It’s been a busy spring on Holy Worlds, and I have yet another set of contest winners to present to you! This month on Holy Worlds Sci-Fi, Lady Elanor hosted a drabble-writing contest entitled “Science Fiction in 100 Words.” Entrants were challenged to write a drabble (100-word story) in the sci-fi genre; no other restrictions were applied except for the genre. The goal was to encourage activity and challenge people to write sci-fi, especially if they hadn’t tried the genre before. The contest was a huge success – we had a total of 104 entries! (More statistics can be found here, courtesy of Jaynin.) It was incredibly difficult for the judges (Lady Elanor, Captain Nemo, and myself) to extract three winners from the collection. It is with great pleasure that I present our distinguished winners; read on for the winning drabbles, followed by comments from the judges.
First Place goes to Jonathan Garner, for his drabble “The Fifth Term”:
In a New York City voting booth, there was a single question instead of names: Do you want to re-elect President Bill Smith for a fifth term? Below this question, a green button said yes, and a red button said no.
Had anyone ever voted no? John didn’t know. What he did know was that he would rather die for freedom than live in fearful support of a tyrant.
He pressed no with a trembling hand.
He slowly closed his eyes.
Sirens began to sound.
Footsteps pounded his way.
And for the first time in awhile, he smiled.
What the judges had to say:
Jon, this was so well delivered. You had such a good plot here. It encompassed everything a drabble should have, in my opinion. It had substance, emotion, it was superbly done. Congratulations! ~Lady Elanor
The good: I loved how you were able to tell a good story. It had a concrete beginning, middle, and end. That’s difficult to do in only 100 words. You also put in a lot of emotion, set up a scene really well. I could see it happening visually. And it was written well, too. I also like the purpose behind it.
Things to improve upon: It was a little bit confusing on if this really was Sci-Fi or not. You have great details here and evoke a certain essence. I just would have liked to have seen it even more clear how this was Sci-Fi aside from it being set in the future.
Why this won for me: Our definition of a drabble is a story in 100 words. That’s exactly what Jonathan’s drabble did. We also asked for it to be Sci-Fi, which he did express to an extent. It was well written, had great emotion, kept me interested, and was overall an excellent entry. ~Captain Nemo
The first thing I thought of when I read this was “This sounds like that one Doctor Who episode…” The concept of a political situation with “superficial voting” has been seen before, both in the real world and in fiction, but that doesn’t make it any less impacting. The morals are timeless, and the situation is a realistic possibility for our future. There is biblical evidence for the idea, in fact – it’s reminiscent of the “mark of the Beast” in Revelation. It was the impacting premise and solid morals that made Jonathan’s drabble a memorable and enjoyable read for me.
What made it a winner, however, out of all the other drabbles with good concepts was its completeness. A drabble is defined as a story of exactly 100 words. Therefore, a drabble in its purest form should be a complete story, with conflict, plot, character development, and a sufficient resolution. Many of our entries had brilliant premises and good writing, but they didn’t feel like a complete story. They felt like a snapshot, or an unfinished excerpt. Jonathan’s felt complete in and of itself – it needed no more explanation, and the ending was satisfying and created a complete arc in the character. For this reason I am proud to award Jonathan first place. ~Aubrey Hansen
Second Place goes to Leandra Falconwing, for her drabble “Brothers”:
“Are you sure you know how to fly this?”
“Relax. How hard can it be?”
“…You don’t know how to fly it. I think I’ll walk.”
“Um…too late? I think we’re already in the air, and landings can be tricky.”
“Now you tell me. How were you planning to land it when we got there?”
“Well…I figured we wouldn’t need it intact at that point…”
“We’re going to die.”
“I’m pretty sure I can manage a controlled crash.”
“Correction. You’re going to die. Slowly.”
“Quiet. You’re ruining my concentration.”
“…Fine. But next time? I make the escape plan.”
What the judges had to say:
Leandra, this was very different. It was out of the box, unconventional and that really made it stand out. You told a story through the dialogue; unusual but you pulled it off in a lovely way. Well done! ~Lady Elanor
The Good: I love how you tell the entire story with dialogue! I really enjoyed it. I also love how it was like two siblings squabbling. Because of the movement and tone in the dialogue, I could feel the movement and emotion in the piece. It also didn’t feel like it was pointless. It felt like you were going in a good direction. The content is great, too.
Some things to work on: Work on making this even more of a story. You have a good “middle,” but it starts and end abruptly. It would have been neat if you could have set it up better and given it an even more solid conclusion. Also, I would have liked to see the idea of how this relates to science fiction a little more. I get that they’re flying a plane, but is it a new type of plane, a space craft? But overall great job!
Why this won second: Although it was very well written, very entertaining, and gave great mental images, it didn’t quite tell a full story as the winner’s piece did. If this story had been fleshed out more, I think that it may have ranked first. ~Captain Nemo
This is one of those stories that is just pure fun. It’s lighthearted, personal, and engaging. It read very smoothly and had humorous interplay between the characters. I enjoyed it immensely when I read it the first time, and the snarky brotherly badinage was endearing to me. It stuck with me, which was why it ended up on my list of finalists.
What made this a winner, however, was its creativity. Composing the story entirely out of dialog was a unique approach which made it stand out from the crowd. Additionally, the story felt complete – the dialog painted a clear picture of the events, and the ending was satisfying. You don’t need to know what happened before or after this conversation to enjoy it. For that reason, and the sheer uniqueness of it all, I am happy to award Leandra second place. ~Aubrey Hansen
Third Place goes to Allyson F. Mimetes for her drabble “The Wolf”:
The wolf howled, a cry of mourning, of hopelessness. He stood atop the highest mountain, the last surviving creature, but the mist was rising, rising, ever faster, ever farther. The humans had wiped themselves out with a toxic explosion, and soon everything would be destroyed. Only he was left, but not for long. He tried to climb higher, but there was nowhere to climb. The acidic mist was rising, eating everything living, laughing at the slaughter it was causing. The trees wilted and crumpled in its path, and the wolf cried one last time as the mist touched his skin.
What the judges had to say:
Allyson, this was packed with emotion. It is so sad, yet it was beautifully written. Very haunting, certainly not something I will easily forget. It is a very memorable drabble. Good work. Congratulations. ~Lady Elanor
The good: This drabble has wonderful imagery and great emotion. I really empathized for the wolf here. I could feel the desperation and the desolation that the author wrote here. It was beautifully crafted and was clearly Sci-Fi. It also felt like this piece had a purpose behind it.
Things to work on: This drabble seems more of a description of a single scene than an entire story. It has a little motion, but even that is limited. I would love to see this fleshed out more and turned into an entire story. Why is the gas there? Why is this one wolf the only living creature left? But it was beautifully and vividly written.
The reason it got third place: The main reason this piece didn’t rank higher was because it wasn’t a true story. It was just a little excerpt. Writing an entire story in just 100 words is a very difficult task, and the other two entries told more of a story. But because if it’s wonderful descriptions, vividness, purposefulness, and emotion, this piece did stand out among the others. ~Captain Nemo
When I read this drabble for the first time, what struck me was the beautiful imagery. The voice and phrasing Allyson used to form her sentences created a very vivid picture in my mind; I not only understood what was going on, but I felt the emotion. The loneliness, the starkness, the colors – it resonated, and that made it memorable.
Allyson’s drabble felt complete in that it had sufficient details and a conclusive ending. However, it was more of a snapshot, a mental picture, rather than a story with an arc and character development. This was the flaw that disqualified so many other wonderful drabbles with beautiful imagery – they painted a picture rather than told a story. While there isn’t anything wrong with that approach, it takes greater skill to tell a story in 100 words than it does to write a 100-word description of an image. This is why Jonathan’s drabble stood ahead. However, out of all the “snapshot” drabbles submitted, Allyson’s was one of the most memorable and vivid. For that reason, I am happy to bestow on her the prize of third place. ~Aubrey Hansen
Congratulations to all the winners, and cheers to everyone who entered! I immensely enjoyed reading all of the entries, and I loved many more than could be recognized. There was a fantastic display of talent in this contest – keep writing and using that talent for God’s glory!