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    LM September Scores

    Life is tough, but enough about me and my problems. Here are the scores!


    BornForBurning:

    1. Last Request (The Worst Betrayal)


    Evaluation:

    On a technical side, there was one grammar mistake. "That may so."

    I thought the plot of this story was a clever twist on your chosen prompt.

    The main problem with this story is the characters. They are stale and one-dimensional. In the case of the father, the personality you establish at the beginning completely clashes with his personality in the rest of the piece. In the beginning he is grumpy but dependent, which I thought was a somewhat interesting contrast. However for the rest of the piece he is a flat "wise old dad" cliche that lacks any real emotional weight. Some of this is due to your awkward descriptions, which often feel more like showing than telling. "Joe could see the toll cancer was taking on the old man." Wonderful, but I can't. Try something like this: "The corners of Dad's mouth curled up in a tired old smile, warm but drained by the cancer that ravaged his veins."

    I thought that Joe being so emotionally immature was strange. He is taking care of his dying father, after all. The bitterness should be lurking under the surface, like it often is with family members who haven't resolved their differences. Maybe you need a scene with him and Tom to really establish why he hates him in a believable way. I also didn't really feel his care for his father, which is a pretty major problem. Maybe because at the beginning, he is being yelled at, and then he goes and helps so cheerily. Almost like he's in an abusive relationship.

    I also felt that the note should have been revealed to the reader before Joe murdered Tom.


    Reaction:

    Overall I felt it was plotted fairly well but lacked what is the meat and potatoes of literary flash, namely strong characters and voice. I felt a bit of a spark at the end, I will say that. Mostly, however, I felt irritation, largely because the character's didn't really have any emotional depth to them. It was certainly a perceptible piece of work.

    7/20



    2. Harvest (Crimson Flower)


    Evaluation:
    Some strange continuity things, like the dad putting his hands on the kid's shoulders and then doing it again, with no mention of them being removed. Even if they were removed, it ruins the motif to do it again.

    I didn't realize until the third read that the human had fallen. I guess the flowers ate him? But the way you wrote it made it far too ambiguous initially. I honestly just assumed that he ran away.

    The humans are sacrificing themselves...maybe? I think that was what was happening. But it was weird, because it was quantified as them 'risking their lives.' And then it was explained that they were willingly sacrificing themselves...so they would get paid? Because clearly, they would have to die for the aliens to get the flowers. But why would they sacrifice themselves for something they will never see? Family, I suppose. But you have to explain that, otherwise it just seems weird. And then his father says "they know the risks." The only risk is that of certain death! He makes it sound like it's merely 'dangerous' when it fact they are being killed.


    Reaction:
    I thought the characters were somewhat flat. That's okay in this piece, because it is more plot-driven. But the plot was illogical. So emotionally, this piece really did nothing for me. Some of the imagery was cool.

    5/20




    3. The Wrath of Grominor (The Worst Betrayal, Crimson Flower, Fearsome Beast)


    Evaluation:

    Another plot-driven piece, this one almost entirely so. I felt that Grominor's brother taking Sylfana out of the blue was bad. It should be foreshadowed. It also might make sense if their was some tension in Grominor and Sylfana's relationship, maybe she doesn't love him? Oddly enough, I imagined an alternate story where Sylfana actually loves Curamgir and wants him to take her. I guess my brain wanted an explanation that was more interesting than just "he's evil!"

    The bear killing Gundur was definitely bad, at least the way you did it. This is Grominor's fight. It takes the steam out of the story to have the bear do it. Hell, why does the bear even need to be in the story besides as a plot device?

    It's also strange in the beginning when Gundur is introduced, because it sounds like the kingdom is being plunged into war. Oh, wait, no, a lovely wedding is happening! Eh. These things are not mutually exclusive but they certainly could be blended better.

    The voice was kind of cool. Classic campfire fairytale. It had good movement, largely due to good use of action verbs.


    Reaction:

    This kind of story is definitely difficult to do in a flash format. Still, I felt it could have been much better, with more focus on characters. I will admit my bias towards this piece. Sword & Sorcery is far more interesting to me than literary fiction. There was nothing that really jolted me out of the ride, so to speak. But neither was there anything particularly remarkable. It had good movement, good flow, but it needed better meat & potatoes- better characters, more cool imagery.

    8/20




    4. Liar (The Worst Betrayal)


    Evaluation:

    Good feels. Maybe it's cheap because it's child rape, and that will jolt anyone but I got feels all the same. Reminded me of Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me by Motorhead. I kind of wanted the cat to maul the father, it would be comedic but also very rewarding.

    I had some problems with the first paragraph, namely: 'I always slept better with her there. I felt safe with her there. She made the bad dreams go away.' Pretty show-y, in my opinion. Maybe she jolts out of a nightmare, maybe even of her father? Then the cat is there and it comforts her. It would make their bond feel more real, and would foreshadow the main conflict. I'm also not really sure how to visualize a 'rainbow kitty.' Maybe this is a common colloquialism for a specific breed of cat or something. To me though, it sounded fantastical in a story that was very grounded, which didn't really work.

    'Of course, he lied. He was a man. All men lied. They couldn’t help it.' This line kinda jerked me out of the story as well. It seemed atonal, like something an older girl with more experience and more ability to articulate what they are feeling would say. I imagine this character as being maybe 10? If the mother is saying it, and the girl sort of repeating it, I feel that there should be some implied distance between her and the statement, like she doesn't entirely understand what it means or what she is feeling.

    I think maybe my biggest issue is that I want this to be longer. It cuts out just as it starts to get really interesting, and you've got 400 more words to use. I feel like it ends where most stories begin.


    Reaction:

    Like I said, good feels, especially at the end. Evoked that primal desire to violently protect the weak and innocent. I wanted the cat to go ham. 'Her triangle ears' paragraph definitely the highlight for me. I almost felt cheated when it ended. Give us a more satisfying conclusion, whether it is horrifying or hopeful.

    13/20




    5. Welcome to the Family (Spirit Talk)


    Evaluation:

    Well-plotted, with good imagery. One of those pieces where the sentence-by-sentence prose is generally quite good. The opening sentence seemed comedic. Like, the sun is shining, but there's this tiny cloud that's just hovering over the house? Maybe it was meant to be funny but I got the sense that you were going for foreboding.

    I thought that the ending was a bit of a non-sequitur. The story is set up to be a haunting. Now a haunting with a fuzzy, slice-of-life twist is fine, but you have to set it up. I was engaged right up until the daughter started talking. Clearly, she is the "other half" of this story, besides the spirits. But she is hardly visible until two-thirds of the way through. I envision this as a story where a bitter old ghost finds acceptance through the perceptiveness and warmth of a child. So you've got two core characters, but the second one is hardly developed. As a result, the ending really flew out of nowhere. You've also got to establish that the ghost wants acceptance in the first place. Janice was also focused on a lot for having absolutely nothing to do with the end of the plot.

    To go back to my first point, maybe you were going for comedy. The dialog and characterization of the ghosts was light-hearted, in a good way. I liked the tone. It didn't make me laugh out loud, but maybe it wasn't meant to.

    This line was strange: 'Janice’s head bowing in shame.' It just seemed too physical for incorporeal beings.

    Reaction:
    Good plotting, I enjoyed the story right up until I realized the ending was going to be a non sequitur. Needs stronger characters, but especially needs more focus on the specific ones that matter. Nice imagery, good prose. Clearly you've been at this awhile. I liked the aura of lighthearted mystery.

    12/20




    6. The Worst Betrayal (The Worst Betrayal)


    Evaluation:
    Good pacing. If this was a novel, some hack would call it a 'page-turner.' The plot moves fast, and it's not the kind of thing one should read distracted. Dialog was snappy, and that really helped your characters, who were simple but believable. All the more impressive is the fact that this is the kind of story that really is quite difficult to pull off in a flash format. Despite all that, the weakest point is definitely the plot. I really wanted a more satisfactory ending, one that didn't rely in a deus ex machina (net at the bottom of the pit) and tied up the loose ends as opposed to introducing completely new ones. To clarify, the setup is good, the pay off, not so much. It's established at the beginning that Trent was hired so that Gerard can divorce her, so we know he's a turncoat right at the start. Avoid the pit non sequitur and just go straight for the backstab. We know that Felicity is gonna get double-crossed, the question is how. Having Gerard 'die' really just deflated that main plotline. I imagine an ending scene where Trent has supposedly gone to kill off Gerard and Felicity hears police sirens. She thinks that it is because Gerard is dead, but when they show up at her place it is revealed that Trent is an undercover cop who played them both. But you could probably do any variant of the 'Backstabber gets backstabbed' plot and it would work. Just don't deflate it with death that we know isn't going to amount to anything.

    Oh yes, and that pregnancy 'twist'? Terrible. Completely out of the blue. Why would she even get pregnant with his kid if she hates him so much? Just have him wear a condom.

    Reaction:
    A thriller in 650 words that I really enjoyed, despite the flaws. I knew Felicity was going to die, but I didn't know how, and that really kept the tension up. Like I said, fix the ending.

    14/20




    7. A Flower of Brightest Crimson (Crimson Flower)


    Evaluation:

    Wow, terrible endings really are the theme tonight, aren't they? That's not to say the ending itself was bad. In a different story, it would have been borderline brilliant. The imagery is exquisite. Delicious death-poetry reminiscent of Dissection's Where Dead Angels Lie. Unfortunately, nothing in the rest of the story foreshadows this at all! I suppose the poem is intended as foreshadowing, but it could really mean anything, in any story. Right as I was coming up to the 'climax' (if you could call it that, considering there was almost no buildup) I thought, 'so what is this story about besides some nice imagery and this slightly likeable, slightly vapid couple?' The characters aren't nearly strong enough to work as a pure character study. Maybe keep them essentially the same (madly in love, delicate), but work an edge of morbidity into the male character that would foreshadow the end and make his actions more believable.


    Reaction:
    I want to rate this one lower, but I just can't. The ending was too good. It left the delicious taste of blood and bitter tears in my mouth. Like I said, work that edge in. Maybe cut down on some of the wordiness. Maybe, just maybe, find a way to make the characters a bit more likeable. Some sort of back-and-forth where he is kinda morbid, and she finds it funny but also a bit disturbing...

    15/20




    8. Christmas Past (Spirit Talk)


    Evaluation:

    Very poetic. There was some stuff that was overly purple, like 'she said quietly, under her breath.' If it's under her breath, we know it's quiet. Or this line 'his voice far away, hollowed out and echoey.' Just say 'his voice distant and hollow.' Or 'a hollow echo.' Or 'a distant, hollow echo' if you are really determined to use all three of those words. The characters were good, I could really picture both of them. I thought the second half was much better than the first. It had better atmosphere and the interaction between the characters was much more emotional. I didn't really understand what the girl wanted in the first half, and it didn't really feel like there was much of a relationship between the two of them besides him being grim and callous and her being vaguely curious. The atmosphere reminded me of this old book I had as a kid called The Little Match Girl or something like that.

    Reaction:
    Satisfyingly tragic, with a warm tear-jerker ending. Ironic, considering the girl freezes to death. I felt the first half was decently written on a sentence/paragraph level but lacked emotion. Really focus on building that relationship in the first half. The imagery throughout was good though. Good atmosphere, I'm a real sucker for that, especially when it's freezing cold.

    16/20




    9. Gretel and Hansel (Retell a Fairy Tale)


    Evaluation:

    Well, the opening sentence was a run-on, and a kind of awkward one at that. Not a good place to start. I really thought that the story was gonna end with the fish growing humongous and him getting eaten. That would have been pretty funny, and just deserts. The main problem with this story, regardless, is that the main character sucks. He isn't likable at all. Neither is the plot, especially with that incredibly lame ending. Because he wasn't likable, I was expecting the story to end with him being eaten, like I said. It would have been good setup-payoff structure. He raises the fish to gigantic proportions so he can cheat out a record, fish ends up eating him. The fact that it ends on a poorly-executed gag really deflated any tension the story had to begin with.

    Reaction:
    Unsatisfying, with an irritating MC. I did feel it flowed well, so it didn't annoy me too much up until the ending.

    10/20




    10. Front line, back hand (Adrift)


    Evaluation:

    Weird story. Weird flow, but it did flow. Like a fever dream. I thought the first paragraph was front-loaded with a lot of useless information. It really didn't set up how angry the main character was. I feel like it should have mostly been about how A&E wouldn't accept patients, and how mad the protagonist is about that. That was really the only important point in that paragraph, I felt.

    The formatting was strange. Normally, when someone is talking, and then someone else does something, you start a new paragraph. Maybe your intention was to be disorienting but I really felt that it didn't work. I had to keep doing double-takes to figure out who was saying or doing what.

    The characters sort of made sense to me. I mean, they didn't do anything that really made me go "now why would he do that?" But I also didn't care about them all that much. They mostly came across as angry and selfish. Maybe you really need to bring that justified anger across in the main character. Really show us why he's frustrated. Like that movie Falling Down, if you've ever seen that.

    Reaction:
    The strength of this story is the flow. It's a thrill-laden fever dream. The weakness is everything else. Characters, formatting...I really feel that this could be quite good with a decent round of editing.

    12/20




    11. Where did all our Boys go? (Where Boys Fear to Tread)


    Evaluation:

    A horror story. Booooooooo! It kind of reminded me of campfire story, like something someone came up with off the top of their head. My biggest problem was that the horror elements sort of come out of nowhere. For me, it's a pretty big leap between creepy-looking forest' to 'forest that literally kills you if you step inside it.' But apparently, it only kills you if a camp counselor is there to tell a creepy campfire story? So yeah, horror needs to have rules, and this had none. The logic of the story didn't make any sense to me.

    The imagery was good, but also needed some editing. Like when you say 'it was enchanting' in the opening paragraph. You've already painted a pretty effective description in our heads, you don't need to spell it out to the reader.

    I don't think Everett needs to be named. He never comes in again, and naming him makes it seem like he is important. Maybe have Grayson say the line. He should be brought in earlier anyways, since he is so important to the story.

    The characters were decent. I wish they were somewhat better, but the main point of this story is atmosphere, and they did a good job of contributing to that. Maybe establish a thing where Sebastion feels he needs to protect Jai?

    Reaction:
    Cold, dripping, Entombed-esque atmosphere. And the atmosphere really is the strong point. Now if you could have the plot make sense, and make the characters a bit more root-able, this could be a pretty decent story.

    13/20




    12. Caught in a Web


    Evaluation:

    A horrible, wordy, headache-inducing first couple sentences. But I was engaged by the end of the first paragraph. I guess, I really wanted to like this, but the clumsy wordsmithing and borderline nonsensical plot got in the way. For a story this purple, there was a LOT of telling. 'customers; or rather, victims.' There is a way, way more interesting way to get that idea across. Just say customers, and then describe the creepy stuff that happens to them. "Clientele would reel from her bedroom, eyes wide and skin pallid, trembling like naked bags of bones." Something like that. Not saying you should go for that idea specifically, but you get the picture.

    The ending was really bizarre. She is trying to help him? Or maybe she isn't? If she is, why? What about the main character is special? Is she just trying to seduce him, and this is just what she does? If so, why all the sudden exposition? 'Bled dry of emotion?' Why is emotion so valuable to these farseers? These are all things that need to be somewhat explained, you can't have all of these plot threads just fly out of nowhere right at the end.

    Some of the imagery was good. I kind of liked the atmosphere, but maybe that's just because I like space trailer-trash type settings. There was a lot of wordiness, too. 'The ‘Farseers’ algorithm having concluded the constitution of her fated path that of something less than savoury toward the current fashions of human culture.' I had to read that like three time before I even understood what it meant. I think it means the farseers believe she is a useful pawn in their plan to undue humanity?

    Reaction:
    A decent idea let down by poor execution. Occasionally, real talent pokes through in the form of good imagery and atmosphere, but for the most part this was a confusing mess.

    12/20


    luckyscars:

    Last Request
    SPAG: 4
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 3
    React:3
    Comment: Strong piece.
    I found the general scenario to be rather well-trodden, safe territory, but decently executed and
    flowed as a story within a restrictive word count. Good job.


    Harvest
    SPAG: 4
    TAV: 4
    Eval:3
    React:4
    Comment: Another good one. Strong sense of place and voice. Nice bit of
    world-building for 650 words.


    The Wrath Of Grominor
    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 4
    React:3
    Comment: Another interesting bit of short-order fantasy. Competently
    written but never grabbed. THe Tolkienesque names and the heavy consumation
    of the word count through tell at the start - little of this information
    seemed particularly important to the story. In short, the
    author seemed to bite off a little more than they could chew. This type of
    story needed to be addressed through a longer work.


    Liar


    SPAG: 4
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 3
    React: 3
    Comment: A simple, effective iceberg. Nothing especially new in terms of story
    but the first-person child POV made the difference. The voice was
    pretty consistent but I objected to "He was a man. All men lied. They couldn’t help it"
    - this does not strike as something a child would say, even a molested one.


    Welcome To The Family


    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 3
    React: 2
    Comment: I wanted to really love this. The voice is strong and there's
    a lot of good points. Good dialogue. I just felt sometimes the writing
    felt over-engineered: "too transparent to truly make out" doesn't
    drive home an image. "introspectively inspected our collective thoughts"
    comes across as gooey - maybe it's the alliteration, which doesn't seem
    to fit and gives an unfortunate Suess-like quality. Needs sharpened, but
    a nice concept.


    The Worst Betrayal
    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 4
    Eval: 4
    React: 3
    Comment: Straightforward bit of suspense. Good, natural
    dialogue. Slightly cardboard characters, a few annoying
    cliches - if I have to read about another heart 'skipping a beat'
    I'm going to eat my own face. Other than that, I liked it. Easy reading
    and non-pretentious.


    A Flower Of Brightest Crimson
    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 2
    Eval: 3
    React: 2
    Comment: Didn't really do it for me, which is unfortunate as
    I tend to like this sort of thing. Poem at the beginning didn't seem
    to connect much. Very purple, ostentatious, almost verging on parody at times. Might be some
    fatigue here - tired of stories ending with knife-stabbings. Can't we
    find more creative ways to murder each other, people?


    Christmas Past
    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 3
    React: 3
    Comment: Strong. I would have liked slightly less generic references to Christmas, a
    slightly more place-specific take. Is this New York? Chicago? Beijing? Not totally sure.
    What Department Store? Make it feel like a real place.


    Front Line, Back Hand
    SPAG: 4
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 4
    React: 3
    Comment: This was a weird one. Part of me thought it was beyond absurd - the idea of doctors
    and nurses punching one another, but it also created a surrealist, almost Pythonesque bent I liked. I really enjoyed
    the ironic twist at the end. Good job...I think!


    Where Did All Our Boys Go?
    SPAG: 2
    TAV: 3
    Eval: 3
    React: 2
    Comment: Didn't work for me, although its another concept I might have liked with better
    execution. Too many. One liners. Written. Like this. A lot of choppy.


    Hansel And Gretel
    SPAG: 3
    TAV: 2
    Eval: 3
    React: 1
    Comment: Found it hard to get through. Maybe I was too easily distracted by the comma splices
    and few other disjointed sentences, but I'm not sure I really got the fairytale link here.


    Caught In A Web
    SPAG: 2
    TAV: 2
    Eval: 3
    React: 2
    Comment: I'm willing to admit this may be something that some reviewers might really like,
    but to me this read more like a synopsis shoehorned into a first person narrative. It's
    not just the complete lack of dialogue, it's also the hyperbolic nature of a lot of the writing with
    a ton of sci-fi/dystopian buzzwords. I have tried to be generous with the scoring here in
    recognition that I do think there are some readers who would enjoy this style, but not me.


    SueC:

    1) Last Request (prompt - The Worst Betrayal)
    CmdrTrailblazer
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 3/5
    Overall: 15/20
    Review: Hey Cmdr. Good job with your first LM comp. You packed a lot into this story, and generally I think you did okay validating emotions and reactions. However, there were some minor issues like word repetition, and descriptions that were superfluous, sometimes diminishing the emotional turmoil of the characters. For example, you already told us that Joe was in the kitchen after the funeral, found a letter and then "Joe snatched a knife from the kitchen and quietly opened the envelope and pulled out a letter. He quietly read it until a voice startled him."

    The conversation seemed a little stiff in the beginning. It might have been helpful in the first part to identify the time of night that Joe went to his father's room. That might explain why he was "glaring" at his son, requesting a glass of water. In my mind, I figured out that after a good night's sleep his dad was more pleasant and conversational. Still, there were some inconsistencies, like if it was the middle of the night, why was his father sitting up in bed, where Joe had left him?

    We have three people in your story, all with different goals. Dad, very ill, near death, wants his two sons to be closer to each other after he dies. He hopes his last Will can facilitate that closeness. Joe, his son and caretaker, is worried about his dad, but also carries a serious resentment toward the third character, brother Thomas, who skipped out and left Joe holding the bag when their dad was diagnosed. We know this because of his conversation with Dad, not because of any internal musings we readers were privy to.

    The killing of his brother took me by surprise, but I think it was more because while I knew he was upset with Thomas I didn't realize he was upset enough to kill him, even on impulse. They didn't even struggle. Joe shared no private thought process with us that would reveal this intense level of anger, or hatred really, and I think that would have been helpful. As it stands, the knifing seemed an over-the-top reaction - in my mind anyway - to an awful comment. I could see him arguing, yelling at his brother, name-calling, even throwing a punch, but not murdering him.

    You might consider writing this in the first person - Joe's voice - and see if that changes any of the dynamics. Thanks for your submission, Cmdr. I confirm the prompt in the story. Keep writing! J

    (2) Harvest (prompt - Crimson Flower)
    Trollheart
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 16/20
    Review: Hi Trollheart. I'm guessing this is probably your first try at the LM comp, and I'm glad to see you here. I liked your story, but I did see a lot of telling, rather than showing. The trick with sci-fi, to me, is to draw readers into a tale set in another galaxy or realm. To do that well, you really have to give your imagination a work out, because, in this work for example, you are not just writing a story about an earth-bound father and son at harvest time. You have to figure out how other-world beings might communicate; what would be important for them to share with each other? You have used familiar human ideals, i.e. the bond between a child and parent, so your readers should understand what you are trying to say. Maybe a little too much.

    So in Harvest we have two entities, a father and son. In the first small paragraph you tell us twice that the young Plydth is bored. The only evidence we have of that is his sigh; you tell us the rest, rather than show us. Since you have elected to bestow human characteristics on these two and their relationship, it might have been fun to think of what you see when you see a bored human teen, and have Plydth behave that way. Slouch in his chair - as low as possible without falling out of the seat, look at the sky, drum his fingers, tie and untie his shoes laces, then leave them untied - like that, and I'm thinking you wouldn't have had to use the word "bored" even once.

    The rest of the story follows along those same lines. Dad shows (good job there!) the human emotion of exasperation when his son doesn't respond the way he would like. Plykor then spends time explaining to Plydth about the flowers, and even though Dad himself doesn't understand the "odd chemical process" that makes them flame, he expects his son to be impressed. I did wonder where the two were located in relation to the acre of flowers, that they could just "harvest" them without climbing down from something, or coming out of somewhere, where they had watched the human go up in flames.

    I do think this has potential, but it needs more work, IMO. Not bad for your first try, though, and as you spend more time on WF, I'm sure you will learn several tips on refining that "show/tell" skill. I see evidence of the prompt, and thanks for your submission, Trollheart. Good job!

    (3) The Wrath of Grominor (prompt - The Worst Betrayal)
    Anonymous1
    Spelling/Grammar: 3.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 3/5
    Overall: 14.5/20
    Review: I believe I saw at least three suggestions of prompts, in italics: Worst Betrayal, Fearsome Beast, and Crimson Flower. The thing is, with prompts, they should be an integral part of the story, not just included as a description of one component. I believe Worst Betrayal would fit your story well, but not the other two, so you are okay with incorporating a single prompt.

    This was an interesting read, but I will say I was distracted somewhat by not only the few unpronounceable names, but that so many of them began with the letter "G," (the town, the townspeople, the lord, the shadow people and the dark one) which added somewhat to my confusion over who was doing what. Not a biggie, of course, and I do understand that fantasy stories often have character names that are unlike any we have ever seen before. I'm just reporting on how it affected my general perception of the story. Sylfana and Iltzik were more interesting, and I like being able to pronounce the names I am reading.

    There were some issues with comma use and run-on sentences. ("At the festivities, Grominor realized Sylfana had departed. He looked for her and came upon the stables, there he saw his brother Curamgir, with Sylfana tied to his steed as a prisoner.") There was also some incorrect word use ("With Gundur’s quick swipe she fell smitten in Grominor’s arms"), smitten means love-struck or obsessive. It does not seem to fit here,. but in general I was able to follow the story line. I was confused about why his brother would even take Sylfana, when there had been no mention in the story that he was also in love with her, but I know that sometimes 650 words is just not enough to flesh everything out.

    I do think you could do more with this, with some work. Try reading your story out loud so you can catch the grammar issues. Thanks for your submission. Keep working on it!

    (4) Liar (prompt: The Worst Betrayal)
    Seigfried007
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 17/20
    Review: Seigfried, this is a powerful little piece. I love the value of her cat; how she saw the animal as a safe harbor. Personally, I often find it difficult to critique this type of writing, because I know it's emotional and sometimes the standards are just put aside for the value of the punch, where the real power comes from.

    But this is my responsibility as judge. Your work certainly had an impact, but there were some incomplete sentences and some areas needing a little fleshing out. When saying that all men are liars, I couldn't tell if it was the MC or her mother's words. Was this her own experience, or her mom's venom? In my experience (I've had cats my entire life), they are not your typical protectors. They will react as you describe, if they feel there is a danger to themselves. Having said that, I suppose it is not beyond the realm that a cat would react to a general sense of danger approaching - I'll give you that. But I would suggest, for this work, focusing more on the comfort the kitty provides her, in her otherwise chaotic and painful world. The cat physically, after all, would be no deterrent to the stepdad's abuse. As he said, he wants her to be quiet, like the kitty.

    There were a few formatting issues, nothing major. Just a thought - you might try writing this in first person, present time, to enhance the drama and danger.

    For example: I hear footsteps in the hallway and I am afraid. I pull my blanket up. If I'm asleep, maybe he’ll leave me alone. . . The doorknob turns.

    You fulfilled the requirement for the prompt inclusion. Good job, Seigfried. Thanks for your submission.

    (5) Welcome to the Family (prompt: Spirit Talk)
    Riptide
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 3.5/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction:4 /5
    Overall: 15.5/20
    Review: Riptide, this piece has a lot of potential. I do think that having only 650 words available to you, left some confusing gaps. I really loved the antics of the ghosts, based on how and what condition they were in when they passed. I thought that was very creative and inspired. But then I was left wanting to know why those particular ghosts were existing in that particular dwelling. Did they all die there, or were there other reasons? Had the house stood empty for so long because of their presence and why was there a cloud over it, even on sunny days?

    Toward the end of the story, the living daughter, Julie, informs the ghosts that they (the family) will only respond to them if the ghosts talk to them. She acts as if that is a given, but how would the ghosts know that? And why didn't the living tell the ghosts when they first moved in, or when the lights started flickering?

    At several spots, you use plural pronouns, where a question or comment is singular. For example, When Janice answered Ron's criticism as to why she wasn’t on watch, with the question, "Where were you, Mr. Omnipotent?" She was answered by we. At the end, they all named themselves "Wanderer," as if the group of ghosts was really one entity, even though you had described them as quite individual. Also, you make a point of naming all the ghosts who decide to leave, but not those who remained to witness the breakthrough with the family.

    Like I said, Riptide, I do believe this has a lot of promise. If you could fill in those gaps and provide more information on your characters, I think you would have something special. Your prompt was clearly included. Keep writing and thanks for your submission. J

    (6) The Worst Betrayal (prompt: The Worst Betrayal)
    Anonymous2
    Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 16.5/20
    Review: Well, this was quite a ride. I was excited to keep reading . . . All characters are real stinkers, aren't they? I loved how you were able to get that entire story in, all the twists and turns - good job!

    Here we have a story from the viewpoint of a woman who is having an affair with the man her husband has hired to kill her. Tables turn. Trent, the hired man, gives her drugs to kill Gerard, but comes off smelling like a rose as the woman dies from poisoning instead. Clever having Trent's phone number in her husband's phone. Her husband being in the shower gives her the opportunity to know of some kind of connection between him and a man she is seeing. This was a good story, but I did have some questions.

    The beginning. What made Felicity feel there was something "wrong" going on, something that would make her check her husband's phone in the first place? And if Gerard "appeared behind her," wouldn't he have seen her put his phone back on the coffee table? And if she had the drug to kill him, why did she take a risk in public to push him over the edge of the overpass? How was the drug administered to her?
    Well, I liked this story, even with all the holes. Keep writing, and thanks for your submission. J

    (7) A Flower of Brightest Crimson (prompt: Crimson Flower)
    Anonymous3
    Spelling/Grammar: 5/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 5/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 18/20
    Review: Well. This is disturbing with an ending not at all what I was expecting. Kudos for that. It's like a snippet in time, because there was no forewarning or following consequences to speak of. A perfectly reasonable man, behaving in a Victorian manner with much deference to his female companion . . . and then boom! My goodness, women have changed since those days. At any rate, it was well-written and I could see no formatting or SPaGs to speak of.

    It was confusing in some spots, most specifically when the gun was fired. Toward the end of the story, I couldn't tell if William or the driver had been shot. At first, I thought the driver had shot William (following instructions?), but his actions after the gun was fired seemed more likely he had shot the driver, and it was his blood splattered on Williams shirt. No witnesses then, as he murdered his companion and exposed her heart.

    Not too bad a story, but just needs some clarification, IMO. You did make use of the prompt by the same name. Keep writing and thanks for your submission. J

    ( Christmas Past (prompt: Spirit Talk)
    undead_av
    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 5/5
    Overall: 16/20
    Review: Very poignant. One of the things I really like about this style of writing is the focus on an intimate, small time-frame in one person's life. We readers are not privy to the circumstances that brought Claudia to such a cold, harsh place; there is no need to know. We don't know if the shade, Reynold, is real or just a figment of her imagination. We are instantly immersed in the chill of her existence, one you can feel as you read. This is like a small moment in a life; like a small gesture that no one sees, or tears that are quickly wiped away.

    Here we have Claudia, who is at the end of her days. She knows a cold few of us will ever experience, and her only companion is Reynold, a spirit whose death as a teenager left him bitter and unwilling to provide much comfort to the girl Claudia. She will join him soon, they both know that, but it's little to look forward to. There are hints that the girl has lived a quite different life in the past, but how she lost those comforts is left to our imagination.

    As far as stories go, Undead, this isn't much of one. But that is not to say it doesn't have an impact, or isn't important. There were a few grammar and formatting issues, incomplete sentences, a couple of punctuation blips, but I liked this because it conveyed so much emotion in such a small time period. The prompt is definitely present. Thank you for your submission - and keep writing. J

    (9) Front Line, Back Hand (prompt: Adrift)
    epimethius
    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 15 /20
    Review: Hi, epimethius. So here we have Dr. Lindberg, a GP, who apparently is somewhat overworked and tired of being given what he assumes is a "lesser" responsibility of triaging patients. He goes on to express his dismay in a most physical way toward a nurse who is equally burnt out, and by the end of the story, Dr. Lindberg is willingly joining the triage queue - on the other end of the line.

    I see some issues from the first paragraph. Personally, I am not a fan of acronyms or even simple initials, until after they have been used in full form the first time they appear in the story. I do know what GP stands for (general practitioner), and because I watch a ton of British TV, I also know that A&E generally refers to a hospital; otherwise I would not know that. There were some punctuation issues, and dialogue, which can be tricky. To write dialogue well, you can't always rely on the way people speak. You need to make sure the punctuation is appropriate, while still conveying the meaning.

    Actually, I think this can be a pretty fair short story, but needs more fleshing out. It highlights a systemic problem that can realistically occur in a hospital/clinic setting. Our GP, Dr. Lindberg, works for an Urgent Care Center, who most likely sees walk-ins who he potentially refers to the hospital for admission. I didn't really understand how he came to be triaging for A&E, if he works for Urgent Care. How did that happen? He tells us that getting patients admitted to the hospital has become a "nightmare," because he is not part of the A&E team.

    All very realistic, but I think it just needs a little more work and clarification - keep writing! The prompt was included and thanks for your submission, epimetheius. J

    (10) Where Did All Our Boys Go? (prompt: Where Boys Fear to Tread)
    Anonymous4
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 5/5
    Evaluation: 5/5
    Reaction: 5/5
    Overall: 19/20
    Review: Woa! I was on pins and needles at the end. Too abrupt! You didn't use all of the words available to you, and I think the very ending could have been fleshed out a tiny bit more.

    You did a really good job of building the tension throughout. We have a troop of boys hiking on a dirt path that passes by a very dark, drippy wood. One wants to wander in, but is told no, not this forest. Then the troop leaders tells the story of another troop and as he speaks, his little gang begins to disappear in the fog, one by one. Your description of time and place was well done; I think most of us know that the northwest (Oregon) is often rainy and foggy. I could see everything in your story, just as you had planned.

    I have no criticism to speak of, except that abrupt ending. You chose short sentences to add to the feeling of dread. The boys words were appropriate for the situation, incomplete sentences and all. The prompt was definitely included. Good job and thanks for your submission! J

    (11) Gretel and Hansel (prompt: Re-writing a fairy tale)
    Fat Club
    Spelling/Grammar: 4/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 5/5
    Reaction: 5/5
    Overall: 18/20
    Review: I liked this one, Fatclub. The beginning was a little unclear to me, but once I got into the story and understood what was going on, it was a fun read. Focusing on that all-too-human need to exceed and win at something, even through devious means, you did a good job in your depiction of this retired gent's motives.

    The descriptions in the beginning of the story were a bit like a catalogue. You might have made the price of things a little more general, instead of so specific and of course the nod to us Americans so we knew in dollars how much £3,999 were. Also, in regards to your prompt, the re-telling of a fairy tale, it was a bit of a stretch. Other than naming the fish Gretel and Hansel, there was really little relation to the original story, as far as I could see. Ordering the fish from France, instead of finding the fish himself (like the witch in Hansel and Gretel) and putting them in the tank (the oven?) and fattening them up, might apply. Like I said, it's a little bit of a stretch, but I'll give it to you.

    Punctuation was a little off with too many (IMO) semi-colons. Periods might have been a better choice since sentences appeared over-long. Short sentences sometimes enhance the tension.

    But the ending was awesome! Seriously, to make the connection too late that these fishies were, after all, a boy and girl, it certainly wouldn't be beyond the realm that something would happen between them in that large, homey tank of theirs, and there you have it. If he had only done the weigh-in first! Vane man. Dumping those 4 oz of fish eggs in the process was a tragedy! LOL.

    Good job, Fatclub - always an enjoyable read from you. Keep writing and thanks for your submssion!

    (12) Caught in a Web (prompt: Caught in a Web)
    Anonymous5
    Spelling/Grammar: 3/5
    Tone/Voice: 4/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Overall: 15/20
    Review: This is a story about a penal system, which possibly holds humans or remnants of humanity, in certainly a different form than we typically know … or they are not human at all. The focus of the story seems to be on a being called Taromine, who had been "exiled from Earth before she was born." Despite this, Taromine had knowledge of Earth - smoke, dirt, a blue sky, etc. but she would never tell others what she knew(?) The MC is unknown as far as his origin or genetics.

    In the first paragraph, there is a ton of information. The sentences are overlong and syntax seems a problem. ("She’d been exiled from Earth before she was born- the rumour went; the ‘Farseers’ algorithm having concluded the constitution of her fated path that of something less than savoury toward the current fashions of human culture.") I can see this being two or three sentences here. As written, it's difficult to understand.

    There are some spots that are made even more difficult because of additional, sometimes superfluous wording: "I didn’t know it was her was when our paths first crossed."

    I really am trying to understand this story. What I feel is that I am reading about some kind of network, where the beings referred to are in a web of sorts and are often punished by others who had been exiled from Earth earlier; punished by things they will never know or see. They are frequently drained of emotion or liquids and must go to dispensary vaults to be replenished. Our MC meets Taromine at one of these vaults and she is very seductive, but only her eyes are visible. MC tells us she oozes sex, but admits there is not a hint of femininity. She brings him back to her lair, and it looks as if he is going to die there. I believe he expects to die there. Even though he talks about dying, he is also expecting to be reassigned to another penal colony at some point. She tells him things he doesn't understand, including that she loves him, and then I think he doe die.

    I know this must fall under a particular style of writing and I think this must have been a challenge with only 650 words. I can clearly see the prompt. Thank you for your submission. J


    So that's that, now hear this:

    Entry
    BornForBurning
    luckyscars
    SueC
    Total
    "Last Request" - CmdrTrailblazer 7 13 15 11.667
    "Harvest" - Trollheart 5 15 16 12
    "The Wrath of Grominor" - Anon (Mish) 8 13 14.5 11.833
    "Liar" - siegfried007 13 13 17 14.333
    "A Flower of Brightest Crimson" - Anon (velo) 15 10 18 14.333
    "Welcome to the Family" - Riptide 13 11 15.5 13.167
    "The Worst Betrayal" - Anon (Tim) 14 14 16.5 14.833
    "Caught In A Web" - Anon (Badgerjelly) 12 9 15 12
    "Christmas Past" - undead_av 16 12 16 14.667
    "Front line, back hand" - epimetheus 12 14 15 13.667
    "Where did all our boys go" - anon (BigBagOfBasmatiRice) 13 10 19 14
    "Gretel and Hansel" - fatclub 10 9 18 12.333


    Meaning what? Meaning that in first place we have:

    The Worst Betrayal
    by
    Tim


    In second we have

    Christmas Past by undead_av

    And rounding out the top, it is tied between

    A Flower of Brightest Crimson by velo & Liar by siegfried007

    Well done everyone, and for taking a chance on this new format comp. Thanks as always to the judges; sadly were one down this time but it cannot be helped. Now skip on over to October's while I update the judging guide


    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
    Supervisor velo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Probably on a boat in Puget Sound
    Posts
    2,325
    Blog Entries
    2
    Thanks, bd and judges. Always appreciate the effort.
    "Don't fuck with writers, we will describe you." -unknown

    My blog- Hidden Content thoughts on trauma and healing through psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy

    "When a child is abused, he or she will often internalise that abuse as deserved. It is a cruel reality that a child needs the parent so much, is evolutionarily programmed to trust them so implicitly, that when a parent is abusive the child will take the blame rather than completely upend their world and blame the person they depend on for survival." -velo

  3. #3
    Congrats to the winners. I'm glad Tim won, it's cool to see something so bizarrely anti-flash win a flash competition. But I'm sticking to my guns that the ending needs to be fixed.
    Dead by Dawn!

  4. #4
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Posts
    762
    Hey thanks guys. I came second-last, but thanks for voting for me at all, and it looks as if it was tight enough. My score of 12 wasn't so far behind those who won, so at least I didn't embarrass myself.
    Uplifting. Thanks again.
    TH
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  5. #5
    Oh my goodness! So happy to take home half a bronze on this.


    One thing I think was especially neat in those comments was that our lady judges assumed the child's gender as female. I left the excerpt vague on purpose, but I do think it's interesting and wonder what the split on people who assume this kid's a girl is.

    Thanks to all the judges for their super awesome feedback and time!
    Last edited by seigfried007; October 3rd, 2019 at 10:03 AM.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  6. #6
    Member CmdrTrailblazer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Middle of Nowhere
    Posts
    30
    Thanks judges for a fair and honest assessment of our scores. The cristism is appreciated and I'll probably be referring to it frequently in regards to my other writing. Great job, the rest of y'all and I look forward to trying again. Until next time.
    Fire is beautiful and dangerous. It destroys and plants seeds for rebuilding. Small or large, fire both contributes and takes away - just like people.

  7. #7
    Thank you to the judges and to everyone who entered, great effort! Congrats Tim!

    I thought Trollheart's "Harvest" was very decent and I'm surprised it didn't get a higher score.

    Also a quick note to one of the judges regarding this comment:

    "With Gundur’s quick swipe she fell smitten in Grominor’s arms"), smitten means love-struck or obsessive.

    smitten

    /ˈsmɪtn/
    Learn to pronounce


    • past participle of smite.

    smite

    /smʌɪt/
    Learn to pronounce

    verb
    past participle: smitten[


    • 1.
      LITERARY
      strike with a firm blow.
      "he smites the water with his sword"
      • ARCHAIC
        defeat or conquer (a people or land).
        "he may smite our enemies"
      • (especially of disease) attack or affect severely.
        "various people had been smitten with untimely summer flu"
        2.

    • be strongly attracted to someone or something.
      ]"she was smitten with the boy"


    P.S. Regarding this story, I finished reading Tolkien's "
    The Silmarillion" about a month ago so I tried my hand at writing in a similar style. Alas, unsuccessfully it seems.
    Last edited by Mish; October 3rd, 2019 at 02:52 AM.
    I threw a glance at humankind and saw them treacherous and feeble.
    Severe judges, cruel, unkind and fools who are always close to evil.
    Before their frightful, anxious mob, indifferent hate forever rages.
    Not learnt the lessons from the ages!
    What use are wise and tempered words?
    "Sometime, in my sweet blindness" - Pushkin

  8. #8
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Where the sour turns to sweet
    Posts
    762
    Thanks for the kind words, Mish. Very much appreciated.
    Oh, and I was of course remiss in not adding my congratulations to all the winners. Forgive an old man his absent-mindedness.
    Where am I again? Who are you?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Thank you everyone. This came as a surprise.

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