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Scores June 2021 LM - Grid (1 Viewer)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
It's scores time! Seven of you braved the whims of the grid in June. Let's see how you did...

STORY / AUTHOR
HJC Scores Olly Buckle Scores thepancreas11 Scores AVERAGE
17½​
16​
15½​
16⅓
Ambrosia by Matchu
14​
14​
16​
14⅔
The Threshing Floor by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord
18​
16​
18​
17⅓
17​
15​
17​
16⅓
Exhumation by vranger
17​
17​
19​
17⅔
Star Eater by BfB
16½​
16​
12​
14⅚
Against the Tide by Bazz Cargo
14½​
15​
18​
15

1st Place: Exhumation by vranger
2nd Place: The Threshing Floor by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord
=3rd Place: A Flashy Blue Marble's Adventure by SueC
=3rd Place:
An Adventure By Any Other Name Is Not So Sweet by Foxee

Congratulations to our fabulous winners! 😍

Here are the scores from this month's judges...

June 2021 LM​



A Flashy Blue Marble’s Adventure by SueC



SPaG: 4.5/5

[River’s the name] It seems that the pebble’s name is “Rivers”, so this should read [Rivers’ the name] or possibly [Rivers’s the name]



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

A whimsical tone appropriate to a story of sentient marble and pebbles.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

  • Whatever the dice come up with, it’s a challenge to smoothly work all of the elements into the story. Blue, adventure and amusement all flow fairly naturally.
  • You did well with some of the trickier elements. The battery causing the car to stop was a good idea, and a marble being part of a toy sword seems plausible.
  • I’d like to have the symbol of the moon play a slightly larger role. Maybe they find the marble because the moon’s light illuminates it?


Reaction: 4/5

  • With six distinct points to hit, it’s impressive that you have a coherent story, which stands by itself. I didn’t get the feeling that you were just ticking off items on the list as I read it.
  • One slight practical quibble – how did the man see the marble in front of the tyre while he as looking into the boot?
  • I remember I used to anthropomorphise pebbles as a child, and tell myself they were on a journey somewhere, just moving too slowly for us to see. You’ve captured that idea rather nicely – good work.


OVERALL: 17.5/20



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



Ambrosia by Matchu



SPaG: 3/5

  • “Paradise” should be capitalised when you’re referring to the place, rather than the concept.
  • Generally awkward grammar and sentence structure make the story difficult to follow, e.g. I have trouble understanding, “Nostrils hoovered sludge surround of the roots, dimpled pleasure in paradise.”


Tone & Voice: 4/5

I think I said it last time I judged one of your stories – you have a very distinctive style, which sometimes works to create genuinely fresh and interesting truns of phrase, but which often makes your stories difficult to follow.



Evaluation: 3.5/5

  • Fantasy and amusement are both there, no problem.
  • Sword and cascade appear quite naturally in the text.
  • Red and sun seem a little more tacked on. They could be replaced with something else without it really affecting the story.


Reaction: 3.5/5

  • I think I got the general idea – some sort of horse afterlife?
  • I liked the double meaning of “neigh” being both “no” and the sound a horse makes.
  • A strange tale, with vivid sexual imagery – you never fail to grab the attention of your readers!


OVERALL: 14/20



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



The Threshing Floor by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord



SPaG: 4.5/5

  • [her brown white-flecked skin] To me, this should read “white-flecked brown skin”, her skin’s default colour being brown.
  • [spreading endlessly North to South, and out forever West] Generally compass directions don’t take capital letters, but perhaps these are to be taken as place names in the context of the story?


Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

A poetic writing style, which is used consistently throughout and works extremely well.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

  • Adventure and sadness are integral to the story, and the colour red is featured throughout.
  • I’m not sure what battery rust tastes like, but I rather like the usage here!
  • With regard to the skewered mourning dove, I was a little unclear on what it was symbolising. Doves are associated with peace, or perhaps it represented their relationship, or an act of mourning? I wouldn’t say it felt out of place, just that I wasn’t entirely sure what its role was.
  • Speaking of the dove, I’m not clear on how she can gather it to her when it’s pierced through to the ground.


Reaction: 4.5/5

I enjoyed this story. I’d like to have learned more of the backstory (of both the setting and characters), but the word limit would make that difficult. Excellent writing.



OVERALL: 18/20



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



An Adventure By Any Other Name Is Not So Sweet by Foxee



SPaG: 4.5/5

[her lips identical in color] Should be “her lips were identical in color”.



Tone & Voice: 4.5/5

  • No issues with the tone, which is lightly comedic throughout.
  • I like that the company is called Adventures Unlimited Limited – I didn’t catch that one on my first read-through!


Evaluation: 4/5

  • The prompts of adventure and anger are well met.
  • “Cascade” and the rose both feel like natural parts of the story.
  • The chalice and the colour green felt a bit more forced. It’s to fit so many elements in naturally, of course.


Reaction: 4/5

This was a fun, original idea for a short story, blending elements of the real world with fantasy – good job.



OVERALL: 17/20



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



Exhumation by vranger



SPaG: 4/5

  • [In all it’s azure beauty] No possessive apostrophe for “its”.
  • [my depleting water skin] It’s the water that’s depleting, not the water skin.


Tone & voice: 3.5/5

Solid writing voice, though I found there to be too many hyphens at times, breaking up the flow.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

  • The majority of the prompts appear to fit the desert setting.
  • I’m not sure about the use of fear. It’s mentioned as something the adventurer felt in the past, but the setting seems to have become mundane to him by the time of the story itself.


Reaction: 5/5

  • I really like the twist that the seemingly zombie-like buried adventurers can be revived. Unexpected, in a good way.
  • The alien setting is well-described and hints at a larger story while telling us just enough to follow what’s going on. It’s a good story.


OVERALL: 17/20



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



Star Eater by BfB



SPaG: 4.5/5

[“You wanted this?” she said, voice thick with grief. “Didn’t you, sister?” … “You mock me,” she raged, blue eyes roiling with hatred.] While not strictly an error, using “she” twice in a row to mean two different people can cause confusion as to who is talking. Generally speaking, “she” should refer to the female character whose name appeared most recently.



Tone and Voice: 4.5/5

Plenty of stylish prose, painting the picture.



Evaluation: 4.5/5

  • The first five prompts are worked in very smoothly.
  • I like that you established the idea of time running out without directly using the word “clock”.
  • “Cascade” is the only awkward one. “Pure, luscious red cascaded down” seems a more natural way of phrasing it, but I guess you wanted to use the exact word.


Reaction: 3/5

  • My problem is that I feel we need more information to understand what’s going on. Hinting at a wider story is fine while writing a short story, but there’s a lot of details I can’t really guess at, as to who these people are and what the sword does.
  • Still, some vivid writing.


OVERALL: 16.5/20



Against the Tide by Bazz Cargo



SPaG: 3.5/5

  • [I Carried his carcase] Rogue capital C.
  • [Tough son’s of bitches] Rogue apostrophe.
  • [company,or] Missing space.


Tone & Voice: 4/5

A consistent, light tone. Nothing too fancy, but it fits the story.



Evaluation: 3.5/5

  • The use of “dove” to mean the action and not the bird is clever, but it is meant to represent a symbol.
  • Also, the word “blue” feels a bit tacked on, and there isn’t a real pervading sense of sadness.


Reaction: 3.5/5

  • It’s a fun fantasy story, with hints of the wider world(s) it happens in.
  • A bit lacking in payoff – the story more or less ends with some exposition.
  • I like the idea of the clock-watchers as sort of roving conformity enthusiasts – that’s an idea worth expanding.


OVERALL: 14.5/20

Sue C, A flashy blue marble's adventure

Sp+G 5 T+V 3 Eval, 4 React. 4 Total 16

An explicit, but slightly unimaginative title. Nicely written. Several places were slightly long winded, for example "As we moved away from each other," would do just as well as "As we parted". Always worth looking for such ways to save a few words so that they may be used elsewhere.
I found the 'sword' reference a bit forced and unconvincing, it might have come better from the pebble, asking what sort of stone he was and the realisation that one was was 'new' and manufactured, the other ancient, naturally created, for example. A use for those few extra words.

Matchu, Ambrosia
Sp+G 4 T+V 3 Eval. 4 React. 3. Total 14
There was the odd punctuation point, for example, " His fine rump, his tail, the entire eye-line held a surround of breeding ponies." could use another comma after "Eye line" to make a subordinate phrase describing the preceding list.
I found it difficult to read, and could not pin down why at first, then I realised you phrse things quite oppositely to me, for example, "Plucked his harp held in the hoof" I would render as "Plucked the harp held in his hoof". It is not that one is 'right' or 'wrong' exactly, but I did find it awkward.

Arrow in the bow of the Lord, The threshing floor.

Sp+G 5 T+V 4 Eval. 3 React 4 Total 16

"The battery acid taste of the desert" got the prompt 'battery' in, but is the only mention of desert in the piece. I was also puzzled as to why 'The threshing floor' and 'The wine press', blood and raspberries have nothing to do with grain and grapes. It seemed random.

Foxee, An adventure by any other name is not so sweet.

Sp+G 3 T+V 4 Eval. 4 React 4 Total 15

"Customer Rating: Two stars

I'm only giving this service two stars though "
'Two stars' could do with a full stop after it the first time, a comma the second.
"Her green eyes matched her gown as per spec and her lips identical in color to the red, red rose on the low stone table."
'spec' is an abbreviation and needs a comma. 'her lips (were) identical in color ...'
There were problems in other places, for example,
" The tower room furnished was far too small for a full-sized dragon and I have since been presented with a hefty bill for damaging the premises. Unadorned stone walls and slate ceiling do not cost this much and the castle should have been insured against such occurrences. So the demanded repair total is beyond ridiculous."
'The furnished tower room', or 'The tower room, furnished, ...'. Starting a sentence with 'So' not only is grammatically questionable, but quite unnecessary, 'The demanded repair bill ..." would work perfectly well.
I loved the premise though, and wished you had expanded it a bit to use more of the 650 words.

Vranger Exhumation.

Sp+G 4 T+V 4 Eval. 4 React 5 Total 17

A nice piece well written. couple of points. "Prospective cries of pain ..." 'prospective' has a future element to it which does not seem appropriate.
" I tilted the ruined head back and supported with a hand behind it. Its face upturned, mouth open and pleading, and I poured."
To avoid the repetition of 'it' and 'and' try,
' I tilted the ruined head back and supported it with a hand behind. Its face upturned, mouth open and pleading, I poured.'

Anon. Star Eater.
Sp+G 4 T+V 4 Eval. 4 React 4 Total 16
“It is the clanging gong of reality. And it has almost run out.”
Think twice when you see a sentence starting with 'and'. I think this is all one sentence, and a semi colon or comma would do better.
The 'hated sibling with accursed, pale, dead hands' clashes slightly with 'blood of the pure, blood of the innocent.'
Also, on my first reading, there was a slight confusion as to who was stabbed, after all if they are siblings they are both princesses.
Merely a suggestion, but I wanted her to have 'sheathed' rather than 'slipped' it upon her back.

Anon. Against the tide.

Sp+G 4 T+V 4 Eval. 4 React. 3

" I Carried his carcase "
carried, lower case.
carcase. I thought this might be a spelling error, but when I checked.
"carcase: the body of an animal that has been slaughtered for meat (eg at an abattoir) carcass: the body of an animal that has died from natural causes, including disease or injury."
I am still learning :)
" through both worlds and two interstices (comma) and in the third dumped him down ..."
There were some nice points in this, but it lacked overall direction and seemed more like a fragment of something.

Thank you everybody for your efforts, there is some good, thought provoking stuff here, Olly.

A Flashy Blue Marble's Adventure
SPaG: 4.5
T&V: 5
Eval: 3
Reac: 3
Overall: 15.5

This is proof that you can have a nice, three-act structure in a flash fiction story, and that with that little bit of structure, you can create a decent amount of character depth, thematic material, and tension--see the fondness for the pants jostle, River's loss of hope, and the car nearly crushing poor Blue. On top of that, you've written something silly and fun. Very enjoyable.
A few of the many prompt suggestions felt like after thoughts--the sword, for instance--and it was a little hard to understand what was going on at first--which is why the second reading was even better than the first. I often argue for making it clear your character is non-human--and what they are--as early as you can for clarity.
If I had a main criticism, though, it's that there's maybe too much material here. I think if you pared back some of the details, you could focus more on the little interaction between River and Blue. That way you could explore more of River's plight and how that affects Blue.
Great job, though!

Ambrosia
SPaG: 3
T&V: 4
Eval: 4
Reac: 5
Overall: 16

I'm going to be honest, I have no idea what I just read. There were times when I was totally lost and frankly confused. And yet, for some reason, I loved it. It's thoroughly weird, but that has a nice effect on the story overall. I feel like if it had been anything less, it would have seemed quite stale and ordinary.
There were definitely times when it felt like words had been taken out to shorten it. Some of those times, it broke up the momentum of your story, and other times, it was just highly noticeable. I like prose that either stays out of the way or has a specific, deliberate style. In my mind, prose should not distract at all, or it should be the focal point, and sometimes it doesn't feel like it either.
There were also a lot of characters that kind of flit in and out and never really make much impact. I would have preferred less of them with more time spent on each.

The Threshing Floor
SPaG: 5
T&V: 5
Eval:5
Reac: 3
Overall: 18

That's simply a great story. I love the imagery that you create, the suspense, the sense of grandeur. I loved the opening scene, especially. I could practically smell that bar. I would love to read more about Last Town and all those raspberry fields.
I think the ending was maybe just a little underwhelming. I would have preferred there to be some more resolution or explanation between the main characters and that bartender instead of just the bartender alone. It would tie up some loose ends and make the story that much more beautiful.

An Adventure by Any Other Name is Not So Sweet
SPaG: 5
T&V: 4
Eval: 4
Reac: 4
Overall: 17

I love this idea, I just think the execution could have been a little more like an actual review. It is certainly the most original work in the competition, and one that I gravitated to immediately. A friend of mine recently wrote a story in the form of meeting minutes and it was easily the funniest thing I've read this year. With some fine-tuning, this is one of the most publishable stories I've read in LM.
As I said, I just needs to be more like an actual review. There were a lot of details here that just felt more narrative than expository, and as such, they were out of place. I think of the section describing the princess's lips--especially the part describing the low, stone table. I would absolutely workshop this with you, though. It's amazing.

Exhumation
SPaG: 5
T&V: 4
Eval: 5
Reac: 5
Overall: 16

You're gonna have me in tears, vranger. "There is water up yonder, brother." SOB, SOB, SOB. Oh my goodness, how touching and how gentle, how personal, and how perfectly complete. I have very little to say about this story other than that it is a paragon of LM fiction.
My one jibe would be that the tone does sort of come in and out a bit, sometimes ancient, sometimes feeling more modern, but it's not enough to pull me out of the story and certainly not enough to detract from the experience.
Kudos to you, vranger!

Star Eater
SPaG: 4
T&V: 2
Eval: 3
Reac: 3
Overall: 12

There is very clearly an interesting story living here: why did Claire take her own life? How was the princess wounded? What are the repercussions of Claire's choice? It's a great start to a story, a first draft of something that could be truly special.
Unfortunately, the whole thing is obscured by adjectives. In my opinion, it's over-written. This is perhaps the most common mistake that we as writers make, and we are all guilty of it at some point. Essentially, you have so much description, it's hard to focus on any one thing. I like to save my powerful words like hideous or rapture or blood-stained for the most important parts of my story. If they are overused, they lose their power, and they will blur the focus of your sentences on a micro scale and your plot on a macro scale--if used enough. Plus, in a competition that demands a certain word count, they are taking up valuable real estate for answering the above questions. I would go through this again and take out about half the words, leaving the barest structure, and slowly add them back in where they matter most.

Against the Tide
SPaG: 4
T&V: 5
Eval: 4
Reac: 5
Overall: 17

I'm not really sure what just happened, and yet, if you write more of this, I will read the hell out of it. This is a super cool concept that I want to know so much more about. If you're into writing novels, please write this one. I'm assuming Clockers are people that can only move in one direction and shifters can do multiple? I have so many questions.
I think a bit more clarity at the beginning would have gone a long way to making the story more understandable (of course, that hook is genius, so don't change it). I think setting up the actual conflict more, giving reason to what the character is experiencing would also setup stakes. This is more of a snapshot than a story, for me, and to stand on its own, it needs just a little more meat.

Thanks for taking part, and keep an eye out for our July contest, coming soon...!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
It's been pointed out to me that there was a discrepancy between the total scores and the component scores for a couple of entries. These are now corrected - apologies.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
Kudos to:
V
Arrow
Sue
The Mighty Foxee.

The rest of us also-rans deserve a medal as well.
I tip my hat to the Judges, this was a particularly challenging round. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist cheating. Thanks for the feedback.

HJC
It’s a fun fantasy story, with hints of the wider world(s) it happens in.
A bit lacking in payoff – the story more or less ends with some exposition.
I like the idea of the clock-watchers as sort of roving conformity enthusiasts – that’s an idea worth expanding.
This is one of the few things that I have written that was taking me on an unexpected journey. It more or less wrote itself. I’m now ruminating over it.

Olly
There were some nice points in this, but it lacked overall direction and seemed more like a fragment of something.
I thunked that myself.

Ol’ Pancy
I'm not really sure what just happened, and yet, if you write more of this, I will read the hell out of it. This is a super cool concept that I want to know so much more about. If you're into writing novels, please write this one. I'm assuming Clockers are people that can only move in one direction and shifters can do multiple? I have so many questions.
I think a bit more clarity at the beginning would have gone a long way to making the story more understandable (of course, that hook is genius, so don't change it). I think setting up the actual conflict more, giving reason to what the character is experiencing would also setup stakes. This is more of a snapshot than a story, for me, and to stand on its own, it needs just a little more meat.
Hmmm… This was just scribbled down without much in the way of cognition. I am now working on a proper structure on which to hang this ‘concept.’
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Grats to the fellow entrants this month. I don't know how the judges manage to sort out a difference between so many nice stories. Not to slight anyone else, but Sue, your idea was so inventive and so clever and such fun, I thought you might run away with it this month. Marbles ... how do you think of that? :)

Great writing, everyone!
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Thank you, Judges! I appreciate your time and commitment to the task. I might workshop this, thanks for the invite, @thepancreas11

Thank you for hosting, @Harper J. Cole, you always do a really good job. :)

I have to admit, I wasn't too sure about the grid at first but it turned out to be a motivating force once I got it going. Or got me going, I guess. Something. Anyway, I wouldn't mind having the grid prompt again in the future.

Congratzifications to vranger, Arrow, and Sue because holy carp, that's some good stuff. vranger's, especially, gave me that satisfying little pang at the end that is my gut saying, "Yeah, that's the truth."
I also especially enjoyed Bazz's entry, it was just quirky and had the fun-on-the-edge-of-disaster vibe that I like.
BfB's entry could've been a very, very out there opera and made me a little sad.
Matchu, I have to honestly say, I don't think I could have come up with your story from your word list.

Hope we get a few more entries next time we do a grid. I love seeing all the variables and how they play out. Great job everyone who dived in and took part!
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Congratulations everybody. Well done @vranger. Thank you judges.

I must say I was quite embarrassed by this one, and wounded & near death really - from typing. AND from reading. A real self-indulgent suck of my insides that erupted across the carpet (et cetera). It was when I re-assembled components: spaghetti, sweetcorn, flecks of tuna that I realised I had a short story on my hands, re-assembled [rep] the dish on the page so to speak, hence my low score again, I believe.
 
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