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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » WotF book prize challenge # 3 ENTRIES

   
Author Topic: WotF book prize challenge # 3 ENTRIES
snapper
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Please do not post in this thread until I say so. It is important that the entries are read without interuption.

If you are reading this for the first time, and would like to know more. Go here for more details and the rules for this challenge.

Welcome to the Writers of the Future trigger challenge.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 06, 2011).]


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snapper
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Entry # 1 The Adventure

quote:
Nurla and I are explorers. Recently, we found a strange substance just outside the walls of our world. The matter seemed to be a smaller version of our world except that it is solid. Since we’re the only two, from our community, who go beyond the boundaries of our little world, we decided we should explore it.
We have gone out many times, this is the first time we had seen something like that. After a search around the new world we found a crack and climbed inside. It was strange in there. During our explorations we have become familiar with plastic, metal, and even wood, but not this thick, spongy stuff. We found the going a bit tough, as we burrowed through the stuff, but we were able to make good progress. Which was good, for soon after we found our way inside, we got lost.


Crits

This story used an interesting idea but it didn’t work for me. Attaching sentience to such a primitive life form wasn’t something I could believe in.
The narration was so internal, and without any dialogue, that engaging with the story was difficult. There was too much telling, and not enough showing.
Giving us more details about the nature of the creatures and the setting might have helped to create more involvement, although I understand how your story concept would make this difficult.
Also, some grammar nits detracted from the work. I am not keen on the overuse of the word, substance, and the character’s name changed from Nurla to Narlu.

I think this is a fascinating idea, but challenging to deliver on. Good luck with it.

*


You really kept my interest with your treatment of the main characters. I kept theorizing about what and where they were, and I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out. Nice way to create anticipation in the reader. Your descriptions of the substance being explored had some nice points, like the discovery that they were running in circles. The concept for the story is really very creative.

Punctuation problems made the story tricky to read at times. For example, in

That was just one of the reasons I’m glad, we decided to mate for life…

you don’t need a comma there, just like you don’t need one in….

After the discovery, that we were the only two members of our community who liked to explore…

I loved that the substance turned out to be a peanut butter cup. It made perfect sense after all the mystery about where the characters were in the first part of the story. In the last section, I was a little bit confused by your switch from third to first person. I know it was the technician’s thoughts, but ending that way didn’t read right to me. Thanks for posting this story, though. I enjoyed reading it.

*

I couldn’t really get into this story. All along it felt like the author was hiding the true nature of the MC. This I didn’t like, I felt that it was a poor attempt to manipulate me, the reader. When it turned out to be what they were, right near the end, it just didn’t give me any “wow” moment. Furthermore, if a story is going to include sex, it needs to enhance the story part of it – this scene gave me more a sense of “so what”. (For an example of how to use sex to enhance a story, one only need look at entry #5.)

*

OK, the writing on this is confusing and some very strange sentence structure. I liked the effort at anthropomorphism, but I think it needs to be written just slightly differently to be effective. Too much left vague much of the time to really be effective. Just because it is a different viewpoint doesn’t mean the writing shouldn’t be clear. The twist at the end didn’t work for me because I saw something like it coming from about the third paragraph. Again if the characters are more clear I think you would be more drawn in to them and spend less time fishing for answers, which makes it more likely the reader will discover the reveal before you intend. Some logical disconnects like they knew wood and metal, but not a sugary substance when they live on it daily. Also not sure they would have detected motion of the Peanut Butter Cup given the size difference, we don’t really notice the motion of the Earth.

*

This is all very passive with tense problems. The voice sounds very childlike to me, though I'm not sure if that was the desired effect. There are some grammar issues to, and word misuse (eatable comes to mind)

*

Housekeeping: Several inconsistencies of names (Nurla/Nurlu/Narlu), milieu (flat world/round world), and tense which are distracting.
Lacking in conflict. The germ is there in the "we're lost in here" thread, but you don't make use of it to drive a conflict for the story. It leaves the story sort of running around in circles, the same as the characters.
I'm not a big fan of twist endings. I saw this one coming almost from the first sentence.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 29, 2011).]


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Entry # 2 Gristan's Good Deed


quote:
A dim blue light and the rustle of clothes intruded on Gristan’s drunken slumber. Fighting the pain in his head, he vaguely remembered sitting on a moldering couch in the main hall of the house. He cracked his eyes open and saw a man walking around the room using glowing eyes as another man might use a lantern.
“What’re you doing here?” Gristan slurred as he uncertainly rose in anger that the man had interrupted his sleep. He pulled out his sword.
“Never you mind. I’ve got work to do.” The man shushed him away as he walked to the massive fireplace and made some passes with his hands. A brick levitated out of the back wall.
Wizard. A wizard had invaded the manse. “Stop whatever you’re doin’. Stop! This is my house. My land. I am the Earl of

Crits

Well written story. The ending didn’t quite give me the emotional feeling I so love with stories. I felt a little disconnect with the MC. And I never truly felt much for Essie. So while the writing was a joy, I never fell for the story. All I can suggest is trying to some stronger connection with the MC, a struggle with him wanting to help the girl versus letting her die so that he has a ghost to live with. My last point is the wizard, I kept waiting for the wizard to come back, and unless I missed it, which is possible, it never happened, which kind of left me thinking the story was unfinished.

*

I believe this story would have been a little stronger starting with the kidnappers entering the house and Gristan already a ghost. I'd love to learn about his character through his interaction with Essie. Perhaps the coins could even be a surprise to the reader at the end. (I say that because it was pretty obvious what was to happen.)

The ending was a little abrupt. "But she never did" felt like a let down after a fun story. Maybe he waited each day at the property line. Maybe "he waited a long time" or something less certain and more open ended. Or "Essie never returned, but who would, he was after all, just a ghost." Regardless of that specific, I enjoyed this.

*

The prose in this was good, and kept me reading and enjoying. However, the key promises at the start didn’t seem to get fulfilled. The key antagonist simply won and disappeared. Later there were other antagonists, but they were a different story to the one promised at the beginning. So the second story, about the kidnapping, had the feel of a shortened, and more sinister Home Alone. Strangely, the kidnapper with a conscience gets killed and the murderous one gets … a chance to run over the nearest hill. Sort of an anticlimax given the stakes shown towards the better of the two.

*

Nitpicks

manse and transformed

Tea drawn from a pump?

Essir the Gir’s real name.

Over all I think it’s good. The flow seems a bit off in places but I’m not sure why. This opening reminds me of a story in F&F for Stories a few months ago. If it is the same story the opening has improved significantly even though I think it could still flow better. It sort of starts and stops. But that could be because of the format or translation problems. The new version we received is better but still a tad clunky. I think some of the sentences could be shorter, like the poking the wizard with the sword one. Kinda melancholy ending for the title. I thought he might be free after the good deed. That’s it for me

*

This is all very flat and passive. I can't believe that the MC doesn't seem to be bothered at all about being dead. I quite liked the story itself, or the idea anyway, but the prose, the odd misused word and grammar issues spoilt it for me

*

For me the most successful moment in this story was when Gristan died and his body fell away while the POV played on. I thought that was a really cool moment. There is a lot in this story that I think really worked, I liked the helplessness of a ghost trying to save a lost girl, and that the girl never came back. That really worked. I do think the story would be improved if it focused more on the Gristan. We didn't get a chance to really know or like Gristan before he died, so we only really got to know him as he thought back on his life. I'd suggest adding more to the beginning, and show more of what he is doing, other than waking up drunk. I think if you made him likable as a living person, then we would care more about him as a dead guy, or else you could make him a vile type of guy, that we don't like, and have him finally develop into someone worth while, after he is dead. Either way the more time you spend while he is living, IMHO, the better.

*

The ending felt truncated to me. Like something was missing that should have been there. Hmm...
More detail is the biggest suggestion I can make on this one.
"in the main hall of the house" -- What house? Whose house? Why was he there?
"using glowing eyes as another might use a lantern" -- Eyes in the guy's head? Or in his hands?
"I'm a ghost!" -- Need more reaction to his death, as this is about all we get other than him noticing that he can't get drunk anymore.
"The big man's body fell on the girl." -- He just got stabbed. That was a really quick death.
I also noticed some POV issues after the first section. Took a long time to realize Gristan was still the POV in the second scene.
Why does the wizard show Gristan where he's hiding his treasure, and then magick him into an enchanted spirit? Seems like a great way to get your stuff stolen. As the wizard never shows up again, I'm questioning his motives.
I think the end was unsatisfying for me because this ne'er-do-well that's been turned into a ghost saves the girl and then she bails on him, which kind of equates to Do a good deed and go unrewarded.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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snapper
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Entry # 3 THE SEEKER


Gylfi looked up from the dying fire to watch Dralt's retreating back. There was still time. He could catch up to the grizzled old hunter and go with him. Nothing said that the Seekers had to go on this quest separately. The only instruction given to them was to follow their hearts.
But he knew Dralt was making the wrong choice. To the north he would find only the Horse Men with their deadly bronze spears. Safety for their people could not lie in that direction. And that only made his fear of making the wrong choice worse.
The other Seekers had chosen badly. Gylfi knew it, not with his heart, but with his head. And that meant the fate of his entire people rested on his slender shoulders, the youngest of the four. What was he even doing here? Halvard was strong. Arval was


Crits

This started alright but quickly started to waffle. By the third or fourth paragraph so many people had been mentioned without anything really happening that I forgot who the MC was. A few more paragraphs in and I finally see that the MC is looking for a safe haven for his people, whose lands are threatened by a volcano. Normally I wouldn't have read this far to find out.

The writing itself felt stilted and passive and I found myself skimming a lot. This one just wasn't for me.

*

Too much back\story is crammed into the opening. Taper the info back. Make it a part of the story instead of an improvised prologue. I think this story could be told in half the words.

Too much was made about what Gyfil ate. Too much was focused on where other seekers went. All the info of who, what, and why wasn’t needed to tell this tale and in fact slowed it down. Varying the length of your sentences will help as well. A long stretch of the story was told with sentences of the same length, which made the prose feel monotone.

A lot of sentences start with a conjunction. Distracting. I did like how Gyfil pieced together that the land was communicating and leading him. Trim the rest way back and focus more on this aspect of the story and I think you’ll have a winner.

*

I liked the mood and the setting. I wondered if the Horse Men had bronze and the Town men had steel and they lived in relatively close proximity, why were Gylfi's people using stone age tools. That didn't make much sense to me. The trek was good.

The injury had a lot of significance, but I felt a little let down at the end. It wasn't quite the closure I needed for a good ending. Perhaps if the wolf turned into a man or if the wolf took the blade or something that would be better than to know it in his heart. I liked the writing and the pace.

*

This is in the form of a classic quest folktale, a man seeking a home for his people. The writing is well done, flowed well, and I could picture the scenes clearly. I don’t know if you meant it to, but the writing felt detached. It could be strengthened and personalized by spending more time with inner dialogue explaining the tribe’s predicament and to show Gylfi’s growth, maybe more information about Ayla. Escalating the try fail cycles in urgency would also give an immediacy and newness that rustling and hunger and walking doesn’t.

*

You might consider exchanging “Gylfi” for something marginally more conventional. Sorry, but I found it so distracting that I did a “find and replace” just to get past it enough to enjoy the story. Then I really did enjoy it. What an enchanting tale. I find that I didn’t mind the other exotic names, but Gylfi is so… I don’t know, almost comical. It reminds me of a gadfly or guilty and it pulled me out of the story every time that I saw it.

I really hope that you will consider another name for your MC, because I loved everything else about this charming story. It has a feel to it of being told after the fact, like maybe when he is old he is telling this story around the campfire to his and Ayla’s grandchildren about how the people came to their present home.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 30, 2011).]


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snapper
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Entry # 4 finally

quote:
It’s squishy in here. Dark. Wet. Cramped. It kind of feels like that time my big sister Sarah threw a bowl of Jello on my head when I was five. Except times by a million, and all over my body, in as much of a suffocating way is as possible.
Outside, there are noises and voices, but for me it only sounds like that obnoxious muffled teacher voice from Charlie Brown. These filtered noises come from all around, and they are unexpected, and unnerving. The unpredicted noises prickle up my neck, and startle me.
I wish I could see outside. The darkness and the wet and the movement…I try to close it all out as much as possible.
I live within my memories. My first kiss. My first kiss that actually counted. That time I climbed jumped off a cliff into


Crits

This is a cool story. Your description and level of detail is spot on; it all sounded very plausible, anyway. I don’t actually remember being in utero, so I can’t say for sure. Having the main character remember her former life takes the story out of the realm of simple first-person descriptive account and into the land of ooh, reincarnation!

Voice is good – I definitely get that the narrator is, or was, a young person. Some of your lines are just brilliant; I especially liked…

coming from the woman whose vagina I just became way too familiar with

… and

The unpredicted noises prickle up my neck, and startle me.

Just a few little construction problems in your sentences. One that threw me was…

That time I climbed jumped off a cliff into the crashing waves, and my swimming top fell…

Climbed or jumped? Writing quality is pretty good overall, though. Writing in a first-person, present tense point of view is really hard to do well. I’d have to say you made a decent job of it.

*

There is good imagery in this story but the structure makes it difficult to keep the reader engaged.
The introspective narration, absence of dialogue, and limited action early on, makes it a bit boring. I wanted to know more about the environment and why the character did nothing to get out of it.
The reveal at the end makes it all fit into place, but the reader has to get that far first.
Some punctuation and grammar nits stalled me.
Still, it is an interesting idea and has some really good moments.

*

Though reasonably well written, this felt more like a writing exercise than a true story. The idea of rebirth as the punchline is one of those ideas that editors get bored with, as they see them so often. While this wasn’t quite a punchline (it made it clear for some time before the final paragraph) it was the essential idea, which disappointed me. These days, for this idea to be a strong element of any publishable story, there needs some other stronger idea upon which to interact with, something to make it unique

*

This story attempts to put us in a place we are familiar with, but from a different perspective. The biggest problem is that if do that the writing has to be clearer or it just becomes muddled. Here we have a well defined set of memories that should have included knowledge of where we are, but that information is selectively lost. Combined with some odd style in the writing it becomes confused rather than intriguing.

*

For me, for first person present to work it has to be done well, otherwise it reads awkwardly. I gave up on this by the eighth paragraph. At that point I was still no wiser as to who the MC was, or where they were and quickly became as bored as they seemed to be.

*

Not a huge surprise when the twist comes, but still enjoyable.
This sentence: ”Then they pass me back to become acquainted with the woman of whom I have only really been introduced to’s vagina." is really awkward. I'm pretty sure it doesn't parse out right, either.
Not a lot of conflict, here. I wonder, since she seems to know that she WAS in a coma, if you could do something with that--have her think this is still the coma, she's trying to fight her way out and--it's not what she thought.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 29, 2011).]


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snapper
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Entry # 5 On The Pull


quote:
Clarabelle hated trees, but natural urges overcame her distaste of her surroundings and she sniffed the air. There was nothing. She needed to let them know she was there. Available. She had to be clever, act a little coy, leave a few signs and give out those feminine signals.
She squeaked out a fart, a cheeky little thing, all noise and no smell, then belched like a sinkhole unblocking. She gave a demure giggle, like gravel in a barrel, then coughed delicately, like someone had taken a hammer to it. She scratched her backside with a claw and farted again.
If there was a male troll within half a mile he would already be ripping off his undercrackers and looking for his club.
#


Crits

As the intro promised, a funny story. I had two small nits if you will. The word “fart” was used a ton, or seemed to be. I get the whole hygiene thing, but it seemed to drag on. The other nit, is the length. I really feel this piece could have cut down, maybe by so much as 1/3 to increase the impact. Sometimes shorter is better. If a idea is told once, great, twice good, three times in writing they say is the charm. But here it seemed we were force fed the hygiene card at every turn. And the truth is I got it almost immediately.

Even with all that said, I really enjoyed the piece, and the writing was very sound.

*

Great story. Fun read. I felt like a troll was giving me detailed insight into their way of life and mating rituals. Very original.

There were a bunch of concept echoes. Not words per se, but ideas that only needed to be conveyed once. All I could suggest in this regard is a streamlining of redundancy.

*

This story had me chuckling most of the way through. It was nicely laid out for the story size, and well written. It did push a little too much on the fart jokes and hygiene at times, and also the cursing. But with lines like the “Everything went blissfully black and Clarabelle heard Mother Nature sigh in appreciation” it was quite entertaining.

*

One nitpick here:
Across the floor? They are in a forest. Unless you mean the floor of the clearing.

Interesting idea, kinda long first sentence. Watch the was-s especially in the beginning. Nice descriptions. “Clarabelle was ripping the sheets off his bed. “ could be redone to take the was and ripping out of it. That’s about all I have.

*

Perhaps it is the Voyer in me, but I found this one fascinating. It worked for me. For most of the story though, I was assuming the new troll dude (Boris) was actually once a human. This confusion made the ending less successful to me, because I was left saying, oh, so he's actually a troll, is that right? I'd suggest a bit of a suggestion as to why Boris decides to be a new troll, an explanation ( maybe a magical explanation) as to what happened to him that makes him different, and possibly more of a change on Clarabelle's part. It seems to me, like she just got what she wanted. She had to fight for what she wanted, but remains unchanged. All in all it worked though as is.

*

Honestly, I groaned when I read the first 13 of this one and said, "Are you kidding me? Really?"
Easily ended up being my favorite of all the stories I read for this contest.
Great introduction of character, and situation, and out-of-the-ordinary mess.
Awesome plot progression and ending too.
Changes for the two characters, if I'm nitpicking, happened a tad bit too quickly. A bit more justification from Clarabelle's POV might have helped that.
The repetitive references to "the juices" got to be a bit much for me at times.
I laughed so much with this one. Really fun to read, and if you don't get this published I'm going to find a club and beat someone over the head with it just for good measure. Minus the juices, of course.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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snapper
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Entry # 6 The Road to Geronimo


quote:
On the thirty-fourth day of incarceration, Jafeez Anwar began to see through walls.
It started slowly, just a shadow - almost imperceptible. He stared at it, a smudge, an outline against the grey-white wall. He adjusted his weight on the chair to take a closer look. He winced as shackles dug into blisters on his wrists. Still, his effort paid off, as the shadow seemed a little clearer. Has it been there all along? Why have I only noticed it now?
He closed his eyes to see if it was simply a retinal image. Immediately ‘death metal’ assaulted his ears. He should have expected that. Every time he closed his eyes, something would wake him - a blast of chilled air on his neck, a spray of water on his naked body, a scream in his ear. And he needed sleep - he


Crits

I suspect the story did not copy well, paragraph indentation problem, I hope it didn’t suffer because of that. There was a couple of grammar and punctuation problems, another edit and I’m betting you’ll fix that problem.

The story had a nice modern day message of a wrong needing to be righted. The moral of it came through loud and clear. I wasn’t bothered by the time travel paradox but Dalphe did not strike me as an effective moral crusader. He came off more like a game show host. Perhaps you were after a futuristic reality show with a time travel feel to your story. If you are, you’re on the right track but it’ll still needs work.

Me thinks you ran out of words. I think you’ll need a lot more to tell it effectively. One avenue you should explore is expanding on Private Conrad’s roll and highlighting his veiled guilt. Make Taylor more sinister as well, like he’s a bad cop convinced an innocent man is guilty of [I[something[/I].

*

Nit picks, such making noise disappear and not using tabs to mark paragraphs. Lots of grammar issues and could do with a good proof reading.

I was really getting into this story, being British, and that particular argument being quite relevant over here, it was well done and had me thoroughly hooked, then we suddenly went time travelling. You lost me around where he was questioning Taylor about his puppy without ever questioning this odd turn of events at all. And a red-headed man called Daphne? I did like the ending though.

*

I thought this had a lot of potential and then it felt like the author didn't quite know how to finish it. The ending could have been stronger and mean something to the character arc of Jafeez. He needs to change rather than just be challenged.

The switch to Conrad and Anderson deflated the tension. It would have read better to stop the story at 'unfamiliar territory'. This had a decent voice and good pacing although the characters were rather stereotypic.

*

Whoa. This story ended way to abruptly for my tastes. After the build up I wanted answers. Or at least answer. There were some great concepts in here and I feel like they were wasted by a lack of exploration due to the quick ending.

Plus, I'm wondering where the men went. Did they stay on Earth? If so, then the ending is moot as the men would eventually prove to be free. Lastly, the title didn't fit the story, or if it does, I'm missing it.

Great story, concept, ideas, and writing... just didn't stick the ending.


[*

this was an intense and complicated story. I really enjoyed it, but feel you did not get to fully explore the threads you started in 3k (the relationship w. Conrad, and w. Taylor felt unfinished as did your treatise on the worth of one vs. many). ‘Death metal’ and ‘releasing lactic acid’ are unnecessarily detailed and makes it sound like you did some research on torture and wanted to impress us J. I had to read very carefully to understand the time travel/time stream aspect and the effort needed threw me out of the narrative somewhat. Once again, probably rectified if you had more space. Write it longer and submit it somewhere, I bet this one’s got legs

*

This reminds me a little of Card’s Pastwatch. Your description of converging timelines is something I don’t think I’ve seen before. I especially liked the explanation of why people might remember the same event differently. I enjoyed his discovery that the “window” was open, and you made me care about him enough to be glad for his escape.

I thought that I should put what I liked first especially because I’m struggling with how to say what I didn’t like. You definitely have your own axe to grind and you’ve done it reasonably well, but… well… I’m not someone who agrees with you. You chose to tackle a very complex topic, which I give you props for, but you’ve left it flat. You have your innocent victim (of course he’s innocent, we wouldn’t care about the fate of a guilty man would we?), your sadistic military commander (I have a serious problem with those who assume that military=sadistic, any commander in such a position would have a thorough background check and psych profile), your naïve “just following orders” private, and your wacky future-dude complete with hand-held time machine. I understand the appeal of using stock characters, but if you want your story to really say something you need more shades of grey.

There needs to be conflict in each character. People, even evil people, don’t see themselves as the villain. To have a complex story worthy of such a complex topic, I believe you need more complicated characters. Your writing is reasonably clear and you message comes through loud and clear. (I felt like I was being hit over the head with it, but okay.) Those who already agree with you will probably just nod along, those who don’t will probably dismiss this out of hand, but I don’t think you will persuade anyone with this piece. If that is your intention then you may want to rework this with a little more complexity.

I can respect your opinion without agreeing with it. I am willing to discuss this issue with you as a representative of the “other side,” to be a dissenting opinion if you will for the purpose of helping you to understand another point of view.

*

Really enjoyed it! Drew me in from the opening line. I was completely intrigued with the plot. Narrative was tight and had a sense of urgency, great pacing. Jareez's voice was very consistent. Only thing that drew me out of the story was Conrad's accent. Maybe because I'm a Southerner, but it didn't read quite right to me. Felt a little bit forced. I loved the character. His empathy added another layer to the plot. But the accent made me sit back a bit and reconsider if I really liked him as much as I thought. Jareez's speech to Conrad about torture was a bit soapbox-ish but overall I loved the premise behind the story. Fantastic! Would definitely read it again!

*

I really liked the meddling time traveler idea, and I liked the theory of merging timelines. I also liked how the Jafeez stole the time travel device. I didn't see that coming. But I had some problems with the middle of the story.

If you are going to deal with something as serious as torture, I think you need to go all the way. I never really felt that Jafeez was tortured. Never felt his anguish, his desperation to make it stop, his preference for death. I think you need to go a bit deeper in him and really let the reader feel like he is being tortured.

I think the characters were a little flat. I'd like to see a little more depth. Not make them so black and white. I don't think you need to do much, just small hints here and there that there is more to them.

The dialogue didn't feel realistic. Conrad and Taylor were too willing to converse with a prisoner and told him too much. These guys are professionals; I just don't see them not putting up a barrier between them and a prisoner. I think the sympathy of Conrad needs to be conveyed more subtly. A flicker of remorse or concern in his eye, but I just don't see him having a casual conversation with a prisoner. I admit I have no experience in this, so take it or leave it. But logically I think soldiers would know better than to give their prisoners an opportunity to manipulate them.

This is even more so in Taylor's interrogation with the UN watching him. Why would he allow Jafeez to control the conversation? I know it would add to the word count, but the whole turning things around on Taylor needs to be more clever and not dependent on Taylor being too stupid to live. Like the court room scene in a Few Good Men.

One last thought, I think it would be more interesting to make the meddling time travelers the real antagonists. What right do they have to play God?

Good luck with this. I think this story has real potential.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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Entry # 7 Future Hero


quote:
The newspaper boy hurled Monday morning’s Future Paper through the air and it landed squarely at Johan Wiseman’s feet. He wore a turquoise bathrobe and slippers and carried his coffee cup by the handle. Despite the upcoming sales packed work week, Johan did his best to squeeze a final smidgen of weekend out of his weekend.
Stuffing the rubber band in his fluffy pocket, he unfurled the paper and held it in front of him. He spit out his coffee in a fountain of hazelnut and cream. In the upper right hand corner was the same picture he saw on his ID badge every weekday.
Man Saves Bus Load Of Nuns From Sink Hole. He read the Quick Caption several times to be sure.
“Hey, Johan! Nice going!” Johan’s overzealous neighbor pointed


Crits

I loved this. It was freaking hilarious, and it was also very well written. You’ve got skills. The future paper is an awesome creation, and the acronyms? Don’t get me started. Beyond those very positive attributes, I also really liked some of your phrasing…

to squeeze a final smidgen of weekend out of his weekend….
he knew deep down that he wasn’t even strong enough to push his luck…

to point out two.
To make this story even more awesome than it already is, you should change the spelling of breaks to brakes in…

burnt rubber from the screeching breaks.

Add a comma before eliminating in…

Fluorescent lights flicked on overhead eliminating the shadows.

Also, and this is a strictly personal observation, the last five pages are almost exclusively dialogue. Made it feel a little bit thin to me. All told, though, a really good piece of writing. I officially hate you now.

*

This story has some imaginative concepts in it.
A future newspaper is intriguing, but I think using the idea needs a lot of work to be able to maintain suspension of disbelief. Readers are going to ask too many questions about the implications. I wondered why the nuns would think about traveling on a bus that day.
The headline didn’t ring quite true. Bus load of nuns, didn’t work for me.
The mirror idea hooked me, but lost me again when the MC could change his physique just by willing it.
There are some great lines in this. I loved; he inhaled deeply and tried to put the future behind him.
I laughed at the S.H.I.T thing at first, but then it wore on me and felt like a gimmick that got in the way of the story.
Nice job, overall. Well done.

*

This was hilarious. It skirted the potential pitfalls of this type of story, and the fact that the future was also being manipulated was a reasonable (though not strong) adaption of the trigger. There still is the plot hole of why did the nuns go through that town – there was an attempt to resolve it but that didn’t quite work for me – the government would have been preventing any bus going into town. This would be better if it were thrill seekers that had read the paper, but that is a minor point (and it also creates an interesting moral dilemma with the story that may overpower the remainder). The merit of this was the humor that shone through, and a tight script that made some sense, given the tough idea behind the story. Well done

*

Very good. Not sure what to critique here? A few little glitches, but it was well done and very cleverly crafted.

*

Very clever. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Well written. I was going to suggest a spell check, but had that covered too. Funny and engaging.

*

What can I say? I loved this one.
The only thing that didn't work for me was the sophomoric humor of the acronyms

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 29, 2011).]


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Entry # 8 Green Tongue


quote:
I stared at the thing as it swayed ever so slightly in the interrogation room. It had a thick trunk for a midsection with purple streaks running vertically up it. Limbs (branches?) sprouted from the trunk with pads that could only be leaves at its ends. It’s top was an enormous maw that was closed like a flower waiting for the dawn with hints of orange inside it. The thing stood five feet tall, mostly green, and was set in a tub filled with black dirt.
“You’re kidding,” I said to General O’Sullivan. “It’s a plant.”
“You are a member of the Diplomatic Corp, are you not?”
“Yes, but…”
The general raised a hand, stopping me in mid-sentence. “This specimen has been determined to be the sentient species of this

Crits

Interesting story, very believable in that wild science sort of way. I don’t really know what to suggest here. It seemed the right length, and for a story of two people talking primarily, it still held a entertaining value. I guess if pushed to look deeper, that would be my main concern: The majority of the scenes played out with two people talking. I don’t know if there would be a way to work a little more action (not bang bang for say, but motion) into the piece. Possibly have the scientist visit the planet earlier on, so that there is some more movement in the middle sections. Have him witness more of the plant’s action, in a way of uncertainty that could add tension throughout the piece.

The story itself was very good, and well written, I just didn’t feel, or care if they figured the problem out. I truly had no vested emotion.

*

Great story! This is one of those stories that feels much longer than its word limit. (that's a good thing) I could easily see this story finding a home somewhere.

My nits and crits are that there's a few sentences in need of copy editing, but that's done easily enough. Also, while I did laugh at the last line, it felt out of place for this story. I felt the gift itself was enough... but again, I did laugh, so I leave it to you to weigh the merits of serious vs. comedic for the end.

Oh, and I'd like the MC to have a title. Linguist or something, instead of simply being part of the diplomatic core. Makes it seem more of an accident that he's learning to communicate, instead of it being his vocation. (unless of course, it isn't.)

*

This was a good attempt at a science fiction concept story. The key idea about the methods of communication was well thought out, and the conversational style was done well, keeping the focus on the problem and not trying to make it more than its promised scope. Please, however, before you send it out, get together with a person that has a decent knowledge of science – there were a number of problems with the less central concepts (e.g. materials science, physics) that would kill the enjoyment for the natural audience to this story, who usually have such knowledge. But a little work, and they are all fixable.

*

Hmmm, not baad, reminds me of some of the older stories that were written twenty to thirty years ago. Good way to get him to see what was going on and good ideas on how their intelligence works. Fitting ending too. Don’t think I can say more. It already rocks or maybe I should say I can dig it.

*

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. I had a hard time finding the MC believable. He is a man who can talk to sentient fish but is surprised to find a sentient plant. He travels across space to get to a planet, without bothering to look out of a window to see it, or learn the name of the sister planet.

The other thing that bothered me was having green plants under a blue sun. Plants on Earth are green because of the part of the spectrum used in photosynthesis. Would these really be green?

There is quite a lot of word misuse, a fair few typos too, that dragged me out of the story.

*

This might be a personal nit, but this line...

I stared at the thing as it swayed ever so slightly in the interrogation room.
Would work just fine as
The thing swayed ever...

We delve into the first person at the beginning of the dialogue, and I personally don't like I stared or I looked lines. Again, could just be me.

This line...
I arched an eyebrow at him. “And your bones has calcium.”
should be have calcium.
I'm only giving line edits, because the story works. I thought it was smart, the characters and the situation interesting, and the ending was funny, and satisfying. Nice.

*

Interesting ideas, good writing. It would have been nice to have a little more setting. Mostly I just got "generic space ship" and "jungle on the planet surface". Maybe that's all that was necessary, as it's mostly a figure-out-how-to-talk-to-the-aliens piece. I am curious how...uh...the name of one of the entrants for this contest got put into the story. I liked the gradual learning curve and mystery revealed. Ending made it feel like more of a jape, than a serious story though. Still, I liked it

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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Entry # 9 Gods of the Tenth Realm

quote:
Realm Master Lind braced his boots against Reth’s plaza steps and launched a lightning bolt toward the Tenth Realm of Enchantment. Fire-orange sparks exploded the clouds, sending mist spirals fizzing earthward. An entrance vortex to the God-land formed; Lind teetered at the whirlwind’s brink, only turning back for a last look at his son’s plague-hollowed face.
“Don’t worry,” Marklan said. “I’ll be all right.”
Lind doubted that was true. He sank to his knees, clutching a useless cloth map of the first nine realms. There was no chart to guide his journey to the Tenth Realm; no one had ever returned from the God-land to draw one. “Have mercy,” Lind asked of the gods as the vortex swallowed him. Deafened by wind, and blinded by fog, he waited for judgement.

Crits

Very well done. A pleasure to read. Nothing negative to say at all. Rind's character came across easily and the tenth realm was described with good imagery. Enjoyable story.

*

The opening to this story is strong. The tease of the backstory was done well, not too much to make it sound like an infodump, just enough so we aren’t left with questions. The middle section and last half didn’t hold up to the beginning. Although I found the storyline fine, the plot path became duller than I hoped.

I didn’t understand why Lind suddenly found himself in a Reth marketplace. I thought he was sent back at first. I would axe that part.

I believe this could use some rewording, prose tightening stuff. I think the story as it is could be told better with a few less words.

*

I liked this, although the story arc wasn't strong enough to support the entire thing. The characters were interesting, but the setting of the realms made the story work.

I didn't quite understand how the place was populated by so many people. Were they conjured in their own particular realities? I couldn't tell from the reading. One of the great mysteries was, if Lind could conjure a pipe, why not tobacco?

*

This is an interesting premise. I liked the idea of the interconnected realms and what Lind found in the tenth. The description is sometimes overwrought for my taste, and sometimes confusing enough that I found myself lost (i.e. showing up in the market after hurling the spell into the vortex?). There are a lot of switches in emotion in a very short period of time. This could be expressed in dialogue more smoothly. Overall nice world building.

*

Cute. Well told. Enjoyable. Satisfying.

I struggled a bit at first trying to figure out who Marklan was. After re-reading the first bit I realized it could only be Lind’s son, but when he first began to speak I assumed that Lind was the one speaking and thus the confusion. You might consider rewording that a bit, but the rest flows nicely.

I like the one-way portal, who the gods really are, and the character of Leyda. Well done.

*

This story is good, but suffers from a few flaws. First, on a contest level, I didn't feel the 10th realm was unfamiliar territory as much as it was different territory. Second, the writing was a little clunky. A few times I was lost and had to re-read. Which leads me to the largest flaw.

The story is too short. We start with a plague ridden world and a man crossing over into another world to find gods and a cure. Then we find the juxtaposition of the MC becoming like a god himself. (By the way, don't answer that question, or even pose it, let your reader figure it out, it's more fun for us that way.)

This felt more like a scene than a story. I believe it's because we had so much history to assume before the conflict, then a brief sum up afterward.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 01, 2011).]


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Entry # 10 Unfamiliar Territory

quote:
I waited to open my eyes until I thought everyone had left the room, but I’ve never had very good hearing.

The morgue tech stood less than five feet from me, with a pen and clipboard in her hands. She was cute, in a very eighties sort of way. Straight blonde hair, clipped bangs, big blue eyes. Thin with too much make-up. She didn’t look all that pleased to see me awake, and I couldn’t blame her. Bodies didn’t make it this far if they had a pulse.

I sat up from the table, noticing the spread of flat white paint and shiny metal across the room. The place reeked of antiseptic and blood. Kind of twinged the nose hairs. And man was it cold. Made me wish I had more than a towel across my nethers.

The tech’s eyes had a hard, sort of glassy look to them. She


Crits

Are you serious? You ended the story before explaining what had happened to the main character, and how, and who did it? Then, instead of tying up loose ends, you create more loose ends by putting the ambulatory dead guy in a coffin and closing the lid? Nice work. When you can elicit an oh-my-gosh reaction from a reader like you did from me, you’re doing something right.
Obviously, I liked this story. You’ve got a conversational narrative style that is a pleasure to read, and you kept me guessing every step of the way. The descriptions of the hospital interiors did seem to get a little bit wordy for me. Hallways and archways and chapels….oh my! I also admit to a vague sense of dissatisfaction at not being able to learn a bit more about Karl, but it’s a very good piece of writing. Kudos.

*

Parts of this have a really nice voice.
There is quite a lot of description, and not always of the right thing. We know all about the girl who dies a few lines into the story, but not so much about the MC. It’s never quite clear who he made a deal with to end up in this situation.
Some of the reactions could be gauged better. For example: -Something clicked at the far side of the room and a dark pit of fear bloomed in my chest just before I realized it was just the air conditioner. - He’s dead. What more is there to be afraid of? - Certainly not an air conditioner.
Too much telling and long descriptions make it drag in places.
I think if you give him more of a plan once he wakes up, it will carry the action along more. After all, he planned to be in that position so he must have had an idea what he was going to do.
There’s some good work here. It just needs tightening up.

*

The tone of this was quite good. And the idea that a zombie was unfamiliar territory was also fairly well presented. However, I struggled with a number of story elements. The blond girl, so much time is spent at the start describing her, implying that she is a, perhaps the, key person in the story. So, when she simply bumps her head and exits the story, I was left saying “huh?”. Then the conversation in church seems a good way to impart knowledge, but felt untied to the remainder of the story. And at the final scene, where the man in the car kills the reporter, I was wondering where both characters came from – they weren’t in the story up to that point, yet formed the climax while the MC stood at the sidelines. So these eclectic elements just didn’t feel like the story was a complete whole.

*

Pretty well written and I liked to premise, but it had an unfinished feel to me. I really didn’t see any major disconnects. There were a few spots that I had to re-read because it wasn’t clear the first time through, but these were not significant.

*

I started out thinking, oh, dead guy, another vampire. So I was wrong about the vampire bit, but honestly, I didn't get into this at all. The writing was fine but the story seemed kind of flat to me. After a dozen or so paragraphs I still knew nothing more about the MC other than he was dead and had found some clothes to wear.

*

Interesting, but a little lacking in direction and conflict. Other than getting out of the morgue, I don't know what this guy wants or why he agreed to this. I'm not even a hundred percent sure whether he's a vampire or a zombie.
That said, I really like the voice in this one.

*

I found this story to have three major themes. Potential, potential, and potential. Given that, please don't mind if I repeat myself one more time - it could have been so much more.

The deal he made to get into (and out of) the morgue - explore that. The thing about the dad and the brother - explore that. How he feels about being dead (is he dead?) explore that too.

I wasn't sure if this story was trying to be funny, or serious. I'd say pick one and stick with it.

To nit, there were too many words to convey ideas. An example: I had just decided to make a circuit around the building to look for someone I could get a ride from, when a long black car came crackling around the side of the building. For the sake of the plot, I don't need to know, or care really, that he had just decided. Lose that and bring in the car. If this is a movie, how would you film this scene? Close up on his face as he's deciding, a satisfied hmph when he'd decided, maybe he takes a step then the car comes around? No. You would have him walking from his previous funny/serious situation/scene and the car would pull up immediately. There were several examples of this in the story. Paragraphs that could be cut in half and not lose a thing giving you hundreds of words to fill in with plot and emotion.

Lastly, the ending. Your choice, of course, but for me, it didn't work because I didn't know enough about the deal or the people who'd set him up to be able to guess where he might be going. Shooting the woman might give me a hint that he's in trouble, but if the other party is truly that callous, would they even bother to send someone? I can't possibly guess what happens next, so you need to tell me.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 01, 2011).]


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Entry # 11 Iterum

quote:
“Brother, wait,” the street preacher said, stepping from his graffiti strewn curb. He planted himself solidly between me and the bar entrance. “You really don’t want to go in there.”
I slowed and eyed him warily. There was a preacher for every bar in this pathetic spaceport; I’d only had to follow their warning cries to find my next drink. And I needed it. After weeks of mind-numbing paperwork, the ache in the pit of my stomach had grown nearly unbearable.
This was the sort of cesspit where I’d imagined I might have found my son, the kind of place where I’d hunted before and moved on. I thought this time might have been different, but it hadn’t been, and there was only one thing I could do now to make things any better. I pushed past the preacher.

Crits


Good story. I must admit after the first scene break, I got more than a little lost. I was getting them all confused. But, once I got the characters in their proper place it began to take form for me. The ending was great, caught me off guard and brought it all together for me. SO my 2 thoughts are; 1)why was I confused after the scene break?(I will re-read to find out) and 2)For a second it seemed the son was second fiddle to the story. Meaning I lost that part and wondered why he spend so much time in the beginning on him, to lose him in the middle. By then last quarter, the son worked his way back in and it made sense.

I also have another concern here. I don’t know, I may have missed it. But we are in the MC’s head, the fathers, and he has gone through this before. IF this is the case, there needs to be a reason he cant remember being taken before, does the chip in his head erase his memories, if so that’s viable, if not, then I do feel cheated. If the MC knows what is going on, so do we. Like I said, I may have missed it, if so great job.

*

I can't imagine having written a story this original and engaging in the short time limit we were given. This story, if it doesn't win, will find a place in the published world.

My nit is I feel as if I was intentionally misled. Sentences like this one -" I stared, not sure if I believed him, then dragged myself away, anyway."- are what make me feel a little cheated. And when he says he "struggled", and "the unfamiliar space". These are sentences created for effect, not for story, because after reading to the end they no longer ring true.

However, I was completely blindsided (in a good way) by the twist. Heck, multiple twists because the bit about the son wasn't just thrown in to make the MC more interesting, or make me care about him or feel sad, but was an important part of the plot and motivation of the MC. If you could tweak the wording up front and remove the (what I felt was) falseness, this story would be damn near perfect.

*

Of all the stories here, this one most cries “Publish me”. The play on wormhole and Worm Hole was a tad confusing, but not much. The idea of being controlled is an old one, but this gave it fresh legs by the blindness and the ability to hear and talk. The end really came together, with a twist that really worked, both the symbiosis of the worm and the MC, and the MC’s motivation to continue the iterations. And the following lines after the kid whispered “Save me” just took this story to the next level. I really enjoyed this story.

*

Again not bad. I found the opening a bit confusing though. One minute he’s going in just for a drink, then he’s looking for his son, then he’s a drunk. I know part of it was show but at the same time as I said confusing. And once he is in the bar there seems to be no time. One moment he’s pushing through the tables and chairs and the next he is seating before a ton of empty glasses. There doesn’t seem to be a in-between. The rest of it though reads okay. The descriptions were good, the reactions were good. This is the second story that sounds like ones from years ago. For me that isn’t bad. Oh, it seemed to take you a while to get to explaining about the worms. I think it should be sooner. That’s it for me.

*

Very good story, well written with an engaging MC. Nothing bad to say about this one at all. Hooked me all the way through.

*

Why doesn't the PoV character fight back when the worm gets planted?I had an issue with the motivation of the POV Character, which was explained by the end, but while I was reading I didn't really like the character, he seemed to give in without a fight, to everything.I thought the scene with him remembering his son was beautifully done. By the end of the story I really liked the story, but I was fighting liking the story throughout, because I didn't really like the character. But cool idea. Really haunting.

*

This was probably the toughest one for me to "like", because by the time I got to the end, I didn't see how the "Unfamiliar Territory" idea applied, and the POV character withholds the information that we need to see the twist coming at the end, which ALWAYS bothers the stuffin out of me. That being said, I did like the story on its own merits. Well-written, interesting ideas, engaging main character. Some clarity after the first scene break would have been nice, as I got a little lost as to where they were, and who was what, and even if there were any lights on in the place. Take out the withholding of information. The twist about the kid was AWESOME and totally makes the story. Maybe make it a bit more intense so that the MC is focused on what is happening instead of thinking about his opportunity to see his kid once more, and I think this'll shine. Great job.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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Entry # 12 Veteran

quote:
Lieutenant Walter Dekker hugged the decaying log, the sickly sweet smell made him want to vomit. What passed for wood here on Deneb Six even rotted differently. He could hear the Dumbos moving out in front, massing for the next assault.
Denebians were called Dumbos because their large heads and oversized ears looked like an earth elephant without the trunk. They had thick bodies rode on four legs the size of a tree stump. This left two appendages free to work their weapons, which were proving to be quite effective.
The first attack had decimated the company. Captain Evans, the company commander was killed, so Lieutenant Dekker had to get the survivors out alive if he could.
Next to him private Thoms was breathing shallowly, but at least

Crits

This confused the hell out of me. First we're in a battle, then in hospital, I think, then back in a battle again. Not sure if we're flashing back or forward. Frankly, I would normally have put this down by now. I can see what you tried to do by weaving the two timelines together but it didn't work for me.

The writing itself was quite flat and the characters just didn't come alive for me. I also found the dialogue to be a little stilted.

*

Please tighten. The extra wording is robbing your story of its tension. Your qualifiers like ‘in front of him’ are cholesterol to your prose. For example:

He moved two soldiers from the next position to where they could support the sergeant.

could be shortened to…

He reposition two soldiers to support the sergeant.

Like this idea a lot. The scene placements are done well. Not a fan of flashbacks unless they’re positioned correctly, I think you placed them correctly here. The biggest nit is sentence structure. It consistently takes you 10 words to say what should be able to do in 6 or 7. It is slowing what should be a quick paced thriller.

This one needs a lot of work, but it’s one worth investing the time to get it right. The ending was so very sad but the message came in clear. This story was the roughest written but had the best premise of the bunch.

*

I could tell where the story was going, but I hoped for some salvation. It's a sad story, but built, like others here, on stereotypes. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief that Dekker functioned on such a high level mentally while in the bed, that it wouldn't register. If he could focus on the faces, then his irises would work, etc. etc.

I would suggest a good going over by a proofreader before this goes out. There are a bit too many typos, especially at the beginning. I'm not sure the flashbacks work very well in this short of a story. I will admit though, it was certainly sad at the end.

*

The beginning was rough. I felt like I was running on ice. POV and time line were all mashed together. Then, when we left the planet behind for good, the tale settled in and the style became fluent and a truly great story emerged. Critting, I would have to suggest losing the planet scenes all together and continue the visits of those he saved. Parade them in front of the MC if you have to, but keep this story on track.

Then, and I'm sure you have your reasons, you went for the shock ending, which disappointed me. To crit your story vs. my emotional response is tough because emotions are opinions and left solely to the one feeling them. Thus, all I can do is suggest a more positive ending for a character you've made so likable and urged us to hope for. Lastly, what was with the eye drops?

*

Fight scenes are difficult to write clearly, and I thought you did a good job of it. The doubts of the war’s necessity could have been foreshadowed earlier for greater impact. I kept holding out hope that there would be a positive ending to this story and was pretty disappointed at the senseless and gruesome fate of the hero. I know, I know, it was intended for shock and as a morality tale of the senselessness of war, but still... I guess you did a good job of making me sympathize with the mc.

*

Well, that was disturbing. Well told, but I just didn’t care for it. The writing is good and I suppose that the subject matter is provocative, but the story’s conclusion is also hopeless and mortifying. I dare say that this type of story has an audience, but I thought it was awful. Of course it seems like it was supposed to be awful, and the writing was very good, but… I just didn’t like it.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 30, 2011).]


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Entry # 13 The Sword and The Shield

quote:
Barden let his senses out, to flow across the rotted boards of the old porch and beneath the door cracked in the dry heat of the dessert. They needed safety from the night. And this had to be it.

He jerked his hand back, his fingers twisted in pain. He willed his fingers to relax. Slowly his fist unclenched.

“Not here, Anara. Its dark.”

The young girl beside him shook her head. “No.” Raven locks fell over pale blue eyes. “But it will be soon.”

“Please, Anara,” Barden pleaded. “Not here.” Everything was wrong, dark, bad.

Anara shifted the sword in her hand, re-gripping the blade, pumping the handle, for courage. “We have to.” She shook her


Crits

I think the plot line in this has some really good points, and I particularly like what you did at the ending. Patches of the writing are strong but problems with sentence structure make other sections hard to follow. I think revising your punctuation could improve the readability of your story.

I had many questions that I wanted answered. Some were addressed eventually, but not all.

· At the start, why did his fingers twist in pain?
· What did his senses perceive as a danger, and how did the danger manifest?
· If he’s sure it is so bad inside why does he capitulate so quickly.
· I wanted to know earlier on that he was a child. How old is that? It changes how I think of him in the story.
· What is it that makes your main character the shield?
· You say –one of them- before we know that you mean the undead.

I think the story could do with a really good edit. Otherwise it contains some good stuff.

*

You’ve packed a lot into one story, and I really didn’t see the plot twist coming. Good work on making Anara’s unfortunate condition a complete surprise. You are doing a great job with your descriptions, and I really liked some of your phrases, like…

The little fleck of white around his throat marked him a priest.

You have several word choice errors that are distracting – desserts are things you eat, not places. In…

He tried to swallow, his breathe nearly catching in his…

it should be breath, not breathe. These are the kinds of things that spell check won’t catch. Overall, I am impressed with the sheer amount of story you were able to create in relatively few words.

*

I found this confusing at the start – there were some grounding elements that were missing, particularly regarding the location and why they were where they were. Once I realized that it was about undead, it got a bit clearer, but that was some way into the story. Once I worked out what it was about, I liked Barden’s ability to sense evil – and how the priest got away with it at first. Its plot was straight forward after that, but solid, though the ending was a tad predictable.

*

I liked the story, but there were a number of grammar and spelling errors that detracted. There were some issues with similar spelled words like breath and breathe, past and passed, etc. I thought the author did a good job of setting up the conflict and throwing a few twists in along the way.

*

I just couldn't get into this. It started off full of dark promise, but was flat and passive and in dire need of a proof reading. There are lots of spelling errors and word misuse in there.

I liked the story and the concept, but the characters fell flat for me and I struggled to read all the way through

*

I think there's a good story idea in there, but it needs more character development and some plot points better explained.
For example, no explanation is given for why the "priest" seems to know what Barden is thinking and responds to it--or what Barden thinks or feels about that. It'd freak me out.
Generally, not enough response to events.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 29, 2011).]


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Entry # 14 The Deepest Law
quote:
Rachel’s gut clenched as she peered into the black maw at her feet. The Mouth of Hell, the locals called it and made a sign against evil. It certainly smelled like it. She gulped down a breath and tasted acrid sulfur. The bastards had taken her baby sister down that stinking hole.
She considered each track that had led her here, searching without hope for any reason not to step off this cliff. No, there was no mistake. Her mind fixed on her sister, but her body betrayed her. Muscles locked with visceral fear. Knees turned to jelly. She checked her harness, lines, gear, and weapons. Pulse pounding she recited her mantra. I will not fear… She cast her eyes to the heavens, drank in the open sky and prayed it wouldn’t be for the last time, then stepped off the edge.

Crits


Not truly sure how I feel about this story. I will give it another read tomorrow. It’s like this, the girl enters the Gates of Hell to free her sister. But when the end result comes, it wasn’t by her, but by someone else. I am not sure how I feel about it. It seemed to me, as an act of god saved her, and those stories make a hard sell. I supposed one could say her actions, and speaking got to the man who eventually sacrificed himself. If that is what we are led to believe, then I would like to see more a struggle with him, the impact of her words as he fights to the conclusion to sacrifice himself.

*

This is a pleasant story about a girl who would stop at nothing, and I mean nothing, to save her sister from harm. (Or death as it turns out to be.)

I believe the story suffers from two minor flaws that could be corrected in editing.
One is that it tries to mix comedy, or more specifically, wittiness with seriousness. Decide if you want me to believe the MC is truly in the mouth of hell, or she's a witty youngster on an adventure.
Two is it speeds along too quickly. I don't necessarily mean the pace of the writing, but what wasn't here was noticeably missing. Perhaps the witty inner monologue phrases were meant to fill the gaps in tale-telling given by the contest's word limit?

This story could only grow stronger by a longer word count.

*

The prose of this seemed to work. And the story was plotted fairly simply, but with a plotline that worked. And I really liked some of the description in this. I even liked the twist of the willing sacrifice being the leader of the cult. However, this story was weakened by two issues. The first was the ending had to be explained afterwards rather than experienced. That is because it really happened off screen. Furthermore, for all her bravado, she is peripheral to the climax. Even describing the scene from the perspective of her being pinned by the body of the leader would make this feel more onscreen. Second, the idea of a cult dressed in cowls and being prepared to make a human sacrifice is so cliché, which would make this a hard sell, despite the slight twist at the end

*

A good solid story. The opening is clear even has most if not all of the five senses. I, at least, think that adds to it. But at the same time who made the sign against evil? The locals or Her? And I think she lets fear hold her up too much. That’s just a personal thing, obviously she would fear a lot of fear but she freezes here and evidently two or three times on the way down. I’m reading a book now that I think has a little too much of that type of thing. How did the kidnappers get down there? If they climbed like her there should be some signs of it. If another way, I think it should be stated. Even though not a lot, I think there’s too many -ing words. Some of the paragraphs seem a bit long but that might be the formatting I received. And I think the scene once in the chamber with the chanters could be shortened, not necessarily a lot shorter though. That’s it for me.

*

This one started off well but I quickly found myself getting bored and skimming. What should have been a frightening descent in darkness was quite flat and passive.

*

I liked the voice on this one, there was several moments that made me smile. I do feel like it took so long at the beginning describing Rachel's fear, but not explaining anything about Rachel herself. I didn't feel any dread for Rachel, because i didn't care enough about her to care if she lived. other than the fact that she is the older sister who knows how to use swords, I don't know anything about her. And does John have to be handsome? it seems a little strange, a little to tightly wrapped up to have some random love interest enter for the last page. I think in order for that to work, there needs to be a need for a love interest from the beginning, like she could be heartbroken, or unloved, or cast off. Maybe you aren't starting in the right place, if you start earlier with a scene that makes Rachel likable, maybe that establishes the dread, the sign of evil, maybe when Rachel finds out her sister was taken... I think caring about the character will help us dread along with her.

*

Minimally speculative. After the first 13, I went into the story thinking that the hole in the ground was a real portal to hell. But nope. It was just a hole in the ground. Pacing is fast, and that is good. The priests felt like pushovers though. They were too willing to swallow everything the POV character said, given the fact that they're priests and they know what they're doing. Ending is tough, because the POV character gets knocked out. Magical spells come out of left field, even for the POV character, which makes things feel pretty contrived. There's a few good ideas here, though they've been done before. Good writing.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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Entry # 15 Unfamiliar Territory

quote:
Jenna saw her father on Tuesday, which was unusual because he was dead. The last time she had seen him was a little more than two years ago, and he was in a polished wooden box. Wearing a dark gray suit and his beloved Reeboks. Funerals generally are the last places you see people who have died, after all, and yet there he was, driving a car past the Starbucks where she was sitting at a sidewalk table.
“Jenna, what’s the matter with you?” Her friend Sandy had been chatting away until she noticed that she had lost her audience. “Why are you staring at that old guy in the Mazda?” The blue car had been stopped at the light on the corner, but it suddenly started moving again with the traffic, taking Jenna’s dad through the intersection and out of sight.

Crits

A nice opening, had me hooked but the promise of an intriguing mystery fell flat the further I read. I must admit I was hoping for something more than what the reveal gave me and was anti-climatic when I reached it.

The story is a bit on the ‘telling’ side. I would look at every pronoun, they were quite heavy in this script. One instance of a POV switch when she interrogated Jack about the flowers, need to fix that. Story had some promise and the writing was mostly fine. The reveal didn’t have the punch I was hoping for, though. I think the entire story could be tightened and shorten. The effect and its appeal will benefit greatly if you do.

*

Good solid writing, but the story just sort of withers away at the end. It did hold my attention all the way through though. Good voice, and solid MC, no writing issues at all, but no sign of the trigger either.

*

Now who is going to relocate Jenna? What happens to people who are too far gone? Do they stay senile forever? Where do they stay? Too many unanswered questions or questions that have no good answers. This had a lot of promise with the hook, but the ending just didn't make any sense. Who manages the dead/undead?

I suppose Jenna really is crazy, eh? If that's the case, then the ending needs a bit of modification to get that info to the reader. It would certainly circumvent the awkward questions above. The story seemed to ebb and flow. She's aimless until she meets with her shrink and then she's aimless again. I think this story needs a bit more of an anchor to make it work.

*

This story suffers for being too short and ending too abruptly. I was enjoying the heck out of it when the twist came and The End happened.

Don't be afraid to explore emotions here. The pace of the story is blistering and covers a very short period of time in which there were too many details about some things, and not enough about others. The others being the main plot. There's a great big huge concept here and this is your chance to explore it with the characters and set up you have... Go for it.

*

Excellent writing, smooth and descriptive. I really appreciated your ability to shift from external action to internal reflection; it seemed effortless. Nice twist at the end, but it felt a little rushed or abrupt. I could’ve used more build up or clues to her own fate not just her father’s.

*

Interesting. Well told. I like the “no one ever really dies” premise. You need more to the ending though. A father who loves his daughter enough to “break the rules” would not submit meekly to her being taken from him, again. I’m fine with their meeting being relatively low key, but the emotional content is missing from the ending. The whole way through, we get a very clear picture of Jenna’s mental and emotional state, but not the end. That’s the only thing that I can see needing some work. The opening is great and I really love the tone.

*

Also a great story. Loved the idea behind the story and the twist at the end. I was trying to figure out if Dad was a ghost, a doppelganger, or something expected so I was pleased that he actually an unexpected version of himself. Could use more show and less tell. Caught myself skimming a bit. Tightening up the prose and using stronger verbs would go a long way toward pulling me back in.

*

I really liked the writing and the voice in this one, but the story itself didn't really work for me. I read it twice, and I'm still not sure what to think of it.

The first paragraph had a great hook and IMO promised a humorous story, but I didn't find the rest of the story very funny.

I'm not really sure what kind of advice to give because I'm not sure what was intended. I'm not sure if the man was her father or not, and I think I should know that.

He does some pretty cruel things to her, IMO. Sending her flowers on her birthday using her nick name. Why would he do that? He had to know that would freak her out. Or waving at her when she was riding the bus, then disappearing and letting her search for him for an hour. If he was a loving father who was willing to break the rules to speak to her one more time before she died (I'm assuming that relocation meant she was going to die), then why would he toy with her like that? There may be a reason, but it needs to be explained.

Since I don't see a loving father doing these things to his daughter, I'm thinking he isn't her father and he is either a figment of her imagination or something more sinister, but if this is true, there needs to be a sense of dread in the story, a darker tone. I need to feel her unraveling. The whole thing needs to feel more psychological if that makes sense.

But either way, I need to feel more from Jenna. I think you need to go deeper, so that the reader can feel how much she loves her father to give this story the emotional impact it needs, especially when she finally meets up with him.

One more thing, if he is her father and no one really stays dead, you're going to have to explain it a little better. As it reads now, the idea is too absurd for me to take seriously.

Anyway, clear up those things, and I think you will have an awesome story. Good luck!!!

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 09, 2011).]


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Crits for 13 line openings

Entry # 1 The Adventure

I found this opening to be a little confusing and distracting.

*

Not sure about this one. A substance outside the walls of the world, which is like a small world itself, then later it seems to be spongy stuff. I get the image of something not entirely human here, possibly mice or insects or something burrowing beyond their normal bounds.
Having thought about it I'd probably read on, though first impressions left me confused and unlikely to read far. The writing itself is a little staid and telling, too matter of fact.

Entry # 2 Gristan's Good Deed

The old waking up cliché, though the almost immediate inclusion of a wizard does kind of make up for that. It doesn't really grab me though and I had to wonder just how anyone can uncertainly rise in anger.

*

Good imagery, lost me at Wizard. Lot to overcome if I were to read on.

Entry # 3 THE SEEKER

Again pretty good imagery, and I could see something here. Enough interest to read on, but it would have o be pretty good for me to keep reading.

*

Although I'm wary about the possible overt references to anything Terry Goodkind-ish, this one instantly brings in the internal conflict, establishes a major world-building element, and makes the POV character sympathetic. Lotta goodness here.

*

I find this one quite intriguing, though I would like to get a better picture of the hunters. They could be anything from Grizzly Adams with a big gun to some African tribesmen, or neither. I like the premise that Gylfi has been instructed to follow his heart and is already using his head instead. I'd definitely read on.

Entry # 4 finally

I liked the descriptive material here, and positive points for the Charlie Brown residence. Seemed like something targeted to a younger audience.

*

I'd just like to say upfront that I hate first person present. Unless it's done brilliantly I find it awkward and difficult to get through, so take this with a large pinch of salt.
It seems to have the hallmarks of a buried alive story at first, though the squishy wetness says otherwise. Is the jelly stuff alive? "in as much of a suffocating way is as possible" seems to say it's acting of its own volition.

*

I'd probably read on, it's intriguing enough, but I'm not sure how far I'd get to be honest.

Entry # 5 On The Pull

This looks to be an interesting story, but I can’t say I’m impressed with the writer’s prose. Parts of this are overwritten, repetitive and there are too many passive verbs. Despite these flaws there are some good descriptions and I wanted to read more (maybe I have an unhealthy fascination with the sex life of trolls.) I like the word >undercrackers<, sounds like something a troll would wear.

*

Nice, Interesting premise here.

Entry # 6 The Road to Geronimo

This entry was interesting. I would read on depending where he was going with it.

*

I'm with Jafeez on this one. Why is he only just noticing? I'm also intigueed as to where he is and what he has done though, so I would read on.

Entry # 7 Future Hero

I liked where this one was going, nice start

*

I like the idea of an unwitting superhero. Johan immediately comes across as a normal, carpet slippers and coffee kind of person, but a startling other side is revealed straight away.

Entry # 8 Green Tongue

Not sure about this one. One my first read I was thinking little shop of horrors, then was remimded of a story from the last WOTF volume (can't remember the title or author offhand), where a little girl was rescued by a sentient plant creature. I enjoyed that story. Hope I enjoy this one two. One nit-pick. How does the MC know that the top of the plant is an enormous maw if it is shut?

*

This one was really good. I liked the premise.


Entry # 9 Gods of the Tenth Realm

Pretty well written, but not my cup of tea.

*

Like this one. The trigger is there straight away, the tension is set, the reason Lind to travel to such a place is given. Especially like the first and last sentence. The first goes straight to the action and the last leaves a cliff hanger which makes me want to read on.

Entry # 10 Unfamiliar Territory

Nice start, pretty interesting premise so far.

*

There’s a real sounding conversational feel to the first person POV in this story. The sensory descriptions help place the reader in the scene.

*

No pulse. Wakes up in a morgue. Nothing apart from waking up happening. My first thought was, not another vampire story. Sorry. I wouldn't read any further.

Entry # 11 Iterum

Is he searching for his son or hunting him? I don't really get any impression of the preacher at all, just a faceless character between the MC and a door. Also is the MC some kind of alcoholic? I'm not really hooked at this point, but I'd probably keep going.

*

Maybe I'm liking this one because I just finished Leviathan Wakes and that one was awesome, but there's a good sense of character here, and tired laziness that I can sympathize with right now.

*

Another good start with an interesting premise.


Entry # 12 Veteran

How does wood rot differently there? Starting with the actual attack would have grabbed me more, this all seems like infodump. There are also some grammar issues in there. Not sure I would read on with this one.

Entry # 13 The Sword and The Shield

Not sure what the POV is here, but that must be a nasty dessert to crack wood. Sorry but I'd pass on this. I get the urgency you're trying to convey from the dialogue, I just don't see it in the writing. It's all abit matter-of-fact.

*

Nice start, pretty interesting, but again not something I would normally read.


Entry # 14 The Deepest Law

I like this, plenty going on, a little back story, nasty setting. I'd read on.

*

Despite two sentences with passive verbs that tell instead of show, the prose is tight, the conflict begins right away, and there are some nice descriptions. I particularly like >drank in the open sky<. A solid paragraph that ends with a fateful decision and makes me want to dive right in along with Rachel.

*

Interesting start, but not something I would normally pick up.

Entry # 15 Unfamiliar Territory

I think it's the title that got me on this one. No, really I liked the very familiar feel to it. Background and setting in just the first little bit. Nice opener.

*

Nice start, I would read on.

*

I'll go with this one. Normally I read 'dead guy' and think vampire, but this smacks of something different.

General Comments

HM's to #14 Deepest Law, and #8 Green Tongue

*

My other favorites
4) Entry # 6 The Road to Geronimo
5) Entry # 13 The Sword and The Shield
6) Entry # 15 Unfamiliar Territory
7) Entry # 3 The Seeker
8) Entry # 5 On The Pull


*

We seem to have a commonality of names and subjects here. I had a tough time picking a third between the two named unfamiliar territory, both had a number of similarities and were equally well laid out. Honorable mention to finally for the use of the Charlie Brown reference.


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snapper
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More opening crits...

Entry # 1 The Adventure

Interesting idea of the explorer. This seemed to be mainly ‘told’ not ‘shown’. I didn’t really connect emotionally with the characters yet.
*
This sounded a bit vague. Breaking the 4th wall in the opening sentence was a risk that didn’t work with me.
*
No real action. Not particularly engaging
*
This read better to me once I ignored the first sentence. Guessing but this sounds like a couple of parasites wandering about.
*
Not sure about this piece. I understand what is going on, but feel lost, almost as if the writing is deliberately hiding something we as readers would know and trying to make it unknown. For me it doesn’t work.


Entry # 2 Gristan's Good Deed

Needs a bit of trimming, IMO. I’d change as he uncertainly rose in anger to ‘angry’, for example. I did like moldering couch, reminds me of furniture you would sit on when you’re smashed
*
A little strange. First paragraph was fine. Then, Gristan uncertainly rose in anger, these two points seemed contradictory to me. Its uncertainly is like, stumbling or shaking in this sense, trying to rise, and rising in anger makes me think forceful and with purpose. Not a big thing, just a momentary stumble. What threw me off was the last line, it just seemed a little over the top.

*
I like the imagery. It could be tightened up with more active verbs (saw, walked, used) or different sentence structure (he uncertainly rose in anger
*
This captured the muddled MC without muddling the reader. It worked.


Entry # 3 THE SEEKER

Danger, danger. Nice attempt to draw the reader in with tension but it is too vague to serve as a proper hook.
*
Engaging. This isn't an initiating action, but I would read on.
*
I like this piece. My main concern would be of an info dump. Its all internal thoughts. The most active line was him looking at Dralt’s retreating back. I would suggest adding a little more motion to break up the info. The writing is solid, its there, just unfortunately comes out all at once.
*
Solid writing. I’m not sure why he’d go with Dralt if he knew he was making a mistake? And following your heart is, sadly, a little cliché.
*
Sets up the conflict with his team quite early. Was too vague on what they were teaming up to do.


Entry # 4 finally

I struggle with beginnings where I am not grounded. I have no idea what is going on and not sure I want to find out. I like the jello line, and the Charlie Brown voice, so those rang good with me. Its just from there I don’t get it, and I like to have some idea.
*
Like the voice in this one. MC still sounds like a child, although older than five now. Could use a bit of tightening. The tension works. Hooked.
*
Didn’t like to open with a juvenile sounding word – squishy. Some interesting ideas were developing by the end, but I found it hard to attach myself to the story in the first paragraph.
*
Thoughts too jumbled to make much of the opening.
*
Good description, easily imagined. The ‘in as much…’ is a little rough. Also, something didn’t sit right with the transition to ‘living within his memories’.


Entry # 5 On The Pull

Funny. The first couple sentences left me somewhat disoriented and I had to stop to wonder why she hated trees, what natural urges etc.
*
Very funny last line of this scene. Lowbrow humor, but it worked.
*
Potty humor done well enough to intrique
*
This one left me laughing. Not really my type of story, but if it wasn’t long, I would read. It was almost a story in itself, in just the 13.
*
I’d make a few minor changes in wording but I do love this opening. ‘Mating habits of Trolls’ would likely be the highest rated show on Discovery . Original idea.


Entry # 6 The Road to Geronimo

Excellent opening line. Just the type that would grab any editors attention. Well done. Hooked.
*
– Excellent writing and idea. Only two nits: first, it might sound better ‘He adjusted his weight on the chair to take a closer look, wincing as…’ - otherwise you have three sentences starting with ‘he’ in a row. Second ‘death metal’ threw me out of the narrative.
*
Very intriguing opening. However I'd be more drawn in if the death metal started the beginning rather than the see-through-walls thing. I think that took away from the startling event.
*
Good beginning. I really just have a small nit. He knows its 34 days, I would have thought he lost count by now. As I said, a small nit, I would keep the first line regardless it adds to the piece. Well done.

Entry # 7 Future Hero

Too much description of what he wore and not enough of him.
*
Good beginning as well. Nothing really to say. It seems to be an interesting read, with humor through out.
*
So everyone gets the future newspaper? So why did the nuns need saving? It feels like a plot hole is found in the opening.
*
Fabulous. Witty description, great concept. Barely a nit – the ‘He spit out his coffee’ seemed abrupt somehow, not sure why.
*
This opening has a plot dilemma that gives me a headache. He now has to be a hero because the paper says he will be? Sports betting is pointless, as is the stock market. Wording I believe could use some tweaking.


Entry # 8 Green Tongue

Reminiscent of Keth Laumer's Retief, but without the humor, at least in the opening.
*
I don’t mind the idea (reminds me of the worst Lost In Space episode with the vegetables), but found the dialog a bit unnecessarily dramatic.
*
Nothing overly wrong here, but nothing makes me want to read on either. My only nit is the first paragraph reads like a little like an infodump. I would suggest trying to make it more active.
*
Very intriguing. I want to know where this one goes. This ‘closed like a flower waiting for the dawn with hints of orange inside it.’ was awkward. Otherwise, solid writing.


Entry # 9 Gods of the Tenth Realm

This read a little over the top for me. But I have to admit it seemed to be deliberate and I would keep reading.
*
I like this concept and the writing is good. There is so much going on, though, that it’s hard for me to orient myself.
*
Fantasy epic in 3000 words? Going to be tough to do. If I get this right, a doorway to a realm is possible at the entrance to a plaza. My head is spinning already.
*
I'd read on. This has a nice premise and some world-building firmly ensconced in the opening.
*
The opening sentence contained too much information, most of which did not anchor us into what was happening. I thought we need to know about the vortex in the opening sentence to give us hat anchor. The rest is well done.


Entry # 10 Unfamiliar Territory

Dead man rises in the morgue. Nice way to open and I like the writing. I am intrigue and eager to read more.
*
Nice. I feel confident in your writing that this is going to be good. Wondered why the tech was ‘not pleased’ instead of completely freaked out. Also ‘spread of white paint etc.’ didn’t work as a description for me.
*
Alright well, the first thing is, and I hate saying it, but the beginning is rather cliché, waking up. But with that said. I enjoyed it. The writing was very solid, good sense of voice and character, so it drew me in, and I would read on.
*
I did like this opening – though I remain confused why the morgue tech warranted so much description. The description was good, so I would read on to find the implicit promise which isn’t yet apparent.
*
Waking up beginning. I'd like to know more of what happened than to know what the morgue tech looked like.


Entry # 11 Iterum

This sets up why he was there, two options of where the potential conflict will be (with preachers or with their targets), and a motive to enter into this story, all in the first 13. Very well done.
*
Power packed. I liked this opening. It finally revealed all we needed to know to get going, setting, motivation, a touch of character and a desire to read on.
*
I have no idea what this story is about the writing and presentation has me completely intrigued. Your MC’s strong voice has me hooked.
*
Nicely done. Setting and feel was instantaneous.

Entry # 12 Veteran

This was great until the infodump about the Denebians. I need to be a bit more grounded to allow an infodump.
*
Not quite a hook, but I liked the world building and the scene.
*
Infodump but one I liked. Nice descriptive writing. I have a clear idea what your aliens look like. I would consider some rewording because it appears you were more concerned about writing a 13 line opening hook. Nevertheless I am hooked.
*
I like the setting, and feel this piece is close, just not quite there for me. Maybe its because I am thinking of war as being active, and it just seems he is standing there watching.
*
Intriguing first paragraph. After that it’s a little too much info dump that ‘tells’ not ‘shows.’


Entry # 13 The Sword and The Shield

If you cut out, to from you’re your first sentence, this opening would read clearer. Not a bad opening but others had a sharper hook.
*
I like the tension in this beginning, but I still felt somewhat confused by what was happening. Why did his fingers hurt? Why did she misinterpret his meaning of ‘dark’? Still, I’d like to know where this story is going.
*
The opening phrase was left without followup. It was sufficiently strange that I didn’t know how to interpret it. Perhaps leave his ability to do this until later in the story, when we begin to understand his predicament. The rest reads fine, though still a little vague.
*
This was a decent opening, however I thought there might be a bit too much dialogue and the sword coming in at the front rather than the end might make this work a bit better.


Entry # 14 The Deepest Law

Very serviceable. I'd like a touch of description of who took her rather than 'the bastards'.
*
This was a good, solid start, one that I would read on. But it didn’t quite say something special could happen in this story, so just missed out on my votes.
*
Nice. I can feel it.
*
A solid opening. Nice way to start. Not as good as others but still hooks me.
*
This is strong writing for a tense situation. Still, I am left without a strong emotional attachment to Rachel or her sister that would help me feel the danger more deeply. I’m not sure why it’s not there.


Entry # 15 Unfamiliar Territory

Nice opening sentence. I would choose different wording but it did the trick. Liked the first paragraph but the second lost me a little.
*
Good solid opening. We get the setting, a touch of character, a problem and a hook.
*
I’m not sure about the opening sentence – it sounds like the first phrase was a punchline (fine) but then the second phrase was an explanation of that punchline. I’d rather see her reaction first, rather than backstory that enables us to understand the later dialog.
*
Really well done. The first sentence it an excellent hook and the solid writing really delivers through the rest of the opening.
*
I think this might be the 2nd story in this challenge that plays with being dead as unfamiliar. I thought of doing it myself. I think with all the vampire stories out there, the “being dead” thing has become familiar. But, again, the writing was solid, and the voice really comes through in this piece.


[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 23, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 24, 2011).]


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snapper
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Everyone has voted in our 13 line opening portion. Every entry received votes in this challenge and 9 out of 15 got at least 3 top 3 three favorites. 9 of the entries also received first place votes, so suffice to say, we had a very good batch of entries.

There was quite a battle for the second spot but first place was a clear choice. Half of the voters choose it in their top three. Here are the top five finishers.

Entry # 15 “Unfamiliar Territory” - 32 points

Entry # 10 “Unfamiliar Territory” - 24 points

Entry # 7 “Future Hero” - 23 points

Entry # 6 “The Road to Geronimo” - 23 points

Entry # 11 “Iterum” - 18 points

Good work everyone. The author of Entry 15 is entitled to a critique of any piece they would like me to paw over.


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snapper
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You are free to post in this thread, just don't say what entry is yours.

It has been a delight to correspond with all of you during this competition. Hopefully you are all having fun and the comments are useful to you all.


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LDWriter2
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Hmmm, I did better with the voting than I thought. I was going to say that not only didn't my story place, as most did not, but none of my picks got on either but I had forgotten which one I had chosen for third, so two of my picks are on the top five after all.


Boy Number 15 did good whoever he/she/it is. I'm glad that at least one of my picks is in the group I'm suppose to do.

I was going to say that I'm glad I got some interesting ones, but I think all of them have something to grab me so all of them are interesting. Even a couple that make me think I may not like the story have enough for me to say "Hmmm, I wonder what happens next?" so I may just go ahead and read them all. I don't know about doing crits for all 15, I'll see about the time, but I want to read them all.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited June 25, 2011).]


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snapper
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WE have the first votes and critiques in. Look under your 13 line opening for comments on your entire story.

5 people have voted thus far. A good mix of opinions.

Remember, we are all friends here. Any comments you read are one's persons opinion and are shared in hopes they will help.

I must say I have enjoyed the stories I have read so far. Thanks to everyone for joining in,

EDITED TO ADD:

Got another vote and a whole new series of crits. That makes six.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 26, 2011).]


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snapper
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Another voter and critique. Comments above...


Edited


and another...

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 27, 2011).]


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snapper
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A bunch of emails came in all at once. Curious on how things are shaping up? Here is a tease or two...

10 have voted, 5 are left.

One group has a run away winner and second place is pretty much set.

One group is now a neck and neck race with a couple of dark horse still in the game.

One group is completely up for grabs. The last place entry is still within reach of first

Thanks to the authors who have done double duty and added a crit or two (kinda messes it up for those trying to read the critiquing tea leaves and figure out who is winning)

You having fun yet? I'm having fun.

EDITED

added another one this morning

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited June 28, 2011).]


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snapper
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More crits above...
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snapper
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UPDATE:

We have three voters left. One group is set but the other two are very much up for grabs.

Both remaining groups have a leader but one group is so close that all 5 entries are still in it.

I am going to have to come up with a workable tie breaker...


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LDWriter2
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Send me a note, if it's not group two maybe I can do a quick vote. I want to read them anyway. I might be able break a tie.


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pdblake
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In the event of a tie couldn't you go on which one got the most 1st place votes, and if that ties too, then 2nd place votes etc...?
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snapper
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That is an option I have thought of, PD. As is the one with more 13 line votes. I would rather have someone pick the best, someone outside the contest (sorry LD). I have asked a hatrack member we with established credentials to serve as a tie breaker (if needed). I am waiting their response. I do have another member I could ask if they are unavailable.
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snapper
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Got one last voter to go. I have been in contact with him/her so I expect one soon. Now for the current status.

The group that isn't finished is tight. One point separates the top two. A tie is a real possibilty.

Another group has ended in a tie. I have asked the help of our breathen to bail me out.

We will be having a run off round. The second place finishers in each group will face off. I will send all three to everyone. Vote for your favorite (if you're one of the three, you'll will have to pick one of the other two). I am hoping this will take a couple of days. If you don't think you'll have the time to join in this part, let me know. The one that wins this round will join the other 3 winners to be judged by our all-star panel and vie for the prize (signed copy of the latest WotF anthology).

If you want to get an early jump, just start reading the rest. Some good stuff in there anyway.

Thanks for your patience!


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shimiqua
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I think if there is a tie, then you should send both stories to the final round for the judges to read.
~Sheena

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snapper
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The final vote is in!

First the dilemna I aluded too. Judge one was quick with his decision, even though he read them all twice, just so he could be sure...

quote:
Here's my ranking:


4 - Gods of the Tenth Realm
3 – Future Hero
2 – Green Tongue
1 – Iterum


I could reverse numbers two and three with little difficulty; they're very close in my mind, and if it was possible to list them as a tie I would. Iterum was the clear winner for me.

It was very hard to rank these stories. The quality of every one was very high, and 3,000 words is just so hard to do at all, let alone well. I enjoyed all four of the stories and appreciate the opportunity to read them.


Very clear and he offered his reasoning. A couple days later, Judge two sent me this...


quote:
Here's my votes for 1 (first place) through to 4 (fourth).
1. Gods of the Tenth Realm - A good play on the prompt and had strong character motivations and pathos. Could benefit from some additional work.
2. Future Hero - I loved the tone to death, but couldn't see what was special about the character, the situation, or why I should care about him especially.
3. Green Hero - The contention that responding to stimuli signifies intelligence seems a hard problem to overcome.
4. Iterum - I wanted to vote this one higher but couldn't really see what was 'unfamiliar' to the MC here.

Yep. Four-way tie. Last night, the third judge (and official tie breaker) popped in to set the final tally. Here is the order in which they finished.

#1: Green Tongue

#2: Iterum

#3: Gods of the Tenth Realm

#4: Johan Wiseman


I let the winning author know, in his typical, self-congratulatory fashion, he said this, and I quote...

quote:
I am shocked! Not because I don't deserve it, but because my genius has finally been realized. Where's my trophy?

...so I threw a rock at him. Let him put that on his shelf. he's a cheater anyway so the second place winner will receive the very rare prize of a signed copy of the latest Writers of the Future anthology! Featuring Ben Mann and Patrick Sullivan!

So let's all congratulate the very deservingand humble [i]RoxyL! Author of Interum.

Here is the list of all the authors and the stories of which they wrote.


Axeminister - Future Hero
Brendan - The Road to Geronimo
JosephineKait - The Deepest Law
LDWriter - The adventure
Meredith - The Seeker
Owasm - Gristan's Good Deed
PDblake - On The Pull
RoxyL - Iterum
Shimiqua - Finally
Snapper - Green Tongue
Tiergan - The Sword and the Shield
Twiggy - Gods of the Tenth Realm
Utahute - Veteran
Wireless Librarian - Unfamiliar territory (15)
WriterDan - Unfamiliar Territory (10)


This has been loads of fun for me. A great pleasure. I hope everyone sells their stories.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited July 15, 2011).]


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pdblake
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Snapper, you can't win your own competition, I demand a recount! (lobs another brick)

Congrats to all. I think we all did very well. I was particularly taken with RoxyL's Iterum and Twiggy's Gods of the Tenth Realm.

But, as Clarabelle would say....bugger!

PS: Snapper, what came 4th?

[This message has been edited by pdblake (edited July 15, 2011).]


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Meredith
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Congratulations Snapper and RoxyL
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axeminister
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I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, and for the crits above. I've edited the story somewhat based on what you've said and I'm ready to send it out.

Unfortunately I have a story in to my first choice of publications, so this will have to wait. Hopefully someone digs it and it finds a home.

Axe


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RoxyL
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"Frankie," Roxy said in her best mobster voice. "You can't pin something like this on me. I don't deserve it." She leaned in, pulling the quaking man up by his collar. "You'd better take it back, or you'll end up in a pair of see-ment galoshes at the bottom of the Treehouse moat."

Seriously, Snapper, your story was awesome, and I say that as a bona fide botanist. You definitely deserve first and all that goes with it.

And Axe, Mr. 'I'm not funny, just go look at my blog...' - Ha! Future Hero will definitely find a home.

Some crit on the first 13 said something like 'epic fantasy in 3k?' You pulled it off, Twiggy. Nice.

There were so many great stories. I loved, loved On the Pull. And Wireless Librarian, very fine writing (I could only find one other sample you posted - post more often!)

Really, kudos to everyone. And especially to that rotten scoundrel, Snapper, for putting this on.

[This message has been edited by RoxyL (edited July 16, 2011).]


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Twiggy
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I'm out of action for a few days and everything happens. Congrats to the winners. Snapper, you are clearly the winner. In a blind judged comp it doesn't matter who organised it. RoxyL, that's twice I've come third to your second. I'm going to have to swap it around next time.
Well done to everyone. There were some great stories and some great crits.
Special thanks to the finalist judges who took the trouble to add comments to their votes. I am going to use my crits to edit now.
See you all again next year.
Twiggy

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WriterDan
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Congrats to everyone, but most especially his Snapperness. I do need to know though, was each individual's name (reader/entrant) in Green Tongue, or was it just my illustrious name that ended up going out in it? I didn't know what to think when I came across my own name in that story. Seriously.

Also, I think I need to change my UserName to: AWriterDan. As I've found out in the contest that I do really despise seeing my name at the bottom of the list every time...

Thanks for putting this on, Snapper. Was a good one.


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snapper
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Just your turn, WD. Wrote about 10 different hatracker names into my stories. Shimiqua ended up being the protagonist in a virgin-who-wished-she-wasn't tale I did in an earlier challenge.
The trigger challenge where we used KDW's title as the trigger I named a swamp and road after her name.

Call me unimaginative for failure to think of my own names, crafty for appealing to my fellow writers ego, truth is your name fit, and I knew I would get a reaction out of you somehow


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Utahute72
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Well Dan if it weren't for you and the wireless librarian I would have been at the bottom, but I've been there for so long it probably wouldn't bother me.
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RoxyL
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The book has arrived.

And it is fabulous!

BenM's story and Posulliv's are just great. Very well deserving of the honor of being included.

I'd just like to offer tons of thanks to Ben Mann for getting the book and the signatures and going to all the trouble of getting it mailed. And to him, Patrick O'Sullivan, and Brad R. Torgersen for judging (and the tie breaker judges who put in so much work, too).

And thanks to Snapper for putting this on, and then being such a gracious host and winner to let the runner up have such a prize.

Many thanks everyone for the crits. I learned so much, not only from my own, but from reading those of other stories as well.

Hope you had a good time. Now, let's get those stories sold!


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