Scores for "The Scarecrow", Literary Maneuvers Nov 2019

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Thread: Scores for "The Scarecrow", Literary Maneuvers Nov 2019

  1. #1
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    Scores for "The Scarecrow", Literary Maneuvers Nov 2019

    The numbers came in; I added them up. Words arrived, which I then I copied and pasted. Now the wait is over and the rejoicing can begin! Because here's how the end result came out:


    SPaG: 5 / 5
    Tone: 4 /5
    Effect: 4 /5
    Uh?: 5 /5
    Total: 18
    Wonderful! What really sells this piece is its mystery. Where the eyes come from, the purpose of the scarecrows, the hints at greater life that the narrator ignores either from fear or complacence: these elements work seamlessly with one another and elevate the entirety of the piece. My complaints are minimal but enough that they knocked me out of the story toward the end. When the raven approaches and our hapless narrator cries “Dang!” it feels like a needlessly humorful insertion into what has otherwise been a perfectly calibrated tale of creepiness and unease. It’s only one word, but its effect was so abrupt that I was reminded I was reading a story; until that moment you had succeeded in pulling me into your world. That said, take this as a compliment; everything preceding that “dang” was sublime and had me leaning forward toward my screen, a fact of which I wasn’t even aware until the last-minute word made me recognize myself leaning back. Otherwise? I can’t fault this. Great job, Sue.

    Scaring the Crows Away
    SPaG: 5 / 5
    Tone: 5 / 5
    Effect: 5 /5
    Derp: 5/ 5
    Total: 20
    The word that comes to mind is texture. The narrator’s voice is plump with the grains of the earth and that durn straw being poked prodded and shoved all whichaways at the mercy of prying hands. In the beginning of the tale I encountered a few awkward clauses that caused me to read twice for clarity and a third time to make my decision about them, but by the time I came to end of your story the cadence of your narrator had melded itself to my own; I decided to read the story a second time. Everything rolled along just fine, and as the finest writing is that which makes no concessions and demands the reader to adjust themselves to it, I figured this was only another mark in your favor. No faults or criticisms. You swiftly and skillfully delineated a handful of characters while never once losing sight of your protagonist and his own unique voice and perspective. Great job.

    The Reaping
    SPaG: 4/ 5
    Tone: 3 /5
    Effect: 4 / 5
    Freebie Deebie: 5 / 5
    Total: 16
    I’m a sucker for humor. Therefore I’m a sucker for this. The writing belies a whimsical talent that should be nurtured, and I would suggest you go all in attempting to uncover this literary side of yourself. My suggestion: learn to incorporate this humor into the tone of the narrative writing. From the start, your piece is clearly written; however: “A crow landed on the field and eyed a silhouette in the distance with suspicion.” Why not simply: “A crow landed on the field?” There is a distinct rhythm to writing that elicits laughter that you touch on effortlessly in your dialogue and the quick one-note responses from your audience (example: “the announcer cleared his throat.” Or, “‘Awww,’ cooed the audience.”) Try to capture this same rhythm in the writing which precedes the punchline. Doing so will ready your readers for the gut-punch well before they’re aware of what’s coming their way. Outside of the dialogue, the narrative voice was flat, making it at odd contrast with the humor that you pulled off. It dulls the effects, whereas tinkering with your narrative style could amplify it. Keep writing, keep experimenting, and keep up the good work.

    Math and Aftermath

    I’ve always disliked critics making names for themselves. The role of the critic should be to identify the writer’s intention, to admit defeat in areas where appropriate knowledge is lacked, and to be forthcoming about their immediate impressions and doubts in regards to the written work. I say this to preface the following: I didn’t like this. But I’m also not so lost up my own ass to think that disliking something means literary talent isn’t blatantly apparent. The narrator’s voice, the interminable unease that seizes him, the turns of phrase, the careful brick-laying of words and effects until the story is rising through the dark towards its hazy conclusion are proof of talent and intelligence. I gave you perfect marks where appropriate; I’d like to add that they’re also very well deserved. Effect falls into 3 only because I didn’t recognize the intent. I have no fondness for numbers; I was the absent student with his nose in Tolstoy at the local library who only returned to class when calls to home threatened that if I didn’t plop my ass back in the seat I’d fail that particular school-grade. I feel as though a mathematical problem is being exposed for my curiosity. I can’t say the surrounding content intrigues me well enough to revisit the problem. Some of the opening phrases, such as “suicidal rainbow,” strike me as being too sentimental given the paucity of established context, and more suited to a poetic piece than a narrative one. Though this immediate impression waned as the writing went on, I never found anything on which to place my feet and feel immersed. This may be the intended effect. I admit I don’t know and am therefore the inappropriate audience for this piece. As for sharing credit where it’s due: the technical skill is obvious and among the best of this month’s entries. I always admire solid writing and this is chock-full of it. Good job.

    The Scarecrow:
    SPaG: 5 / 5
    Tone: 3 / 5
    Effect: 3 / 5
    Uh Pt.2: 5 / 5
    Total: 16
    Clearly written without any notable cracks. I noticed some beautiful phrasing toward the end that hint towards the possibility of a poet. One I liked very much was “sparks from a fire, incense from a censor, up, up, forever into the velvet sky.” Another was the ending sentence. Narratively, I have some complaints. The relationship between Jack and the scarecrow is immediately apparent, but the surrounding details of this relationship, such as Jack’s ailment, his parents, the doctor who claims his malady is incurable, and the scarecrow’s own mysterious abilities to heal him… They appear, one after the other, out of the ether, without anything notable binding them together to give the story weight or its drama any importance. Not everything needs to be revealed, of course. But I would suggest that in future pieces you focus the action around movements that hint toward a past or reveal something of the context which brings your characters together. As is, Jack and the scarecrow are clearly close to one another. Because it’s an unorthodox relationship, your responsibility is to reveal how that relationship came to be. Keep practicing and keep up the good work.


    (650 wds) 29gg

    best-of-month: sneaky inversion invasion
    nicely done, imho! (says no-horror-menu-pleas-er no less!)
    title points
    open/close robust
    1st person solid
    read the single line below.
    superb use of seemingly innocuous language.

    That night in bed, disturbing dreams of ruckus, mayhem and hay dominated; I remember struggling. “

    SPaG: 4/5
    T&V: 5/5
    Evaluation: 4/5
    Reaction: 5/5
    Total: 18/20

    scaring the crows away
    650 47gg

    thanks for submitting.
    total disengagement.
    8 lines.
    right here:
    “He had him a rifle, though it was propped like a cane, knowing there was to be no shootin’, was hard to see sense in shootin’ a feller who don’t got no bones in his arms. “

    a few titles come to mind that might have persuaded different consideration.
    ““Confessions?” “
    let the technicalities slide...consider it a free style point.

    SPaG: 4/5
    T&V: 5/5
    Reaction: 0/5
    Total: 14/20

    the reaping
    583 21gg

    best-of-month: “but wait! THERE'S MORE!”
    dark humor points, parody
    open/close solid
    great selective naming points!
    hold out for ginsu knives/catalog gift card?
    noice use of repetitive refrain: poe would be proud

    SPaG: 4/5
    T&V: 5/5
    Reaction: 4/5
    Total: 18/20

    math and aftermath 47gg

    best-of-month: omg-factor

    There’s a seductive coyness to this one. Lil’ ole me? it wants to say. A secret? Well, maybe I do. Come closer.
    I’m not certain, but this comment seems borderline offensive.
    The scarecrow knows. Somehow, that man-shaped demonic corvid-weed knows what I have in my traitor pocketses. ”
    #650, indeed!!!!

    the scarecrow
    640 16gg

    best-of-month: sonorous imagery
    best-of-month: lowest automated tech error analysis compound score
    open/close-would use reaching words for close(creep?)
    dialogue interlaced, natural

    The night came alive with the sound of crickets, and the beetles ceased their chittering. The dust smelled of sweet corn and chamomile tea and mint, and it whirled around Jack’s head, whirling with the blood-black sky.”

    SPaG: 4/5
    T&V: 5/5
    Reaction: 3/5
    Total: 17/20



    SPaG: 5/5
    T/V: 4/5
    Eval: 2.5/5
    React: 3.5/5
    Total: 15/20

    I enjoyed the humanising aspect of the scarecrows; that was quite touching and at the same time strangely compelling. The writing style is solid and evocative. I would say though that the para 3 backstory is a bit of a peeve, and the story really starts with the humanising of them. I'm not entirely sure what the issue with the ping pong balls was, or what happened at the end where the MC seems to have become a scarecrow themselves, or quite where the title fits in. The old woman seems a little incidental. But throughout, this was a very evocative and intelligent read.


    "Scaring The Crows Away"

    SPaG: 5/5
    T/V: 4.5/5
    Eval: 4/5
    React: 5/5
    Total: 18.5/20

    The voice is kind of a risky choice for me because that sort of down-home, aw-shucks thing is very well used, but it works here. It reminds me in places a little of the voice in 'The Gunslinger' (the first book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series) though it does change a little; at the end I am guessing this is some sort of lynch mob, which is pretty grisly, but again, the voice keeps me engaged and sympathising. Loved the last line. Something about it really hits hard. I could picture this well throughout. Narratively there is not a huge amount to go on - it is the perception of the raising of a scarecrow - but it does what it does very well.


    "The Reaping"

    SPaG: 3/5
    T/V: 3/5
    Eval: 2.5/5
    React: 3/5
    Total: 11.5/20

    There's a very childlike simplicity to this entry which I didn't mind. Couple of tense changes (as in changes of tense) that seemed unintentional, but there was some humour to it too, with the escalating threats to the notional farm in the announcer's spiel. The narrative is fairly linear and conventional which can work but generally works best when coupled to a very unique voice.


    "Math And Aftermath"

    SPaG: /5
    T/V: /5
    Eval: /5
    React: /5
    Total: /20

    Review: well this was mine so yeah I wanted to write something that played on the incredibly incredibly hilarious math/aftermath thing. As such scarecrows were somewhat shoehorned in. The opening line came to me out of nowhere (as did the title) which is often the seed for what I write. When I did the scarecrow's voice I was definitely hearing Pennywise Plot's pretty daft really, in so far as there is one at all, and you can probably tell I cobbled the ending together based purely on how the setup went, aka I pantsed it all.


    "The Scarecrow"

    SPaG: 4/5
    T/V: 4/5
    Eval: 4/5
    React: 3.5/5
    Total: 15.5/20

    Some lovely, evocative phrases. And a very touching story, with the scarecrow gifting his life for Jack. What the medicine was wasn't super clear but the narative impact it had was definitely there. The actual events, the plot as it were, wasn't the most vivid and there were one or 2 tiny SPaGs but barely anything. I could hear the desperation in their voices.


    Formidophia SueC
    SpAG: 5
    TaV: 3.5
    Reac: 4
    Total: 16

    SpAG: no issues noted

    TaV: I struggled with the overly casual tone in some places. “Dang” near the end seemed like serious under-emphasis for having one’s eyeballs pecked at, took me out of the story right at the end.

    Eval: Interestingly creepy take on the prompt. I liked it. The Egypt reference could be dropped with no impact. I think this suffered a bit from the voice, it’s very matter of fact throughout and doesn’t seem to change when the MC discovers his fate.

    Reac: I liked this but I think it could be polished some more. There is also a little ambiguity at the end as to why the woman is screaming? From the crows picking out the eyes seems the most logical but it’s still a bit vague.

    Scaring The Crows Away A. Nony. Mous.
    SpAG: 4
    TaV: 3.5
    Reac: 3.5
    Total: 14.5

    SpAG: “Some of ‘em seemed afraid to come too close, though my mouth was full of straw.” The phrases don’t seem to correlate to each other. Dialect didn’t read well some places

    TaV: Consistent but loses some impact because of some nits with the vernacular. “…seated atop the piler straw massed…” I had to read a couple times to understand this. “Pile-uh” or “Pile-er” would have helped in this case. I find fully phonetic dialect works about 85% of the time but you have to get creative with the other 15%.

    Eval: Overall nicely done but I am still not sure quite what is happening with the MC. Is he already a scarecrow? Is he human that’s had his clothes stuffed with straw? I like ambiguous endings at times, not always ambiguous stories. We have no idea why the MC is in this state.

    Reac: I’m torn on this, it has a lot of potential and I wanted to like it more but some of the technical bits already mentioned made this a harder and more confusing read than I it could have been.

    The Reaping A(lso). Nony. Mous.

    SpAG: 3
    TaV: 2
    Eval: 2
    Reac: 2
    Total: 9

    SpAG: “Caw, caw,” cawed - I cringed hard at these. The dialogue descriptor was not necessary and definitely should not be the same as the actual dialogue…

    TaV: “It looked like the bipedal predator who planted the fields, yet it was immobile.” This did not seem the voice of a crow. It’s very dry and robotic, honestly. The voice and perspective also do a hard left when it switches from Blackie to the salesman. Not very consistent or engaging

    Eval: This was a disjointed read. The sales pitch had too many “and that’s not alls,” it got repetitive quickly. I didn’t care about the features of the robot. Things like still being from the perspective of the crow and using the word ‘flamethrower,’ for example, did not allow me any suspension of disbelief.

    Reac: Some qualitative and quantitative challenge for me with this piece, noted above.

    Math And Aftermath bdcharles

    SpAG: “Paulie said it called his sister Jan into the fields where it filled her depressed little soul with ballads of escape and astonishment and that’s why she fled over the suicidal rainbow.” Bit of a run-on, definitely stumbled over it when reading. No other issues noted.

    TaV: “I’m not certain, but this comment seems borderline offensive.” That one jarred the story out of the voice…it was hard to swallow that his sister is gone and he finds something ‘borderline offensive.’

    Eval: Nice take on the prompt, a bit of Pennywise in this scarecrow but not in an obvious way. I like the way you used a double-dash for the scarecrow’s dialogue, this was very effective at helping ‘hear’ that character in the way I think you intended. Pi as an eternal torture is bloody brilliant.

    Reac: I liked this quite a bit. The concept was creepy and yet fun and somehow you made math an object of terror. My major math problem (see what I did there?) is that the MC says he doesn’t understand irrationals but he seems to have a clue about matrices. Matrices are pretty advanced math as I understand it, way past irrationals, though I may be wrong

    ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord The Scarecrow
    SpAG: 4.5
    TaV: 5
    Reac: 5
    Total: 19.5

    SpAG: “The dust smelled of sweet corn and chamomile tea and mint, and it whirled around Jack’s head,” the number of ‘and’s in this felt excessive. “…as it whirled around…” or something similar would have read more smoothly. No other issues noted.

    TaV: Consistent, a hint of well-applied gothic prose.

    Eval: A sad and hopeful take on the prompt, this works quite well. The descriptions of how the scarecrow ‘moved’ and spoke were extremely well done. “The scarecrow’s cloth-flap mouth quivered, the ghost of a smile.” Well done.

    Reac: The scarecrow and the way it’s described is everything to this story and you nail it. I can hear the scratchy dryness when it ‘moves’ and see the cloth-flap mouth ‘smile.’ Not to little, not too much. Just right. I felt for the scarecrow at the end, I felt the friendship he and Jack had shared. This is the kind of story I hope to be able to write one day.

    Here's the spreadsheet of it:

    Title Ibb -xXx- bdcharles velo total
    "Formidophia" - SueC 18 18 15 16 16.75
    "Scaring The Crows Away" - anon/luckyscars 20 14 18.5 14.5 16.75
    "The Reaping" - anon/Mish 16 18 11.5 9 13.625
    "Math And Aftermath" - bdcharles [JE] - - - - --
    "The Scarecrow" - ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord 16 17 15.5 19.5 17

    And here's the colourful bit, which you might wanna sit down for - because everyone placed!

    In first place, top o' the heap -
    "The Scarecrow" - ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord

    Vying for second chair, it's

    "Formidophia" - SueC tied with "Scaring The Crows Away" - luckyscars

    and keeping 'em all time we got
    "The Reaping" - Mish

    Many congratulations to ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord. And thanks to everyone. Great crop of entries. Crop of entries. Crop. Because there were scarecrows in fields and stuff. Crop of - ah jeez ye're all too good for the likes o' me! Thank you to my fellow judgey types, and thanks for tuning in. Until the next one rolls in

    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
    Congrats to the winners and a big thank you to the judges for the great feedback!
    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

  3. #3
    Thanks for the feedback!

    I was sort of surprised it was so ambiguous. The photographer a reference to a certain prevalence of postcards. The title was a play on words.

  4. #4
    Congratulations to the winners and all involved in this month's competition! Keep up the great work.

  5. #5
    100% placement!
    LM out performs all of the local post-secondary institutions around here!

    congrats all around!!!!
    " I like it, but I donít get it." - Megan WF April LM Challenge

    "Hereby copyright for all things Xonian and Xxildurim is transferred to one named -xXx-" - Mish The Question Game 2458

    i wrote this:
    Hidden Content
    Hidden Content
    Hidden Content

  6. #6
    Congrats to all who wrote! Such a wonderful read, all of it. Thanks to the judges for good work.
    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.


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