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[Voting] April 2019 Writing Contest
  • The Zelda Universe Writing Contest, April 2019:
    Voting!


    This month's mysterious contest prompt, "The words left unspoken," has yielded four fascinating pieces of writing from four fascinating individuals among you! From a divine being's attempt to communicate with humanity and a woman's attempt to understand her protector, to a session of deep contemplation and an encounter with the wild, these tales are sure to tickle your interest bone. (That's weird; I regret typing that.)

    And while you're here, why not cast your vote for your favorite one or two entry/-ies from this month? That would be nice!

    Here's what should influence your votes:
    • plot (if applicable)
    • writing style
    • structure
    • how well and/or creatively they follow the prompt, "The words left unspoken" (Remember when considering this that some writers may choose to follow the prompt in wildly different ways.)
    • how well the entries resonate with you and your interests (You shouldn't let this dictate your votes entirely, however. ;))
    To vote, simply make a post in this thread, containing the numbers (and titles, if you so wish) of up to two entries that you would wish to see win this contest. (Note that you cannot vote twice for the same entry.) Our entrants would also greatly appreciate any feedback that you can provide for their works as you vote for them, although it is not required. (If you don't have the time or energy, you can just put the numbers of the entries you're voting for.) You cannot vote for your own entry; if you do so, your vote will not be counted, and that would be such a waste!


    VOTING ENDS ON TUESDAY, 30 APRIL @ 11:59 PM EDT

    The winner(s) will be able to pick the next contest prompt, and their entry/-ies will be featured in the Creator's Retreat thread and the results thread. The runner-up(s) will also have their entry/-ies featured in the results thread. All winners and/or runners-up will have their usernames and the titles of their respective entries announced in the Community News segment in an upcoming episode of the ZUCast, ZU's homebrewed podcast.

    If you have any questions regarding the voting process or the Writing Contest(s) as a whole, please contact me directly, either via my wall or via Conversation/PM. I would ask that you please reserve all posts in this thread for votes only, so as to make my life easier when I tally up the votes at the end. And please include the entry numbers of your votes.

    ~~~~~~~~~~


    Entry #1: "Wisdom of the World" (original short story)
    Display Spoiler
    It waited.
    Waiting, as humans said, meant something would eventually arrive.
    Expectation.
    It did not expect.
    But it knew changes were coming, of course. It knew what would change and what wouldn’t. The change of the seasons was its very breath, and every new step made was the lightest touch on its skin.
    So it waited for that.
    Not a someone, it decided, but a that. Bigger than a single someone.
    As it waited, it felt the breeze tickle its leaves and the Earth run between its roots.
    it decided, that if it were human, this must be what it felt like to have the breeze in your hair and the sand beneath your toes.
    But just as a human would, it felt. It felt all. The only difference was that the scope of what it could feel encompassed all of Mother Earth, went far beyond the capabilities of a single fleshy body.
    That was the sole difference, as far as it could tell.
    So, all at once, it became a she.
    A ‘she’ with bark instead of skin and sap instead of blood, but a she all the same.
    To be human was to be concerned with oneself, she decided. You could still be concerned with the affairs of others, but to see yourself as an entity also was to be a person, of course.
    Already, she was thinking as a human would.
    If she were not human, she decided, there would have been no “affairs of other”. Others would have merely been concepts, airy bubbles of influence that bumped into each other and fused together and popped, but did not have anything.
    Nothing distinct, anyway.
    So she spent a portion of her now-limited energy on flowers.
    Flowers that dotted the meadow, of course, but also flowers in her leaves.
    Her hair.
    Soft pink ones that blossomed brighter and fuller with each passing day.
    She didn’t know why humans had a fascination with such fleeting things, but she was certain that they must bring joy.
    Joy.
    Another human concept, another thread in her mind that was being drawn back from the far corners of the planet.
    Rather than encompassing the far reaches of the Earth, every place the wind touched, her consciousness now wrapped into itself neatly, tucking itself into a spot near the top of her canopy.
    This, she decided, must be a mind.
    Not quite.
    For what human mind could send pieces of itself out into the world?
    Tiny pieces, of course.
    Pieces that drifted away from what only vaguely resembled a mind, and lodged themselves into tiny pockets of life.
    Not tiny pockets, she realized, but bubbles.
    Humans.
    Through her newfound “mind,” she found she could finally feel.
    Not sense feeling, or concepts of feelings, but feel true sensations!
    The human boy she had found herself in raised his arm, and she could feel it all, the prickling of the frigid air rushing past every tiny hair, and the pulling of muscle, and the warm touch of the glittering sun, the way it bounced off of his skin!
    Despite the fact that she was simply present in his mind, she could feel each sensation as if she were him.
    So that must be what it truly meant to be human. To be human was to feel.
    Then, would dwelling within this boy’s mind make her fully human?
    No.
    For she was merely a passenger.
    An observer of his life.
    Watching people be born and grow old around him, then feel him grow old, but never really changing herself.
    At least, not on the outside.
    Even when the time came that he died, she still kept searching.
    Searching, rather than waiting.
    Searching, dwelling in mind after mind.
    Her presence was eventually seen as a catalyst of sorts.
    Sun-chosen, was what her hosts were called at first. Feared and respected for the immense power that came with her presence.
    Then they were called Earth-born. Reviled for the visions that came with her power.
    Then they were Oracles. Revered for the wisdom that came with these visions.
    Perceptions of her and names for those she had possessed changed with the flowing of each century into the next, but she stayed the same.
    And even if each human life was slightly different, they looked the same from the backseat she was viewing them through.
    Seeing the world as a curious child. Then as a restless youth. Then as a complacent adult. An aging adult. Aging, aging, gone. Turned to dust in the very Earth they had been born from, the Earth she had been born from.
    The same cycle rolled forward perpetually, though she could never find a good reason to end it. It was fruitless, yet fulfilling.
    As it would be for all eternity.
    As she believed it would have to be for all eternity.
    But perhaps the cycle wasn’t that of day into night into day, but the ticking of a clock.
    Made to be perfect for all time, even when the one who set it into motion knew something would send it off balance one day.
    A shift in the gears.
    The shift started with three words.
    Are you there?
    She had long since figured out how to whisper into the ears of her hosts. But she spoke in the language of thoughts, in a way that could not be grasped or recreated fully.
    They rarely communicated back, and when they did, it was always in short bursts of the same half-language.
    But these were real words.
    Words with definite form and shape and meaning, words that were said and understood by all who heard, words that could be written down rather than lifting off, as fleeting as the wind.
    A divine tree such as her was not meant to hear words like this, heavy and shining at steel.
    Much less from a human.
    But she couldn’t find it in her to be scared, or even upset.
    How could she? It wasn’t possible to fear this little girl who would grow older and die in the blink of an eye.
    If the child could speak to her, she could surely speak back to it.
    Surely she could speak as one human would to another.
    An ‘I am here,’ a resounding burst of warmth, and the child would be aware of her existence.
    She would have the last missing secret to humanity.
    The ability to impact others.
    Yet… a divine tree had no business saying such words.
    A human would jump at the opportunity. A primordial force would not have noticed the child’s words in the first place.
    A fitting conundrum, for one whose bounty held the secrets to both life and death.
    Living a half-human life could only lead to half-spoken words, after all.
    I,’ was all she could muster, speaking directly into the child’s mind.
    That single word spoke volumes more than she thought possible.
    In that moment, before they even knew each other’s names, their hearts beat to the same tune, human and tree, chosen one and goddess.


    Entry #2: "All Things" (original short story)
    Display Spoiler
    I turn to the young man behind me. His sun tanned skin, bright blue eyes, and silvery blonde hair stand out among the dark grey rocks on the mountainside. His long, grey cloak hides his lean body. Still I wonder, what is his name?

    "My lady, we should seek shelter before it gets any darker," the man says in a soft, yet strong voice. I nod and turn away to hear farther down the slope. I can hear his catlike footsteps following me. It is nice to know that someone has my back. "My lady! Watch out!"

    I had not realised that a monster had kept up on me. How could I be so stupid as to let my guard drop? The man rushes forward, sword drawn and cloak flying. The monster hardly had any chance to attack before it was slain. How can one man move so fast? Who is he? Why is he protecting me?

    "Thank you. "

    "I love to protect you, my lady."

    I smile. I have a guardian. I am protected. "I am afraid that I don't know your name."

    "My name is Anzo."

    "Anzo?...Why are you protecting me?"

    "You remind me of someone very dear to me that I could not protect."

    My heart breaks for this sad young man who is risking his life for someone he doesn't know. In that moment, there are a million things I wish I could say to comfort him, to make him happy, but I just crouch down next to him and say, "thank you. I...I understand what you are going through."

    And I left so many words unsaid.


    Entry #3: "Contemplative" (original poem)
    Display Spoiler
    Is it forced
    Or expected
    Disjointed, free association
    I had a dream about my father
    It’s unusual to miss him
    Travel home
    Surprised at words unexpected
    They burn and curl
    The end of papyrus caught in flame
    My face a rock
    Travel back, time elapsed
    And now, the end of a long day
    A notebook lays open over the edge of a couch
    The scratches of a boy not 15
    I smile, and trace my fingers over the similarities
    I can’t imagine falling asleep with another
    Does anything else matter?
    In bed, silence except for the ticking clock, and the crack of the radiator
    Maybe the contemplation is not forced
    Maybe it’s been waiting to be found
    It is not welcome
    But it is here.


    Entry #4: "Warnings" (original short story) [contains strong language]
    Display Spoiler
    9:27 PM.

    Grunting, Phoebe rolled out of bed to look at the inky black sky with stars beginning to slowly open their eyes. Further out she could see the golden waves of corn, standing at attention.

    “Damn it,” she hissed, stumbling forward and grabbing the drapes before slamming them together, stilling the shaking of her hands. She had closed her eyes for a brief nap hours earlier, and now the sun had dipped below the horizon without her realizing it, leaving her open and vulnerable. Checking her phone as she sat down, grabbing the stuffed bear her grandmother had gotten blessed as if the worn down old thing would protect her from what lurked in the shadows, she pressed her lips together upon seeing a message from Allison from an hour ago.

    Hey love, passing through the area. I’ll stop by soon!

    On instinct her eyes started to travel to the closed window before she stopped herself. Mama didn’t raise no fool - she knew to leave well enough alone when the protection of the Lord’s light closed its eye - but her thoughts danced back to Allison. The girl was a kind, sweet thing but didn’t have a lick of sense when it came to protecting herself. No matter how many times Phoebe begged her to put something in the passenger seat when driving alone, Allison just laughed it off when the Southern girl refused to say why. Didn’t understand to speak of it was to yell at the top of your damn lungs you didn’t know what the hell it was capable of. Phoebe loved the girl dearly, but not enough to break the self-preservation beat into her.

    Pulling Allison’s contact up on the phone, Phoebe clicked the blue 716 area code phone number, staring at the bright blue eyes and smiling face she took of the girl last 4th of July, and she prayed the other girl would pick up the phone. It rang in her ear for five - ten - fifteen seconds and when she was sure she would need to leave a message-

    “Hey girl!” crackled into her ear. “I’m almost there, what’s up?”

    “Just checking on you,” Phoebe said, letting out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding, dragging herself out of her room to the living room and clicking on the TV. Nothing good was on, but it was easier to ignore the screaming of the cows and chorus of howling with the prattling of actors. Allison once asked what the “God awful racket, sounds like someone is getting murdered” was, and Phoebe told her coyotes, praying she didn’t know coyotes didn’t hunt in packs to question her further. “Where are you?”

    “On the side of the highway by the underpass —“ was all Allison managed to get out before Phoebe interrupted, unable to keep her voice down and probably would have woke up the neighbors if they didn’t live a mile down the gravel road with—

    “WHAT DO YOU MEAN ON THE SIDE?!”

    ”Girl, talking on the phone and driving is the quickest way to get in an accident.”

    “God invented speaker and Bluetooth for a fucking reason Allie!” Letting out a breath, Phoebe pinched the bridge of her nose, slowly counting to 10 as she tried to calm the erratic hammering of her heart. She swore to the Lord himself, after surviving 32 years in these cornfields with them prowling about, she would lodge a complaint if a heart attack due to the sheer stress her best friend put her under did her in. “Listen, just, get back on the road and call me when you get here. I heard coyotes outside earlier.”

    “Yeah no kidding. Saw their red eyes earlier probably a couple miles down the road,” Allison grumbled, and while more words came out from her mouth, Phoebe couldn’t hear them over the pounding of her own heart. Just gripping the phone became a challenge between the sweat which coated her palms and the fact her entire body was rattling like a leaf in the wind.

    Pushing back against the darkness which threatened to overtake her vision, she managed to gasp-

    “Drive.”

    ”What?”

    “FOR GOD’S SAKE, PUT YOUR FUCKING CAR INTO GEAR AND DRIVE! COYOTES DON’T HAVE FUCKING RED EYES! THAT’S NOT A FUCKING COYOTE, ALLIE!” Phoebe screamed, running to where she kept the shotgun locked up. It wouldn’t kill them, but it would chase them away. It would give them time if for once in her life Allison just listened to her.

    “There’s something in the road-“

    Oh no.

    ”What the hell, it looks like some animal got hit by a car. It’s covered in blood! What the actual fuck, poor thing—” And in a single heartbeat, the unnecessary concern which was oozing from the girl evaporated. ”OH MY GOD ITS RUNNING RIGHT TOWARD ME, MOTHER FUCKER!”

    Oh God no.

    “DRIVE! DRIVE AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD-“ Phoebe begged, hearing the roaring of an engine in the background, cut off by a loud screeching.

    ”OH MY GOD WHERE DID IT GO—“ Allison demanded only to be broken off suddenly with a high pitched scream suddenly cut off with an unnatural sucking noise, which quickly ended as Phoebe hung up the phone. Staring at the numerous apps which littered her home screen, she slowly leaned against the gun cabinet, the weapon now painfully useless. There was now nothing left to protect.

    “… don’t look back,” she whispered to herself, sliding down to the ground, tears staining her face as the howling outside got just a bit louder.


    NOTE: If you entered this contest, please don't reference that fact in this thread or anywhere else on ZU until after voting closes. Bias is a real thing lol.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by EzloSpirit ().

  • Ah jeez I don't know what to vote for.

    I liked number 1. It was nice and peaceful but also kind of familiar? But also I didn't make it to the last few lines.

    2 isn't very fulfilling to me at all and I kind of had to force myself to read the whole thing. It looks more like a section of dialogue that was cut from a full book as opposed to it's own short story.

    3 is... well... I don't like poetry, okay. Not my cup of tea and not a thing I enjoy reading.

    And then there's 4. 4 is a genuine goddamn horror story! I was most definitely kind of scared when I got to the end of that but of course, you know, I couldn't look away. Couldn't stop reading. Honetsky, right now I'm busy writing alternate endings for it in my head because I like a happy ending and you know a story is good when it makes your imagination turn as well.

    The only real problem I have with it is, amusingly enough, something that I've gotta leave unspoken for reasons that would be pointless to tell you because then you'd know what is left unspoken.

    So...

    I guess I'll vote for entry 1
  • Entry 1
    OK so the biggest issue I have with this is it is a giant text block. Formatting wise, it can make it hard to read in forums like this. But it is a very interesting and engaging story with an undercurrent of something I can’t quite put my finger on. The idea of a Divine Tree engaging with humans and thinking as one was very interesting, and exploring the way the tree thought was something unique.

    Entry 2
    I … have no idea what’s going on here. There isn’t much set up. There isn’t much engagement. There isn’t much of ANYTHING. It’s two people meeting (?) on a road (?) and a man saving a lady who he doesn’t know the name of (?) and she doesn’t know his name (?). But he seems to be someone who is serving her based on the way he talks to her earlier (?). It’s just very confusing and sending mixed signals. If the author was aiming to write something where there was an unspoken sadness between the two, they would need to build up a relationship between them first. Where the narrator perhaps knows what happened. Where there is a quiet moment where the narrator struggles to say something - anything - which she thinks might put Anzo at peace but she just … can’t find the words and the moment passes without anything being said. That makes the situation more relatable because how many times do we find ourselves trying to comfort someone but don’t know what to say so we say nothing?

    Entry 3
    It’s a sad (?) poem about the narrator missing their father. Not wanting to talk about something nor think about it is a relatable experience. It’s harder for me to connect though more with it because I feel like there is something a bit missing. Not sure what it is.

    Entry 4
    The interesting thing I find with horror is that it relies more on invoking the reader’s imagination to scare them because whatever they think up is gonna be scarier than what you do because there is something lost a lot when you shed light on the unknown. The author here does a good job in not describing them fully but I think might have given a little extra detail because we know there is multiple of the creature, they hunt in packs and are animalistic, have glowing red eyes, to speak of them is like a Voldemort situation, and looking at them is a no no too. While their powers and abilities are vague, perhaps there was a detail a bit too much especially since we know from Allison that to leave the passenger seat open in a car is to invite trouble, and it brings the question of if this is all the same creature of different ones. Especially since Phoebe refers to the creature(s) as “them” in one point referencing there is more than one creature out there.

    Also while the pacing wasn’t bad I feel like the rising action and climax was rushed a bit. The scene itself was set good enough giving readers the necessary information for the climax/rising action to work as needed but fell JUST short when it came to enacting it. Especially since I think the medium for this sort of story might be better with art to draw things out. Give us a better sense of a chase, the fear, etc.,

    Though I have to say it was an interesting take on superstitions which people have. Don’t go through the underpass at night. Don’t look outside. Those unspoken rules people of an area just KNOW which outsiders can’t understand. Perhaps what might have been better to keep with the theme was to invoke fey circles in Ireland. Or maybe wandering in the woods and needing to keep track of your party. I think there are other urban legends and superstitions which might have fit the written medium a BIT better.

    That being said the story isn’t bad by any stretch of the measure. It sets the scene, and while I wasn’t particularly scared, judging by what Backset wrote did it’s job in invoking fear so at its crux did what it was supposed to do. I just think the biggest issue really is the pacing was a bit too quick because this medium in this amount of space perhaps can’t bring out what the author was aiming for to it’s fullest potential.

    So VOTING 1

    :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
    Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
    Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
  • Entry Un:

    This story has a bit of a myth-like feel to it, which I really enjoyed. Tracing the tree’s thoughts made for a very interesting and unique read, so big props for that. I do wish the story would leaf leave us an impression of what our photosynthesizing protagonist’s one word would lead to, though. Also, dear author, please do spend more time with your poor neglected enter key.


    Entry Deux:

    Really not a big fan of the whole lady-needs-big-strong-man-to-protect-her thing this story has got going on, and having not one, not two, but three full instances of “my lady”, that most noisome of phrases, certainly doesn’t do this story any favours either. Aside from that, the story just feels bland, and the characters just aren’t terribly interesting.


    Entry Trois:

    Okay, confession time: I’m Really Bad with poetry. I have no clue what makes poetry good or bad, so I really have no meaningful feedback to give. My apologies. For what it’s worth I enjoyed reading it!


    Entry IV:

    Oh look! Allison is practically me with a different name! I hope good things are going to happen to her! Maybe she’ll find a kitty and pet it! Orrrr that could happen, I guess. Yikes. The story is creepy as fuck, and the ending was suitably depressing, though I feel it’s a bit too clear from the get-go that Allison is not going to have a good night. I also feel like the tension could’ve used a bit more time to simmer so that it might hit home just a bit harder.


    Final votes: entries one and four.

    Baggi sig drawn by Malia! <3

    BA charries: Phantasmo - Mad Marie


    The post was edited 1 time, last by SacredSturgeon ().