Literary Maneuvers Nov 2018 "Unreliable Narrator" - Scores

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  1. #1
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    Literary Maneuvers Nov 2018 "Unreliable Narrator" - Scores

    Here they are. Apologies once again - real life continues to intrude on us all, but better late than never I hope you'll agree. Here are the reviews:

    Ibb's Scores:


    Carpe Diem: 18
    Effect: 8
    Hee-larious. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh off the heels of reading Confederacy of Dunces, but I felt like I was briefly reacquainting myself with Ignatius Riley, the guy now a little stupider, a little more self-deluded, a little less disgusted by women as he’d been when I left him. I thought the style of that novel was good for 200 pages, but beyond that mark wanted to gouge my eyes out. Here, in its succinct form, the style is fantastic. Crisp, deadpan, to the point. What’s more to say? Oh?well: “I have deep, male voice.” You briefly turned your narrator into a man who has just learned English as of yesterday. Otherwise? Great job.

    Denial: 14
    SPaG: 5
    Tone: 3
    Effect: 6
    I read this twice and wasn’t sure I followed it either time. I liked some of the descriptions (slightly side on like he’s avoiding something distasteful), but the significance of various components were lost on me once we hit the ending. He’s in denial?he’s on drugs? He lost his job? I may just be a poor reader. If there is a story about denied loss here, I think you simply needed a larger canvas on which to paint your story.

    J.J. Maxx
    Out of Time: 15
    SPaG: 5
    Tone: 4
    Effect: 6
    You write clearly and keep the story moving forward. No superfluous details; everything contributes directly to your story, its past, and the characters inhabiting its present. Well done. Despite this, I never felt the oomph; there is a certain magical quality that can elevate good writing to great writing. You have the skill for holding your pieces together. Continue writing and one day they will float in the air all on their own.

    Waiting for Dad: 16
    SPaG: 5
    Tone: 5
    Effect: 6
    I really like the elements you have here. But given the nature of the LMs, I don’t think you have ample space to pull off the ending effect. Is she in shock? Or has this memory already occurred and the mother is simply suffering some form of Alzheimer’s? I was leaning towards the second as the story progressed, a bit of a twist to upend the earlier details, but by the end figured it was the former. As I’ve said elsewhere, this may only owe to my faults as a reader. The strengths, of course, is your ability to progress your story without a hitch in your step. Good job.

    Matthew’s Story: 17
    SPaG: 4
    Tone: 5
    Effect: 8
    A nice little tale of wonder. I don’t have much advice other than to try breaking up your sentence structure a bit, as halfway through the story your reliance on bound-together clauses made the voice become monotonous. I suspected this might be due to the theme, that our hero’s narration was being prepared to lead into something else, but the ending scene didn’t justify it. But what a scene! Plenty of imagination, and some delightful lines (“[she] sat up and looked at me, fresh as a daisy, as if she had been buried alive - only yesterday”) elevate this beyond its few meager shortcomings. E.B. White wrote: “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” This reads like one of the faithful. Good job.

    Of Wine and Spirits: 20
    SPaG: 5
    Tone: 5
    Effect: 10
    Wew. Wonderfully written, impish in tone, with some great lines? “merely whispered in her ear, giving good, practical advice.” There is no advice to give. You aim for your target, swing for it, and hit. To me, this is a perfect execution of the theme, carried on flawless execution and poise. Great job.

    velo's scores:


    (anonymous) Carpe Diem

    SPaG: 4.5
    TaV: 5
    Effect: 9.5

    This piece was very difficult for me to read. I mean that as a compliment. A piece that makes you feel deeply is good writing, period. This made me physically squirm in discomfort.

    I'm a man who grew up with a narcissistic, misogynist, and extremely toxically masculine father. At 48 I still struggle with thoughts and patterns he ingrained in my neural pathways. This piece resonated in terrible synchronicity with those old and terrible lessons.

    A couple very small SPaG errors here and there, "nice looking" needs a hyphen.

    TaV was spot on. I felt like I was in this bloke's head and I didn't like it at all. I was looking out through his eyes at her. His interpretations of her looks and reactions was full on creepy and felt very accurate for this type of person.

    Effect, well, I've already talked about this. Lots of impact in this piece, well done.

    Arachne - Denial

    SPaG: 4.5
    TaV: 3

    SPaG- picking some very minor nits. I'd have preferred a semi-colon in "I know he recognises me and I feel for him; I’m well known in the business and it’s intimidating for someone starting out." Hyphen in "side-on." But real nits, overall no real technical flaws.

    TaV was fairly consistent and steady.

    Effect- the narrator didn't catch my interest as much as I would have liked through most of the piece. It wasn't until the bathroom that I engaged a slight bit more. I just felt he was a bit arrogant and a real a-hole through the first half and more. Nothing technically wrong, I just wanted to feel more through this.

    J.J. Maxx - Out of Time

    SPaG: 5
    TaV: 4
    Effect: 7
    Total: 16

    SPaG- I went through this with a fine-toothed comb looking for anything I could call out. As far as I can tell this was technically perfect. I say that even knowing there are several grammatically incomplete sentences but, much like when words are misspelled in dialogue to connote accent, I saw that as context and deliberate usage vs an error.

    TaV: Very consistent, I really feel the PoV character's need and desperation

    Effect- I'm honestly not sure how this story ends and I like that you've left it open to interpretation- is she mentally distressed or actually traveling back in time? However, Schumacher used 'further' not 'farther' in the last sentence. Had you used 'farther' it would indicate she had actually travelled back. 'Further' is metaphorical distance so that hints at it being in the context of her mental health/stability. Of course, there is other context that hints at the opposite conclusion. Well done on the ambiguity.

    SueC - Waiting for Dad

    SPaG: 4
    TaV: 4
    Effect: 5
    Total: 15

    SPaG- a few small errors, hyphen in 'blood-curdling', 'Mom' should be capitalized, some extra commas etc. But otherwise technically good.

    TaV: Consistent and poignant, appropriate for the PoV character.

    Effect: The biggest hurdle for me was that when reading I got bogged down in what I thought were a lot of extra details that didn't need to be there.

    Example- "I hurried into the kitchen to get a glass of water. When I got back, she was still on the floor in front of the couch, but seemed to be calming a little bit. I sat back down and handed her the water. She looked at it as if she didn’t know what to do with it."

    All this for a glass of water and a confused look. There were a couple areas like this where I felt these details could have been tightened up significantly and reduced, even down to a single sentence.

    i.e.- "I hurriedly brought her a glass of water, she looked as if she didn't know what to do with it."

    This was a good piece but I think the focus on some minutiae that didn't really move the narrative along limited how much impact and emotion you could get into 650w.

    ned- Matthew's Story

    Total- 7

    SPaG- "in the temple storeroom - and be on hand" needs a 'to' after 'and.'
    "sweeping, cleaning and polishing" needs an Oxford. Noticed several of those...I did try them both ways and they work better with rather than without the Oxford.

    "After winding the through the streets, we entered an olive grove that led down to the graveyard, and as we went through the gate, my gaze was drawn across the tombs and graves to the rounded hill in the east, and its three crosses silhouetted against the blood-red dawn." Bit of a run-on and commas need a lot of work in this one. Needs to be split up into multiple sentences.

    TaV- phrases like "Time to get cracking" and "graveyard shift" are quite modern and really took me out of the story. I get the pun with graveyard shift, of course, but it was far more distracting than useful.

    "Slowly at first, then within seconds" 'Slowly' is a purely relative description and 'seconds' is very specific. The two don't jibe well together.

    Effect- first some technical nitpicking- maize was not known at the presumed date and location of this story and days of the week were not named, such as 'Monday.' Details bug me, so take that for what it's worth.

    Overall I kept getting dragged out of the story by form, usage, and structure. It honestly felt rushed, like perhaps you knew the ending and really wanted to get there. This was difficult for me to read.

    Epimetheus - Of Wine and Spirits

    TaV- 4
    Total- 12

    SPaG- Punctuation around quotes needs a lot of attention. Many errors in that area and choices that created confusing and/or awkward sentences/phrases.

    "...drink more than average.” Said Rosie, pouring them both another glass.
    “Who drank it?” she demanded.

    TaV- This was fairly effective and consistent. The darkly mischievous tone was disturbingly creepy. I have a clear vision of the indistinct form of the PoV character shimmering in the shadows, just out of sight.

    Effect- Very dark, more than a little uncomfortable at points. Not sure if the spirit is intended to be a real demon or a literary manifestation of Daphne's psychology/addiction. Nicely done. Unfortunately I definitely kept getting taken out of the story by the way you punctuate quotes which really impacted the whole feel of the piece for me. It was jarring at points.

    In summary:

    Title & Author Ibb velo Total
    Emma Sohan (Anonymous) - Carpe Diem 18 19 18.5
    Arachne - Denial 14 12.5 13.25
    J.J. Maxx - Out of Time 15 16 15.5
    SueC - Waiting for Dad 16 15 15.5
    Ned - Matthew's Story 17 7 12
    Epimetheus - Of Wine and Spirits 20 12 16

    In first place, we have:


    Emma Sohan
    "Carpe Diem"

    In second, it's
    "Of Wine and Spirits"

    by Epimetheus

    And tied for third, I give you:

    SueC with "Waiting For Dad" and J.J.Maxx's "Out Of Time"


    Well done Emma and all the other entrants, plus of course many thanks to the judges. Until we meet meet again, on the other thread.

    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!

  2. #2
    Congratulations to Emma Sohan and Epimetheus! You did awesome work. Great job both, and thanks to the judges!

    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.

  3. #3
    Well done everyone!
    I loved your story Emma Sohan, congratulations on a well deserved win.
    Thanks to the judges for your time and feedback, it's much appreciated.


  4. #4
    Well done, Emma! I also enjoyed your story.

    Thank you to all the other entrants and especially the judges for their time and feedback. It is much appreciated.


    ~ J. J.
    Hidden Content Hidden Content Hidden Content

    "He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." - Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    Congratulations Emma - and thank you judges.
    grasp the mettle of things unsaid
    and strike the nail upon the head

  6. #6
    Thanks to bd and the judges. I was inspired by the topic, and everyone else seems to have been too -- I enjoyed reading all of of the stories. Creepy but powerful? Nice twist, Ned.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

    Hidden Content


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