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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » Ready For Market -- October (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Ready For Market -- October
TaleSpinner
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Hi Everyone, and welcome to October's Ready for Market challenge.

The first step is this:

Please post your first thirteen in this thread by October 11th, (slightly longer this month to minimize the clash with the Sudden fiction deadline) using the following format:

Title:
Word count:
Genre:
First thirteen:

Please do not post anything else in this thread. For discussions and questions, and to see how this group works, please use the ‘Open Discussions’ thread entitled “Ready for Market--October”.

I’ll post instructions in this thread as and when necessary.

For reference here’s the overall monthly cycle:
On the 1st day of the month everyone is invited to post first 13s.

We give ourselves a week or so to do that. This is not time for writing since the stories should be ready for market, but just recognising that we can't all get to things immediately.

During the week after entries close, we
- grade first 13s
- request at least one manuscript (via an e-mail to the writer) of the story we'd like to read and grade (probably one whose first 13 we scored highly)

By the last day of the month we
- grade at least one manuscript
- grade more stories if we want to (e.g. those that have great first 13s in addition to our favourites)

The "end of the day" is the end of the day in your local time. There's no need to be more precise than that.

Cheers,
Pat


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snapper
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Pity for Lena
2850 words
Horror


Satisfaction.
It was the first thing Lena felt after she pulled the trigger.
Charles’ face went white, his mouth agape. He sat down on the bed and stared at his lifeless wife on the floor.
“How does it feel to have your life ruined?” Lena asked.
Charles didn’t reply. He continued to stare at the corpse with the gaping head wound. The west wall of the bedroom was sprayed with brain matter. A pool of blood soaked into the carpet.
Lena waited for Charles to break down. To start crying, scream with anger, or better yet, grab the gun and take his own life. Instead his shocked expression slowly changed into that blank, emotionless stare she hated so much.
“Show some feelings for me for once, you pig!”

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 02, 2008).]


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skadder
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Title: Metal Fatigue
Word Count: 850
Genre: Sci-fi


When the motion sensor tripped, Edward-65 moved smoothly from power-conserve mode to full power-up. Somebody muttered under their breath and there was the scrape of boxes being moved about. Edward-65 analysed the speech pattern; it was a perfect match.
"Good morning, Mr. Snape. I was hoping you would come one day." With only a few minutes of power left in his batteries, he was anxious--a simulated, yet very real emotion to him—to make a final request of his master.
"Who said that...?"
"I did, sir. Over here, behind the boxes."
Edward-65 didn't move--he couldn't--but grimy hands appeared and lifted the dusty box that had blocked Edward-65’s view for the last twelve years.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 03, 2008).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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Estellia's Awakening

Fantasy/Horror

3,500 words

Warning-Rated NC-17 for violence

Estellia walked disconsolate through the mechanized landscape of warehouses, tenements and factories. She hated it here, hated the smoke, rust, and metal, the grinding of machines.
She had come to find work, but she wanted to leave the land of Yesidria and its mechanical magic behind her. She longed to go to one of the other countries like Zelania or Hasid where there were still trees, animals and clean air.
However, for the time being, she lacked the means to go anywhere else, so for now she tried to find a way to survive here.
Estellia was young yet, but the sooty darkness of this place, its dirty concrete and rusted metal made her feel old sometimes. Her will and her spirit were strong though, and she fought within herself not to let the darkness and despair of her surroundings seep into her heart.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited October 03, 2008).]


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alliedfive
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Title: Shepherd of Men
Word Count: 6,800
Genre: Fantasy

Torchlight colored the mist of Gripp's breath as it disappeared over the wall of the fort and into darkness. He normally didn't mind the late watch, but in the last hour his companion hadn't shut his mouth for more than a few seconds. Now Gripp knew why they called him Fatlip.
"It's true then? What they say about your family," Fatlip said.
Gripp nodded and heard Fatlip whistle.
"All dead in service to Dunfall. Ain't that some luck."
"My mother is still alive," said Gripp.
Fatlip managed a few heartbeats of silence before continuing. "The boys all have bets about why you got sent out here with the rest of us. See, we've all had our problems: fighting, deserting, and worse. But you, I've heard you're one of Master


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AWSullivan
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Title: The Rink
Word Count: 2,100
Genre: Science Fiction

The lift pitched and lurched on its way up the long shaft causing my stomach to tighten. A cold wind whistled through the gaps between the wood planks of the rickety car.

“We should get ready, Leigh,” Mom said over the din of the other passengers.

I nodded and began pulling additional clothes from my pack. They were older and more tattered than what I already wore but would provide an extra layer of protection against the sub-zero temperatures and deadly wind above.

“Goggles on,” the operator called out.

I fished my goggles from my pack and wiped the ultraviolet lens before pulling them over my eyes. The heavy cloth shawl I wrapped around my head smelled of mildew and old


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kathyton
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Title:A Way Out
Genre: supernatural fantasy
Word count: 3K
Rated PG 13 for language and drug references
One foot balanced on Abe’s thin shoulder, Carter felt for a toehold in the concrete wall. He wobbled, grabbed at vines, and almost dropped the long-necked beer bottle clutched between his teeth.
“****,” Abe whispered. “Move your fat ass, man. You’re heavy.”
Carter took his sweet time pulling himself atop the wall, but then hoisted Abe up after him. They sat together, soaking up 3:00 AM Paris. The narrow streets were dark, except for a bakery’s lights spilling out a window, onto the night. Carter could smell the bread, and his stomach growled. “Shut up. We’re on a mission.” Their last stunt before Abe left for college had to be awesome.
Sycamore boughs creaked against the wall, and a cold breeze from the cemetery rustled its leaves. Abe gripped the ledge and peeked at the ground. “****, this is high.”

[This message has been edited by kathyton (edited October 06, 2008).]


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snapper
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Let’s get this straight. We are now doing a 1-9 grading scale. 9 is the greatest opening that you could hope for, 1 is don’t let your three-year old kid write your first page anymore.


Metal Fatigue by Skadder - 8

A quick and clear set up, perfect for its size. I got a clear idea what the MC is about and its dilemma. One knit is the last sentence, a Edward-65 echo. Perhaps you should change one to ‘the robot’ or something? I am reading on to the next page eagerly.


Estellia's Awakening by Merlion-Emrys - 3

Ooooo – an info-dump. Not a good way to hook a reader. Easily fixable with either some dialog or a descriptive scene showing her walk through this dirty, noisy, heartless, factory. A few other things that bugged me.
Disconsolate, a little too thesaurus-ary for me.
A misplaced ‘and’ in the second sentence.
A tendency to qualify the end of your sentence with that extra word or two. Such as, behind her, here, sometimes, though. These little things feels like you’re writing down to the reader.
Nevertheless, this has the air of something interesting. Rework that opening and your guaranteed a sharp hook. At this point, I may not read on.

Shepherd of Men by Alliedfive - 5

Two men standing guard, eeeh. Okay but not that exciting. The speech tags seem unnecessary, could use a little reworking regarding them. I’m iffy about reading on but probably would.

The Rink by AWSullivan - 6

The biggest issue I have with this is I’m not sure what is going on. You probably can’t help that because you can only put in so much in 13 lines. Still, as far as a hook goes only a curiosity of this cold world would get me to read on.


A Way Out by Kathyton - 7

Well written and not a bad hook. I don’t have the feeling of much of a conflict or dilemma at this point. The strong prose would encourage me to plow on through.

My Interstellar Galway Hooker - 6

I'm confused but the cunfusion sort of hooks me. It appears that this is some sort of intergalactic wide web that the MC is commenting on but I can't be sure. I'd probably keep reading to see where it is going.


Johnny Bench Jupiter by Kin Castelmare - 5

The concept makes it hooky but the plausibility factor almost cancels it. I think this would be better without that first paragraph. The second one would be a better way to open, minus [bAssignment[/b]. Also, even if it were possible, Jupiter wouldn't fall toward Earth. It'd fall toward the sun and collide with Earth along the way.


As always, all are free to send me their submissions. First come, first served. I will do my best to critique them all.


[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 11, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited October 13, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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Um, I thought the closing date was the 11th -- today.

(I had some challenges this week and was unable to get to Hatrack in my usual fashion. I apologised for tardiness in the Sudden Ficiton thread and forgot to do so here too--and I apologise for that too!)

Cheers,
Pat

[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited October 11, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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Title: My Interstellar Galway Hooker
Genre: SF
Word count: 3300

She'll live longer than me. She's a starship.
My part is to love her. I guess there were others before and will be others in future, but today, here, now, it's me. I'm her lover.
She wasn't Eva when I first spotted her. She was _SpaceChic_. That was her online handle. She was arguing with some moron about how an alien race might best handle first contact with Earth. "Fry the White House, land on its lawn and ask who else would like to argue," the moron had suggested.
"Do alien races _have_ to jump straight from diplomacy to dibombacy?" she'd asked. Then the flame war started and she disappeared from sight.
A while later she popped up in another forum, this time asking


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TaleSpinner
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Sorry for my lateness.

And thanks, snapper, for keeping things alive.

Like snapper, I'd be delighted to crit all the stories so please do send yours to me if you'd like.

Cheers,
Pat


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TaleSpinner
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Pity for Lena by snapper -- 5

Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't tell if the lifeless wife is Lena or someone else. I'd perhaps read on but I'd expect to know quite soon. Also, I was confused by the abrupt change of mood between the title--pity--and the first word--satisfaction.

Metal Fatigue by skadder -- 7

I like robot stories. Somehow, this one seems to take too many words to establish that the robot has been on standby for twelve years. Also, if he was anxious, I doubt he'd be thinking about the authenticity of the emotion. And Snape is firmly in my mind as Master of Potions, I'm afraid.

Estellia's Awakening by Merlion-Emrys -- 6

I think I remember an earlier version of this from Fragments and Feedback, and it's vastly improved IMHO. I can see the grim industrial landscape. I think you could delete "one of the other countries". I stumbled over "was young yet, but " because "young yet" is a rare form of words--rare but nice. Maybe a semicolon instead of the comma? More important, if she has a strong will and spirit, why's she disconsolate and fighting darkness and despair? It seems contradictory, and I'd read on but hesitantly, for I like the motivation of characters to be clear--even if of themselves, they are human and hence contradictory.

Shepherd of Men by alliedfive -- 5

I imagine he's on some kind of guard duty. If his breath disappears over the wall he must be close to it--dangerously exposed to enemies without? If torchlight is coloring his breath, it's not entirely dark. I can't see the scene. Why does Gripp nod that it's true what they say, when it's not--his mother is still alive. It would take a better hint as to what makes Gripp interesting to entice me further into the story.

The Rink by AWSullivan -- 7

I'm intrigued, wondering what's at the top of the liftshaft and why it's so cold. From the first para I had a sense of noise of the car and the wind, so the "din of the other passengers" came as a bit of a disconnect. If they too are preparing themselves--or if not--it would be nice to know, to get a more complete picture of what's going on in the lift. (Brit, huh? That'll likely have to change to "elevator" if you submit it to a US market--but you knew that.)

A Way Out by Kathyton -- 7

I'm hooked, because I'd like to know what they're up to. The opening phrase bemused me. I could not make sense of it until Carter was mentioned. I'd suggest something like, "Carter felt for a toehold in the concrete wall. With one foot balanced on Abe's thin shoulder, he wobbled ..." The POV character appears to be Carter, yet it seems to me that "Carter took his sweet time pulling ..." is narrated from Abe's POV and it threw me slightly.

My Interstellar Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner -- mine

Johnny Bench Jupiter by Kin Castelmare -- 3

I had trouble suspending disbelief. Jupiter's a big planet and it would take a lot to push it out of orbit. Not only that, for it also to be headed towards Earth, and not some other little spot in all that space above, below and around us, seems an impossibly remote possibility. I found myself skipping the lines about watching the sky, because Santiago's reaction is predictable, in hope of finding a reason to suspend disbelief--and I would need to find it awful quick to continue reading. As it stands I get a feeling of witholding, partly because I think the secure transmission would say more and that it would be revealing.
I look forward to reading your stories, folks.

Cheers,
Pat

[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited October 11, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited October 12, 2008).]


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snapper
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Sorry TS,

I guess I should read those instructions, huh?
I edited it to include yours.


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Merlion-Emrys
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I'm not that great at grading first 13s since I'm not really big on the whole "hook" concept (wether I continue reading something is almost entirely dependent on the subject matter), so don't read to much into my opinions on that level..

Pity for Lenia snapper-6


Nicely done, and pretty gripping with the blood and the brains and all. Can't help but grab one. I was a tiny bit confused though as to who Lena is and why she's wanting Charlie to show feelings for her..I guess a mistress but I just felt a little fuddled by the scene


Metal Fatigue skadder-8


I'm not big on robots or the idea of "simulated emotions" however trying to look objectively this is very well done. Lots of information in there, and for someone who doesnt dislike the subject matter no doubt very gripping


Shepherd of Men alliedfive-6


I wonder about whats up with Gripp somewhat, beyond that there just isn't a lot thats interesting to me personally. But I see nothing particularly wrong with the writing.

The Rink AWSullivan-7


This puts me in mind of a wintry Mad Max sort of thing, which is somewhat interesting if I'm in the right mood. Definitely makes one want to see exactly whats going on.

A Way Out kathyton-9


I've actually read this one, or a version of it at least. It was strong then, and my recent reading has led me to believe its very likely to get published. The events of the first 13 arent super exciting, but the setting and writing strength more than make up for it.

My Interstellar Galway Hooker TaleSpinner-9


Honestly, this doesnt entirely make sense. But, it does so in a good way, a way that makes me want to read on till it does make sense, and thats hard to do. We don't know why she's both a starship and someone in a chatroom, but its clear we will find out. Very nice.


Johnny Bench Jupiter Kim Castelmare-7


The writing is good and I like the transmission thing, but again its rather implausible that Jupiter would leave its orbit...and I also tend to think that even at that distance, it would wreak havoc on the earth.

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited October 14, 2008).]


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Kin Castelmare
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(Sneaking under the wire! It's only 11 p.m. my time...)

Title: Johnny Bench Jupiter
Word Count: 6,200
Genre: SF

Secure Transmission: MMiW/169_05624.k44 - - Decrypted/NASA/internal/4601.6
Verification Confirmed: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Sydney, Tokyo, Vienna
Situation Status: The planet Jupiter has departed orbit and is falling towards Earth. //p.8_006

Assignment
Lynnley Santiago watched the sky. Looking up was the number one international pastime now and she couldn't help itcould anyone? Even during the day she caught herself glancing up every time she walked outside. At night, at least, she could see the planet. It had become almost as large as the moon in all its colorful, swirling, atmospheric glory.

[This message has been edited by Kin Castelmare (edited October 12, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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Wups, sorry Kin Castelmare, like snapper I too was a bit too quick. I have edited my scores above to include your story.

It's good to see eight entries this month.

Cheers,
Pat


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kathyton
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Lena 6
Great action, dialogue, high stakes. I was slightly confused with the dead wife -- I didn't know 3 people were in the scene, so I thought she shot Charlie; we were seeing his reaction to being shot. Satisfaction seems like a tame emotion for this situation and for Lena's passionate attitude at the end of the paragraph.

Metal 8
I'm interested and invested in Edward; he has a specific problem and is confronting it. flows well. Minor, minor thing to take me out of it -- "Mr. Snape." the Harry Potter world seems to own that name in the public imagination. So, I'm expecting Snape to meet a robot here (which would be excellently cool. But I suspect that isn't going to happen )


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kathyton
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computer, I wasn't finished yet --

estellia 5

I love the sense of place here, and Estellia's goal, motive, and conflict are well established. Great, starry-night name for an earth-bound girl. Nice, smooth prose. I'd like to see some of this exposition turned into scene. That would get the reader into Estellia's head and more deeply invest her in Estellia's predictament.

Shepherd 8
Fantastic opening image -- beautiful and does a lot of work in setting scene. Interesting characters, great dialogue. Easy to care about them. It does have a novel-like feel to the opening, which may be OK for a longer short story. (Doesn't bother me as a reader, might bother an editor.) Otherwise, I'd like to see Gripe encountering a specific problem, or at least hint at it, in this opening.

the rink 6
this is a good scene -- established world, characters, and the danger they confront. I'm interested in them and where they're going. I'm wondering about Leigh's goals. I assume her poverty prevents her from reaching them, whatever they are. The prose is smooth, but could be tightened for the opening. One description of the ragged clothes would make the same point and give the author more space for goal, motive, conflict material. I'd suggest starting the first line with Leigh's sensory perception -- stomach --, and then the environmental explanation -- the lift.

galway hooker 7
engaging, intriguing -- I'd read on. But, while the narrator states a possibler problem, he/she loves a starship, it doesn't seem like a specific, immediate problem to be overcome in this story.

Jupiter 7

high-stakes for the world, and lovely contrast of imminent destruction and the MC's appreciation of the beauty. I'm ok with the e-mail header in this case (a long short story): it gets right to the situation, and presumably the story will show humans dealing with it. The problem with devoting so much of the first page of a story with "decorative" elements, is that little space is left for establishing the story hook -- like MC's specific goals, motives, and conflict. All that said, a story that you know is about Jupiter crashing into Earth is a strong concept that will draw in many readers on its own. If you wanted to get this under 5K (so many more markets), you could drop the email header, and just reveal that jupiter is falling toward earth through MC's thoughts about the night sky.

[This message has been edited by kathyton (edited October 12, 2008).]


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skadder
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Pity for Lena: Snappy

I don't thinks the first word needs to be italicised; it isn't a thought, but a feeling. Otherwise I think it is a reasonably effective opening. I have read the whole story so I am aware what is going on. If I hadn't It might be a little confusing.
7/9

Estellia--Merlion

This is too info-dumpy with regard to the why, what and wherefores of her current situation. I do however like the feel and sense of the place that are established. I the info dumps were removed, converted or camoflaged better, this would be a good piece.
6/9


Sheperd of Men--Allied

Good voice--not a strong hook, though.
7/9


The Rink--Sullivan

I like the feel of this one. I am interested in the world that is hinted at. Please could you send me this one.
8/9


A Way Out--Kathyton

Not entirely hooked by this. A couple of college boys pulling a stunt in Paris--no hint of anything speculative. The prose and dialogue are fine.
7/9


Interstellar--Talespinner

This interests me. Please could you send me this one.
8/9


Johnny-- Kin

My initial thought was that Jupiter is the second largest object in the solar system, apart from sun. If it was as large as the moon in the sky everyone on earth would be dead as it's influence would drive the weather insane. I may be wrong--I am no astro-physiscist, but my temptation would be put this down as it feels it lacks scientific rigour.
6/9


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 13, 2008).]


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AWSullivan
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Pity for Lena by snapper -- 5

I'm pretty confused, or maybe I'm not. Lena killed Charles' wife in order to get him to show some emotion. I presume Lena to be his lover. It's an interesting situation but I don't get the speculative element from the first 13. Also I had to re-read in order to get a feeling for who was who. Maybe just too many character intro's in teh first 13. (Lena, Charles and his wife.

Metal Fatigue by skadder -- 8

I liked this. The writing was tight and clear. Interesting that the PoV is from a contruct that has limited power. Hopefully Mr. Snape plugs him in, although that would explain the 850 word story. When your PoV character runs out of power (life) the story is typically over.

Estellia's Awakening by Merlion-Emrys -- 6

I like the idea and I am starting to feel for the character. The prose could be tightened I think though. Seems a bit wordy.

Shepherd of Men by alliedfive -- 4

I wasn't moved by this. The first sentence seems too long and too complex for me. I don't know if its too much dialog or what but there just didnt' seem to be enough action for me to get excited about.

The Rink by AWSullivan -- Mine

A Way Out by Kathyton -- 5

This is kind of interesting. I don't see even a hit of speculative element yet which I know some editors will frown on. The hint of their last 'stunt' is a fair enough hook to keep me reading.

My Interstellar Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner -- 6

The writing is fine. I like the opening paragraph. Short, says a lot with only a few words. From this I know that the protag or PoV character is mortal or atleast more mortal than 'She'. She is a starship but because the protag refers to 'her' as a 'she' I know that either he personifies her or that the world is one where ships are given some sort of AI. Good stuff. ON the toehr hand I didn't find a firm hook that I could grab on to. I presume its coming soon.

Johnny Bench Jupiter by Kin Castelmare -- 6

You definitely have a firm hook here. The jupiter 'falling' toward earth is interesting but scientifically questionable. I'm not really a hard SF person but hopefully you explain how this is possible. The writing is fine.

--------------------------------------

Like Talespinner and snapper, I will crit all stories this month. So please send them over.

~Anthony


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Christine
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Pity for Lena - 5

I was a little confused about what was happening here. I get that Lena killed herself, but how was she talking? Otherwise good. I think if you could clear up a little confusion it would definitely be in the ready category.

Estellia's Awakening - 3

There was a grammar error in the very first sentence....desolately not desolate (adverb). Also, I thought a few of the sentences were awkward, most notably: "However, for the time being, she lacked the means to go anywhere else, so for now she tried to find a way to survive here." I stumbled over names of countries I had never heard of and that had no relevance to me...it made it difficult for me to empathize with Estella's problem. Finally, the last part of this wound its way into a bit of an info-dump before I really had a clear idea of the plot. I haven't graded one of these challenges before and I don't want to be too harsh, but in terms of readiness for market, this just seems to need more work. Now, if this was in the general feedback section, I would give it much higher marks for potential. There are some nice turns of phrase in here and the best part, at least from the glimpse I have here, is the promise of a unique and interesting landscape.

Shepherd of Men -- 6

Something about the voice was very compelling. I would honestly cut the first sentence and possibly try to weave a little bit of the setting in the middle of the dialog. The human element is the hook, and that starts in sentence 2. You do well with dialog! But Fatlip has some pretty rude things to say and I would be curious to know Gripp's internal reaction. This is close!

The Rink -- 4

I'm a little confused about what's going on. All I really know is that a girl young enough to still be taking direction from her mom is riding up a lift and it's going to be very cold at the top. While it's well written, it's not doing much to hook me.

A Way Out -- 7

Not quite my style, but I can't find anything further to polish in these first 13. You've set the scene and the characters and given us a glimpse of what they're up to.

My Interstellar Galway Hooker -- 8

Intriguing and honestly my favorite hook of the bunch. The voice is terrific and I'm curious about the characters (especially Eva). I'm not sure what it's actually about, but it doesn't have to be that sort of hook. Nice job!

Johnny Bench Jupiter

I'm torn on this one. The truth is that I am really have trouble suspending disbelief. What would cause Jupiter to break orbit that wouldn't already have done some serious badness to earth? And even assuming something could wriggle Jupiter free without effecting the other planets, why would Jupiter head towards earth as opposed to the sun? I'd be more inclined to believe that Jupiter was blown to bits and that some of the bits were going to do some serious damage to Earth. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to rate it. If I could get over that serious believability issue (which I can't), it's a compellingly world-threatening scenario and is well written! So there you are, do what you can with that.


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skadder
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I feel left out, Christine...
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Christine
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I'm so sorry! I don't know how I missed yours. All righty then...

Metal Fatigue -- 8

Nice opening! There is a clear story problem, I manage to feel sympathy even with a robot (I loved the part about the simulated anxiety), and it's well written.


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snapper
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You are sharp, Christine.

Kin, I edited my crits to include yours and feel free to send your story to me if you like.


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skadder
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So who do I send my story to? I haven't received any email requests. Does that mean I don't get any?
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snapper
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I and Pat both offered to crit them all, Adam. Most have yet to comment on the 13 yet, so patientence, pal.
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skadder
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OK...

*skulks away*


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alliedfive
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Snapper - Pity for Lena - 6 - Good scene, clearly written. Strangely enough, Charles’s reaction actually makes me less interested in the story. I would’ve been totally hooked if he had reacted at all, as it stands, he doesn’t care, so neither do I. The last sentence takes me out of it, and feels too flip for the situation. Maybe the comedy was intended.

Skadder - Metal Fatigue - 6 - Clear hook. Good writing. I was a little lost about who was talking, who was doing what at first. I think a dialog tag and some pronoun rearrangement would help.

Merlion-Emrys - Estellia's Awakening - 7 - Good atmosphere created here that for me is hook enough. The writing could probably be tightened and pared down some.

AWSullivan - The Rink - 7 - I’ve critted a version of this one, and my comments are the same. Good opening that makes me curious about what the world above is like. I don’t really know what the conflict or stakes of the characters are.

Kathyton - A Way Out - 8 - I really liked this opening. Good hook, clear writing, I can picture the scene perfectly. Also some characterization going on. Nice job. I am curious what the speculative element is.

TaleSpinner - My Interstellar Galway Hooker - 8 - Awesome opening line. Then I am confused because now we’re talking about a person, not a starship (although, that is a hook in itself). I’m hooked.

Kin Castelmare - Johnny Bench Jupiter - 7 - The problem with opening with stuff like that is I don’t care yet, so I skim. I admit I barely read all that transmission header stuff. If you started your story with “Lynnley Santiago” I think it’s a really good opening. You’ve got a clear hook (the ticking clock) and some cool imagery.

Nice job everyone.


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AWSullivan
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I also offered to read all, Skadder.

~Anthony


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TaleSpinner
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Hey Christine,

Thanks for joining in despite not having a story up for crits this month.

Cheers,
Pat


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Christine
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No problem! I just finished a novel last week and wandered back into Hatrack for inspiration for my next one. I think this challenge is one of the best ones I've seen on this site. I may even join in next month.
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Christine
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Full Story: Metal Fatigue by skadder

Story overall -- 9 (Ready for market just the way it is!)

Story characteristics:

1 character development -- 9
2 plot -- 9
3 satisfactory ending -- 8
4 milieu -- 7 (only because it was a flash and there wasn't much of this...but it wasn't really necessary either)
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 9
6 unique/never been done before -- 7 (It's similar to some things I've read, but this felt fresh which is what really matters.)
7 writing style -- 8
8 dialogue -- 8
9 action -- 8
10 understandable ("I get it") -- 9


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skadder
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Full Story: The Rink by AWSullivan

Story overall -- 8 (Only because I have the opinion a section needs to be re-done. It is an action section that would work as slo-mo in a film, but just becomes slow in text.)

Story characteristics:

1 character development -- 8
2 plot -- 6 (not a lot of plot...felt more of a character piece)
3 satisfactory ending -- 7
4 milieu -- 9 (milieu was strong)
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 7
6 unique/never been done before -- 7
7 writing style --8
8 dialogue -- 8
9 action -- 7
10 understandable ("I get it") --9

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 16, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 16, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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Hey skadder,

Did you score on the old system of 1 to 3 or the revised one of 1 to 9? No real need to rescore with the new system if you used the old one, just for clarity.

Thanks,
Pat


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AWSullivan
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He originally scored it with the new system but has since changed it. An 8 with the new system give the story a solid B at 89%.

His new scores makes it a depressing C- at 70%.

I guess he re-read it.

Anthony


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skadder
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Er..no. I thought it was meant to be on the 1,2,3, system, so I changed it. Obviously I did it imprecisely. I will change it back. Although I can't remember my original scores now!

I stand by the crit I did (although re-reading it I seem to have suggested a comma in a strange place--ignore that) and this is a B+ story.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 17, 2008).]


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AWSullivan
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Woot!
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Merlion-Emrys
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Ding 20!


Sorry, flashback


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snapper
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I have read five entries and have the time to read the other two. I like to go through them all before I publisize I feel about them.

So Allied, Kin. I'm ready when you are.


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Kin Castelmare
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Took a couple of days away to complete other deadlines and to try to forget the great comments posted already about the first 13s so that I could express my own thoughts more clearly. Good stuff everyone!

- - - - -

Pity for Lena by Snapper -- 7
Read through more than once to make sure I had a handle on the characters and what was happening, although I didn't mind. I'm a sucker for shock value, when its well done and looks like it will lead somewhere. I want to continue reading.

Metal Fatique by Skadder-- 8
Cinematic. Creates a good scene in my mind and feels like the opening to a Spielberg movie, perhaps. Establishes a connection with Edward-65 quickly. I want to continue reading.

Estellia's Awakening by Merlion-Emrys -- 5
A little hard to judge by the atmospheric start where things will go. A lot of details are put in front of us, some of which are repetitive. The words "mechanical magic" are interesting. I'd like more showing than telling but would give it a chance.

Shepherd of Men by Alliedfive -- 8
Made me smile and set up the potential for conflict right from the start. Really like how the dialog and the MC's inner voice were worked in their beats. Easy to follow, nice descriptions, interesting characters, light touch. Definitely want to read.

The Rink by AWSullivan -- 6
A bit of a slow start, but the quality of the writing tells me to trust the writer's skills. Might be a quiet beginning to a story that will lead through the "deadly wind" to something good. Would like to continue reading.

A Way Out by Kathyton -- 9
Starts with a physical dilemma, adds Paris for atmosphere and then lets me know there's a caper underway. I'm hooked. I can see the whole scene in my mind and can't wait to see where it will lead. Need to read.

My Intersteller Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner -- 8
Great juxtaposition of words in the title. Sort of a hitch-and-scoot start with all the new words and expressions. Fun but I keep slowing down to absorb them, although I don't mind too much. Like the premise and want to see where it leads.

- - - - -

I will send out Johnny Bench Jupiter to those who have requested by Monday. Please do send me your stories everyone! Next week will be a good week for reading and responding.


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Merlion-Emrys
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Full Story: My Interstellar Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner


Story Overall-8 Could nearly be 9 but there were a couple of elements I think are a tiny bit overused, and the begining was just a tad unfocused

character development-9 very nicely done here

plot-not really a lot of it in context I'd say 8

satisfactory ending-9

milieu-7 a little more about the world isn't neccesary but a couple of small touches might enhance things

willing suspension of disbelief-9 (note I have the most willing suspension of disbelief, for the most part, on the planet0

unique-mostly about a 7, a few of the concepts 3

writing style-7 good overall, there are some parts especially toward the begining that feel...not immature but sort of. a little forced maybe. a better notion of the MC's age might help.

dialogue-8 also very nice for the most part

action-there really wasnt any, so I'm not going to rate this

understandable-9


Very nice peace overall. Very saleable, I think. My only major complaints are that the whole "mankind is too immature and warlike for space" and/or "technologically advanced species have outgrown conflict" things have been done a bit to death. And I also dont really agree with the last one realistically...I dont think any species would ever "outgrow" conflict, except maybe through borg-like mind control etc.
Second especially at the begining there seems to be a hint of "golly jee wiz" type feeling in the writing style that may or may not work, I'm not totally sure myself.
That and maybe throw in just a few more light touches of info on the world and main character, and I think you'll have a very strong piece.


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skadder
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Full Story: My Interstellar Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner


Story Overall-8 I enjoyed this story, but found my self slightly unsatisfied by the ending. It seemed to me to be a story of boy pursuing girl (yeah..a spaceship). She is described as this gorgeous, intelligent, fiesty, funny girl and by the end I wanted them to get it on (at least to some degree). That appeared to be the set-up, anyway, but the story lacked the payout, as they didn't. Couldn't they get it on a little in VR? Still, this story will sell. With a few improvements it will sell VERY well, IMHO (but then I am no editor!).

character development-9

plot-8

satisfactory ending-7

milieu-8

willing suspension of disbelief-8

unique-8

writing style-8

dialogue-8 also very nice for the most part

action-8.

understandable-9


I am sorry, but I have some personal problems (my father's health) at present, and so can only offer this level of crit. I planned to crit the entire piece, but I am afraid I can't concentrate, so this will have to do. I was going to ask for a few more, but I don't think I can do them justice at present.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited October 20, 2008).]


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TaleSpinner
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Thanks, skadder, for your very encouraging crit of my story. Please do take care of your father and your family and don't worry about the challenge.

Wishing you and your father all the best,
Pat


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alliedfive
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Full Story: A Way Out by Kathyton

Story overall -- 7 -- I really see no flaws in the writing, plotting, or characters. I only mark it down because I wasn't that interested in the subject matter. Felt like I needed to either be a musician or a bigger music fan than I am to really enjoy it.

Story characteristics:

1 character development -- 8 -- Good job here. Clearly defined people.
2 plot -- 8 -- pretty simple, everything made sense.
3 satisfactory ending -- 9 -- all the loose ends tied up.
4 milieu -- 6 -- I know where I am, but it wasn't the focus.
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 4 -- Honestly, this felt like a non-fantasy story until the you-know-what happens, and by then it felt out of place.
6 unique/never been done before -- 9 -- I have never read anything like it.
7 writing style -- 9 -- Really nice, as usual from Kathyton.
8 dialogue -- 9 -- Perfectly believable and helped the characterization.
9 action -- 6 -- Not a ton of it, but I think I felt tension where I was supposed to.
10 understandable ("I get it") -- 9


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snapper
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Hello everybody.

I have read them all. Since this is the Ready for Market thread, I am going to treat the stories as if I were the Assistant Editor of a major magazine. Somewhat like John Adams of Fantasy and Science Fiction is. Typically, major SFWA publications get anywhere from 300 to 800 submissions an issue. Not an easy task getting published in one. AE's, like Mr Adams, has the job of narrowing the field for their boss, The Editor. Getting it by him is the first, and highest, huddle.
However, getting a rejection from the AE usually doesn't give much insight on why. As the AE of my non-existant fictional magazine, I'm going to give you an answer and why I made my desicion. I may be a bit easier than MR Adams, but hey it's my first publishing gig.


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snapper
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Estellia's Awakening by Merlion - Emrys


1 character development -- 3
2 plot -- 3
3 satisfactory ending -- 3
4 milieu -- 4
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 3 (it went way down once magic was introduced)
6 unique/never been done before -- 6
7 writing style -- 3
8 dialogue -- 3
9 action -- 5
10 understandable ("I get it") – 5

On a personal note, I like Justin. He has passion in his writing that shows promise. However, if I were the AE of a major publication I wouldn’t know that. So, I am going to stick to my guns and say what the AE would have felt.
This piece needs work. The opening had way too much back story to it. The dialog between the MC and the bad guy seemed a bit corny to me. Although the scenery sounded very interesting, it still felt murky. Then there was the sudden switch from Sci-Fi to fantasy. I first thought this was a story about a mad scientist. A sort of a future Island of Doctor Moreou with a twist of a crazied artist, type of story. Then the MC became a sorceress. If switching POV’s is a bad thing, switching genres is really bad.
So, if I were the AE of a major publication with 300 more submissions to get through, I would have probably rejected this before I finished the first scene. If I would have gotten through that, I would have set it down once magic was introduced (two-thirds of the way in).


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snapper
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My Interstellar Galway Hooker by TaleSpinner

1 character development -- 7
2 plot -- 7
3 satisfactory ending -- 6
4 milieu -- 7
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 6
6 unique/never been done before -- 7
7 writing style -- 8
8 dialogue -- 7
9 action – 7 (not a lot)
10 understandable ("I get it") – 7

Unique enough, but still a boy meets girl type of tale. The writing is top notch and it kept my interest throughout. The pace was quick but I didn’t find it very exciting. The biggest problem I saw was I pretty much knew how it was going to end up early in the story. The biggest plus is it is as good as anything you read in the major publications these days.
So, if I were an AE of a major publication with 300 more submissions to get through. I would have read the whole thing. Than sat and thought about it. The quality is there, but… I would have thrown up my hands and put it in the pile to have the editor look at it.


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snapper
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The Rink by A W Sullivan

1 character development -- 7
2 plot -- 8
3 satisfactory ending -- 7
4 milieu -- 7
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 7
6 unique/never been done before – 8 (although it did remind me of the last Time Machine movie)
7 writing style -- 8
8 dialogue – 6 (not a lot of dialog to judge it on)
9 action -- 7
10 understandable ("I get it") – 7

This one had a couple of things that had plausibility issues. A lot of things that gave it a telling vs showing feeling to it. Those issues could be overlooked. The setting and world disaster backdrop made this gripping. The telling of a small story in that setting made it top notch. It was easy following this little girl in that harsh world. Like finding a flower in a junk yard, beauty amidst ugliness. Very well done. The biggest issue (and the one that would have sunk it) is the sudden jump in time. We have a close 3rd person POV then suddenly its ten years later. Not good.
So if I were the AE of a major publication with 300 more submissions to get through. I would have felt strongly enough to request a rewrite. If the author would have sent me back the story with the issues I had with it cleared up, I would have sent it up with a recommendation that it to be published.


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snapper
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A Way Out by Kathyton

1 character development -- 8
2 plot -- 7
3 satisfactory ending -- 7
4 milieu -- 7
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 7
6 unique/never been done before -- 7
7 writing style -- 8
8 dialogue -- 8
9 action -- 7
10 understandable ("I get it") – 7

Nice story. Just three characters and all done very well. I could clearly visualize the scene. Mr Mo Jo Rising was done very well. A+ for that. The biggest issue is it isn’t current. This is a story that is ten years old. Now perhaps you could modernize it by mentioning the Blink 182 disaster, then mention Kurt Cobain, which would lead to Jim Morrison. A minor change that could make all the difference.
So, If I were the AE of a major publication with 300 more submissions to get through, I would have read it and said too bad. I would have wrote you a note that said I liked it but rejected it because it wasn’t current.
But if you take my suggestion up above I would have sent it to the editor to make a decision.


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snapper
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Johnny Bench Jupiter by Kin Castelmare

1 character development -- 7 (The MC was a solid 8 but the rest brought it down a notch)
2 plot – 6 (a few plausibility isues)
3 satisfactory ending -- 6
4 milieu -- 6
5 willing suspension of disbelief -- 6
6 unique/never been done before -- 7
7 writing style -- 7
8 dialogue -- 7
9 action -- 6
10 understandable ("I get it") – 7

A very good Sci-Fi story that had a unique angle that made it a very good hook, Jupiter crashing into the Earth. Many of the plausibility issues in the first 13 get dealt with later but others showed up. Kin thought of things that didn’t occur to me, such as Jupiter’s Van Allen belts killing all the people on earth before a collision, but missed others that bothered me. They could have been overlooked because of the strength of the story. A bigger angle was that unnecessary info-dump opening and the titles in place of scene breaks, they made had a way of telegraphing what was going to happen next.
So as the AE of a major publication with 300 more submissions to get through, I would have hemmed and hawed on what to do with this. I had more than a couple of issues with it but it was so damn entertaining. More than likely I would have rejected it as it is BUT I believe Kin has enough changes planned that it would be more likely that I would have passed it up to the editor with them.


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