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Author Topic: 13 line anonymous challenge 2: Entries
axeminister
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I will post the entries in this thread.

Please reserve conversation for:
http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbwriters/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=000212;p=0&r=nfx#000000

[ July 20, 2012, 04:25 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #1

THE GRIKON TOOK A LICKEN'


Kerris wished he could hold his nose as he pulled the comatose woman from the huge puddle of malodorous mud that covered half of the road. Strands of hair stained red indicated a blow to the head. Her long stringy hair, tied back with a now-dirty white leather cord, identified her as a maiden.

What brought her out into weather like this? He'd have to walk in the pouring rain all of the way to his cottage, while she laid crosswise across the saddle of his horse.

She'd disturb the solace he so desperately sought, but how could he not assist this helpless woman? He heard a moan and hurried to her. She opened eyes filled with a violet light that nearly emptied his brain. A Grikon! he thought, as he splashed, facedown, into another smelly roadside mud puddle.

*****

That first sentence is a bit of a mouthful and Kerris seems as though he would rather leave her lying in the road, which puts me off him straightaway, but I like the opening all the same. I would read on.

***

Opening descriptive sentences are a bit long. I like the "violet light" that shines from her eyes as a hook, but "nearly emptied his brain" is unclear. Perhaps expand on this and shorten the other descriptive sentences.

***

The prose is a bit clumsy with the descriptions trying a little too hard. The title threw me, assuming grikon was supposed to rhyme with lickin', spelling seems off. The 'hook' of her opening her eyes and him realizing what she is has little impact because I don't know what a grikon is, and the lead into him falling into the puddle skips over the action of him turning and running. Overall, I think this would be better slowed down a little. If you write adeptly and with confidence, the hook doesn't have to be forced into the first thirteen. Your prose will hold their interest. Close, but clumsy enough that I wouldn't read on.

***

First sentence seems to lose focus as each phase moved the subject a different direction sideways. “identified her as a maiden” seemed redundant – we’ve already established the fact that she is female in the first sentence, and this sentence starts with “Her”, so I am not sure what this adds. “Crosswise across” is also tautological. Imagining Van Helsing with this.

***

Overall, I liked it well enough, but I wouldn't read on. I just don't think of mud as smelling that bad. With the bad weather and the mud I question the ability to notice red stained hair, and that the maiden leather cord was (dirty) white. Also, I felt like the piece moved too fast; in just a few lines Kerris (who I presume is the MC) is laying in a puddle like the lady a few passages back. It felt rushed to get there. I would suggest slowing down, approaching with more caution, and indulging in a touch more description.

***

Some good imagery in here, but I had a few disconnects. The stained red hair I'd first translated as dyed, rather than coated with blood, so I had to re-adjust to how that worked with the blow to the head. I was left a little confused at the end. Did he faint? Is that what Grikons do? Catch unsuspecting folks with their violet vision? Also, I'd have liked to know he was desperately seeking peace earlier. I didn't get that feeling, so when I was told about it, it felt slightly off.

***

Great title, and I like the ribbon that marked a maiden. Felt Fantasy to me.

***

Is the title meant to imply a pronunciation of 'Grikon' as rhyming with 'Licken'? It doesn't appear as though those two words should rhyme, but I don't know the pronunciation guide for this world.
Why does Kerris call the woman comatose? Her later moaning and eye-opening show his early analysis to be incorrect. "Identified her as a maiden" seems a little awkward, unless 'Maiden' is a much more commonly used word in this universe or it's an affectation of the POV character.
"She opened eyes filled with a violet light that nearly emptied his brain" is awkward. Are her eyes violet? Or are they glowing violet? Did a beam of violet light erupt from them?
"A Grikon! he thought..." I know this is grammatically correct for an internal dialog, but it still looks awkward. Maybe you should write around it.
Overall, the sentence structure discourages me, I had to think too hard to decipher what's going on. It does seem interesting though, but I probably wouldn't read on. The violet light is interesting, but otherwise it's just a strange woman lying in the road and it doesn't grab me.

***

For some reason the author feels the need to splatter the piece with adjectives. I stopped caring at “malodorous”. I trudged through the rest and was disappointed and in complete disbelief where a “comatose woman” is now opening her eyes.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:40 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #2

HUNTERS


It took 43 consecrated bullets to finish the creature.
The team emerged from the forest cover with extreme caution. Steam wreathed the corpse, rising where unnatural flesh touched the snow. This one still resembled, at least slightly, the human that had once worn the body. Even through filter masks, the reek was sickening.
"We got lucky." The speaker pulled his clip and ejected the spent casing, expertly snatching it in mid-air. Calm speech, and the quiet click of steel, sounded shocking after the howling thunder of moments before.
Another member of the team grunted agreement. "Just barely powerful enough to take possession. Look." He pointed. "Necrosis already."

*****

Good first line. Interesting fantastical element. I'm wondering who the protagonist is. The speaker? Why does the speaker not have a name? Someone else? Should we know at this point?

***

This one doesn't feel fantasy enough to me, feels more horror. I'm not connected to any of the characters, no names, nothing intimate. If the story continued in this fashion for any more length of time then I wouldn't read on. My suggestion is to make it a little more intimate.

***

Nice twist at the end, which beckons me on. Solid description, giving sufficient information without wasting words. Not sure about the time period yet, but that doesn’t matter. There is something ambiguous with what “extreme caution” was applied to or how to view it.

***

Interesting lead. The lack of character names and the style of prose is distancing. Also, catching the casing? Why? And is it realistic? And since we weren't there for the 'howling thunder' it seems both a cheat and unsatisfying to use it for contrast to the quiet. Spell out 'forty-three'. Intriguing start though and handled well enough. I would read on.

***

I understood the premise, but then the discussion about 'just barely powerful enough' and necrosis deflated the beginning. It ends with questions I'm not interested in pursuing.

***

Like this a lot. Strong opening hook. Crisp sentences. Great imagery ("... pulled his clip and ejected the spent casing, expertly snatching it in mid-air"). But need names instead of "The speaker" and "Another memberof the teams."

***

It's fast and intriguing, but who is the MC? Is there a need to hide who 'the speaker' is? Also, probably a personal thing, but I hate numbers in text, it's only two words, spell it out. That said, it puts good imagery in my head and I would read on.

***

Oh, I like this one. Sinister, dangerous, compelling. Leaped me right into the action.

***

This one had a nice start. It was a little unclear towards the end, however. I still don't quite get what your trying to say with the sentence, "Just barely powerful enough to take possession." That may be an artifact of the 13 lines, but it was different enough that it took away from the rest of the paragraph.

***

This one feels like horror to me. Not enough detail about the POV character for my taste.

***

I'm loss to find a POV character in this. The 'team' is ambiguous in composition or number. Two team members speak but we are given names nor descriptions for either of them. The only description of the surroundings is 'forest' and the only description of the dead creature was that it was 'slightly human.' I'm sure things get more detailed from here, but right now it just seems awfully generic.
"The speaker pulled his clip and ejected the spent casing, expertly snatching it in mid-air." This comes across as very smooth on a visual medium – movie or TV – but I'm not really impressed by this description. That might just be my preference.
"Calm speech, and the quiet click of steel, sounded shocking after the howling thunder of moments before." I found this to be a little awkward, I think because you're venturing close to purple prose. This might go hand in hand with the line above. These colorful descriptions don't REALLY tell us very much and only seem to slow the pace of the story.
Overall, I feel like you're giving detail to the wrong parts of this scene and a result I can't shake the feeling of how generic this sounds.

***

Consecrated means dedicated formally to a religious or divine purpose. Expected some relation to a religious oriented character. Wait, what are the names of the characters? This is not a beginning of a story, maybe a quick jotting in a notebook of a potential idea.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #3

ZIPHA DRAINS AWAY THE UGLY


On a night as moist as the underarms of a wannabe tri-athlete, Zipha and her three sisters slogged through the swamp. Gnats swarmed through the rats’ nests they called hairdos, and lightning bugs illuminated their firm expressions. Swamp gasses added a lovely perfume to the otherwise perfectly mildewed air.

“Are we there yet?” asked The Youngest. “If not, I need a rest. Just to pick the leaches from between my toes, if you please.”

“I do not please,” said The Oldest. “Stop whining, you could stand a little bleeding.”

“Especially after your gold into lead-poisoning fiasco,” agreed The Middle.

*****

This hints at some odd creatures, ( witches, trolls perhaps?) that I can't picture. There's not much to go on, or indeed happening. I would read on, but it had better turn into a story soon. One nitpick, it's leeches, not leaches.

***

Opening sentences bogged down the story (felt like I was also slogging through the swamp). Consider shortening to just "Zipha and her three sisters slogged through the swamp." I like the dialog, but consider giving them names, and I note the only named character, "Zipha" doesn't speak, act, or share her thoughts.

***

'Leaches' are spelled leeches. We have oldest, middle and youngest so where does Zipha fit in? On top of theses issues the tri-athlete reference clashes with the gold into lead reference. There is a hook that could lead me on, and this could be reworked into something very good, but as it stands now? Not a winner

***

I have a soft spot in my heart for distorted versions of tradition stories. I am a warped individual who loves to read the scribblings of other warped individuals.

***

I know this is supposed to be funny, but it just isn't catching me that way. Might get better as it goes on. Maybe make the descriptions punchier? I might read on a bit to see if it could catch me, but you'd only have another paragraph or two to convince me to keep going.

***

Humorous. Adams family feel, perhaps not as dark as that. Love the gnats’ firm expressions.

***

This story lost me mostly at the "underarms of a wannabe tri-athlete" bit. I also don't like the way there are four sisters, one named, and the others referred to by their placement, youngest, oldest, middle. Should the middle sister be named The Other Middle? Where does Zipha fit into the age bracket? I would appreciate knowing where they are going as they slog through the swamp.

***

This sets a strong tone and there's nice bit of humor. I'm concerned about the opening metaphor. Is it appropriate to the world you're set in? I don't get the feeling that this is set in a world with triathletes, although I could be mistaken. Anyways, it didn't seem to match with the rest of the tone of the piece.

***

The first simile didn't work for me, not that a would be tri-athlete wouldn't have slimy arm pits, but it just seemed a little odd when describing the air in a swamp. Then we have rat's nests for hair dos and perfume from swamp gas. Certainly evocative, but a bit overdone. Nice setup though.

***

Interesting simile you opened with. This looks funny, which gets me to want to read on.

***

"On a night as moist as the underarms of a wannabe tri-athlete..." I almost stopped right there. Only obligation to provide feedback pushed me forward. This metaphor is a little too unappealing.

"Gnats swarmed through the rats' nests..." you don't need the possessive apostrophe here. "Rats nests" is appropriate.

Given the Youngest/Oldest/Middle titles, I'm thinking this is a reference to the Norns. I'm not sure if that's what you're going for, but that was my first impression. The dialog implies witches, though.
Also, I'm not clear if Zipha is one of the three mentioned. Is she supposed to be silent through this?

As implied above, this may be a personal preference thing, but I wasn't inclined to continued on. I'm intrigued, however, by the idea of a swamp-inhabiting personification of the three Fates. If they're just Bayou witches, however, that's less interesting.

***

Interesting start, but “wannabe tri-athlete” seems out of place. I would have preferred character names instead of youngest and oldest. The style of the writing is okay as long it doesn’t overindulge and get too cutesy.

***

Brilliant title, and funny first line. I like this so far, but don't have much idea where the story is going from this point.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:46 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #4

PALE HANDS I LOVED


Winter gripped the land in icy talons as I struggled over the drifted snow on my handmade webs. Hemlock and pine loomed on every side. Did they mock me as I forced a passage ever northward, or would they look on my errand with pity?

Long shadows signaled night's impending fall. A wise man would have made camp an hour ago, but my food was gone and if I did not reach Aleria's stronghold by tomorrow, a little more sleep would make no difference. Besides, no one would make the mistake of thinking me a wise man.

A flash of blue-white light caught the corner of my eye. I refused to look--acknowledging a hallucination would only give it power. I rubbed my jaw with my gloved hand, the wool catching on my days-old stubble.

*****

Aside from a flash of white there's not much going on her. Seems to me the MC is feeling sorry for himself, but I'm not being told why.

***

Perhaps split first sentence into two ("as" doesn't work and should generaly be avoided). Similarly, I found "hemlock and pine...mocking" the protagonist didn't work for me though it could, possibly, after he states his concern about hallucinations. I like the self-depracatory internal dialog, but would consider cutting the secand halfof sentence two paragraph two and go directily to "...but no one would consider me a wise man." Like the setting, protagonist, and the desparate circumstances.

***

Great title. We get an idea for the MC, but the hook seems weak. A flash of light? By calling it a hallucination, it takes the power from the opening and barely pulls me to the other page.

***

I have no idea what's going on here or why I should care. Too vague all around. Be more specific. I would not read on.

***

Some lovely description in this, and there is a voice that makes me feel I can trust the coming story. Enough information given out to hint at the conflict, although I don’t yet know much. But also we are getting to know the MC already. Well written, overall.

***

I don't like the icy talons image, it makes me think of strips of ice as opposed to a harsh covering of snow. Handmade webs? I don't know what that means; I'm not sure if it's a bit of magic or a piece of equipment. I don't like the mention of how a "wise" man would camp, and then explanation as to why a wise man would be wrong to do so. Why would a wise man camp with a deadline and no food? It seems like it's meant to come across as humble (no one accuses him of being wise), but instead it comes across as arrogant (he knows better than wise men). On the other hand, I love the bit about how acknowledging hallucinations give them power, and I love the image of the wool getting caught on the stubble.

***

Pretty well written and a nice set up. A bit of overwriting in places, like the "Long shadows signaled night's impending fall." Nice lead in though and I'd like to know about his errand.

***

Not bad prose but, it seems, we have an opening like this – drifter on an icy road – in every contest. If I knew what this was about, I might be inclined to vote for it.

***

You mention the errand as if the word errand is enough to hook. I'd suggest mentioning the specific stakes and tasks ahead of the man. Beautiful writing and description though.

***

I'm interested. It has a strongish voice, and a realized setting. I think the hook is the blue-white light, and it should be earlier on your first page. Maybe get rid of the second paragraph and move it elsewhere? Given the fantasy genre, the trouble will be to make that blue white light something worth reading a novel over. If it's something unique, it might grab the reader. If it's a simple will 'o the wisp, it might be less engaging. Can't tell from here, though. I'd read on but only to see what is going to happen immediately next.

***

Nice slow start. I get the sense of the “character”. We learn something about him through the 3 paragraphs. The “context” could be fleshed out a little better. We know where he’s going and can start to sense the setup to the “problem”. The fantasy element of the story is thin, but I expect it will be built after this opening.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:47 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #5

PALADIN


Morodin sat in a corner of the inn behind a long forgotten flagon of ale. Smoke curled up from the pipe in his hand, adding to the thick layer of fog that slowly descended from the bare rafters. Through the haze he studied his prey. Clathan was a large man, and his loud voice spewed vulgarity that rolled across the crowded room in waves. The lout was trying to convince a barmaid to provide more than liquid refreshment, without success Morodin noted.

Morodin could feel the heat generated by the amulet that hung from his neck as it pulsed with energy; its green glow hidden by the thick fabric of his cloak. The disk had come to life the instant Clathan entered the inn, indicating he possessed jewel Morodin had been hired to retrieve.

*****

This works well, but didn't jump out and grab me. Still, a competent, comfortable fantasy opening.

***

This one comes across as way too generic for my taste. I would not continue reading.

***

Solid writing. A couple of was’s and had’s reduced the sense of action that could have been captured. To me, the idea wasn’t sufficiently original to excite, given some other ideas in this challenge.

***

Standard inn opening doesn't hold promise. Person is first described as 'prey' but then it seems he need only retrieve an item from him. I think better vocabulary could be used. The amulet seems to make the task too easy. Not much here to pull me along. I would not read on.

***

The opening suffered from 'Morodin' used at the beginning of the first two paragraphs. I think the timing of Clathan's description and then the identification of him as the target should be transposed. I know it's there to make the hook stronger, but it doesn't make sense and contains the barest hint of withholding. If those get fixed, I'm ready to continue.

***

Like the setting, the magic amulet and quest elements. However, nearly every sentence begins "noun-verb" which is montonous. Mix up the sentence structure a bit.

***

I quite like this, though there are a couple of typos in there. I would read on.

***

Missing a ‘the’ in the last line. I got what is going on but this opening lacks a better atmosphere. Build on what you have – your protags character, the insides of the bar, and his target and reasons for being there, and you’ll have an excellent hook.

***

Haven’t I read something like this before? Could be a bar scene from some <fill in the blank>. It just seems too familiar, but it doesn’t have a special hook to grab me.

***

Overall, I thought this was pretty good, though perhaps a little too heavy on description too early. It does paint a very dramatic picture, though, well realized. The setting is somewhat typical though. Starting your story in a grimy pub is hardly original, but your skill in writing is apparent, so I could see continuing onto the next page to see the next few paragraphs.

I would suggest cutting some of the first paragraph out to bring the glow of the amulet earlier in the scene, and then give a bit more description of the object Morodin was hired to get back. Simply calling it 'jewel' doesn't do much. It implies that Morodon is simply after riches. The Jewel of the Azure Moon or whatever at least makes it seem more important than its material worth.

***

This one reads like a recipe for fantasy rather than an opening. I would keep reading, because I happen to like fantasy, but this definitely feels very paint by number, if that makes sense.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:48 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #6

THE NUMBER OF THE STARS AND ALL THEIR NAMES


I found the dead body first, but Ace said I couldn’t keep it.

“We’re on vacation.” She snapped her cellphone closed and scowled. “Let the locals handle it."

The boy beneath the translucent river water reminded me of a fly in amber. He was perhaps seventeen or eighteen, eyes glassy and wide as if in sudden revelation. A minnow meandered past his ear, stopped to peer up his left nostril, and then scuttled away as my reflection fell over his face. He lay within a shallow pool by the stony riverbank, water swirling gently around him before coursing downstream to be caught in the rush of current.

“Something’s not quite right here, Ace.” I chewed my lower lip. “It’s as if he lay down in the water and drowned himself.”

*****

I like the imagery this presents and it leaves me wondering just who the two characters are that a dead body seems the norm, even to the point of wanting to keep it. The mysterious death really draws you in. I'd definitely read on.

***

I'm lost here. This is in first person. The MC is being a bit truculent, but then we get this wonderful description of the drowned boy totally out of character with the MC. You've got to stay in character if you've got the MC in first person. I also thought the first sentence to be wonderful hinting at keeping the dead body, but then the opening veers away from the speculative opening. Good writing, but I don't think I would take the bait.

***

Nice opening. Prose gives me confidence. Consider dropping 'quite' in the last line to make a stronger statement. I would read on.

***

Great opening line, one that makes it speculative. I am left a little lost about who the MC’s are. Lot’s of characterisms, and some nice description. Not sure yet whether this is a mystery or something more nefarious.

***

Makes me think of Stand By Me, like it's a different version of that story. It doesn't feel fantasy enough, and that would stop me from reading further.

***

I liked the imagery in this a lot. The snapping shut of the cell phone confused me, since I didn't see it open and couldn't quite figure out what was going on with it. The description of the corpse is great. I'm not sure how they figured he just laid himself down and drowned. People can float down the river and wash into shallow waters easily enough.

***

Nice hook opening. Loved the first line. Wish I knew more about these two characters but I am trusting I’ll learn more soon.

***

Best opening line ever.

***

I love LOVE that first sentence. The description is lovely, and the situation is unique and compelling. I'd so read on.

***

Excellent first line. I'm hooked already. The rest of the first 13 does its job to remain engaging and pose a mystery that's worth turning the page to find out more. The implication in the second line is that Ace is the woman with the cell phone, but it's not immediately clear until the fourth paragraph. I think it's your reluctance to use "he said/she said" tags with your dialogue that's causing the confusion.

The imagery is good, just detailed enough, and carries the story forward. You've done your job, I'm ready to keep reading.


***

Now that is a great opening sentence! The imagery is strong and not dripping with excessive adjectives. The fantasy elements are weak, but I can see where it may be going into an urban fantasy.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #7

THE SHADOW'S DANCE


It was the back end of spring and the inn fire had been left unlit for weeks. Yet the fat merchant sweated like an overworked horse and shook as though some malady had hold of him.

Rhusola could smell the man's fear as he paced across the crowded common room to the quaking merchant. The room stank of human emotion. Fear and longing, hate and love, sorrow and drunken joy all rolled together into a wave that washed over Rhusola like a stinking poison. He blocked out the filth and concentrated on the merchant. Grilas had taken something from the High Ones and, while the Book of Foretelling had been recovered, there could be only one punishment.

Rhusola the stalker dragged free his blade, forged in the fires of the Lake of Passion, and raced across the room.

*****

I think the first two sentences could easily be merged into one. I got a little lost between 'the fat merchant,' 'the man,' and 'the quaking merchant.' I think I figured out that the fat and quaking merchants are the same and 'the man' is someone else, but it made me think too hard. What do fear, longing, hate, etc. smell like? Can you find a way to describe these more viscerally?

***

Rhusola sounds like a female name to me. It took a couple of reads to realize that he's male. I think this would be better if it started with Rhusola (who, I assume is the MC). Then ground the scene, then discuss the merchant. The fat merchant is referred to as: fat merchant, the man's, the merchant, Grilas. I suggest using his name when he is first mentioned to avoid any potential lack of clarity. The smelling of emotions, I think, is supposed to be literal. I like that, if it is. But I'd suggest limiting the emotions smelled to one (maybe two), and make it relevant thematically to the scene, and revealing of the type of folks sitting around the room.

Too many emotions, especially those heavy ones, and the reader is overwhelmed. Instead, give the reader one emotion to latch onto to help with describing the mood of the room. These things: High Ones, Book of Foretelling, Lake of Passion. I would suggest limiting yourself to just one at the moment. Reveal the others slower, again, it keeps from overwhelming the reader and taking the punch out of what's being said. Lastly, I'd suggest that you consider changing the names of the book of foretelling and the lake of passion. I think it sounds a little too generic.

***

The sentence about fear and longing, etc. took this from a straight, yet non-descript fantasy start, to something that may have a lot to say. Potential for internal conflict here on top of the external conflict.

***

Another start in the inn. The first line is unnecessary. I'd like to see a tighter pov on Rhusola to understand better what he/she is. And how it feels about the stinky emotions. Overall, this is a little info-dumpy. Also, a blatant attack seems like a clumsy form of assassination. I would not read on.

***

I'd read on, but Rhusola struck me as a woman's name. I didn't get the impression of urgency that required Rhusola to run across the room… the rest of the opening has a languid feel. A timing hint or something that gets Rhusola racing would make this even better.

***

All the elements I enjoy are here. However, consier losing the first paragraph and omitting "the stalker."

***

Can you really smell fear? Can rooms stink from emotion? Cannot relate to “Book of ..” and “Lake of ..” or any part of the start of this story. I would not read on.

***

First two lines are awkward. You should probably have a comma after 'spring' to help establish he timing and what "it" refers to (the time of the year). The second sentence is trying to draw a parallel between the merchant's sweating and the lack of a fire, but it's a little clumsy. The "back end of Spring" means almost summer, and the lack of a fire implies it has been hot. So it makes sense for the merchant to be hot. So the use of "yet" to start the second sentence is confusing.

WAY too many proper nouns in the first 13 in my opinion. I've found that many disagree with me, but I feel like you should be using the most common language you can in the first 13 because you have yet to sell your reader on the universe. High Ones, Book of Foretelling, Lake of Passion, these are too much too quickly.

"Rhusola could smell the man's fear as he paced across the crowded common room to the quaking merchant." This sentence confused me because the "he" could apply to Rhusola or someone else. If it was someone else, it would mean 3 people in the room, but reading on its clear you only meant for there to be two: Rhusola and Grilas.

Is "Rhusola the stalker" a formal title for the character? In which case 'Stalker' should probably be capitalized.

***

Okay, one question. Fires of the Lake of Passions? Aren't lakes usually made of water? Name sounded like a girl. Good writing though, but it seems a bit overwrought.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:51 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #8

THE DEATH OF A TRADESMAN


The door flung open; heavy boots stamped muddy snow onto the floor I had polished to a warm shine earlier. A throaty voice boomed, “Morning folks.” Howi, one of the trade house guards, looked up with bored disinterest before returning to his card game in front of the fire with Skinny Nosh.

The new arrival’s eyes scanned the room until he found her at the corner work desk. “Good morning, Lootay. I’ve got great news.” He shook off a light layer of snow from his fine, black cloak of bear fur.

His name was Butler. He was a young merchant prince of the Stonebridge tribe. Excuse me, the Stonebridge Kingdom. He was tall, and fat, and he had a grizzly beard, and she had decided that she loved him instead of me.

*****

Had trouble with this one in regard to clearly perceiving the characters, setting, and conflict I found the sentences didn't scan well for me; the last sentence "she had decided that she loved him instead of me" is unclear; and consider not delaying identifying the characters (i.e. "the new arrival" should be replaced with his name, as the narrator knows him (in fact his name should be stated when she sees him entering instead of "a throaty voice").

***

This one doesn't grab me at all. The prose is clumsy and muddled and I have no idea of where it is going.

***

It was close. I really like the character potential in this one. I want to see where this one goes.

***

I liked the title along with the opening. They seem to be a pair. This is the third attacker in a bar. Did all of you drink the same kool aid? I think that the description is misplaced. The new arrival gets us with one picture and then you describe. I think it should be the other way around or the reader gets a bit caught up making the adjustment. The hook of 'loving him instead of me' doesn't drive me on. I'd rather see the description in the first paragraph and then put some emotion into that last line.

***

The first names given seem unimportant, then the one that the camera is watching is referred to as the 'new arrival' even though the pov character knows who he is. The tagging here is all convoluted and vague. I'd recommend getting deeper into the pov character's head and dropping the needless peripherals. I would not read on.

***

Started out ok, but didn’t really hook. And then it changed voice and POV, becoming a little info-dumpy albeit with an interesting voice.

***

It's a little adjective happy early on. We're lacking the main character's name, but we have four other names.

***

I love the name Skinny Nosh. Be careful with opening with bored disinterest. It can signal boredom to your reader. I think you're in an inn, but that's never really stated. Decent beginning, but I don't feel like I have much feel for the narrator, aside from the fact that he (presumably) polishes floors and has a thing for Looty.

***

Kind of hooked, but it’s not a sharp one. Would read on. The title intrigues me.

***

I like Skinny Nosh, and the tribe v. kingdom line. Some good stuff here, but it reads like it needs some polishing for clarity. Interesting though.

***

The third paragraph has personality, and while it borders on infodump it's at least done in a compelling way. I suggest moving it up to the top and then launch into Butler's brazen entry to the room. Otherwise it looks you're introducing a character, then waiting a paragraph, and then introducing him again. Since this is a first person perspective, I'd start with the details most pertinent to the POV character, which in this case is apparently his relationship to Lootay and not his muddy boots or bear fur cloak.

Otherwise I liked this, I'd keep reading.


***

Cute title – play on that famous play – but downhill from there. Info dump in last paragraph turned me completely off.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:52 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #9

NEVER FOREVER


It's a little known fact that anyone can peer into the faerie realm if they do it just right. My grandfather explained it to me when I was just a boy about eight years old. We had come to visit him and Nana in the farmlands of upstate New York. It was a sprawling house squatting in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields of corn and soy, and bracketed on three sides by mountains that made the horizon look like a set of jagged teeth.

Gramps and Nana hadn't raised my father there, I was told, but had bought the place after their children had grown. They were once city folk, like my brother and I were, but had retired there for unknown reasons. Dad always said that they were running away from responsibility. It wasn't until I died that I learned it was the exact opposite.

*****

I like this but, oddly, that last line, the one that's clearly supposed to be the hook, throws me out of what the rest pulled me into and I wouldn't read past it.

***

Love the “anyone can do it” aspect of the introduced magic. Immediately engaged my inner child (who has always wanted to do magic).

***

Nice first sentence hook. Second sentence redundent with "young boy" and "eight years old" (choose one). Sentences three and four are fine in clearly describing the setting. The next couple lines seem to switch gears a little by running a little long regarding the protagonist's father's opinion of his parents. Consider tightening this up. The l line "It wasn't until I died that I learned it was the exact opposite" is another great hook, if a little confusing as I'm not sure where the story is goin.

***

If the house is surrounded by fields of corn and soy, then why is it bracketed by mountains? So if this guy has died, why is he the narrator? It is definitely a hook that would drag me on, but I do so scratching my head.

***

The first two lines are interesting but could be trimmed to be crisper – 'just' can almost always be cut. After that I get an unemotional description of a house that has no meaning yet and a convoluted family history. My eyes were glazing over by the time I got to the hooky last sentence which was not strong enough to interest me at that point. I would not read on.

***

That last line nearly went past me, then, woah, the MC is a ghost? The setting is very strong, and definitely fantasy, with a celtic feel.

***


This is all telling, no showing. Still, I really like the writing in this one. I would definitely read more.

***

A nice, unusual opening. Good first sentence. It's well written, so it works, but it might be nice to see the story without jumping through the backstory first.

***

Very nice. Good setup, well drawn characters, clear speculative element and well defined fantasy theme. I would read on.

***

I like this one. Nice opening sentence and great hook at the end. This is how you do it.

***

Nice beginning. This needs to be tightened up a little – a little redundancy needs to cleaned up and sharpened. The hint to a fantasy element is there. I would read on.

***

Reminds me too much of Fablehaven. The comparison hurt this ones chances for me.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:53 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #10

THE TRAIL OF BROKEN PROMISES


A log sizzled and popped, shooting an angry coal onto the restaurant floor. Jord inhaled oak scented smoke as the coal seared the pockmarked floorboards. He caught a whiff of something else.

The front door smacked open. Frozen air assailed the patrons who drew their cloaks tighter.

A Morl. A big one. His frame filled the door, silhouetted against the frozen mountain. Their beady eyes could see through any disguise, conjured or constructed.

Damn. Jord had really liked Nights Haven.

The Morl weaved around crowded tables and swung his morning star. Jord's chair splintered.

"Apparently I'm not finished killing." Jord pressed the tip of his dagger against the Morl's back. "I'm so sorry."

*****

I think the action goes a little off here. I don't get how he got into position to press a knife against his assailant's back, from being seated and watching the door, then having his chair splintered, presumably from under him. Also the short, stabbing sentances that are, I assume, intended to be punchy and fast paced, seem to me more jerky than anything. Not sure I would read on. There is no sense of character here at all.

***

I like the potential here: the bad-ass protagonist, the fantasy elements (powers of the Mort), and opening direct with action. The delivery is a bit rough, however. The first paragraph is a bit long and perhaps unnecessay; consider omitting it. "Beady eyes" is a cliche. Jord doesn't get up from his chair before it's "splintered" and suddenly his knife is at the Mort's back (I got the senseyou wished to convey Jord's speed, but this is unclear). Similarly, the last sentence indicates missing information in hat Jord says he is not yet finsished killing, but we never see him kill (or hear of him killing) anything/anyone before this.

***

I would have liked this better except for this being the fourth tavern/attacker opening. Can we settle on the fact that it's a cliché? I'd read on because I'm interested in how Jord can move so quickly.

***

Very disjointed and stark. Need to lead through the action and thoughts more. There are events, but nothing leading into them. A swing of a sword and his chair splintered? So I'm supposed to assume he got out of the chair in time? You need to share that. Action/reaction. I would not read on.

***

Nice last line and sense of action towards the end, although I would have liked to see how Jord moved. I didn’t like the “whiff of something else” which was vague. Frozen air… was a move to an omniscient POV, which accentuated the any potential misses from a cinematic perspective.

***

I feel like there are major jumps in the action, like the whole of it was squeezed into thirteen lines. The scene isn't established well enough for me to envision it. For example: how does Jord get out of his chair to get the dagger against the Morl's back? I would not read further, it's too disjointed. (I also think Jord's name is too close to Morl.)

***

This was pleasant. I had a little confusion right at the end. I think you're trying to imply that Jord moved so fast he got behind the Morl when it attacked, but I had to think about it.

***

Another tale set in an Inn. Same type of opening too. I think you can start calling these cliché.

***

We seem to be in an Inn mood this week. Nice open. Clear speculative element, nice setting, well drawn characters and well defined fantasy theme. I could find some nits, but that's all they'd be.

***

Coal doesn’t have emotion. Too disjoint and cliché for my tastes to even read to the end.

***

This is the third story so far where people are sitting in a bar/ restaurant and a door bangs open. Not bad, just mentioning this is probably something editors see a lot, if we've noticed a pattern here. This one is a bit confusing. No description of what a Morl is, other than big with good eyesight. Am I supposed to know what a Morl is? Moral of the story...

***

Some issues with visualizing the Morl. We don't know what it is a big version of and no real details are provided. Jord's dry comment is not particularly engaging, and his fatigue with killing could be expressed better through his actions than dialog. Some of the sentences come across as too short and functional as well, but not necessarily wrong, just not smooth. We don't know what Nights Haven is yet and the reference is just confusing.

All in all, it's interesting, I'd probably read on.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:54 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #11

SAM RYAN'S GUIDE FOR USING MAGIC TO IMPRESS GIRLS


So you want to use magic to impress girls. Congratulations! Here are a few tips I've learned the hard way.

Tip Number One. Sure, writing a girl’s name on the grass with fire seems like a romantic way of showing someone you care. Before you attempt this again, however, here are a few helpful guidelines to follow.

Do you know the girl’s actual name? Remember, no Laura wants the name Lily embrowned in her lawn until the snow finally covers it.
Second, yes, it seems extra romantic to leave this gesture anonymously. However, whenever you light a fire, you must stay around to maintain it. Laura didn’t seem to like it when her entire yard caught on fire, though on the plus side, at least she didn’t know you wrote her name wrong. It is Laura, right?

*****

Nice. Proof that fantasy doesn't need to be stodgy, it can be light hearted. I think I know who wrote this, but very well done. One of my favorites.

***

Not bad. Kinda funny. I will need to read more before I decide whether I am hooked or not.

***

This was humorous and clever, but I'm afraid it just may not be to my taste. Well done, though.

***

This is a funny idea. But is it a story? It feels more like a humorous self-help book. The problem I have with that is that the tip one advice tells the reader to remember things before attempting it "again". Why again? It strikes me that someone reading this self-help guide is probably looking for ideas they've never thought of or tried before.

***

This had a wonderful voice. Loved it. Hilarious.

***

Cute idea, but could be a lot cleaner prose. Doesn't feel like the list style humor that was promised is carried through. Make it sharp and it might work. At this time, I would not read on.

***

I'd put this in the cute category, but there really isn't a hook here and I don't get a feel for any kind of a story. I wouldn't continue… maybe. The title is rather catchy.

***

I absolutely love this one. No crit to offer. It's perfect as it is.

***

Light-hearted. A little unlear. Not sure who the protagonist is speaking to (Himself? Since he says "before you try this again"). Also, how does he tay nonymous if he has to be present to "maintain" the magic?

***

The narrator in this is too up close for me. I don't mind first person, but I want to read, not be spoken to. I have no idea who the character is, save for the title, or where this is going. I wouldn't read on.

***

Ugh, I really dislike titles like this one, but that's just personal preference. I know I'm in the minority here. The first tip is kind of out of left field, unless this will later be established as a normal thing. Even then, it will confuse the audience. Better to arbitrarily skip ahead and call this number 32 or 42 or 66, so we can assume more practical advice comes first like Don't pick your nose at dinner, or try not to poke your date with your Morningstar.

The lack of a real setting/characters is not encouraging. The advice is amusing enough but I'm not invested in any way. I guess, if you're going to give really strange advice, this advice just isn't strange enough to make me wonder what the rest of the guide says.

***

Nice start of a fun and light fantasy flash piece. After 13 tips it will not be funny anymore. I would have liked a short one liner for the tip and then the amusing explanation and sample

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #12

IN THEIR NATURAL ELEMENT


Blaze let her outer flame turn a stern magenta to hide the anger that her inner flame felt. Pyre had just jumped to the sky, tossing half of his essential being into the wind. How many years of maturation are lost now? she wondered. Just when I could finally have a decent conversation. How can I look after that child again? The memories of last time around sent her into a hot rage, burning her chosen treetop to the wood and curling the needles of a nearby pine. If she were younger, she would have ripped off some leaves and sent them cindering into the sky.

“But I, but I, but I,” Pyre’s fresh kindling protested. “But I confirmed it. We must, we must, we must...”

“Don’t say it. It's not possible. The humans have not domesticated fire.”

*****

I'm a bit confused by this, is the POV Blaze or Pyre. Also alluding to 'last time' without any kind of explanation is not a hook and just makes the speech at the end meaningless. I have no idea what they are talking about. I wouldn't read on, but mostly because this has the tone of a YA story to it, and that's not my thing anyway.

***

I found the prose a bit clunky, but the uniqueness of the characters drew me
right in.


***

I like this. Unique aliens/magical creatures. I'd like it better if it you went further in world-building. Such creatures would not havenames derivedfrom English words for fire (Blaze, Pyre). Give them their own language. Similarly, they should have names in their own tongue for their "external fire" and "inner fire."

***

I'm sorry. I'm totally lost with this one. If Pyre tosses his essential being away, why does this make Blaze mad? The following conversation is, to me pretty much incomprehensible. How does Pyre's act relate to humans fire domestication abilities?

***

Too confusing. By the time it gets to clarity, I still don't have anything to care about. I don't feel fire's plight. I would not read on.

***

I would not read on. I'm sorry. I just don't know what is happening. This has something to do with fire being sentient I think, but it is not capturing me.

***

This is a really cool idea, but I found myself very confused as I read along. How does a flame live for years? How does it mature? Wouldn't it have already burned down its chosen tree? Definitely worth thinking about and exploring further, though.

***

Very good. Nicely done, the problem this entry has is its proximity to #11. Both are good attempts at something different and very fun reads. This one will be tougher to carry on for very long however. Maybe short fiction?

***

Are these two characters beings of fire? I’m intrigued.

***

"Stern magenta" is a strange description, not really sure how that would look. Given we're talking about personified flames, it might just be better to tell us how they feel instead of describing it, as it will be an uphill battle either way. The odd characters and setting is amusing and I'm wondering how this will be pulled off in the long term. I'm confused about the necessity of gender (since you deliberately use 'she' and 'he') and not yet convinced these flames have a life that requires it. Also, while the comment about humans is clearly meant to set up the central conflict, I don't quite understand why it matters to these fires. I don't even have a hint of what their lives must be like such that humans having fire is an issue. Sounds like this is a good idea but you haven't yet hooked me.

***

Nice start but a bit confusing. I can suspend my disbelief for this although the context is a lacking clarity. I would read on.

***

Confused enough to not read on. Clarity please. I do like the idea of beings of fire worrying about humans domesticating them. Interesting.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #13

A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH


The Goddess of Death trudged across the battlefield, touching the gravely injured with each step. Everywhere she looked a lesser being begged to die. An ogre with a partially severed head held its neck, eyes wide in disbelief. An elf impaled in the chest by a spear cried in agony as it grasped at the shaft. Limbs quivered on demons whose heads were squashed with clubs. Death’s hands never stopped, there were just too many to service. Their groans and pleas frayed the Goddess’s nerves.

A simple fate waved at her on the far side of the field, touching a lesser being here and there as he walked. He looked familiar, likely an old school mate from Glorious State.

The dolt walked up and struck up a conversation as if they were equals. “I see you made full-fledged god status. How’s ascension

*****

A nice little tale with a twist. Started out as a more standard Fantasy tale and morphed into a little bit of Satire. I'm guessing the author has been at a school reunion recently. Like #12 a little tough to make a longer story out of. But still nicely done.

***

I'm not sure the tone of the opening matches the tone of the end. It's an intriguing concept, though. I also think that some of the injuries you'd describe would have left the victim thoroughly dead already, rather than needing to wait for death to come for them.

***

I would read more. I just wished that Death were more interested in talking to a former school chum.

***

Another high quality opening. The gruesome opening paragraph contrasted with the amusing twist of the following paragraphs. It reminded me of a character in a one-person fantasy rpg, which would follow the MC around town asking annoying questions – the character’s name was Noob.

***

Strangely enough, while deftly described, I feel like I'm getting a conflicting picture of the mc. Yes, she's arrogant, but, 'just too many to be serviced' indicates just that, 'service'. Also, the word 'dolt' seems out of place. I'm really not sure about this one. I might give it a few more paragraphs to see if it solidifies. I'd probably read on, but with some skepticism.

***

I had to read the opening twice to understand what the 'Fate' and 'Death' in the title really meant. Is he also dispatching the wounded? If she has just made it to godhood, then should she be 'a goddess' rather than 'the Goddess'? I'd read on a bit more out of curiosity to see if there will be a fight going on, but I think with two potentially unlikeable characters, I might not read on very far.

***

I found this too blase and unemotional for all the tragedy of the setting. Just me, perhaps. I need the Goddess to have an emotional reaction to her profession/doom and to her charges perhaps in contrast to "a simple fate." I need someone to care.

***

Not sure about this. I liked the first paragraph then suddenly the two deities started to sound like a couple of school kids. The imagery was engaging at first but the prose clumsy.

***

I'm on the fence for this one. I love the battle field imagery, and the dead having to wait to die, Well done. I'd keep reading for that, the dolt 's dialog however needs work, and coming at the end of the thirteen, it turns me off the thirteen.

***

Okay, the characters are interesting enough to keep reading, and the prose strong and well timed. I'd keep reading to see where this is going. The lowercase 'fate' confused me and I had to reread those two sentences several times before I understood what was going on enough to proceed. There is probably a better way to introduce the 'dolt' – which is an odd descriptive to jump to.

***

Interesting opening and 1st paragraph is strong, but needs to be tightened. The “old school mate” was unexpected and changed the context of the story not in a good sense.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:57 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #14

MARK OF NOWHERE


The blade of the chisel slipped while I carved into the tortoise's shell and I cursed. The sun was not long from setting; I was running out of time. This was the eighth tortoise I'd etched with the Befuddlement spell. I'd have to stop to sharpen the chisel before I caught and enchanted the ninth member of my reptilian army.

Regret oozed into my heart when I looked at the Rajian tent village amongst the dunes. These were good people with open hearts and in a moment of desperation I had endangered them. They didn't know they had to leave yet, didn't know who they'd been aiding. After dinner I would tell them the first. I didn't dare tell them the second.

If the Sultana ever found out they'd helped me, the last Tigress Enchanter of Taprobana, she'd have them all killed.

*****

Not sure where this is going and some of the prose is a little confusing, but I'd read on, though it'd better turn into something soon.

***

I like this but somehow it doesn't grab me. Perhaps it is because there is less tension in preparing for a conflict than in actually being in the conflict. I don't know why the protagonist is on the run or why he's being pursued with such vengeance. But I lie that he is concerned for the fate of those who help him.

***

The last line deadened the hook. I was more focused on the MC and interested in what he/she was doing. The mention of the Sultana didn't help the opening. We are confronted with an 'if she finds out' rather than she would soon find out. It takes away the tension built with the turtles (what are they going to be used for? Is that the real hook?) and his reckless endangerment. I'd read on for the MC's sake and not for the Sultana's.

***

Good conflict potential, interesting idea with the tortoises, sympathetic MC. Very good start.

***

First person does not feel appropriate here. I'm not hooked.

***

Lots of interesting concepts here and clean writing. I felt for the narrator. I did, however, feel the need to google tortoises and the desert, as well as tigers and the desert. I found desert tortoises, but in the sort of desert with dunes, and I'm not clear on where your piece is set, but tigers are generally associated with jungles, not deserts, so unless your narrator came from quite some distance (which is possible) I had some difficulties with plausibility.

***

A more standard fantasy story. Nicely done, nice speculative element, well drawn character and strong fantasy theme. This was a good lead in and the story was evident.

***

This sounds very Narnian-ish. Not sure what is going on and only mildly interested so far.

***

First sentence is awkward, but you quickly establish a rhythm. Regret "oozing" is unusual and I don't know how well I like the repetition of 'heart' in two adjacent sentences. The stinger line about being a Tigress Enchanter of Taprobana seems to fall flat for me, mostly because I don't really have a good grasp of HOW screwed these people are. The 'she'd have them all killed' line almost sounds like hyperbole, so I'm not sure yet if the Sultana is crazy or if Enchanters are horrible. All in all, it's interesting, but I don't know if I'd keep reading on this alone.

***

It’s confusing. There are many ideas but they’re disjointed. I have no idea of what the setup will lead and I don’t care to read on.

***

Interesting. I like the carving the shell, and the Tigress enchanter, the Sultana. I'd keep reading.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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Entry #15

HORNED BATS AND TARRED BALLS


The hot dog is loaded with globs of mustard, onions piled high, chili oozing at both ends. Today’s not a sauerkraut day. The bun is not an ordinary white bread bun, but sour dough lightly toasted giving it a slight crunch. I smile at our hosts as I take my big bites letting relish tickle my nose. They’re good folks; they talk family, not stats. Except, they’ve hidden the hard stuff; I guess I’ll have to mooch off a reporter’s flask in exchange for sound bites.

“Eddie, there you are,” says a husky voice. Jack Stamesky stands there waving a cold brew near my face. I’ve been able to avoid him most of the season. I’ve paid my dues to his devilish schemes, branding my hide, tanning my backside - but he keeps coming back asking for more.

*****

A hot dog stand is not a bad way to start. Intriguing protagonist but the story isn’t hooking me so far.

***

I love opening day. Clearly a modern tale with a thin coating of fantasy. If I had to guess something akin to Damn Yankees. Good writing, nice lead in, but as I said a little thin on the fantasy element.

***

Quite thorough hot dog description, and a strong voice. I'm not, however, seeing fantasy at this time.

***

I'm not a fan of the present tense, and I'm not sure how much I care about the food that's being eaten. I feel there's a time for the mention of food; I'm just not sure that the time is at the opening of the story, and in such detail. I would not read further, but to be fair, that's mostly because it's in present tense.

***

Great description of the hot dog. But I am at loss as to what this story is about. Not sure if I would read on.

***

I have no idea what's going on. It's fairly well written but there's not enough connection to what the scene, or story, is going to be about. A lot of time was spent on the hot dog and I don't know why. There's a mention of 'family, not stats', but what stats? Why is that important? The second paragraph has no grounding and I know even less about what's going on with that. The prose would make me give it more of a chance if only it made sense. I would not read on.

***

No fantasy element except for the title and the allusion that Stamesky is a real actual devil incarnate. I do like the voice and I would likely read on.

***

Good characterization and writing, but I perceive no fantasy element.

***

I hate first person present. If it's not done really well it stinks. That and there seems to be no fantasy element in this at all. Sorry, it's mostly personal preference, but I wouldn't read on.

***

The tar balls in the title, remind me of a Jimmy Fallen song. [Smile] Good description, but no fantasy. I'd read on, but for the purposes of this contest, I can't vote for the story.

***

I'm a little disturbed by the initial paragraph. I can't determine if you're trying to be appealing or repulsed. It seems like it could go both ways. I'm guessing we're seeing a news anchor or investigator of some sort who is putting up with food in order to discuss something else, but again I'm not sure what's going on. Detailed description of food is typically a good way to gain interest in a reader but something about the way you used it here has turned me off.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 04:59 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

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axeminister
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Entry #16

THE ROOSTER CROWED AT MIDNIGHT: A MAGICAL MYSTERY


Winston thought of a cake - or rather the cake was thought up for him.

It had three layers, with stripes of alternating chocolate and watermelon frosting - topped with bacon bits and rotted caterpillar. He nearly retched. But as the apparition hung in his vision, he didn’t doubt for an instant that he would place an order for the disgusting thing. The whole experience was all magic, of course. The restaurant boasted using proprietary magery and mentalism, in hex runes if the rumors were true, that could predict the exact dish that would completely satisfy your deepest gustatory cravings with every flavor, texture, and aroma. To the last taste bud.

On cue, a fairy waitress popped into his vision. She was a fat little thing with raggedy wings, wearing an inhumanly soiled apron that exposed too much cleavage, and

*****

I like this. It's well written and leads me into a magical world with quirks and oddities without really trying. I'd definately read on.

***

I found the opeing line a little confusing but soon understood what was happening. A whimsical piece. Settng and character established, but I'm not sure what the conflict is.

***

The second paragraph was too much of an infodump. It needs to be tightened up… a lot. The hook with the seedy fairy is precious and worth wading through the cake thing. I don't know if the cake is in front of him or if he has a vision of it in his mind. What is the fairy waitress popping into his vision if he's already made up his mind (or the magic has) of what he is to eat. We really don't have a main character but I think on the strength of the last line, I'd stick around and wait for what's to come.

***

First, I completely recognize the M*A*S*H reference in the title. You snake. [Wink] Interesting concept and fairly well covered. You refer to the 'apparition' and it's not entirely clear what that is. I'm envisioning something like a hologram in front of his face. The reference to 'hex runes' means nothing and could use some explanation. 'Inhumanly stained' is odd phrasing. However, I feel like I'm in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing and I have confidence that the story will be entertaining. I would read on.

***

This has a strength about it, and the idea of the magical restaurant is very interesting. Not sure if it was quite working for me, however – I think it was the rotted caterpillar which put me off, as well as the MC.

***

May I say, "EW!" It's a neat idea, but I'm having a hard time believing that this really is magery that can come up with the perfect food and then give him THAT. On the plus side, you've certainly elicited a strong 'ew' reaction, so well done!

***

I really like the use of magic to sale food, it's cute. But this opening could, in my opinion, use something extra. I'd prefer to know that something else is going on, something more than Winston passively ordering food that he's assured he'll like (he's with a friend or on a date, he's delivering a message, whatever). In fact, I'd probably like it more if Winston decided to order something other than what the magic told him to get. In that sense, I would see him thinking for himself which would likely build sympathy. Also, I don't think the mention of the rotted caterpillar is necessary. It's unlikely that anyone's taste buds are craving rotted caterpillars, I have a hard time suspending that bit of disbelief.

***

Interesting place but the image of the waitress you describe might make me lose my appetite .

***

One of the problems with telling your reader what's coming is you have to meet that expectation early on. I didn't see the mystery, it's probably coming. A little bit of overwriting, gustatory? Still a strong beginning, clear fantasy element and nice lead in, the speculative part is well hidden, though.

***

That fisrt line is very confusing. 'the cake was thought up for him' is awkward construction and it doesn't really convey anything meaningful. The idea of a magically enhanced restaurant is good, but the combination of gross description with an inevitable sense that Winston was going to eat it is unsettling. I'm not sure I'd keep reading.

***

It’s making me hungry. Maybe I’ll have some fig of newt. Interesting and quirky. I would make a reservation to read more.

***

This is my kind of story. I'd read on, with bells on.

*****

[ August 03, 2012, 05:00 PM: Message edited by: axeminister ]

Posts: 1473 | Registered: Jan 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
axeminister
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Welp.
That's that!

Axe

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