October 2016 - LM - Here There Be Monsters - Scores


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    October 2016 - LM - Here There Be Monsters - Scores

    Prinzecharming thepancreas11 amsawtell bdcharles danielstj Total(avg)
    Kyle R 18.3 15 18 17.5 18 17.36
    Homecoming
    byTerry D.
    16 17 18 15.5 18.5 17
    Grub-r 14.4 14 15 15 16.5 14.98
    Sleepwriter 17.3 14 14 13 15.5 14.76
    Godofwine 15.2 12 14.5 14 16 14.34
    Smith 16.5 12 13.5 12.5 16 14.1
    Makili 16.7 15 12.5 11 12 13.44
    Teb 12 10 9 12.5 10 10.7



    Congratulations everybody! You are all winners in my book, but seeing as though this is a competition, we have winners to announce, and they are...(drumroll)...


    1st place! The Beast by Kyle R.
    In 2nd!! Homecoming by our very own Terry D.
    And in 3rd!!! Patient Five Two Zero by Grub-r

    Thank you all in advanced, and thank you to the judges who make the LM's possible. They deserve a round of applause and a pat on the back, or rear, or whatever their preference. Anyone may now Like, Lol, or Thank any entry they so choose, let me know of any mathematical errors or errors in general you find. And now to the scores!


    Prinzecharming's Scores:
    Surprise! I wasn’t sure if I would have time to judge, so I don’t think I raised my hand to do so. Well, here I am! I am intrigued to see all the entries as well as the judge turnout. To give you more bang for your quill, I am going to offer my time for critiques. As always, don’t pay too much attention on the scores, but the overall critique itself. That’s where we place the key to your writing endeavors. If you ever need anything outside the official score thread, please feel free to send something over. I’ll be happy to assist you further.

    For this month’s challenge, I added more features to your critiques. I dove deeper into the titles, the after thoughts of the titles, and the pros / cons for your entries. I am extremely pleased with the results. I hope you can take this with you, and build to become the writers of tomorrow.

    Times change, but does the man?

    Teb

    SPaG: 3

    Tone/Voice: 3

    Effect: 6

    Overall: 12

    The Title

    The title seems weak. Does the man change? Well, how would you define and measure change? What kind of change are we requesting? The title is a bit cliché because we all know change is inevitable. When you refer to ‘man’ is it association to mankind or an actual man? See. There’s a lot happening here. That doesn’t include the question on its own. Why question if the man changes? Why not say whether or not the man changes? I am not going to give you title suggestions, but try to reshape the title to something close to, “The Man and the Hourglass.” Give the reader some mystery behind the title, especially if you want to convey the passing of time. Now, let’s see how you connect with the rest of the story.

    Afterthought:

    Please reconsider the title. Your story has great potential.

    Paragraph 1:

    In the first sentence, it seems to play out as a typical occurrence. I’d like to believe I was also born to parents I never knew until, of course, I found out who these strangers were in the hospital delivery room. Now, throwing in a brief glimpse of how a character was raised shortly after the first line creates a stronger message. The ending of the first paragraph sets the tone for the character. This is an admirable character and the reader may feel more inclined to look up to this character as a strong independent role model.

    In the second paragraph, the first sentence is a bit long.


    Originally Posted by Teb
    I lived well in the Dukes service, I even trained some of his soldiers as a personal guard at his request so that any of his enemies who employed people like me would have the greatest difficulty in achieving their aim.



    Let’s use Breakdown Bullets.

    1. I lived well in the Dukes service,

    2. I even trained some of his soldiers

    3. as a personal guard

    4. at his request

    5. so that any of his enemies

    6. who employed people like me

    7. would have the greatest difficulty

    8. in achieving their aim.

    Now, let’s keep and refine a few things:

    “I lived well in the Dukes service, as a personal guard, training his soldiers per his request. Any of his enemies who employ people like me would face difficulty in achieving their aim.”

    Original Word Count: 41

    New Word Count: 33

    Eight word reduction may seem small, but it adds up for LM and CoF competitions. That’s additional space to add more to your story if necessary. The sentence fluency, or sentence flow, is much more effective and easy on the tongue while reading aloud.

    The next sentence in the paragraph does not seem like it transitions well with the previous sentence. It’s quite random to throw, ‘then’, especially after mentioning the significant loss for the enemy’s combative strategies. Omit ‘then’ and carry on with, “The Duke..” to express an effective transition about a recent enemy in question.


    Originally Posted by Teb
    Then the Duke asked me to remove a particular thorn in his side, a neighbouring warlord who had begun to question the Dukes right to his lands and, to be honest, probably had a point and definitely had a bigger army.



    Did you mean, Dukes’ - to show ownership of his right. Why admit honesty? I thought you were this whole time. You can omit, “to be honest.” We trust you.


    Originally Posted by Teb
    I did my job and erased him from existence, in fact I think they still haven't they have found his head or right foot.



    Okay, cut this down a bit too. “I did my job, erased him from existence, and I haven’t heard if they found his head or right foot yet.”

    Side Comment:

    Interesting tone throughout the story. It seems very laid back and outspoken. There’s an interesting personality behind your word choice. If you refine a few sentences, you can make this more persuasive and confident. Thus, providing a stronger role model for the audience. The laid back tone does add personality, but it also comes off self-centered. “Oh, if the enemy hired people like me” sorta thing. It’s like, “Well, damn. What about people like you?” I suppose the best suggestion is to tighten your sentences, watch out for verbosity, and own up to the role of being “people like you.”


    Originally Posted by Teb
    Because, any professional will tell you this, if your training someone to kill you NEVER tell them everything as one day they might decide to try it out on you.



    How do you know any professional has the same mindset? How do you define professional? Would it differ from the readers’ POV? I believe you meant, “you’re” as in “you are” - training someone. Comma before “NEVER” - although this sentence should be refined better. Why would you train someone to, personally, kill yourself? Do you mean to kill people in general? Why not cut it down to saying, “Any professional may suggest watching how you disclose any information regarding the most effective way to kill someone. It may be turned around as a tactic to work against you.” Do you understand? The original shouldn’t be read as, “-to kill you NEVER tell them..” as you intended, “-to kill you, NEVER tell them..” That comma does wonders. Again, with the verbosity - it seems like a lot of potential for a story but it’s carried out too much for a simple idea. For example, the context of bodyguard and reducing strength seems a bit off. Why not hire one strong man to replace two? See, that’s why I am slightly confused. Yeah, he cuts his help by four. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in a disadvantage. Would you hire two skinny IT tech nerds as bodyguards or one buff former quarterback athlete? Context is key.

    When you say, “wandered the lands,” could you give the reader a geographical perspective? Where are we? Are these wetlands? To “wander the lands without purpose” is to “wander aimlessly”. Same definition, saving you more space for word count advantage.


    Originally Posted by Teb
    I roam between the villages and offer offer my special skills to the highest bidder, or the prettiest face, a man has needs after all.



    Please proofread before you submit your entry. Omit additional ‘offer’. I am slightly confused how you utilized the prompt. Did they write, “Here There Be Monsters,” on the map? Watch your spacing in, “wrong,I know.”

    The Pros:

    I like the personality behind the character, as well as the brief background prior to their greatest achievements. They’re admirable and they mean well for whatever they may pursue with their lives. It was an easy read. It wasn’t entirely difficult to follow, and had interesting points to address to the reader for engagement.

    The Cons:

    Did I even see a name for this admirable character? The ninja dude with the Duke? Due to the grammatical concerns, and the verbosity, your piece lost value as an effective story. I personally wish there was more engagement for the reader. It’s almost like placing a highly reputable celebrity in a B rated movie. The film director clearly believes the celeb will sell the story despite the minimal budget. That’s where your story falls into play. It’s intriguing, but the quality could be improved. You shouldn’t lose points for preventable proofreading mistakes. Keep writing. Keep doing you. Don’t lose the voice, and refine the word choice. That wasn’t intended to rhyme, but it’s catchy. Thanks for sharing.

    2061

    Smith

    SPaG: 4

    Tone/Voice: 4

    Effect: 8.5

    Overall: 16.5

    The Title

    Intriguing. Straightforward. Futuristic. Less is always more. Your title works. It sells. Dude, you can call a pile of junk this title and it could be the next technological advancement in the robotic community. This story could end up being completely random, but the title has a selling point because for the reader, it’s something to envision. Instant points added for effect.

    As a resident living in the East Coast, the first three words hit home. The scents, however, are too ambiguous. What rich scents are in autumn air? The plant life is often going in dormant. Slightly confusing to the ears and nose. “Upstairs bedroom” seems redundant, unless you had to explain that you live in a ranch. A cold polar bear. A slow sloth. A bedroom upstairs. If it’s a two story home, typically the bedrooms are upstairs. In most common households, there are now guest rooms in the furnished basement. Omit ‘upstairs’. I don’t think it adds anything more than an assumed location. Now, food for thought, the imagery depicted in the neighborhood beautifully compliments the first three words of the first paragraph. The connection with the trees’ true colors is an understandable simile. There’s a deep dark mysterious vibe to the monster in the closet idea.

    Although we are unaware of your character’s identity, we now have a sense of geographical location and phone color preference. Intriguing word choice behind, “social suicide.” How do you define social suicide? Is it the act of being overwhelmed by social interactions with peers? I am not sure if, “I knew” helps. It doesn’t add much, especially shortly after the reader questions how you intended ‘social suicide’. The following line is now redundant to already knowing. So, yes, omit, “I knew.” What exactly happened to the others? What is going to stay a secret? The reasoning behind their fate? Who is her? Who is you? I guess the porno magazines add to the mysterious character’s identity. I like how you italicized the text message to separate the non-spoken textual dialogue from the spoken narration. I believe you intended to place a comma before “Kelly” as this separates Kelly being you to another person (named Kelly).

    Here’s a visual:

    Suggestion:

    Originally Posted by Smith
    “You’ve got about three seconds to go through with it when the feeling hits, Kelly”



    Original:

    Originally Posted by Smith
    “You’ve got about three seconds to go through with it when the feeling hits Kelly



    The build up of questioning what the hell was going on was intense. Then, it all became clear by the end. Although the lack of clarity can drag the reader from the beginning, it was reassuring that most of the questions were finally answered. You gave us an intriguing, “Wait, what?” story. While recollecting everything together, it made perfect sense, especially with mom’s beard. I mean, I hope I am understanding this from start to finish.

    The Pros:

    Engaging. Strong understandable imagery. Futuristic vibes in postmodern dating and postmodern family values with strong LGBT awareness. Easy to follow. Admirable character personalities depicted throughout the story. Straightforward dialogue and narration. Effective tone and voice. You write from life experiences and from understanding social norms. You deeply care about relationships between peers and family, and it shows throughout the narrator’s voice. Core family values are presented well here.

    The Cons:

    A few areas need to be refined, including character development (introduce Kelly earlier) and omitting minor redundancies.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Coffee to Die For

    godofwine

    SPaG: 4.7

    Tone/Voice: 4.5

    Effect: 6

    Overall: 15.2

    The Title

    Well, it’s straightforward. Mostly likely punny. Knowing your writing technique, the title will connect well with the title. I am intrigued to see what’s brewing this month.

    Afterthought:

    The title is punny, but I don’t think it adds anything special. For some, it might imply the story is about a coffee that may result to a death because of the contents in the coffee. Not, in this case, the coffee resulted to an unexpected death. I think it would be more effective with something like, “Parking Lot Prowl” as the parking lot was the main scene for the conflict and the prowling foreshadows the story.

    The beginning is already addressing some form of conflict. This is a nice touch to increase the engagement between the reader and the narrator. As I read further, I am slightly confused. How would she know it’s a werewolf? It’s dark, there’s a moon, and if anything - it’s a growling dog. Would this be one of those rare Starbucks’ parking lots with decent lighting? Are werewolves common in Illinois? Perhaps, wolves. So, it’s a Science Fiction. Okay, we got that covered.

    I can understand her plead to rescue her children, especially as a mother, but I don’t think the dialogue was placed effectively in the right area. If you were a mother, eaten alive, I am not sure if those were the things to say in such immense pain. I would cry for my children shortly before the attack, like as she was pinned to the ground. It would only be natural. Ideally, that’s when the werewolf was occupied and someone could save the children. But, it’s your story.

    The ending was slightly weak considering children were involved, and the werewolf finished the job. Is it safe to assume the children were okay? Regardless, I guess that builds the suspense and leaves interpretation open to the readers.

    Overall, engaging piece. Thanks for sharing!

    The Pros

    Engaging fast paced piece covering modern times, from parenting to late night cravings, with science fiction.

    The Cons

    How did she know it was a werewolf? Perhaps, she didn’t but knew it was a beast. I still think she would have reacted differently when children are involved. I am slightly concerned about the children. You left the reader with a poor taste in their mouth. What happens next? I guess the suspense is great, but still - it seems a bit weak for leaving at those terms. The staff seemed as if they were too scared to bother helping the children. A few areas left me questioning about sentence placement, like pleading to save Marla’s children while her flesh was exposed. Lastly, I am sure if, “But God avoided the Chicago area this time of year,” added anything to the story. I would think someone religious would take offense to this as God is known to work all year ‘round. Why would God avoid any area? Slightly confusing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Patient Five Two Zero

    Grub-r

    SPaG: 4

    Tone/Voice: 3.9

    Effect: 6.5

    Overall: 14.4

    First, I’d like to welcome you to Writing Forums! I’m Anthony, the New Writers’ Mentor. I am impressed that you’re already engaged with the writing competitions. Please take a look at CoF as well! I judge for both LM and CoF. I’ve been extremely busy with full time work hours that it’s difficult for me to be as active as I was for our diversified writing community. This time, in fact, I am extremely early submitting my scores. I also included more details for my critiques. You’re going to see a better side of me than from most of my previous critiques in other challenges. For this month, I added more bang to your buck. I included a Pros and Cons section. I am trying something new. I hope you take the time to explore, meet new friends, and have fun pursuing your writing endeavors. As always, if you ever need anything, contact a Mentor to assist you with any inquiries. Have fun! Another thing - don’t take the scores to heart. Follow the critiques and build your writing skills from what is provided to you. You’ll greatly improve from the dedicated staff behind the scenes of these competitions.

    The Title

    Intriguing, straightforward with a hint of mystery. Patient 520. Who is this patient? What significance do they play regarding the prompt provided? I am looking forward to this story.

    As I begin reading, I have to take a moment to give you kudos for using appropriate terminology. Orderlies. Great job. It’s always a pleasure to see this happen throughout the stories.

    As far as dialogue goes,


    Originally Posted by Grub-r
    “Place it on the table.” The doctor said and waved his hand dismissively towards the operating table in the middle of the room. “Strap him down.”



    Try rephrasing it like this:

    The doctor waved his hand dismissively towards the operating table. “Place it on the table.”

    This implies the doctor said it, and it also builds the narration better. Also, I believe it’s redundant to say where the operating table is located. Have you ever realized that most operating tables are the central piece to all operating rooms? It would be rather difficult to operate from all angles if the operating table was off to the wall somewhere. In addition, this adds more space for your word count.

    Ah, the classic patient is talking from the inside during an operation. Nice! When written correctly, it adds suspense and overall engagement for the reader. I am not sure if the doctor sighing adds anything to the story. It’s also one of those common things that the readers can interpret through unfolding events.

    A minor preventable proofreading mistake:

    Originally Posted by Grub-r
    “I’ve detected a large amount of pressure built up in you skull and pushing on your brain.



    Unless, “you skull” lies in the dialect, I doubt someone with a PhD would say that.

    Great imagery! Intense ending! Great job!

    The Pros

    Engaging story from start to finish. Great imagery, narration and dialogue. Intense, full of clarity, and easy to follow at a fast pace. Attention to detail. Appropriate and effective word choice for medical terminology. Easy to visualize and become involved with the scenes.

    The Cons

    Preventable proofreading mistakes. A few minor redundancies. I wish we knew the monsters, themselves, from within the patients’ body. The uncertainty adds more suspense so it’s not much of a con. There are a few things that are left questionable. Where did the patient come from? How did these monsters invade his body? How big is this facility if this is patient 520? And if it’s much larger, how long has this patient stayed in the facility? Anyway, the fact that I am full of questions is a great sign to overall satisfying engagement.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Moving with the times

    Makili

    SPaG: 4

    Tone/Voice: 4.9

    Effect: 7.8

    Overall: 16.7

    The Title

    Ambiguous title and lacks clarity. Moving with the times. What does that mean to you exactly? What’s moving? Time passes, but who is the one passing with time? Build a stronger title to attract the reader to your story. I hope your story isn’t as weak as the title.

    Whenever I read the names of public buildings, like hotels and grocery stores, I always feel inclined to add a geographical location. Where is the Fir Grove Motel located? To me, at this point, it’s just another random hotel. How many stars? By introducing a public living corridor, the star system can provide a sense of quality over quantity. This is why, as consumers, we research hotels before we book rooms. If the reader has an idea that the motel is rated poorly with two stars, they can get an idea of service and ambiance without too many descriptive details. Challenge yourself. Rate this motel and see what it adds to the story.


    Originally Posted by Makili
    The book kept motel's history.



    Try throwing, ‘the’ before ‘motel’s history.’ Instead of ‘kept’ try ‘recorded’. What history? It doesn’t hurt to say, “guest” again.

    Suggested:


    Originally Posted by Makili
    The book recorded the motel’s guest history.



    I feel as if you’re writing from experience about countryside motels. Instantly, I have a visual of something you’re talking about. I played a PC game called Gabriel Knight 3; Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. I feel as if this is almost similar to the same motel you’re describing. The motel in the game is located in the countryside of France. “Little squad” seems to be missing something here. Try, ‘The little squad”. You can simply say, “-the lobby was empty again.” No need to exaggerate, especially if the motel has business. Drop the ‘s’ in ‘forwards’ as ‘forward’ is fine. You may also omit ‘and’ in the same sentence. Now, “-incapable of moving forward with the times” is fine. That implies, “and with.”

    I admire the boy’s intentions at the end. Great job.

    The Pros

    Engaging read! I was probably as enthusiastic as the group coming into the lobby. I really like the background of the motel and the past history of business that lead up to the boy’s intentions for a website. It’s very uplifting. The boy, as you’ve mentioned, was preparing for something like this to happen. I can only imagine how happy he was to see all the people arrive. The heartfelt ending was enough to smile and applause. You have a great story here. I am glad I was given the opportunity to read it. You brought some good memories back inside. I almost felt as if I was at the motel. Your writing style seems to be greatly influenced by the countryside. I know we’ve talked about this before, but it definitely adds to your voice. As someone living in the suburbs, I don’t have that country flare in my writing. Keep it strong and continue expressing yourself. It makes you, as the writer, more unique because it’s your own voice.

    The Cons

    Change the title. You have a great story, and the title doesn’t sell the story’s potential. Why not make the title, “Fir Grove Motel” as it’s the place to go for monsters. The pace is as slow as the business. That works in your favor because the reader can take the time to appreciate the peace with the characters. Now I can understand why there’s no star rating. You don’t have enough business to earn ratings. Now, a suggestion - take the idea of having lots of business (documented from the guest book) and question the status of the rooms. Are they still in good condition? If a place like that was full of business, I’d say it was 5 stars in the past. Slow business doesn’t necessarily mean devalued services and quality rooms. It’s just competition. It’s also the countryside. A few minor grammatical concerns. That’s only a linguistic barrier showing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    The Beast

    Kyle R

    SPaG: 4.8

    Tone/Voice: 5

    Effect: 8.5

    Overall: 18.3

    The Title

    The title is straightforward and directly up to the reader for interpretation. Intriguing. What kind of beast? I am looking forward to meeting the beast and any other characters involved.

    Afterthought:

    I feel as if the title is a play on words with, “Beauty and the Beast.”

    As I begin reading, I first come across an impression about the lab tech. By using ‘some’, I feel as if there isn’t any significant value behind the tech other than just a tech doing his job. What stupid thing does she want to kill? I am not sure what phone she owned, but that’s either a cheap phone or a really strong grip. I love the ambiance of the press asking questions. The character building is on point here and the reader can have a sense of Death Dealer’s mentality. The overall dialogue and word choice is engaging for the reader. I would like to say that I was bummed for reading something predictable. The phone to the television shattering were strong clues to the monster’s identity.

    The Pros

    Engaging from start to finish. Fast paced. Easy sentence fluency for narration and dialogue. The responsibility behind Death Dealer played out from start to finish. She literally had the ability to destroy the monster. I admired the personalities depicted throughout the story. The word choice and great ideas were carefully crafted to make this a story with rewarding potential. Great job.

    The Cons

    Despite the engaging read, there were a few areas that needed clarity. However, in the end, the lack of clarity was to avoid disclosing the true identity behind Death Dealer. Although I enjoyed this piece, it became too predictable too soon.

    Be Nice

    Sleepwriter

    SPaG: 4.8

    Tone/Voice: 4.5

    Effect: 8

    Overall: 17.3

    The Title

    Well, the title has some intrigue to provide room for interpretation. Who should be nice? Is this a parent speaking to a child? What happens if they don’t change? I’ve always said less is more about titles. I am curious to know what you’ve written.

    Afterthought:

    I can now have a sense of where the title connects with the ending. In fact, that’s the moral of the story. Well played!

    In the beginning, you mention classmates and dates:


    Originally Posted by Sleepwriter
    It wasn’t long before the rest of their classmates and their dates joined them on the dance floor.



    Since it’s homecoming, as the reader, I already know their classmates and their dates are there. It’s a given. That’s almost like saying, “The babies and their diapers” or “the cans and their labels” or even “the flowers and their petals.” In fact, we shouldn’t assume people go to homecoming with a date. That’s the traditional mindset. Although I am not sure at this point whether or not you’re writing in modern times, that’s one thing to keep in mind. I know it’s very common not to have a date for homecoming so this way someone can dance with multiple classmates (without dates) without leaving one feeling like a third wheel. So, suggestion: omit “and their dates” which leaves more room for your word count. I am really enjoying the ambiance here. The choice of words, the staffs’ role to ensure a safe environment, and the overall music playing hits home for a scene like this.

    I found something interesting:

    Original:


    Originally Posted by Sleepwriter
    The song ended and Ashley pressed her lips to Vinnie’s ear.



    Rephrased:


    Originally Posted by Sleepwriter
    Ashley pressed her lips to Vinnie’s ear as the song ended.



    So, I changed ‘and’ to ‘as’ and the order of the words. In the original, it seems straightforward. Bam! Her lips against his ears. In the rephrased, it seems more transitional and sensual. “As the song ended” implies that she couldn’t wait for the song to end. In the original, she does wait. It’s an interesting way to look at the same sentence, one word change, and it changes the overall tone of the interpretation. Anyway, I am intrigued to find out what she has to say.

    Intriguing imagery. In a sense, I am visualizing scenes from Carrie. Watch for missing commas.

    Watch the proofreading!


    Originally Posted by Sleepwriter
    ..but their last attempt wasa catastrophic failure due to the test subjects becoming flesh hungry creatures after a single dose.



    Separate ‘was’ from ‘a’ unless it’s part of the dialect of the speaker.

    The Pros

    Engaging, fast paced, and easy to relate for any reader of any age. The imagery is intriguing throughout the descriptive scenes at the dance. It almost felt like I was there watching everything unfold. I instantly connected to the movie Carrie as I read your piece. The personalities depicted between the classmates were admirable, amusing and typical for teenagers. The narration and dialogue was enough to keep the reader engaged. The plot twist behind the punch was a fun one to swallow. As a reader, I can have a sense of you completing this story with organized thoughts and enthusiasm.

    The Cons

    Minor redundancies, preventable proofreading mistakes, and punctuation.

    Thanks for sharing this piece!

    Homecoming
    Anonymous

    SPaG: 4.5
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 7.5
    Overall: 16

    The Title

    It’s a straightforward title offering the reader an idea of location, people involved, and overall ambiance. Short and sweet. I am intrigued.

    Afterthought:

    The title was a completely different homecoming. Well, that threw me off.

    As I read the beginning, this sentence seemed a bit too long:


    Originally Posted by anonymous
    “Mindy withdrew into herself and sat looking out the Honda's passenger side window as he navigated out of the tired looking business district and into an even more worn-out looking residential area.”



    \

    Breakdown Bullets:

    1. Mindy withdrew into herself

    2. and sat looking out

    3. the Honda's passenger side window

    4. as he navigated out

    5. of the tired looking business district

    6. and into an even more

    7. worn-out looking residential area.

    Is this necessary? Let’s try:

    “Mindy withdrew into herself looking out the Honda’s passenger side window. He navigated from the dreadful business district into an appalling residential area.

    I removed:

    and, sat, as, out, of, tired, looking, and, even, more, worn-out, looking

    I added:

    from, dreadful, appalling

    See the difference? Let me know what you think. I like the characters depicted throughout the story. I can sense their emotions and relate. Good job for engagement. The scab analogy was weak and irrelevant. Scabs don’t simply peel off for the hell of it. They are meant to protect the wound from infection. Thus, they don’t fall off unless they’re removed by an outside force. In this case, the outside force would essentially be weather conditions over a period of time. Scabs, over time, leave healed wounds. The house wouldn’t be in a healed condition, if you know what I mean.

    Try something else. I get your intention - focus on words to describe something weathered down. Same concept goes to “tired business district” and “worn-out looking.” There’s a few small grammatical concerns, like spacing from each word. Proofreading helps. Utilize commas. Suggestion: italicize, “oh shit” to use emphasis. In fact, it would compliment the relevant feelings depicted here. Perhaps, for the second “I didn’t know.” That is, why you repeated it, right? To make certain, he really didn’t know.


    Originally Posted by anonymous
    Ashe pulled the car into the old gravel driveway, the front door opened and Eddie stepped out onto the porch, smiling and waving.



    Again, I am not sure if this is your fault or the host? I wasn’t told how the second submission worked out. Did you carefully look it over or ... did he fix the formatting for you? Stuff like this would impact your score. Be careful next time. I literally read, “Ashe,” as a name this time around.


    Originally Posted by anonymous
    "Wait. Here.” Randy opened the glove compartment and removed two hunting knives. They were cheap, Chinese crap, but they glimmered, and they would do. He smiled at Mindy and pointed at the house with one shining blade. “Here there be monsters.”



    Okay, so the ending was changed. It helps a lot from the first submission. I am not sure what they, being the knives, would “do” - what’s the intent? Don't assume the reader knows what you know. Anyway, a stronger ending. Engaging read from start to finish. A few bumps in the road, but overall clarity is good.

    The Pros

    I admire the characters created in this short piece. Their personalities are on point and the build up to meet the family is engaging. I love the descriptive narration and the attitude about the trip on its own. I love the disclosure behind the two kids and the historical significance behind the place they’re visiting.

    The Cons

    Previous interpretation:

    Engaging from the beginning, but the ending seemed as if it missed a few key components. Perhaps, the ending was an implication to say, “Wait, didn’t you say this place was haunted?” I am trying to recollect everything.

    New interpretation:

    Now, that the ending has an extra line, I’ll say the same thing but - remove the uncertainty. I have a better image. Great improvement. Not sure if the original had this line, and forgot it, but it ended much more effectively than the previous entry. Great!

    Thanks for sharing!


    thepancreas11's Scores:
    Teb
    Times Change, but Does the Man?
    Overall: 10


    If the narrator was doing something, say fighting one of these bounty hunters, that would have made for a seriously cool fight scene/possibly short story. He’s a cool character. It’s a new twist on an old thing, a guy that’s been seriously snubbed who has no intention of seeking revenge. That’s actually the most interesting thing.

    I have a hard time with stories like this though. For one, this is just a history lesson. There’s no real action here. Put all this in the context of one of those fight scenes, or something. There’s no real tension or conflict because we’re just hearing this from some dude like we’re sitting across the bar from him.

    The other thing is that the character is invincible. There’s no quicker way to kill tension than to make an invincible character. And this one has no motivation to boot. He’s just a cold-blooded killer. Superman movies can be really boring because he’s never in danger. That just sucks the life right out of it all. Weakness, trouble, struggle, that’s why we read stuff.




    Smith
    2061
    Overall: 12



    I think I’ve commented on your stuff before, saying how much I think you’ve got some strange but fun things going on in that head of yours. It’s certainly original. Didn’t see that ending coming at all.

    The beginning, though. You talk about going to do a thing for the first three or so paragraphs. It’s not really suspenseful, more just tiring. You have to hint at the big thing, use the scenario and the scenery to your advantage to make things more dramatic, rather than saying, “HERE THERE BE DRAMA.” It’s just not quite convincing when I’m told there’s an emotion.

    The other thing is that with all this telling at the beginning, I don’t get this world at all. I’m assuming that gender and orientation become fluid in this world, which sounds awesome, but I’m both assuming this and wondering how it’s really working out. Why is it a big deal to be straight? Why is this so difficult, and why is he trying so badly to hide it if his parents are that accepting?




    godofwine
    Coffee to Die For
    Overall: 12



    Honestly, I thought it was a little too one note. There’s a scary monster with claws that eats a lady. We don’t really hear about her kids (the stakes) until the middle of the story, and we don’t really hear about them again in a way that makes the story mean that much.

    Also, it’s a lot of flash but not a lot of substance. You’re a talented writer; I’ve seen that in competition before, but you tend to really jump up the verbs and the adjectives. It’s like supersizing your cheeseburger. More of the same doesn’t make it taste better. Sometimes, it makes it more boring, even. When you concentrate on the emotion and the scene-painting, you’re really good. When you’re more concerned about the flash, you lose a little of your strength.




    Grub-r
    Patient Five Two Zero
    Overall: 14



    I love this. It’s not as well-written in comparison with some of the others (grammatical mistakes here and there), but it feels like a piece of flash fiction to me. In 650 words, you establish a reality, show a little piece of that reality, and then, send that world off on a collision course with some fun and new adventure.

    Your strength lies in the simplicity of your writing. There are a couple of moments where you get a little out of hand with the adjectives and adverbs (opens the door swiftly with a loud clang), but for the most part, you’re really efficient with your word choice.

    I’d really like to see more from you in the future. I think with some repeat entries you could do really good stuff.




    Makili
    Moving with the Times
    Overall: 15



    Super cute. Perhaps the most original piece I read in this competition. I think you did wonders with the suggestion, making it more of a light-hearted comedy than a horror. Creativity points for that, absolutely.

    I would reread this one, though. There are some words missing, grammatically speaking, and there are a lot of “to be” conjugations in there. That’s usually indicative of the passive voice, and that’s an indication of long, drawn-out prose. Take out some of those “was”s and you’ll have a much more interesting story and more room for getting out more stuff, if you need.




    Kyle R
    The Beast
    Overall: 15



    Well, I liked it, but I thought it could have been more. For one, it’s clear you’ve got the talent, whatever that means. It’s captivating. I get to the end, and I’m wondering where the rest of it is. I want to gobble it up. Could be that it’s light and breezy, but I think mostly because it just feels more human and less sterile than your usual super hero/monster situation.

    Where you lost me? It felt like there was a whole lot left out. Not sure who she is and what she does and even less sure why every expects her to get on killing the monster. There’s just a lot of plot or backstory or stakes missing: can’t put my finger on which one it is exactly.

    Not sure I like the ending too much either. It feels more than unfinished to me. It feels a little too Deus Ex-Machina.




    Sleepwriter
    Be Nice
    Overall: 14



    It’s well written. I don’t see anything wrong with the prose. I like how well it flows and the simplicity of it, the efficiency of the wording. Nothing to worry about there, necessarily.

    It’s just muddled. What is going on, exactly? Who is Veronica and why do they care. When you fail to introduce the claims until the back half of the story, there’s a whole part of the story the reader has to go back and reconcile. An opening line/scene is really important to set the importance of this story and what the reader should expect. Watch something like Reservoir Dogs for a great example.




    Anonymous
    Homecoming
    Overall: 17



    Whoa. That was awesome. I don’t normally like exposition of this sort, but this worked. I thought it set a scene, created a full-fledged story, and made sense within the context of the world in which it lived. I honestly think it has the potential to lead into a nice piece of fiction.

    I thought it was incomplete, though. I thought the ending didn’t quite make sense. I’m not really sure what this character is about to go and do. I can only guess they’re going to kill their dad or something like that. Not sure what else would have made him grab his knives like that.

    Anywho, the other thing I noticed was that the first line is a little off. You don’t need to talk about the stuff she’s veiling with her dialogue. The dialogue should say that sort of thing all on its own. If it doesn’t, take a look at reforming it.


    amsawtell's scores:
    Title: Times change but Does the Man?
    Author: Teb

    SPaG: 3/5
    Tone: 2/5
    Effect: 4/10

    Overall: 9/20

    I like the idea of this character who is likely a sociopath turning that tendency towards destroying predators of like kind. It’s kind of like a medieval Dexter.

    There are a few things that, overall, detracted from the way this story read. First, nothing is named. None of the towns are named, no countries or counties named, and no characters named either. Second, there’s no direct interaction between characters. This isn’t so much a story as it is a character sketch. Third, the language doesn’t suit the time period implied. It’s a little too casual and modern for a medieval character.

    There are several instances of punctuation errors. There are also places that are redundant or even confusing because of the way it is phrased. The most common punctuation error involves apostrophes and possession.

    If something belongs to someone as in “the Dukes service” there should be an apostrophe before the last “s.” I’ve noticed in that past that you have difficulty with apostrophes. You can learn more about them here: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp.

    “ . . . my superiors had noticed two distinct traits of mine, or rather the lack of one.”
    I’d drop “had” as it’s passive voice and not really needed. Is it two traits or a lack of one trait that we’re talking about here? I’d change it to just the lack of one. It keeps it clear and it makes it a stronger read. My version of this sentence would read, “Before long my superiors noticed a trait I lacked: compassion.” I’d then cut the next three sentences as they’re now redundant.

    “ . . . in fact I think they still haven’t they have . . .”
    Cut “they have” as it is redundant and, frankly, confusing.

    “ . . . if your training”
    You’re

    “ . . . provisions for a week and a few valuables that could be carried and easily disposed of and then left his employment for good.”
    There needs to be a comma after “week” and a semicolon after “of.” The valuables and their ease of carry and disposability are still a part of this list. You could lose the semicolon and “and” if you use a period instead and make “then left his employment for good” into its own sentence.

    “Since then I have wandered the lands without purpose, doing what I wanted when I wanted. I roam between the villages and offer offer my special skills to the highest bidder, or the prettiest face, a man has needs after all.”
    I’d re-write this entire section.
    First, what lands? The Duke’s lands? Some other lands? Second, who cares that he has needs?
    My re-write would look like this: “I have since wandered the [NAME] without purpose, doing what I want when I want. I roam between villages and offer my special skills to the highest bidder or the prettiest face.

    “ . . . I gave up my soul a long time ago so whatever I do now is what I want to do.”
    This is redundant with the first sentence of the paragraph. Drop everything after “ago.”

    “ . . . visit the Duke, in a self employed situation you understand but until then I will carry on being me for a while, it’s kinda good fun.”
    Re-write: “ . . .visit the Duke, in a self-employed situation, you understand. Until then I will carry on being me for a while. It’s kind of good fun.”
    I changed the “kinda” for the more formal “kind of” because it doesn’t seem to fit the character’s voice.

    I’d like to see this revised and turned into an actual story.

    Title: 2061
    Author: Smith

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 3/5
    Effect: 6/10

    Overall: 13.5/20

    I appreciate what you’re trying to do here. I get that you’re trying to turn the coming out story on its head to make some sort of point.

    However, I think that the portrayal of the parents at the end is unflattering and demonizing, especially with the prompt “here there be monsters.” Are the parents supposed to be monstrous? The society they’re living in? The kid?

    The idea that a straight person would have to come out at any point in our society stretches belief beyond bearing.

    “I-“ I cleared my throat, and swallowed.
    This is a hyphen, not a dash. A dash is what you want.


    Title: Coffee to Die For
    Author: godofwine

    SPaG: 4.5/5
    Tone: 3/5
    Effect: 7/10

    Overall: 14.5/20

    This was a fun read. I like werewolves, personally. There are only a few things that detracted from this story for me. One is that there are several places that could be re-written to tighten the writing. The second is that there are some logical issues that need to be addressed.

    For the logical issues:

    Its barrel chest breathing slow, deliberate breaths.
    The chest of this thing breathes? I don’t think that’s what you mean. I’d try re-writing it to something like “Its barrel chest moved slowly with its deliberate breaths.” That’s horrible, but it’s not my story.

    But God avoided the Chicago area this time of year.
    I thought we were in Oak Lawn, Illinois? Is this a suburb of Chicago? I don’t know so I’m assuming, as a reader, that we teleported?

    I also thought that the claws, at two inches, were kind of small.

    For tightening the writing:

    With her daughters sleeping in the backseat, she needed coffee.
    “Her daughters slept in the backseat. Marla needed coffee.

    The entire area looked deserted, she thought to herself.
    Do we think in the past tense to ourselves when we’re looking at something? No. “The entire area looks deserted, she thought to herself.”

    Marla exited the store with a Caramel Macchiato in her hand . . .”
    You can drop “her” as we will assume she carries the drink in her own hand.

    A low growl behind her stopped her short, and a crippling fear surged through her.
    “She stopped short at the low growl behind her. Crippling fear surged through her.”

    With her hand still inside of her purse, her numb fingers still fumbled for the keys.
    “With her hand still inside her purse, her numb fingers fumbled for the keys.”

    Creeping slowly toward her was a tall brown werewolf.
    “Creeping toward her was a tall brown werewolf.” (Creeping implies slowness).

    Through the action scene I would re-write these to include shorter, more compact sentences to achieve a sense of urgency, fear, and action.


    Title: Patient Five Two Zero
    Author: Grub-r

    SPaG: 4/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 7/10

    Overall: 15/20

    This is an impressive first entry. The story is engaging, creepy, and overall well written.

    I would re-write certain places for conciseness:

    Perhaps it was because of the buckles and straps that wrapped around the imprisoned frail patient, the burly escorts treated the man no better than luggage.
    “Perhaps it was because of the buckles and straps that wrapped around the frail, imprisoned patient but the burly escorts treated the man no better than luggage.”

    One of the orderlies produced a key ring and finding the correct key, slipped it into the lock.
    There needs to be a comma after “and” as “finding the correct key” reads as an aside.

    Retrieving a voice recorder from his pocket, he switched the small machine on and cleared his throat.
    “He retrieved a voice recorder from his picket, switched it on, and cleared his throat.”

    “Patient number 520.”
    I’d spell out the number in this instance as I think the title refers to this line almost specifically. I’d read the numeral as “five hundred twenty” myself and I don’t think that’s how the doctor would say it.

    . . .the scarred puckered holes that lined the outside of the patient’s lips, the remnants of when the patient sewed his own mouth shut.
    “ . . . the puckered scars that lined the outside of the patient’s lips, remnants of when the patient sewed his mouth shut.”

    “And now they are free”
    There needs to be a period at the end of this line.

    Title: Moving with the times
    Author: Makili

    SPaG: 3.5/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 5/10

    Overall: 12.5/20

    The relationship between father and son is touching. The gesture the son does for his father is sweet. There are a lot of instances where the articles are dropped. I don’t know if this was done for word count but it was a bad idea if so. There are also places where the tense isn’t quite right.

    I find it hard to believe that monster-hunting would be enough to entice customers in these numbers in the modern age.

    The headlines are also unbelievable and should be re-written. Headlines are supposed to be as concise, attention grabbing, and sensational as possible. They’re like titles so are also capitalized.

    “Mysterious Creatures Spotted in Our Forests”
    “Fir Grove: a Monster Habitat?”
    “Countryside Motel: Epicentre of Unusual Events?”

    One question—and you don’t have to answer this for me but for your story—is this a hotel or a motel? Motels are the ones that have no interior walkways. Every room leads to the outside.


    Title: The Beast
    Author: Kyle R

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10

    Overall: 18/20

    I liked the way this read and I wasn’t expecting that twist. I was expecting something like a confession of fear about confronting the beast or something similar.

    Title: Be Nice
    Author: Sleepwriter

    SPaG: 4/5
    Tone: 4/5
    Effect: 6/10

    Overall: 14/20

    This read fairly cleanly and was interesting until the confession from the antagonist. It made me wonder if perhaps that could have come at the beginning of the story instead of the end.

    I think the biggest issue with the story is that the dialogue didn’t seem authentic for teenagers. A little less formal, next time, I think.

    . . he said as he bowed while backing away from her.
    “he said as he bowed then backed away from her.” I think you’re wanting to get the idea that he’s repeatedly bowing but there’s just too much going on for it to read clearly.

    . . . and his stomach sunk when he said her name . . .
    Sank. Sunk is the past participle and an adjective.

    . . . but their last attempt wasa catastrophic failure . . .
    There needs to be a space between “was a.”

    Very soon you will all look like the monsters you have been acting like.
    This is much too formal even for someone who masterminded poisoning her classmates when she wouldn’t be there. I also expect more melodrama from a villainous teenage girl. I’d re-write it as: “Soon you will all look like the monsters you are.”

    Title: Homecoming
    Author: Anonymous

    SPaG: 5/5
    Tone: 5/5
    Effect: 8/10

    Overall: 18/20

    There are some seriously dark things implied here and I’m not sure if I should be impressed by your skill or worried.


    bdcharle's Scores:
    Teb
    "Times change, but does the man?"

    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 3/5
    Effect: 6.5/10
    Total: 12.5/20

    Review:
    This was very readable and I found myself wanting to know more about this fellow, as if it was a prologue to a grand tale of duchicide*. The voice was probably just right for this sort of person. He has a penchant for comma-splices, which on the one hand make my grammarian's needle go twitch-twitch-twitch, but on the other are a good fit; after all, I am certain he does not care a jot for such things. That said, it is quite an easy way out and will give your character a voice that is an awful lot like many others.

    The other issue is that nothing major happens. Events are reputed to have gone on in the past, yes, and things will probably change in the future but for now the only change here is your man leaving the Duke's service. You could quite reasonably argue that it is a workable prologue and I agree. As I say I would want to read on about this chap, but I'm not judging those future exploits. Set against the title, the answer would have to be "he should change more", and the follow on question from that: so why do we need to know about him at this point in time then? On that subject, the title could be a bit more snappy; "Duke's Army" would suffice. In the absence of covers, titles are your first impression. Make 'em last.

    You don't mention any names or much about the world. I appreciate you only have 650 words (you are 93 short which makes me think you are ... not that fussed?) and that obsesssing over names of stuff is not what this guy is about. It depends what you want your piece to do. To invite me to read more? Sure. To stand alone, for example as a flash piece? Like I say, it's a prologue or character vignette, to me.

    One last thing, going back to the grammar needle: "Dukes" should be "Duke's" when talking about the possessive. I thought the name of the army was Dukes Army at first - which I found quite evocative, as it happens. Still wouldn't tell any of it to this bloke's face though

    * I have a duke in my WIP. He dies, so I hereby pronounce "duchicide" a word!




    Smith
    "2061"


    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 3/5
    Effect: 6.5/10
    Total: 12.5/20

    Review:
    Nice twist! I found this quite funny, with some great sentences: "My mother’s makeup was already streaming down his face as they embraced me." completely encapsulates the absurdity of the piece. This was also really nice: "The butterflies in my stomach flew out with the words."

    But then you changed tense in paragraph 4, and then changed right back. I don't really see why. Also sentences like "I didn’t know who I was anymore." are very well-used. How else can you depict it? "One day I was Barbara Cartland, the next, Cousin It." Have fun with your expressions - don't dial them in; your words deserve it.

    Make sure you use your words wisely with respect to the word count where possible: eg "I whispered the Patrick Henry quote to myself." could be "I quoted Patrick Henry to myself." We already know the requirement to whisper from the shaking legs and creeping about.

    I think you did an excellent job with the imagery - the trees, the colours, the pinky blues. There's pretty reasonable world-building, again in respect to the colours largely - hovering finger over the pink phone, stepping on to the hardwood floor. It clues us in subtly to what's going on and what the place looks like, anchoring us there, making us care and invest our time.

    Outside of that though, there wasn't a great deal to get stuck in to. 650 or so words is very short to develop a character and the temptation is to try and do it in the same way as one would with a novel, but this rarely works. You have to shoot me with three well-chosen words, blast voice in my face, rather than simply construct by-the-numbers with 250. I get it. I get the message, about how in the future we may be so tolerant of gays that they are the norm and accepted, which is of course commendable. Just - I dunno, give me something more. If it's a coming out story, capture it. I've never come out, nor had to, and have only a rudimentary idea of what the whole struggle must be like, but I do wonder, so - do the topic justice. Take me there.

    Jeez, listen to me. Who wants to be tolerant of the guy that sucks the joy right out of the room?




    godofwine
    "Coffee To Die For"


    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 3/5
    Effect: 6.5/10
    Total: 14/20

    Review:
    Nice opener, godofwine, setting the scene in a flowing and rhythmic way, taking us on a trip that pulls no punches. And there are some great lines in here, which I'll mention in a bit.

    You talk about the need for coffee twice. If you're going to do that, make it a thing, a point of conflict or a motif. Hell, make it a macguffin if you can. Maybe she should never get the coffee. As it is, the need is assuaged/she is revitalised (pick one) pretty sharpish, and that's that.

    With "crippling fear surged through her." you can get away without this because you convey the crippling fear very well when you say in the next line: "Marla stood frozen like a deer, halfway between the Starbucks door and the security of the minivan." It's a key moment. Show us it, don't tell. Tell is for the logistics of getting her the coffee.

    "Creeping slowly toward her was a tall brown werewolf." I know people who, when faced with a tall brown anything, would bat their eyelashes faster than a hummingbird's wings. Scare us more. Your other words on this threat are perfectly sufficient. I liked "The pink tongue washed across its lips" - washed - excellent, vivid word choice. I can hear the sound and the tongue must be sizeable because what other sort of tongue would make that much noise. Good sensory evocation.

    The narrative / psychic distance here is a little in-out-shake-it-all-about. Much of the time we are in Marla's POV, seeing this wolfman, but then we're off to the side suddenly - "The purse slipped from the woman’s grasp", "The woman screeched in pain, and feebly swung her tiny fists at its head". Who are we there and why? If you are going to move about like that, do it for a reason - to move us in from setting to character, to ease a POV transition.

    "But God avoided the Chicago area this time of year." - fantastic line; so, so good. The standout line in the comp thus far for me. It's so good I want it earlier in the piece, eg:

    "Marla turned into the Starbucks on West 95th still seething from her confrontation with an old woman at the daycare disparaging working mothers. With her daughters sleeping in the backseat, she beseeched the heavens for coffee. But God avoided Chicago this time of year. "

    SPaG generally bang-on. Just one bit:
    “Somebody help me! Please!” “ [<- why close and re-open the ""s] Help me! God help me!”




    Grub-r
    "Patient Five Two Zero "


    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 8/10
    Total: 15/20

    Review:
    First - great title; succinct, snappy, not waffly at all but straight to the point. And it's a very exciting premise - invisible tentacly monsters issuing from the man's head, bruh. What tortures he must have endured. Tense stuff You put us into Patient 520's tormented head very convincingly, particularly with the italicised thoughts.

    Your dialogue tagging is not quite correct, eg:
    “Place it on the table.” The doctor said
    -> should be ->
    “Place it on the table,” the doctor said

    Indefinite versus definite articles; which to use? With this:
    "They stopped in front of the large door to the operation room."
    You could try:
    "They stopped in front of a large door to the operation room."
    What's the difference? The "the" suggests familiarity, assumed prior knowledge but the "a" suggests the unknown. Choose wisely

    With this:
    "The doctor clicks[<-you switch to present tense] on the penlight,[<- that's a comma splice - watch for those] the beam played [<- back to past tense; easy mistake to make but just reread maybe a day or so after you "finish" it] lightly over the scarred puckered holes"

    The doctor stopped, disappointed. Tears squeezed out of the patient’s eyes.
    -> Poor soul. I really felt for him here. Nice work here!

    When the doc starts drilling, it is not clear whether the patient has been anaesthetised (locally) or whether he would feel pain. Given he doesn't react much I suspect an anaesthetic but ... not clear.




    Makili
    "Moving with the times"


    Spelling/Grammar: 2.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 2.5/5
    Effect: 6/10
    Total: 11/20

    Review:
    In its way this is a rather sweet tale, a story of dilapidated motels and dried-up custom. I like the way George springs at Jake, ostensibly to bash him about but in the end hugging him. Nice touch!

    One thing to watch for, particularly with short forms like these comps, is writing in an "It was X. The thingamibob was Y." way. Your first four sentences have this structure. Was, was, was. Using it occasionally is okay but it can undermine any uniqueness your story may possess. Much better to have all these things that "were" and "are", interacting in lexically and narratively interesting ways. Experiment with word order and while you're at it, try and use active voice rather than passive to make your writing super vivid. So your opening para could become:

    Another afternoon rolled through the lobby of the Fir Grove Motel, its lethargic silence broken only by the buzzing of a fly that evaded cobwebs hanging from grimy corners. Rays of sunlight sliced the dusty air and fell on the worn reception desk over which George Feldman, the motel owner, slouched, staring at the motel guestbook.

    Couple of dialogue tagging issues, eg:
    "Do you have vacancies?" I[<- should be lower case i]nquired a young man

    This:
    >>> The book kept motel's history. It told of the early days, when it was always full and many names would be scribbled under a single date. Last pages' entries showed that days, weeks, months passed between the check-ins. Countryside motels were not popular anymore and the guestbook was a written record of this business' slow demise. As George was turning those yellowed pages<<<, his forehead furrowed.
    Is infodumping, backstory, exposition. Great, fine, fascinating - but it takes me away from the here and now that your other lines have created. Cherish the flow of your story. If you have words than threaten to whip me away from that moment, then ask yourself if they are really the right words for your story at that point.

    Another Jake. Can someone illuminate me as to why this name is so popular in fiction? Does anyone even know anyone called Jake? I am conscious of a memory of writing a story at school in which the character was called Jake. I was about seven, maybe nine, when I did it and even then I knew it sucked and I have had it in for Jake ever since, making me feel so inadequate at such a young age, all of which is a terrible reason for jumping on the name and those who use it (or possess it) but by God, it turns up alot.

    I suppose in the end I wasn't massively taken in by the plot, the events and happenings. Shame because you can absolutely write - you were my top scorer in September's LM iirc






    Kyle R
    "The Beast"


    Spelling/Grammar: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 8.5/10
    Total: 17.5/20

    Review:
    Good, rather comedic voice - at first, for some reason, I'm put in mind of that film with Ricky Gervais, the one where he's called Dominic Badguy (pronounced "badjee" - it's French). As I read on the feel becomes more like that of a vintage Marvel comic or Batman flick, which is also great, and which I see is also what you were going for, so well done with that.

    As I read on I like the voice more and more. Rilene is a cool and kick ass antihero alright. Have some T&V points. I love her hinted-at super strength - shattered devices, cracked teeth. Good depictions, well spread out. Grammar and spelling are right on the money. I will assume that any errors that are there are simple typos, so full marks there.

    I was a bit confused by this:
    "The beast fought Pyroid for a solid ten minutes before the caped hero fell. An armored tank interfered long enough to give the costumed man an escape."
    so does Pyroid escape or does he fall? It gives the otherwise great effect of this a bit of a wobble.

    At the end I was not sure why Rilene necked the vial, or why Max suggests the parasitic monster drinks it to make the "host resistant". Resistant to what? Who is the host? Why does Rilene then ingest this draught? Is she a parasite too? What, exactly, is going on? A bit confusing there, which won't help the general impact. But by and large, good stuff.






    Sleepwriter
    "Be Nice"


    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 2.5/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Total: 13/20

    Review:
    This is quite a topical piece, in a way touching on events like school shootings and suggesting why they happen, a point underscored by the title (which in my view was a bit ho hum, it must be said). But the story is quite dramatic and cinematic too, like the denouement of Carrie.

    Great line here - "Steely-eyed chaperones darted from shadow to shadow", really visual and evocative

    Some overwriting:
    Steely-eyed chaperones darted from shadow to shadow in the dimly lit gymnasium, ensuring their charges behaved themselves.[<- last clause really not needed - we know what a chaperone is and if we don't their steely eyedness reminds us]

    the lead singer of[<- surely the whole band was involved? Just too much detail where it's not needed] the band serenaded the students with a love song.

    The group agreed and [<- just have them start to leave] started to leave.
    I would even reconsider the whole sentence, seeing as you have Vinnie dash for the exit moments later as below. The point is made, the direction given. No need to give it twice. Remember, because of the medium, your actors are perfect and can be expected to make zero mistakes
    “What the fuck, man?” Vinnie grabbed Ashley by the hand and they ran for the exit.

    The voice is a little generic. X did this. Y ran over there. Z made somebody feel like ABC. I don't really have a massive sense of the characters.

    Dialogue tag blip here:
    “You all need to stay over here.” O[<- should be ," o]ne of them said

    As I mention, I would say that the biggest issue here is just those bits of unnecessary overwriting. But not too bad all in all.






    Anonymous
    "Homecoming"


    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Effect: 7/10
    Total: 15.5/20

    Review:
    Off to a good opening line, and the quality of the writing doesn't relent. It's smart, smooth, vivid - everything it needs to be. I get a good sense of the characters via the voice and tone of the story.

    SPaG on the money, with one exception:
    "Ashe pulled the car into the old gravel driveway, the front door opened and Eddie stepped out onto the porch, smiling and waving"
    Ashe? As she? She? If it's "as she", that throws doubt onto Randy's gender; if it's "she" or "Ashe" (eg a name) you run on your sentence through a comma splice as well as have not quite percolated your name change down. Just a little typo, I'm sure, but it's there.

    I suppose it is not the most original of ideas either. I know it's hard to come up with original stuff for these comps, and the temptation is to let dialogue do all the talking at the expense of framing the drama with set-pieces. The only other problem I had was that this extract is before the story. It's not really the story itlsef. You could even argue it's years after the story, because for better or worse nothing is resolved in it. It could easily be the start of something good but the rest of it is not presented here. My understanding of this comp is it is a short story comp but I may be wrong in that regard.


    danielstj's Scores:
    Author: Teb
    “Times change, but does the man"
    Spelling/Grammar: 3
    Tone/Voice: 2
    Effect: 5
    Overall: 10/20

    There was a lot of telling in this piece. It felt like the work was told to the reader and has rather a toneless vibe around it that limited my emotional attachment.. The basis of the story is a worthwhile idea but the execution, in my opinion, could have been more grabbing if you had strengthened the foundations and configured your style a little. Just my two cents!

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: Smith
    “2061"
    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 16/20

    This was a very interesting piece. You presented it well and I felt the anticipation with the build up of tension. You managed to accomplish that very skillfully. The ending brought it all home in a nicely wrapped package as well. It was as if the character had dueled with sexuality and won. I thought that was awesome.

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: godofwine
    “Coffee to Die For"
    Spelling/Grammar: 5
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 7
    Overall: 16/20

    A werewolf! Wow. That was an interesting, if not graphic, piece. The writing style was strong on this one and the story offered action, intrigue and kept me focused throughout its entirety. My only question is what is the werewolf doing there and I suppose there was not enough room to elaborate on that. A good read.

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: Grub-r
    “Patient Five Two Zero"
    Spelling/Grammar: 4
    Tone/Voice: 4.5
    Effect: 8
    Overall: 16.5

    Woah. That was quite a story. It appeared that the doctor was in control until the pivotal moment in which you reversed the roles-- quite efficiently and at just the right time if I might say so. I did not expect the change and it caught me off-guard in a good way. Also, you used the prompt very effectively. A fine piece.

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: Makili
    “Moving with the times"
    Spelling/Grammar: 3
    Tone/Voice: 3
    Effect: 6
    Overall: 12

    Interesting piece. The connection between the website and the backpackers seemed a bit slight to me and the plot appeared to be a little beyond what I deem believable. The description of the relationship between the father and son also seemed a little after the fact and there were some formatting issues. Also, there were some odd phrases that did not seem to fit with the rest of the story. Still, good effort! It had its moments.

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: Kyle R
    “The Beast"
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 8.5
    Overall: 18

    This was a dazzlingly good story! Line, hook and sinker! Even the little bits, like the interaction with Max at the apartment, were well done. The only reason the effect score was not higher. A great little tale about identity and the different masks that we, as humans, wear. Great stuff!

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: Sleepwriter
    “Be Nice"
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5
    Tone/Voice: 4
    Effect: 7
    Overall: 15.5

    Revenge is a dish best served cold, eh? This was okay but I felt that the way that Veronica spoke near the end of the story could have been much stronger and that the climax, as it stands, seems a bit overdrawn and long. You used the prompt quite efficiently in this piece and you made things happen fast-- which is a plus. Overall, a decent piece.

    ================================================== ==========

    Author: ?
    “Homecoming"
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5
    Tone/Voice: 5
    Effect: 9
    Overall: 18.5

    This was an excellent piece! The ending really got me. Damn! That's a satisfying finish with the line creepily added in for maximum effect. Good stuff! When Randy was initially discussing what happened in the barn I knew it was BAD but I did not see the train coming. Enjoyed thoroughly.


    Last edited by kilroy214; October 26th, 2016 at 01:16 PM.
    “On the chest of a barmaid in Sale, were tattooed all the prices of ale. And on her behind, for the sake of the blind, was the same only written in braille"


    "Ambiguity is one of the greatest faults in a craft. It comes from vague ambitions. One may inspired by good ambitions, but the immediate concern of the craftsman is to know what he is capable of doing at present; and to do it."
    - Edward Johnston

  2. #2
    You forgot Makili dude!


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  3. #3
    Congrats to the winners!

    And a big thank you to the judges and one of the hardest working hosts, Kilroy214!

    On to the next one.
    "When it feels scary to jump, that is exactly when you jump, otherwise you end up staying in the same place your whole life, and that I can't do." -Abel Morales - A Most Dangerous Year.

  4. #4
    Thank you for the kind words and honest critiques.

    Thanks to everyone who puts these contests together. I love prompt writing contests and use them to think outside the box and push my writing skills as far as they'll let me.

    Of course, thanks for the judges, who use their free time to help us better ourselves.
    Last edited by Grub-r; October 26th, 2016 at 05:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Super congrats to Kyle R - an excellent winner. Well done other entrants and thanks as always to the organisers and other judges.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  6. #6
    Member Makili's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Montenegro
    Posts
    83
    Congrats to the winners. Thanks to the judges.

    And for me - I obviousy need to work on my grammar and punctuation (will I ever learn to capitalise titles...). And articles (yes, I always had a problem with them. No articles in my language, so I don't have a feel for them...)

  7. #7
    Congratulations to Kyle and Grub-r! As always, Kyle put together a slick and well written story. Thanks also to the judges for your time and hard work, in some cases I'm sure you put more time into your critique than I put into the story. I do apologize for the formatting issues. Some of them seemed to appear after I hit 'send'. Gotta figure that one out.
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  8. #8
    Cool! And well done, everyone! Was very fun to see all the different directions everyone took the prompt. (And Terry, I had a sense that the anonymous entry was yours. Strong, subtle, and poignant. Nice writing.)


    Prinze—Very interesting to see your thought process as you read the entries. Thanks for taking the time to do that. Her super-strength wasn't meant to be a foreshadowing of her alter-form, but rather, in character with her as a superhero. Sorry to hear it was a bit predictable for you. That's good motivation to try to hide the easter eggs better in the future! Thanks for the feedback.

    Pancreas—I agree with you, the story does feel a bit . . . skimmed down. One thing I noticed, after reading it over, is that the more scenes one puts in a flash, the shallower each scene tends to get (just from the lack of words and space available to flesh out each one). In the future, I might try to work with fewer scenes, to, hopefully, give things a little more impact. Appreciate the insight. Cheers!

    Amsaw—The twist was mostly a last-minute switch—I originally wanted to end with a hint of a showdown, her finally facing the beast, then ending it there. But I'd already run out of words... so making her the beast seemed like a workable alternative. Your idea would've been an interesting one, too! Thanks for the feedback.

    bd—Yes, I was going for a comic sort of feel. I'm not familiar with Ricky Gervais or his work too much, but "Dominic Badguy" is a hilarious character name. Also, what the heck are T&V points?

    Sorry the ending wasn't clear for you. What I was trying to convey: Rilene was, unknown to all except her, actually the beast. Or, rather, the beast was a sort of parasite, like Venom's "symbiote", taking over the mind and body of Eddie Brock (in the Spider-Man series).

    Appreciate the feedback!

    Daniel—Many thanks for the encouraging words, I appreciate them! Glad this story ticked the boxes for you. Cheers!


    Thanks, too, to Kilroy, who tirelessly roams the land, stealing the left socks from the driers of unsuspecting citizens.

  9. #9


    Congratulations

    Kyle R.,Terry D.and Grub-r!

    Honorable Mention:

    Our Other Creatively
    Competitive Participants



    Special Thanks:

    kilroy214

    Staff, Hosts, and Judges!






  10. #10
    Congratulations everybody! It has been a privilege to judge with my fellow judges.

    Every entry had something to offer. Good hustle!

    And special thanks to Kilroy for his help!

    = D

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