WritingForums.com - 19/2/2011 - The Six Elements - SCORES

  • 19/2/2011 - The Six Elements - SCORES

    Well folks, another LM is over for now.
    The scoring got turned over in just over a week, thanks SO much to ppsage, Hawke and Mike for that.

    The fourth judge had some big real-life issues, as did I, so in the spirit of timeliness, I am posting these results based on the scores of three judges, so we’ve got lots of nice nasty decimals in there.

    Anyway, here is the rundown of the scores:


    Custard: 13 + 15 + 13 = 41/3 = 13.667
    InsanityStrickenWriter: 16 + 16.5 + 17 = 49.5/3 = 16.5
    Leyline: 20 + 20 + 18 = 58/3 = 19.333
    KarlR: 18 + 14.5 + 18 = 50.5/3 = 16.833
    TheFuhrer02: 15 + 13.5 + 17 = 45.5/3 = 15.166
    Caelum: 18 +17.5 + 18 = 53.5/3 = 17.833
    Spider8: 14 +17 + 16 = 47/3 = 15.667
    Amber Leaf: 18 + 14 + 18 = 50/3 = 16.667
    Columbo1977: 11 + 12.5 + 17 = 40.5/3 = 13.5
    Bazz Cargo: 17 + 12 + 14 = 43/3 = 14.333
    Fritzie: 15 + 10 + 16 = 41/3 = 13.667
    Anna Buttons: 18 +19.5 + 19 = 55.5/3 = 18.5
    Sue Owen: 16 + 10 + 15 = 41/3 = 13.667
    Sydney: 8 + 9 + 13 = 30/3 = 10

    And now to congratulate the winners.

    We have Leylinein first place, on 19.333 points!
    Anna Buttons in second place, with 18.5.
    And Caelum in third, with 17.833.

    Well done, all three of you!

    Now here are the judges comments, please everyone thank them for their time (And prompt responses!)

    Until next time

    ppsage’s Scores

    ppsage, Orixa Rides: Judge Entry 27
    Although I'm back with Torman here and allude to his enlarged genitalia, which he unfortunately loses, the story's really about neutering in general and not just in a gender and reproductive sense. It's a 'giving in to technology' dystopia. The story also depends on the reader figuring out the references to the orixa of candomble or voodoo, so I try to kill two birds up front with the Behighan nurse. I don't really have a place to go with the Torman equals Jesus motif, except that's what effigy suggests to me, and it's handy at the end. Not that proud of the somewhat extraneous Edi-sun but something had to give a violet cast. Soweah is, as always, my one, beloved and essential concession to lechery. More of a theme piece really, than one of necessary action and maybe I'd only give it a seven or so but with the twenty point judge bonus that bumps it up high enough.

    Custard, Violet day 15
    There are some grammar errors here, which I'm almost able to dismiss as artifacts of the narrator's voice but there's a few too many and some cleaning up should have been done. The notion of an internet-be-in-do-hickey tickles me. I didn't really know what the apple meant though, until it just dropped from the story and I assumed it was a signal. That retrograded me a bit. The word effigy gets repeated too many times, should have had some synonym parts handy in the backpack. But the idea of it is well played. Very much like the characterization introduced by the strong voice. I wouldn't mind if it went even a bit more over toward the top sometime. There are a couple places, like the opening and concluding paragraphs, where the narrator's direct exposition probably ought to be reinforced by something, quotation maybe, or additional imagery and I'd be inclined to drop the second person references, but only slight improvements would put this one among the highest scorers.

    InsanityStrickenWriter , Waiting for the Train 16.5
    This is a pretty good example of how to pull off one of the deadpan, zero characterization, 100% description pieces which people often attempt but flub up by going too general and expositioning to death. It stays nice and tight focused very specifically. A piece like this, it's going to be lyrical, in a sort of frozen way and highly allegorical. Problem with this one, I can't seem to make the allegory connect up. Bound to be subjective, sure, but allegory needs to be broad in its subjectivity. Everyman, as they used to say, needs to see the truth of it. Personally. Dying worms and rotting apples and temporary violets are all very well but I'm not seeing the connection. Bald heads I can see but not so much crawling under the bench. What's that about? Now don't get me wrong, this is very pretty and written well and without mistakes and will score pretty high really, but ending up with undifferentiated melancholy hunger leaves me wanting something more to chew on. I mean, I was there on the second sentence.

    Leyline, Little Miss Candyflip 20
    One of the things that flash can do, is yank out something sort of like found text, in this case the spiel of a side show barker perhaps, and embed it with context that sort of proposes a story in the reader. These can spin off into lyrical excess and although we get a nice touch of the poetic here, the piece maintains focus well, both of us know where it's going and when we get there. Except for the May queen. Exposing commodity fetishifacation of our human virtue is Marxist enough, I'd say, without dragging in Mayday. For a Libraryitarian speculitarian at least. But this rises way above any pedagogical foundation anyway, if I'm able to judge coherently.

    KarlR, Golden Ticket 14.5
    This is nicely written, reads well and engages interest but when I'm done I don't quite feel like I've read a whole story. Like I got the introductions and started the discussion but then the motion got tabled before the vote. I have a small bone to pick with an ID transmitter that can be blocked by a hand. Can't be rf then and ir seems pointless? Anyway, it's your tech, but that nags and distracts. 'Maglev' establishes future right off and ID transmitter helps but there's no real feeling that that's important. I love the use of the apple here and that effigy is, well, something except itself which I also like. Software maybe? Sort of disappointed the violet didn't go anywhere. Feels like there's a good story here and well told but this style of writing can't get there inside the limit. Makes me wish we had an annual challenge for longer stuff.

    TheFuhrer02, Shadows of the Past 13.5
    I find this reads a little awkwardly and not in a good way. Sometimes awkward can make me concentrate but here I'm a bit put off. "The place had some place … in this historic place," is too much place for any sentence. I feel like I'm supposed to understand something which I'm not told here, probably to do with the names, but the only one I know is Henry Jekyll. Nothing really propels this in another time, except your explicit say-so, none of the details are futuristic. There's no law that says the items in the prompt have to be intrinsic to the story, only mentioned, but in this sort of challenge, I think it's sort of understood that the more involved they are the better that at least one should be somehow central.

    caelum, The Pipe 17.5
    This story does a very thorough job of establishing setting in pretty classic science fiction style which means almost data dump exposition. You get it out of the way in two short paragraphs which aren't entirely devoid of characters or action and I'm totally to speed then and that's a lot better than clueless. It could be more subtle and it could be more crafty but it definitely got done and that's good. The build up to the Sybek reveal is well done. I like the apple use here as well. I like how the mauve eyes refer to the violet halos. Although we at least discover the Sybeks have hearts, which is an actual conclusion I suppose, I'm finding the ending a little weak overall and a bit implausible, from the time standpoint, that they'd actually escape. At least not in one short sentence. The phrase comparing a doll to 'an effigy of a popular songstress,' runs a bit counter to my idea of the definition.

    spider8, Dystopian Nightmare 17
    I enjoy the writing in this story a lot, especially the way detail is used to build elements of character. And to a good extent the actual language, which is crisp and clean if not spectacular. On the other hand. I don't really get the story, in terms of why it might be told or why I'd be reading it. And I don't really get the merry-go-round ending; if it follows from the rest I'm missing it and it just seems like a cheap trick. I'm not quite sure exactly what the apple really is, an air freshener or something, but I like it and how it combines with effigy. I wouldn't bet that this actually makes sense say like plot wise but it has beautiful images which flow along until, I'm back where I started. There doesn't seem to be the slightest attempt to set it in the future, which earns some demerits.

    Amber Leaf, Questions 14
    The writing in this piece is clean but pretty plain. As far as the story goes, I get a suggestion that life depends on original sin that's never explicitly confirmed. For a while I was almost thinking of the story as an 'it was all a dream' type, with no necessity, everything goes but there's definitely a better connection than that. Still very tenuous, which is okay. Pretty much. It makes this end up being a story, the subtleness of which can only really be appreciated in retrospect, which makes it tough. It invites oversight. I don't know how many readers would make the effort, I almost didn't.

    columbo1977, The Last Train 12.5
    This has all the elements , data points, if you want, needed to make an understandable story but I'm put off by the odd run-on style of the writing, which is also overly expository. I do consider that the style may be deliberate, trying to model the mind of the saboteur. Still not working for me. The apple bomb is a good use of the prompt but violet is just stuck on and effigy is used here again in a way a bit counter to my understanding. Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I wouldn't expect the display of an effigy to be celebratory with regard a living person. The rational for Jon's revolutionary actions seem awfully thin to me and I somewhat expected a bit of irony to surface in that regard but didn't find it.

    bazz cargo, The Barbarians are coming 12
    Quite a few basic errors in grammar, spelling and formatting knock this down a lot. The apostrophe is not used in the formation of simple plurals. There should be a blank line between every paragraph. There should be no blank space separating quotation or query mark from text.

    Really a lot of "it was." (It was raining=rain fell, In cold darkness, the rain fell.) "It was" ought to be a red flag, marking revision.

    It would not take a lot of time or effort to have made a much better presentation of what is a pretty compelling story, already told with minimum exposition and with a wealth of immediacy and engaging detail. Really nice use of the prompts especially the apple, but also effigy used in a manner I personally find appropriate and even the often supernumerary violet finding a useful niche. Concise effective world building. Next time pay attention to presentation and work on the language a little more.

    fritzie, Sartung 10
    This makes for a really nice generic prologue or précis or something of the sort and in that aspect is very nicely written. Lovely sentences, although several instances of an extended subject with omitted conjunction I think really demand the use of a semicolon. The thing is though, you're definitely going to have to either have characters, or do something impossibly spectacular, in a story contest. This might have been pretty imposing, written in first person present tense and presto, the narrator becomes a character. Mention who they're waiting for, and another character. This uses the prompts well and may have had a lot of potential to become a winning story, if it had been written as such.

    Leave a blank line between paragraphs.

    Anna Buttons, Six Minutes 19.5
    I get a lot of confusion here about who is on the train and who's on the platform, seems like there's references to them both ways. Which doesn't really matter, this is brilliantly written. Love the title legibility issue and Jabba's weird rap. The prompts are worked in entertainingly and cleverly though not essentially. Intellectually I suspect that Jabba's comments are supposed to create a futuristic setting but viscerally I believe he's just spaced on comics and adverts and so for me it essentially stays in the present.

    I find the narrator highly improbable. Creepy guys this articulate, in my experience, usually creep for all the little babes. So why just her? I could use some pretext on this. In the end, and I think because of the concluding time stamp mostly, which ought be have a blank line above, if it's a new paragraph, I've decided what makes sense is that she always tongues out with America and always gives narrator the wink and that she's as creepy as him.

    Sue Owen, The Apple 10
    This story drops a poser at the last minute and just leaves it hanging there. How pray tell, did he know? This question leaves a hole that the reader won't be satisfied without filling. The effigy maker bit is also too much of a last minute substitution. In fact, there might be two nearly separate stories here, one, almost killing and then saving some random apple eater and then the one summarized in two concluding paragraphs, of a prescient effigy carver. The apple eater story provides setting but at the almost complete expense of the 'real' story, which needed to be integrated throughout.

    At a basic level this is well presented, good formatting, spelling, pretty fair punctuation and the care you take on this shows to advantage. The language could use a bit of concision here and there; 'perfect formula for what happened to happen' is better demonstrated than said. That there is a question left at the end which the reader cares about shows that an interesting story is in the near vicinity and I think maybe a bit more pre-composition strategizing might have helped find a way to tell it more completely.

    Sydney, E. Y. E. 09
    This entry has massive grammar problems. It's not for a contest judge to consider the reason for this but in this instance I find it important to personally thank the writer for his efforts and to encourage him to continue. One suspects he is learning to write in a second language. Just in the course of his finding the proper way to submit to this contest, I can see that progress has been made. I hope he will continue and that he will try another entry.

    Many of the sentences attempted in this piece are very complex and difficult and I would suggest that they don't need to be. That the complexity wouldn't add much to the writing, even if done correctly.

    A major problem with this story, beyond grammar, is that it bogs down in explaining the setting instead of acting in it. This is a complicated world and it will need some explaining but better to start with one character, doing one thing, in one place and add setting slowly and from the perspective of what's happening at the moment. Maybe go back after the action is finished, to add some general facts to make it fuller.

    This entry is going to get a very low score but I hope it will be understood that it is all the same much appreciated.

    Hawke’s Scores

    Excellent job, everyone. A pleasure to read and a hard one to judge. Please keep in mind that the following is only my opinion—one opinion—and should be taken as such. Thank you.

    Orixa Rides - ppsage - N/A Judge
    For whatever reason, I at first had a mental picture of people balancing full-sized computer towers on their heads… but never mind that. I do hope you ran with this story and have added more. If so, it might be perfect for Asimov’s or Clarkesworld. Kudos.

    Voilet Day - Custard - 13
    Nits: Watch your tenses; may = many; watch your punctuation - eg: I took a big bite out of it the apple was very large and red… etc.; repeat words (effigy, for one); lighted = lit
    Run-on sentences and repeated words often make a work very hard to read. Reading work out loud always helps me during editing. Just a suggestion.

    Waiting for the Train - InsanityStrickenWriter - 17
    Nit: a few sentences could use some tightening; ‘He stumbled up from under the bench’ sounds like he was underneath the bench; be careful of repeating words (violet and mind).

    Aww, I felt sorry for the man. Such is life, eh? I had a mental image of him trying to save the flower by replanting, half expecting the train to come along and crush it. Glad you didn’t take me where I thought it would go. Good job.

    Little Miss Candyflip - Leyline - 18
    I really liked your take on this challenge and the images the work evoked. The story itself was the form—a base—for so much more. A sort of sci-fi Lord Of The Flies, in a way. Please don’t correct me if I’m wrong. Well done.

    Golden Ticket - KarlR - 17
    One nit: Dialogue by the same speaker when split into two paragraphs doesn’t need a closing quotation mark in the first paragraph. Just saying.

    This is obviously part of a much larger work (and if it isn’t, I hope you’ll consider expanding this). Good job with it, of course, but perhaps it left me wanting to know more and with a lot of unanswered questions as well. This is another one where I wish the word count had been far higher.

    Shadows of the Past - TheFuhrer02 - 17
    Nits: Repetitious words (eg: place)

    Cool ending. I liked how you tied it all together. Would have liked to have read even more, and perhaps a more beefier version as well, but so it sometimes goes with a low word count. Good job.

    The Pipe - Caelum - 18
    I loved that the Sybek (cool name, by the by) seemed more “human” than the humans around him, at least in the compassion department. Good job of fleshing him out. No doubt I would have liked him even more were it not for the challenge’s low word count. Oh, and just one thing. Although I think I’m pretty safe in assuming you wrote this with the ending in mind, it felt a little tacked on, possibly due to the low word count. Perhaps scattering a little something (a growing rumble?) throughout would give it a quick fix.

    Dystopian Nightmare - spider8 - 16
    Super, although I might be going out on a limb here when I say most women would not ‘go’ in someone’s lawn, even if it meant risking the worst. She’d hurry back to the train station or walk with her legs crossed or whatever, first. And if she did happen to find herself in the worst case scenario, she’d of course be unspeakably embarrassed but thankful that it was night.

    Questions - Amber Leaf - 18
    Nits: Dialogue tags - “Dr. Adderson." She says. = “Dr. Adderson,” she says.
    Super job with this. You took some risks and they paid off. (They did with me, at least.) Nice work.

    The Barbarians are coming - buzz cargo - 14
    Nits: Dialogue tags (eg: “ Penny.” She cried, = “ Penny,” she cried,); be careful of your punctuation and sentence structure; part = partially

    This work just didn’t grab me the way I hoped it would. Why? Because I didn’t feel for the characters so I guess I didn’t really care what happened to them. As the author, you need to get me (the reader) to feel, to care. Once your reader cares, they’ll jump on your train and stay on it. Just food for thought.

    Sartung - fritzie - 16
    I really wish you had taken better advantage of the word count because I would’ve liked to have read more. Oddly enough, the bleak and cold you tried to convey mirrored this work very well. I just can’t help wondering what more there could have been. Good job though.

    Six Minutes - Anna Buttons - 19
    Loved your unique take. A memorable work. Good job.

    The Apple - Sue Owen - 15
    This was pretty good, but it just didn’t suspend my belief. The job of the writer is—in the words of Stephen King—making people believe the unbelievable. I didn’t believe the hole, and that made my internal editor to grab the emergency brake and toss me out of the story. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around an open hole into space that a man could fall through but didn’t suck everyone else out of—do you know what I mean? An astronaut with a pinhole in his suit would be doomed. A space station with a man-sized hole? Nope, I just couldn’t buy it. However, with some work, I might.

    The Last Train - columbo1977 - 12
    Lack of effective punctuation can make a work very difficult to read and nearly impossible for a reader to grasp. Unfortunately, that’s what happened with me, here. Ah, but it’s of those things we’ve all had to learn. By the by, reading one’s work out loud during editing can really help with that.

    Sydney - Untitled - 13
    Nits: Watch your tenses; watch your inflectional endings (s, ed, and ing); some sentences need to be restructured.

    When I read that in eight years “global warming” will force man to build and underground city “close to the core” (where it would be even hotter), my internal editor grabbed the emergency brake and tossed me out of the work. As I’ve said somewhere else, the job of the writer is—in the words of Stephen King—making people believe the unbelievable. This story just didn’t make me believe the unbelievable. However, with a good edit and some work, it could. And speaking of editing, I read my work out loud when I edit. That might help you, as well.

    Mike’s Scores

    While it’s written well with no grammatical flaws, I’m a little confused as to what is actually going on. A little more definition into what the apple actually does and why the man is held captive would alleviate my bewilderment considerably.
    Judge – No score

    Violet’s Day
    Grammar: (3/5) – Tense issues and run-on sentences are the biggest flaws in this piece. There are also some simple errors: may/many in the second paragraph; “violet day” should be capitalized; and the last sentence in the seventh paragraph is fragmented.

    Voice: (5/5) – With the use of simple language, an allusion to mother, and rock music from a phone, all with a rebellious feel, the voice is straight from the mouth of a fourteen-year-old.

    Creativity & Style: (5/10) – It’s too rushed and you seem to include too many events for such a short story. You repeat a lot of actions (like lighting the effigy). I feel like too much of this is borrowed straight from the movie, V for Vendetta, to give it much credit to originality.
    Overall Score: 13/20

    Little Miss Candyflip
    Grammar: (5/5) – Not sure about “cortexi,” but otherwise pretty trim.

    Voice: (5/5) – I wasn’t committed to the fourth wall questions when I started reading, but I think the repetition worked out well and helped include the ‘me’ into the ‘us.’

    Creativity & Style: (10/10) – There is one obvious flaw that I found: how does one acquire a ‘blinding white t-shirt’ in such times as war and famine? She seemed too cut and clean, this girl. Other than that, the turn of the crowd came at the right time; it painted this dystopia the right colour of rust red. Very well done.
    Overall Score: 20/20

    Golden Ticket
    Grammar: (5/5) – No huge, glaring mistakes. I’m not too fond of: “They were as damp after the effort as before.”

    Voice: (5/5) – Because of the perspective choice, the interplay was easy to read. There were some distracting elements in the style, however.

    Creativity & Style: (8/10) – A significant portion of the beginning of the story is dedicated to fog and the sound of the train. While this helps create a mysterious element, I began to wonder when the story would get into things, into action. I am more interested in the hold the woman (and her partners) have over Mr. Shea, and how he might go conspire or rebel against it. I did enjoy the descriptions of the HUD and transmitter. These details gave the story a futuristic, Blade Runner feel.
    Overall Score: 18/20

    Shadows of the Past
    Grammar: (3/5) – Use of ‘place’ three times in one sentence in the first paragraph. Tense problems describing Cavendish Square as an arid land – “Cavendish Square had been but,” should be: ‘Cavendish Square was now,’ because we are seeing it in the past tense rather past participle. Other places in the story that had problems: description of Johann running late and then walking (twice) to the train platform; awkward word choice: “safely run through them,” when describing train on rusted rails; and when you write, “the burly man saw this and decided to run away,” it breaks with the POV – it would work if you wrote: ‘the burly man saw this and ran away.’

    Voice: (5/5) – Consistent and linear.

    Creativity and Style: (7/10) – A couple of issues I have with this: you pulled in too many ideas for this short of story such as eternal life and the discovery of Mr. Lanyon’s letter (I am not familiar with the reference, but with the name Jekyll in there, I can only assume it’s a Jekyll/Hyde allusion); and you create a sense of urgency with going to a job interview drop it as soon as Johann is down on the platform. There’s also a little deus ex going on with Johann’s grandfather suddenly being down on the platform with him. It’s too coincidental. The story is otherwise interesting enough to be turned into something longer, since you have developed some backstory already.
    Overall Score: 15/20

    Grammar: (4/5) – “Today novices shivered,” needs an article: ‘Today the novices shivered.’ “Mothers waited…each prostrated…for her children,’ this sentence has a confliction between single and plural agreement. It’s not wrong if each mother has more than one child, but I don’t think this is the case. It should end with: ‘for her child.’ A last suggestion: utilize paragraph breaks to separate actions and description. It would flow much nicer.

    Voice: (5/5) – The narrative is clear.

    Creativity & Style: (6/10) – The cultural mores you created really burdens down the beginning of the story with too much telling in the narration. Some of it essential to the story, sure, but what really could have worked a lot better is bringing out a main character to show this narration through action and dialogue. Perhaps the main character would be a mother waiting for her child. As it is written, with novices and mothers and masters, I’m not too pulled in as a reader because I feel as if I’m reading something from the past, about some ancient ritual.
    Overall Score: 15/20

    The Apple of my E.Y.E.
    I chose to review the story you submitted with corrections in the LM Challenge. The other two in Writer’s Workshop will not be judged.

    Grammar: (1/5) – “Unicultural” is not a word, although the meaning is transferred. “…close to the core in 2020 for 120 years; although living in fear…,” is not the appropriate usage for a semi-colon. As it stands, the city is living in fear, not the people. “There, in the massive crowd of young people…,” this sentence is fragmented. What is there? Dialogue should be in separate paragraphs. Action and narration are too intertwined to be clear.

    Voice: (3/5) – The description, dialogue, and action interchange too quickly and, at times, seemingly random, to be followed without a trace of confusion. The narration is well done in glimpses, but it isn’t consistent and describes too much in jilted phrase.

    Creativity & Style: (4/10) – This story needs better organization. You do well when you describe what the E.Y.E. is, but as far as the scene goes, I’m simply confused. A lot of the times I don’t know what is going on. For example: when the cousin’s speech is mentioned, I raise my eyebrow. Who are the N.H.E.? There are too many elements, too much history, for such a short story. Try focusing on eliminating some of the backstory. We don’t need to know every single detail behind the story’s convalescence.
    Overall Score: 8/20

    Waiting for the Train
    Grammar: (3/5) – “…the ceiling above was long fallen,” should be ‘had long fallen.’ Two uses of the word lay instead of lie: “…rail tracks that lay in front of him…,” and, “…underside of the bench and laid down,…” should be ‘lie’ and ‘lied’ respectively. “…tormented him so long,” would be better if it was ‘for so long.’ “…as his eyes looked as if about to close…” is very awkwardly written. ‘Violets’ instead of “Violet’s.”

    Voice: (5/5) – Nothing to fault. Narration reads well.

    Creativity & Style: (8/10) – I liked the simplicity of the setting, just an old man waiting for a train. I would like to know why he’s waiting for it. I would also like to see some interaction, even dialogue, between his companion, the worm, and himself. That’s what companions do, don’t they? Just like Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball.
    Overall Score: 16/20

    The Pipe
    Grammar: (4/5) – “French Super Virus which left…” should be ‘that left.’ “I have done some math,” should be “I did some math,” because the story is present tense.

    Voice: (5/5) – Very good. I liked the ending line with its tribute of empathy from an artificial heart.

    Creativity & Style: (9/10) – The story was told well, though I’m a little concerned over one thing. Why is the M.C. going to Tokyo? The destruction of the Ark would make a little more impact if the readers knew in what way its crashing would affect the M.C.’s life. There doesn’t seem to be any motive to the story, but it’s rather a glimpse at a possible future.
    Overall Score: 18/20

    Dystopian Nightmare
    Grammar: (3/5) – “…but then had to move quickly,” in the first paragraph is inconsistent with the former part of the sentence. What had to move quickly? The finger? There is an overuse of semi-colons in the third paragraph. The conjoined sentences become a distracting quality. The interchange of ‘she’ and ‘Romy’ should be unnoticeable, but several times, for instance in the fourth paragraph, I wonder why you write ‘Romy’ when you should write ‘she,’ since we haven’t been introduced to a new female character. The dialogue between Romy and the Breakdown people is a little redundant after the preceding sentence which pretty much relays the same thing. The paragraph beginning with “Despite not being a stupid person,” is very awkward to read. I actually had to read it twice, like Romy. “Visciously,” in the paragraph after, should be spelled viciously.

    Voice: (5/5) Effortless characterization and smooth narration.

    Creativity & Style: (6/10) – Three things that need explaining, in my opinion: Romy’s finger, the cause of the problem behind her irritable bowels, and the dystopia beyond Romy’s world. For the first, I don’t quite understand what is exactly wrong with her finger. Her fingernail keeps snapping. But why? From doing what? Sure, we can use this image as a fulcrum for later anxieties, but it needs to add up to more than it is now. Second, her bowel problem seems to be pretty serious, but without a cause such as food poisoning or a sickness, I can’t surmise why she should be feeling this way other than the fact that is strangely coincidental to all the things that are happening to her. Lastly, I can’t quite picture the society that surrounds Romy. Sure, Breakdown isn’t coming and the trains are cancelled, but you did explain the weather and so I attributed this factors to it. One of the things I did enjoy was the melting snowflakes.
    Overall Score: 14/20

    Amber Leaf
    Grammar: (4/5) – “It’s been that long that I don’t remember what state I’m in,” is a confusing sentence. It’s been that long since what? And I think even people in Southeast Russia know what state Los Angeles is in. “’What do you really want?’ He replies.” – ‘He’ should be lowercase. “I am content, so I ask him:…” Content with what? Especially with what, after being shocked. “I start to wonder who this interfering Richard guy is:” should be a full stop. “Facecious” should be facetious.

    Voice: (5/5) – I particularly liked the interplay between the various realities. It wasn’t confusing because neither of them seemed quite real.

    Creativity & Style: (9/10) – It was a little predictable on how the story would end when the apple was introduced. “Your patient’s eyes” doesn’t seem like something someone would say to a doctor, who might have several patients. A name might be required here. Also, the ‘it’s my utopia’ description doesn’t seem necessary to me. We can already tell that this is where the M.C. prefers to hide with her reactions to the doctor’s intentions.
    Overall Score: 18/20

    The Last Train
    Grammar: (1/5) – There were some serious flaws in this one: run-on sentences where commas linked opposing ideas and actions and thoughts. And sometimes there weren’t commas when there should be. Let me show you an example: “A little girl in a pretty violet dress pushed past him, pulling her daddy with her, he smiled apologetically as he was dragged towards the barrier, “Daddy look there is the King and Queen” she excitedly yelled glancing over to where the child was gesturing he could see the dignitaries and the royal family stood to witness the end of an era.” A full stop should occur after “daddy with her,” “towards the barrier,” and excitedly yelled.” A comma should be placed after: “’…King and Queen,’” and after “the child was gesturing.” “The royal family stood to witness the end of an era,” should also stand alone as one sentence. Other than these mistakes, there was some other confusion. Who is included when you write “get their message across,”? Also, when you write, “This is exactly what they needed,” it is unclear on who you are talking about. The news cameras? The audience behind the news cameras? And why would an audience need to watch another audience?

    Voice: (3/5) – Because of how it’s written, all run together in its grammar, it’s hard to follow a singular voice. As in the previous example, what should be Jonathon’s voice comes across as the little girl’s daddy’s voice. There are a couple of other times when you should use ‘Jonathon’ instead of ‘he,’ to make sure we know who you are talking about.

    Creativity & Style: (7/10) – The ideas behind Jonathon’s self-reinforcing terrorist philosophy are there, and the dystopia (or utopia in everyone else’s eyes) is well established. Use more paragraph breaks to separate different actions. As well, italics should be used to convey inner character thought: “sighing poor deluded people.”
    Overall Score: 11/20

    The Barbarians Are Coming
    Bazz Cargo
    Grammar: (3/5) – “’…Penny.’” She cried,…” are two separate actions. She calls out for Penny and then she cries. Unless she’s crying out for Penny. If it’s the latter, it should be written: “Penny,’ she cried,….’ “Country holt station” – do you mean hold station? “Which had been ringed by wire fencing…,” should be ‘Which was ringed,” because it’s a question of status, not action, and the status is past tense. “Radio’s” should be ‘radios.’ “Where will we go ?” shouldn’t have a space between ‘go’ and the question mark. “OK” should be ‘Okay.’ “And the was wind getting up,” needs fixing. “Flat bed” and “horse back” should be ‘flatbed’ and ‘horseback.’ “And on it’s back was a straw effigy,” should be ‘its back.’ “Some one” should be ‘someone.’

    Voice: (5/5) – Flawless

    Creativity & Style: (9/10) – It isn’t clear on how Laura is put into the holding area. Is it by force or of her own will? If it is by force, there’s no mention of guards who are presumably keeping order at the holding area. Other than that, it was quite an interesting read. Other than the mentioning of Bristol falling and the Wite Knites (White Knights?), I actually read this as an alternate history to what it might be like if America had lost its Civil War.
    Overall Score: 17/20

    Six Minutes
    Anna Buttons
    Grammar: (4/5) – “barely breathing,” refers to the woman rather than the man. “…so I left it propped against my seat and walked over.” To where? It isn’t clear what the M.C. is doing until he’s looking over from her platform. Easy to fix. “She pushes redhead girl playfully….” Very awkward description. I don’t know what she’s actually doing. And why she laughs, later in the same paragraph.

    Voice: (5/5) – the interplay between Jabba, the M.C’s thoughts and his visual obsessions, along with the narrative description, is very easy to read. It draws you in.

    Creativity & Style: (9/10) – The only thing that I found unbelievable is the ending, where the girl looks straight at him. It seemed to conspire too much. Also, I think you should give Jabba a face, body, position. He’s ethereal right now, just a voice.

    Overall Score: 18/20

    The Apple
    Sue Owen
    Grammar: (4/5) – The sentence, “Running for a train, hot, tired…,” is fragmented, breaks from the POV and has a tense issue (for what happened to happen). Full stop needed after “apple-dude.” “If he falls, its bye-bye…,” should be ‘it’s’. “Damn it anyway!!” – one exclamation mark is all you need. “I swear again and make one more grab for him catching the edge…” should have a comma: ‘grab for him, catching the edge.’ “One I intended to have put on my gravestone when I died today,” should be ‘die today.’ 2 should be two.

    Voice: (5/5) – We definitely understand how rushed the character feels.

    Creativity & Style: (7/10) – One major issue is the POV break at the end, the view after death. We don’t know why the M.C. knows that s/he is dying today, either. Or why s/he’s so eager to head for the next planet. You started out very well, but the last four or so paragraphs are too hurried and summarized.
    Overall Score: 16/20
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 19/2/2011 - The Six Elements - SCORES started by Like a Fox View original post
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