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

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

How To Participate

At the beginning of each week, a new prompt will be posted on this page, including a maximum word count, for users to write in response to. Working with in the length and topic restraints (which could have to do with theme, or subject, or writing style like "only dialogue"), users then write their response and create a new page on which to post it. Remember to include a Writer Template ("{{Writer|your username}}") at the top and categorize it "The Weekly" ("[[Category:The Weekly]]") at the bottom. A paragraph at the top can be added to introduce the piece and context for it without going towards the word count, so long as there's a horizontal line ("----") between to make set them apart distinctly.

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

Users can also visit the talk page to suggest prompts and topics for future weeks.

Weekly Challenges

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 was thought it over". I like that little mind game at the end, cutting Daniele off from any turning back.
  • 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 Sedra. 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, Sanghelios. 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