One Paragraph Short Stories - Every Submission in One Post

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Bill Loguidice's picture

A little while back I had asked everyone to participate in a little off-topic idea based around the concept of "One Paragraph Short Stories". We received six total submissions, re-posted here all at once in reverse order in their final versions for your reading convenience. Enjoy and thanks! (NOTE: If there are any "last minute" entries, I'll be happy to add them in)

(#6) THE METAL MONK by Matt Barton

Jacob drew steel, the sound echoing through the tavern and drawing every pair of eyes. Zane's face went stony for a moment, but then avalanched into laughter and mirth. "You'd kill me, then, monk?" spat Zane. "You must have forgotten your own book. 'Thou shalt not kill.' I'm not afraid of your threats." The drunken brawler suddenly pulled two long knives from his belt, twirling them like ballerinas. "I'm going to kill you now and take that book from you. Ought to be worth something to somebody." Zane leaped forward, and Jacob's sword flashed in the torchlight. A split second later, Zane's blades clanged against the far walls. But Jacob did not stop at disarming his opponent--he was too deadly, too proud. No, Jacob's weapon swung through the air, the razor tip scraping Zane's neck, slitting it. The metal monk knelt beside his dying opponent. Quietly, he prayed over the man, begging his Lord to forgive him his sins and wing this soul to heaven. When he was done, he caught a last flicker of light in Zane's eyes. He whispered: "If you had been more familiar with my book, you might have known another verse: 'I come, not to bring peace, but a sword.' I did not seek a fight with you. But I am through running."

(#5) LOVE RINGS TWICE by Bill Loguidice

Theirs was a true love, thought Tony, one to stand the test of time. Eva, his soul-mate, was somehow even more beautiful than the day they first met, he realized. And even though she always seemed to say something interesting, it ultimately didn't matter, as he was happy just to hear her soft, melodic voice. Someday soon, he imagined, they would have children together, and their love would blossom as a family. These wonderful thoughts made him feel warm and tingly inside. Suddenly, without warning, Tony was yanked from his daydream by the doorbell. He let out a long sigh, realizing that that would be the courier with the divorce papers.

(#4) FIVE MINUTES by Matt Barton

The masked man put it simply: "I'm going to kill you in five minutes," and since James had heard him say the exact same line to three of his friends--and noted with some alarm that the man had carried through on each occasion--he knew exactly what lay in store for him. He was tied down with barbwire to a rough sawed plank, but comfort mattered little now. After all, the last thing he wanted to do with his last five minutes was think about how uncomfortable he was on that stupid board. You'd think, though, that someone would've at least sanded it down a bit. And why barbwire? Was that really necessary? Why couldn't he have been killed by a killer who preferred soft nylon rope? And why, for that matter, had he been positioned facing the wall, with nothing interesting to look at? He was the only one of his friends who'd been put this way. Nothing to see but cheap woodgrain paneling. It was maddening. What an insult! And, to make matters worse, he had to pee. He didn't mind not getting a "last cigarette." He didn't smoke. But he did have to pee. Jesus Christ, what a lousy way to spend five minutes.

(#3) A SIMPLE DIVERSION by Bill Loguidice

Jack tried to speak, but failed, the tears beginning to well. Angie tried to speak, but also failed, her face becoming flush. "W-W-W-hat do we do now?" Jack finally stammered. "Don't know," Angie responded, barely audible. The two sat staring for a long time, sharing a stunned silence, not really hearing the gentle clicking in the background. How had they reached this point? What went wrong? All had been wonderful just a few moments ago, as they worked as one to reach new levels of success. Then, without warning, it happened, "Disk Error", flashing repeatedly. Though it was like "Game Over" from so many times before, those words now took on their true, sinister meaning. Having nothing left but time to reflect, Jack and Angie called it a night.

(#2) INSPIRATION by Davy Kelly

He was bored. So bored. His great intellect, seemingly inexhaustible, was hungry for new challenges but he was the last of the great innovators - society's problems had all been solved. All seemingly unconnected disciplines had long since been found to be related in horrifically elusive and contrived ways and he had mastered them all. He lay back in the dark and tried to relax. He longed for the challenges of the past when his racing mind prevented him from sleeping. It was tortuous at the time, but he now looked back on those times enviously. Then it hit him. Since he couldn't be presented with a challenging problem any more, all he had to do was to create a problem of his own design; so complicated and with so many interrelated complex relationships that only he could untangle them and calculate the ultimate outcome. But where to start? Then it hit him. He opened his eyes in the dark and said, "Let there be light."

(#1) SARAH by Bill Loguidice

Sarah was excited by the prospect of jumping back into the holographic synthesizer. Living long-term aboard a space station was not her idea of paradise, but the pay was irresistible, if not the atmosphere. Now her turn was again up to get away from it all, if only for a few hours. As usual, she wanted to simulate a nighttime float in the creaky row boat on the small lake by her old Earth-bound Florida home. The last time she did it, she just laid back and, though the irony was palpable, simply looked up at the stars. While she loved the light breeze that gently rocked the boat, she did not appreciate the simulated insects, with their all too real bites and buzzing about; Sarah had been on that sterile space station a very long time now. Whoever determined that virtual reality would truly fool the senses only if there was genuine environmental interaction, Sarah thought, probably needed to actually get out more. In any case, this time Sarah bent the rules more than a little by getting one of her programmer friends to hack the system for her and override life simulation on her program. Now she could really relax, just her, the boat and those very distant stars. Sarah happily entered the room, ran the program and within a few seconds, ceased to exist.

Comments

clok1966
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I too missed the originals,

I too missed the originals, not the video game ones. Normally I frown on the troll comments.. but I must admit the comebacks and the one that wasnt just "sucks" was kinda funny.. its so hard to submit to something like this.. reviewing a game and you dont agree I dont mind. But putting yourslef out creativly (good or bad) is a tough thing. Matt is an insperation on that. He has no problem with a song, story, joke (and he should have no problem, most (not all (gental jab)) are fairly worth checking out. I just dont have the .. "balls"? to do it. I guess if another one is done I might take a stab at it..

Bill Loguidice
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Flexibility
clok1966 wrote:

I too missed the originals, not the video game ones. Normally I frown on the troll comments.. but I must admit the comebacks and the one that wasnt just "sucks" was kinda funny.. its so hard to submit to something like this.. reviewing a game and you dont agree I dont mind. But putting yourslef out creativly (good or bad) is a tough thing. Matt is an insperation on that. He has no problem with a song, story, joke (and he should have no problem, most (not all (gental jab)) are fairly worth checking out. I just dont have the .. "balls"? to do it. I guess if another one is done I might take a stab at it..

This was always one of our most popular features and continues to bring in hits, as the 47,000+ reads since 2007 testify to (it's still among the top search terms when people come to the site). I'm proud that the concept was such a hit. I was inspired to come up with the concept after reading Wired's one sentence stories by prominent authors in one of their issues. I thought that was too limiting, but not so with a single paragraph. To me, in a single paragraph, a whole story could truly be told and I think the entries show that.

Anyway, the success of this is to me what embodies Armchair Arcade--anything goes. As I tried to explain in the FAQ, while our primary mission is to discuss videogames and computers and to err on the side of the classics, we want the flexibility to explore other things. As you say, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but why have our own site if we can't do what moves us - rather than what is expected of us - sometimes?

There's a great and appropriate line in this Cracked.com feature: "What you like, and what your audience likes, are probably going to be very different."

As for doing another one, I don't see why not as long as more than just the core AA team are willing to contribute...

n/a
Matt Barton
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Creativity is Pleasurable as Videogames
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Anyway, the success of this is to me what embodies Armchair Arcade--anything goes. As I tried to explain in the FAQ, while our primary mission is to discuss videogames and computers and to err on the side of the classics, we want the flexibility to explore other things. As you say, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but why have our own site if we can't do what moves us - rather than what is expected of us - sometimes?

There's a great and appropriate line in this Cracked.com feature: "What you like, and what your audience likes, are probably going to be very different."

As for doing another one, I don't see why not as long as more than just the core AA team are willing to contribute...

I find I go through phases of consumption and creation. I might go through a period where all I want to do is play games, read books, watch movies--consume stuff. Then a switch will flip, and suddenly I'm bored with everything and just want to CREATE something. Usually creative stuff is more exciting to work on, since you have the added pleasure of learning the ropes.

My wife seems to be similarly possessed, enjoying nothing more than making jewelry, novelty desserts, etc.

Unfortunately, we're both cursed in that the pleasure of doing this creative stuff is almost completely one-sided. We enjoy making it, but very, very few people outside of immediate friends and family gives a darn. Unless you are blessed with a small ego and able to disregard what people think of your work--that is, you're satisfied just doing it for yourself--it can be frustrating if not depressing. Also, the more creative it is, the bigger the risk you take, the worse it is when you get ignored or bashed.

At any rate, one reason I think one-paragraph stories or even one-sentence stories are good is that they are so short. Most people look at them and say, why not? By the time you start reading one, you're done. That's a LOT different than sticking a novel up online and asking people to read that. They'll keep saying, "A novel? I don't have time for that," etc. In theory, if you could build up a name for yourself writing short short stories, you could build up an audience for full size short stories, and then novels. In reality, that's not going to happen unless you're either extremely talented, extremely persistent, extremely lucky, or (most likely) some combination of all three.

n/a
Bill Loguidice
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Preach on!
Matt Barton wrote:

I find I go through phases of consumption and creation. I might go through a period where all I want to do is play games, read books, watch movies--consume stuff. Then a switch will flip, and suddenly I'm bored with everything and just want to CREATE something. Usually creative stuff is more exciting to work on, since you have the added pleasure of learning the ropes.

I am the same way. I think it's related to burnout and needing to recharge one's batteries. When I'm heavily involved in a project or projects - say, writing a book or two - I get just to the point of being overwhelmed and absolutely positively look forward to, crave and in fact need the break that follows. Once enough time passes I find in turn that I positively look forward to, crave, and in fact need that next big project. It's a vicious cycle in a way, sort of an abusive relationship with one's self, but I don't think I'd have it any other way.

I look at prolific creators like an Isaac Asimov or Stephen King and sometimes get jealous. One thing I'm not is a fast writer most of the time and it sometimes takes monumental effort to get my ass into gear. Certainly the amount of available distractions doesn't help. I'm never, ever bored, which also probably doesn't help. I imagine it would have been easier if I lived in a time before all this wonderful technology, but then who knows if I would have been in a similar position in terms of the creative opportunities.

As soon as the Xbox 360 beta is released, which could be as early as next week, Christina and I will need to re-write our Xbox 360 book for Que. We also recently finished two articles for them on the Xbox 360 to bridge the gap (I hope they get them published soon before they become out of date). We're also working on "Top Secret Armchair Arcade Project #1", of course, and then there's always the documentary looming in the background. I also am painfully slowly working my way through GameMaker HTML5, in the hopes of cranking out some games. All that with the full-time day job, family, working out, etc., and I STILL feel like I'm not doing enough, though I must say, it TRULY has been a pleasure getting to play some actual games every once in a while. That I think above all else has helped re-spark my creative fires.

n/a
Matt Barton
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One thing about coding games

One thing about coding games is just how intense it can be. It's sorta like the great CRPGs were back in the day, when it was all new (to you) and you marshaled ALL of your brainpower into playing them. I find that there are very few games that can do that to me now, mostly because they are too similar and don't offer substantially new gameplay that requires that kind of focus. I think one thing big games miss out on is that they don't put players out of their comfort zones, forcing them to learn a new system. Of course the risk is that the system had better be worth learning. But if it's done well, say the better CIV games, you don't mind that it's different than the previous games and really enjoy learning how the new rules work and apply.

One thing I find really intoxicating about Gamemaker is that it's similar to good ol' BASIC and such--you can usually see the results of a line of code right away. It's really exciting to change something and be able to see the result right away. It's rather like playing a game in and of itself, sort of the ultimate sandbox.

My plan is to make a few more complete games with it, then move on to something more professional, such as Unity. I know the leap from 2D to 3D is going to be extremely difficult, though.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Creativity is alwasy fun for

Creativity is alwasy fun for the creator. I have made tons of maps from DOOM, to Dungeon Master to recently L4D. 95% of anything I have done has never seent he light of day. Back in the Fred Fish (amiga) days I had one of my S.E.U.C.K games on a disc (and some fan mail)... and before anybody asks.. no.. age has (or 20 years of to much boozing) made that memory to hazy.. i cant remeber the name (it was a WW I plane comabt game) anymore. And getting on a PCgamer CD with Quake2 levels (borg-Start Trek) conversion that was FOXED later whre both high points. Also Some art in some regional Fanzines. A very Limited run comic book (which taught be a page of art easy, 20 pages of it MASSIVELY HARD TO DO). All small time, but very cool when you get some recognition. I cant imagine what you guys get (just accomplising it) for the books you have done. I think I fancy myslef a wanna be writer as I have about 3 stories I work on every few nights. I had a setback with a lost HD about a year ago that wiped out about 200+ pages. I wasnt goign to start over, but have. Sadly the CONAN istic story is lost and while I could rewrite alot of it, I have moved to a Sci Fi story and to Indulge my inner dark side (and pay homage to my favorite TV show DEXTER) a story of a serial killer done like his Diary (yes smacks of outright rip off of Dexter I know), and yes enen anotehr Sword and babe story too.. I find my mind wanders to much to confine to one.. I just wish my best ideas didnt coem when i was far away from my computer, and when I sit to type Im about as blank as a new piece of paper. Not to mention unlike you attached people (who even have more to work around).. I have a gaming TV addiction that I spend to much time on.

As for game programing You are on the right track (not that Im any guide so to speak) but looking at todays games and planning on doing something like them is just a crushed dream waiting to happen. Making something in the easiest to use format and moving up slowly is the way to go. hard to do as most ideas are hampered with lesser tools sometimes. But In my mind, if you cant make something interesting with limited tools, polishing up with robust tools is just not worth the time. Matts first game showed some orginality I think and I am interested in seeing his next one.

Personally im a huge shooter fan and would like to see some upgrades SUECK engine, I know gamemaker and many other can do this failry easy, but I want to consintrate on the art and let the game engine do the work just oto build up to some more stuff.

Matt Barton
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I'm really excited about my

I'm really excited about my new game (just referring to it as Game X at the moment). I'm still working out the kinks, but I think it's going to be more fun than Mayhem, which I still like (eventually need to go back and clean up that code, maybe redo the graphics). It is a big learning process even with Gamemaker. So many things to consider and figure out how to do. One thing's for sure, Game X is playing like nothing I've seen before. As before, there are elements of earlier games, but I've never seen them combined and configured like this. It's fascinating just to watch.

I am really going to need help with the art, though. It's just simple graphics (640 by 480 and 32/32 sprites), but I think it's more than I can do with my pathetic artistic skills. I guess I'm going to have to find some place to study how to do decent looking sprites. I can't believe how badly I suck at it.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
art
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm really excited about my new game (just referring to it as Game X at the moment). I'm still working out the kinks, but I think it's going to be more fun than Mayhem, which I still like (eventually need to go back and clean up that code, maybe redo the graphics). It is a big learning process even with Gamemaker. So many things to consider and figure out how to do. One thing's for sure, Game X is playing like nothing I've seen before. As before, there are elements of earlier games, but I've never seen them combined and configured like this. It's fascinating just to watch.

I am really going to need help with the art, though. It's just simple graphics (640 by 480 and 32/32 sprites), but I think it's more than I can do with my pathetic artistic skills. I guess I'm going to have to find some place to study how to do decent looking sprites. I can't believe how badly I suck at it.

http://www.natomic.com/hosted/marks/mpat/ very simple quick pixel art page (long time since it was updated.. very short but good stuff) I had about 10 more links but ... i see none are active anymore, but a quick google shows a ton.

Anonymous (not verified)
i think that 'INSPIRATION' by

i think that 'INSPIRATION' by Davy Kelly is the most interesting

Ren (not verified)
Wow I love them all! My fav

Wow I love them all! My fav was love rings twice :3

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