Literary Maneuvers December 2018 "Moon Landing" Scores


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  1. #1
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    Literary Maneuvers December 2018 "Moon Landing" Scores

    Hot off the press, we have the only thing that matters this time of year - it's the December Literary Maneuvers Scores!

    Writing's a never-ending process. Underpinning every hit is a venerable stack of writing that, while it may not smash the glory heights of your standout piece XYZ, provides the author with experience, feedback, and the results of sheer time, thought and effort accrued over the weeks, months and years. It all counts. Counting up the scores this time round we have your two judges:




    J.J.Maxx:


    Author: SueC
    Title:
    The Woodstock Moon

    Spelling/Grammar:
    Tone/Voice:
    Effect:
    Overall: 13/20

    Review: Thank you for your entry. I read this a few times, trying to get a sense of what the story was trying to do. It is a very ephemeral story, interwoven with nostalgia and not without a large helping of rose-tinted window dressing. You set the scene quite well, and that may have been the issue at play here. Woodstock is such a well-known historical event that the majority of people, myself included, have seen the footage and pictures, watched the specials and the grainy visages are iconic. When you describe the scene, it becomes difficult to replace the well-known images with the scene you are trying to portray. My mind, as the reader, fills in the blanks too fast and your imagery does not receive enough purchase to hold its ground.

    As I said, this is an ephemeral piece and as such it lofts about, almost meandering. Technically, it's sound and I couldn't find much in the way of technical issues, save for an over-abundant use of commas. The prompt is woven into the story in a way that seems genuine and is very unique.

    Overall I didn't resonate with this story. The effects of the story elements were muted, as it became more of a soft remembrance than a fully-formed story. It lacked the punch and interest that these stories require. Still, a very well-written piece and a somber look back at simpler times.




    Author: Fatclub
    Title:
    Lack of Practice

    Spelling/Grammar:

    Tone/Voice:
    Effect:
    Overall: 11/20

    Review: Thanks for this entry! I must admit, being a rebel from the colonies, I was unfamiliar with the term 'pillion'. Still, I made sure to catch up on my old world vocabulary.

    I liked this story. It is a endearing coming-of-age story involving two brothers. I think it worked well. One of the issues that struck me is the story is made very impersonal by the lack of names and the nickname for the big brother I think detracted from the story. I think if you were to get us closer to the two boys, give them names and perhaps a little more description would work well.

    Technically, there were some issues with tenses and there are some errant spaces lingering around. But other than that, the structure is good.

    While I think the first sentence of a short story should be powerful and should draw the reader into the rest of the story, I think yours was a little soft. If you had perhaps mentioned something about spending his 18th birthday in jail, or the hospital, or both. I think it could've been made more effective.

    The overall effect of the story was lost a little as it feels like it was written to the prompt. I think the ending didn't quite have the final oomph that I look for in short stories.



    Author:
    Arachne
    Title:
    One Giant Leap for Barbara

    Spelling/Grammar:

    Tone/Voice:
    Effect:
    Overall: 15/20

    Review: This was very well done. Your opening sentence was fantastic. It is the perfect opening to a short story. It made me want to read more and gave me the hook to keep reading.

    I don't really have much to say about this. It has excellent structure, rising action, background, climax, resolution. All the pieces work. However, perhaps there was something that could have pushed this story just a little bit more. The abused housewife cliche is a bit overdone and I think once you had the bones of this story, you should ask, 'Okay, now how do I turn this on it's head and make it different.' Even the feminized husband abused by his wife has been done, although to a lesser degree. Still, this would be the only thing I could say about this piece, and that is a good thing.

    Finally, I find myself slightly put off by your use of the more Old World single quotation marks. Oh, I'm not saying it's wrong, not at all. I didn't dock you any points for it, just my own stubbornness showing through.

    Overall very good job.



    Author: epimethius
    Title:
    Plucking the Eagle

    Spelling/Grammar:

    Tone/Voice:
    Effect:
    Overall: 10/20

    Review: Thanks for this entry, epimethius. I enjoyed reading it, and re-reading it.

    Here we have an alternate-reality or futuristic piece of writing, where the
    moon and its detritus have been turned into a tourist trap. I really like the idea, however I feel we weren't given enough background. There is something to be said for allowing the reader to fill in the blanks, but I think there's too many blanks here. Is this in the future? Is it the actual Neil Armstrong, or a clone, or a holographic projection?

    I think a story needs to grab you from the first sentence. I am a firm believer that it needs be strong. Your beginning introduces us to random people and there's nothing that makes the reader want to know more. Something that sets the stage and makes us go, 'Whoa, what?'

    As an example your story could've started with something like this:

    Tatiana watched as a faded traveling brochure fluttered across the lunar surface.

    I never really felt connected to the characters. They were very two-dimensional to me. they needed to be fleshed out a little more. I think that's the issue with the whole story is that it seems very superficial, like I'm reading a story from 10,000 feet away.

    Now, I think the story is a smashing idea. I really like it. I just think it need to be distilled and tightened up, fleshing out the scene and the characters and making the ending stronger.





    velo:
    SueC, The Woodstock Moon
    SPaG: 3
    TaV: 3
    Effect: 6
    Overall: 12


    SPaG- Mostly good but with some awkward constructions. I did try and read with the perspective that the narrator was in a state of altered consciousness, but it didn't seem like that's the voice you were trying for.

    "varying degrees of nakedness. A virtual sea of humanity." Needed a semi-colon instead of a period which makes the second part is a fragment.

    "Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement and then the actual realization that simply everything was moving, made me feel sea sick for a moment." The comma use here is awkward. The part between the commas feels like a sentence jammed into the middle of another sentence.

    TaV: Overall consistent but the voice felt a bit clinical for the topic.

    Effect: The clinical tone really jarred with the topic for me. I will admit to a very specific bias- I blog regularly about psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for treating trauma. I really enjoyed the idea of the story, a vignette about a trip at Woodstock, but I didn't *feel* the experience. Adding the date and location at separate points, especially the first sentence, really stood out and detracted from the impact. Given the title, the second sentence is the perfect opener but the first is more like a travelogue. I would have loved a more introspective and abstract writing style.

    All that being said I did enjoy this. I smiled at the idea of looking up at the moon whilst tripping on LSD and seeing Neil or Buzz waving back. Brilliant imagery, that. Last night I just re-told the story of how I met Neil Armstrong about a year before he died so this story made me smile.




    Fatclub, Lack of Practice
    SPaG: 3
    TaV: 3
    Effect: 3
    Overall: 9


    SPaG: Overall consistent. The way you used "BigBro" as a proper name means you did not need a comma to call out a shortened version of 'brother.'

    "I took my gloves off and pocketed them, then took out the squeezy bottle, filled with water" The second comma here was unnecessary and changes the meaning and flow of the sentence. Read it without and you'll see what I mean. Being filled with water refers to the bottle directly but the comma offsets them.

    TaV: Overall consistent, conversational and appropriate to the age and maturity level of the PoV character.

    Effect: I never connected with the story. In addition to there not being much emotional impact it felt like a lot of 'tell' and less 'show.' The punny ending of some backside road rash (moon landing) just didn't feel like much of a payoff.

    "BigBro’ beeped the horn, throttled back and we lurched forward." As a rider this stood out to me as being indicative of an inexperienced rider vs one with the skills you ascribed to BigBro. Same with the hitting the throttle too hard at the end...though that could have been deliberate to shake the PoV character off which only the author can answer.

    This looks like your first entry in the monthly challenge. Thanks for entering and I hope you try again next month! Remember that this is all subjective and meant constructively.





    Arachne, One Giant Leap for Barbara
    SPaG: 3
    TaV: 4
    E: 6
    Overall: 13


    SPaG: Overall consistent and steady. The first sentence needs a couple less commas and bit better flow toward the end.

    "On second thought, she covered the sink..." 'On second thought' is more of a first-person perspective phrase than a third. Maybe "After a moment's though" or something like that wold have worked better.

    TaV: Consistent, I read a slightly lighter tone at the end which worked well.

    Effect: I really hated the utter twat of a husband and I got a good sense of Barbara as the long-suffering wife. Her 'snap' was pretty subtle, more of a decision than a snap really, and I wanted a little more delineation between before and after for her but that's small nit I'm picking. I liked that you didn't go into too much description of the flat/house but I could completely imagine a London walk-up in 1969 with a ratty couch and a telly just a bit on the blink.





    epimethus, Plucking the Eagle
    SPaG: 4
    TaV: 4
    E: 5
    Overall: 13


    SPaG: The punctuation around quotes bothers me still. Maybe I'm too rigid with that but it takes me out of the story. Other than that it looks like it would have been a 5.

    TaV: Consistent, if not overly engaging.

    Effect: This was a good, clever story. I really liked the way it only became obvious over the course of the whole story that Neil was an AI, at first I was wondering just what part of history we were in.

    This is another clever entry but I have to be frank that the meat of the story, being engaged and involved emotionally, was missing for me. The setting and scene and concepts were brilliant but the only thing I ever felt was a mild distaste for the two characters who would so blithely mar, for selfish and petty reasons, the site of what may be human kind's greatest single achievement. But I didn't feel about either of them in any real way.







    To summarise:


    Author - Title
    J.J.Maxx
    velo
    Total
    SueC - The Woodstock Moon 13 12 12.5
    Fatclub - Lack of Practice 11 9 10
    Arachne - One Giant Leap for Barbara 15 13 14
    epimethius - Plucking the Eagle 10 13 11.5



    Meaning that taking home the big trophy this month is first-time winner (I think?)


    Arachne
    with
    One Giant Leap for Barbara



    Close behind, we give you


    SueC
    with
    The Woodstock Moon



    Closing out the podium, it's

    epimetheus
    with
    Plucking the Eagle



    So there it is. Congratulations to the winner and the runners up. Thank you for all your entries, judgings and reviews and thank you for reading. Keep writing, keep trying, keep dreaming, keep imagining. From LM towers, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I'll see you all on the other thread.
    Last edited by bdcharles; December 19th, 2018 at 01:12 PM.


    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
    Well done everyone, I really enjoyed all the stories. Thanks so much to the judges and bd for getting that back so quickly, I feared being in a page-refreshing limbo for Christmas so that was a lovely surprise!

    Arachne

  3. #3
    Everyone did a really great job here. Thanks to the judges for being so prompt and all their good work. Congrats Ararchne!! Whoo Hoo!
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  4. #4
    Nice one everyone, especially the judges.

    It's funny, i thought Lack of Practice was the best and would win easily.

  5. #5
    Thanks and well done arachne and everyone else. My original story was 760 words and it took longer to cut that down to under 650 than to write the original!

  6. #6
    accolades all round
    from one of the lurkers
    that enjoyed learning
    from each of you

    seasons best

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