.

I've added to the Aurora Universe canon. So has Velvet. Shadar and I are always trying to outdo each other without going off the rails. And the thng is, I ENJOY wrtitng and reading in this kind of universe, just as I enjoy reading the Man-Kzin wars stories and Cordwainer Smith's spic of the future in which there are all sorts of cross-references of characters and events between the stories.

Which is not to say I don't love the kind of things you and others write -- and I stand by them, even when others don't seem to get it. I loved Jordan Taylor's "Obsolete," and still love it -- I can't understand why it didn't get a better reception at TBE and the AU. Same with a coiuple of stories by Charon MacDonald. Maybe it will be the same with "Asylum" -- Xoronewithnature has okayed me adding that to Other Voices -- but I don't care what other people think.

Now some readers may be put off by finding themselves on some distant world in a strange universe without obvious guideposts. But in their own way, this is what Jordan did in "Obsolete" and Xor in "Asylum" (and has now again in "Cop Story"): there are entire worlds BEHIND the stories, explained only sketchily or not explained at all. That's very hard to do -- they do it better than I can, which is why I admire them.

Well, still got a site update to attend to. But I WILL comment on the 1.7 entries by Monday night at the latest.

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05 Mar 2006 23:44 #4780 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Okay, time to get started.

1. Ultrafemme: Gemini. Admittedly a repost of a story from Extreme Strength, and it touches all the XT buttons from smashing up gyms to bullets and boobs. Ultragirl gets co-credit this time, but I can't see what she could have added -- unless she was involved three years ago and just went uncredited then. She can certainly do a lot better now.

Anyway, aside from the usual typos, the story is basically a series of set pieces -- even the bit about Nicole helping the guy with the flat tire. One problem is the lack of asterisk breaks between some of those set pieces. Deanna's parts are more believable; maybe it's easier to believe that most people will use the gift of power irreponsibly. Nicole's supposed to be the good girl, and Julia the responsible adult, but all they do is show off (What? No crimes to fight? No rescues to make?). And, as always in these staged B&B scenes, one wonders what the soldiers get out of it.

Actually, the best part of the story is that teaser at the end about the homeless girl and the two pills. Has anybody written a follow-up to that?
If not, I'd be tempted to try it myself,,,,

2. Family Reunion. A lot better than Ultrafemme, although it too suffers from typos and such. Xoronewithnature, in a previous post, was confused about how much Vanessa knew about Phaedra and the whoe business about the Pantheon versus the Justice Legion. Actually, these things didn't confuse me at all; it's pretty obvious that Vanessa must think her sister is on the good side when she isn't.

The real problem is that Phaedra is supposed be very calculating, knowing that Vanessa's excesses could come to the attention of the Justice Legion and cause her no end of trouble. So she faces off with her in a local park, where their mayhem can and does bring the cops and the firemen charging in? Better to have flown to some remote location -- but Alexa wants to havs a scene with Vanessa's hapless boyfriends, in which Phaedra once again creates a scene and thus exposes herself. It just doesn't make sense in terms of her supposed character and experience.

3. Cop Story. This one gets my vote. Xoronewithnature, as usual, comes up with a whole new mythology behind his superheroine and her sister supervillainness. But the other caharcters are really interesting, too -- they aren't just props. And the story has style and wit. Part of the story gets a bit gory for my taste, but I gather he considers this de rigeur for a site co-managed by Conceptfan, and the denouement in Rick's apartment is really fresh. No doubt we'll see a sequel. I hope so.

I haven't forgotten you, Vaggy, but my reactions to your entry are more complicated -- like the story itself. And I have to break for dinner here on the East Coast.

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06 Mar 2006 16:20 #4788 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Wow. Galaxy is leading the polls at the moment? Well, for all it's lack of structure (one of my pro lit mag editor friends keeps telling me to work on that...and she's right), it is one big bag of gems. I'm especially proud of my 'cement mixer' scene. Deliciously cheesy, in a noir grit way :)

But I still think "Fam Reunion" is better for the task at hand.

Wuv,
-White Paw

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06 Mar 2006 23:47 #4795 by xoronewithnature
Replied by xoronewithnature on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
26 people have voted. 3 have posted comments. What did you other 23 people think?

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07 Mar 2006 01:23 #4798 by brantley
Replied by brantley on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
I see GALAXY has fallen behind FAMILY REUNION now.

GALAXY was a story I really WANTED to love, or at least like, and I just couldn't. Not even in the shorter version previously posted at VE's site. Even though that had won praise from Ultragirl, whose judgement I usually share.

The thing is, I've been crazy about a lot of his shorter fiction -- I was even beating the drums for some of it at the AU Readers group. Haven't been able to keep up with all of it, but I want to catch up. What I've liked about his short fiction has been the combination of dazzling style and economy -- not a word wasted.

But GALAXY just goes on and on and on. It's not bad writing, not in the usual sense of bad writing. Some of it is brilliant. But the cinematography in Spielberg's 1941 was brilliant, and the movie was a dud.

There's still the economy at the start:

"They ate something
"They drank something.
"Small talk happened.
"Clouds drifted by in the sky for a better look down her--"

And there are VE's signature bizarre images:

"Xi's enormous breast was so firm it rung like fine crystal."

[But note the "rung" instead of rang.]

And his signature turns of phrase.

"...with great power comes great insatiability."

But we also get clunkers like:

"His left arm circled her like a wagon train and gripped her from behind like a garbage truck."

Beyond that, I didn't find the catfights interesting because I didn't find Angie and Ultra Babe and the others that interesing. Ditto the post-modern business of VE putting himself in the story, and the global crisis that's in the news but doesn't really seem to impinge on the primary characters.

I don't know what to say; maybe the longer format just isn't right for VE.

Sorry to say that.

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07 Mar 2006 03:30 #4800 by WhitePaw
Replied by WhitePaw on topic SGInc Story Workshop 1.7 Poll and Comments
Thank you my friend for the well considered review of my style as well as story. A good dissasembly of my writing's outer shell. (Nobody's as yet cracked my tangled subtexts and constant use of innuendo).

Galaxy is as you've all noticed, the trainwreck of about 7 different short stories. I'm surprized it ever lead in the polls having read the competition.

I returned over lunch today to the short-format, writing "Tight#1" (there will be more scenes, not necessarily same characters, story arcs, or even worlds) for Workshop 2.4. I found the 1000-word limit difficult to limbo after Galaxy, even though any speck of structure carries the day in that weight class. I wanted a thousand more words or so to get messy with it, but trimmed to fit well enough. Methinks I may hover around 2000 words for a while in the off-season, and I look forward to low-balling the next long-format workshop.

Always the editor, Brantley, never the reader. Sigh. Sometimes methinks you more the programmer and less the artist for that. Computers nit-pick. Humans are fault-tollerant--to a fault. :twisted:

Lurkers are fine by me. Sometimes numbers lie louder than words.

Let's wrap this up and shift topics for the next one.

Wuv,
-White Paw

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