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January-March Responses and Winners!

Tony, aka Rouiancet

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With the Writing Improvement Month's special Writing Challenge right in its middle, this was the longest Challenge we've ever run -- so, without further ado, let me bring you its results:

The winner of the Challenge for January-March is the writer behind Saveron, with her story "My Brother's Keeper"! Our runner-up is the writer behind Ryoma Hoshino, with his story "Calling Home"! Congratulations to both of you!

Thank you to everyone who participated and who continues to participate! We had a record number of judges assisting for this round and, as related by their scores, it was extremely difficult to pick clear stand-outs. Well done, everyone!

My special thanks to my fellow judges for this round -- the writers behind Fleet Captain Toni Turner, Captain Kalianna Nicholotti, Commander Melitta Herodion, Commander Jhen Thelev (Lieutenant Sinda Essen), and our special guest judge, Lieutenant Jalana Laxyn.

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"My Brother's Keeper"

(writer's character) Saveron

(judge's character) Kali Nicholotti

I absolutely love the imagery invoked in the writing throughout My Brother's Keeper. Not only does it give the reader an in depth picture of the setting, but it brings the story to life in ways that can only be done with the careful weaving of words in this manner.
The idea of Romulans and Vulcans living in the same system is truly unique. With all of the available choices in the quadrant, including within Empire space, this was a very 'out of the box' solution to the problem facing these people. It is very apparent that there are two vastly different civilizations here, illustrated by the conversation between the two on the planet as they wait for the transports. Their interactions show a glimpse of what the future may hold; promise, as well as distrust, at least on one side of the fence. On the other, logic prevails no matter what, a point which is put across with a coldness that only Vulcans can convey.
The only thing about this entire piece that struck me was the fact that the conversation between the two seemed to just run in circles. I think that the point of the story itself was held in the description of the planet and the thoughts behind the words, but the dialogue seems to detract just enough from the story itself to create ripples in the flow. It is only at the end that the point of the argument is seen. Still, it is all extremely well written and a great pleasure to read. I really look forward to seeing what you write for the next challenge!
"Calling Home"
(writer's character) Ryoma Hoshino
(judge's character) Toni Turner
I was quite pleased with Mr. Hoshino's entry as his words had a nice flow that indicated he was in command of them as he masterfully set up the scene. And that was something rarely seen in the pieces from ensigns.
Many readers, I'm sure, could identify with his quandary of having regrets for not saying things that should have been said to a loved one before losing their faculties. The horror of finding out it was too late for his father to understand was softened by Hoshino's conviction not to allow his son to wonder how he felt about him with one reassurance - ". . . I will always be proud of you, son."
"Calling Home" is a well-written and heartfelt piece. Excellent work, Mr. Hoshino.
"The Cost of Failure"
(writer's character) Diego Herrera
(judge's character) Jhen Thelev/Sinda Essen
It was very interesting to see how each writer approached the subject for this competition, broad as it was.
I very much enjoyed Captain Herrera's take on the topic, building on the mission and story of the USS Vigilant as a starting for things to come over the next decade.
Name checking other characters and ships from across the fleet was a particularly nice touch, giving a sense of intimacy we, as members of this group, can all relate to and reminding us that the actions of one ship, one crew can have a knock-on effect for an entire galaxy.
However, Captain Herrera's intricate plotting was also the only flaw in the story. Taking the time to give us the political, military and even technological details of the conflict was certainly thoughtful and interesting, but it damaged the flow of the story with some quite dense exposition paragraphs.
A short story format limits your choices, but I would have preferred to see more dialogue and characters, especially regarding the situation with Carlos Herrera's illness which was a more emotional storyline. Although I thought the juxtaposition of the two plots was excellent, especially in the literal juxtaposition of the two screens, which was a particularly clever touch.
"Peace of Soul"
(writer's character) Jaxon Mc Ghee
(judge's character) Aron Kells
The appeal of the Writing Challenges for many lies within the ability to dig deeply into the primary characters writers know so well. Oftentimes, ships' plots don't allow for the complexity of associated story that all characters have. Such is the case here, in which readers are given more about the character of Jaxon Mc Ghee. In the story, the reader takes a look at Mc Ghee with the lens of this particular Challenge ("where do you see the universe in 10 years?"); we then receive a viewing of Mc Ghee from the future and are allowed to see some of his character progress.
The difficulty, of course, in using your primary character is that it's never clear how much you should explain. In this case, I could have done with some more backstory, because I was unclear why Mc Ghee made certain choices or to what background events he was referring to. Then, too, I had the feeling that Mc Ghee was the hero of this piece, despite some of the large actions; and while this may be cathartic, I didn't really get to know the character through the story -- and I wanted to!
I know that there were formatting challenges with this entry, and that's not a problem -- I know that the forums can be fickle. But I would urge the author to be sure to edit future stories: There were some misuses of punctuation and grammar that left me wondering what the author had meant.
I am interested to see what the next entry will bring! Perhaps we'll see more of Jaxon Mc Ghee's background or backstory? Regardless, thanks for entering, and I look forward to reading the next story!
(writer's character) Della Vetri
(judge's character) Jalana Laxyn
I have thoroughly enjoyed to read this challenge post. Even though without going too much into describing the feelings of Miss Delvia Corsetto it has drawn me in, kept my attention and also kept me feeling for her.
The way of painting the scenes, small gestures, the way Delvia and Brexx have spoken or followed the thoughts has shown a depth of the characters and story to feel with them. I have laughed quite often at the patience of Brexx, and his way to deal with her moods. The dynamic between those two has been quite faszinating and worked very well.
Right from the beginning the question of why an Orion woman, whose species is usually depicted as very pleasurable to be with, was in such a bad mood set anchor in my head. Showing more and more of her life and situation, just made the question of the why more prominent. I was right in the flow of the story when the riddle got solved, the answer to this question not given too early or too late.
I was quite impressed by the way Alex has put herself into the shoes of war veterans, those injured in their line of duty, showing their struggle after not being able to go on with their career. To see how simple things become difficult to them, how the inability to work in their field anymore burdens and frustrates them, re-shaping their character.
I have loved to see that she was not even aware that she had another gift, one that would in the end show her that her life was not useless without her career in Starfleet. An ending that touched me in a way that it brought tears to my eyes, of joy for Delvia finding a new life for herself. Quite a wonderful contribution.


"The Third Option"

(writer's character) Kaedyn Zehn

(judge's character) Melitta Herodion

One of the most obvious issues that Starfleet and the Federation would have to deal with as time moves forward is the shape of the political climate. As one of the Federation's most dangerous enemies it is unsurprising that the Romulans would recieve so much attention in this challenge.
The trouble I think with political stories is that it is often hard to create a compelling environment and realistic motivation for the various characters that are used especially with shorter stories. That said "The third option" provided plenty of depth and a certain sense of familirity when it came to the main charcter. I also liked the fact that most of the references to the main character's past didn't require much, if any previous knowledge to understand.
Perhaps the only nagging concern that I have in the back of my mind is the fact that any Starfleet captain would even entertain the idea of attempting an assassination for whatever reason. What I find worse is the fact that the captain in question didn't even bother to confer with his superiors before deciding on that course of action. Reading how the scenarior played out kept me on the edge of my seat and I enjoyed it immensely but I certainly still find the idea questionable.
Overall though this piece was expertly written and formatted and shows a depth of character not easily shown when simming. I certainly look forward to reading more in the future. Good job.
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