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Scores: October 2021 (1 Viewer)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Scores time! We had 8 entries this month, but which cat roared the loudest?

StoryvrangerpiperofyorkTaylorAverage
The Haunting of the Cat's Meow A Go-Go - Apple
15½12½1414
Annual Kitty Coup - Riptide
19½1315½16
Nine Lives - midnightpoet
15½121413⅚
No Title - edropus
14½1711½14⅓
Joy from Little Things - Lawless
15½14½1715⅔
An Ohmage to Freddie … A Cool Cat - SueC
18½1418½17
The Cat Parade - Piper of York
JUDGEJUDGEJUDGEJUDGE
The Cat Parade - Karambulaschka
10½11½14½12⅙

So, that gives us our trio of medallists as follows...

1st: An Ohmage to Freddie … A Cool Cat by SueC
2nd: Annual Kitty Coup by Riptide
3rd: Joy from Little Things by Lawless

Many thanks to our judges, vranger, piperofyork and Taylor. Here are the comments...

"The Haunting of the Cat's Meow A Go-Go" - Apple

SPAG 4.5
T&V 3.5
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 4
Total 15.5

Prosewise, this was very well written, and as a Heinlein fan, I was tempted to award a bonus point for using ‘grok’. I thought the concept was very clever. The thing that held down my scores is I just didn’t get an emotional zing either from the prurient nature of the club, or a shiver from the murders. I’d have liked to be pulled in at least one direction, if not both.

"Annual Kitty Coup" - Riptide

SPAG 5.0
T&V 5.0
Evaluation 4.5
Reaction 5
Total 19.5

This was an utter hoot. Only a couple of slightly awkward phrases kept me off a perfect score here. It had the right touches to sell the cats, and the punchline tickled me. :) I enjoyed it when I read it when submitted, and I enjoyed it again when I read it again to score. That's a good sign. Very nice work.

"Nine Lives" - midnightpoet

SPAG 4.0
T&V 4.0
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 4
Total 15.5

A few glitches in punctuation held down the SPAG score. I thought the haunted house portion was effective … after all there isn’t a lot of room to build tension in 650 words, but the ending left me a bit flat. It would almost have been better without the lady ghost appearing in the bedrooms, which needed explanation. A nice effort overall. I like haunted house and ghost stories. :)

"No Title” - edropus

SPAG 4.5
T&V 3.5
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 3.0
Total 14.5

It took a bit of time to get to the cats ;-), but the story didn’t really float my boat. Solid dystopia, but without a beginning or an ending, and the second person PoV didn’t really connect me as a character to the story to give it an impact.

"Joy from Little Things" - Lawless

SPAG 4.5
T&V 4.0
Evaluation 3.5
Reaction 3.5
Total 15.5

I liked the lesson inherent in this story, otherwise it didn’t really grab me, and I thought the connection to the prompt was a bit forced. I felt teased that a strange reason for the “cat parade” would come, then it didn’t. This is another story with solid prose, but for its point, I’d have liked more feeling.

"An Ohmage to Freddie … A Cool Cat" - SueC

SPAG 4.5
T&V 4.5
Evaluation 4.5
Reaction 5.0
Total 18.5

I very much liked the playful nature of this story and the courage to make it self-aware. It also made the same muse joke I made to PiP several days ago. Evidently it’s a good month for that joke. LOL (A muse, or amused). I enjoyed it from start to finish.

"The Cat Parade" - Piper of York

This was cool, and I just about had to sing it due to the lyrical and poetic quality. Great imagination. :) This would not have gotten my highest score, but it would have gotten a good score.

"The Cat Parade - Anon (Sphynx Festival)

SPAG 1.0
T&V 3.5
Evaluation 3.0
Reaction 3.0
Total 10.5

There wasn’t anything wrong with the prose, but for the second straight month there is a “wall of text” entry. This pulled down every element of the score. Paragraphs exist for a reason. Hit that enter key as often as necessary, please. The story had a dynamite start, but I’d have liked to see a bit more flash in the ending.

Apple, The Haunting of the Cat's Meow A Go-Go



SPaG: 2.5
T&V: 3.5
Eval: 3.5
Reac: 3
Total: 12.5



Some definite gems here; one of my favorites was: “The cat girls would parade on stage, each holding a ball of yarn that unwound as they cavorted and preened, tangling the strands together to try to fool the fools.” The introduction of first person halfway through the story added depth and curiosity: who is this…? The story would have benefited from a spelling and grammar check, though. The narrator (the murderer, I presume) remains somewhat one-dimensional, and if the narrator was the murderer, it’s puzzling how he/she/they would have been privy to all those insider insights about the bar when he/she/they said they never set foot in the place (but I might be missing something!). Also, perhaps too much info dumping. But again, some gems (would have loved to have seen more made of this, for example: “It only became more terrifying, when painful, bloody scratches would suddenly manifest on faces and arms, like unholy cat stigmata”). A lot of fertile ground here, but there were also a lot of gaps and it left me with too many questions. (Not that being left with questions is always bad…but being left with too many questions can be an issue.)





Riptide, Annual Kitty Coup



SPaG: 3.5
T&V: 3.5
Eval: 3
Reac: 3
Total: 13



Some delightful sentences and scene garnishes here (loved “shadowy ash-stain of a cat”), and the interplay between humor and horror was enjoyable. I was a bit confused about the cats’ purpose, though. I wasn’t sure if they want better non-human food or human flesh (non-medicated meat doesn’t necessarily mean human meat). Also: is it a public march for awareness, or a straight-up attack? My appreciation of the pacing was reduced at points by some awkward word choices, turns of phrase, or details (why is the leader wearing a necktie? Is it redundant to refer to “kitties and cats”? I can’t quite imagine a cat as a ‘slit’ of malice…). There are also a few grammar issues. But all in all, very rich imagery. It would have been interesting to see this as a faux-attack whose real goal was to get an overwhelming blast of catnip once a year…


midnightpoet, Nine Lives

SPaG: 3
T&V: 2.5
Eval: 3
Reac: 3.5
Total: 12



I’m a huge fan of Halloween horror, so this kind of tale scratches me where I itch. There were some grammar issues, though, and perhaps too much telling when there was rich opportunity for showing (e.g., “These woods are spooky enough to make me want to go back”—“followed by a reluctant Cindy”). I was also confused in a few places (why would Cindy say the house is ‘plain’ if enough of it burned down to kill its inhabitants? Why does Joe ignore the light in the upper window? Who is Becky? Is that Cindy?). Cindy’s character comes across as realistic, but Joe’s bravery in the face of the mounting horrors is a bit hard to believe. Also, I think the ending could have had more punch (maybe Joe calls Cindy and hears mournful meowing…). It is a very fruitful premise for a story, but it could use a few more rounds of editing to make it pop.



edropus, [Untitled]



SPaG: 4
T&V: 4.5
Eval: 4
Reac: 4.5
Total: 17



This one pulled me in. What’s next next next? A few grammar/awkward phrasing issues, and a couple of uncertainties (couldn’t they shoot the squirrels? Wouldn’t they have killed the cats, regardless of their value in sniffing out rodents?), but nothing that stubbed my reader’s toes too hard. Some phrases and sentences with great bite (E.g. “Organized stupidity”—“Then there weren't any more deer, and you put on the ski masks and loaded the rifles”—“So you starve. There's water enough in puddles because the rain didn't stop but it's brackish and the diarrhea is daily and killing you.”). Loved the pacing, like trying to stay balanced on a rockslide. The reader is left with questions, but in an effective, chilling way.



Lawless, Joy from Little Things



SPaG: 4.5
T&V: 3.5
Eval: 3
Reac: 3.5
Total: 14.5



I like the tension between the past and the future and living in the space of indecision between them, pulled to the present but rife with difficulty and indecision. But the story has lots of hints and shadows that I can’t pierce very well. Likely I’m not seeing the angle, but it left me with too many questions. In a way this is a good thing. I was engaged trying to fill in the pieces—why are the animals gone? Why are there pet sanctuaries? What is the significance of seeing the cats? What’s that about cats escorting prisoners to the supermarket: a bit of free-floating fancy or a clue to the artery beneath the story? Is there a deeper connection to the prompt that I’m not getting? Is the sudden fear of not wanting to die a general expression of the fear of mortality, or does it relate to something more specific?, etc. At the same time, it felt like a few more hints about the missing pieces would have pulled the story together more, would have shown the underlying links pulling together the (apparent) series of stream of consciousness bits.





SueC, An Ohmage to Freddie . . . A Cool Cat

SPaG: 4.5
T&V: 3
Eval: 3.5
Reac: 3
Total: 14



The story is well written. My favorite line was “I never write about animals; they always die.” (That sounds like the first line of a new short story, in fact!) The direct reference to the WF prompt had me laughing. Although the story features cats, I wonder if it could have had a more direct relation to the idea of a parade of cats. Also, I was a bit confused about the setting: at first it seems to be a dream, but the dream doesn’t end at the story’s end. I wonder if the conversation with Freddie could have been shortened a good deal as an intro to a story rather than the story itself…the ending left me wanting more!

Anonymous, The Cat Parade

SPaG: 2.5
T&V: 3
Eval: 3
Reac: 3
Total: 11.5



I’m intrigued by the idea of the Sphynx Festival—that’s fertile ground for the imagination. I enjoyed the notion of crossing over inside the Sphynx after death. The piece could use a grammar check, though, and there were a few awkward turns of phrase. I would have liked to have learned more about what’s going on (postmortem) inside the Sphynx, though—I was surprised that the representation of the Sphynx didn’t have more understanding of events. Also, I wasn’t sure what to make of a cat band with cat uniforms—that struck me as somehow out of place. Lastly, the ending struck me as a bit quick. A cool premise, but I was left wanting a few questions answered!

#1 - The Haunting of the Cat's Meow A Go-Go

SPAG: 4
T&V: 3
Evaluation: 4
Reaction: 3
Total: 14

I was pleased to see an original take on this prompt. You tell a good story with a complex plot for 650 words. I would have liked to see more dialogue. An extra space and misplaced capital docked SPAG. The subject matter was not appealing to me, so my reaction score was lower. But generally well-written.

*********

#2 – Annual Kitty Coup

SPAG: 4.5
T&V: 3.5
Evaluation: 4
Reaction: 3.5
Total: 15.5

The story is lively and depicts some colourful scenes. I couldn’t picture what was happening in the second sentence with the “stalls.” So, I had to read it several times and then I just gave up and moved on. So that dampened my reaction. Also wondered about this line,” a hundred of knobby paws on a mission.” I would lose the of. It leaned a bit trite with the use “catnip” and “furballs,” but, I appreciate the prompt may not have been all that inspiring. A solid and well-written piece.

*********

#3 – Nine Lives

SPAG: 4.5
T&V: 3
Evaluation: 3.5
Reaction: 3
Total: 14

Kudos for writing much of the story in dialogue. I appreciate the seasonal reference since we are nearing October 31. For SPAG, should this be “Let’s follow them”? And a comma after “shrieked.” I had a difficult time getting excited due to the number of cliches and stereotypes. I think for a younger readership it would read very well. A very nice little Halloween story.

*********

#4 – Untitled

SPAG: 3
T&V: 3.5
Evaluation: 3
Reaction: 2
Total: 11.5

You got my attention at the first sentence, but it would have been stronger if you broke it into three, with a period after “days” and “bullshit.” And I would have put a “they” between “so followed.” There were four typos, and a missing comma, if you put it into spell check, you will see them. I found it difficult to follow. Tense seems off and too many sentences starting with, “Then.” The concept is interesting, I like that you choose not to go the obvious route with the prompt.

*********

#5 – Joy from Little Things

SPAG: 5
T&V: 4
Evaluation: 4
Reaction: 4
Total: 17

Lovely! A well portrayed slice of life. Starting with a strong intrigue, where could this possibly go? It takes an unexpected turn, and then ties up nicely with the prompt. I thought it should have been “windowsill,” but wasn’t sure so I didn’t dock anything. The sentence with “actually was a little awkward. I got a little lost after the “All of a sudden.” But a good solid entry, well done!

*********

#6 – An Ohmage to Freddie . . . A Cool Cat

SPAG: 5
T&V: 4.5
Evaluation: 4.5
Reaction: 4.5
Total: 18.5

Clever! But, only, in the month of October, is it acceptable to start with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Lol! A very creative use of what could be otherwise an uninspiring prompt. On the approach of the anniversary of Freddie’s death, a wonderful, homage to great artist and musician. You had me wondering about the song Delilah. However, if I were to find something to critique, the ending was a little flat for me. While I very much appreciate your effort to be original, it seemed like you ran a out of steam on the story and the ending. BUT -- Brava! A very enjoyable read.

*********

#7 – The Cat Parade

SPAG: 5
T&V: 4.5
Evaluation: 4.5
Reaction: 4.5
Total: 18.5

I am out of my depth judging this entry. I know very little of poetry and poetic prose. So, I apologize that I can only critique it in my own depth of understanding. I feel you have made a significant effort to make what appears to be a light fluffy prompt into a piece laden with literature and profundity. This sentence had an impact on me, “Humans have minds that will slip on the slopes and get lost in the meaning of ‘meant;’ but not so the cats, the hunters of rats; the felines need only a scent.” Even on its own, there is so much meat. I appreciated the challenge of the read and how much this entry made me think. Well-done!


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#8 – The Cat Parade

SPAG: 3
T&V: 4
Evaluation: 3.5
Reaction: 4
Total: 14.5

A nice story, and a good read. I always did wonder what happens after the nine lives. I found it easy to imagine the visuals without a lot of adjectives or other purple...kudos. I like your style, it's clear and to the point. Have another look at your formatting around dialogue and internal monologue. I was looking for a bit more cleverness, perhaps a twist at the end. But overall well-done.


Thanks for taking part, and take a look at our November contest, out now.
 
Last edited:

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
It's funny what a little research can do! Had no idea about the Freddie Mercury/cat connection, but I'm so glad I looked into it. Thank you all so much for your kind words and congratulations; means the world to me. This was a fun one to write, but also included a second ohmage to my girl, Penny. I still miss her! :)

More congrats to Lawless and Ripetide - good job you!!
 
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