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IWT 11 Theme Thread

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  • IWT 11 Theme Thread

    So before I make the official thread on April 1st I would like to extend the chance for everyone to throw some ideas into the proverbial creative stew. Any suggestion you have for me to make the contest better please let me know here. Be gentle it's my first time.

    No promises on me using any of the ideas thrown at me, but it doesn't hurt and will most likely help me out a bit. As of this moment I'm leaning towards another grab bag type story. The Science Fiction grab bag contest had a lot of entrants and maybe people just found it more accessible doing it that way. I'd like to go with Horror as the theme and make up a list of tropes to choose three from. List of tropes will consist of at least ten suggestions.

    I want to shoot for a finish date of mid January to get back to the end times of the previous contest, but I'm open to suggestion on that. Let me know what you guys think. I will be a benevolent lord for now. Appreciate this mercy and take advantage while you can!

    I will be making the IWT 11 official thread on April 1st, so get all your ideas into this thread before I make the new thread!!

  • #2
    Time period: Your story must take place in a specific time period. You may choose between the following 4 time periods...

    Early 20th century
    Medieval times
    Victorian era

    any theme goes, time period is all that matters.

    Whatever you go with, the less restrictive the guidelines the better your turn out would potentially be. From your example above I'd recommend either the genre of horror or 'pick one of these tropes' (regardless of genre).
    Last edited by donteatpoop; 03-22-2014, 01:38 PM.
    The organ is grinding but the monkey won't dance.


    • #3
      When I think of horror, there's usually an element of the supernatural somewhere in there. It's fine to point out that "hell is other people" and make it into a crime drama or whatever, but it's that spark of something not quite of this world that draws my interest.

      It's been a long time since I've read anything from the genre (I did try writing it once, in high school; the result was "Gorefest in Twelve and a Half Pages," and it was about what you'd expect), but I always thought the most exquisite horror stories - the ones that sent chills down my spine - were the "things that go bump in the night" variety. There's a kind of horror that plays heavily on fear of the unknown - really lends itself to suspense - and at its best creates these moments of existential dread.

      I feel like a lot of writers (e.g. Dead Koontz) drop the ball when they explain "the unknown" - losing the horror element - and try to finish the story out with action/suspense. I'm not saying "suspense, with horror tropes thrown in" is a bad thing, but the transition can be kind of a letdown.

      Then there's that "other" kind of horror - the campy kind - and I'm not talking that down at all. The one that jumps to mind is "John Dies at the End." I felt sort of let down by the last third of that one, but for the most part it was a fun read.

      Anyway, if you're going with the "grab bag" approach, you could separate it into categories and have everyone pick one or two from each, or just leave it as one open-ended lump. Alternatively - since you seem to favor the structure of the "Science Fiction" contest - you could call IWT 11 something suggestive (e.g. the "From Hell" contest) and then seed the grab-bag with horror-centric themes. I threw together a sort of brainstorm - I'm not suggesting any of these be included (it would be terrible if you used this as the list); it's just a stream-of-consciousness intended to get the gears turning.

      recursion, thug life, dirt, chain of sin, metamorphosis, insanity, the old house, the unknown

      isolation, ghost town, intimacy, the artifact, invocations, on being devoured

      the clairvoyant, corruption, possession, losing time, the cemetery, the unreal, the woods, burning, drowning, the setting sun

      the curse, the pagan rite, the occult, sigils, inescapable, surgery, the living shadow, the rule of three

      the last day, secrets, the open door, shop of horrors, the suicide, the watcher, betrayal, paralyzed, falling, death by increments.
      Last edited by Locke; 06-27-2014 at 12:16 AM.


      • #4
        Something which is called a "theme" should have a strong influence on the plot and scope of a story. The problem with grab bag contests, as I see it, is that the elements being chosen often don't have any real effect on the heart of the story; they're just ornamentation. I'm sure the contest can still be accessible while also offering a strong thematic guideline to unite all the entries, thereby helping to form a basis for comparison. If you are going to go with some element of choice, I'd suggest keeping these choices very limited, just one or two varying options instead of a whole list.
        My sanity, my soul, or my life.


        • #5
          Running with Ves' idea of a unifying theme, some ideas;

          -Revenge, punishment, sin, guilt, paranoia
          -Fear itself
          -The uncaring universe, nihilism, cosmicism
          -Southern Gothic
          -The "Other," the grotesque
          -Body horror; transformation/metamorphosis, degeneration/atavism
          -Religious horror, survival horror, slasher/serial killer, surreal horror, ero guro, giallo
          -Medievalism, torture, inquisition, oppression, ritual sacrifice
          -Medical horror/illness
          -Man's inhumanity to man/'kill or be killed'
          -Sisyphean cycles/inherent in the system/become what you hate/he who fights monsters (corruption, violence, abuse)


          • #6
            Originally posted by dreamshell View Post
            some ideas...
            Wow, Dream, those are some really great ideas indeed! I think you pulled some real inspiration out of ye olde hat, providing our brave new leader with the most fecund supply of thematic think-eggs imaginable!
            My sanity, my soul, or my life.


            • #7
              dreamshell had some good suggestions, but I don't see any problems with 'grab bag' contests either...the list Locke posted immediately got the wheels in my head turning, and at the same time feels a lot more flexible than having to adhere to a list of themes.


              • #8
                There's a lot that sparked my imagination from Locke's list, too. He's got mostly specific concepts with a few themes, while mine's the opposite. Perhaps some medley of both? Say 1-2 themes and 1-3 concepts or something (which isn't very different from the Science Fiction contest, anyway). For example;

                Theme: Betrayal (one of Locke's), Revenge (one of mine)
                Concepts: Thug life, shop of horrors (both Locke's), ritual sacrifice (mine)

                So there's the makings of some kind of bloody ghetto take on Needful Things, just to illustrate. If this formula's too convoluted, by all means, pillage through our lists (or at least mine) and then do what you will.


                • #9
                  You know, if I had been the winner, instead of waffling around with these silly horror ideas, I would have just posted this picture and told everyone they had to write their story about it:

                  I hope you all realize your error now.


                  • #10
                    Well...I could still change my mind about horror theme and switch to your idea mizal. Damn if that picture isn't all sorts of inspiring, humbling and epic. I mean really just what in the HELL is going on here? A seemingly infinite number of stories could spawn from this one image alone...

                    Although I do fear that someone could just say "And dinosaurs piloted by aliens and humans, battled each other on the TV. Some lame kids show. Billy turned it off." And that would be it. No, the focus MUST be the picture. No quick throw away. We need to get to the heart of the fierce battle that is being waged!

                    If only you had come shown this to me earlier Mizal! I feel the cogs of horror are spinning too fast to stop now, yet there is still one full day for the people to make their voice heard before the dictator (me) has them all shot in the streets like dogs!


                    • #11
                      I do find the thought of an image-based theme intriguing. Just not that one, lol
                      Last edited by Locke; 06-27-2014 at 12:16 AM.


                      • #12
                        I'm still waiting for BatC to pull some sort of "Surprise! I'm in charge and the contest has absolutely nothing to do with any of your ideas!" stunt, but then I remember he mentioned a desire for a horror theme in his first post. I would bitch about how we've already had horror as a theme, but... 1) the theme was actually "from hell" and 2) that was six years ago. Now I feel old. (But not as old as End, DEP, or Drag, so let's all point and laugh and them, eh?)

                        It's true that when we did the SciFi grab bag, we ended up with everything from gritty post-apocalyptic horrors to silly reverse-Tron ramblings to campy 50s action hero works. I never had a problem with that, though. I liked having the wide variety of things to read. Plus, it lets people tailor an entry based on their strengths. Can you imagine a story by Ves where she's not allowed to use big words or depressing themes? Or a story by BatC where he's not allowed to have non-sequitur rooms? That would be awful.
                        Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
                        Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
                        And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Usoki View Post
                          Or a story by BatC where he's not allowed to have non-sequitur rooms? That would be awful.

                          Cut off my dick while you're at it, why don't ya?


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BatCountry View Post
                            I will be making the IWT 11 official thread on April 1st, so get all your ideas into this thread before I make the new thread!!
                            Worst April Fool's Day joke ever, you lazy hack. Par for the course, admittedly, but still. We demand better from you now that you're in charge* of the contest.
                            Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
                            Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
                            And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.


                            • #15
                              So the conclusion I'm going to draw from this is that there is no theme and I should just write whatever, yay! . See you all in January!


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