Week 87: You Thought It Was Over?
Ah, didn't you just miss me, and my harsh critiques? Well, probably not, so I'd like to heartily thank slowfuture, Lordofmonsterisland, and Brodie-001 for working together to keep the Weekly going last year. It's a lot of work to keep prompts and reviews coming, but a worthy endeavor to give new and old users alike an avenue to flex writing muscles and earn some recognition around the site for themselves and their characters.
Prompt: In the past, we've had both beginnings and endings as themes, so let's try to shake it up a bit by adding a caveat. By now, I'm sure you have an endgame for many of your characters. At some point, far down the road, the story does end for them; they might retire to a happy life on some idyllic colony, go out in a blaze of
inglory, or just ride into the sunset to have another adventure we're not going to see. But here's a twist: start your short story there. What happens when the retired hero has to wake up the next morning? Will you let them enjoy their rest, or does it make you start thinking there'll be another chapter to come? Let's keep it under or around a thousand words, please.
Start Date: January 4th, 2018
End Date: January 8th, 2018
- Slip by Distant Tide
- There's some very interesting coding work going into the page, neatly allowing the intro to be technically at the top without coming in front of and getting in the way of the narrative. I'd recommend changing the at the top from a Header to a coded large font so there's not an "edit" link sticking up, which asking around I'm sure someone can help with if need be. I also like your handling of combat; the short paragraphs give a sense of action and reaction, pacing it in a way that's interesting to read. Something I'll nag you and Brodie both about, though—emdashes. As I might've expected, I get the feeling the fight is a scene you've had planned for a while, because more time is devoted to it than the after. Which, speaking of, seems to have some ambiguity to it given there's no explicit statement of what's occurred, though we can make an educated guess. It's kind of a shame, as we could have seen her realize she's looking at herself not through the merely light projections of eyes, but through the cameras in a few different corners, looking down at her own head (if I'm reading the signs correctly). Alternatively, if the fight's the main focus, that "after" could be shortened up to emphasize Andra's surprise at being back. Still, an enjoyable piece, possibly because it's part of a larger overall narrative you've considered for a while, and earns my pick of the week.
- Retirement by Echowaffle8
- Likewise, emdash. There are some really neat ideas here, starting off the bat with the crossing out and replacing of times and locations in the template, but some not so great execution pulling it down at the same time. There's a lot of exposition in the first half that's told directly to the reader, about João's history and what's brought him to this point. Some are interesting details, no doubt part of the story you want to tell about this character since as far as I can tell it's the first he's appeared, but it isn't in the moment. Shortening it in any way you can would be good, and sprinkling in more about the present, then relating the important bits of his past to what's going on now, would make that information come across smoother. Heck, tell me what's for breakfast, and how it's different from the rations of a soldier or hospital food. Smell the roses and/or bacon. After that, though, we touch again on things that get me excited, the idea of a person with a Spartan's superhuman strength living everyday life unsupervised. An intended push becomes bone-shattering, and everyday appliances get crushed by accident. I'm desperate to know how anyone assigned to keep tabs on him reacts, whether it's ONI or just a military-employed social worker. The conversation in the Incredibles between Bob and the government agent after Bob puts his boss in the hospital comes to mind. There are definitely ideas to explore here, and I'd be interested in reading more than one story of João's daily life in retirement, if the places those ideas come most into play are honed in on further.
- Ultimatum by S-D379
- Like Retirement, there's a lot of exposition early in that should be rearranged to come through naturally in the moment, as Shetty is doing something we're following. Wouldn't be difficult in a few places, either, just have something come up that reminds him of being mocked as a schoolteacher, and switch "along with" Keyes to "they mocked him, just like they'd mocked Jacob Keyes", and lead in naturally from one topic to the other. I do question putting the parenthesis'd XO in prose, but what I really have a hard time with is calling a vessel's executive officer's position uninteresting. He could certainly be ground down by piles of paperwork the captain doesn't have time for, but regardless of how much action is being seen, the XO would have plenty of duties to perform, from the ceremonial to whipping sloppy young lieutenants into shape while the captain remains a respected figure in the distance. I think of BSG's Saul Tigh and a few figures from Hornblower, if you're familiar with that work. But, I'm tangenting. There are a couple unnecessary commas, and "that"s I always recommend pulling out, but a fine piece of writing. As per your author's note, though, I'm not finding it applying too well to the prompt given. There's opportunity to get to that point of past-the-ending, where he's alone in his cabin consumed by his grief in any number of ways to cope with it, but as is, all I can say is good work?
- Turning Back Time by Minuteman 2492
- If the title weren't enough, one could guess by how much time it devotes to recollections the point of this piece is to recall the past, trying to communicate to the reader a nostalgia for something they've never experienced. Anemoia is the word, I think. And yet, it's the small part it doesn't spend on the past I'm most interested in. Though I do wish more time was spent on it, I do think as laid out now it's effective. While the nostalgia doesn't quite connect for me personally in those recollections, it amounts to enough build-up that to read how much it pains Vens to have those days behind him generates sympathy. It does, however, need to be broken up into paragraphs differently, though. The first three sentences work together to create an effect, but get lost by being part of that solid block. And at the end of the same paragraph, we break from one to the next while still describing the pilot mannequins' uniforms. I get why there's a break there, as it seems like the place there'd be a pause if it was being read aloud, but the description of the one thing is divided. It's not actually that important, just something that I notice and am apparently preoccupied with enough to state it here. Point is, the paragraphs as they stand are all about uniform length here without much variety to set up a pace. Also, regarding those first three sentences, I find myself wanting for a clear description of the aircraft itself immediately after. "There it is, in all its glory" sets up an expectation for "it", and bits of description come later, but there isn't a solid image right there where I'd be expecting it.
- No Rest For the Weary by Sonasaurus
- Well, speaking of nostalgia. Couple thats could be removed, and a "There" instead of "Their" in the fifth paragraph, but conventions are otherwise clear. The details, though, are excellent, getting sensory information from sight to sound to touch from the start. The dialogue also goes back and forth well, striking a good balance with the rest of the action so one doesn't obscure or make the reader lose track of the other. The one thing I wonder about is if this quite fit what I had in mind, since Montana was a character you'd brought back before and from my impression had designs going beyond this for. It's a turning point in her life, no doubt, but was a prison cell in '53 really the end you had in mind for this character? Of course, having lain dormant for so long without us ever getting past '53, I suppose it could've functionally been the end of plans at that point. But, if you enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading, I'd call the story itself a success.
Week 88: The Iron Price
How about that? Multiple responses first week back, and each going for their own distinct tones in response to the prompt. Let's hope the next prompt gets your attention a similar way.
Prompt: They say you can't get something for nothing, and within the Chekov's-gun-everything-must-be-relevant bounds of a story, any deal the characters make is sure to collect on its debt. So where would this fit into your character's story? What distasteful devils have they had to make deals with to get what they want, and what precious things or unsavory deeds have they needed to give in return? Was it worth it? Show me a deal your character has regrets about, and all the better if you show how impossible it is for them to not hold up their end of the bargain. About a thousand words maximum, if you please.
Start Date: January 9th, 2018
End Date: January 14th, 2018
- Dead Weight by Brodie-001
- Hey, look at that, since I've actually read Salvation I can go beyond the disclaimer. Hard to pad my review time when there aren't grammatical bits to cite, so the only two things I can harp on, I will: emdashes and "that"s. "box that sat on" could become "box on", which would eliminate a small redundancy in explaining things in relation to others in that sentence, "rested on" and "that sat on". I would like a more specific phrase than "expensive-looking clothes", suit and tie or the like already telegraphing they're expensive clothes to the reader. I'm surprised Wade is parting with the Havok so soon, but it definitely does make the deal's stakes high and explains Xiong's insistence on seeing it before the deal. I would've liked a little more time spent drawing it out, perhaps Xiong grabbing for it and Wade slamming a hand on it, not quite sure about the trade and asking her question before letting it go. Her hesitance would then beg the question why the deal's so important to her, and while it makes a nice sting at the story's end, raising her need to be able to reach and kill her target earlier would play up her conflict in making the deal. Two weeks in a row I've gone for the first entry made, not to seem like I'll make a pattern of that, but I think the polish to it earns my pick of the week.
- Funeral Pyre by Actene
- Aha, another couple emdashes needing to replace short dashes. In context, I think "couldn't care less" is the right phrase in place of "could". The bitter interplay between Helen and Simon is excellent, each character having plenty in their history and a surprise or two to draw their recriminations from, but as a result the deal in question only becomes clear very late on. Its consequences are all around them as the Syndicate infrastructure falls apart, but we only see them as consequences once we reach the last few paragraphs. The focus here is on Helen's argument and, later, final moments, but for the scenes playing out, that's probably best for the short as a standalone piece as opposed to a response to a prompt.
- Uncertainty by Distant Tide
- Since Daniele is our only point of reference, you could probably take out "from him" in the third sentence. Emdashes again. In the fifth paragraph, the use of "God." sticks out to me, since it's definitely something the character is saying internally, but isn't differentiated from the rest of the third-person prose. The sentence before it is, as well, but I've seen that question elsewhere and not minded it, maybe because it merges what the character and reader should be asking, and the single word stands alone as an exclamation. Italicizing it would make it clear it's the character's inner dialogue, but personally, I think it would stick out even then. All the early counting of time does establish well that he's been there a long time, but for a short I think it drags out a little too long in getting us to the story's main content. Parts of that build-up, though, I would keep, like Daniele figuring out the interviewer is ignoring him intentionally. "Daniele
wasthought it over". I like that little mind game at the end, cutting Daniele off from any turning back.
- Since Daniele is our only point of reference, you could probably take out "from him" in the third sentence. Emdashes again. In the fifth paragraph, the use of "God." sticks out to me, since it's definitely something the character is saying internally, but isn't differentiated from the rest of the third-person prose. The sentence before it is, as well, but I've seen that question elsewhere and not minded it, maybe because it merges what the character and reader should be asking, and the single word stands alone as an exclamation. Italicizing it would make it clear it's the character's inner dialogue, but personally, I think it would stick out even then. All the early counting of time does establish well that he's been there a long time, but for a short I think it drags out a little too long in getting us to the story's main content. Parts of that build-up, though, I would keep, like Daniele figuring out the interviewer is ignoring him intentionally. "Daniele
- I Sold My Soul by Lieutenant Davis
- I'd look to break up those paragraphs, particularly early on. The first sentence of the third paragraph really makes it clear that it's going to be exposition, drifting into thought of lead-up events. If he were pressing down too hard on the pen, forcing himself to go through with signing as he thought of all the lead-up, for example, then we'd slip into recollections more naturally. And there's a lot of exposition to lead into, which could be cut into from the beginning. With just a sentence like "the colony had started resettling after the Human-Covenant War ended", the audience you're writing for is likely to pick up all of what that means, the evacuations in the face of Covenant attack that long preceded. In the present, meanwhile, this story does feel like very literally like a deal with a devil with the mannerisms you give Anderson, but I'm a little lost as to the stakes. You close with the line of Ovalle having "sold them all out", but I don't know what negative things he expects BDS to bring. I guess I'm interested in the terms of the contract; does Ovalle's struggling economy now have to pay for the bases BDS will be creating, or meet a quota of volunteers to work for them? The feeling of dread is definitely there, but I'm wanting for specifics to justify it.
- A New Life by S-D379
- In your intro line, should be "is asked" to match the sentence's subject. When you say "when he heard his brother Jerry shout his name", I wonder why it's being told to us instead of opening with "Deryck!" as dialogue, but I think it might be to start off with the line you have there currently, which I do like. I know you had to beat the buzzer on this one, so there are some convention things to work out. A lot of Johnson's dialogue regarding the boys' past reads like exposition, which I think is a good way to disguise it, but it could use a bit of a read-over to smooth it out and sound more conversational. You've definitely put a good twist on the concept of Spartan recruitment, though, making him choose between the brother he has a responsibility to care for and the life he wants, selfish though it will demand sacrifices of him. I would actually recommend having him ask Johnson during their meeting "what will happen to my brother?", and ending a little earlier with Deryck walking back and rejoining Jerry, hugging him even as we know his mind is made up to leave.
Week 89: Bottle Episode
Be still, my beating heart, that many entries two weeks in a row? Well, now that we're back on schedule with closing on Sunday and opening a new prompt on Monday, we'll have a full week for everyone to complete their entries. I strongly encourage anyone interested to get to writing early, so they've got the week to look back and polish their work (and so I'm not staying up longer than I planned as new ones show up mid-review, dangit!).
Prompt: There are always a million gaps in a story. Small timeskips, just to cut out the unimportant bits that would slow down the pace of a story, like the weeks or months stuck on a ship on a slipspace jump. Alone as a short, however, you might be able to do something with it. What do your characters do for fun when they're stuck with downtime? Do they take up a hobby they have reasons to enjoy? Are they so devoted to their ability in combat they invite others to spar? Do they, as many Spartans are still teenagers, lock themselves in their room to brood? See what new facets there might be to your characters, or show us why you wanted to make a note of a hobby in their article in the first place.
Start Date: January 15th, 2018
End Date: January 21st, 2018
- A Serious Man by Actene
- There's no mention of a time of day or surroundings much further than the court, which in some cases I'd ask for more context on, but here it'd just be extraneous information, since it wouldn't meaningfully change the subject matter or our glimpse into it. Detail I would recommend adding, though, is just a little more flavor to the one bit of detail we get for the court, regarding hoops. Expand it into "struggling to dunk it into either the flat Mongoose tire at one end of the court or the punched-out ration tin at the other" to give some idea of how little they have to work with, and it'd play well against the enthusiasm you've told us they have. I'm a little bit concerned about the back-to-back single-line paragraphs, though, as both lines warrant the punch of standing alone like that, and I like it more as I go back, but it did strike me as a noticeable convention the first time reading through. It's well-paced and clean prose beyond that, though, as per the standard you've developed.
Week 90: Quarantine
That one not quite grab you all, eh? Fair enough, this week, let's give the people what they want. We'll go with the community-suggested prompt brought up by Sonasaurus on the talk page. And let it be a reminder, if you've got something you really want to write about or see others take on, put it up there and maybe it'll be the next week's prompt. Submissions are open.
Prompt: We all get sick. From a mild cold to chronic pneumonia, our immune systems can't fight off everything all the time, or they wouldn't develop the immunities we end up needing to fight off the next one. But we can talk about more than the sniffles, here. When a population is unprepared, disease can run rampant, emptying towns in days or weeks. Distant frontier colonies don't always have the means to develop cures when something in their new ecosystem doesn't agree with them, and even well-defended worlds can prove vulnerable when an enemy weaponizes sickness against them, as in the case of. So this week, tackle some aspect of illness, whether it's a desperate attempt by officials to combat a plague, or just how your character handles looking after a friend feeling under the weather. But—not the Flood this time around. We're looking for the plain old horrible diseases this time. Roundabout a thousand words, please.
Start Date: January 22nd, 2018
End Date: January 28th, 2018
- The Best We Can Make of You by Sonasaurus
- I'd cut it to two lines of technical jargon for the intro. I appreciate that you researched terminology for the piece, but for a reader it's still going to come across as techspeak, in which case starting with it and getting one answer of the same is enough to establish they're conversing in terms we won't understand. Nix the "up" in "hold up his head upright", and "itself" after "refocused". I think you've got a good interplay going between the personalities of Halsey and Jeromi, but I would like to see one more kick from Felix, just a raw "it isn't fair!" as part of the inner dialogue he has in the last paragraph before his resignation to it, given all he's traded for promises no one's holding up for him. He's taking a lot about the alien situation from Jeromi and Halsey at their word, though, after they've broken a promise to him; while evidence of what happened on Harvest would be scarce at that point, some token piece of data they could display to him might make their argument stronger. For the length of a short, though, the case is made succinctly and strongly enough, so it doesn't so much need the strengthening as could simply benefit from it. At the risk of looking like I'm always choosing the first entry, which I promise I'm not, I give it my pick of the week.
- Awakening by Timothy Emeigh
- Missing a 'g' in passenger, and I'd italicise Indigo in all situations. Heh, this actually reminds me of a piece I wrote that started with a dream about fire. Going for a frantic, breathless opening paragraph is accomplished well with a longer paragraph, but I'd recommend breaking up the one after it into distinct actions to help readers notice the points within that you bring up. Same with the second one after the break, and a good example for a lesson on imagery here; I've gone on about "show, don't tell" before, and "some sort of medical facility" is in that latter category. If I'm told she thinks it's some kind of medical facility, I wonder what details there are which tell her that, and replacing "medical facility" with those details gives the reader a better idea of their surroundings in the same amount of text. With clues like "she looked around and spotted Medical Corps insignia on the walls and drawers of crash carts", it leads us to the same conclusion she does, for a hastily put together example. Good use of the prompt, though, a medical condition from Halo canon lent to a situation which introduces the plight of your character.
- Mistakes by Brodie-001
- You've got the behavior of kids that age down pretty well, I have to say. Those are some pretty long paragraphs devoted to exposition, though, which could be cut down a fair bit while getting the same information across. Even outside the exposition, as an example, the first sentence of the second big paragraph could be turned into "Jack snorted in mirth, but only briefly, as he stared at the comatose Elena", cutting the slight redundancy between "brief" and "soon faded". Actually, I'd recommend devoting any of that length you can save to making the opening line longer, letting us hear the doctor list minor rules for the kids to follow which they promptly ignore instead of being told after they'd been through "a boring lecture". "Don't touch her, or any of the equipment she's plugged into. And don't go rearranging furniture. Or go through any of the drawers." That second-to-last large paragraph especially is a jarring switch from what's going on in the present to the recounting of the past, and the audience must figure given Elena's there that she was eventually found, though I get there are ideas I'm sure you want to explicitly communicate there, like Mack's shift from chewing out to concern. The last paragraph, however, makes a useful wrap-up.
- A Final Goodbye by S-D379
- You could nix "sound", since beeping is already a sound. And probably the "constantly showing" phrase, as we can guess what the monitor does and removing it would keep the focus more on sound, though "warning sounds" could probably be more specific, either alarms or officers trying to control crowds in the street here to seek help. Again, we're getting a lot of exposition for the character, though at the least you could change the "Elliot's" starting the third paragraph to "His" and make it more personal just with that small change, because then it seems like he's reflecting instead of a narrator informing a reader, at least in my opinion. I'd recommend putting emdashes around "who worked in BXR Mining Corporation" to make it an aside, which does the same work as commas but makes it clearer in a sentence that already has a few. When it gets to the Sedra bombing, however, I think it's a shame it's still being told past-tense. Imagine starting out there, Elliot seeing his kid happy exploring the new plaza, especially recounting (briefly) the difficulties he's been through and determination to give her a better life, when we see the Elite fall and the bomb go off firsthand, then bring us into the hospital room. From there, though, it's a good piece (though I know you can do better than "full of nervosity"); when you're in the present, executing the content you want to show rather than recalling it in almost more of an article style, you've got your reader, so I recommend planning your stories to show things in the present.
Week 91: Man vs. Wild
Seems like crowd-sourcing prompt ideas yields results as a strategy, so expect more in the future when they're submitted. Lacking them for now, however, I'll resort to a prompt I've had in mind for a while.
Prompt: Write an action scene in which your character's opponent is not an enemy fighter, but the very environment they find themselves in. There are any number of places in the Halo universe you could set this, and the objective the character has can spin it one way or another. Perhaps they're trying to hold up a beam to save someone trapped in a blazing building, just trying to survive themselves as they scramble to escape a Forerunner relic self-destructing, or have to Macguyver a way out of a decompressing compartment as the UNSC Infinity plummets without power to Requiem. The possibilities are open on this one, so be creative with it. Right around a thousand words, please.
Start Date: January 29th, 2018
End Date: February 5th, 2018
- Fire Everlasting by Actene
- Need a "the" or a "my" in the second part of the first dialogue paragraph, but that's my only technical complaint. I do find it consistently interesting that you go directions with prompts I don't expect (perhaps just a little out of spite, a la the food one in prior years), as where I'd first imagined something almost Monty Oum-ish, you go for what I hope isn't a too on-the-nose pun to call a slow burn. Flames creep up as Stray struggles to perform simple actions, and when a larger hit comes, it keeps him down. It's also worth noting this is a scene where the protagonist does not overcome his challenge and succumbs to it instead. This week's entries have that in common, in fact, but between the two I find this one comes off as closer to an action scene, and it earns my pick of the week for it.
- Effluvium by Sonasaurus
- Could probably cut "been" in the first paragraph the same way I recommend cutting "that"s. Neat choice to add biofoam soaks in radiation, which isn't canon to my knowledge but sounds believable. Sixth paragraph does delve a bit into raw exposition, of which the parts critical to the story, their location which is under Covenant attack and that they faced an Elite Zealot called the Destroyer, can be picked up between the Timestamp and dialogue already existing. Again, an interesting choice of adversary, even more abstract than the last. An invisible force which the heroes have to fight and, again, a protagonist ultimately succumbs to.
Week 92: Great Responsibility
Alright, I was late on that one, and I can't guarantee it's not going to happen again, but I'll try to get back up to speed whenever I do. For the next round, something more open-ended conceptually, because I'll have one coming up that's going to be more specific to a place and time.
Prompt: Crises, which just about make up the whole of the Halo timeline, force people to make choices, some difficult, others not so much. When a planet has to evacuate, ship captains have to choose whether they flee to safety at once or risk themselves to save a few more lives. In an honor-bound culture, a Sangheili might have to choose between dishonoring himself by requesting a doctor or letting themselves bleed to death, either of which a particular warrior might call the easy or the hard choice, depending on the warrior. The Master Chief made a hard call between following a lawful order from Del Rio, safe under UEG law regardless of his superior's choice and its consequences, or disobeying them to protect mankind—though perhaps it wouldn't have been a difficult one for him. The question I'm getting to is this: when faced with a choice between what is easy, and what is right, what do they choose? And how do they come to that decision? Is it easy for them, or are they nagged by the possibilities of what the other choice could've done? Thousand-word target we're aiming for, folks. Good luck.
Start Date: February 6th, 2018
End Date: February 11th, 2018
- Halo Spotlight: Satori by Lordofmonsterisland
- I'd switch "to hobble" to "hobbling" in this case, just to cut down on little linking words. Not that you've got an excess of them, it's just a general writing adage and that instance stuck out since it was up front. "Exit" is a bit vague since I don't yet know where the story takes place, and putting something specific like "airlock" or "blast doors" would give me the start of an idea through subtext. I also recommend giving a defined image of Riker when Miranda spots him, since I don't immediately know if he's in his armor or not in that situation. In fact, since you mention his eye and other wounds later, I'd suggest this in particular since armored is what I assume to be the default state of a known Spartan character, and is perhaps a state less common to him, which Miranda can comment on. Missed a period at the end of the inner dialogue, but I think that's the first time I've seen right-justify text used in a story on the site, which I have to give kudos to. The content of the dialogue itself I also like, as it pretty adequately explains how she identifies with her longtime enemy, to the point I don't object when she acts to save him. And while I'm sure you could tighten up the prose a bit in places, I think given that's the point of the piece, it does its job pretty effectively.
Week 93: Genre Change
Probably good I switch gears to see if this next prompt garners the interest of many of you, from the general to the specific requirements. I'll not be quite as specific as the last prompt for 2017, as I thought it was a shame none of us stepped up for an entry there, but I'll be specifying a place, at the least.
Prompt: So, I happen to know at least a few of us who like science fiction also happen to enjoy fantasy, and I want to give everyone a chance to flex those muscles a bit while still putting content into their Halo endeavors. So here's my challenge to you: write a fantasy-inspired or fantasy-esque piece that has to do with the feudal Elite homeworld,. Even in the modern Halo era, from the start of the Human-Covenant War to the Guardian Crisis, Sanghelios resembles a fantasy setting, with ruling lords defending themselves against assassins with blades and playing politics against a strict code of honor from within castle holdfasts. One might expect a Sangheili Knight to ride into battle on a hovering Ghost, or sellsword rōnin wandering between keeps to enter service. Taken another direction, you might retell an ancient legend from the days Sangheili heroes fought monsters, or have a character in the present recite such myth as a lesson for the present. Have some fun, in around a thousand words.
Start Date: February 12th, 2018
End Date: February 19th, 2018
- Chronicle of a Forgotten Age by Actene
- Should probably eliminate the double "history" in the introduction. When reading, I definitely do take notice of the repeated use of long-phrase nouns instead of pronouns, like "kaidons in the east", and it contributes to setting the language apart, but the first thing I think of if I try to find something to compare it to is the "and there was much rejoicing" refrains in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and whether that's a pro or a con is up to you. Probably handy Vei remained honorable towards kin-slaying, as I have a hard time imagining how killing his brother would've carried the battle, though conveniently, it means the oracle was right. I'm glad there's some continuity in that it concerns both the 'Vadams and the 'Refums, and though I wish there were more, I did basically ask for the difficulty in connecting this far a past to the present when looking at stories old enough to be myth.
Week 94: Inciting Incident
Hmm, I may just cheat a little bit here. I remember a good turnout from a prompt a long time back regarding character ideas you hadn't tried writing yet, so I'm going to put a little bit of a different spin on that this week.
Prompt: We've all got ideas for novels long-form stories in mind, but oh, how often they end up on the back burner. Well, time to bring 'em to the fore. Every story starts somewhere; something upsets the status quo, kicks over the first domino and sets events into motion. For this week, give us something of a prologue to show us where your story starts—it may just end up being the first chapter of something bigger. And in light of that, I'm giving you as long as you need, no word limit. But, longer doesn't necessarily mean better. Giving us an idea of where the story may go, setting up expectations for the reader you can follow or subvert later is good. Leaving us with just as many questions about where it might go is good, too.
Start Date: February 19th, 2018
End Date: February 25th, 2018
- The Living Omen by Sonasaurus
- I'd cut "first tinges" from the opening, since dark comes all at once rather than in plural parts, and add "light" to the second sentence because with multiple suns it seems like a "were" would be appropriate instead of "was" otherwise. I think there are a few places I'd cut adjectives down from two to one, but the bigger thing I'd harp on is cutting "that" whenever you find it. It's a spare word the reader has to register and only serves to connect others, when often it could be straight cut from the sentence and still have it read well, perhaps with an -ing added to a verb. The subject matter, though, is intriguing, and does enough to set up both the path forward and that there's a degree of risk involved, for which it earns my pick this week. Mentioning how close the agents of the Prophets are to discovering Tuka's gift, though, may help narrow down what degree that is, and further emphasize how urgent hiding him may be.
- Another Job Done by UnggoyZealot
- While I can appreciate Grono's spent some time on the fringe, and may have picked up a different dialect in that time, I can't help feeling some of Grono's dialogue is more human than Sangheili. If that's a direction you want to take him in, introducing the idea he's got a different voice thanks to working with humans should happen somewhere early, since as the first chapter of a story or just a standalone piece it could be a reader's first encounter with him. If not, I always advise listening to some of Halo 2's cutscenes over again to really nail their word choice down; Joe Staten's goal of giving them a distinct voice was hardest at work there. The human employer's affable tone works well, though. The end of it, though, I think needs some adjustment if you want to give a sense of anticipation for what's coming next. Having Grono notice the human's name and rank give me a sense it's important, but I don't have much appreciation for who the admiral is or if he's got someone who's bound to avenge him; adding some hint there will be consequences, like a camera that sees him or another human he spares who's likely to talk, would help us start to form ideas of what might happen next that create expectations for you to use. The same for his thought of Oru; either have Grono's thought of him be more determined, vowing to join a better merc leader because he dislikes the job he's on, or have him actively cross paths with someone from Oru's band who might be a lead or even offer him entry into the group. The main thing is we need a stronger line in on what comes next.
- Long Overdue by Distant Tide
- I seem to be having something of a similar issue with this entry, in that it's hard to make connections from this prologue to what the main plot could concern. The change which sets off the plot is made obvious, of course, but I don't know the recipient who might change their behavior because of it or how Heartmann might change now that he's been able to get the story of his dead comrade off his chest. I do get the sense there's something planned for it because of the quote, which I'm assuming will have some form of connection or at least both be connected to the same plot to follow, but I don't see that connection just yet. The letter itself, though, is solid work, a good accounting of someone finally able to pass on this terrible news, even as he remarks upon how its circumstances are likely to see it changed or censored. In the opening in particular, you work in the details to give the letter a place and time in the whole Halo-verse well, though I think it could be made to sound slightly more natural as dialogue. Funny thing about fiction, when writing the words a character would write; the character might not be a writer, but their words still have to sound like those of a character.
- Years of Days- Stranded by Julia Finitevus
- This actually reminds me of a concept I once had for a crew of Covenant oddballs, like a Jackal Sniper with an eye condition. Anyway, the first thing I'd recommend is to look for places to give more description. I give the advice "show, don't tell" often here, and at this point I probably ought to just write it up somewhere to point to, but it bears repeating; when your character sees "a Grunt", that's telling the reader what he sees, instead of giving a description that shows it. This doesn't have to happen every time you have a noun, but as you're introducing your characters for the first time here, it's a prime opportunity. What's a Grunt look like, and what makes this one distinct? Not only sight, but surely an Unggoy has to breathe hard into the stinking methane breathing apparatus he has to lug around all the time. Take time to smell the (proverbial) roses. Even if it's the second story of these characters, as the start of a new tale where readers might happen to jump in, their description bears repeating. Second, reading up a bit on Covenant language goes might give you some fun ideas for lines; for example, Grunts almost universally address their Sangheili superiors as "excellency" instead of "sir".
Week 95: Bibliophile
I'm nearly tempted to continue the "part of a larger story" trend to the point you have enough pieces to string together and make a novel out of almost without expecting to, but that would probably leave a few out who aren't focused on writing a longer story right now. So instead, we'll try something I'm sure will resonate with people here to write.
Prompt: It's hard to imagine someone writing stories for fun somewhere like this site without first reading stories they loved. So, as a reader and writer, use your knowledge to give new facets to your characters. What do your characters like to read, and what does it say about them? What about particular stories you've read really interest you, and what insight into how a person functions might it give when applied to a character? About a thousand words, if you please.
Start Date: February 26th, 2018
End Date: March 3rd, 2018
- Conscience of a Blackened Street by Sonasaurus
- I'd suggest at least a couple adjectives' worth of description for Watts and Jollenbeck in the first couple paragraphs; a single trait for each would be enough for me to form my own picture of them, but I need that starting point. Should cut the "had" in "had became", or just make it a "was" given context. The discussion of Eliot's work and connecting it to the time of the piece are very clear and easy for a reader to understand, not always an easy thing to do when talking about a poet, but in part as a consequence of that, two or three of the longer dialogue paragraphs don't sound to me like someone talking casually as they would be in the situation. More dialogue tags with description could help break that up, simulating pauses as Watts grasps for words or looks to see if his point is taken, and providing a more detailed picture. I don't know if the copy Astor has is dog-eared or brand new, for example. Fitting choice of author to look to for Halo, of course.
- Tranquility Among Wild Children by Distant Tide
- I used to do this too, but I've come to take issue with saying "female Spartan" or "female Marine" (as Halopedia does, on the latter), as if that were their defining trait, or that we'd assume male if it wasn't stated. In that second paragraph, it's enough that within the same sentence, you use "she" and "her" both as pronouns, so we know by the end of the thought. Emdashes—in place of short dashes. "It was probably already bruising after that comment."— I like the physical-to-ego bruise comparison you're trying to make with that, but I think it's in the wrong place, as I can't plainly see which comment it's referring to, and think the "it" refers specifically to his leg, leading to confusion. "Her comment was bruising him enough already." or something similar in the same place might serve, or rearranging it however you feel is best. I like the backstory to the scene you're alluding to, but I'm glad the piece ends with Merlin returning to his reading, or I feel it might outweigh the time spent on the reading. At the core of that, though, I think you're missing a bit of an opportunity—Merlin mentions Huck Finn is an uneducated kid, and one with a normal childhood, the furthest thing I can think of from a Spartan. I'd suggest using it to have your Spartans wonder if their lives might've been like Huck's had they remained with 'normal' lives, making discussion of the book really relate to their situation. As it is, though, the scene presents us with enjoyable bits of character, and for that it has my pick of the week.
Week 96: In Between The Lines
This week, we'll open things up to a pretty wide spectrum of interpretation, stemming from the phrase "communicating without words."
Prompt: Something needs to be said, just without the saying. Show how your characters communicate ideas to one another non-verbally, whether that's a Spartan team efficiently coordinating with nothing but hand signs, ONI spies figuring out how to bounce a telegraph signal halfway across the galaxy, or intimate friends trying to make each other understand without taking the big step of actually saying something. Does the message get across, and is it interpreted right even then? Put your spin on it, in around a thousand words.
Start Date: March 5th, 2018
End Date: March 11th, 2018
- Whose Thoughts by Distant Tide
- Standing on its own, I think the piece works well. The imagery presented for the dream is clear, and I notice a couple of things like "wouldn't stop thinking and thinking was killing him" that hint at connections between the synchronized thoughts of Merlin and the AI recently made of Andra. There's obviously a degree of miscommunication going on, as the dreams are an unintentional consequence of their joining and they're unable to make sense of it by the end. An issue I take, however, is I as the reader don't see their significance. What subconscious fears are the terrors of the dream meant to represent, even if the characters don't understand them. Knowing, or being able to figure out, that would give me insight into what the characters are feeling at the time. The most I can glean now is that Merlin feels lost, and feels some figure exists out there which promises direction, though he doesn't know if that direction will save him or not. To give him a vision of Andra herself trying to keep a candle from going out but making it burn lower by keeping it alive, for a sample suggestion, might point to Andra worrying about her new lifespan and nature as above with the "thinking killing him" problem. But, then again, we're talking about dreams, which in reality don't often have significance.
Week 97: Interview With A...
"A wise man once said a true history of the world is a history of great conversations in elegant rooms." Well, no he didn't, and no it isn't, that was a Tyrion Lannister line. But it still sounds good, dunnit? And for all the fighting that went on in the Human-Covenant War, it wasn't formally ended until Terrence Hood and Thel 'Vadam met in person and talked it over. So we'll play up the significance of such great conversations this week, shall we?
Prompt: Write a conversation between two or more characters, simple as that. I'm not looking so much for angst or personal issues here, but discussions, conflicting opinions and viewpoints articulated. This sounds like something that could easily be sterile and clinical, more like an essay than a story, but therein might be the challenge. It could be diplomats of galactic powers like the UNSC, Covenant, Swords, or Created agreeing to ceasefire terms; it could be leaders of smaller colonies and illicit businesspersons negotiating a deal; it could be your team of Spartans sitting around a campfire discussing morality. See what occurs to you. About a thousand words, please.
Start Date: March 12th, 2018
End Date: March 18th, 2018
- A Lax Conversation by UnggoyZealot
- I'd make that second sentence "The Guardian had nearly had them", since without that addition it sounds like the present tense, and the Guardian still on them. Can always read for "that"s. Something here's not adding up; Dipdip states Wez was executed for letting Robtob die, but his entry in the Minor Characters page says it was Roopum he let die, who appears here. Probably just a switched name on the characters page. I know by now I've seen a few of these characters before, but with so many of them here to participate in one conversation, I find I do need the characters page to get a mental picture of them. The nature of the names themselves do give a good indication, but without confirmation I can only assume Vike to be a Kig-Yar with so much certainty. Giving such indications wouldn't be difficult, either; where you have "Hugpy was breathing heavily," his first mention, you could expand "breathing heavily" to "sucked methane noisily from his breathing apparatus", for instance. When you mention Vike taking a human chair, I half thought he might be human for a minute. I like your conversation topic, though, or at least some of what's touched on; what the Created's supremacy means for everyone and whether or not they think it's worth joining.
- Early Warning by DirgeOfCerberus111
- Getting some weird tense-change in the first couple sentences, with "gets" and "You're" being present tense. The humdrum nature of the shift schedule is nicely set up, though. I think there's a better way to introduce an interruption than "Then," however. It kinda sets two things up to be compared, like "first then second", when you're comparing hours and days to a snap-second. I might not be making sense there, but consider the "Then" intro to something like "He'd been on duty so long he half-thought he'd dreamed when the monitor pinged loudly." The "This can't be good" part also sticks out, being either a thought or tense-confused. I'd recommend either italicising it as an in-character thought, or switching "can't" for "couldn't". Same paragraph, I'd suggest changing "alien" in the last sentence to "anomalous" just so the first use of "alien" is in the character dialogue, because it's great there. I don't see the Covenant being called "the aliens!" enough, since it's kind of a silly-sounding thing, but it's accurate.
- Blood Money by Andromeda Vadum
- Two middle letters switched in URNA in the Timestamp template. "top guys" is an odd phrase for prose, but more concerning me is the first three paragraphs giving a little more backstory told than present action and description shown. If much of that information is really important to inform the reader of, I'd recommend finding better ways to weave it into the present, like describing his clothes as a suit a businessman such as one involved in so many criminal front corporations would wear to look respectable, or a more practical outfit that contrasted with such a day job. Given the action there is mostly just walking out of a diner and driving to where more important things start, however, I might suggest just starting when his car pulls up to meet King. The back and forth of the dialogue thereafter is nice, though, but given how often they're used, I'd really suggest turning those short dashes to emdashes—like this one, easy copy-paste. There is some repetition later, with David weighing the risk and reward in his head, after which Alex just repeats it with dialogue.
- Greater Responsibility by S-D379
- Third sentence, second paragraph, I'd suggest "He'd been suddenly called" to match tense of the situation. Last sentence of that paragraph also has some confusion in referring to two ships at once, which could be rephrased more clearly. Missing an r on 'you code-word'. In the "I'd like to correct you" paragraph, a supposedly capable director like Utah really shouldn't be telling Ren about the even-more-secret select MJOLNIR-wearing Spartans from the already highly secret Spartan-IIIs when, as she mentions a moment later, Ren doesn't have the clearance to know about them. She also has some long blocks of dialogue that have the opportunity for characterization, such as regret or contempt as she remarks on Parangosky's pushing of the S-IV program despite the results of Ilsa Zane's experiment. It could do with at least a little breaking up with description which could better give us an idea of the character. There are also a few punctuation errors, commas with ellipses (,...), missing commas or periods before dialogue, commas out of order with quotation marks, which could be seen to. Certainly a good choice of subject matter, though, as part of setting up all that Delta Company has become in a way that reminds me of Kurt and Ackerson's conversation in Ghosts of Onyx.
- Prelude by Brodie-001
- "Addressed his associate" is a bit long when use of a name already introduced he has a companion, I'd suggest just using "said" there. "gave a grunt of" could be "grunted in". Thats can always be removed. There's a pretty interesting discussion here, concerning who's in power in the galaxy now and how much they deserve it. Comparing 'Makhan's position as a dictator to the Arbiter as . . . do we know what he is, really? Is he a dictator, or does he have a ruling court of kaidons which potentially keep him in check, more monarchy than dictatorship? Either way, I don't recall mention of a vote, either. And yet, the better aspects of their rule is made apparent; the Arbiter's non-aggression pact with the UEG and 'Makhan's better treatment of all Covenant species. If neither of them ruled the territories they did, those areas would fall into chaos and lawlessness, which causes a great deal more harm. For how it addresses the prompt with that discussion of higher concepts, it's got my pick. For all the build-up to him, though, I'm surprised there's not a more lengthy description of the Imperial Admiral himself, the most we get being 'a figure in white'.
- Under the Cover of Night by KingOfYou115
- For a moment there, I thought the first dialogue Veia has meant Kel would be the one attacking the Keep. Making "Attacking our" into "Attacking his" might prevent that confusion for other readers. I was somewhat surprised to learn Veia was the keep's mistress, given she defers so readily to Sivo, but as she is likely young for someone in her position as her "child" daughter is relatively close to her in age, that's not out of place. I'd recommend some description of her early on, however, perhaps leading into it with how her fine clothes, those of a keep's mistress, move or rustle as they hurry down hallways. I'd also give some brief description of what a colo is that Raio executes later. Good inclusion, there; having to kill a sacrifice every training session would certainly give any Sangheili an understanding of how serious it is to draw a weapon. "though" to "through", third-last paragraph. I've been interested in more Sangheili honor and intrigue type stories lately, and this hit the mark nicely. If you plan to expand it, I'd suggest having a warrior or few from a rival clan find Raio training first, and see what situations result.
- Woe by Spartan-D042
- I'd put a period instead of a comma at the end of that first phrase. Concerning the first paragraph, I'm not really sure why the stump of Amit's leg would be reminder of how sterile or silent the room is, so that might take adjustment. The I-we, given it's an interruption sort of affair, really could use an emdash to make it easy to spot. Those are really my only reading suggestions for it, though. It's a pretty good angst bit, and I give it bonus points for the focus of that being towards another writer's characters that you're collaborating with.
Week 98: Paperback Writer
I've mentioned a couple places that I love the Transformers Wiki's style—character article introductions read like the back of their toy boxes, getting across the idea of who they're supposed to be and why we should be excited about them. That hype really does do the intro's job of catching the eye and getting us excited to read on, so I figure it's a useful style for a writer to get a little practice in. Instead of a character, though, we'll apply it in a practical way for stories.
Prompt: Write a back-cover blurb for your Halo story. Something that gives a teaser for what they'll be reading about, hinting at what's most exciting about this story, but without giving it all away. If it's a character-focused story, maybe introduce what makes the main character interesting, or if it's more event-focused, tell us what is going to make these events so significant. Feel free to consult the back covers of any Halo books you might have on hand. Using what, far as I can tell, is publishing industry standard, the limit this week is between 100 to 200 words, so you're going to have to make every word count. Throw out the connecting words, and find descriptive nouns and verbs. Good luck!
Start Date: March 19th, 2018
End Date: March 25th, 2018
- Corporeal Delta by Distant Tide
- Huh, hadn't really considered where I'd be putting the Eraicon when the win pertains specifically to story descriptions, and applying it to this page for specific entries is a whole other matter. So, while the short sentence repetition works well for a start, I'd eliminate the "Onyx was destroyed" line simply to make it one shorter, and that line is probably the least relevant to the rest of the paragraph. Instead of "doubling down" in the second paragraph, I'd kinda like some explanation of why the cabal of agents and officers didn't discontinue the program, what specific fears they had which became reasons. The bits about paranoia and relevance before are good hints at it, I just think they're in the wrong place. The three-paragraph layout is well put together, though, with each paragraph feeling like its own cohesive statement/explanation before moving on to the next. It has me interested in reading, and thus, gets my pick of the Week.
- Hunting Rogues by UnggoyZealot
- Grip and grasp in the opening sentence feel kind of redundant, might change it to "assumption of". What exactly it means, though, warrants explaining for readers who aren't all that familiar with it, since it's a pretty obscure term (heck, I don't think half the people who played Halo 5 could say what it is, they didn't explain it well there to my recollection). The "But the IIs and IVs aren't the only ones" line makes me expect the S-III you're introducing will be likewise involved in fighting the Created, which isn't the case; I'd suggest changing that sentence to set up there's other work that needs to be done, and then immediately stating the Admiral's assassination, then that Bethany is chasing him down as the killer. The sentence after, "Not alone," by itself only states that Nishurd is with her; giving some idea of why he's necessary instead of letting a Headhunter work solo, which she's presumably useful, could do with stating. I'd eliminate "too", lastly.
- Lessons of Exile by LoyalHaloFan
- There's a surprising amount of imagery here, which certainly sets the mood well, but I think goes on too long for a story setup. The first sentence of the second paragraph could probably just be cut because the image doesn't pertain so specifically to the colony, but the "monument to a battle that left neither side the victors" is great, and worth keeping enough it ought to be worked into the second, if it's what you want to do. Make the buildings tombstones, monuments to etc. etc. There's a bit of confusion in the "With Mazovia" sentence, since it should read well if the aside marked out by emdashes is removed, but as-is it's "the arrival" which would have to face a choice.
- Old Blood for a New Age by Spartan-D042
- Catching first line. Cut "that" and "being" as both are unnecessary, and a comma after Office of Naval Intelligence. To make it more distinct, and prevent the last sentence from being a drawn-out series of phrases, I'd put everything between "common enemy" and "as is" in emdashes, making the two phrases relating to Moreau and who he is an aside. I'd also switch words around to make it "as Lima is" in the last bit. The summary has my attention, but since so much of the war is humans fighting aliens, I'm wanting for some description of what their mission will entail, some detail that tells me just what's going to be so interesting about this mission, why it's the significant part of this character's life we're here to see.
- Quiet Fury by slowfuture
- Sorry, but I just can't take the word "dastardly" seriously. Conjures up Snidely Whiplash every time. Intelligence needs an s, and there should either be two commas or none in the first sentence. I'd actually link the first two sentences, nixing "They" in favor of "Galaxy, claiming". "Artificial juggernaut" has a ring to it, but I might suggest taking that time to mention their Guardians and what they are, the force the AI are using to effect their takeover. First sentence of the second paragraph could probably be one phrase with "desperate, struggling to keep". Desperation shows up in the next sentence as well, which is potentially redundant for readers.
- Run for Your Life (Novel) Summary by Andromeda Vadum
- "apart" means separate, should be a space in there, and the three uses of Josh 'Konar as a full name gets repetitive. That second sentence doesn't really say a whole lot by itself, so it could probably be worked into the end of the first, saying he's "left the Police Department for a position in the Sangheili Alliance now that Kyle Craig is out of the picture." The "He finds out about his assassin" bit isn't really doing much either; presumably, he had to "find out about" the assassin targeting him to prompt him to go to Earth, so at least hinting at the assassin's identity or what they have against Josh specifically would be a good idea.
- Frontier Hunt by S-D379
- Counting 201 words here, though I'm pretty sure it's because of a hyphenated compound word. Publishing standard, though, for anyone interested to note, is usually 100-180 words, so making the decisions of where you'd want to cut down would be good practice. And it might need a bit of trimming back, because the summary here sort of gives away the shape of the plot. Not that it's betraying everything, but we know through the summary that when Deryck arrives home, they'll be re-routed later as the story goes a different direction. Some phrasing changes might help, too; "as the hunt progresses" sounds like it's telling the events to come, where (for perhaps a bad example) something like "In their journey, they will" puts it in future tense, makes it sound far off.
Week 99: King For A Day
You can feel the triple-digit coming up, can't you? Though I'd like to get back to practicing prose writing after a week off from it, we have a week in between that happens to end squarely on April 1st. We can't just let that stand, can we?
Prompt: Propose a new site rule. Winning entry will be selected at 00:00 April 1st, 2018 Pacific Standard Time and enacted as part of Halo Fanon:Rules. Multiple entries permitted.
Start Date: March 26th, 2018
End Date: April 1st, 2018
Week 100: Centennial
Yes, we've really done a hundred of these. Back when The Weekly got started, its not-really-secret goal was trying to encourage more prose writing on the site, and after a hundred weeks, even with some no-responses at about four on average(?), and some prompts longer than others--say three-fourths at a thousand bytes and a fourth at five hundred, that would be... math. But whatever the total is, it's a pretty hefty sum, we'd have to agree, and I think just about every member of the site has contributed at least once or twice. So getting back to that regular prose this week, let's look to push our boundaries.
Prompt: Show us somewhere we've never been before. Pulp sci-fi of the genre's early days spun yarns about waterfalls of crystal and kelp forests on mountaintops, space stations where every species imaginable intermingled and frontiers so desolate no other living thing exists in the whole of a star system. What unexplored frontiers will your characters come across to share with us, and what happens there? About a thousand words, please. Good luck!
Start Date: April 2nd, 2018
End Date: April 8th, 2018
Week 101: Back to Basics
So, here's the thing; I hated the UNSC Infinity at first. Kilometers-long supership, shielded, destroyed Covenant ships (up till then a match for seven times their number the same class in space combat) just by ramming them. It read like a self-aggrandizing super-ship. What's all the more sad is it downplayed what did interest me about it: that it's very much like a Star Trek ship. It's large enough to host stories entirely aboard, and mobile enough to bring its cast to any distant planet with the conditions needed for one story idea or another. And its cast included a load of Spartans, meaning fanon characters would fit right aboard. So this week, let's make some actual use of that storytelling platform.
Prompt: Show us something of your characters aboard the, whether engaged in battle or enjoying R&R in its gardens and other facilities; using the holographic training deck to train or enjoying some holo-deck-ish time period simulation; just visiting for one reason or another or another day of someone stationed aboard. About a thousand words, please.
Start Date: April 9th, 2018
End Date: April 16th, 2018
- Why We Can't Have Nice Things by Distant Tide
- "around" gets repeated in the first couple sentences, might see to that. Kinda surprising there wouldn't be a full night shift on Infinity most of the time, making the ship a "city that never sleeps". One thought, since you're introducing a character doubting whether he heard something, would be to not include the dialogue he thought he heard, so the reader's never heard it and is thus more unsure themselves without it printed above. Strike "very". Last sentence in the "What!?" paragraph, I'd strike "that the vehicle radio was on" and instead start with him noticing the image, the blue glow of the console, which tells the reader implicitly that it's on instead of telling them directly. "glass" gets repeated in a sentence. I'd suggest taking advantage of the moment Ikari opens up the Mantis' hatch; we're basically referencing a mecha show here, so give some rich detail about the hydraulic hiss as the hatch lifts to reveal the complex controls and panoramic screens even when inactive, especially as Ikari is at that moment looking intently to see what this is all about. Last, the ending paragraph mentions everyone else went back to what they were doing, but I don't think we ever saw them look up in the first place, which could lead into Ikari feeling uncomfortable drawing attention to himself, leading him to dig his heels in about not doing it. I wonder if having my character appear in someone's entry inherently biases me one way or another. Hmm.
- No Control by S-D379
- There's a little oddity with the second paragraph there, in that it starts with how all the bridge officers are observing, which at first makes me think it'll be from their point of view or at least that of someone on Infinity, making me think Del Rio and Lasky should be introduced more familiarly while John and Cortana should be introduced in a way that makes them seem more distant, legendary figures; but then, it's not their position we find we're seeing from shortly after. Similarly, "unusually" is an odd word given Cortana's only recently met Del Rio, unless you want to add she's got a pretty complete picture of him from glancing at backlogs of data on him or being able to compile a lot about someone very quickly as an AI can. Not often I see an expansion of a canon scene on Halo Fanon, and this does a pretty good job of what such an expansion should do--add information and context to the scene, really getting inside a character's head to tell it from their point of view in the way a visual medium like a filmic cutscene can't do by including internal thought, and styling it with breaks and other conventions of text, both of which this piece does well. I think there are a couple missed beats; for example, Cortana being isolated in the chip for even a second is sensory deprivation for a fast-thinking AI, and that break could be an eternity in solitude for her to fret about what just happened. But the worry about losing control I definitely buy into here, perhaps more than I do with the in-game scene. For that, I think it has my pick of the week.
- Out of Place by Actene
- I really do advocate for that little bit of time it takes to copy and paste an emdash, because it makes your asides really clear and their longer break emphasizes exactly what an aside is—a break. I might go a little farther with the "thick air" mention, alikening it to a lungful from an O2 tank compared to the old days. And this really is a pretty effective means of comparing the Star Trek-like qualities of the Infinity to Halo's old days; like a D&D player, it's resolving dissonances in-character, and getting into the living details while doing that. I would strike "for my new arm" though, since we know what he's referring to in that sentence and it sounds a little more human without the extra phrase.
- Our Daily Bread by Lieutenant Davis
- To emphasize the scale of Infinity, I'd suggest noting this is just the storage room for the janitorial staff of just this sector in the first paragraph. Also, fast-paced as this intro needs to be, I'd take time to add more detail--when he comes around a sharp corner at full-pelt, maybe he slams into the corridor's other wall, and characterize with that by having him look and reach back for half a second to make sure he's done no permanent damage before running on; then, what's he pounding his access code into, is it difficult being precise with superhuman fingers on a normal human keypad? Kill "that"s wherever you find them. Now, while it does move blazingly fast, getting to what I've understood as a location in only one place on the ship, I'm glad you chose to incorporate the holodeck, and his favorite program especially, because it's a great chance to characterize Davis here. What about it makes him so fond of WWII? Is it that he views it as a war with, to him, clear good and evil, not unlike the Human-Covenant War he fought in (and perhaps now misses with the morally grey circumstances post-war)? And yes, it can't be helped, I do enjoy setting up at least half-reasonable justifications for silliness in serious settings (I absolutely think you should add a detail about under what circumstances Davis was able to properly brew a good barbecue sauce without anyone noticing)--though I worry between the two of us we risk making Palmer the beleaguered cartoonish mother figure of the Spartans on Infinity. I might recommend cutting the closet scene entirely, since it delays the more potentially significant bit with the holodeck, and place the good conversation he has with Roland in there. Could even have him ask Roland's help when he can't get the sim running by himself, and Roland agree with something to the effect of "oh, what the hell."
Week 102: The Lucky Ones
Y'know, there are a few old ideas I had kicking around for potential RPs at one time or another, but my own distractions or the mood of the community never really seemed to make it the right time to devote a lot of energy to it. But here, we have the opportunity to explore ideas with relatively low risks as far as time and effort are concerned. So this week's prompt brought to you from my cobwebbed-over backlog.
Prompt: It's sometime during the Human-Covenant War, and the UNSC has just managed to pull off one of their few, rare Naval victories against the Covenant—by which I only mean they survived the encounter, and perhaps managed to evacuate a decent percentage of a colony world's inhabitants before the glassing started. Now the bad news: that's really just the beginning. After a slipspace jump or two away, the fleet has reached a friendly system, but what made it out are barely hulks. They're leaking atmosphere from dozens of compartments, control systems are failing, and damned if it doesn't look like the slipspace drive is going to go critical. Servicemen and helpless civilians aboard all have to scramble to rescue their shipmates and loved ones, or just to survive themselves. Your characters might be part of those desperate efforts, or part of a planetary relief force sent to try and help. Think Pearl Harbor, perhaps. About a thousand words, please.
Start Date: April 16th, 2018
End Date: April 22nd, 2018
Week 103: What's in a Name?
I play a bit of tabletop myself, and when coming up with a character there, choices of class and allocating points to stats, choosing powers and weapons—all no problem. But when it comes to giving them a fitting name, I usually end up doing something else because I can't find something that feels right and stall. Because names are important things; they're an integral part of identity, with their own meanings and senses of style that we must each come to terms with, whether we accept their meaning or find a new one for ourselves. If anything, this should go double for fictional characters.
Prompt: Show us how your character, or even weapon or vehicle or something else entirely, got their name. This could be for a title or pseudonym acquired through developing some fearsome reputation, or a story of how their parents came up with the name. Or it could be some of your characters shooting down one another's suggestions for what to call this thing they've just invented. About a thousand words, please.
Start Date: April 23rd, 2018
End Date: April 29th, 2018
- Vagabond by Brodie-001
- This being before humans and Sangheili really intermix post-war, I'm surprised the first details of the establishment this takes place in are it's a cantina with swinging front doors and a counter, which makes me jump to the Space Western setting firmly in a lot of minds for the fronter; why not go for a hookah lounge-like place to set it apart? Got a " in front of "Rekka winced", there. Interesting thought, as Rekka asks about the method of the killing, that it might effect the price; a bounty killed with a sword is worth more than one killed by rifle. I'd cut "up slightly", as it makes the simple action read too long. Come to think of it, slightly's not a very descriptive word, having used it plenty in the past myself, I should probably catch that more often. I feel like the last statement of his new name is a bit... expected? to proclaim it in such a way. Not so far as to play it for laughs, but you might have the Outrider come to terms with that name with more of a shrug than a struck pose, or have the bartender curse himself for giving him that, since now there'll be no sating of his curiosity. All in all, though, I like the scene it sets of an edge to Sangheili space comparable to that of human space, as it makes the two inhabiting the same in the near future seem all the more plausible.
- Welcome to the Pack by Actene
- You've got a stray quotation mark near the end there, too. This some kind of conspiracy to see if I catch punctuation errors between you two? "thing" looks like it needs an 's' or be cut altogether. The shifting power dynamic between Emily and Simon is well-executed, with ample reason for each of them to feel superior when their turn comes, though I think the gaze "that made her want to back up and run" is a bit too far in making her scared at all, even when she immediately overcomes it. To note Simon has a frightening gaze there which fails to effect her at that point drives home how that power dynamic has played out; in short, she's won the exchange by that point. And while I kinda want to deduct points for the entry being late when Brodie made it on time, I can hardly claim high ground on that point by now, and with this entry the final stinger really hits home with its hint toward the future. As a longtime site member, I'm aware (to say the least) of this with your character, you knew that about your audience, and used that. For that strategy, it's got my pick. That'll show me to be late with reviews.
Week 104: Once Upon A Time
This one's going to be a bit abbreviated, as it turns out Sunday nights with work full time again really isn't conducive to getting new prompts posted and reviews up. So, Saturdays will be the deadline from now until... well, whenever it changes again, really. Sorry to be inconsistent, but I did make a point these things will never quite be exact.
Prompt: Halo draws—or at times clumsily copy-pastes—a lot from mythology, and we make plenty of our own references to it. Ajax, Merlin; my own Dyne and Kodiak were once surnamed in homage to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This time, though, I want to indulge in a little more than reference to myth and legend. Tell or retell part of a myth or fairy tale with Halo as backdrop featuring your characters; you could narrate one of their adventures in the voice you'd expect a fairy tale to be told in, or you might make hints with names and situations underlying what seems to be a normal day for them. Installation 00, for example, became known as the Ark for carrying the means to repopulate every species in the galaxy once the Flood was washed away. So reimagining things in that way, what character of yours might be Achilles, greatest of all heroes, only to have their one weakness found? What details could you use to suggest this character, like Prometheus, stole power to give to the weak and will pay for it again and again? Who's afraid of a big, bad wolf? Difficult one, but see what you can do in around a thousand words.
Start Date: May 1st, 2018
End Date: May 5th, 2018
Week 105: Multiplayer Map Relativity
Alright, missed that deadline, but to be fair we both did, eh? We'll set this one's end date for Sunday, give us a little more time, and a little more freedom coming from DarthNicky's suggested prompt.
Prompt: Tell a story having to do with one of the multiplayer maps from across the Halo series. It could be a place your characters visit for one reason or another, or you could be telling the story of that place specifically, like the Pelican crash inor a scrimmage match between Spartan teams aboard Infinity. Important, however, is the map should be more than a backdrop for what your characters are doing. Make it so there's a reason the story has to be told here, something essential about that place that wouldn't work in other settings. About a thousand words, if you please. Good luck!
Start Date: May 7th, 2018
End Date: May 13th, 2018
- This Curious Gorge by DarthNicky
- Any reason you didn't use the TimeStamp template? Not that you have to, it just seems like exactly the kind of thing that template was made for. I'd rearrange a bit about that first paragraph; there's a lot of information being told, some of which you might want to just get across fast, but if you put O'Neill's name first, suddenly the talk of dead pilots and wounded Marines is coming from his point of view, not the objective position of the author telling the reader. Need a punctuation mark of some kind after the first use of "Commander". "gonna" doesn't strike me as part of Miranda's vocabulary, as opposed to "we won't" or something similar. There's a lot of action to this piece, and sometimes I think that action could be more descriptive; in the "O'Neill and Davis both turned" paragraph, for example, the image of a Brute's demise is "three bursts to the chest" and "finished off with a final one to the head". You could put more detail into that--those bursts of lead punching holes in the stocky alien's hide. His roar of fury at his impending death preventing him from killing those who did it to him, cut short when a final slug punctured his skull. That kind of thing, give me sensory details about what things look and sound like. There's a word count to consider, true, but if it's a concern, I'd cut some parts of the action elsewhere in favor of more detail in those that are more important. The fighting goes on for a while, and could be abbreviated to say they were worn down as time went by, each minute spent ignoring cramps from crouching in cover to be to stay on edge, ready to kill or scramble to whatever little other safety there might be. The really important part, then, for this piece as a story, is when the whine of the Phantom is heard. I recommend expanding that out. There's an intro monologue to the US "Being Human" TV show that goes: "Even in the most hopeless battle, there is a moment when the tide can turn. The supplies make it through, reinforcements crest the hill. Where there was no possibility of rescue, a way presents itself. But when help finally arrives, is it for you... or the enemy?" I'd try to capture that with the ambiguity of the Phantom's approach, because without something like the human response to tension, like O'Neill wondering if he's about to die, what death would be like, whether he prays or thinks little of it, it'd be just a long fight scene without a story to it except the context of when and where it is.
- Last Glimpse by Spartan-D042
- You seem to be leaning into a pitfall I used did for a while, that being to string too many phrases together with commas. The second paragraph has two examples, those being the very first phrase which I'd make a sentence of its own as a way to give the statement of it more weight, and the first phrase of the second sentence, since what comes has all the parts necessary to stand on their own. There are more later on, and given how much later my review is, you might be able to look back with a fresh set of eyes and spot where it happens. Might switch that semicolon to a colon in the fourth paragraph, as it's setting up a question that's answered less than two phrases that could go separate or not. It's a good thing you included the link in the TimeStamp, as I had trouble recalling what multiplayer map this might've been after the fact of reading, but reading the context, it makes for a pretty nice setting. The Mantis present is made a point of, and by finding out after what the map's history is, I only come to the conclusion later of what this character is headed for, which is great when I wasn't previously aware and now have to look back and reevaluate with that knowledge. Of course, you can't guarantee the reader is always going to have that experience, but you might include the link to the Heavy Burden at the end to at least encourage it, maybe by including the ship's name in the distress call. I don't know if I can say it was entirely intentional, that experience isn't something I find often when reading, and for that it's got my (belated) pick of the week.
- Contingency by CBrando89
- "gears" should be "gear", being already plural, and "shined" might be better as "shone" in this case, but that one's apparently a debate grammar experts have and I'll leave that sort of thing alone. Converse to D042's recommendations above, I think the second and third sentences of the big fifth paragraph could be combined, since what the former tells could easily be part of the larger picture the latter is making. About at "Cain disembarked," though, I think the paragraph could be split, since it's conspicuously large compared to the others. Speaking of, though, I'm glad there's so much description of Rat's Nest itself; we've all played within these environments, they're familiar, but that doesn't negate the need for description when it's the setting for writing, and how what we know gets described by another writer is part of the interest, at least to me. I give this advice to everyone, but cut out "that"s whenever you can, as they can usually be cut without effecting the sentence and because of that is filler between the more interesting words. Sometimes they stay for pacing or to make dialogue sound like a particular voice, but mostly they can be cut in prose. "an end. The hallway" is probably another place sentences can be combined, since "the hallway" is the subject in both. In some places with dashes, spaces around them should be removed, while one short dash should be replaced by an emdash. I do like the characterization that goes on through Cain and her AI's conversation. Something I'm amazed we haven't seen in canon Halo is a female Spartan on her own paired with a male-programmed AI, and how their dynamic might compare and contrast with Chief and Cortana's, which makes these two interesting to me. Lastly, I'm surprised after so much gets description that Reyes' introduction is told instead of shown as he walks up and offers Cain the hand. There's a wordcount to consider, of course, but being not really a hard target I'd have cut back elsewhere to give that time.
Week 106: Folks Need Heroes, Chief
As Sniper's been particularly busy lately, Brodie-001 will be helping to run the Weekly for a while alongside some guest judges. Without further ado, here's this week's prompt.
Prompt: Most people have someone they look up to. Perhaps it's a friend or relative that always encouraged them, a beloved teacher who they aspired to be like, or even someone famous who served as an inspiring figure in their lives. So in the ballpark of a thousand words, give us a story about someone who your character looks up to.
Start Date: May 22nd, 2018
End Date: May 29th, 2018
- Back To Back by Distant Tide
- I think you've done a wonderful job of setting the scene here and establishing the close relationship between Merlin and Andra; it's not something I often see with stories about Spartans, so I do appreciate that. That being said, I didn't really feel much of a connection between the story and the theme of this week's prompt at all. Haven't really got much else to say here; the prose and descriptive work is of high quality as always.
- His Own Hand by Actene
- I greatly enjoyed the opening interactions between Stray and Lensky here. He's clearly been chasing the guy for a while, but when finally confronted with a pitiful, dying man - his father - there seems to be a moment of hesitation to let him speak out at least. Having an older character look up to a younger one with pride is certainly an interesting choice, especially when Stray clearly despises him and dislikes the praise he's been given. While I had intended the prompt to be more of one for happy relationships between people, this was a great way of twisting the whole 'inspiration' angle and is my pick this week.
Week 107: From the Grave
To help with the Weekly, Lieutenant Davis is throwing his hat into the ring for the first time. Since this will be my first prompt, I figured it would be appropriate to draw inspiration from the first year of the Weekly.
Prompt: Death is a universal concept, one of only a few certainties in life. When a character dies, most choose to end their stories there, but death doesn't always mean the end. Everyone leaves a legacy after they are gone, good, bad, or otherwise. How does this death impact those around them, their friends, teammates, and loved ones? What effect does it have on the wider universe as a whole? How are they remembered? In around a thousand words, tell us the story of a character after they've passed on from this mortal coil.
Start Date: May 30th, 2018
End Date: June 6, 2018
- Observance by CBrando89
- Most of my criticisms are grammar related, such as in the first sentence where "Agent" should be lower cased. There's also a few instances of repetition with some words, most noticeably "officer" and "Morrison." I'd suggest finding replacements that carry the same meaning and don't interrupt the flow of the story. It's slightly jarring when, in the last paragraph, the sentence seems to suddenly shift into Morrison's thoughts. While its absence doesn't take anything away from the story, I might have liked to see some kind of description of the characters involved. The description of Schmidt was in the right direction, conjuring up images of an aging men on the edge of death, but it could go further and show us his face, the emotions playing across it in his brief time there and maybe what he looked like after being removed so quickly. Is he sad at her loss and his inability to properly mourn? Is he uncaring and this is all just for appearances? As for the descriptions we do get, I really like the imagery, instead of in the hangar or some other large room to accommodate lots of people, it's a small room, hastily retrofitted from whatever its original purpose was to serve as a viewing room. I would have liked to see something that shows _why_ 142 cares so much about Cain's loss, even if just Morrison recounting something he read on his datapad. As for the story itself, I appreciate that it's not from the perspective of an established character. It's interesting seeing the sort of small, interpersonal relations of Spartans from someone not involved in that group, which we've rarely seen on the site. I also really like the idea of the decorated veteran who has fought in countless battles, only mourned by a few of her closest comrades, it brings up interesting questions that we don't usually touch on. The image of a largely empty room, taken up only by a plaque and very few attendees is a very somber picture that reminds me just how different Spartans are from regular soldiers, who usually receive much more dignified ceremonies. It's another nice contrast that we don't usually see, and that's why it gets my pick.
- Disgraced Legacy by UnggoyZealot
- There are a few things with grammar and word choice that stood out to me, in the third paragraph, "reconcile" should have either been "reconciliation" or "reconciling". On that note, it might just be me, but it seemed like reconcile popped up more than I would have liked, and I would suggest replacing some instances with similar words such as redemption, along with a few general misspellings. I would also consider adding spaces in between your dashes, though that's more of a stylistic opinion than a hard rule. Another thing that stood out to me is I don't really understand why Grono's death is bothering Nak so much. I understand they're related, being from the same clan and that they fought in the war together, but what makes Grono so much more special than the other members of his clan or other Sangheili that he might have fought with? Similarly, it seemed that he got over the death he was previously mourning a little too quickly. I would have preferred to see some kind of alternative to it, perhaps he's only doing so to appease Gllor and is still regretting Grono's loss internally. Alternatively, perhaps he decides he must do penitent to make up for the stain on his family's honor caused by Grono's piracy. I do really like the reveal of Grono's survival though, it does paint a picture of someone who has definitely been in better situations but still believes he can come out on top in the end.
Week 108: Computer, Run Program
Colin here again. Now, it's no surprise to anyone at this point that I'm a massive fan of Star Trek, and one of the most unique things about it was the eponymous Holodeck: a chamber capable of replicating almost any environment or setting imaginable and letting the users explore their favorite locations or be the lead in their favorite book. With the introduction of the War Games simulation, I felt it might be fun to use it for something other than the typical Arena match. I'll also give everyone an extra day since I put the prompt up so late in the day.
Prompt: The War Games simulator is a powerful tool, assisting SPARTANs and other personnel train for all kinds of scenarios and environments across the galaxy. But is this all it can do? For this week's prompt, I want to see what you can do with War Games other than its usual purpose of training. Do your characters live out a movie or book, do they take a tour of a distant city, or partake in an ancient battle? In about a thousand words, tell me how your characters use War Games outside of training.
Start Date: June 7, 2018
End Date: June 15, 2018
- Illusion by Brodie-001
- This is exactly what I wanted when I came up with this prompt, using the simulator as a therapy tool is pure Star Trek all the way. I especially liked the blurb of using his neural interface to sort of "scan" his memories to create a more accurate environment. I'll admit that I grinned when I realized what was going on, especially after being confused by characters I was certain were dead by that point. Well written, no grammar or spelling errors that I can see, and with a perfect interpretation of the prompt that I didn't even think of, that's why it's my pick this week.
- Recollection by S-D379
- I have two problems with this, first was that I wasn't entirely certain what was happening on my first read through. After reading it again, I saw what Deryck was doing, but on that initial read through, it seemed like he was using it to actually talk to his brother in real time, rather than it just being a simulation. My biggest issue though was the dialogue, the way Deryck and Amanda spoke to each other. It seemed far too non-lifelike for young children/teenagers. I would recommend working on making the dialogue more fluid, since as it is now, it reads a little clunky, especially towards the ending. That being said, I really liked the concept behind it. Instead of using it to relive a past moment as a sort of therapy, he instead used it to help him deal with a current personal crisis in a way that will cause him to make, I presume, a very important life choice in the future.
Week 109: Can Love Bloom?
I apologize once again for the late reviews and prompt, I promise I won't let this become a habit, especially so early into my tenure. Without further ado, let's get into it. Bonus points to anyone who can figure out the reference without using Google.
Prompt: Relationships between characters are unavoidable in stories, and it seems like the theme of focusing on relationships has been beaten into the ground, but I disagree. I've noticed that amongst the newer members of the community, a desire to tell about the more personal interactions between characters off of the battlefield, and that's what I want to see here. Now, it doesn't necessarily have to be romantic in nature, and I certain don't want any hardcore smut here either, but I want to see the more deep and intimate relations between your characters when the bullets aren't flying. In around a thousand words as usual.
Start Date: June 18, 2018
End Date: June 25, 2018
- A Little Quiet by Distant Tide
- I do like these little slice of life kind of stories, away from all the gunfire and explosions, it's a comfy difference from the regular humdrum of warfare. I really like the imagery of the scene, with the dark and quiet beach, the downed frigate just off the coast with the lights and sounds of a distant party. It's also nice to see Merlin and Andra just sitting around and talking a bit, free from the future of misery that awaits them. That being said though, I don't feel like I learned any more about their relationship than I already did, that being that they're close friends. I saw where you were going at the end with them exchanging full names, and it was a nice way to end the story, I would have liked more, to see where it went from there. Aside from that, spelling and grammar seemed on point as usual.
- In Victory, Weakness by Actene
- At first I was a little apprehensive about this one since it immediately started off in the middle of a big space battle despite the prompt saying otherwise, but upon finishing it, I was surprised by it. It was... unnerving to see Simon, a character I am so used to seeing in command and completely irreverent of everyone else's opinions of him, legitimately concerned by what someone thought of his actions. It really does highlight the control Diana has over him and his life, regardless of how hard he tries to play it off or hide it. Reading it, it sort of reminded me of looking up to your parents when making a decision. The emotions he feels, wondering if his decision will disappoint her or not, really hammers home what kind of relationship these two share, on or off the battlefield. That's why it gets my pick this week.
Week 110: Hot Drop
So today is a bit special as it sees both the release of the sequel to Buck-centric story New Blood and the first proper post-Halo 5 story yet, Bad Blood. It's also fairly unique in that it's one of the few pieces of work so far to focus almost exclusively on SPARTAN-IVs. So to celebrate the release of this newest piece of Halo goodness, I figured I'd base this week's prompt around it.
Prompt: ODSTs. We all know them, the bat-shit crazy Marines who love nothing more than the adrenaline rush of falling from orbit inside steel coffins. We also know about SPARTAN-IVs, the most recent iteration of everyone's favorite supersoldier program. Now reception of the IVs hasn't always been great and that's always bothered me. It's our job to find merit and potential in every new idea presented to us, and as a community that's always fought over Spartan tags and secret programs, the IVs present a great opportunity for us and, truth be told, I've wanted a way to make people write about IVs for a while now. Because of the nature of Bad Blood and its prequel, I'm giving you all a choice. You can write about either ODSTs or SPARTAN-IVs, any kind of story you like and there won't be any kind of word limit, though please try not to write a whole novel.
Start Date: June 26, 2018
End Date: July 4, 2018
- Holdout by Brodie-001
- While I would've preferred an original entry this week, I'm glad I at least got something. As usual, your writing creates vivid imagery of the setting, a burning city, mostly abandoned by its inhabitants and defenders. You really do get a sense of isolation that these troopers must be feeling even after Layla shows up to help and they get to the space port. Most of their unit is dead and the UNSC has pulled out from the area, leaving them alone to deal with these civilians. The fact that they're mostly children really does up the stakes considerably, and I appreciate that you're more than willing to kill off a few whereas others, myself included, might be more apt to save them through some contrivance. A few fun read, as usual, and my pick for this week.
Week 111: Greatest Journey
This week we have a prompt from Brodie-001.
Prompt: Religion is an important part of many people's lives, be they human or alien. While mankind has a wide array of belief systems followed by billions across its colonies, even the seemingly monolithic Covenant religion has its own diverse sects. So in around 1000 words, write a short story about the influence of religion on the life of one of your characters.
Start Date: June 8, 2018
End Date: July 15, 2018
- Intervention by Distant Tide
- An interesting take on the religious angle here. I suppose that even when left with nothing else, people can still keep to their faith. The prose here is well-detailed, and conveys the feelings of betrayal, isolation and paranoia within the stranded Sangheili. I might have liked a little more focus on his faith, but it's a good piece nonetheless.
Week 112: Human Weakness
This week we have a prompt from Actene.
Prompt: Some characters face danger and adversity with a smile on their face and a song in their hearts. Others fall prey to the far more commonplace grip of fear and trembling. Write a character reacting to a dire situation with pettiness or cowardice rather than the more heroic virtues. The situation can be a physical brush with their own mortality or emotional, such as cowardice in a relationship with another person. Be creative in roughly 1000 words.
Start Date: June 17, 2018
End Date: July 24, 2018
- Undone by Spartan-D042
- This piece gave me a very stream of consciousness vibe, which worked both to its credit and to its detriment. On the one hand it helped emphasize the panic, adrenaline-fueled emotional rush Cody is feeling. On the other hand it also made it a bit hard to contextualize the scene in the first paragraphs, which is a pretty important component to these shorter pieces. I also think that Cody's cowardice--the focus of the piece--is a bit questionable here as he doesn't let anybody down by running away and instead simply escapes a hopeless situation. However, Cody himself views this act as the coward's way out and a betrayal of his Spartan identity. The short does a good job of getting inside his head and bringing light to a critical moment in Cody's life.
Week 113: Skirting the Law
Colin's back, and apologies for the wait. Let's not waste anymore time and get right to it.
Prompt: We all know about the heroic defenders of mankind in the UNSC, the army of alien warriors serving the Covenant, and the somewhat morally-ambiguous freedom fighters of the Insurrection. However, it seems that recently we've all taken a liking to the more... unsavory elements of the universe. So for this week, I don't want any stories focusing on the big battles or huge armies or supersoldiers. I want stuff focusing on those little guys and their less-than-legal means of getting what they want. Around a thousand words, as usual.
Start Date: August 2, 2018
End Date: August 10, 2018
Week 114: With Their Long Range Guns
You have disappointed me greatly and left a void in my heart. In hindsight, maybe it was my fault for not threatening your lives and bodies enough, but that's all in the past. We have a new prompt to worry about!
And if you don't write something for it, I'll break your legs.
Prompt: It's a common story in Halo, a UNSC fleet is defending a planet, a Covenant fleet shows up and makes a mess of everything. It's no secret that the aliens' fleets outgunned mankind in just about everyway, but you don't often hear about the war up above other than scattered conversations. For this week, I want you all to tell a naval themed story. Great warships doing battle, a UNSC fleet staring down an approaching Covenant armada, or even the last moments of a doomed vessel moments before destruction. Around a thousand words please.
Start Date: August 20, 2018
End Date: August 27, 2018
- Lost Battle by Actene
- First off, it's nice to see some more post-war entries outside of the more typical non-aligned groups we see. The concept of a small UNSC flotilla overwhelmed by a Covenant raiding group is very interesting as it serves to remind us that the Covenant, fractured as they are, still maintain the technological advantage over humanity. It presents a great image of what these kind of smaller scale engagements look and feel like. The conflict that Commander Baudin is going through is also very engaging, the decision between performing her duties and fighting even though it will almost certainly result in her death, and fleeing to save her ship and crew regardless of the consequences. Knowing that she fits in somewhere with the Chancer V lore, I'm curious to see how these events shape her and her career later down the line. My choice for this week.
- The Unexpected Enemy by Alaska013
- So I'll admit, I was worried when I started reading it because it sounded an awful lot like Actene's entry, though thankfully that didn't last after the first paragraph. The narrative afterwards isn't entirely clear to me, scenes seem to jump around from different locations and characters without much in the way of proper transitions, which is basically the biggest problem to me. It's hard to keep up with what's happening as it just sort of skims over everything. That's my most important suggestion, that you work on pacing and transitioning between settings, remember that you don't have to rush through just for the sake of hitting that thousand word mark. Give us time to identify and connect with characters, where they are, and what they're doing. A potentially bigger problem, however, is that the very Star Destroyer-like ship and mention of the "Galactic Republic" all seem to imply that this is a Star Wars crossover. This is where I have to tell you that crossovers generally aren't allowed on the site, so please remember that for future reference.
Week 115: No Love for Life
Look, I promise that at some point I will actually have a Weekly reviewed and a new prompt put up on time. Maybe it'll be this week, who knows. Clearly not me. Anyway, let's go on with it.
Prompt: All throughout history, there are stories of famous suicide charges into the heart of an enemy formation from Pickett's Charge to the Charge of the Light Brigade. Even in Halo, we have Akono Menteith's suicide charge on Actium and Hood's charge on the Dreadnought on Earth. What I want this week is the story of a similar suicidal charge, whether a Sangheili charging an entrenched position for glory and honor, or a doomed human force trying to inflict as much damage as they can against the Covenant invaders. The only caveat this week is that whatever happens, the charging force of character has to die. It wouldn't be much of a suicide charge otherwise. Feel free to make up new characters for this, in fact, I'd probably encourage you to do so. About a thousand words, same as usual.
Start Date: September 2, 2018
End Date: September 9, 2018
- One Final Effort by Actene
- War is an adult's responsibility and children have no business in it, and this story shows off how confused and scared a kid would be in this kind of situation wonderfully. I've always been aware of the fate of most of the Rat Pack, but to see it from the perspective of one of its more unfortunate members really drives home just how bad things really were. Seeing his friends and family shot by people he's told are evil, doing similar things to people for a cause he may not even entirely believe in. My pick for the week.
Week 116: Always Alternatives to Fighting
This Weekly is brought to you by Actene.
Prompt: Halo is a first person shooter video game and as such much of the fiction we write on this site is devoted to tense firefights and epic battle scenes. However, the vast majority of conflict in literature and other dramatic vehicles stems from the more subdued, mundane challenges we encounter in our daily lives—from relationship drama to securing a source of livelihood so we can keep paying the bills on time. With this in mind, write a scene in which a character or characters overcome a challenge unrelated to combat, war stratagems, and the like. It doesn't necessarily have to be mundane, but concoct a scenario in which the character is overcoming something other than violence or the threat of violence. As always, keep it to roughly a thousand words.
Start Date: September 21, 2018
End Date: September 28, 2018
- Stand by StoneGhost
- I asked for personal stories, and boy did this week deliver. As the earliest submission for this prompt, Stand seemed almost to be ready and waiting for the right moment to get posted on the site. It’s very well written, so aside from a few sentences I’d have worded differently I don’t have any syntax critiques. The piece does an excellent job of getting inside Jory’s sense of helplessness and frustration at his hindered state. My one real quibble is that the short features a bit of a non-ending—Jory’s reaction to the military’s alternative role is one of despair and we aren’t given much insight into why he feels that way outside of the death of his Spartan identity. But this is clearly a much larger story shortened to fit the confines of a Weekly post, and its excellent portrayal of Jory’s frustration and inability to overcome the challenge in front of him that makes it my pick for this week’s winner.
- Dear Corin by Lieutenant Davis
- The brutal subject matter on display here is harshly driven home by the single line in the middle—“I want a divorce”—that conveys just how sharp Corin’s reaction really is. This stands out even more because the rest of the piece feels clumped together and a bit rushed. I would have recommended breaking some of the larger paragraphs up to let the story breathe a bit more. Maybe throw in some more action on Corin’s part to convey his reactions, or add some more actual quotes from the letters. The best parts of this story are the ones that are shown, not told, particularly the line from the letter and Corin unintentionally damaging the datapad. Another angle that goes unexplored is the intriguing detail that the military withheld the letters from Corin until it was too late—ostensibly to spare him a source of stress during training but perhaps also to deny him the option of quitting and depriving them of a valuable recruit. There’s a lot of interesting places to go with this set-up and I’d encourage further thought into the aftermath of this scenario.
- On That Beach by Distant Tide
- If these entries were graded on a points system I might be tempted to deduct some for the story being featured as part of a larger article rather than a typical standalone Weekly entry, but at the end of the day that’s neither here nor there. The short is a welcome post-Halo 5 setting and the exchange between Althea and Merlin is sufficiently tense and emotional. Unfortunately, I had to double check to make sure the AI’s name was Althea, because it doesn’t actually show up in the story itself. The fact that the story never names her is a bit odd considering the piece is all about the relationship between her and Merlin. There was also quite a bit of exposition here that while necessary in this context never makes for great reading. I’d have recommended slimming the expository dialogue down a bit and maybe make the revelation that Andra was Althea’s progenitor build on something Merlin already knows. This is clearly a fragment of a much larger story so there’s plenty of room to spread this thread out and let it flow a bit more naturally.
- Nightmares by Spartan-D042
- My favorite thing about this piece is that it’s conveyed from Bailey’s point of view and that she clearly lacks the military worldview we all too often inject into our Halo characters. It also adds an extra dynamic to the way this short answers the prompt—rather than just Cody confronting his personal demons it’s about Bailey handling the challenge of supporting him. The experience divide between the two characters also gives the relationship an edge, as they both do their best to pretend to give the other what they want even when the problem clearly runs much deeper than that. There’s a ton of stuff being unpacked in this short, making it an excellent look into the dynamic between these characters.
Week 117: A Hero To All
So, I was going to do something entirely different about a minute before I clicked the edit button and saw what week it was. Now I'm contractually obligated to do this.
Prompt: John-117, the Master Chief. It's impossible in this day and age for anyone in the gaming world to not know about this green armored supersoldier, and newer Halo media seems to imply that it's much the same in-universe. In human space, Master Chief seems to be a mixture of folk hero, superhero, and propaganda piece, with documentaries about him and action figures of him following the end of the war. Seeing as this is the Weekly's 117th week, it would seem a shame to not have it focus on the Spartan bearing that number. For this week, I want something dealing with the Master Chief, whether a soldier fighting alongside him, someone who has only ever heard about him in stories or media, or even from his perspective itself if you feel brave enough to do so. The story itself can be whatever you'd like, as long as Chief is the focus of it in some capacity. Roughly a thousand words as usual.
Start Date: October 3, 2018
End Date: October 11, 2018
- Finish the Fight by StoneGhost
- Another chapter in the surprise return of StoneGhost, and a very pleasant one at that. Let me preface this by saying that I have very fond memories of the Halo 3 marketing campaign, from Landfall to Believe, and the Starry Night trailer of which this is a retelling, Bungie just seemed to have gotten it all right with this. The imagery is simply wonderful in this, it really helps me remember the trailer in more detail than I would on my own. I also really appreciate the small additions like Chief's momentary disorientation in the beginning of the story, and the references to Cortana sprinkled around the latter half. The ending was also something I was really fond of, the idea that he's the only one that can do it, so he has to do it. It's a mentality that I've always appreciated and have emulated in some of my own writing before. This gets my pick for this week.
- Face in the Crowd by Distant Tide
- While the story itself is another solid addition to the ever-growing Delta's Path collection, there is one big issue I have with it as far as this prompt goes, in that it doesn't seem to really focus on the Master Chief. Yes, he's there in the story and Roxanne does think about him, but the story as a whole seems to be more about her comparing herself and the struggles she's been through with those of the IIs in general, rather than Chief specifically. It seemed that most of what she was doing was focusing on the SPARTAN-IIs in general and the similarities between them and her own Delta Company. It's a really simple fix as well, just by having her more directly focus on Chief himself. How she views his exploits and what she thinks of the stories told about him, or what she thinks of the man himself.
Week 118: If You Only Knew
This week's idea was submitted by LowBudgetKnight.
Prompt: Halo is, at its core, a story of war. From alien armies marching through broken cities to the larger than life supersoldiers fighting to keep them back, war is everywhere in Halo. As such, most of our writing focuses on the war itself, the battles and people involved, but it's not often that we look at the aftermath of such vicious conflicts, and I don't mean to cities or planets, but the people who fought there. For this week, I want a post dealing with how characters handle with whatever form of emotional turmoil or baggage they carry after the battle is over. Is it pronounced and violent, or soft and slowly gnawing away at them? What is their mental state like now that they've lived the horrors of war? Around a thousand words as per usual.
Start Date: October 19, 2018
End Date: October 27th, 2018
- The scars left behind by LowBudgetKnight
- A very touching story about a SPARTAN-IV dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress following his years of service. I liked how it wasn't obvious at first glance what triggered his flashbacks. Rather than just looking down the sights of a weapon, it was a mixture of that and the cold air of the A/C taking him back to that moment in time, and how one flashback seemingly made him more susceptible to further instances. I also found it incredibly warming when he daughter approached him and told him that she'd help him get better. I can assure you I'll take inspiration from it for my own work. There are a few problems though, most notably with punctuation. There were quite a few spots that needed commas and periods, and while I try not to let that affect my feedback too much, there were just a few too many to really ignore. A good run through and spell and grammar checker should help with this. My other problem is about the flashbacks in general. They do a decent job summarizing the events, but I would've preferred more detail about them. Why did shooting this one rebel leave such an emotional impact on him? How did he wind up alone, being hunted down by blood-thirst Grunts? I know it can be hard balancing length and necessary detail, something I myself often have difficulty with, but in this case, more would have probably been helpful.
- Humbaba by Timothy Emeigh
- I think the most important aspect of this story was its attention to what Sasha was feeling, rather than what the exact specifics of her memories are. How transitioning between the present and her memories affects what she physically feels, the weight of armor, increased heart rate, etc. The biggest problem for me was that the middle of the story seemed rather confusing on the first read through. I don't know if it was just me, but I had a hard time figuring out when she was in the present and when she was flashing back, and it took me a few times to get it right. Other than that, I thought it was a really good read and is my pick for this week.
- Argo the Rat by Distant Tide
- Another impressively written story from Tide. Few real mistakes, if any. My biggest issue is that we don't see Argo's mental state until the end of the story, when he runs into the other Sangheili and sees his past self reflected in him. Once again, it comes down to balancing length and time spent focusing on something. In this case, I felt it might have benefitted from a shorter chase sequence and an extended moment either with the other Elite or his own inner reflections.
- Happy Safari by Minuteman 2492
- As with most of your stories, there's a nice level of detail that makes it look and feel like the characters present know what they're doing and how to act professionally, rather than charging out guns-blazing as is the usual fashion. I also get a nice impression of what Levosia looks like, dull red and almost chalk-like from a lack of water, thin shrubbery rather than thick leaved bushes and trees. The downsides are mostly things I've already stated, prime among them being that I would've preferred seeing more of the story dedicated to how Ingram reacted to the revelation that the Spartans were children and how it's affected him later in his life.
Week 119: End of Hate
While this prompt isn't going up exactly on the 11th, I didn't really want to delay it any longer, so this week's prompt is dedicated to the centenary of the Armistice Day and the end of the First World War.
Prompt: March 3, 2553 saw one of the most important moments in Human history, the official end of the decades long Human-Covenant War. Years of bloodshed and destruction came to an end upon a barren hillside in eastern Africa. In the aftermath, people on both sides are left to ponder what's next. Entire generations and cultures had been wiped out during this most destructive of conflicts and now the survivors are left with the almost insurmountable challenge of rebuilding: worlds, economies, relationships. For this week, I want a story showing how people responded to the end of the War, whether with relief, anger, or uncertainty. A thousand words or so, as usual.
Start Date: November 9, 2018
End Date: November 17, 2018
- All Quiet by Brodie-001
- Well-written as is usual for Brodie, there are two major things about this story that I really appreciate. The first being how it shows off the state of the world just after the official ceasefire and end of hostilities, that even though the Covenant as a whole has splintered and fragmented, many of these new groups were quick to resume their own fights against a weakened humanity, attacking a small, backwater planet like Ankat for the sole purpose of killing people. The other is the focus of the piece, though we may be looking at it from the perspective of Mack Junior, we're actually focusing on Corporal Arthur Rilo. Through him and his current predicament, we see that even though the war is officially over, it does not mean the end of fighting or death. And though he is dying, that fact that he passes knowing that humanity won and will survive puts his heart at ease and allows him to go peacefully, something that brought a smile to my face. My pick for this week.
- User: Distant Tide/War Rages On by Distant Tide
- Another good piece from Tide, I only really have one major issue with it, and that being that only the second half really seems to deal with the prompt. The first half focuses more on Kallas and his past with his flashback, while a good story on its own, takes place before the war even begins. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the idea of Gamma Company Spartans feeling bitter, almost cheated, about not fighting in the war proper, as if they'd been robbed of the chance that was rightfully theirs. In my opinion, this should have been the theme for the whole story, perhaps as some kind of ONI psych evaluation, rather than dealing with the stuff with Kallas in the beginning. My only other issue is relatively small in that you have a tendency to capitalize "war" just about every time it appears, rather than only using it like "Covenant War" or "Human-Covenant War".
- Our Turn by ThePeteFiles
- So there are a few issues I'd like to bring up. The most important being a few of your dates may or may not line up with canon, though I can't say with certainty. In the prompt, I gave the date March 3, 2553, meaning that entries should take place either on or after that date. Now as far as I can tell reading Halopedia, Palmer was recruited into the program while recovering aboard a medical station sometime in January, meaning the SPARTAN-IV Program as we know it might have been active by that point, but I can't say for something. If I were you, I probably would have placed it somewhere a little less nebulous as far as dates go, like a barracks or starship. This one isn't so much an issue as it is a suggestion, in that you would probably find it best to write in third person from now own when telling stories. Most people find first person more difficult to write, and can lead to lots of repetition, especially with 'I', which I noticed a lot of throughout the story. You also had a tendency to switch between past and present tenses. In the future, always try to stay consistent with your tenses, otherwise it can read weird and confuse the reader.
Week 120: Rejuvenation
Prompt: It's no secret that a common theme on the wiki is the baggage carried by our characters, whether physical, mental, or emotional, these handicaps are considered important aspects of a character. What I find less common but far more rewarding, is watching a character overcome these obstacles, and that's the theme this time. I want to see a character overcome their baggage, such as a war veteran coming to terms with a missing limb, someone forgiving an enemy, etc. Roughly a thousand words, as per normal. As this is the final Weekly of the year, this prompt will have an extended time limit.
Start Date: December 13, 2018
End Date: January 1, 2019
- A Reassembled Man by WadeYancey
- Let me start of with saying that this was a really solid entry and a pretty good read. It was nice to see someone who had served the UNSC have a legitimate grievance with it and the UEG but not betray it, simply refusing to support it. It's a nice position I don't recall seeing very often on the site or in lore proper. I was a little confused on when it was supposed to take place up until the very end, though it's not very important overall. The reveal of the Covenant's arrival at the end seemed a little odd to me though, since I recall all that being covered up fairly well until at least several months after the war began, rather than being broadcast on TV to billions, though I suppose the ONI leak could be responsible for that. His decision to return to the Navy immediately after seeing the news seemed a bit too sudden, though I suppose that's not very far-fetched for someone who had previously served. I also appreciate that he doesn't change his position on the Insurrection, but realizes this is far more important than any of his prior complaints, putting mankind above the petty things like politics or money. As I said before, a real solid read.
- Family Ties by Actene
- Another great story by Actene, this time dealing with the Odd Sangheili Out, Tuka. This really excels at showing Tuka, if only for a few minutes, grow as a person. It was really nice to see the usually quiet and reserved Tuka stand up to his older brother, even at the threat of death, and make his case. I especially liked his quote about humiliating himself but never betraying what he believes. It's one thing to come to terms with something by yourself, but it's entirely different to be open and vocal about it, and for someone like him to admit that he'd probably never truly match up to his brother, but for it to never really matter, was wonderful. Maybe it's just because of how much exposure I've had to the characters from their participation in the Imperium RP, but it was really nice to see them interact in this way. Shinsu may not respect Tuka or his decisions, but now he at least has an understanding of them, which seems to be good enough for him. My pick for winner this week.