Story Challenge of the Week

I might have felt like this at times... ...
I might have felt like this at times… … I might also have looked like this at times…

Day 110 of my incarceration. Four more days until I am released. I have made many plans for how I will take my revenge upon those who cast me upon these shores, but now I begin to realize that my time here has made much of me. Perhaps I should even thank my captors, though I will of course still kill them all… Okay, it really hasn’t been that bad, or even ‘bad’ at all. However, four days until my semester ends… except for a final that I’m not actually particularly worried about. It’s been a massive amount of work (as anyone who looked through my reading list yesterday will have noted), but it had also been very good for me, and I’m expecting As when I get my grades back… I suppose I could be in for a surprise, but I don’t think that’s likely. I set out, in part, to prove that I could do good academic work at a fairly rigorous school at a high level, and I think I’ve proven that to myself and my professors this semester. However, there’s always next semester to go. Anyway, today is the day for a story challenge, and it’s time for my favorite story challenge. I’m going to give you a series of criteria including genre, theme, some character archtypes, etc. Your job is to write a story that includes all of the features required in the challenge. If you intend to post it here, please keep it short. However, the complexity of this challenge often requires a longer story.

Theme: Freedom and/or Revenge

Genre: Modern Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Setting: A prison of some kind. This could be an actual maximum security prison, a twisted magical landscape that imprisons the soul, or a gilded birdcage that ‘imprisons’ some noble personage.

Character Archetypes:

1) The Prisoner

2) A Wise Mentor/Advisor

3) A World Weary Guard

4) A Religious Guru


1) A Candle

2) The Prison’s ‘key’

3) The Spectre of Death

Philosophical Story Challenge of the Week

220px-SimbasPrideVHSHey everyone, sorry for the late post. I’ve had a busy week and this thing slipped my mind until about 2:45 in the morning. It’s Saturday again so it’s my turn to bring you a philosophical story challenge. This week I want our stories to be focused around the innate conflict that exists between our sense of free will and our obvious lack of control in some situations. There is a line from a song in the Lion King 2 that really sums up this conflict into a single sentence: “can I trust in my own heart, or am I just one part of some big plan?” I think this question is often considered in our world today because we are constantly being told we are free and in control and yet we often feel like we are just part of someone else’s plan. There are a lot of ways this topic can be approached so I will leave that up to you decide. As always, please keep your stories between 100-1000 words if you want to post them on here, otherwise write as much as you want and go all out!

Good luck!

Philosophical Story Challenge of the Week

ImageWell guys, Saturday has rolled around again so it’s time for yet another Philosophical Story Challenge. This week I want us to focus on a similar to topic to another challenge I wrote over the summer: freedom. However, I want to do something a little different this time; I would like for us to focus on the effect of other people’s freedom on our own freedom. That is, to what extent does freedom limit itself in social situations. I may be free to drive my car, but if another person steals my car or crashes into it and totals, then their freedom has limited mine. I no longer have an option available to me that I used to. For our challenge I want us to contemplate and write about how this can be both a negative and a positive thing. As usual, try to keep your stories within 100-1000 words. Good luck, and have fun!

Determinism vs. Freedom?

Image            Hey guys, Neal here with a slight change in pace from my posts on magic. I haven’t had the time to research anything new and so I simply plan to do a brief philosophical discussion in line with my Philosophical challenge about freedom. I asked you to write a story answering whether or not you thought (radical/absolute) freedom was practical, but now I want to discuss the other extreme, commonly called determinism. This view, for those who do not know or cannot figure out, basically holds that every event is caused by a previous event going to back as far as time can tell; thus your choices and actions are an indirect result of events that happened thousands or millions of years ago. In short, you are not free, you. only appear to be. In creative writing, the interplay between freedom and determinism can be crucial to making a story work, and if it is properly executed it can serve to engage the reader on a desirable level.
Perhaps the most obvious reason for employing this discussion can be seen in a secondary world containing a deity or multiple deities. If these deities are creators are they also predeterminers? And if so, how does your story show that and how do the characters relate to it? And if they are not, what implications does this have on them in, say, the realm of knowledge. You can see what sort of problems may arise from either side of this. Consequently, a lot of writers adopt a compatibilist view that tries to reconcile freedom with determinism, but this can get boring to read if it is not done well. One of the best ways to do this well would be to research what actual theologians and philosophers say about it, since it is a problem that is common with any creative deity it is something that a lot of real people have to deal with in their line of inquiry.
ImageOne of my favorite portrayals of the freedom/determinism problem is seen in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion where he essentially divides humans in the primary world into two separate races—Elves and Men—in the fantasy world in order to portray different aspects more completely. In doing this, Elves were created as determined beings, linked to the Great Music, whereas Men were not bound by the music. Since both Elves and Men portray humanity in the real world, this interplay created a very interesting interplay between the two ideologies within the story while also developing an incredibly deep and believable history between the two races. Is that not what all writers are striving for?