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Summer Camp 2022 Reading Challenge

I had an excellent time this year with Summer Camp, and unlike previous years, I'm not feeling at all burned out despite going for Diamond and succeeding.   My hope for the next few months is to go through what I've written in previous years and do some significant editing and polishing of articles. This will also help me familiarize myself with all those half forgotten articles from 2 years ago. So the thing I'm most looking for with this challenge is ways to improve the presentation of my articles - it's something I'm not very good at. To this end, I've picked out articles from 3 people who I know put a good deal of work into the presentation of their articles (one for each prompt) as well as another 2 articles for each prompt that just sounded interesting.  

Prompt 1: "A technology lost, forgotten or shrouded in mystery."

I picked this prompt because as someone who studied engineering, I've gotten very used to pretty long winded, detailed descriptions of technologies. This is very useful for engineering, but it doesn't make for a particularly engaging read. This prompt seemed like it would lean toward having more terse and intriguing sorts of descriptions.  
Theiket is always very good at keeping his articles terse and mysterious, so I thought he'd be a good choice for this prompt - and I was not disappointed. The leading quote makes for an excellent hook, and as Theiket's articles show, doesn't rely on having a robust cast of established NPCs to be quoted. And closing the article with an interesting narrative element leaves you something to ponder.
This is my first time reading one of Bob's articles, and while this is definitely a much more technical article and it lacks pictures, the excellent use of columns to balance out the subheadings for the description is really neat, and just having the columns break things up in general improves readability.
Riverfang's article formatting is pretty restrained, but makes excellent use of the sidebar - a thing I rarely manage to do. I also greatly appreciate the idea of limiting this technology to a species that doesn't have much in the way of magical prowess. It goes a long way to making the balance of power more believeable, while at the same time introduces an interesting alternate narrative mystery. It's a good way to replace what could be seen as a plot hole with something that is clearly a deliberate mystery on the part of the author.
 

Prompt 2: "A species considered monstrous by some."

Species are another prompt type I find I struggle with a bit. I often struggle with physical descriptions in particular - as someone with aphantasia, I have trouble conjuring what an imaginary creature looks like. So I picked one of the more evocative prompts to see what people came up with.
Qurillon's opening paragraph immediately grabs one with an almost impressionistic style of physical description, blending in their size and ferocity into a narrative that hints at how they move and what makes them so dangerous. My writing tends to feel fairly academic when it comes to physical descriptors, or at least it feels academic to write them. One day I hope to develop a more fluid style of description closer to what Q uses here.
Rumengol's article is quite long - they clearly had a good deal of inspiration for these Leviathans - but they manage to keep the article engaging through a generous set of pictures, segments of the article quoting specific characters like Rationalist Krevvl to break up monotony. This is an inspiring example of how to make a long article one that is a joy to read, and not the dry slog it could have been.
And here we have an extremely imaginative article by Revyera. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I clicked on a monstrous species article called "Hangman's Tree," but it certainly wasn't this. This one is a reminder to think outside of the box when coming up with ideas, because the things you find can be quite surprising, and the unique results one comes up with are a big part of what sets a world apart.
 

Prompt 3: "A building associated with governance, leadership or change."

For these articles, I thought it would be interesting to look at a set of three articles with very similar topics, to compare how different writers approach the same general topic. These are not only the same prompt, but they're all the same kind of take on it: important libraries and places of learning.
Amélie does something really cool with her Divine Tyranny articles - everything I've read has been from the perspective of a particular archivist - I particularly like the Opinion from the Archives that closes each article. This keeps the narration rooted in the world in a way I tend to struggle with with my more omniscient style. I don't think a single narrator character would work for all of Irion, but having sections or whole articles written in the perspective of a specific character might be a good idea.   I notice while reading this article that it spends much of its time discussing the social factors (and religious connections) that make the building important, which makes the article more engaging than a dry discussion of the building's structure, itself.
Illumiinae's article is interesting and well written, but in its current form it seems very focused on the idea of the top floor's museum-like display area. Here, that kind of focus is used to good effect, but it reminds me of several articles where I've been similarly or even more single minded more or less by accident, which probably results in articles that are far too imbalanced.
Shadowphoenix conveys a sense of warmth and comfort in their description of the library, giving more of an impression of how it feels to be in the place rather than giving a clear picture of the location or trying to paint a verbal map of the layout.
 

Summary

In conclusion, I've found a number of things I'd like to try to incorporate into my writing. I have a tendency to be long winded in my writing, which I found works a lot better in articles that find ways to break up the walls of text: columns, quotes, images, etc. I've learned an interesting technique to convert a mystery that might be considered a plot hole and push people out of immersion into one that further deepens the lore and draws a reader in, and I've seen that a surprising, outside-the-box idea can be quite engaging. I've seen uses of much more fluid styles of description than I can generally pull off, the use of character perspectives to write sections or whole articles. And I've seen how 3 different writers can come up with 3 very different approaches to describing what could honestly almost be the same building, just focusing on different aspects: social connections, a public display space, and the general feel of being in a place...all while avoiding giving detailed descriptions of exact layouts or materials used.  

Shelfie

I don't really use Social Media these days, so I won't be formally entering the prize draw. However, I am happy to share my shelfie with the people of World Anvil. For those wondering about the contents of the display shelf at the top right, I have a bronze Governor General's Award for Academic Achievement (for graduating with the grade average in my high school), a bull figurine given by my brother and his significant other from Peru, a bullet lighter that was once a keepsake of my late grandfather's from his service in WWII, an engraved letter opener I gave to my late grandmother in 2007, a dice cup from Mexico that also belonged to my grandfather, and a Chinese figurine bought in the Forbidden City by a good friend of mine from university. Not captured in the shot is a nickel that was minted the same year my father was born that I came across in pocket change several years ago and some silver coins minted to commemorate the 1976 Olympic Games held in Montreal.
by Rashkavar

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Comments

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5 Aug, 2022 04:33

The focus on the archives was actually done deliberately; since it was written for a prompt about governance, leadership, and change, it made the most sense to me to emphasize the part which justifies the building's relevancy to governance and leadership and makes it not just an ordinary library.

Rashkavar
Rashkavar
6 Aug, 2022 03:24

I thought that might be the case - I quite liked how you handled it. It's just that the focus made me think of some of the articles I've done where I've gotten really interested in one aspect of a topic and went past focus mode into tunnel-vision mode, and did so completely by accident.   I didn't mean it to come across as a harsh criticism of your work, and I'm sorry it did so.

Rashkavar
Rashkavar
6 Aug, 2022 03:28

Having reread the segment in question, it definitely came off as harsher than I had intended. I've now reworded it to make it more clear that the criticism is focused on my own articles and not your library/archives article.

6 Aug, 2022 16:43

Well rounded, well thought out insight on all the articles you read. I went through and read them as well.   Your conclusion was a frank and concise reflection that I appreciate, I am sure all the writers who you sampled appreciated your thoughts on their articles and how they applied to your own writing.