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Long Story Short · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
Short and Sweet
The audience settled in. Laura could feel the tension in the air. Three finalists, twenty million viewers, a single prize of five million. It had taken her two years to get to this point, all that remained was one final push.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the show host said, making his way to the central podium in the room. “It has been one heck of a journey full of twists and turns, shocking disappointments and miraculous comebacks. Or, as we like to say at Short and Sweet, just another night.”

Laughter filled the hall. Laura did her best to join in.

“We are left with three finalists,” the show host announced. “Look at them! Magnificent creatures with minds of steel that won’t hesitate to tear each other limb from limb for the title!”

You’re not wrong there, Laura thought. There were no friends here, just opponents.

“Before we begin, let’s go over the rules.” The host smiled. Above his head the “Oooh” sign lit up, bringing an immediate response from the audience. “I know, I know,” the host laughed. “You’ll hardly be here if you didn’t know it, but it’s my job act like a jackass so that our contestants would shine.” The “Laugh” sign lit up. “So, the goal is simple. Each of our contestants is given a randomly selected work of literature in a category of their choosing. Our contestants must convey the essence of the story using as few words as possible. The one who manages to achieve the best clarity with the least words wins! Of course for that they have to know what the book is about.” The “Laugh” sign lit up again. “So, let us begin!”

Laura could no longer see the audience. The people, the cameras, the halls itself had vanished blurred out by her mind. The only ones remaining were the host and the other finalists.

“William.” The host approached the first contestant. “As reigning champion you go first. What category would you like?”

“High fantasy,” the contestant said.

“What a surprise.” The host mock sighed. “Let us see what the random selection has for you.” Lights started flashing. A 3D chest appeared on the giant screen behind the contestants, then opened revealing the photo of a book. “Lord of the Rings!” The host announced. “Let’s hear it. And remember! Short and sweet!”

Damn! Why did he have to get Tolkien!?

“A youngster adventures through peril to learn how to save the world,” the contestant said.

“Twelve words,” the host noted. “You lost a bit of clarity there, but who knows, maybe it will be worth the gamble. That is, if Alyssa doesn’t have anything to say about it.” The host moved to the second contestant. “Alyssa, you heard the reigning champion. Think you could do better? Time to find out. What’s your category.”

“Space opera.” The woman didn’t hesitate.

“Space opera.” Lights started flashing again. The images on the screen were replaced by the chest. “And we have... The Foundation!”

I wanted that! If only she had earned a few more points that would have been her story.

“Scientists create a colony to guide humanity through the space dark age,” Alyssa said.

“Oh, nerdy!” The host laughed. “I like it! Twelve words as well. Looks like this will be a nailbiter. Or maybe Laura will leave both of them in the dust.” The man turned to her. “Laura, pick your category.”

Should she risk with science fiction? The easy story had been selected which meant the rest would be more obscure. Laura had been reading science fiction since she was seven, but was that enough? A lot of new authors had emerged the last five years.

“Epic fantasy,” she said.

“An unusual choice.” Laura couldn’t see the host anymore. Everything around had had become white. “Aaand... A Song of Ice and Fire.”

Her heart skipped a beat. This was it. The miracle she had been waiting for. Maybe, just maybe, it would be enough to win her the crown. She could only hope.

“Many fight for the throne,” her voice trembled as she spoke, “and they all die.”
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#1 · 1
Wow, spoilers, Laura. I liked that you ended on a high note, though I wished we could've seen the reactions of the other competitors once she gave her answer.
#2 ·

Super cute idea, but I'm gonna nitpick away anyway.

It feels a little weird for the host not to be named, given these sorts of shows usually highlight their host. You could argue that Laura just doesn't care, but as someone who has clearly been on the show for a bit, it does feel like a bit of an oversight.

The gameshow itself is a little odd structually, most notably in that it distinctly advantages people later in the round by giving them a standard to beat. Moreover, it is a show that would need a set of judges to weight length against clarity. The idea is certainly neat, but I think you need to tweak it a little bit to make it a more coherent gameshow.

Lost the wishy-washy "maybe" in the second to last paragraph. This is the end of your fic. Sell her win.

Other than that, I sort of have a problem with the contestants in that I don't feel their answers are particularly good? Like, again, it comes down to judging, but I can beat the champion on the spot "Heroes destroy jewelery to stop evil." It loses a little detail, but is also half the words.
#3 · 1
I think you can squeeze that in a more terse way, like “No one fighting for the throne survives”. Or something of the same ilk.

So I was discussing szip with Quill, which is basically the same story but handled differently, and he said to me: “The problem is that the punchline is a five-letter American English slang word I had to look up and all was lost.”

Same here.

I’m sorry, but A Song of Ice and Fire is simply a book I am not cognizant of.

Therefore, if there’s any humour in the punchline, it is lost on me. Now maybe there’s no humour, but I have no way to know, and that pretty much ruins it.

This is a low stake story, especially since we don’t get to know what the winner’s prize is. Finally you spend a lot of time explaining the rule or padding with public’s reaction, but “We knew Laura’d win”. What do I win?
#4 ·
The comparison with szip is strong; this felt like it had less jokes, but also seemed more cohesive. It has a distinct emotional profile (hope - frustration - victory) which was nice. I felt the details of the gameshow were a bit off as well, but it did provide an interesting backdrop.

Pretty good? I think it's mostly just riding that last joke, but I did smile.
#5 · 1
Even if you had ignored A Song of Ice and Fire (it's not even finished, why would it be included on a show like this?) and picked a book that could be summarised in just one word, to end the story with a greater punch, you'd still have the problem of relying on the reader to know the book. Because of that I think this has to go a bit further and show the reaction of Laura's fellow contestants and/or the host, as Zaid said, and end on a different short and sweet note.
#6 ·
On the one hand, I like how this story handles showing a game show in progress. It makes the events easy to follow, as well as sneaking a little humor in with the host. Speaking of which, that host was pretty entertaining, what with his acknowledgement of his pointlessness to these proceedings and his smarmy attitude. Little flourishes like that gave this story a certain comedic personality that a lot of stories this round haven’t shown.

But the central problem with the story is that by focusing on the situation more than Laura herself, there’s not a whole lot of stakes for the reader. Whether this girl wins or not doesn’t really affect us, just because we don’t know enough about her. Honestly, the host has more of a personality than she does. I also think that the central concept of the show doesn’t hold much draw. The whole idea of most game shows is to test knowledge on obscure materials. This show only depicts the contestants using rather popular works, which sort of destroys any tension we’d have. Also, summarizing stories is a pretty easy thing to do (there’s literally thousands of websites that summarize different works), making it hard for me to believe people would be really into this game show.

There’s a good sense of comedy and a firm voice throughout this story. There just needs to be some tweaking to the central concept and a more developed protagonist.