Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » WotF book prize challenge ENTRIES

   
Author Topic: WotF book prize challenge ENTRIES
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This thread is for the opening lines for the latest challenge. If you would like to know more, check this link


http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum7/HTML/000178.html

Please do not post here (at least until the end of the voting process). The deadline to send me entries for this challenge is Sept. 30 th.

Enjoy!

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited September 12, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 1 Cusp

Moss leaned his staff against a rock jutting from the cliff like a boil. The wind stirred the dust, making swirling devils in the road, whispered through the wayside rocks and joined in with the old man's moans.
"What happened here?" Moss said, leaning forward to shade the old man from the worst of the midday sun. He tried to keep his voice soft, but he needed answers. When someone got beaten bloody on his road then he wanted to know why.
He pulled a cloth from his pocket and used it to wipe the blood from the man's face. Wild eyes looked up at him and the broken mouth trembled, dribbling blood flecked spittle over the stubbled chin. Thin hands grasped at Moss', shaking with the
rest of the skinny, half starved frame. "He got me." The voice


comments

Interesting. The writing was beautiful, almost poetic, and I did really like Moss’s character. I am left a bit confused.

* * *

Nice and creepy. I like the tone and the story. I was hooked to the end, but I still wasn’t sure what happened.

* * *

There is some good imagery in this story but some of the descriptions and sentence structure at the start did put me off.
I had two issues later on – I thought Moss was going home and sending a cart back for the dead man, but then he said he was hunting a murderer. The other issue was the suddenness of strange happenings without explanation. If you send Moss following a suspect’s footprints up a trail he’s never noticed before, I think you can bring him to Cusp more subtly, but maintain the strangeness and tension. Entice us and surprise us, like you do at the end. The finish to this story is good. I really liked it.
One nit - When a character asks a question in dialogue, I think you should use, he asked- instead of, he said.

* * *

This was an interesting tale. Moss was well characterized and likeable. The descriptions were written almost poetically. I wonder though if too much description slowed the story down (if it’s not important to the story then I don’t need to know everything on the shelves etc). I would have liked the explanation of events, the old man on the road, and the two at the general store, the meaning of the pearl to be more blunt so I could really see the connection clearly. Overall, nicely done.

* * *

This one I found overwritten. It needs trimming, about 20% off the top. I had an issue with the constable. He wasn’t very inquisitive for a lawman. Why wouldn’t he asked questions on how the inn got there? He wasn’t very suspicious for a man investigating a murder out in the middle of nowhere.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 2 Life and Darkness


I never really liked my neighbors, so I wasn't sad to see them go. When the for sale sign went up, I daydreamed about the new family that would move in next door. Hopefully they would have a girl just my age, and she would go with me to the parties I was never invited too, or at least be as dorky as I was and stay home from those dumb parties and listen to Carol King with me.
Or secretly, so secretly I didn't even want to admit it to myself, maybe the new neighbor would be a boy.
But I digress.
It wasn't a new friend, or even a new boy, that moved in. It was this creepy old guy with an ancient motorcycle and unwashed hair. And he didn't have any kids.
I remember I was eating Cheerios when he pulled into the


comments

I was looking forward to this one based on the first 13, but I was disappointed. I liked the premise, but in the end I ended up skimming a lot. There are lots of tense changes, telling and passive sentences. I didn't really learn anything about the character, there was no development at all.
Grammar and word usage were a problem too and there were quite a few instances of nonsensical phrases, such as being surprised at not hearing plants grow, not saying anything but words coming out all the same.
One particular line stood out for me. "I know it sounds crazy, but it was true." If I'd been shown that then I wouldn't have had to be told it.

* * *


I would have preferred the MC's sex coming out a bit sooner. It was unisexual as I settled into the reading. I felt the story arc was complete, but it didn't move me, although the story had more speculative promise than the hook indicated. The plot needed another character. The sky-eyed boy was more of a plot device than a character.
I felt myself not being able to completely grasp the importance of what was going on. I wasn't, at first, aware that the boy controlled the MC. In retrospect, rather than be intriqued, I wondered if the girl would be afraid of a boy who could completely control her actions. I think this effort could be tightened a bit as the action takes place so late in the story.
THe writing was fine and the characterization of the girl was good and brought me, as a reader, into the story as intended.

* * *

This story established a wonderful voice early on. There was an interesting combination developed between detailed POV observations (sensate) and distilled yet childlike analysis. The occasional reference to her parents, particularly to distill certain information for her, range very true to a character of that age. It also had a reasonable ending for what came before. However, I thought that the middle dragged a bit. I felt that there were two reasons behind this. Firstly, there was insufficient suspense or tension created to drive the story through. It needs something to motivate her to enter the shed, something more than curiosity. Perhaps another character, a little brother or a timid friend, could provide such a motivation, e.g. via a dare, enticed bravado, etc. Secondly, the voice died a bit, by becoming too sensate and immediate and not distilling enough information for the reader. Keep the voice going strong through to the end.

* * *

The voice of the MC is very likeable and consistent and is what served as the main initial hook for me. You managed to build tension with the watching and waiting, but it eventually bogged things down and I would cut some of it to improve the pace. My biggest problem with the story is that other than telling off the MC's dad, the neighbours have not actually done anything to make them categorically malevolent as they are portrayed. Maybe I'm biased because one of the nicest and hardest working guys I know has tattoos on his throat. Also, it wasn't clear where the possessing power that allowed the MC to chase off the tattoo guys with a song came from, or why this power stuck around to mow the grass. More time could have been spent in the confrontation between the MC and the tattoo guys and less in the lead-up. The trigger is met with the phrase "not in the flesh" and the carving of the boy's flesh.

* * *

I found problems with spelling, grammar, sentence structure, use of cliches, inappropriate word choice, run-on sentences, repetitions that detracted from my enjoyment of the story, particularly in the beginning. This somewhat improved later in the manuscript.

The trigger “not in the flesh” is present 2/3 of the way into the tale. However, I found it more of a forced addition that an integral part of the story –- i.e. it is not an essential element, and I found it only created confusion. Was she still in the tree and her “spirit” was in the shed? Was she a ghost? Was she somehow a spirit of the tree or with the tree?

Similarly, while I found much to like in the improved description and imagery of the neighbor's yard and the ritual cavern under the shed once the protagonist leaves the tree, the story has too many unanswered questions to be satisfying to me. Who were these people? What is the purpose of their rituals and the tattoos? What possessed the girl to disrupt the ceremony and why?

Thanks for the opportunity to read and critique your story. Though I found much I believe needs work, I also found an imaginative spirit (no pun intended) seeking his/her voice.

* * *

This story would be better if tightened. The protag was awfully chatty. I wasn’t clear what happened when the girl came upon the boy in the cave. Why did she sing that tune and if she wasn’t ‘there’ where was she?
Confused, that’s how it left me.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 3 Letting Go of an Electric Blue Soda


My parents were biological Luddites. Were, because of course they died in their ignorance long ago. And the violence of their protest was not some inconsequential industrial sabotage; it was wreaked on the flesh of their own children: Down’s Syndrome, cerebral-palsy, diabetes, schizophrenia. No reprieve of gene therapy, no implanted augmentations, and of course no mental download under their care. But that was more than three hundred years ago and today is the celebration of a new life.
Today I will meet my daughter.
More than five years of anticipation have made me jittery with pent up excitement, but maybe that’s just the extra energy of Lilia’s consciousness riding shotgun on my neural pathways. Her laughter sparkles behind my eyes.

comments

I love this story. It took me a while to understand it, but by the end, the heart of the story really captured me. I would still ditch the first paragraph, or else implement the information gradually throughout the story. Also when you first mention Lilia talking I thought she was the daughter. You might want to mention my wife lilia in the first sentence. But nice. Good.

* * *

I liked this story. It kept me reading to the end. My only critique is that it felt a little preachy

* * *

This story lived up to its initial promise. I loved it. It is an interesting concept told in a clear way. The relationship between the two characters, and their devotion to their new child, is strongly shown.
Nits –
From the first few paragraphs, I thought Lilia was the daughter’s name.
I don’t feel comfortable with the laughing reaction near the end
The last line doesn’t quite do it for me - Close, but not quite.
I think you did a great job with this story – well done.

* * *

Very smooth writing makes this easily read and pictured. Good storyline and meaning. Very creative with the different forms the humans have taken. I’m having a hard time finding much to quibble with.

* * *

I found it fascinating. Loved everything about it. I've had a not-so-similar situation in my life.

* * *


Loved this story. A beautiful prose, compelling protagonist, and vivid yet strange future.
Intriguing how humanity has changed into an interchangeable bio-tech being. I thought the MC’s reaction of his daughters blight to the doctors that were more like appliance salesmen than was appropriate.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 4 The Sentience of a Stone

I know I am a stone. I think once, I was more. My tough, misshapen husk constricts me, as if unable to hold all I should be, and I wonder what came before.
I explore my shell with magic, thinking to find a clue. My carbon composition runs rich with minerals and my heart is a diamond. For a moment, I am distracted. I retrieve a memory of creatures coveting such things and do not know how large I am to withstand an attack. If I break apart, how will I find a way back? Now, I know fear.
Rain hits my surface and that triggers a memory: I watched rain once, dappling the surface of a stone from light to dark. I had eyes, then. How can a stone have eyes? The answer comes to me: Once, I was a man.


comments

Very well written, a good story. I normally hate first person present but this was smooth and easy to read. Unfortunately I could find no hint of either of the triggers in there at all.

* * *

I wondered what kind of mineral a brain might be? Silicon? I liked the idea of this one as an interesting interpretation of the trigger. The stone musings I felt were the strength of the story. The plot was not as strong. Basically the rock wakes up, tries to get the kitty organic again and then his master turns him into a rock. Not much point to that. Did the MC change? Other than rock to human to rock? Did he obtain any growth as a function of the story? He's regretful, but there is no redemption and I think that hurt the story's effect.
You might try and change the ending. Perhaps with some conflict where the MC needs to make a decision of some kind that will change his life and at that moment, the story ends. Even as you finally ended it could work with a bit more while the MC is gaining his human form and learning about something. Mortality, forgiveness, the error of arrogance, something other than 'oops'. it's a great start in search of a final conflict.

* * *

Now this was incredibly beautiful prose. That alone kept me reading and enjoying. And it also set up high expectations for the story. I felt, however, that the story fell flat. Firstly, Redger’s change in heart, which brought about his shame for his tormenting actions, occurred off-screen, probably before the story started. So that key element in the character arc was missing. Secondly, Fergakan is set up as a person with masterly control. However, when we finally see him, all we see is an uncontrolled rage, which seemed quite out of character. These points combined to make this a less than satisfactory story and it seemed instead to be a writing exercise.

* * *

A nice piece of flash with a full story arc IMO, although it could use a bit of tightening up. The writing flows well, but the odd technical error is yet to be edited out. The poetic voice feels appropriate to the fantasy setting and "gifted" MC. Was the A-B-B-A rhyming pattern in your fist paragraph intentional? There probably could have been less time spent thinking in stone form and more time in the living world. I liked your title when it was paired with only the first 13, but I think it doesn't match the theme of the story as a whole. Perhaps something along the lines of "The Regret of a Stone" (or something totally different)? Very clearly related to the In the Flesh trigger.

* * *

The trigger was easily recognizable as “Not in the Flesh.”
I desired to know more about all your characters, the apprentice, the cat, the wizard. Perhaps more memories of their interactions to give each character depth and a reason for their reactions and emotional responses. There is just not enough present for me to relate to or care about –- but I can see where I would.

* * *

I rather like this one. It was just the right voice, pace, and tone. However, the story was too thin. I would have liked more. With all the build up I found myself disappointed with the results. I did like that last line, though.


[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 5 The Way Station

My eyes popped open looking upwards at blackened beams supporting a white plastered ceiling. I felt cold stone beneath my back and other than that I couldn't recall my identity or my location.
Confusion ruled my mind. I rose to my bare feet and felt the thin linen gown that covered my body. I was alone in mind and in fact. The room was large. Like an inn, tables and benches littered the floor. A fire burned in the large fireplace. Torches burned in large black iron chandeliers and in wall sconces.
No openings relieved the stone walls. My wits dimly told me that there was no way for me to enter or to leave this place.


comments

By the end I loved it. I wish there was more evidence to like the POV Character near the beginning. I like the theme and the message of the story, and I like the idea very much, but I think it is in need of a revision. I think a story of this size should have less than 10 question marks. I suggest have him activily search for information instead of wondering passively. I hope this helps.

* * *

The mystery of the story kept me reading to the end. I wish the MC had done a little more though. The end was nice but it didn’t quite reach the emotional impact that it was trying for. I think because I didn’t know the son or care about him so it didn’t matter to me where he went. Also I didn’t care that much about the MC probably because he was just an observer during the whole thing. I did enjoy reading it.

* * *

The writing is clear but I’m not sure if all the relationships and motivations work in this story.
The king is honorable but everyone else is greedy and murderous. He is the king; surely he would have sorted them out sooner. Collum goes from a spoilt betrayer to remorseful son too quickly. I understand a parent wanting to fight for a son, but this would come with a lot more grief at his betrayal and the emotion didn’t come through. Why would he want to fight for the others?
I wasn’t keen on the king wondering if he was a ghost. Show us what he is.
-Waking up three times in a short story is more than a hard sell and I think you made your job more difficult by having your character know nothing at the start.
The story idea is interesting and can come through if you work on a few things.

* * *

This story had a good message; there was a lot to be discovered as it unfolded. The short sentences seemed to have a lot of telling (‘Anger overcame me prompting me to make fists’) and left me feeling detached. Nice job. In a longer format I bet it would come out even better.

* * *

Wonderful emotional writing. I could feel all of them in the story. It spoke to me as a father.

* * *

I thought this was a good story. I enjoyed it. It could have used a bit more clarity of what was happening at the start, and perhaps a bit of trimming after that, but I still liked it. Not too bad in my book.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 6 The Recorder


"Even the last, so-called, 'World War' ten years ago was boring!" The young man said to himself throwing his arms above his head. "War was declared by one faction country on another extremist country, threats were issued, insults hurled, and then the World Peace Organization blew up both countries without warning as a lesson to both of them, and that was that! Took about three days. Boring! Nothing newsworthy about that stuff at all. Death tolls are so passé."
Jerinaldo Empiros Darvinhongher sat in the downstairs coffee shop of his apartment building and mumbled sullenly to himself. "It must have been so much easier back in the old days to come up with an original story to write about. Things were pretty much cut and dry back then," he supposed and cradled his tired


comments


I found this to be very rambling. There is not enough detail about what two countries were at war. There are over 2000 words before we get the name of one country, we never get the other.

* * *

There's an awful lot of info dump and the characters are pretty flat, though you did a good job with Jerry. By the time I'd finished I wanted to smack him in the mouth. For a start he flat out refused to believe anything that was said to him. I couldn't understand just what was compelling this android to tell his story to what can only be described as an arrogant, rude <insert profanity here>?
I was also confused about when this all took place. The woman seemed to suggest 50 years or so ago, than android just under 300.
Couldn't see the triggers anywhere.

* * *

This story ended up much stronger than the opening. I ended up enjoying this story more than I expected to. I think the opening could begin by being thrown into proximity of the old woman and the android could get the story moving more briskly. As it is, the opening ended up as a barrier to entry. Peter is a very intriguing character. I'd like a bit more of the old woman as well to show how smart she is. Perhaps she can answer the question the MC asks when Peter pipes up.
Peter is the story's strength and I liked the way you wrote him. I wasn't so sure about the 'heaven' aspect of the story. I think you could strip that out and the plot, characters and setting remains intact. I put in non-essential elements all the time that need a bit of trimming. The bit about Pom Din Satt ate up a lot of words that could be tightened up as well. Perhaps give them to more discussion with the old lady.
A good job with this story.

* * *

I was disappointed with this story. There was little of the satire or political intrigue that the beginning had promised. I wanted to know more about why the war occurred, what were the real differences between what history stated and what really happened, and what were the unique roles and decisions of the two real protagonists – Peter and Evelyn. I didn’t really care about Jerry’s characterization, despite parts that were well done, because his story was mundane and largely irrelevant when compared with the story of the other two characters. It could even have been told without him.

* * *

Some interesting ideas here (the recorder, information control etc), but also a lot of problems. There is a lot of room for improvement in characterization. For example IMO Evelyn Duhanisburg did not speak like a highly educated formerly influential person and if this was changed her character would be both more believable and more interesting. The MC himself is thoroughly annoying, which I gather is on purpose, but he needs some redeeming qualities for the reader to engage with him. It is hard to believe that Jerry considers his society perfect when he has so much frustration over the nature of his job and job security. All of the characters' motivations are only lightly touched upon: dig deeper! The plot itself is disjointed and the end was not satisfying to me. The last two sentences were extremely cheesy. The story appears to be loosely related to the In the Flesh trigger (as in Mrs. Duhanisburg experienced world events in the flesh?)?

* * *

It did take me time to find the trigger. But Peter was recognizable first, and later Evelyn, as “Not in the Flesh.”
I found problems with sentence structure, grammar, run-on sentences, and wordiness. I recommended reading a story aloud to assess for how it sounds and flows.
While I like the plot and the characters, and the world-depicted, I found the story too long for its elements. It would be more effective, and hold my attention better, if it was much shorter.
The one element that did not fully work for me, but I liked, was the pseudo-mystical element of Peter as an “angel of Death” come for Evelyn. Not sure how to correct this except by including in the earlier study how in addition to there being no news anymore, also no religion. What would angels be like in Jerry's 1984-ish Metropolis-like ordered society? Well... like Peter.

* * *

Odd way to dump to information. The MC just blurts his self-absorbed complaints in public. I thought there were too many adverbs and their seemed to be a few POV switches. Jerry also changes his opinion rather quickly. I think this story needs an overhaul to work but I do believe it has promise.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 7 Remoting


The array’s in position. The links should be in place within an hour.” Jean’s sweet voice came directly to my earphones. I had once considered making a visual avatar, but in space it seemed pointless – her voice was enough of a distraction and I could well imagine her expressions.
“Starting image grabbing now,” I said. I switched my view to the hub camera. The six-barrel railgun, the center of an invisible array, floated several meters away, reflecting the sun’s dim light. I adjusted the vision to overlay the motes; micron-sized “smart” particles that streamed out from the railgun – the end ones near light speed and later ones at reduced velocities. By now they were reorienting themselves into a network, communicating by laser, as they spread. Photon

comments

This hard science story has really strong characterization. There’s a lot that is very good about the story. Hard science stories aren’t my taste, but you made the story enjoyable even to me.

* * *

I felt like the beginning was too technical and it went on for too long. It made it hard to get into the story. You may want to start with them in the flesh and explaining what they do to the cousin and then show them doing it. I thought you had some good parts with Jean and having him lose her just as he learns she loves him.

* * *

Although the start did not hook as well me as it could have, the main part of the story did.
It is well written and the characters are strong. Your movement between the two environments is smooth.
I do like sci fi but some bits come over too much like an info dump for my tastes.
I’m not sure about the end. She likes him - so is keeping his feelings back really a gift? It gave me one reaction – MEN!
I enjoyed this story.

* * *

Interesting concept. There was a lot of technical stuff to explain, but you did a good job at it. The relationship storyline was well interspersed and it kept my interest. There were a few words out of place such as gripped teeth and bazaar instead of bizarre. If you had more space expanding on the star being born would be good.

* * *

This is solid science fiction. Nice piece although it read familiar to something I read in the past. Nevertheless, I thought this was well thought out and well written. In fact, I think this would have a decent shot at a place like Analog.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 8 Life In The Flesh


Heat thundered from the shuttle’s engines in sweltering waves over the desert floor. Nahen threw the bucket beside the village well and scrambled toward the ship descending on his scattering flock. His feet could not carry him fast enough as Mishi, slowed by the weight of her unborn, labored to escape. The shuttle ground itself into the soil, Mishi pinned at the hindquarters under its bulk. With a groan the boy dropped beside the struggling ewe, dust settling like a shroud about them.
“Peace Mishi,” he whispered. Blood soaked her beautiful coat, rivulets feeding the dry soil. He ran a trembling hand over her distended belly. “It won’t hurt much longer. You’ll pass to the new life with your young. Soon.”
His reassuring murmurs drowned under a metallic scree as the


comments


I'm not sure how the first scene and the second relate to each other. They seem to be about the same characters and the same time, but the events don't seem to match. I think you are trying to look at the same thing from two diffent viewpoints but you end up a shifting POV that just confuses. It also needs a good proof reading, there are a few typos in there.
Other than that I really liked the story and the pace. The descriptions were good and the characters believeable.

* * *

This had a good story arc and a good moral. The concepts of afterlife was intertwined well with the story and the writing was fine and the setting worked well.
The character of Casjen perhaps was a bit weaker than it should have been. The self-sacrifice element made the story stronger at the end, although it left me with a purposeless feel rather than a sense of loss. When he finally capitulates he goes all hollow inside. What does he do with his belief and with his knowledge? Is he so programmed? What does the collapse of his body mean? Does he lose his soul there and then? What do the immortals do with the rotten death sac? I wondered about the last phrase: 'Stars winked into a velvet sky'. I had no clue what it meant. Was he about to enter into his video game again? If that is, the phrase is too weak to carry the ending in my opinion or you'll have to expand the final phrase to start the action of the ships or just eliminate the game in both places. I don't think it integrates well with the story, anyway, IMHO.
I liked the tone of the story and it did indeed take me to this other world.

* * *

This was a pretty good story by the end. It had an arc that satisfied, and was an excellent take on the trigger. I thought the change in POV at the start was unnecessary, creating room for confusion and disappointment that you didn’t go back to that POV later. Either use a single POV completely or engage us with more of Nahen’s POV. I also thought that the initial death skin scene needs better emphasis, given the meaning of it to the rest of the story. At the moment, it comes hot off an action scene and I was too busy contemplating the effects of Casjen’s injuries to understand what was happening. It would work better if the fight was after the ewe‘s death. However, good story nonetheless.

* * *

I originally didn't like the first 13 for this one, because I was skeptical about the sheep staying alive for any length of time with a shuttle on top of it, but now I see why that was necessary to the plot. I still think that if the shuttle wasn't powered by hot rocket engines the opening would be more believable. Once I got into the story I found it very engaging and enjoyable. Your characters were believable and likeable. That Casjen would ultimately have a change of heart was a bit predictable, but how this would happen and what his fate would be remained up in the air until the actual climax/resolution. Nice job. You also did a good job of showing-not-telling IMO. Scenes with action (falling, fighting etc) could be clearer though. The choice between physical "immortality" and spiritual immortality, death skins etc was interesting and fit with the trigger well.

* * *

Well done. Some very professional-grade writing here, in my humble opinion. I hope you consider submitting it for publication.
The trigger was identifiable once you referenced that the Immortal Jo was “mechanical”.
I made some suggestions for your consideration to help make certain sentences scan better (mostly at the beginning of the tale. I find most of our fellows similarly have the greatest trouble with their beginnings. I wonder why?).
See comment that the mechanical nature of the Immortals should likely come with the appearance of Jo on the ship ramp. I needed more description of her, succinctly and inclusive of her part-mechanical nature at this point.
When the ewe gets her “death skin”, I would suggest a little more time be spent to describe it (a wonderful idea reinforced by the grandmother's cocoons, and the contrast the Immortal's putrid one in death).
I would be interested in reading more of your work.

* * *


The ping-pong POV switching threw me right out of the story. I had trouble identifying who was who and had to constantly backtrack. The ‘death skins’ I had difficulty grasping. There are two different and distinct technologies going on or do all living things just become encased in a death cocoon? What might have helped is setting this story on a planet not called Earth. This could be a decent steampunk story but it needs clarity to make it work.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 9 Hypothesis of Denial


Professor Allen Colgenston didn’t want to believe where he was but the soft velvet bedding on his backside, sweet fragrance of tulips in his nose, and somber conversation around him left little doubt.
I can’t be dead.
He could hear the people as they walked up to his coffin. Some would repeat the customary comments he would say whenever he attend a funeral -- “Such a loss,” “He will be missed,” and “So tragic.” Most would simply hover silently when near, not knowing what to say so choosing to say nothing instead. Whenever anyone came close enough, Allen would try – struggle – to move something, a finger, eyelash, corner of his mouth, anything so they could see what he wanted to scream out loud.


comments

as a believing religious person, I found the story too preachy for my taste. I think it almost worked, but should be trimmed about 500 words or so of the belaboring of the point. Yes, we know he's dead, but still alive, so his arguing is dead wrong. Which would be a good title for the story now that I think of it. It was ironic for about the first two pages, and then it started to make me uncomfortable. I don't know how an agnostic would feel if they read it. But I doubt they would want to finish it. I think if they made the preacher character a little more sympathetic, and the POV Character even slightly sympathetic that would improve the story tremendously. It seems like the story is looking down on the main character, like the point of the whole story is to say "Oh look at this idiot", but then the writer chose to make the character first person, so the attitude of "Oh look at this idiot" translates into "oh look how dumb my readers are", which is slightly off putting... as a reader. But the writing is really good, and the subject matter, while over labored in this draft is an interesting idea. And a horrifying idea at that. I just wish it wasn't so spelled out.

* * *

Well written and a good idea. A bit of proof reading is needed but over all the writing is sound. The story itself did not appeal to me, it seemed more of a theological debate than anything. I know this was meant to highlight the situation of Allen, but it made me skim quite a bit and quickly became boring. Not quite sure how it all related to the triggers either, though I suppose that there was death involved.

* * *

The awareness of death, thinking in the casket, not able to move is a bit of a cliche. This particular story doesn't progress quite far enough to overcome it. I think it would work better at a different point of view, if you are no longer bound by the trigger.
I really got confused when Bishop Stanwick stood at the casket. I forgot the MC's name and had to scroll up to get a bit more grounded. That stopped the flow of the story right there which shouldn't happen when you are trying to interleave an infodump with dialogue for the reader.
But after that, the discussion over Allen's body was a good one, especially when Tom admitted that he hoped for an afterlife. The ending didn't quite satisfy me, but then there's plenty of microscopic critters that promote rot in a corpse. Even dessication will destroy the tissue. My literal mind affected the impact of the ending, although I recognized the cleverness of it all.
In some respects, I'd rather Allen be brain dead in the hospital rather than in the coffin. There would be some chance for redemption, but as it is, there isn't even a hint at that and I think that fact cuts the story arc off a little prematurely.
I'd like a bit more separation of character between the three. They sort of read the same to me, despite the honorifics traded about. Allen was fine. I also wanted a tiny bit of conflict and plot. I, as the reader, waited for something to happen (the redemption thing being one alternative), but nothing did. That flattened the end for me, despite the rodent reflection.

* * *

This started out ok. The two ideas of observable attached souls and the agnostic views of the professor held a tension in themselves. However, it never really got resolved. Neither did the professor undergo any change. So after a while, the discussion felt like it was going nowhere, proving nothing more than the initial set up. While the very end was a little bit interesting, that didn’t really tie into what needed to be resolved in order to be a truly fascinating story.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 06, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 10 Living Room


We watched them have sex.
We were outside the living room looking in. Edith exhaled in something that was half-sigh and half-chuckle. “Isn't that sweet,” she said.
I snorted. “It's disgusting. They were barely in the room a minute before throwing off their clothes and shtupping like animals. It's a living room not a barnyard!”
“There was a time you couldn't wait to tip me on my back.”
“Hmmpf. That was different. We were married. And it was a long time ago… Look at that! We eat on that table!”

comments

After the death of the first girl I felt a disconnect. I think it was a bit of an info dump there. I wonder if you could simplify, slim it down, keep the character in the moment, as he thought. And if Edith can read his thoughts, can he read hers? Also, is there another set of, ghosts I guess for lack of a better word, who are watching them, kind of like the next at bat, and if so are they aware, and maybe self conscious at all about being watched? There is something very literary about this, this story is on a different level than the rest. It was just brilliant.
The room was 25 by 18 feet. The far wall had a row of four windows each partially concealed by curtains of white lace, their lower edges lifting gently in a breeze we could not feel.

* * *

The concept was interesting and I liked the couple. The beginning was too slow though. The description of the living room went on for too long until I started to tune it out because I didn’t know why I should care what the living room looked like. The end came in a rush of telling after such a long time of just watching a random couple.

* * *

I like the writing but I am having questions over the story. Where did the Maids come from? Who created the living room situation? Are there living humans left in the world? The big thing is, why?
My questions didn’t stop me enjoying the story but I am left to wonder about it all, and in more a frustrating way than a good way.
After the opening, the first section has rather a lot of description and will benefit from more showing rather than telling.
I hope this is of use. It is a good story.

* * *

I love the concept of this story. It’s very unique. But I think it was introduced too abruptly and too late in such a short story. Without foreshadowing of the rooms purpose and the people’s plight the murder and the info dump were jarring. It could be that the short format interfered with the blossoming a-ha moment. Great idea, solid writing.

* * *

This one was so cute. It reminds me of an old Jewish couple I know. I can hear the characters speaking in my head. Very well written.

* * *


This was the best written piece in the entire contest. The author knows his/hers stuff. The story took a turn I didn’t expect. Strange concept but told well enough for me to buy it. Nicely done.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Entry # 11 Beware the Fae

Marcus shook the quilt out while Shaina stood with the picnic basket hanging from her arm. The wind caught the quilt and spread it out in a purple and blue rectangle.
“Don’t you believe in anything?” Shaina asked. Her hair shone gold in the afternoon sunlight and her dress fluttered revealingly against her body.
“Only what I see.” He sat on the blanket while Shaina stood looking out over the cliff at the ocean below. The wind tasted of salt.
“But there’s so much you haven’t seen.”
Marcus shrugged. Shaina was too believing. He set the picnic basket down and started pulling out their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Shaina picked a yellow daisy and twirled it


comments


This was well written and there was nothing wrong that a little proof reading wouldn't fix. There are a few places where you've capitalised things that shouldn't be.
As for the story, it just didn't grab me, though the trigger was there and both main characters came across clearly.

* * *

I wanted to believe, I did. I did. In the end, I didn't. What were the fairies going to do with him? Why did the fairies bite him? Did the bite do something to him? I couldn't fathom the end. Others might, but not me. What's Marcus going to do with a wisp anyway?
The story moved along, from the foreshadowing of her funny beliefs to the walk in the forest. Once the hags showed up, the story sort of lost focus. Why did they have to travel so far to get to the bejeweled blanket? What was the significance of the Oak (in caps) tree? It was never stated. Why didn't Shaina glow as a wisp as she disappeared? I think this story has too many loose ends, however I do believe that they can be easily tied up. I'd cut down on the walk or eliminate it once they meet the hags. That would tighten things up nicely. I'd also want to know what the true nature of the fairies are. Why are they hags? It didn't make much sense other than that is their default human-sized manifestation. I bit of a hint for that would be nice.

The writing was good. Marcus's reaction to her mind-numbing technique also seemed right. The relationship could have been strengthened by more of an expression of Shaina's wonder that he loved her or something to the effect that it wasn't an enforced relationship. That would have made the story a bit stronger and made Shaina's betrayal all the more important.I’m not sure what to make of this story. It promised much at the beginning about the discourse between believers and skeptics – it didn’t deliver on that. It delivered a credible viewpoint of someone struck by a love spell, but never really prepared the reader for that. At times it waxed overly lovey-dovey, even repetitive with his wonder of her physical beauty, especially the eyes. By concentrating so much on Marcus viewpoint, it felt the main story arc and impact should have been with his character. It wasn’t, it was with Shaina’s character. And since so much of his viewpoint was under the spell, Shaina’s changes were somewhat offscreen and unknown to him and therefore us. As a result, I was left unsure about the reasons and the size and impact of Shaina’s change, despite the explanation at the end. I needed more reason to be sympathetic to her position in order to understand the extent of her sacrifice, and I need it early in the story.

* * *

This one didn't really work for me. Although the plot appeared to put the MC in mortal peril of some kind he was essentially passive throughout the conflict. I realise that he was incapacitated by a spell for a large part of the story, but regardless of the reason he made no pivotal decisions. It is Shaina's actions that bring Marcus into danger and her change of heart and sacrifice that produce the resolution. I would suggest rewriting the story from her perspective. Doing so would also allow you to include a lot more back-story about the world you've created and reasons behind why the fae are trying to 'get' Marcus. Marcus' thoughts and emotions are very straightforward as written currently, and Shaina's POV would likely be aware of them and able to convey them in the story. Also, Shaina's experience caught between the human and magical worlds has potential to be complex and interesting. I'm not a fan of the current title. The trigger is met by the phrase "Not in the flesh."

* * *

I found problems in sentence structure, grammar and punctuation, word choice, and always recommend reading a story aloud to sense its flow. I have humbly offered some suggestions for your consideration.
The trigger, “Not in the Flesh” is present in the ending.
I recognized early on, particularly as they entered the forest, that Shaina was a fae. This was neither the revelation, nor had the dramatic impact, that may have been intended. More importantly, was not the heart of the story.
The dramatic element of the story is the value in being human. Shaina is actually the story's main character, in that it is she alone who faces a personal challenge and is changed by it. She discovers the value of being human, for which she sacrifices herself, for him. I would like to see this rewritten with this element as the main focus of the story.
Thank you for the opportunity to read it.

* * *

This could use major trimming. Half the word count and it may have a shot somewhere. A major problem for me was I knew what the outcome of the piece would be way before I reached the end. Nevertheless, I think this has promise.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Even though I didn't ask for any, several of you sent your thoughts on the openings.

Entry 1: Cusp

I liked this. Nice crisp prose and clear. I already have a sense what is happening and am intrigued enough to want to keep reading. It’s not a ‘reach out and grab me’ opening but solid.


The first sentence gave me some setting and perhaps set the gritty tone of the piece a bit, but the image of a boil to describe the turned me off. It made me linger too long trying to picture the rock and wondering what was significant about the shape that merited mention at all. The second sentence made me think that Moss was a moaning old man. That there are two characters becomes apparent in the next sentence, but I had to entirely rework my mental image of Moss.
Other than that it is quite descriptive, and of course I want to know who "got" the old man and why. The hook is okay, but at the moment it gives the impression of a vigilante vs bandit western. I'm sure the actual plot of your story is far more interesting and maybe it's not even a western. The point is, the suggestion of a more complex plot did not come through the first 13 for me.


Some good descriptions, but the hook was undermined by the withheld information (who is “he”)

I had a hard time with the rock jutting from the cliff like a boil. It was a nice turn of the phrase, but what came to my mind was the MC stuck up on a cliff rather than on a road. The 'He got me." just didn't do it for me. However I'd read on.


Entry 2: Life and Darkness

This gave a good feel for the time of the setting, but there wasn't enough of a hook to keep me going.


This does have an interesting voice, a preteen girl with a touch of loneliness. Nice set up.


Nice writing. The young girl's voice is candid, consistent and likeable. The only phrase I wonder about is "But I digress." If the MC is now older and telling the story of something that happened years ago, then it's not an issue at all. If this is strictly the young girl's POV, then it seems a bit high diction for her. I am hooked because I like the character (having a certain empathy toward dorky young girls). The mysterious neighbour premise would work well for younger readers, but would seem a bit tired if this was aimed at adults. It has the feel of something that would work well for younger readers.


I'm intrigued enough to want to read on but I found this line to be a tad contradictory: and she would go with me to the parties I was never invited too, or at least be as dorky as I was and stay home from those dumb parties, and found But I digress to be unnecessary


This one hit the ‘Living room’ point for me. I have had times in my life where I had bad neighbors that finally moved away. I know the feeling of wondering who my next neighbors will be. I was surprised when the new neighbor was an old biker. That was a good hook. I’d read this story just to find out what happens between the MC and the biker.


Smooth writing, just the right type of voice for a first person opening. Nice story telling and I am curious to see if this author can keep this up. One very small nit ‘For Sale’ should be in some sort of quotes and be capitalized.

Entry # 3 Letting Go of an Electric Blue Soda

The first paragraph confused me. Is the narrator saying that their parents deliberately inflicted those ailments on them and their siblings?

I would read on to see what the three hundred years time span is about, but I couldn't take much more confusion.


Firstly, I really like the title. This one hit the ‘In the flesh’ point for me. I had to look up Luddite, but it made sense to the analogy of sabotaging their children’s bodies. I was intrigued by the three hundred years difference between the MC and the parents. And the excitement of meeting a new daughter whose consciousness was riding on the MC’s neural pathways. I love the line where ‘her laughter sparkles behing my eyes’. That was a great hook for me. That really made me want to read the rest of the story.


I am unsure what the long dead parents have to do with the Protags new child. Guess I will find out soon enough. Three strong openings and still plenty to go. This is going to be one tough contest to judge.

I like the promise of this. It may reveal a deep story about either the nature of relationships in this future or the nature of consciousness. Whatever, it promises some strangeness.

Entry 4: The Sentience of a Stone

I sort of liked this one. I'm not sympathetic to sentient stone creatures, but this had a good hook and would pull me on.


This was very well written. I want to read on. It is intense, and could go either dark or epic in scope.


Intriguing start. Is the MC a statue? A boulder? Something else? I have got to read more to find out.

I like this. I really want to know why this man is rock and how a rock can be sentient. There's not much more to say.


Very nice writing. It has a nice rhythm and flow, making it read a bit like poetry, but not too much so. The thoughts are clearly expressed and seem appropriate to a stone. The premise is original and fun. I am hooked by the nonchalant mention of magic and how the man became a stone and still maintains his sentience. My guess is the two are related and I want to find out more!

Entry 5: The Way Station

This one doesn't really grab me. The descriptions are clear but I couldn't hlep but notice a few things:

other than that I couldn't recall my identity This suggest that he knew where he was but had forgotton.
I was alone in mind This kind of jarred a bit. Is there usually someone else in his head (dont' laugh I have a MC who has someone else in there with him).
My wits dimly told me that there was no way for me to enter or to leave this place. No way to enter? But he's in there.


Welcome to the hotel California. J It is a cliché waking up opening, so it probably needs something else to add to the last sentence as a hook.


Amnesia opening. Frowned upon but the writing is solid. Reads familiar to me. Could use some tightening. The second sentence does have two separate clauses, probably should be separated.


Starts with the waking cliché, which is a bit of a tough sell.

quote:
My eyes popped open looking upwards at blackened beams supporting a white plastered ceiling. I felt cold stone beneath my back and other than that I couldn't recall my identity or my location.

It took me awhile to figure out what bugged me about the second sentence. I think it's: "felt cold stone….other than that I couldn't recall." Feeling cold stone is not something that he is recalling. I think what your getting at is that he recalls that the cold sensation under his back means he is lying on a stone floor, but that he doesn't know who or where he is. I'm not suggesting a fix for the sentence; I`m just trying to explain why it reads awkwardly for me.
That there is no apparent entry or exit to this memory-less place is intriguing. Based on the description and the title it makes me think that this is some sort of purgatory. I would read on to find out.

Entry 6: The Recorder

Not taken in with this one yet. The conversation is one I would imagine William Randolph Hearst might have carried on. Not very good journalist, these two are. I am curious enough to see where it is going, though.


This one has potential, but didn't really do it for me as it is right now. It came across as a little info-dumpy. That the character was so bored by horrific events did not make me like him very much. The premise that wars are so common that they are boring to those insulated from them is interesting, but I need something more to hook into this character's experience, something to make me identify with him.


I can't fault the writing on this one, but it is mostly dialogue so there's not a lot to crit. It doesn't hook me at all and comes across as a struggling writer having a rant (eh, I recongnise him


This is quite hooky. World Peace Organization blowing up both sides, I love the satire. If you could keep that dark humour this could be very interesting.

This didn't have any draw. It's all tell and no show and no hook. I think the start to this story is elsewhere rather than here.

Entry 7: Remoting

The railgun indicated a hostile action, but when it ended I didn't know what was going on, especially when the laser communication was mentioned. It became a bit too techno-heavy for an opening at that point. No hook. I was more interested in the AI relationship, since my WotF story had an AI personality in it.


Weak hook. Promise of some hard science but little else.


I struggled with the first sentance to start with, until I realised it was dialogue with a missing quote. I'm not really sure what's going on here. I presume some kind of gun is being fired, but what the effect will be I can't even begin to guess at. It seems like set-up to me and I would suggest starting a little later, perhaps when the gun is actually being fired.


The rail gun is a bit of a hook but I really wish I knew what is going on. What would help this, I think, is a hint of what the gun is pointing at. Could be that it will become apparent in the next few sentences. The hook isn’t as sharp as the rest.


The technology sounds interesting even though I don't understand what it is for yet—that's part of what I want to find out as I keep reading. My first thought when I read about the helpful electronic personality named Jean was… of another helpful electronic personality named Jane, ala OSC. Is the title a pun related to the "motes"?

Entry 8: Life In the Flesh

I liked this one. The response of Nahen to the death of a sheep, one that he had named, was touching. I would definitely read on.


It feels like there are some details missing here and as a result the opening doesn't feel very realistic to me.
1) Nahen doesn't seem very afraid of/confused by the shuttle itself and his POV refers to it as a shuttle, so I am led to believe that shuttles are already a part of this otherwise pre-industrial setting. So then it just seems to be the location of the shuttle landing that creates the tension…
2)

quote:
Heat thundered from the shuttle’s engines in sweltering waves over the desert floor

This sweltering heat makes me think that sheep in the landing area of the shuttle are far more likely to be instantly fried to a crisp than pinned without dying instantly. Also if the heat is so intense how could Nahen get so close to the shuttle immediately after it has landed?
3) Big hot engines presumably make a lot of noise, which I tend to think would scatter even pregnant sheep before immanent impact… unless this shuttle is very large and the sheep have nowhere to go?


I'd read on with this one, it's catchy and I want to see who's in the ship. Just one thing. What's a scree? Or should that have been screech?


This line has me scratching my head…

quote:
“It won’t hurt much longer. You’ll pass to the new life with your young. Soon.”

Is this a reincarnation reference? Will the ewe’s conscious pass into its newborn? Probably not but it has me hooked enough to want to find out.

I thought this had a lot in it for a beginning. We get the juxtaposition of old and new, the tragedy of the sheep losing their lives and Nahen observing it all. The hook was in the next sentence, but I'd probably read on.

Entry 9: The Hypothesis of Denial

I understand the position the MC is in, but this seems a bit trite to me. In order for the opening to work, it needs a touch of background. Is he dead? Does he know how he died? Something to grab on to.


Nice job. I am interested to see how this situation resolves. One thing: "soft velvet bedding on his backside". This leads me to believe that his backside is naked, in order to feel the cloth inside the casket. If this is a typical western style viewing I'm guessing the deceased would have clothes on! Otherwise, I quite like it.


This one hit the ‘In the flesh’ point, sort of. I had to pick a third choice so I picked this one. It was the best of the remaining entries, except mine, of course. I’d be interested to know how the narrator/MC got into a coffin without being embalmed. I’d read the story just to find that out.


Sounds quite Poe-esque. I'm presuming this is the dead man who isn't really dead and would read on to find out. Just a couple of things. He could only feel the velvet bedding on his backside? He could hear the poeple. I would presume he couldn't see them but was that because his eyes were closed or because the lid was on the coffin? In my experience tulips don't smell of that much and I always thought that lilies were more traditional for funerals, and he would definately smell those.


I wondered if someone would do the dead thing, given the trigger. Not sure if it entirely hooks me, but would read with an open mind.

The idea of being alive, and yet unable to move. Strong tension.

Entry 10: Living Room

I don’t know why, but I was made to wonder if the protagonists are cockroaches. J The dialog is strong, so I would certainly keep reading.


I like this one. It comes across to me as a couple of ghosts haunting their own room and remeniscing. I want to see what happens next. Can't pick any faults at all.

Great first line! It definitely grabs the attention without anything explicit actually being described. The female character's reaction in the second line quickly establishes that this is not a racy sort of piece. Nice job of showing, not telling that the husband and wife are not present in body, but that they still inhabit the setting ("we eat on that table" rather than "we ate", but they can't feel the breeze). Definitely hooked!


Amusing. Voyeuristic ghosts(?). Reminds me of the couple in ‘Beetlejuice’ except these two are more stiff. Makes me wonder where this is heading.

I was intrigued until the end. I was hoping they'd be a couple of cows or animals looking in. That would make it memorable. Instead we've got an opening that could be the start of Beetlejuice, the movie.

That first line grabs the voyeur in everyone. The dialog feel really natural too, especially the break into, we eat at that table. No clue whats going on in the story, but for sure I'd love to find out.


Entry 11: Beware the Fae

A good setting, but the opening was hookless.

Nice set up. It could go anywhere from here, from supernatural to fantasy to science fiction. But the promise is a thoughtful piece on the nature of belief. It would definitely keep me reading.


There's nothing wrong with the writing but the story doesn't get me at all. It seems a bit cliche to be honest. I think I can already see where it's going. It seem Marcus doesn't believe in anything but he's going to meet the fae, and probably won't like it. I might be wrong but, sorry, I wouldn't read on to find out.

Pace is kind of slow for an opening. I guess this is Marcus' POV ("Shaina was too believing"), but that is not clearly established from the beginning and I think doing so would benefit the piece. The title introduces some tension, but otherwise there's not a lot in the first 13. I'm not really identifying with the characters either as of yet, and so am not particularly hooked


This started to peak my interest then backed off a bit. Well written, got to see where it goes.


[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 03, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 03, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 04, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
All the votes are in. Congrats to Entry # 9 The Hypothesis of Denial.

Close vote, took the last voter to decide it. The voting was close and spread out. 8 out of 11 received a vote, which indicates how close the voting was.

Onto round two!

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 04, 2010).]


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Round one is over. Round two begins. First the ground rules...

The stories will be devided up in two groups. I will split them alternatively in the order I received them. You all have 5 stories to read. Pick the your three favorite and please give your breif thoughts on what you thought of each one (We are a workshop first. Feedback is what is most important.)

All points in round one will be carried into round two, but don't worry. The voting was close so there isn't that much difference. And if your story is strong you should have no problem overcoming any lead.

The winner of round one does not skirt his or her responsibilty. He/she will be reading, critiquing, and judging all ten entries (glad you didn't win now?)

The five stories in your group are all you are responsible for, but I am looking for readers of entry # 9 (we are a workshop first). And if anyone wants to read them all, please ask, but you are only allowed to vote on the stories in your group.

Any questions? I will be sending them out as soon as possible.

Good luck!


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Round two is over!!

Let first say that I read all the entries I am impressed at the quality of writing, especially since all the stories were written in less tham a month. Very good for what are essentially rough drafts.

Both groups had six voters. Every single story received votes. With the exception of one or two entries, the opinions varied with each reader. Only one received a vote from all who read it.

In one group the winners were clear cut. The first place vote receiver won by a wide margin while the second place finisher had a comfortable lead on third (and I think that third place story has a legitment shot at a pro-sale).

In the other group the results were much closer. The distance between first and third was 3 points and only one point seperated 2nd and 3rd. The votes and comments I received for that group showed the voters had a tougher time making their choices for it.

Here are the five finalist.

Entry # 9 The Hypothesis of Denial

Entry # 3 Letting Go of an Electric Blue Soda

Entry # 10 Living Room

Entry # 4 The Sentience of a Stone

Entry # 8 Life In the Flesh

The five finalist will be sent to our celebrity judges. Congrats to them.

And congrats to all that joined in. All teh entries were well done. Anyone that would like a breakdown on how well their story did just drop me an email and I will tell you just how it did, but I as I said before, the really value of these contests is the priceless feedback. Thanks to everyone. You all did your part and the advice I have read is priceless as always.


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you, snapper, for your efforts in making this possible.

Congrats to the writers, and best wishes on selling these stories.


Posts: 7806 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Whew, got the results. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a bit to get the results, but here is what the judges wrote abotu them...

Entry #3 Letting Go of an Electric Blue Soda

I like the opening paragraph up until the last sentence, because it jerked me out of the story. The narrator's parents died three hundred years ago. Since all their children had been struck terrible genetic conditions (possibly even all of them, since the narration is not clear), it struck me as odd that one of their children would be around to be such an eloquent narrator. A person's ability to cope with schizophrenia and diabetes are on a different level than Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

On another believability level, supposing such treatments are available to turn afflicted people into the narrator we see, why is it such a big deal that his parents had such children in the first place? If society strongly disapproves of such things happening even if treatments are available (his parents were declared insane!) was Barrett ever warned not to reproduce himself lest he pass on such poor genes?

When we first see the child I wanted to know how old it was, because we aren't told. We just not that it is not a baby because Barrett asks his wife if she would be bothered by the fact their daughter wouldn't be one. For what it's worth, my mental picture was five, since that's how long he'd been waiting at the beginning of the story.

I also wasn't sure that the "Daddy!" shouted when she fell down was from her since Lilia is described as hijacking Barrett's voice in the paragraph before, so I wasn't sure if it was Lilia or their daughter speaking.

I do like the basic conceit of the story though, how people expand their ages and abilities through technology, but still have to go back to good old biology to reproduce. Having their gametes stored for later was a nice way to allow for Lilia to be an expectant mother and a spaceship at the same time (I love that image!). I think I would have liked to see more of how she operated as a ship though, since she's mostly just a voice in Barrett's head, until the end where we see her singing to her daughter through the comm.

That does remind me though, what was Lilia's take on their daughter's imperfection? She seems to be more in the mainstream line of thinking, yet she takes their clearly degenerate daughter in as easily as Barrett does.

#

Great title! I enjoyed the story


Entry #10 Living Room

I think the maids--and the whys and wherefores--muddied the waters a little on what was up to then a great story.

#

(This) was the only entry that I was able to read from start to finish with no pauses or second guessing. Entry 10 flowed nicely, with excellent imagery, and delightful characterization in the form of the old, disembodied Jewish couple. I didn't quite get what was going on, but things seemed more or less explained by the end. Even if the mystery was still largely present.

#

While I liked the characterization between Henry and Edith, particularly the immigrant touched, the further I read into the story the more I wondered just *what* they were since they were able to watch the boy and girl enjoy the living room without being seen, and it becomes apparent that they are old and their time has passed. This is important because Henry "entered the room against custom and law and attempted to take the boy" and I wanted to know what sort of custom or law he was fighting against.

This is particularly important because by that point in the story I came to the conclusion they must be ghosts and I was reading a fantasy story when all of a sudden robotic maids burst through and clean up both the boy and the girl in what had, until then, felt like a modern day setting.

The crux of the story, what the reader is witnessing, what the situation is, what happened to humanity, doesn't come out until two-thirds through the story, and it's really important stuff. It would be a substantial change, but I would probably move the opening scene to the girl trying to play the piano and getting into fight with her boyfriend, so that way the science fiction elements come out almost immediately and the reader gets to discover humanity's strange fate in limbo. Then play out how the character deal with their situation after the reader understands what's going on.


Entry #9 The Hypothesis of Denial

The ending left me disappointed--in quite a significant way. It is actually a good story but I have a sense you hurried a little. I was thinking he would go in the crematorium and I wanted to see him burn or somehow avoid it--instead he went in the ground...and time passed. I think he should be fearing the burn, and prior to dying made a deal with his friend. If either died they would use a device that can detach the energy from the body--releasing it. While he is listening to the tow guys chat he is hoping that his friend brought the device, hoping he remembered the deal. Just before the end the friend leans over and whispers 'Just in case you are still there' and presses the button on the pocket device. You can either have it work or not (need a reason--battery failure--perhaps he slept with his friends wife and never told him so when the device doesn't work...whatever, could be purposefully not releasing him--make him suffer).

#

I got really confused with where and when this was supposed to be taking place. On the one hand, there are condolences being given, and the narrator is in a coffin, but on the other he still has a heart monitor connected to him while his blood is being replaced. And there is also a time given that it's been three days. The coffin and condolences suggests he's at a funeral, but the heart monitor that he's at a hospital, the replacement of blood that he's at a mortuary, and the dirt on the lid that he's in the ground and being buried. I just can't tell where the narrator is and how this all could be simultaneously possible.

Also, an agnostic is someone who is uncertain of a supreme being (from Dictionary.com - "a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as god, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable"). Allen is really an atheist because he doesn't believe in a higher power and is quite adamant about it.

I do like the general conceit of the story, that an atheist discovers the soul, but is unable to believe in it, but the story as a whole was very talky with the details just being given to the reader. The main character, being dead, can't do anything to influence his fate. He just listens and rages and listens, which doesn't make for a compelling read.


Entry #4 Sentience of Stone

Nice prose

#

I really liked the opening to this one, with a stone realizing it was once more. It's an unusual image. But after the flashback you started to lose me, mostly because I did not have a good feeling of how long ago it was. You kept the flashback in present tense, and I think this story would have been better served in past tense, since you need to be able to present a then and now for the reader, and that will be easier if you can use both the past and past perfect.

I also felt the ending was too rushed. After Redger had been stone for X amount of time, I wanted to know how much time had passed, did he turn his master to stone as well (because the cat was not fixed), and how was Redger going to make things right away.

Unfortunately, Redger does not.

Normally I like bookends where the story begins and ends with the same sentence, but this time it didn't work for me, because it implies that the events of the story will happen all over again; eventually Redger will wake up to the fact that he was once human, make himself human again, and make a mess all over again.

I can't help wondering why Fergakan never fixed his cat (since he apparently has mastery over the stone transformation process) and why he would bother during his apprentice to stone when it's apparent that Redger can undo the process and has already made a mess having done so.


Entry #8 Life in the Flesh

I like the pacing and the sense of world-building in this one, but one thing that really struck me is that Casjen completely misses the dead person when he comes down and looks at the ewe, when Nahen says that Mishi has been killed. For a moment I thought the animal Casjen was looking at had to be Mishi and he was just extremely bigoted in the way he viewed her.

Later, when Nahen is asked what's wrong by Embris, he says the flock has been scattered. Though it sounds like he's about to add that Mishi was killed, shouldn't he say that Mishi was killed first (since that should be top priority on his mind)?

It's just after those two instants it felt like "Mishi was killed. Who cares?"

Beyond that I was bothered by Casjen's (and later Embris') waffling in what they believe. I thought Casjen's turnaround was too fast. The surreality was very nice, but I think his acceptance and about-face came too quickly. I would have liked him to think about it more.

Embris was even stranger since she goes from native girl who probably didn't think about the city much to gung-ho about the city to okay, I'll forget about the city.

One question I had that was not answered is, how do city-born come about? They need to replace themselves, yet they do not appear to have children since Casjen's defection would mean they'd have to take Embris.

Clarification: After going to Hatrack after writing this, I realized that Mishi was one of the sheep and I went back for a second read of the opening. It looks like I just missed the connection between the ewe and the name. I'd thought both Mishi and an ewe had been trapped underneath the ship, with Mishi being a second shepherd. Perhaps it would help if what Mishi is, is mentioned at the same time as her name so there's no chance to assume she's another human character.

#

I liked this story, although I thought it could be tighter--a saw a lot that could be cut which would create a tighter sharper story. Some elements were not clear.


...Sorry, have to get back to work. Please stand by.


Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay, the results. Here are the stories, how they did the final round, and who wrote them. I awarded points the same way did the last round.

First place 13 points
Entry # 3 by Ethereon Letting Go of an Electric Blue Soda

Second place 11 points
Entry # 8 by RoxyL Life In the Flesh

Third place 7 points
Entry # 4 by Twiggy The Sentience of a Stone

Fourth place 5 points
Entry # 10 by History Living Room

Fifth place zero
Entry # 9 by snapper The Hypothesis of Denial

and now the rest

Entry # 1 by pdblake Cusp

Entry # 2 by Shimiqua Life and Darkness

Entry # 5 by Owasm The Way Station

Entry # 6 by PB&Jenny The Recorder

Entry # 7 by Brendan Remoting

Entry # 11 by Satate Beware the Fae


Congrats to the winner, Ethereon. I thought the story was outstanding I was not alone in that opinion. Several others I felt were great too.

I would like everyone to know that every story in the second round made it into someones top three. It was a very competitive competition. My hats off to everyone. Some outstanding and original stories, all of which thought of, plotted, and written in under a month. Impressive by anyones standards.

Thank you to everyone that participated. Thank you to Twinliz for donating the book to make this possible. Thank you to skadder (Adam Colston), Brad T Torgenson, and the gold award winner, Laurie Tom for judging and signing the book.

As for myself, I want to tell you all that I appreciate the feedback for my story. It helps a lot. Just ask Rhatyhe on how much the feedback matters in these things (congrats on your sale my friend).

Good luck to all on marketing your stories. I hope everyone sells their work.



Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
snapper
Member
Member # 7299

 - posted      Profile for snapper   Email snapper         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is the contest in which Etherton conceived her recently sold story. Congrats Laura. A story worthy publication.
Posts: 3059 | Registered: Dec 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ethereon
Member
Member # 9133

 - posted      Profile for Ethereon   Email Ethereon         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks, Snaps! Looking forward to being your TOC-buddy in March on DSF too.
Posts: 291 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Utahute72
Member
Member # 9057

 - posted      Profile for Utahute72   Email Utahute72         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
TOC?
Posts: 445 | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
genevive42
Member
Member # 8714

 - posted      Profile for genevive42   Email genevive42         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
TOC = Table of Contents
Posts: 1926 | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Utahute72
Member
Member # 9057

 - posted      Profile for Utahute72   Email Utahute72         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ahh, the only thing I could come up with was Tactical Operations Center from another life.
Posts: 445 | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2