Friday, February 22, 2008

The Friday Challenge - 2/22/08

Okay folks, breaking with recent semi-tradition, I'm actually going to update the Friday Challenge on Friday this time. Crazy, huh?

First off, as for last week's challenge, you'll find all the entries but Vidad's posted here. Comments follow.

Passin Through, in just 100 brief words you drew an absolutely unforgettable image and set a new standard for jobs I'm glad I've never had. Thanks. Or, maybe GAAAH! I'm not sure which.

WaterBoy, you've got a great beginning for a really creepy movie script there. Now turn your imagination loose and run with it. When you're finished with the first pass at the treatment, I want a piece of that movie deal.

KTown, you really threw me because I had no idea where you were going with that one. That's good, actually, as it doesn't happen often, and it's one of the reasons why I keep doing the Friday Challenge. I'm always surprised and impressed when someone takes what I think are a fairly simple set of parameters and comes up with something I'd never thought of. Good work.

rycamor, we have got to get together and talk about boats sometime. I could spend hours talking about boats, provided there's an adequate supply of beer. What's your preferred brand?

Sean, been there, done that, you have my deepest sympathies. And yes, we're satisfied with our current vendor.

Rachel, your story had "K" laughing out loud, again based on the "been there, done that" principle, and Vidad, your story had me laughing so hard I just about fell out of my chair. That comment at the end was just the perfect touch; I wish I'd thought of that.

But in the final analysis, humor did not carry the day this time. Instead, the prize this week goes to Henry Vogel, for a story that really hit me where I live. Henry, it's darn tough to hang onto control and express yourself eloquently while relating a story that engages powerful emotions, but you managed to pull it off. Congratulations.

You know what to do to claim your prize.

Now, as for this week's Friday Challenge: a few days ago, in a post over on Vox's blog responding to In Praise of Brilliant Amateurs, Vidad wrote—
It was tough to read Bethke's post, because it shattered some of the mythology for me. I've wanted to be a great writer. But... boy, what a trial it seems to be. Not any better than my ad work. And sometimes worse. But... hey, I love it, so I'll keep doing it.
In reply, I wrote—
Vidad, by all means, keep trying. I've read your work. You can write great fiction. Just, do yourself a favor and don't turn "pro," okay? Amateurs can take more risks and generally end up doing better work than all but the creme de la tutti creme of pros.

When you're a "pro," and you really need to make that next novel a commercial success because the kid needs braces, the siren call of hackdom crap can become irresistably strong. Just imagine if Tolkien had been a "pro" and needed to sell those novels to make a living.
And then, in a moment of pure inspiration (presented here with some corrections), I began channeling for Tolkien's agent, upon reading The Return of the King
"J.R.R., baby, loved the new book, but what the heck were you thinking? You killed Sauron! You killed Saurumon! You destroyed the magic dingus! And then all that crap with everybody getting old and all your heroes getting on boats at the Grey Havens and sailing off into the sunset and all that. How are you ever going to start your next trilogy, that's what I want to know.

"Look, I know that after ten years you're getting a little tired of the series, but you just can't end Return of the King with so much utter finality. So while you're thinking it over and figuring out how you're going to rewrite the ending to get yourself out of that mess, I've got another idea for you. How about if you bash out a bunch of cheap, fast books about some hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards who go wandering around Middle Earth, exploring old barrows and tombs and dwarvish mines and all that stuff and battling orcs, trolls, and the occasional dragon? You could call it — oh, the Dragonlance series..."
Thus, like a dragonet hatching out of its shell, was born this week's Friday Challenge!
In one of those horrible, hideous, tragic twists of fate that can only happen when a gigantic multinational media conglomerate gets its grubby mitts on a well-loved literary property, The Lord of The Rings II has just been given the greenlight. Tolkien's ending was too darn final to be overcome — but wait, here's a new idea! How about if the One Ring was not destroyed, but merely encased in lava for a few millennia, while the seas rose, and the land fell, and the slopes of Mount Doom became a peaceful tropical island known for its papayas and black-sand beaches. And there, at the edge of the sea, the One Ring waits...
That's this week's challenge. Three sections: beginning, middle, and end; I want you to sketch out a rough outline for the screenplay of The Lord of The Rings II: The Return of The One Ring.

As always, we're playing for what's behind Door #2, and we're playing by a penumbra of emanations from the frequently reinterpreted rules of the Friday Challenge. You can post your entry in the Comments thread for this blogbit, post it on your own site and post a link here, or send me a file and I'll PDF it and post it for all to see. Even if you're not entering, you're encouraged to read and comment on the other entries and vote for your favorites.

So, ready? Then... Avant!