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Scores August 2021 LM: Picture Prompt (1 Viewer)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Scores time! We had 14 entries this month, our most for quite a while. But who shimmied up the greasy pole to stand atop the literary molehill?

StoryHJCvrangerRobertKeganAverage
Spirit of the North by Matchu1413151614½
The Voice of the Trees by TheChristianWitness1716½171516⅜
The Muttering Sophosopher by bdcharles17½14½15½1214⅞
Home by LadySilence14½13½141213½
Visitors by Noisebloom1717½16½1616¾
The Witching Hour by JFB1618½181917⅞
The Minimalist’s House by SueC16½18181717⅜
Moonbeats by Foxee18½1617½2018
A Glow by vrangerJudgeJudgeJudgeJudgeJudge
Finally Home by Sinister1717191817¾
Keeping it Real Estate by Ibb171516½1515⅞
Summer’s Eve by Megan Pearson1816½181817⅝
A Voice in the Dark by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord1615½15½1515½
I Saw a Man Who Wasn’t There by bazz cargo1517141214½

In an extremely tight contest, four entries were within three-eighths of a point of each other at the top, but the top three are...

1st: Moonbeats by Foxee
2nd: The Witching Hour by JFB
3rd: Finally Home by Sinister

Many thanks to our judges, Kegan Thompson, vranger and robertn51. Here are the comments...

Spirit of the North by Matchu



SPaG: 3/5

  • Yes, and this,’ – Missing opening quotation marks.
  • As always, your use of grammar is far from conventional!


Tone and Voice: 3.5/5

  • A quirky style of storytelling.
  • I did feel like I was mostly able to follow what was going on this time.


Evaluation: 4/5

This fits the picture prompt, no problem. Quite an idiosyncratic take.



Reaction: 3.5/5

  • The story about how the lamppost came to be there is interesting and well told.
  • The story then takes a turn for the surreal with the ear business.
  • I did find the conclusion to be lacking a certain punch; it seemed to end abruptly.


TOTAL: 14/20



++++++++++++++++++++



The Voice of the Trees by TheChristianWitness



SPaG: 4.5/5

  • [he had become a part the territory] – Missing “of”.
  • [woolen socked feet] I think “woolen-socked” should be hyphenated, as it modifies a noun.


Tone and Voice: 4.5/5

  • Some pleasing descriptions, especially of the forest and the night in the first paragraph.
  • The result is a strong, atmospheric story.


Evaluation: 4/5

The prompt is met, no problem.



Reaction: 4/5

  • A wholesome tale; I must admit, I was rather expecting him to get jumped by a werewolf or something along those lines.
  • The ending did feel a little rushed. It’s a bit odd that John’s theorising about religious matters right after a missing child gets found. A case of the word limit being a trifle tight, perhaps.


TOTAL: 17/20



++++++++++++++++++++



The Muttering Sophosopher by bdcharles



SPaG: 5/5

No errors found.



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

No problems here. The personality of the sophosopher was well-painted.



Evaluation: 3.5/5

While the MC does start out in his shack, that setting doesn’t feel central to the story, and indeed, he leaves halfway through.



Reaction: 4.5/5

  • I enjoyed it. We don’t really know why the world’s ending, but that’s not what the story’s about, so much as the reaction of people to it.
  • Usually, panic is portrayed in these apocalyptic scenarios, so glum acceptance was quite a fresh take.
  • Somewhat unsure how a sophosopher differs from a philosopher.
  • I can understand the MC’s urge to do something meaningful in this situation, without quite being sure what that something should be.


TOTAL: 17.5/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Home by LadySilence



SPaG: 3.5/5

  • [she was the one who often took her friends away] Should be “his friends”, I think (the orphan boy’s friends)?
  • ["Are you sure you want him?" He asked the woman who brought him in front of that house so black.] Small h for “he”.
  • Also, it seems that it should be the woman asking the men that previous question, instead of the other way around.


Tone & Voice: 3/5

  • I quite like the somewhat poetic structure of the sentences.
  • There are problems with the excessive use of “she” and particularly “he”, which become repetitive and often make it hard to work out which character is being referred to. Giving the boy a name could alleviate this.


Evaluation: 4.5/5

Quite a clever use of the prompt – the house appears strange and intimidating only because it’s unfamiliar.



Reaction: 3.5/5

  • A trifle short, and the above-mentioned issues make it a little awkward to follow what’s going on.
  • Nonetheless, a simple and uplifting message, well conveyed. I particularly liked the final line.


TOTAL: 14.5/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Visitors by Noisebloom



SPaG: 4.5/5

  • [Townsfolk would come by to keep me “informed”, bring over cookies, or for some other trivially mundane matter, and it was annoying, at first.] I think, in a list like this, each item could be said to share the opening stem of the sentence, which in this case is “Townsfolk would come by to…” Thus:
  • Townsfolk would come by to keep me “informed”
  • Townsfolk would come by to bring over cookies
  • Townsfolk would come by to for some other trivially mundane matter, and it was annoying, at first
  • The third of these doesn’t work as its own sentence. If you added “to” before “bring over cookies”, then you’d be effectively removing that word from the stem, and the third point would then work.
  • Alternatively, you could rework the third point to something like, “or prattle on about some other trivially mundane matter”, and then it would work with the “to” inserted.
  • I hope that made sense – this is probably the most minute nitpick I’ve ever docked someone half a point for!


Tone & Voice: 4/5

Strong on the whole, the only bit that stuck out to me was, “…my rotund, middle-aged belly, warmed by the hot, insulated liquid. I give my sprawling, unkempt beard a stroke…”. The pattern, adjective-adjective-noun is used three times in quick succession, and is a little jarring.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

The isolated MC fits very well with the picture.



Reaction: 4/5

  • A chilling twist! The surprise is slightly dampened by the content warnings, but I guess there’s not much to be done about that.
  • This story comes to a natural end, which is one of the hardest things to do when working with a word limit.


OVERALL: 17/20



++++++++++++++++++++



The Witching Hour by JFB



SPaG: 4/5

  • [momentarily the shotgun came free] This would mean that the shotgun was briefly free, before going back to not being free, which I don’t think is what you mean (Maybe “presently” instead of “momentarily”?)
  • [to forgive any transgress] Should be “transgression”.


Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

You paint the scene well, no problems here.



Evaluation: 4/5

  • [a derelict house with windows like broken teeth and rotten pickets around an overgrown lawn] This doesn’t quite match the house in the picture.
  • You capture the atmosphere of the painting well, though.


Reaction: 3.5/5

I quite enjoyed the story, but I’m not clear on who he’s going to fight at the end, or why his mother was being attacked. That detracts a little from a strong entry.



OVERALL: 16/20



++++++++++++++++++++



The Minimalist’s House by SueC



SPaG: 4.5/5

“Minimalists are people who…” The father is speaking in this paragraph. When we move to the next paragraph, the expectation is that the son will now be speaking, but it’s still the father. While this isn’t strictly against the rules, I’d suggest combining these into a single paragraph for clarity.



Tone & Voice: 4/5

No major problems – the only bit that stuck out was when the father was described as having said something more calmly, then shouted in the next paragraph without much provocation. That seemed a bit inconsistent.



Evaluation: 4/5

  • The painting seems to be at night, while your story is at daytime.
  • It’s a nice change to have the house as part of a neighbourhood, rather than isolated as most entries have. That gives your story a different feel to it.


Reaction: 4/5

A wholesome story with a worthy moral message – you can’t go wrong with that.



OVERALL: 16.5/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Moonbeats by Foxee



SPaG: 4.5/5

[Well perhaps that last one, when the thunder of their own internal clock roars in their ears during ecstasy the heart makes itself known.] It feels like the comma here should be a hyphen - the second clause provides explanation of the first.



Tone & Voice: 5/5

Just the right level of poetry in your prose. It’s easy to be either too mechanical or too flowery, but this story walks the line very well.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

The picture fits this story very well.



Reaction: 4.5/5

  • I’m a little unclear on why he brought his grandmother with him on this expedition.
  • Other than that, no complaints. A well-written story with a satisfying little twist at the end.


OVERALL: 18.5/20



++++++++++++++++++++



A Glow by vranger



SPaG: 4.5/5

[Mr. Jordan, he owns the store, called me to the counter one morning] Punctuation seems a bit off here. I’d suggest “(he owns the store)”, using brackets.



Tone & Voice: 4/5

A solid and consistent voice, with some nice descriptions of the scene.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

Another story that captures the mood of the picture well.



Reaction: 4/5

  • I had trouble following which time period we were in at times. Maybe rejigging the story slightly and using present tense for the sequence where he finds the old man could work?
  • Still, it’s a well-written story with an uplifting ending.


OVERALL: 17/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Finally Home by Sinister



SPaG: 4.5/5

[“Do you need anything?” She asked, raising her voice.] Small s in “she” here (that question mark should be treated the same as a comma).



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

  • The different characters are distinguished well.
  • I liked the line: [There was a flash of drowned fury in her wet eyes.]


Evaluation: 4/5

The house doesn’t feature throughout the whole story, but does play a significant part at the end.



Reaction: 4/5

  • Quite a grim tale. I guess Ryan and Ellen were killed in the crash?
  • I do wonder whether the crash might have been included at the end of the first section; it seems a bit of an abrupt jump ahead as it stands.
  • Still, good treatment of some difficult subjects.


OVERALL: 17/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Keeping it Real Estate by Ibb



SPaG: 4.5/5

[clubbed foot and notable limp] The last bit seems a bit redundant (is it possible to have a clubbed foot but no limp?)



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

Credit for a very distinctive voice, (even if the long sentences can be a bit tricky to read)!



Evaluation: 4/5

The picture prompt is correctly used in the story.



Reaction: 4/5

  • A clever twist!
  • The stream of consciousness writing does risk making the reader lose track of the story, but it’s a difficult style to get right, and I think you do a good job.


OVERALL: 17/20



++++++++++++++++++++



Summer’s Eve by Megan Pearson




SPaG: 4.5/5

“Anthers” are part of a plant, I think (rather than a moth)?



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

  • I feel like you captured the spirit of the moth very well.
  • Just a few lines I found harder to follow, e.g.: “I bounce along, standing still, small, so unlike the life that is me draining away with each passing moment.”


Evaluation: 4.5/5

This fits the picture prompt – quite clever to use nocturnal insects to match the night time setting.



Reaction: 4.5/5

I do like stories with anthropomorphism, and I appreciate a happy ending. This is nice work.



OVERALL: 18/20



++++++++++++++++++++



A Voice in the Dark by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord



SPaG: 4.5/5

[Ceramics 1001] Should this be “Ceramics 101”?



Tone & Voice: 4/5

Nothing fancy, but you tell the story clearly.



Evaluation: 3.5/5

While the story does start out on a darkened street, the main focus is the knight and his fight in the power station.



Reaction: 4/5

  • We’re rather dropped in the middle of the story. The basic framework of the good guy against the bad guy is easy to deduce, but why Noah is wearing a suit of armour is less obvious.
  • That said, I liked the mechanic of him not speaking audibly, and the final line is satisfying.


OVERALL: 16/20



++++++++++++++++++++



I Saw a Man Who Wasn’t There by bazz cargo



SPaG: 4/5

  • [Kate, went outside and watched the tail lights shrink off into the distance.] Superfluous comma – if you read the sentence aloud, there’s no natural pause here.
  • [Walter, was one of life’s wrecking balls.] Same problem.


Tone & Voice: 3.5/5

The sentences feel a trifle short and staccato while you’re describing actions, (The paragraph beginning “Kate, went outside…” is an example of this.



Evaluation: 4/5

This fits the picture, no problem.



Reaction: 3.5/5

You set the scene well, but the impactful moments are more at the start of the story. Without a twist or dramatic event to finish on, the ending seems quite abrupt.



OVERALL: 15/20



++++++++++++++++++++

This is my first time as a judge, and while I found it entertaining and enriching to examine each story in this much detail, I also found it very uncomfortable to critique respected WF author colleagues in the context of comparing their work. I think I’d like Judges to be as anonymous as some of the entries are! LOL I enjoyed each entry, and only the necessity of grading is responsible for higher and lower scores. Please take pity on the poor judges and don’t hold a grudge!
I was a bit surprised that virtually every entry ignored the glow in the background. I took the prompt seriously, and if you didn’t incorporate all of its elements, I had to mark down in Evaluation, which also typically influenced my score on Reaction. So the largest differences in my score have to do with that connection, because otherwise I’d have had a very hard time making different grades based solely on writing skill.

*********
Spirit of the North
SPAG 5
T&V 3
Evaluation 3
Reaction 2
Total 13

This piece read like a joke moving towards a punchline, but the punchline never hit me. Disjointed elements like the ear and the potato seemed forced intentional disconnections. This word limit is low, and I think things like that need a tie-in to explain their presence. If the tie-in can’t be achieved within the word limit, possibly developing something else already in the story would make it flow better. There were a couple of awkward word choices, but also some very nice throw-in words to add atmosphere. Development of atmosphere was pure, I’d have just liked to see as much richness in the story as the prose.

*********
The Voice of the Trees
SPAG 5
T&V 4
Evaluation 4
Reaction 3.5
Total 16.5

I thought the writing was beautiful. The atmosphere fed the tension very well. I feel a bit guilty about descending to 3.5 for Reaction, but I felt the last half lacked the punch of the first half. As I remarked on another story, that’s likely a limitation of the format rather than the writing. Another 2-300 words might have allowed the conclusion to reach the fullness of the opening. Longer pieces by this writer would interest me.

*********
The Muttering Sophosopher
SPAG 4.5
T&V 4
Evaluation 2
Reaction 4
Total 14.5

This is a well-written piece, and it perfectly hit the tone I believe the author intended. Sadly, I gave it a major mark-down because I got no sense of connection to the prompt. There was a sentence fragment near the end which seemed out of place, and I would have liked to see the author include his own definition of the word “Sophosopher”.

*********
Home
SPAG 3.5
T&V 4
Evaluation 3
Reaction 3
Total 13.5

The punctuation looks meant to be more poetic, but this isn’t the poetry competition, so I have to be fair to the other entrants and mark down things like the compound sentences on separate lines with no punctuation. I liked the stylized tone to a point, however it made the piece a bit choppy in places. On the whole, it was a positive and sweet story.

*********
Visitors
SPAG 4.5
T&V 4.5
Evaluation 4.5
Reaction 4
Total 17.5

This is an expertly written little story, and while its creepy conclusion isn’t normally what I’d be choosing to read, I can’t deny that the writing is effective. The descriptions and actions are vivid, but with a feeling of effortlessness that makes the writing stand out. I have to say this was not my favorite story of those submitted so far insofar as reading pleasure was concerned, but I feel it was well written. I’m hoping the coyote returns … rabid. ;-)

*********
The Witching Hour
SPAG 4.5
T&V 5
Evaluation 4.5
Reaction 4.5
Total 18.5

Wow. One comma that should probably have been a period, one word that should probably have been an adverb (absentminded —> absentmindedly), and the reader’s want of more resolution were all that separated this story from collecting ALL the points. It’s another one in the group that begs for more.

*********
The Minimalist’s House
SPAG 4.5
T&V 5
Evaluation 4
Reaction 4.5
Total 18

Only one slight ding on SPAG, where I wasn’t crazy about using a semicolon in dialog, and I thought I saw one awkward word first time through, though I didn’t notice it on a second pass. The only other markdowns came from the connection to the picture, and that doesn’t apply to this story alone. However, I couldn’t help but be charmed by this simple parable, highlighting a fault we’ve all stumbled against, and how easy that fault is to correct with a modicum of courage and swallowed pride.

*********
Moonbeats
SPAG 4.5
T&V 4.5
Evaluation 4
Reaction 3
Total 16

This is an example where I felt the parts were greater than the whole. If I consider an overview of the story, I very much like the idea. What happened for me is that while observations in the middle of the story were cogent and extremely well written, they came across as disjointed. For a longer piece, that might have worked, but for this length, I think that area needs to be abbreviated to bring more fullness to the character. The language is evocative, and while I wouldn’t call it overwritten, it’s a touch wordy at points. For example, “from just inside of your open window” can drop the “of”, and “Again your expression holds a knowing beyond what I have given you to understand.” can drop the “Again”, and probably “to understand”. A missing comma and a comma which should have been a period are the only dings to SPAG.

*********
Finally Home
SPAG 5
T&V 4.5
Evaluation 4
Reaction 3.5
Total 17

Well written, though I thought the transitions in the last two scenes were a bit muddy, so I wasn’t sure what the connection was. I have a guess, but I’d have rather it been more clear. I think we’re dealing with the limitation of the word count here, but that’s something we have to take into consideration when seeking clarity for the reader. Again, though we had a house and a mention of the streetlight, I didn’t get a strong connection to all the elements of the prompt, which drags down the last two scores … simply from content, not technique.

*********
Keeping it Real Estate
SPAG 3.5
T&V 4
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 4
Total 15

I’m pretty sure the run-on paragraph was for the sake of humor, but I thought it overdid it, thus the ding to SPAG … along with the portmanteau’s, which were colorful but I found a touch overdone. I thought the twist on the ending was clever, but once again, outside of an empty house, I didn’t see this really embracing the prompt.

*********
Summer’s Eve
SPAG 5
T&V 4
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 4
Total 16.5

Inventive, fun, and moving. (Just a tip: Pasting into the site adds empty lines. You need to go back in and edit them out. Four spaces between paragraphs is hard to read!) Again, the main difference in my score here is connection to the picture. Pretty much no one seems to be incorporating the glow from the woods. LOL

*********
A Voice in the Dark
SPAG 5
T&V 4
Evaluation 3
Reaction 3.5
Total 15.5

Interesting bit of adventure and repartee between the two characters. The bit in the middle about artist/not artist sort of lost me, and again I didn't see a close connection to the entire image of the prompt. I think this story is another victim of the word limit, as I would have liked to see something that set up the scenario. I do like a good sword kills monster, though. :)


*********
I Saw a Man Who Wasn't There
SPAG 5
T&V 4
Evaluation 4
Reaction 4
Total 17

Well written, and the story interested me enough I'd be interested if it were expanded into a continuation. Closer to the prompt than some entries.

August 2021 Literary Maneuvers Scores
@robertn51
(If any authors are curious, most of these have more detail to share. PM.)

-------------------

"Spirit of the North"
Total: 15

Review

Haven't see an odder pair in a long time. Licking a crayon drawn from a tray of black ones. A suspicious philandering historical between-the-eyes suicide. Shrieking into a father's detached ear. (And then removing the stuck lit cigarette.) Automation (or ghost?) taking a potential livelihood. Goodness. 19th-century rabbit holes have nothing on our 21st.

T&V: 4
SP&G: 3
Eval: 4
React: 4

-------------------

"The Voice Of The Trees"
Total: 17

Review

Awake for no reason. A question of purpose in the night in the woods. Humanity at its best. A fine display of character, narrowing down to the final line giving room to many sides. Great setting and atmosphere. That pause between sleep and wakeful was the perfectly chosen "entranced" Who hasn't been there? The reader is held in the frame. Nicely done.

T&V: 4.5
SP&G: 4
Eval: 4
React: 4.5

-------------------

"The Muttering Sophosopher"
Total: 15.5

Review

Once I'd decided the meaning of the neologism(?), this made sense. A sad sense, because the guy was doomed, words falling short. There's no one to argue with, no game left, no future, no winning, no convincing. No one. I was glad for him the last was an "unsavoury individual" at the gas kiosk. There was nothing left of his world; they'd all taken their attention ("...muttering sophosopher was pretty much ignored...") to the final comfort of theirs. He was alone and useless. Moments like "The tail of the last car vanished around the corner..." enjambed with "...not even a lousy dog" were enjoyed.

T&V: 4
SP&G: 4.5
Eval: 3
React: 4

-------------------

"Home"
Total: 14

Review

Despite all the gloom, this left one pleased, hopeful. So glad to see the frames breaking with the men together and the loving parents' eye about what constitutes perfection.

T&V: 4
SP&G: 3
Eval: 3
React: 4

-------------------

"Visitors"
Total: 16.5

Review

Oh yeah. The reader was completely surprised. An actual gasp. Very satisfying. A credit to the text's interesting but neutral tone. (And then, looking back, was glad they'd blindly slid-over the protective warning/spoiler in the title.)

T&V: 4
SP&G: 4
Eval: 4
React: 4.5

-------------------

"The Witching Hour"
Total: 18

Review

Ah, this beautiful noir, dark twine encircling both the iron of revenge and a mother's fruitful dream. So very much in so very little space and time. Lovely. Consistent, implacable, dark, dreaming, and organic, like the character himself. Can one ask for more? Not a piece out of place.

T&V: 4.5
SP&G: 4.5
Eval: 4
React: 5

-------------------

"The Minimalist's House"
Total: 18

Review

Nice to be surprised, to be nudged from the easy-dark. I expected neither the neighbors' situation nor the final reaction of the MCs father. I expected a more close-minded response from him. So fine to see otherwise. And to see his decision to help out and remove for himself the cause of his own discontent? A very feminine thing to do, that other-centered dialectic. This was echoed in the neighbor-missus' very mid-western elision of the MC's apology. Delightful human, natural, touches.

T&V: 4
SP&G: 4.5
Eval: 4.5
React: 5

-------------------

"Moonbeats"
Total: 17.5

Review

A werewolf! There are so many lovely passages and moments in here. "...lives pace that measured beat toward their individual darkness..." for one. And the fabulous bit of history and conflict laid within that "...your eyes narrowed more than true belief would allow..." I shook my head at that one, shivered. But the one that shook the foundation for me was, "...But you are facing me ... from just inside of the open window" I hadn't realized the importance of what was coming until that moment. He wasn't in the room at all, but outside all along, keeping his distance and her safe. Just love love loved it. That was an awesome top-notch move. "...Now is a lump in my throat" Indeed!

T&V: 4.5
SP&G: 4
Eval: 4
React: 5

-------------------

"A Glow"
Total: 16

Review

Essentials of story telling here. Great detailing and use of interesting elements of the prompt, including its atmosphere. Movement was well controlled and historical elements of the situation appeared organically. Especially liked the call-back to a more naïve time, where the children went unafraid at night and weren't shocked by death and could perform "unrealistic" acts of compassion. There were a few creases in the fabric (details available), but otherwise well wrought.

T&V: 4
SP&G: 3.5
Eval: 4.5
React: 4

-------------------

"Finally Home"
Total: 19

Review

The cruel confluence of circumstance, the violent release to peace. Instantly distinctive and recognizable characters. There is so terribly much in these so few yet so necessary words. Altogether disturbing and beautiful and tragic, but perfection none the less. I came up from this breathless. And wanting to read again, to take the tragic ride again

T&V: 5
SP&G: 4.5
Eval: 4.5
React: 5

-------------------

"Keeping It Real Estate ..."
Total: 16.5

Review
Now how do I say this? The true nature of some real estate agents is finally revealed?! With jazz-hands! And spangles! And brief island of rhyme? And, in this market, the hellish agent of low-balling-contract snatching (depending upon one's side in the matter) victory from the jaws of defeat. A fine romp. (And maybe a disturbing future for the "successful" buyer?)

T&V: 4.5
SP&G: 4
Eval: 4
React: 4

-------------------

"Summer's Eve"
Total: 18

Review

For the keen audacity. For seeing an ordinary streetlight's misty glow as a rapture of moth and all its nature and consequence. For brute danger, entrapment, release. For giving and granting this story-dance and its literal ouroboros of exultant oblivion. We dance.

T&V: 4.5
SP&G: 4.5
Eval: 4
React: 5

-------------------

"A Voice In The Dark"
Total: 15.5

Review

A silent knight in the night. A bully-troll celebrating his demonic handiwork, "bent by dark places beyond," spreading nightmarish mayhem. "...[Y]ou’ve always been silent. And now everything changes without you..." Comes a battle for all that is good and true. (This is a knight) Nice idea. Nice telling. With, in its mirror, a very real soul, "...some people overcome their silence through their art -- they find a voice..."

T&V: 3.5
SP&G: 4
Eval: 3.5
React: 4.5

-------------------

"I Saw a Man Who Wasn’t There"
Total: 14

Review

Patrol on the scene. A scoundrel flat in the blood. But some details confused this reader, making it seem the MC was somehow involved. While that's certainly possible and interesting, the text didn't give me relief one way or the other. Frustration. And the title's suggestive nudge didn't help. Maybe I should watch the movie for a clue? But which? There are three. One: There's someone invisible there? Nah. Two: In French. And way too french. Three: A big maybe there, reading in Wikipedia the convoluted plot of a Coen Brothers film, but I'd have to watch it. (sigh) Maybe then I'd understand?

T&V: 4
SP&G: 3.5
Eval: 3
React: 3.5

-------------------

Noisebloom, Visitors
SPaG: 4
T&V:4
Eval:4
Reac:4
Overall: The exposition threw me off a little. The back story then MC sits in his chair thinking about a visitor -then a sudden scratch. The order and how it was presented disturbed the flow a bit for me. I liked the ending and the small detail about the shed being useful at the beginning of the story. I enjoy a dark twist ending.



Matchu, Spirit of the North

SPaG: 5
T&V:3
Eval:3
Reac:5
Overall: I found some parts a bit confusing regarding the back story. I wasn’t able to connect the dots to complete a full picture of what was going on. Reading certain parts made me feel weird and a little creeped out. It had some quirky elements, especially at the end that made me go, wait what? (the potato and the ear, the grey wall was interesting too) I like being weirded and creeped out so that’s why I gave a 5 for the reaction score.


TheChristianWitness, The Voice of the Trees​


SPaG:5
T&V:3
Eval:4
Reac:3
Overall: In the opening, I didn’t see the point of mentioning the car if the car wasn’t what woke him up. If it began with him suddenly waking up, it would’ve added to the mysterious tone and intrigue. Honestly, I excepted the ending to be sinister, but it more was light-hearted. I was surprised but in a good way.

Bdcharles, The Muttering Sophosopher​


SPaG:5
T&V:3
Eval:2
Reac:2
Overall: I liked the idea of no one caring about the world ending. But it doesn’t feel like it fits the picture prompt. There was no mention of the house, street light, or surrounding trees/bushes. It didn’t give off an unsettling vibe like the artwork either.


Sinister, Finally Home
SPaG:5
T&V:4
Eval:4
Reac:5
Overall: Very emotional piece. The issue I had was the jump to the other characters. At first, I thought it was a memory and got a bit confused. If there was a way you could’ve indicated the scene shift with more than a space it would’ve helped. Other than that, I thought it was great and really well written. I like the hint of the car accident-blood, burning fuel, and windshield glass- great “show don’t tell” moment.


JBF, The Witching hour
SPaG: 5
T&V:5
Eval:4
Reac:5
Overall: Some sentences were long-winded and a full stop could’ve been used to help break it up a bit. You have a great way of showing and not telling in your writing, this piece is no exception. I do wish there was a bit more” telling,” because I wasn’t able to paint a full picture with the narrative. I felt like I was missing something because I couldn’t grasp the full context. It was a great piece, the prose was well done. The family aspect is the heartbreaker and why I gave it a 5 for reaction.

SueC, The Minimalist’s House.
SPaG:5
T&V:5
Eval:4
Reac:3
Overall: I like the voice, from the start it’s clearly a child narrating. It’s refreshing to have a lighter approach to the prompt. When I look at the picture it does feel on the creepier side, and the tone of the story doesn’t provoke the same energy as the picture. The house in the picture works for a minimalist’s house, but I think it should’ve taken place in the evening at least just to adhere to the picture a bit more. The story was heartwarming and charming.

Megan Pearson, Summer’s Eve
SPaG:5
T&V:4
Eval:4
Reac:5
Overall: I usually don’t read poetry or a poetic style but I quite enjoyed it. I like that the focus was more on the lamp than the house. I wish the house was referenced more but this was an interesting direction to go in. There were great descriptions, especially when the moth got trapped in the glass and the can that got thrown at it. I was enchanted by the piece.

Ibb, Keeping It Real Estate
SPaG:4
T&V:3
Eval:4
Reac:4
Overall: I enjoyed the narration, it was funny but a bit rambly especially in the second paragraph. The ending was a bit fast-paced, but I enjoyed the comedy. The story definitely entertained me from start to finish.

Anonymous 1, HOME
SPaG:2.5
T&V:2
Eval:2
Reac:3
Overall: I like the basic concept of the piece. The ending was clever with referencing the dark clouds dissipating and a rainbow forming. The sentence structure and narration were a bit awkward. Example: “He would have devoured him?” and “The black clouds disappeared, and that house became for him the rainbow.” A few missed opportunities to be more descriptive instead of the house just being dark or a black monster. He had so much fear, that house looked like a black monster that devoured everything.- Instead of saying “that house looked like a black monster” you could’ve found a way to describe it. The rainbow at the ending was a good metaphor, you could’ve done something similar with other parts of the piece.


Anonymous 2, Moonbeats
SPaG:5
T&V:5
Eval:5
Reac:5
Overall: What can I say? I really liked it. The tone was consistent throughout, it had great prose, great metaphors. My only suggestion would maybe hint slightly more he was a werewolf, but then again, I’m slow and it took me a couple of passes over some sections to get it to click but once I realized what I was missing, I thought all the elements pulled together really well.


Anonymous 3, I Saw a Man Who Wasn’t There
SPaG: 3
T&V:3
Eval:3
Reac:3
Overall: I like the comedic ending and the dark humor that is present in the entire piece. The MC was likable and interesting. There were sentences that needed another pass or two to clean them up. Example: A body so dead it had flies buzzing over the dried blood patches. To: A body so dead flies buzzed over the dried blood. It’s easier to read cutting out unnecessary words. Small typo- She pushed the door to with the branch.

Anonymous 4, A voice in the dark.
SPaG:5
T&V:4
Eval:3
Reac:3
Overall: The story has good prose. I like that the MC can’t or won’t speak. Adding the “<” was a detail that made him stand out on the page. Interesting action but the story took an interesting direction that mystified me.

Thanks for taking part, and keep an eye out for our September contest, coming soon...!
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
There were a LOT of entries this month, and as a judge I didn't find a lot of difference in the quality of the writing ... overall the writing quality was top-notch! The differences in my scores hinged on how close the entries hit to the prompt rather than the quality of the stories. A large batch of very good stuff came in for this contest. :)
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Foxee's win moves her up to a tie for third all-time in number of LM wins, with five!

All three stories that placed were at the top of one of the judges' scorecard. I'd be surprised, if they keep entering, if we don't see JBF and Sinister crack the winner's list soon themselves ... and that doesn't go for them alone.

But this is Foxee's day. Moving up that all-time list is impressive. :)
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
I'd be surprised, if they keep entering, if we don't see JBF and Sinister crack the winner's list soon themselves ... and that doesn't go for them alone.

I'll get the dynamite. We'll crack it good. 😆

In the meantime...a hearty congratulations to Foxee for a first-class piece of work. It's no small thing putting a story in under the limit, doubly so to make it look easy. And Sin, you know it's solid competition when it's down to an eighth of a point. Sharply done.

I can say two things with absolute certainty this go-around:

First, up until the scores went up I had no gut feeling as to how this would shake out. We had a bigger pool than usual with a goodly amount of talent on show and a fair bit of potential I'm hoping to see developed soon.

And second...by God I'm glad I wasn't judging this time. The four of you have my thanks and my admiration for what couldn't have been an easy gig.

Keep on clickin', everybody.
 

Sinister

Senior Member
I'll get the dynamite. We'll crack it good. 😆

In the meantime...a hearty congratulations to Foxee for a first-class piece of work. It's no small thing putting a story in under the limit, doubly so to make it look easy. And Sin, you know it's solid competition when it's down to an eighth of a point. Sharply done.

I can say two things with absolute certainty this go-around:

First, up until the scores went up I had no gut feeling as to how this would shake out. We had a bigger pool than usual with a goodly amount of talent on show and a fair bit of potential I'm hoping to see developed soon.

And second...by God I'm glad I wasn't judging this time. The four of you have my thanks and my admiration for what couldn't have been an easy gig.

Keep on clickin', everybody.
This was quite the trip, wasn't it? ^^ I definitely feel like writing more of these in the future! Props all around, especially to Foxee! Congrats on a well-deserved win! Thank you, Judges, for serving. I didn't know how this really worked, but now that I see how, I have nothing but appreciation for the effort you put in on all of our stories.

And thanks to the LM, in general, for coming up with such a unique and cool prompt.

-Sin
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
Home by LadySilence



SPaG: 3.5/5

[she was the one who often took her friends away] Should be “his friends”, I think (the orphan boy’s friends)?
["Are you sure you want him?" He asked the woman who brought him in front of that house so black.] Small h for “he”.
Also, it seems that it should be the woman asking the men that previous question, instead of the other way around.


Tone & Voice: 3/5

I quite like the somewhat poetic structure of the sentences.
There are problems with the excessive use of “she” and particularly “he”, which become repetitive and often make it hard to work out which character is being referred to. Giving the boy a name could alleviate this.


Evaluation: 4.5/5

Quite a clever use of the prompt – the house appears strange and intimidating only because it’s unfamiliar.



Reaction: 3.5/5

A trifle short, and the above-mentioned issues make it a little awkward to follow what’s going on.
Nonetheless, a simple and uplifting message, well conveyed. I particularly liked the final line.


TOTAL: 14.5/20

I realize that I translate into English,
the text changes a lot.
This pushes me to study, to improve my English.
Thank you so much for the valuable suggestions, I will try to improve. Thank you very much.


Home
SPAG 3.5
T&V 4
Evaluation 3
Reaction 3
Total 13.5

The punctuation looks meant to be more poetic, but this isn’t the poetry competition, so I have to be fair to the other entrants and mark down things like the compound sentences on separate lines with no punctuation. I liked the stylized tone to a point, however it made the piece a bit choppy in places. On the whole, it was a positive and sweet story.

For me it is not a poem.
We have two different points of view.
You see it as a poem, for me it is a short story.
Thank you very much for letting me know.
I will think about it, along with the other mistakes I make.


"Home"
Total: 14
Review
Despite all the gloom, this left one pleased, hopeful. So glad to see the frames breaking with the men together and the loving parents' eye about what constitutes perfection.
T&V: 4
SP&G: 3
Eval: 3
React: 4

Thank you so much.


Anonymous 1, HOME
SPaG:2.5
T&V:2
Eval:2
Reac:3
Overall: I like the basic concept of the piece. The ending was clever with referencing the dark clouds dissipating and a rainbow forming. The sentence structure and narration were a bit awkward. Example: “He would have devoured him?” and “The black clouds disappeared, and that house became for him the rainbow.” A few missed opportunities to be more descriptive instead of the house just being dark or a black monster. He had so much fear, that house looked like a black monster that devoured everything.- Instead of saying “that house looked like a black monster” you could’ve found a way to describe it. The rainbow at the ending was a good metaphor, you could’ve done something similar with other parts of the piece.

Thanks a lot for your advice.
I did not think I had written such a ridiculous and embarrassed tale.
Probably the text, original and untranslated, is also embarrassing.
I immediately removed the story from my blog.
These suggestions of yours make me think a lot about my continuing to write.





Thanks to everyone for the precious advices.
Time for me to reflect.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
I read all the stories this time around and really enjoyed them. Very interesting to have a picture prompt like this and to see how differently the same visual elements can inspire such wildly different stories. Many favorites this time around so I was surprised to win and not surprised that it was only by a whisker!

Look at the range of imagination! A micro moth's-eye view under the street light from @Megan Pearson all the way to a reach into supernatural realms of real estate from @Ibb (I was right, btw, that IS really good!).

Congrats to @JBF for a superbly-told story of threat in the quiet hours and to @Sinister for living up to your name and placing with a horror story...isn't this your first LM? Well done.

I appreciate the warmhearted stories of @SueC, @vranger, @TheChristianWitness , @LadySilence , and @Megan Pearson because in a word count this brief it can be difficult to pose a conflict and wrap it up with an 'up' ending but you've managed it.

@Matchu, only you could look at that picture and come up with a story that revolves around someone's ear and I'm impressed that you made that work.

@ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord Wildly imaginative Lovecraftian Don Quixote only not. Great imagery, too.

@bdcharles who brought the world to an end but didn't fuss about it unduly.

@bazz cargo who may have a formidable mother. I probably shouldn't have chuckled but I did.

@noisebloom for packing a considerable amount of horror with a twist into a tight word count.

Thanks to the judges for being generous with their time and effort. I appreciate each of your thoughts and assessments, that's mainly why I like the LM.

@Harper J. Cole Dorian came from the city to his grandmother's house where he grew up. I could probably make that a bit more clear.

@vranger I was a little on the fence about possible wordiness myself. Good observations, I'll give them some thought.

@robertn51 I was hoping that the moment where she was standing at the window would give the reader a little jolt and I'm delighted that it worked. Thank you for detailing some passages that worked for you, that helps me to know.

@KeganThompson You brought up what was probably the most touch-and-go part of writing this for me - burying clues. I was really on the fence about whether I'd done too much or too little, it was like trying to write a murder mystery. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Let's do a picture prompt again sometime!
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I can draw but one conclusion from my repeated placing at the rear (in last place AGAIN) of this pack.

1. Conspiracy among all of the judges for financial gain/& sexual deviancy is in progress through the medium of literature.
2. Personal abuse of me and my brilliant words.
3. Entryism - proliferation - engineers plus medical sub-species are among us. Also blue-collar people. No respect for true brown-collar folk-artiste almost ceramicist type writing.

Thanks everybody, a wonderful experience to be a part of the great contest. Bear hugs around judges. A very difficult job and inappropriate ear lick toward @Foxee/@JBF @Sinister <3 <3 <3 Congratulations you heroes!
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
My life is nuts at the moment. I wish I had more time to do the LM justice. This round must have driven the judges to drink. Talk about strong entries.Congratulations to all entrants.
@Megan Pearson: Anthropomorphism with a touch of poetic license.
@Ibb: You are one twisted individual.
@JBF: There is so much more to this scrap of a scene. Will you work on it some more?
@Sinister: There are a few glitches here, but the overall story has a bite. Respect.
@SueC: Heart warming. And I'm now thinking.
@vranger: Simple but effective.
@TheChristianWitness: A smooth read. Tip my hat in respect.
@LadySilence: While simply told, it had some interesting detail and an emotional punch. I look forward to more of your work.
@Matchu: Stick with it. A/ you have flashes of greatness and B/ it means I no longer keep coming last.
@ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord: Hmmm... Alien invasion?
@bdcharles: I googled Sophosopher, three hits. Two about the LM and one in what I think is Chinese. Hmmm...
@noisebloom: A real cracker.
@Foxee: Best sneaky use of tense. Made an excellent way to reveal bit by bit. Masterclass.

@Harper J. Cole: If ya want to know, I modeled Theresa's mom on Foxee.
@vranger: Thanks for the high number.
@robertn51: More Coen.
@KeganThompson: Thanks for the kind words.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
I realize that I translate into English,
the text changes a lot.
This pushes me to study, to improve my English.
Thank you so much for the valuable suggestions, I will try to improve. Thank you very much.




For me it is not a poem.
We have two different points of view.
You see it as a poem, for me it is a short story.
Thank you very much for letting me know.
I will think about it, along with the other mistakes I make.




Thank you so much.




Thanks a lot for your advice.
I did not think I had written such a ridiculous and embarrassed tale.
Probably the text, original and untranslated, is also embarrassing.
I immediately removed the story from my blog.
These suggestions of yours make me think a lot about my continuing to write.
Don't think of it as an embarrassing tale. It's not! I only pointed those things out because I wanted you to recognize them so you can improve. :)
English is not your first language, which I envy. English is my only language and I'm not even good at it. Lol
Keep writing okay? Your story had a heart and a lot of good aspects. :)
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
Don't think of it as an embarrassing tale. It's not! I only pointed those things out because I wanted you to recognize them so you can improve. :)
English is not your first language, which I envy. English is my only language and I'm not even good at it. Lol
Keep writing okay? Your story had a heart and a lot of good aspects. :)
A good sleep did me good.
Now I can be a little more objective.
Thanks for the clarification. 🥰
 
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