January 2010 Flash Fic Voting Thread B

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Tristis, Jan 22, 2010.

?

Select 1 to 3 stories max between this and other January Flash Fic thread

Poll closed Jan 30, 2010.
  1. The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  3. Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot) by Todd Banker (txshusker)

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  6. So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)

    4 vote(s)
    33.3%
  7. Live free or die by Michael Aaron (Zachariah)

    4 vote(s)
    33.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Tristis

    Tristis Forgive us our tristises

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Messages:
    685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This is the voting thread (B) for the January Flash Fiction Contest. Here are our submitters and their works. Enjoy. And remember to vote.


    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth

    Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)

    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni

    Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot) by Todd Banker (txshusker)

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron (Zachariah)


    The poll is open to everyone, so even if you have not submitted, please give the submissions a read and vote for your favourites.

    Reviews are very welcome and encouraged. You can submit comments to the individual stories in the story forum, but I hope you also paste them in the voting thread so they don't get missed.

    You have 3 votes to divvy up between the THREE threads.
    You don't have to use all your votes if you only feel one or two stories deserve a vote.
    You can only give one vote per submission.
    Voting ends at something like 3 AM my time, January 30. But for clarity, you should take note of the poll closing date /time for your area.

    Good luck to all and may the winner as of January 31 enjoy the splendor of your prize…which is the holding of the next contest.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  2. Sterling13

    Sterling13 Registered User

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    616
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Trials of El Gordo
    This sentence feels off – ‘Just as he started to relax, Gordon inhaled sharply and his heart began racing in his chest.’
    I’d rather the mention of the red haired girl image occur before Gordon’s reaction.
    The final “balls” at the end of the story doesn’t feel quite right with the scene (it is absolutely PERFECT for the first two instances at the beginning of the story).
    I really, really like this story – I was completely wrapped up in it from the get go. I have a few pieces of confusion:
    1) What account deposit is he waiting for at the beginning?
    2) Is he crazy or not? Meaning… does the whole thing take place in his mind, and the scene with the nurse at the end is the only true “real” event?
    3) I was a bit surprised that the “thought exchange” killed the man in welfare office… it felt like he was just trying to strip the man of his thoughts, so the whole killing thing felt… tacked on?
    Not sure what to do about this story. I really want to vote for it, but feel like there are a few things I need to overlook to be able to do so.

    Colony by Sean Regan
    This line - ‘You know it, baby’ feels out of place with the rest of his speech.
    Gah, this thing is just so darn close. I absolutely love the text, love the back and forth conversation that gives us little bits and pieces of the characters. I especially liked this line – ‘His fingers fanned out along the curve. Math by touch. "It's like y equals x cubed, or a variation on that," he said.’
    But I don’t get it. The being, with his inquisitive nature and oddly placed naivety… he feels to me like a robot or some other form of AI… that is, in a way, being taught. But that doesn’t sit too well when I look back at the line where the MC says ‘"You don't know math…’
    I’m thrown for a loop here. Just another hint or two and this would quite easily make my final list.

    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni
    This seems like a strange line – ‘Not even the bodies remained, he remembered.’
    This sentence confuses me – ‘Had Jim stepped aside, he would have happily accepted the job’ - We’re talking about Horizon Beta here, right, not Alpha? This is my major point of confusion, and seems to be with the story… when exactly is “now”? The opening feels like it occurs within hours after Horizon Alpha’s launch, then we flash back to Jim pre-Alpha, then flash back to pre-Beta with his conversation with the other astronauts (which I believe is before the board room meeting), then final end up back in “now” (I think). Okay… I believe I have it all pieced right now, but it took me a bit to get there.
    Overall, there are some decent lines, and the storyline is solid… but the storyline already happened. I would have liked to have something happen in the “now” moment… the board meeting perhaps?

    Level 3 by Carin Marais
    '...the future looked bleak.'
    'Bleaker' than the 2 centuries of war past? That struck me a bit odd. I'm also a bit confused why the traders would posion their cash cow, or why no one had travelled to the city in the meantime, given that it was only a few hours away. And the ending confuses me as well - where is the underground city? Had Johan dreamed the place, been gone years instead of hours?
    I really like the concept - the people giving into unfounded fear - but I feel like some of the details needed to be ironed out.


    The Prisoner by Todd Banker
    The word “Whippet” (Bart’s last name?) kinda came out of nowhere.
    My major question – Why does Kalgon even show up? Based on the last meeting (I remember the superpowers flash entry) I can’t think that he’d give the Puppetmaster another second of his time. Also… why would anyone be closed in a room with, though powerless, an unshackled prisoner?
    There’s something overall disjointed about this continuation of the prior story. It just doesn’t quite feel right as a standalone.

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner
    This line threw me – “A kid stands in the street, looking down into his own eyes,…”
    It took until I got to the second occurrence at the end to figure out exactly what went on here.
    Very cool read – showing the outcome of Tony’s two choices. I like how you didn’t have choice #2 come up all roses. It’s a lighter punishment for Tony (and the kid), but still the accident occurs.
    As a side note – I’m not a fan of the title… seems to conflict with the mood of this piece.
    It’s going to make my list of contenders, but feels like a long shot for a vote. Nothing wrong with the piece, just a personal preference for something strange/new (perhaps I’m judging it as too mild based on your past entries? Hopefully I’m not…)

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron
    You had me hooked with the beginning: the music, the boat, the advertising, the harpoon, the legal department… but then you lost me completely at the “…we’ve been advised to ram you under the Naval Economic Zone act…” line. It just felt so out of place, a very barbarian resolution for the world you had been building up until this point. I had expected a ton of lawyers, months (years) before resolution… or, heck, taking it the other way, maybe a computer where they input the data of the current conflict and a legal ruling pops out.
    Maybe I’m letting this part bother me more than it should… because the rest of the story is very well done.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  3. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,695
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    88
    Thanks Sterling. How shall I answer your questions 3?
    #1 - He was waiting for his social assistance payment to be direct deposited into his acct without which he is left high and dry. No $ for rent, smokes, etc.
    #2 - I was hoping to give the reader some question as to whether he was "crazy" early on. But no in my mind he was not "crazy" - but his actions etc probably/hopefully made him look a little crazy. But I did not want it to be confusing. Fine line I guess.
    #3 - EEEK tacked on. Thats not good. The scene for the confrontation came early on for me and seemed pivotal to me b/c he knew there would be some damage to himself. The man died not so much directly from the psychic powers business but from the physiological response caused by the heightened emotion/thought. The stress caused the heightened BP etc and bingo bango - heart attack or stroke - I dont know which.

    Hope this clears things up. Food for thought for me for writing my next story. Clear in my mind may not mean it is clear in the readers mind.
     
  4. PeterWilliam

    PeterWilliam Omnibus Prime

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    2,471
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Acchhh! This third vote is killing me. I've considered, and really liked the entries by marshwriter, txhusker and Zachariah, but in the end, my final vote went with................Daddy Darth.

    Viva El Gordo!!!
     
  5. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,695
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    88
    Poll B
    I posted thoughts over in the Stories section but thought I would have a reread and give some additional or at least reiterated thoughts. You’ll never get much out of me for critique in regards to commas, punctuation and their ilk - others do that much better. What I am looking for in terms of casting a vote is a complete tale that gives me an emotional response hopefully and does not snap me out of it with questions or confusion.

    The Trials of El Gordo by Me
    A fine bunch of hallabaloo.

    Colony by Sean Regan
    Well written story with good dialogue. Thanks for clarifying the title in the stories thread - it helped me understand a little better what you were trying to do. I wish it had moved me more. I did not find myself investing in the characters. I think it may have more to do with where I am in my life vs. where they are in theirs. So I don’t have much to complain about with your story - it just was not a good fit for me.

    Balthazar’s Legacy by Jordan Lanni
    I think your story had some real potential and I liked the space exploration idea. I still think it could have been better if told so that Blair had seen the explosion occur and had to react to it and then face the choice.

    Level 3 by Carin Marais
    I found the first half of the story kind of awkward with a little too much description and I was not believing in it. But the second half of the story as you moved towards resolution was much better and quite interesting to me especially with the twist where he could not find the entrance and his reaction.

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon Wondernot) by Todd Banker
    I really enjoyed your story - so much so that I glossed over why the boy would go there at all or why he would be let in. I just loved where you went with it and Bart’s action/decision. It felt very evil. Cool character.

    So This Guy Walks into a Bar by Pete Warner
    Great writing as always and an inventive way to tell a story in so little time. I did get tripped up with the ghost kid and how you worked that in there. I liked your explanation in the stories section re: the drinks.

    Live Free or Die by Michael Aaron
    Another well written story with some fascinating world building of future earth. Objectively it is a great story. I personally could not fully love it b/c of the suicide - though you point out in the stories feedback that for him the other option was also death. I am conflicted about this one but it has nothing to do with the stories quality.
     
  6. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,695
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    88
    Well I for one am relieved Sterling did not counsel you out of casting a third vote (though he makes a good point - I almost cast only 2 last month but I just cant let things go to waste) and that you did not go aquatic either - kidding...mostly. Much appreciation PW. :D

    As always voting hard!! I have one figured out and then there is a tough race. I think there are certainly three deserving of votes this month.
     
  7. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    2,852
    Likes Received:
    68
    Trophy Points:
    83
    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth

    So, I believe you've gotten better at this. I like that you used your own personal knowledge and experience as a social worker. It comes through, making this story seem believable and, in the end, really helped you create a cohesive piece.

    There were some run-on sentences and, I think, some misplaced commas, but all in all, good job.

    Like Peter said, this piece is thought provoking.

    Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)

    I didn't have anything against this entry save for the fact that I had no idea what it was about. I just ended up really confused by the end.

    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni

    I think you have a strong narrative voice. I like how you characterize through actions. Over all, I think you have a very economical and strong writing style. I would like to read something else by you. Actually, to be quite frank, your writing actually reminds me of an author I'm currently reading at the moment. (David Weber) Unfortunately, there is a but. . .

    This story didn't feel self contained to me. It felt like it was a part of a bigger story. I guess I'm just saying it wasn't flash to me.

    I also agree with DaddyDarth's suggestion about more action. I think that would have given it a more complete view and scope. I also think it'd give it more of a complete story sort of thing, y'know? 'cos as of right now, I felt that the story itself was a little flat and a tad uninteresting. (I'm sorry :eek: )

    I really like your writing, though. :)

    Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)

    Time for me to say it again:

    Formatting!

    Adding a space between paragraphs and lines of dialogue really help a reader out. Otherwise it's a giant wall of text. This makes it hard for the eye to discern where a thought and idea begin and end.

    On to the story:

    I'm wondering if you had began this piece at your second paragraph, if it would have given it more punch. It would also have started with the POV of your protagonist, which is always a nice way to introduce your main character. Of course, it's not the only way and this is only a suggestion.

    I'm also wondering about the ending... It left me a little confused.

    I liked the concept of people hiding out for no reason, though.

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon Wondernot) by Todd Banker

    Well, I'm with DailyRich on the philosophical back and forth thing. I'm just not into it for a flash story. And while you brought a twist at the end into it, the bulk of the story was still philosophical banter. Also, I didn't feel that there was any resolution to it.

    This is all personal opinion, of course, but for me, as a self contained story, it didn't pan out. Sorry.

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)

    I agree with the others about the choice and luck. However, I also got the impression that you were reminding us that choices, either good or bad ones, can often lead us down the same path, or at least a parallel one. He still hit the kid. He still drank and drove either way.

    As for how I feel about this entry. . . I'm not quite sure. There's a portion of me that really enjoyed it. That portion is the intellectual part of me. The "I read for entertainment part of me" didn't really like it. But that part of me has to realize that reading shouldn't always be a passive activity. You should exercise the brain every so often.

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron

    Well, as I said before I really liked the concept of the legalities. I just didn't like the ending and the whole music thing. And those are personal choices.

    EDIT:

    In the end, I chose the entries of DailyRich, PeterWilliam, and Sterling13.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  8. Tristis

    Tristis Forgive us our tristises

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Messages:
    685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This is a duplicate post to one you can find in thread A

    Okay, so then.

    I made a little error in not stating that notice of stories had to be posted in the contest thread and HE has uncovered this oversight with his entry. I trolled the stories section, and the community section first and thought I had fourteen entries. I found fourteen scrolling through the contest thread and that was enough check/balance action for me in the wee hours of morn.

    So. HE's story is in the contest and now he has a thread—all to himself, mind you. At this point, you can only review him. If you want to vote for him, just wait a few hours and his poll will open. I'm trying to get it to end at the same time as the others. Since it seems I can only manipulate how many days (rather than hours) I can keep the poll open, I thought it best to wait to the same starting hour.
     
  9. TheGhost

    TheGhost Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Y'all are thinking too hard. The two characters are just a woman and a man, mid- to late 20s, unmarried and living in a certain time and place, and cigarette smoke is (figuratively) in the air.

    As I mentioned in the story thread, this is an old piece of writing, from the mid-90s. Thinking about it now, I'd probably choose something besides armpits, and you're totally correct about the "baby" line. I was too lazy to change it. Interesting that you perceived the man as being "taught" in some fashion by the woman; that might be, in a way, what's going on.
     
  10. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2002
    Messages:
    4,517
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    123
    I had eight contenders:
    Colony
    Erebus
    Joe 2.0
    Live free or die
    Morningstar vs Jehovah
    Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair
    So, this guy walks into a bar
    Trey’s Choice
    I voted for Live Freee or Die because of the beauty of the imagined world. Not physical but completeness. Everything I needed to understand that world is included in the story and as well as everything I might wonder about being suggested as well. And it ends satisfactorily. Besides, I’ve always had a fondness for the Bruce Willis movies.
    And I voted for Trey’s Choice for newcomer of the month. The story had a significant theme, presented it well, and reached an unhappy but thoroughly satisfying ending.

    And of course, I hit the wrong button.
    Fredian slip as I really liked colony. Since I have a third vote, will a mod please amend my voting to include both Colony and Live Free or Die. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  11. jordanlanni

    jordanlanni Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth
    I really liked this story, I thought it was well-written and unique, with a good ending. Both times reading, I can't help but wonder if the two runners he passes are in fact the man at the end in his wife (just a thought, I have no idea what you intended). Good job.

    Colony by Sean Regan
    Unfortunately, I've read this story several times and I still don't understand it. I get the idea but it just doesn't make sense. Sorry.

    Level 3 by Carin Marais
    I like the idea but some of the dialogue was difficult to follow because I couldn't easily tell who said what. The infodump was a little too much, too soon. The action was rushed, and the ending was a little off, too - it didn't match the rest of the story, I guess. I liked the concept, though.

    The Prisoner by Todd Banker
    First, I love the subtitle of this story. I enjoyed this one with the unusual twist at the end, though I wonder what happened to Kalgon's spirit after it was displaced and I was curious what kind of trouble he'd cause with his freedom. I felt the prison cell around me, and I liked how you weaved the descriptions into the dialogue. Good job.

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner
    I enjoy your descriptions and the atmosphere though I was confused by the two kids and their significance. Does know one notice him because he's a ghost? What it really felt like to me was the same story written twice just with a slightly different kid and ending. However, I enjoyed the concept of choices and how they affect our lives.

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron
    Wow, what a great entry. It was immersive, exciting, detail-packed but not heavy, I really enjoyed it! I felt like I was on that iceberg watching the entire saga play out. But the idea that he would rather in freedom than live in slavery was chilling (no pun intended). Great job, you should be proud.
     
  12. jordanlanni

    jordanlanni Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks so much for your feedback. I'm often very critical and insecure about my writing style so I'm very happy it worked out for you.

    I understand the difficulties people have had with the story itself, and while I was writing it I recognized those flaws. I felt, too, it was more like a snippet. Thanks for reading it and your feedback, I appreciate it. :) It's all the learning experience.

    I'm sorry the pacing confused you :( Let me see if I can sort it out for you.
    1) the "had Jim stepped aside" part was pre-Alpha, for if had Jim declined the mission Blair would have accepted it.
    2) the "now" of the story is a month after the explosion and hours before the launch of Beta. He's been grieving, they've investigated the tragedy and now they are ready to launch again.
    3) the Jim memory is pre-Alpha, the memory of the board meeting was pre-Beta, and finally back to "now" again when he decides.

    I hope I cleared it up for you, I will take that into consideration in the future.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  13. venustar

    venustar Lost in Devaland

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Trials of El Gordo
    By Daddy Darth


    Good job. No, GREAT job. I am impressed.

    As a nutcase myself, I feel a sort of unjustified kinship with Gordon. This is good because that means the writing really brought him to life. Poor guy.

    The only thing I can think to nitpick is the beginning; from the first “Balls” to the “Double Balls.” (heh) . It works, but… meh… I would have liked for you to use that space and go more into his struggles with his power. But it really doesn’t matter, because you pulled it off anyway.

    Pretty darn likely to get my vote.

    Colony
    By Sean Regan


    Hmm.

    That being said, you do have a way with dialog. It feels like a clip; a well-written cut-to scene that serves as a story in and of itself, but part of a larger whole.

    I have no real nitpicks with this one. I thought it was well crafted. I like the body parts being defined as colonies. Interesting.

    Balthazar's Legacy
    By Jordan Lanni


    There is nothing structurally wrong with this story. You have a good pace, good dialog, and it is clear and concise.

    However, I’m with DD, in that I would have liked it better if you had gone with a description of the explosion, and on from there. I’m a bit of a rubbernecker, I admit. I want the big bada-booms, and would have felt more for empathy for Blair, had I experienced what he’d experienced in
    watching Jim’s flight-turned-disaster.

    All in all, I think you have a great piece.

    Level 3
    By Carin Marais


    Alright. I was lost in a confusing jumble of description during the first few paragraphs. Not sure if that was due to the dreaded formatting issues or the words themselves, so I’ll let that go.

    It didn’t make sense to me why the people would be poisoned. Why would they be fed these lies and rumors, if not for the sole purpose of generating revenues for the traders? I mean, I really liked the concept of the naive to be led to these extremes, but it seems rather pointless for them to be killed off in that fashion… unless, of course, you intended for them to be eradicated for some other reason (their loyalties or beliefs, perhaps)? If that was the case, then it would have been better off if that was written into the story somehow.

    The Prisoner
    (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot)
    By Todd Banker


    Well done! I liked this one very much. Of course, there are some obvious questions raised by HE in the Stories thread, but to tell you the truth, I didn’t even think of those questions until I read his post. Not sure if that means I’ve gotten off my game at this point, or if I was just immersed in your story, but there you have it.

    I enjoyed it, regardless.

    So this guy walks into a bar…
    By Pete Warner/Hoodwink


    Gah!! Applause, applause, applause! This is an excellent entry. Heck, I love all of your entries, but this one… wow.

    I was reading the replies to your Stories thread, and was kind of thinking I missed something when the question kept appearing regarding the kid in the backseat. When I got to your explanation, I was glad that I had assumed correctly. It adds another layer to the story; makes it all the richer.

    Mr. Hoodwink, excellent job. When I grow up, I wanna be like you.

    Live Free or Die
    By Michael Aaron/Zachariah


    I’m going to develop a complex if I keep reading stories crafted better than I could ever hope to do. Darn it.

    Anyway, great entry! I might have chosen the same, had I been in Jake’s shoes. Forced into indentured servitude? No thanks.

    You did a fine job.

    Okay, one more thread, then I mull.
     
  14. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Messages:
    2,695
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    88
    Thanks for the kind words Venus.

    Now on to voting. The attention getters for me are Rapunzel, Morningstar v Jehovah, Joe 2.0, Choosing Direction, Colony, the Prisoner and Live Free or Die.

    Rapunzel gets vote #1 b/c it is a great fairy tale with a wicked ending. I loved it and it made me happy to read it.

    The Prisoner gets vote #2 b/c despite some questions that did not occur to me till after reading it I was pretty riveted from the beginning and loved the ending. It felt wicked.

    Choosing Direction gets vote #3 b/c it was another tale that kept me reading - needed to know how it ended and I was not dissapointed except I wanted more. Always a good thing. Uplifting.

    Jehovah and Joe were right in there. So well written and entertaining - on equal footing with each other. I really enjoyed them both.

    Live Free and Colony were in the mix b/c of solid writing.

    Another great month. Thanks all.
     
  15. DailyRich

    DailyRich Damn fool idealist

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    1,717
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    73
    The Trials of El Gordo
    "Some days he remembered saving a red headed girl" would have been a great closing line, especially given how you described his jumbled memories from before. I thought the beginning was a little unclear as to what was happening when -- was it ten minutes after meeting the social worker, ten minutes after checking his laptop, ten minutes after the meeting with the psychiatrist? It eventually clears itself up when you realize he's back in the waiting room from the beginning, but the timeline could have been a little more firmly established. Still, you did a great characterization of Gordo and detailed his conflict and his choice nicely.

    Colony by Sean Regan
    The dialog works, but I don't get the point being made. Is it a good thing the man was so happy with his second choice? Is the woman worried he was so willing to settle for his second choice? I'm all for some ambiguity, but I'm not quite sure what this was reaching for.

    Balthazar's Legacy
    I feel like the argument for not going was expressed better than the argument for going. I needed to see something more behind his decision to take the mission. And as others have said, I think we need to see the explosion, or maybe the full conversation the two men have before it, then segue to him in the boardroom.

    Level 3
    The situation you describe in the opening doesn't seem dire enough to force people to hide out underground and shun the outside world. Without a convincing reason for your premise to exist, it doesn't hold itself up. And we never really get to know Johan or his family, so the crisis doesn't have the weight it should. The twist is nicely done, but this needs a little more work to shore it up.

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot)
    I was worried for a bit that this was going to be nothing but a philosophical back and forth over the idea of choice (which, while it can be interesting, is my least favorite way of seeing a theme handled). Fortunately, you sprang a nice twist and left us wanting more. Nice save!

    So this guy walks into a bar...
    The choice not to have the chaser doesn't really seem to impact the story one way or another, which seems odd since it's described as a "pivot moment" both times it happens. What's pivotal about it if he still hits the kid? He doesn't hit him as hard because his reaction is faster? It doesn't feel as pivotal as it should.

    I hate to get bogged down on that, because the actual writing is very strong.

    Live free or die
    This:
    seemed a little shoe-horned in there in order to meet the theme. It just felt a little clunkly and on-the-nose compared to everything else, which is really, really good. And I get the final choice -- it's a black comic moment. He can work the rest of his life for his "freedom", or he can just let go and be free. It works.

    Live Free or Die and The Prisoner are under consideration from this group.
     
  16. MrBF1V3

    MrBF1V3 aka. Stephen B5 Jones

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    2,309
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    123
    More comments, at least from my side of the screen. I hope you can find something useful...


    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth
    I liked this story, a wanna be hero discovers it's not so easy, and in fact dangerous, so he backs off. But then he runs into a situation where he has to act, and does even though it effectively ends his career. That's what I read anyway. The nagging question is; what happened to the money in his account? Or was it actually his? Was he channeling someone else's account? And if he doesn't have money, where did he get a laptop? I think you answered this in other comments, but I tend to write mine before I read anyone else's.

    Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)
    Solve for "G"? Interesting, but I think I missed the point. You do a good job of building, setting up the characters and using first person. I've obviously read too much sci fi, when she pulled her arm from her body I expected it to be detached. Silly.

    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni
    On the one hand, well written, full of emerging emotion, on the other hand, the choice is the whole story, there’s nothing else. And it's not much of a choice--it seemed a little too obvious to me.

    Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)
    Nicely done. You're getting good at this. I felt for those left behind, and am only somewhat confused by the kid not being able to find his way back.

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot) by Todd Banker (txshusker)
    Revisiting the super powers story. Nice to see old friends again. The choice is pivotal here, but not the one I thought it was. The twist was one I didn’t expect but maybe I should have. You did say it isn’t the powers, it’s how you use them.

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)
    Usually a story that starts with that is a bit more light hearted., this was a cautionary take on drinking with a ghost who only has a chance, based on one decision which isn’t really the pivotal one but it does make enough of a difference, barely. Great job at showing both sides of a decision.

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron (Zachariah)
    Nicely done, paced just about right, and brought to a logical, though not reasonable, conclusion. The only unclear part, from my side of the page, was the beginning. This was a boat, I found out, but could have used a bit more description at first. Not much of a crit, but then, not much is needed. Having dealt with the insanity of insurance companies etc before. I would have let go too--and used a little sign language on the way down.

    B5
     
  17. marshwriter

    marshwriter Marshwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2008
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hi all... Just a few short notes on this month's FF


    The Prisoner
    Loved it! The only thing I felt was unnecessary was putting a slash between Kalgon and Bart in the following sentence: “When Bart’s true body did not react, Gord turned to Kalgon/Bart.” It felt to me that the reader would already know what had happened. Without the slash I think I would have understood it easier, but had to read the sentence a second time because of it.

    So this guy walks into a bar
    Haunting. Definitely a contender. What really struck me was that instead of not hitting the kid when he decided he not to have the parting drink, he struck him again, the only difference being not killing him. I had expected a swerve out of the way/some kind of stop before hitting him. Just that made it worth it for me. But I must add that the writing is also good.
    Live free or die
    It sucks when you read someone’s work that is just so much better than your own! I loved the world it plunged me into (no lame pun intended), yet keeping it familiar enough as well. Another contender…
    Also reminded me of ending up at the dr not being able to breathe and the reception lady first asking whether I would be paying cash or card…

    Level 3
    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! I guess I didn’t make some of the facts clear enough in the story if so many battled with it. I’ll include an explanation I wrote earlier – maybe that will help?
    For me the logic behind the story is that those below ground did not know that everything was hunky-dory up above – none of them ventured to the top level and the only news they got was through the traders. These traders were not of the most trustworthy ones – like the way in which they con the people below out of money and playing on their fears. Basically everything that the people below know of the new king etc., is based on hearsay – they believe the rumours, they believe the rumours to be negative, they believe the traders. That is also why the trader is so adamant that Johan’s father should not go above himself – he would give the whole game away. This for me is also the reason why the trader poisoned this grain – to keep the family for ruining their plans.
    When Jacob is outside he realises that they have all been taken for a ride – what the doctor in the caves had realised earlier (and that is why he asks of news from Johan). Why he took so long to fully realise this is because he was a) half-starved and b) worried for his family and only thinking about the medicine. When he goes back and can’t find the entrance, it harks back to the start of the story where it is stated that “most believed were inhabited by ghosts and evil spirits”. When the people start to starve, they forget about the “fairy tales” of the ghosts, but when Johan can’t find the entrance he realises that there was truth to the ghosts-spirit tales after all…
    I had thought that putting in the line by Potterglass:
    “Bless me, son, we thought you were all dead and gone! Stolen from us by the spirits in the night! Where are your family?”
    Thereby pointing the reader back to the “spirit/ghost” thing…

    Anyway, can’t wait for next month’s contest!
    Marsh :D
     
  18. txshusker

    txshusker A mere player

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    750
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth
    I have no technical or plot arching critique. I thought the story was well paced, clear, logically constructed, and fully developed. I'm not a huge fan of flashbacks in short stories, but in this one it worked in the arc and enhanced the action, versus simply explaining to the reader a history and getting us up-to-date.

    So just in comment:
    From the title, I inherently thought of Gordon as fat, and though you don't have any physical description for him, I assumed that the childhood taunt was as much about weight as it was a play on of his name. (?) Not that that means anything to the story itself, but just letting you know that if that wasn't the intent, be cautious next time out on double meanings.

    I wonder if the story was posted in a non-spec fiction place, if most people would just assume the inference of true ESP powers was a sham, and that the guy was just off a little. For me, I'm still wondering which is true - which I think is your intent - but only because it's posted on a spec fiction board. It reads to me like the visions of arson and the little girl and the "splices" are his own experiences he's contributing to others to assuage his own guilt and shame. I love the fact that you leave the reality in your own mind up to the reader. Nice story, well done.

    Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)
    I could smell the cigarette smoke in the air while reading this. Intriguing throughout with dialogue instead of action. Well done.

    "But it's not the one you wanted. It was your second choice, the second," I said, without regret, because I knew this fact meant everything and would mean everything to him, no matter what he said otherwise."

    Is the line that you are working towards throughout the whole piece, but it reads awkward(ly?) to me. I understood the gist, but uncombining the phrases and creating multiple sentences might have made it clearer and more definitive - had more impact. For me, anyway.


    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni
    Nice story. I think with a little editing it could have been tighter - I was a little lost the first time through. Mainly some unsteady rhythm from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph.

    But more than that, for me, the sequence of events throws it off. Instead of a flashback to the meeting during Tural's internal debate, start with the meeting itself - or that part of the meeting - or what DD said about starting with the explosion, then to the meeting, then to the memory of Balthazar and the internal debate.

    Then again, you probably chose to try it this way on purpose. I find flashbacks hard to write without expositioning too much or becoming confusing, so it's a personal preference of style more than anything else.

    Keep it coming.

    Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)

    Technically it's fine. There are a few areas where it could use a little re-working and some clarity, but not bad. It moves forward well and the pace is fine.

    I never buy into the plot points, though. I can get through the original building of the and set up of the sanctuary. But I don't buy logic of the families cutting themselves off from the rest of the world without the actual final crash - seems too extreme. Nor the forgetfulness of the neighbors they left behind. The poisoning of his family by the trader, you explain in the notes here, that it was because the trader did not want Johan's father to go to the outside world, but I didn't see the father's desire to do so set up in the story. I was expecting some more sinister plan, but no explanation was forthcoming, so it left me confused. And I was not sure why he could not find the entrance again. Was it a secret entrance that was forgetful? Were the missing traders the landmark? I assume he had passed through it a few times when they were moving in and had a good idea where it lay. So i did not fully understand why he was at a loss.

    I like the idea of the situation and conclusion, but for me the reasons for the plot movement don't work.


    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot) by Todd Banker (txshusker)

    My own effort. Thanks for the kind words and those showing faults. I agree with critique about the conversation, I hate using that as a means of showing the theme, and didn't intend for it togo the direction it did - in retrospect, I probably should have used another method of instigating the meeting and entry into the conclusion. Most of the things most readers felt the story lacked, (why K was there in the first place, etc...) were in the original rendition, but in this effort I sacrificed underlying reason explanations for action and foreward movement, and hoped I dropped enough hints throughout to give a little basis for them. (Draft 1 was 1800 words, so there was a lot of sacrificing...) And the end was a little complicated with the K/B stuff, but I was hoping that the slashing would actually help define who was who, not confuse matters. Doh! Now I feel the wrath! But I am relatively happy with the exercise as a whole.

    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)

    I like the style and presentation of the two variations, but not sure I completely got it as a piece. Maybe I'm just reading too much into things.

    First, minutely, as it reads, I was a little confused by this "He’s been driving on two for years. He can drive better on two than most people can drive on none" because I wasn't sure what "two" was referring to - I know that's a bit obtuse, but I wasn't sure if it was cars, or wheels.. I finally got it in the lower story that it was pints! Doh. But it distracted me for a time.

    and this : "doesn’t see the kid on the backseat"
    I was not sure who the kid was. Whether it was his child he had forgotten about or the kid from the bar. Maybe a small added description of the school uniform would have clued me the first time around.
    (Those are pretty picky personal clarification points, too.)

    I like the style and presentation. But what I didn't get is the kid's presence at the bar before the man leaves and his overall function. Is this a time loop that he's reliving until he survives? And if that's the case, you have the same man/driver, but his character is slightly altered (as stated by the wife relations variance) so it actually is a parallel situation, not the same one being relived. Right?

    And finally, I come away with the thought that the actual survival was not because of the choice the man made to pass on the chaser, but rather due to pure random luck, since his driving reactions are the same both ways. I think that it depresses me that life is that random, but I also thought it was a different way to end it than expected, which I liked.

    I also liked the choice of the two frames/two variations/"sliding doors" mode.

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron (Zachariah)
    Got my vote.

    I loved the story. I was just hoping for a uplifting ending for a guy who had worked to get himself right but who needed a last break. However, the suicide wasn't right out of the blue; you set it up with his attitude and his internal thoughts (not to mention the TITLE!), so it was consistent with what had gone before and didn't keep me from enjoying the story. I don't see his choice of death any less valid than hari-kari (neither of which I am advocating, of course). The world you created and tone had me enjoyed and interested from the very beginning.

    The critique of today's commercialism is spot on, as is the orporate "ramming" attitude. Isn't that how Walmart works? I love the set up of using icebergs for ads. Clever. (But haven't you heard... icebergs won't be around in 200 years.) I think your presentation was very consistent and the pacing was even.

    nice work. thanks.
     
  19. Tristis

    Tristis Forgive us our tristises

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Messages:
    685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Trials of El Gordo by Daddy Darth
    An excellent story. It was well-told, had great characterization and setting. There were enough solid details to give a solid sense of every scene. The drama was there. The climax was a climax and the resolution was fitting to the story.

    Colony by Sean Regan (TheGhost)
    Well written and seductive. It was easy to read. Obviously it is much more character centred than plot, which is fine. It has a nice slow flow to it. I must have missed something in how it relates to the title, though.


    Balthazar's Legacy by Jordan Lanni
    I understood the dilemma. I think it was resolved well. There were a couple of word choice problems for me. I think “arose” just yanked me right out of the story for a second.

    Level 3 by Carin Marais (marshwriter)
    Hmm. Cool. I thought I could see the ending coming, but then it there was a little twist and an end that was off to the side there. This is a fairly thought provoking piece.

    The Prisoner (The Continuing Misadventures of Kalgon WonderNot) by Todd Banker (txshusker)
    I had fun reading this. I like bad-guy perspectives so much. The sound effects were great, the pacing was good. I liked the tone of it. I think Kalgon could have been a little more presented. Fine that he is part of a larger story, but I would have liked some specific insight here. What drew him in? Did he battle any fear or other instinct that would have kept him safely away (or made him come armed)?


    So this guy walks into a bar... by Pete Warner (Hoodwink)
    Another excellent story Mr. Hoodwink. I depend on you to write something both brilliant and sideways and here I sit, not disappointed. I love repetition done well (it can be so painful when not done well) and this was like poetry.

    Live free or die by Michael Aaron (Zachariah)
    Another great piece. I was impressed with the world building as well as the complicated little adventure. The gizmos were cool, too. Everything was believable, right down to the royalty laden “ancient” music.