The Weekly is a community project in the form of a series of micro-fiction contests, inspired by the discontinued Community Writing Competitions on Halo Waypoint. Each week, users can challenge themselves to write a short prose response to a prompt chosen at the start of the week by the competition's judge. At the week's end, the judge selects a winner to receive a shiny new Weekly Winner eraicon on their entry's page, and the entry will then be displayed on Recent Changes for the next week for all to easily see and read.

The project was conceived in response to a long-standing downturn in prose writing on the site, in hopes of encouraging more prose by presenting a painless, easily-attainable length as a target instead of a hopelessly-long novel length. The ideas the writers incorporate to hone their craft under such constraints might then become the seeds for events their own characters go through, or even be worked into whole other long stories.

How To Participate

At the beginning of each week, a new prompt will be posted on this page, for users to write in response to. Working with in the length and topic restraints (which could have to do with the theme, or subject, or writing style like "only dialogue"), users then write their response and create a new page on which to post it. Remember to include a Writer Template ("{{Writer|your username}}") at the top and categorize it "The Weekly" ("[[Category:The Weekly]]") at the bottom. A paragraph at the top can be added to introduce the piece and context for it without going towards the word count, so long as there's a horizontal line ("----") between to make set them apart distinctly. Unless specified otherwise, the word length is 1000 800 words, and while you may submit multiple entries for each week, they must be individual entries (while having multiple entries be sequels/prequels to one another is a grey area, they must still work as stories on their own, rather than multiple-part stories).

Then, simply add a link to your entry's page in the scrollbox for the appropriate week for it to be counted. The judge (LegendOfElTopo, currently) will then read the entries, between the following Monday-Wednesday depending on availability, and pick a winner for the week. Bear in mind, the judge's decision may be based on subjective judgements, but good spelling, grammar, and punctuation go a long way towards impressing by presenting a professional and easy-to-read appearance. Winners will then be given a unique Weekly Winner eraicon and displayed on the Recent Changes page.

Current Judge Notes

  • Feel free to suggest prompts and topics for future weeks - ping me in the Discord if you do.
  • If posted after the end date, I'll still read and review your work, it just excludes you from the standings for winning the weekly (although in some cases I may shift things to allow for more competition). Yes, this means...
  • ...all previous weekly prompts (including those before I took over) can be written for and I'll give them a look, just bear in mind that it'll be a lower priority than more recent things. That being said...
  • ...I won't be accepting works written beforehand, or in general submissions not written specifically for the Weekly and then added to it afterwards.

Weekly Challenges

Week 192: Dear Humanity

Prompt: One year ago, I dropped a stupid "hindsight is 2020" joke as a prompt; this year, I'm doing the same again, since it isn't any more. On a more serious note - since the 2020-in-review picked out some particularly good character-driven pieces, I'm hoping to pivot a little more towards those these days.

This prompt is all about regrets; things that were done, weren't done, or things that could-have-been. These can be spanning years, decades even - or just muttering "I should not have said that-" as soon as someone leaves the room. Go wild - at least, as wild as you can while aiming for this week's more generous 1000-word target.

Start Date: January 2nd, 2021

End Date: January 17th, 2021

All of these were really, really good - even once I was done reviewing I hadn't picked, and it was a tossup between all of the entries that weren't a length that scared me away from reading them. The win was only clinched by a hair, and I don't tend to say that lightly.

Retirement - and not in the "retirement", inverted commas, ONI-arranged sense - is something talked about more than shown, at least from what I see and get around to reading. While I'm not quite sure where this particular bit of touchiness takes place in the grand scheme of Andra-related things (or if this is even "canon" within that, given the name of the story series) it's still a really nice, character-driven short. While there's a lot of tying into other characters and past history, it doesn't feel like those are required knowledge or pre-reading like it's easy to fall into, and the regrets tie into it strongly. Being a nobody, being normal, being changed from the gung-ho child soldier of yesteryear builds into a sense of closure that's still tinged with the pathos of talking to those absent.
For me, that last line is honestly *chef's k i s s*. That, combined with the balanced weight and delicateness of the descriptions (in spite of the slight clumsiness of expositing Andra's past-to-date), and the slight touches like the Colonial Literature and related chatter, are what really make this piece.
Far shorter than what the prompt asks for - never mind from what I expected - but an excellent piece nontheless. This is a short but very sweet piece that's tight, to-the-point, and close to the prompt while in an unexpected direction. Plus, it plays right into my own favourite interpretation of ONI as cold but not unnecessarily cruel, and caring more about Getting Shit Done™ than overtly castigating or making an example of people for something that's already been done. Also very nice touches are the undertones that, in spite of this colossal cock-up, STONE HILL is still competent or valuable enough that keeping them on is preferable to a token resignation - plus, the header, names, and mixture of curt and clinical in IRONWOOD's tone make this a piece that's far stronger than its word count would suggest.
While a little more loose on the prompt than some of the other pieces here, I still really quite enjoyed this, and the character dynamics between Machete and what I can only assume to be their handler. The dialogue isn't hugely original in its ideas - the team bantering with Amber and Erin's pep talk later are both relatively by-numbers - it's still very nicely executed, feeling organic and believable and comfortably steering clear of the cliches it could fall into. While that makes up the bulk of the work, the opening half is wonderfully vivid, sharp third-person descriptions and the surgeon not pulling any punches bring some colourful images into mind, and the admission of a cock-up by superiors is an unexpected touch.
This is certainly the prompt played straight, arguably in most direct way out of all of the prompts. Like Tide's, it's something that does feel like further knowledge, context, background would lend this piece an extra supporting pillar - but like Tide's, it still stands plenty strong on its own. The dynamic between the three, particularly how Stray (it still feels weird calling him that) stands relative to the other two, is an interesting thing in itself and does lend a bit of awkwardness to the process of reading and getting the goings-on, alternating between dogsbody and close companion, but either way still makes the latter half of things really good. The only thing I would say is that the timeskip is a little awkward; even marking it with a line would've helped separate the two halves, but on first read it did make me double back to see if there's anything I missed. Still, a very nice piece, especially with the melancholy tinge to it.
I guess me saying that was really
*equip sunglasses*
opening a pandora's box.

Week 193: The Kids Are Alright

Prompt: Partly inspired by Tide's interesting playground game, and partly from how I actually had fun writing something to this theme last year: this week's prompt is all about the young'uns. Something about children, about youth, with a pretty broad scope thematically - after all, kids can be kind, they can be cruel, they can be innocent or jaded, and the Orion Arm has a vast range of different environments to grow up in. Still, I'd rather it at least be something in line with an image of childhood rather than just "takes place with young characters". In particular, while young, early Spartan candidates being taught the best places to stab someone isn't really what I'm after - and while lighter moments like in my piece above would work, more mundane human (or alien!) kids growing up would be plenty welcome too!

Looking to be a little shorter and sweeter this time; 800 words is your target.

Start Date: January 11th, 2021

End Date: January 24th, 2021

The case, intentionally befuddling; the characters, wholly invisible - I can't help but feel that, like Other Homeworld Theory, the pieces laid out here don't quite click together into much of a definitive, cohesive story. The dates seem wrong for any Spartan intake; the willingness to refer the whole case to ONI, the vagueness of the recollection (both in terms of description and how it's a little awkward to discern from the story's present-day), and the lack of context as to what's going on in the here and now - all of it comes together in an end result that never feels like it quite clicks, and I'm not sure if that's intended.
A dialogue piece set entirely between youngsters, slap-bang in the Created era, and with a young Sangheili in the mix? This wasn't quite a combination I expected.. The dynamics of the youngsters bouncing off one another, even with their familiarity, were really quite enjoyable to read - somewhat similarly to Tide's piece, it didn't seem to have a particular direction or plot it was going in, but the dialogue and inference of the going-ons in the world still kept it cohesive and left loose ends to ponder on. Very comfy, for sure.
This was - this was a huge bundle of "awwww". An oh no, segueing into laughter, and then into an "awwww". Zoey's own guilt, her trespasses that she spends the whole time agonizing over, takes centre stage - yet it doesn't quite weight down the piece. The overreaction, the angst of her wanting to flee, expecting to have to, and piling up a world of blame on herself over something already been and done and non-fatal - it gives her voice and the piece overall an immature feel. It's a feel that - once the punchline hits - is oddly endearing, a mixture of funny and outright wholesome 100 that gives the payoff such a grin, especially after the almost slight absurdness of Gav's Certified Dad Moment [TM]. All three pieces here are well written, both technically and set in the wider world, but this one in particular hits the childhood mark for me right on. Really fun to read, but really warm at the end of it, too.

Week 194: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Prompt: Something dug up from the past - that's the theme of this week's prompt. Whether at a individual, organisational, or even governmental, perhaps some time capsules should stay buried. Some memories may be too harsh to cling to; some scandals or heresies should stay buried. Maybe they're not even horrible revelations to their people or institutions, just a reminder of how they used to be better, of how far they've fallen. Maybe they're painful notes of what they've lost. Maybe they'll be used as impetus for change - or maybe they'll be buried again, deeper this time. It's all up to you, in the space of 800 words; although as always, that's a target, with a fair amount of flexibility above or below.

Start Date: January 26th, 2021

End Date: February 7th, 2021

I really do have mixed feelings about this one, although admittedly said feelings might be a little overly familiar since I've said similar about works from yourself in the past. The piece is certianly well-executed, the description tight and the Kallas's introduction sympathetic. But I can't help but feel it has a little trouble building itself up, at least as the piece goes on. The tie-in to the Deltas feels a little bit tacked-on, although I'm also unfamiliar of any further history behind them - but the recollection of the ambush in particular feels a little wooden. The opening and ending of that segment, both with the focus on burning, hit hard, but the rest doesn't share much of that energy, instead feeling like more of a plod through the events one step at a time.
The bartender is something that a lot could've been done with, and I definitely would've enjoyed seeing the two of them bounce off each other more, but the fact that he's not even named by the end of it is makes the whole interaction feel a bit flat. More banter between the two, or at least more sharing of information from the bartender beyond being ex-Navy, would've opened up the piece a lot more and offered more sympathy for Kallas; finding someone he can unload and share stories with rather than - well, rather than babysitting.
This was... honestly, thoroughly enjoyable all-round. Pretty much everything I see you write with hingies goes well, and this is no exception; you can feel Kino's frustration, his tiredness, his lament for what Sanghelios once was. Even with the almost-contradictions of rose-tinted nostalgia - admiration of the mighty fleets he used to see in the sky, yet disdain for the Covenant leadership of his time - the desire for something better for his people as well as himself is dripping from the page. "Thwack, ruminate, thwack, ponder" certainly isn't an avant-garde way to get emotion across via text, but it's one that's done very nicely here.
Once Kino gets into the cache, there's a swerve into external description from internal musings that feels a touch abrupt, but while said description would feel like filler with a poor execution, here it works well to show off the age of the place, the scale, the grandiose feel of what it truly was that he uncovered. Some odds and ends find themselves a little extraneous - Kino's spluttering over the bugs, for example - but none of it feels overtly out of place, none of it detracts from the story being told. The only thing I'd really say is that the final line of the insect's flight feels a little clumsily handled; not necessarily being too on-the-nose, since being so direct fits the sheer scale of the story being told, but just a little fumbled in its wording, without the grace or majesty or hope I feel that was meant to be implied.
Still, a lovely piece, and one (like Sundered Shore) that I'd love to see future follow-ups to and repercussions of!
I believe this is your first Weekly submission, so I have to offer my apologies again for leaving you hanging for so long over it - I've certainly given the thing a wealth of rereads, at least. With a relatively common set-piece like this, it's up to the execution to carry the piece, and there's a fair bit to work with - the principle one being the contrast between how well emotion is put across in varying ways.
I can't help but feel that the dialogue between the two leaves something to be desired here - sure, all that they're saying is certainly plausible for the situation, believable, but it doesn't add much to it. The emotional appeals to one another are a little blunt, and struggle to get across the more personal feel that would help colour a relatively plain setup. It's hard to dance around the feeling that the situation has a touch of cliché to it when their lines seem to steer the piece straight into that direction. On the flip side, though, the internal voice of the piece is much stronger, both directly via Dylan's thoughts and indirectly with how the scene is put across and described. The opening two paragraphs are especially good with this, neatly mirroring his physical struggle to get the two of them out of there with his mental one (although both may have benefited from a proofread). Later snippets of it are more cut-down and function to bracket the dialogue, but the capping off at the end then swings it back into good territory. The final note about coffee might have been meant just for humour, but it works excellently as a view of Dylan moving the trauma aside, replacing the torture of what-ifs with the jobs of the here and now.
Definitely a solid Weekly debut (I think?), and more from you would be welcome!

Week 195: Perchance to Dream

Prompt: Sleeping. Snoozing. Getting some shut-eye. Riffing off of the previous prompt in an uncharacteristically (for myself) original way, the key to this week's prompt is having its central character(s) asleep throughout. Not preparing or getting ready, not being tired or waking up; but actually being unconscious, for the bulk of the piece if not all of it. The primary angle to take here, as hinted in the title, is dreams - memories, weird mashups of waking experiences, or even psychedelic dreamscapes are all very welcome - but I also would be open to something as simple as an ongoing description of the goings-on around them, by their bunk or camp or bedroll, as they rest.

800 words is your goal, as per usual.

Start Date: Feburary 7th, 2021

End Date: February 21st, 2021

Darrow's musings - and descriptions of the world around him - are a real strong starter to this piece. I was originally planning on saying that they felt a little purple, a little overly poetic, but on a reread after bouncing back to check the prompt I ended up finding it fitting. It's a slightly excessive, too-real feeling that I think this piece could've benefitted from a little more of. The fight is certainly well-executed, cleanly and powerfully enough to follow while being badass in a mental visualisation, but its grounding saps a little something from the story. The whole segment still seems like something that straight-up could happen, that outside of the "but it was a dreaaaaam" added on the end it was firmly grounded. It's absolutely a very good piece in any case, but I just feel that - especially with the power (and perhaps worry over the renegade) getting to Darrow - the dream feeling a little more not-quite-right, a little more surreal, would have enhanced the feel of the thing a great deal.

Week 196: Behind Seven Proxies

Prompt: A techy macguffin is the order of the day this week. I'm after stories about sneaking, breaking, assaulting your way in in order to much with something techy, that's the top and bottom of it. Maybe it's innies going after a relay like Col. Holland was worried about; maybe a proof-of-concept test, testing RED FLAG's feasibility of boarding and fighting through a ship to break into its battlenet; maybe it's some bold (or suicidal) corp trying to get its hands on schematics for recreational McINKVs. All I ask for are two key elements - both physical and technological intrusion.

I'm also playing with wordcount a bit here after the last few were varying degrees of over-target; I'm willing to take ~800 for if the story focuses on just getting in or getting out; or ~1500 if you cover the whole op. See if you can back up your ambition.

Start Date: 1st March 2021

End Date: 14th March 2021


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