Thursday, March 8, 2012

Second Campaigner Challenge (of Fourth Campaign)

Challenged into Indian Steampunk

Apparently some Campaigners asked for more challenging challenges ... the result was a crazy accumulation of prompts and activities and optional difficulty-raisers. The whole set of rules can be found here.

I actually included all 5 prompts and completed all 5 activities and included all 3 additional difficulties:
1. completed at least 3 activities and tied them together with a common theme (India)
2. written in the genre "Steampunk", which I never used before
3. asking for critique by the other Campaigners

Activity 1 - Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)

When a couple of poor, Indian orphans and the young son of a white, rich factory-owner get caught and hurt in the explosion of a sabotaged airship, they hide from the resulting energy-wave beneath the remains of an old, rusty bridge. Only the half-mad water-shaper and scientist who dwells nearby can save them, if his experiments won't make matters worse first, because he is developing a gas that does not only tinge certain particles in the air orange, but also makes them toxic.

Word Count: 83

Activity 2 - Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts

"Shanti, wait for me!"
"Hurry up then, Rohan! That brat's wailing surely has called guards with rifles."
"Why did you have to steal that ball?"
The dirty, skinny girl laughed, but did not slow down while skipping over junks of metal and evading piles of garbage. It could be painful, fatal even, to step onto some hidden shard or a rusty screw.
"Because the red coat of that boy was too gaudy, of course!"

When they reached their hiding place beneath the broken bridge, Rohan stumbled on into the water and collapsed in the shallow part.
His sister leaned against a rusty girder, inspecting a bleeding cut on her brown-skinned knee.
"Is it bad enough for the factory?"
An orange flower of stylised energy was its symbol. It created gadgets that formed all sorts of shapes out of water, like shimmering fruit-sculptures or little animals. They only applied for the hard work there when they needed the service of its doctor.
"No, I'll be fine."
Nevertheless, Rohan heaved himself up and crawled to her side. Drops from his dark hair drummed on the ball, leaving tracks on the surface, already smeared with oil and soot, and no longer white.

Word Count: 199

Activity 3 - Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)

At first, there is the light,
it starts white and bright,
until it gathers in a living knot of yellow flames.

Children's cries of joy and sorrow,
a bouncing ball or no food tomorrow,
their fate gets decided by a steam-powered wheel.

Two lovers escape their iron prison,
through water and with marks of crimson,
finding refuge in the rust and rubble of a ruined bridge.

Only a hand steady and bare
can wield a power so rare
that the water of mighty Ganges can be shaped to the heart's desire.

Word Count: 91

Activity 4 - Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts (apparently no word-limit here)

During the joyful years of my carefree youth, I spent my time chasing my favourite ball and screeching seagulls by the seaside, trying my best to ruin the fine clothes my mother made me wear.
When I was older, “The Seagull” was the first steam-powered airship that brought me to India where I was a guest of honour at my first international art-exhibition, which inspired me to a series of pictures about starving, brown-skinned children.
My masterpiece, a pear shaped out of water-droplets, complete with a green leaf to add some colour, sold for a fortune and made me rich enough to settle in a villa with a handful of clockwork-servants.
Only a few years later my life was in ruins, ravaged by treacherous fame and false friends, and the very last piece of art I ever created portrayed it perfectly – chaotic swirls of fading light in the middle of an oppressing darkness.
Now that the end is near, I find myself beaten and bloody under an equally battered, old bridge, but for the first time in ages I feel like I have a true friend at my side: drunkard Aamir Kapoor whom I have to fish out of the water every few days.

Word Count: 206

Activity 5 - Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.

The first day of school for young Rahul Chopra, and his mother had insisted on giving him a blessing. Fortunately, he wasn't the only one with a little, red smear on his forehead. To him, however, it was more important that his father had entrusted him with the precious, old pocket-watch. It had been in his family for generations.
The morning-lessons passed quite well. Not only his parents, but also his grandfather and various neighbours had told him again and again to be polite to the teachers and friendly to his classmates. Unfortunately, Rahul had soon learned that the latter wasn't so easy when certain boys already started bullying those who appeared weaker than them.
To his dismay, Devdan had managed to grab the seat next to him in the tinker-classroom. Could Rahul dare to show what he was capable of, or would that only be an invitation to get mocked and hurt?
The teacher caught him by surprise, so he shyly lifted the wooden handle. Flicking the simple switch on it he let the water-crystals get shaped into a random form.
"Wow! How did you do that?" Devdan leaned over, pure joy on his face, instead of malice.

Word Count: 199

That's it! :)

If you'd like to vote for me, I'm #82.

Really, I'm not sure how well I met the Steampunk-genre, but it certainly is even more difficult to do it with word-limits like that. Never mind that it was a hell of a challenge to combine so much unconnected stuff anyway - but so very much fun, too!

To properly fulfil the third difficulty, I hereby ask again for critique.
I am aware, most of it is rather weird, but I do want to improve on my flash-fiction skills and improvisation, so I'll be grateful for any advice.
And I certainly wouldn't mind to hear back from others than Campaigners and those who tried their hands on that challenge, too.


  1. I really enjoyed your poem under activity 3. Well done! :)

    1. Thank you! What did you like about it? It was the first poem I wrote in years.
      I tried to find your take on that challenge in the blog, but I couldn't.

  2. Nice use of the prompts. I think the poem was my favorite. ; )
    Melissa Maygrove #14

    1. Really, your favourite? I thought it was the most weird of all. I'm curious why that one worked better for you than the other parts.

  3. The poem was my favourite too! Wow you did a lot of work creating 5 separate pieces out of the prompts! Well done!

    1. Wow, everybody seems to like the poem, I certainly had not expected that. I wonder why.
      I had a lot of fun creating all the pieces and just could not resist doing them all :)

  4. WOW! You. Are. So. Talented. And LOVE the poem! Awesome job!

    1. Oh. I'm not sure when anyone called me "talented" the last time. I certainly had not expected it for these little pieces. I would be very interested in knowing what make you like them.

    2. Your poem depicts a wonderful and powerful image in my head, through contrast(and imagery? Sorry...I'm not good at the grammar aspects...)--
      "Children's cries of joy and sorrow,
      a bouncing ball or no food tomorrow,"
      esp, "their fate gets decided by a steam-powered wheel", which provoke powerful emotions...
      Love your story because it's thought-provoking; I esp love the part that he'd found a true friend in a drunkard(quite like Tintin; I LOVE Tintin!); your story display the facts of life, and totally love it that you gave it a sense of hope too...that someone rich might have fake friends, but you can also find one trrue friend...okay, this's a bit long, I'm aware of that!!! Soree...
      And you're talented because you managed to take on most of the challenge and still delivered a very powerful story!!! Totally awesome...

    3. Wow, that really is a lot of praise :)
      The Tintin-parallel never occurred to me before.
      Thank you very much!

  5. Yeah for steampunk!! I'm a huge fan of steampunk and steampunk fashion and am glad someone tackled it in their writing! Like so many others, I too enjoyed your poem, my favorite verse:
    "Two lovers escape their iron prison,
    through water and with marks of crimson,
    finding refuge in the rust and rubble of a ruined bridge."

    Over all well done. The only thing I would have liked to have "seen" more of are references to steampunk in your flash fiction piece. Easier said than done I know! (: You have me wondering what the "gadgets" could have looked like using a steampunk-ish description. Anyway, it's only a tiny suggestion/comment because you rocked the poem!

    1. I always found steampunk rather fascinating, but I haven't really thought much about it until this challenge.
      Ah yes, the lovers-verse. I guess it is the one I like best about the poem, too.

      Thanks for the hint about the "gadgets". What kind of expressions would be more steampunky? Or where could I find some examples (other than in respective novels, of course)?

    2. I've been researching steampunk for my wip and as a genre it's pretty vast so you'd want to narrow it down. It can go from the Victorian / Edwardian era for example but it can also have a sci-fi, post apocalyptic feel. (Though you probably already knew that) So, think about trying to describe interpertations of modern inventions if they came out during the more elegant Victorian age. The "gadgets" for example could be deadly weapons but they would have to be made out of things like brass, copper, glass, polished wood, exposed gears and cogs, steam power, electricity... Also, think about trying to describe an invention if all the workings were exposed. Anyway, I don't know if any of this helps,though you can check out sites online dedicated to Steampunk, it's fun to see how people have steampunked modern inventions from the keyboard to the automobile and everything in between. (:

    3. Thank you, this is helpful advice, even if I already knew some of it. I actually did see some great steampunk-pictures when I tried to do some research. I'll try to improve my way of describing my "objects" better when I try this again.

  6. I too, loved your poem. Absolutely beautiful. All your piece are great. Nice job.

    1. Thank you! Any advice how to improve my writing?

  7. Wow! You did so many things with this challenge. Great work, Treelight!

    1. Well, I couldn't resist trying to do everything :)

  8. Everything is well written and the first flash touched a chord. Brave of you to attempt steampunk, I never could.

    1. Believe me, I never thought I would try steampunk, too, but somehow I'm starting to like it :)

  9. Very impressive that you did all five! Lots of little quirky details here. I like the sound of your pitch (always love a mad scientist). Great job!

    1. How could I resist doing them all? The more the merrier ;)

  10. Wow! All five?! Impressive. I absolutely love what you did with challenge 4 and 5. Well written!

    1. Thank you! I think you're one of the first who doesn't like the poem best :)