8.24.2015

R.O. Writing Contest Winners!



Whew, time just flies right on by sometimes, doesn't it? It feels like I just put this contest up yesterday.

However, that is not the case; in fact, we've already reached the end of it! It's time to announce the winners! If you're new here or happened to miss the original posting, feel free to check it out here.

Below are the winners of the Raven's Omen Writing Contest. Congrats to them, and a big thank you to all who participated!

First up is the short story category. Entries were to be a minimum of 100 words, and a maximum of 1000 words in length. Our winner here goes by the name of
PoiSonPaiNter
PoiSon brings us a fantastic little story, which you can read below. Her native language is German, and you can find her blogging over at Random Poison

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Raven's Omen Contest Entry
Author: PoiSonPaiNter
Word Count: 710

High on top of the broken and charred remains of a tower, a flock of ravens had found its home. On each side of the tower one or two birds sat on the outer walls, watching over the field that lay beneath them. The tower used to be a watchtower for an once mighty castle and guards stood sentinel over the lands in every point of the compass. Now it was abandoned and the unspoken duty had fallen to the birds. The day had started like any other; a calm morning had turned into a warm and sunlit afternoon. Suddenly a shiver ran through the black birds as a dreadful feeling fell upon them. They sensed that something was not right. Something wicked was on its way. Wings fluttering and cawing loudly the flock dissipated in every direction to spread a warning to everyone that crossed their path.

Down below the tower a field of grain stood proudly, its stalks swaying slightly in the wind. Men and women stood amongst them, shielding their eyes to follow the black birds. One man looked behind the tower and noticed an especially large shape.
“The ravens get bigger and bigger each summer.” He commented.
“That’s not a raven…” mumbled another one that had seen it as well.
“DRAGON!” now ran the call throughout the field.
Every last one of them dropped what they had in hand and laid down flat on the ground.
Everyone except one boy that still clutched his fork in his hands, staring at the fast approaching dragon like prey looked at its predator.

The others yelled and called out to the boy, but they were ignored.
The beast flew lower and lower, his large wings spread widely he used them to glide over the field. Soon he was low above the field, his feet touched the grain and the wind below his wings, with every graceful flap he made, pushed it aside and send clouds of dust and dirt into the air.
Now close enough the dragon stretched out its claws to simply snatch the boy away.
Another farmer boy gathered up all his courage and jumped up to tackled his friend down. Just in time they landed in the dusty field when the creature flew right above them, darkening their view. The sharp claws slicing the empty air it hit. They could hear its wings flapping strongly as it tried to assent again and regain its momentum.
“That was stupid!” The boy reprimanded his friend, one hand still on the others chest, his ear touching the earth.
He could feel the others racing heart and ragged breathing. His own heart was bumping in his chest as if he had just ran many miles. Patiently the boys and the other field hands waited for the dragon to either return or disappear.

After a few moments had past someone finally yelled: “SAVE” and they knew they could get back to their work now.
He helped his friend up and continued his scolding: “Everyone knows you have to lie down flat when a dragon attacks! They can’t reach that low mid-flight!”
His friend was still pale, but nodding in understanding. One of the older man came to give him a sip of his water skin and an encouraging pat on the back.
“Why didn’t it burn our crops to get to us more easily?” One of the younger man asked after they had stood a while, watching the direction the dragon had taken.
“Because it knew, we wouldn’t be worth it.” An old man simply stated, leaning heavily on his hoe.
His remark was followed by several questioning stares.
“Don’t give me those looks. Dragons aren’t as stupid as you think. They know good prey from bad and in our case, we looked far too skinny for its taste to bother hunting us down and waste energy it could use to get better prey.” He explained.
“Scaly bastards.” Another man commented.
The rest of them took this as a sign that the conversation was over and without further ado they went back to their work.

High above the field the flock of ravens one by one returned to their posts on the old sentinel tower, resuming their watch over the fields.
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(View the original here)


I loved this story. Being raven-themed, you expect something sort of Poe-esque and, with that expectation in mind, the beginning gives you a slight taste of that before heading in an entirely different, and interesting, direction. The first paragraph contains a couple of my favorite lines:

"The tower used to be a watchtower for an once almighty castle and guards stood sentinel over the lands in every point of the compass. Now it was abandoned and the unspoken duty had fallen to the birds."

The imagery in this is absolutely great, I think. And it's a good example of the language used in literary writing. Take the first sentence, for example; "sentinel" not only describes what the guards are doing, but the word grabs the reader's attention and gives the sentence a whole new feel. Think if "...and guards kept watch over the lands..." had been used instead. Still a nice sentence, but it feels.. predictable. Common.

The same goes for "...in every point of the compass." I truly love this wording, and I was impressed after reading it (it takes me forever to think of good substitutes like that). Imagine "...in every direction" in place of that. See what I mean about feeling less predictable and more intriguing? It makes you want to read more!

The dragon was a very interesting touch, and the descriptions used there were well done, too. Can't you just picture the beast gliding over that field, trying to snatch up the farmers? PoiSonPaiNter simply, and yet vividly, describes how the wings are used, how the dragon's "feet touched the grain," how it sent "clouds of dust and dirt" flying. Just enough detail to visualize those events.

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I should probably wrap it up here... I could go on for a while about what I enjoyed about PoiSon's story, but that would make for an extremely long post with many walls of text.

If you like to use information like this to improve your own writing (and every writer should), then feel free to also check out the original story link above - PoiSon requested feedback on any mistakes, and so I've left a comment on her post with some of that in there.

As for the poetry category, I only received short stories! No winner to be had here this time. ;)

Another big congrats to PoiSonPaiNter; I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, got some good out of this, and perhaps might join in again next time around. Thank you to all who participated!

See you on the 31st when I return from break. My next post will have Q&A details!

2 comments:

  1. Wow...thank you. I still can't believe I actually won...

    Also thank you for your praise. I always love hearing that people enjoyed what I wrote. It gives me the boost in confidence necessary to continue writing.

    As for the choice of words:
    I blame sentinel on Game of Thrones as I learned that word through those books and I just think it's a great word.
    "In every point of the compass" was at first written as "in every direction" but I didn't like that I used it again later with the ravens, so I looked up the German equivalent "Himmelsrichtung" (literally: Heavenly direction, I think) to find a more fitting word/description. :D
    When I'm not satisfied with a word I simply use synonym pages to see what alternatives I have and I do this both in English and German. Sometimes I look up the synonym of the German word and then look what it translates to in English, occasionally even the other way round.

    Thanks again!
    PoiSon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sentinel is an excellent word! And Game of Thrones really sounds like a great series that I've been needing to try. Here's yet another reason to do so, I guess. :)

      Interesting! Yes, synonym pages are extremely useful when it comes to finding a similar but better word!! I'm always looking up what else I could use in place of something.

      You're so welcome, and I agree that having others enjoy your writing is one of the best feelings, and it's a good motivator. Thanks so much for being a part of this contest, PoiSon! Hope you had fun. (I'll be sending you your award image here shortly, by the way).

      Delete

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