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SEP/OCT September/October 2011 Writing Challenge


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Hi everyone!

Welcome to the September/October round of the Writing Challenge! Please read this post carefully for new guidelines on entering your submissions! Following in challenge traditions, the September/October round uses a TOS episode title as inspiration for entries.

Joining us on the judging panel for this round is the September/October winner, Lieutenant Saveron, who has decided on the following topic for this round:

"Where No Man Has Gone Before"

You're free to interpret that however you like for your entries - will it be something traditionally space-oriented, or will you come up with something that involves more lateral thinking?

Guidelines: To participate, create a new thread. The subject of the thread must be the title of your story, preceded by the tag [2011: SEP/OCT], which is a requirement for entries that will be used when we archive the entries at the end of the round. If it is a Work In Progress, denote that at the top of the post itself (in the body text, not in the thread title). As with last round it will be the final draft posted in your topic that will be read and taken into consideration. Any unfinished entries marked as Work In Progress will not be considered for judging and will be moved to the "Character Cafe" forum at the end of the contest. Your work must be entirely your own. No co-authoring. You are welcome to create any character you so desire, but they must be from the Star Trek universe. No "canon" characters allowed. (i.e.- No one who has been on a show.)

Length: No more than 3000 words accepted.

Beginning Date: Monday, September 5th

Ending Date: Saturday, October 29th

See Also: the Writing Challenge Website

Challenge: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Good luck everyone!

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  • 2 months later...

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's been a great competition this time around, and it was good to see so many new participants! There were some creative interpretations of this round's theme, and it was great to see such a good batch of entertaining pieces. Well done all!

As usual, here are the judges' reviews, followed by the announcement of the winner! (The judge who reviewed your entry has their name displayed under your own, just so you guys know that I can't claim all the credit for myself!)

In no particular order, here is your feedback - enjoy!

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"From the Stars, Knowledge"

Written by Ensign Velana

Reviewed by Captain Toni Turner

This was a lovely well-written manuscript and a timeless story of breaking the bonds of prejudice to find friendship - a tale that has been told through the ages in one way or another, but a beautiful tale none the less. Well done, Velana! :)

While I liked the well-told story, the things I liked about it most seemed to be detached from the theme, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Prejudice of some kind, touches us all from time to time, and if we're lucky, we indeed do find viable friendships between races, orientations, sexes, and/or beliefs. Other than the quote from Zefram Cochrane at the beginning, I really couldn't find enough that carried out the theme. Excellent try though, Velana. I look forward to reading more of your entries.

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"Origins"

Written by Ensign Alucard Vess

Reviewed by Commander Tallis Rhul

This origin story was tied nicely into the theme of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" through the idea of Alucard's trip into the future after emerging from a stasis pod. Care was taken to portray the thoughts and emotions of someone who was experiencing something that goes a long way beyond culture shock. His world had been turned completely upside down, and coupled with his inability to remember his previous life, it was understandable that he was so afraid. Reading about the kindness and compassion of Alfons was certainly touching.

When writing, always be careful during your proof reading to make sure you use the same tense throughout. Narrative portions of text can be presented in either past or present tense, but there were moments where this switched between the two, which can come over as strange.

I now find myself wanting to know more about your character, and how things progressed after he was allowed to stay aboard ship, and I think that's the mark of a successful story. I certainly look forward to reading more of your entries in this competition in the future. I'd also like to ask if I get bonus points for noticing the subtle reference to the 1980s Transformers movie? :)

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"Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday"

Written by Lieutenant Jaxon Mc Ghee

Reviewed by Commander Tallis Rhul

I've seen stories like this before. An episode in the present, followed by a flashback, or a series of flashbacks into the past. Very few of them have worked, but this certainly does. At first I thought it was due to the brevity of the flashbacks, but the more I read, the more I realised that the reason was tied into the fact that there is nothing unnecessary in this story. Every word serves a purpose, every scene adds to the whole and every moment spent reading takes the audience down the path towards a really emotional climax.

I'm usually critical about submissions (as a judge has to be) and on the lookout for things to praise and areas that I can flag up for constructive criticism. I forgot I was judging this at times. I just got carried away with the story and its instantly identifiable characters. Just enough detail was provided to make this a really immersive experience. Part way through, I remembered that it was supposed to be tied into our theme, and assumed that you must have been using "tomorrow" as the tie-in. That was until I got to the last paragraph, and realised just how clever you were being.

It's rare that an entry into the writing challenge moves me this much, actually. I've seen entries that have tugged on the heart strings before, but this was by far and away the most well crafted. Hats off to you on an exquisite piece of writing.

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"To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before"

Written by Commander Tal Tel-ar

Reviewed by Lieutenant Alleran Tan

I was tasked with reading and judging Tal Tel-ar's entry to the writing challenge, "To go Where no Man has gone Before", and I must say I quite enjoyed it. Tal Tel-ar's enters frequently and is a consistently strong writer; this entry is no exception.

The description of the three aliens was unique and clever and their introduction leapt right into the story. The characters had personality, they were described well and their banter was very enjoyable. The scene where poor Ensign Borders reveals just how deep his disguise is going to be (and the subsequent line about coming back for some shore-leave) was hilarious to read. His take on the subject matter -- where no man had gone before -- echoed an interesting change in the Star Trek mythos. The original series, of course, said "man" but the more politically-correct TNG-era changed that to "no-one". This is an interesting little nod to a piece of Trek trivia that I only picked up on when the story was over.

I thought this story needed a little bit of rework in terms of grammar, structure and composition. I'd like to apologize to Mister Tel-ar for my finickiness; I'm in the process of proofreading and fixing my recently finished book, and so the issues twigged my inner grammar fascist a little more than they normally should have. If you desire, you may read the rest of the review in a comically overdone accent to emphasise this.

Sometimes the text sounded halting and stilted; use of commas and semicolons (the most feared punctuation on Earth) would greatly improve the natural flow of the story. With exclamation marks, generally the rule is "one or none" (WHAT! vs WHAT!!!). An exception, which would have helped here, is to combine exclamation marks and question marks (but only one of each). "What?!" is a bit more natural to the flow of the story, but what Tel-ar's written does work, too.

Additionally, a general rule with numbers less than 10 is that they should be written (aka, "three figures" instead of "3 figures"); for numbers larger than that opinions differ. Generally speaking, however, I prefer to defer to The Chicago Manual of Style which notes that you should use words where-ever possible, unless "[words] begin to look silly".

The fact that the only issues I was able to find with this story were stylistic, however, shows the story's strength. It was a lighthearted read that was a creative, funny take on the subject matter. Very well done, Mister Tel-ar!

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So here it is... the moment you've all been waiting for. It's the moment where I ramble on and try to create the literary version of that pregnant pause that you get on the X-Factor before one of the acts that no-one particularly cared that much about finds out they are leaving and throws a tantrum! (One day I'll figure out how to do it without the mandatory ellipsis and hammering of the enter key, I swear!)

The judges had a heck of a time determining a runner up this time - we just couldn't agree and everyone liked a different submission, which means that everyone who didn't win is a runner up this round!

However, the one thing we could all agree on is the winner - this was unanimous, and it's a huge congratulations to...

Lieutenant Jaxon Mc Ghee for "Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday"!

We all felt that this was a really well put together entry and it stood head and shoulders above the competition this round. Well done Lieutenant Mc Ghee! That of course means that I'll be in touch directly to determine the theme for the next round, so keep your eyes on your inbox!

Thanks again everyone, and we'll be looking forward to seeing the next selection of entries at the end of the year! The next round will be live asap!

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