I voted for Rebirth of the Phoenix, Kanshi, and Lepidoptera.
Kanshi by Brenda Pernack (venustar)
What His Sister Saw by Tristis Ward (Tristis)
Sisterhood by Sean Regan
Traditions Old and Unforgotten by Peter William (PeterWilliam)
Two Brothers by David McPherson (Sancho)
Lepidoptera by Robert Garbin (Gkarlives)
The Tree by Mike Hazelwood (DaddyDarth)
One of us by Federico Patané (SuperFede)
Rudy by XXX (dandelliondeath)
I voted for Rebirth of the Phoenix, Kanshi, and Lepidoptera.
The lawless and capricious nature of the post-war world is one in which Victor can do as he pleases, maintain a thinly veiled level of 'plausible deniability' and continue through life unaltered, as he clearly feels justified in his act of murder. More than anything else, I was interested to see how and where early twenty-first century readers would level judgment upon characters/circumstances.
I thought your character just did not care about consequences. He took justice, so to speak, into his own hands. Charles Bronson style.
Again, apologies for the brevity but I was cutting it close this month. I haven't read the rest of the thread so if any questions I've asked are already answered consider me understood
Kanshi by Brenda Pernack
Very well written piece, my only confusion is who the 'pain of a father' refers to. Is Jun the son of Fumito or Meiyo?
What His Sister Saw by Tristis Ward
Superb, the change of perspective on such a classic is fascinating and managed without a hitch. Very well done. Likely to get a vote
Sisterhood by Sean Regan
Aren't we a cheerful lot this holiday season Nice follow up to the earlier story, which I mostly remember, but this is obviously a longer piece being told in vignettes and as such there's no real resolution. You have a very easy writing style and a clear eye for detail, looking forward to more of it, particularly if you decide to branch out into one-off's.
Traditions Old and Unforgotten by Peter William
Great set-up, I'm thinking they're going to guess it was him anyway Well written with my kind of punchline. Definite contender.
Two Brothers by David McPherson
I'm not really one for the type of description you've used and the ending is very abrupt, if it is an ending. I think the components are there for a sad little story, a father so useless his kids don't know about Father Christmas, the almost impossible discovery etc but I don't think you managed to get the balance right this time.
Lepidoptera by Robert Garbin
Feels unfinished, like it's the beginning of a story. I'm not big on the flowery language at the start, I think you went for something perhaps a little too descriptive for a FF story with a few overly long sentences.. On the flipside I think this story shows another significant improvement in your writing and I think this competition has really brought your work along. You've got the makings of an interesting world and potentail storylines here, perhaps the longer formats will allow you to develop it.
The Tree by Mike Hazelwood
Very Hallmark I'd query things like how he got lost in woods he should know so well etc but I think that's irrelevant to the story. Heart warming and mushy, not my cup of tea but it is christmas
One of us by Federico Patané
Decent effort, my main complaint would be that nothing actually happens - not even her having a small fight - and the whole special relationship is dismissed too easily with the women being 'invincible' (We all know they are but seriously make them work for it ) Not so much a story as an idea but one with plenty of mileage if you choose to pursue it.
Rudy by XXX (dandelliondeath)
Good old coincedence. Your writing is a little awkward, particularly usage of spoken phrases in some instances and the dialogue is a mess. But you've got plenty to work with if you clean up the language and grammar elements, I think the story doesn't really fit together very well with a few too many issues unclear.
Not-entered but still did the work, so deserved a look:
The Call by Todd Banker
This to me is one of the fascinating things about writing, like Tristis and yourself did, you can take any story and wonder about the smallest details. Who were the wisemen? Who was Scrooge to his family? It gives familiar stories a freshness that makes you re-examine them all over again, creating more stories and giving depth to the old ones. By way of the long route that is to say I like this. It's well structured, easily read with the familiar made new. Looking forward to next month's entry.
Jonathan Barley by Carin Marais
This is disjointed, I had to read the end section several times to really understand it. I think breaking it up into a few paragraphs just to take away the breathless nature of how it's written would improve the flow and possibly re-spacing the story so the second page starts 'His mind raced...' would give it a bit more clarity. There's nothing wrong with what you've written and it is quite engrossing at times, it's mostly just let down by structure. With no method of dividing then-and-now the reader is left separating the pieces themselves which takes us right out of the story.
After some deliberation I voted for What His Sister Saw, The Endurance of Snails and Traditions Old and Unforgotten all of whom just beat out Rich's His Eyes, How They Twinkled.
To answer your question, DD, I am intimately involved with a Samurai. Or I'm obsessed with them to the point that I would believe as such. Either way, I didn't do too much research, other than to make sure my spelling and contexts were correct.
Kater, the pain of a father relates to Fumito's orders for Meiyo's seppuku, on the basis that Meiyo failed in keeping Lord Fumito's daughter alive.
Alright, so I made the mistake of thinking that if I took most of my vacation time at Xmas, my holiday would be relaxing. I mean, I don't have kids. I could stay at home and chill. Well, apparently, the world doesn't work that way. When people find out you're on vacation you become the babysitter, the housesitter, the dog walker, the shopping partner, the hostess and the all around helper.
And then you get called in to work on your last day of vacation. But by that time you don't really mind and you want to get away from other people's rugrats and you think "Hey, I'm getting paid double time for this. Might as well."
So, I have read everyone's stories, but I haven't written full feedback for them all yet. I will post the ones I have done and hope I can get the rest done before the end of tomorrow.
I have read other people's critiques of the stories and it seems I've had very different experiences when reading this month's entries.
Kanshi by Brenda Pernack/venustar
I liked the premise. I did feel, however, that there were some timing and pacing issues. I found that it jumped around a lot in time. I found myself slightly confused as to when each bit was occurring. I think jumping around in time too much in a story of such short length isn’t really a good idea. But that’s just my own personal opinion. Feel free to disagree with me. Some notes:
>>It is what I have always been taught
You’ve got two tenses going on there. is taught
>>When I was faced with it, I balked.
Faced with what? Yes, we learn a bit about it in the next sentence, but when I was initially reading it I stopped reading and thought “with what?”. Then I resumed reading. It took me out of the story a bit.
>>An honorable man always falls forward. It is what I have always been taught, and what I’ve always believed. With faith in his heart and a strong love for his people; an honorable man dies on his knees, not his back.
When I was faced with it, I balked. Rather than accept the request of my beloved Sensei with grace, I allowed anger to grow in my heart, and it is only in my own throes of death do I finally understand why he asked it of me. Only now, at the feet and under the cold eyes of Fumito, the Lord of Tadaoka, do I accept my master’s desires to die without protest; with a blade in his belly and the katana pressing upon his neck.
The tears streaming down my face are not borne of pain, but of grief and shame.
Grammar - Ok. You’ve started the story in the past perfect simple and then suddenly, in the third paragraph, we’re now in the present. I found this a bit jarring.
Suggestion – Start your story with this bit. This hooks. Ok. Now the story starts. You want to put that other stuff in there, put it in later. Starting your story with a line like:
The tears streaming down my face are not born of pain, but grief and shame.
A reader will slightly lean forward in their seat, their interest piqued.
>>the man whom I called teacher…a man who
Ok. There is a bit of contention on the ellipsis. Some say there should be no spaces between them, while others say that there should be a space. There are even some who think you should put a period after it. So, four dots. A lot of it has to do if you’re following tradition, the MLA or the APA. Whichever way you want to go about it, please put a space after the last one and the first letter of the first word following the ellipsis.
What His Sister Saw by Tristis Ward/Tristis
I liked it. The pros outweighed the cons.
The Pros: It was interesting. I liked the twist of the theme. I can see why you thought some would find it offensive, but I didn’t. I really enjoyed your premise. Very inventive. I enjoyed reading the journal entries. And honestly, I almost always skip journal entries in books. I know it’s bad, but they’re usually kind of boring. Yours weren’t.
The Cons: I got really confused over who was who and who’s house she was going to and who contacted her.
>>It was described in a disturbing letter she received by post from her sole other family member in far off London, a nephew and only child of their sister, Fran.
The letter about her brother’s death was sent to her by a young lad who is both nephew and sister to Fran? That doesn’t sound right.
>>So it was off to London Raziela went.
I’m not entirely sure on this one, but I think having “it was” and “went” is redundant. I’d suggest:
So, to London Raziela went.
So is an interjection here.
>>She would find the answer within the remains of her brother’s life.
Ooooh. I thought she was seeing the nephew/brother guy.
>>“Costumes and puppets.” The one she now held up was both.
How can a puppet be a costume?
Rudy by dandilliondeath
Hello there! Welcome to the Flash Fiction Contest. New entrants are always welcome!
I liked the concept for your story. I like the reunion at the end. You are right when you said it didn’t quite follow the theme, though.
Now, I’m going to take a guess and say that English isn’t your first language, right? I got this impression because of some grammatical issues I found. (If I’m not right, I could never express my apologies enough) In my critique below I’ve indicated which sentences need some grammatical corrections. While I understand a lot about grammar (and I don’t know everything, that’s for sure), I don’t know a lot of the vocabulary used when describing English grammar. So, I’m going to try to help you with it, but I might not be able to describe it in a language you’ll understand. (Honestly, I’ve found that people who have English as a second language have a better grammatical vocabulary than native speakers). I’m going to try, though.
I have also indicated some words and phrases that are generally not used in English. I don’t know what your first language is, but I’m guessing it’s an inflected language. It’s got cases, doesn’t it? At least to me, some of your sentence structure seems that it would make much more sense in an inflected language.
First off. . . The format of the initial dialogue really caught me off guard. I don’t think I liked it. I think regular ol’ quotation marks work just fine.
>>I can still recall it clearly…
Ok. I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to relate a past experience to someone, I’m not going to say “I can still recall it clearly.” I’m more likely to say, “Oh man. In my second year of university, I had this roommate who loved watching infomercials. . .” I guess I just don’t buy that line as believable. It’s too formal.
Also. . . I don’t know about the country you live in, but here in Canada it’s illegal to ask if a job applicant has dependants. I know there was a reason for Rudy to ask this, but if I were asked this question during an interview, I’d make note of it. I also didn’t quite buy that an interviewer wouldn’t know the name of the person he was interviewing. Sorry.
>>Rudy was playing in the backyard with snow.
This sentence feels a little awkward. The kid was playing in the backyard and then “with snow” is kind of tacked onto it. May I suggest:
“Rudy was playing in the snow in the backyard.”
I’m saying “playing in” instead of “playing with”. You wouldn’t say “I was playing with rain”. You’d say you were “playing in the rain”. When it has to do with something like precipitation, you play in it, not with it.
>>For days we had been trying to make a Snowman.
Snowman doesn’t need a capital there, unless this is a special and magical snowman like Frosty and thus a title.
>>across the festival.
This sounds odd to me. Does the festival span a large amount of land? The word ‘across’ suggests that there’s a specific space. I’d suggest “during the festival”, personally, since a festival, while having a physical location, generally spans a duration of time.
>>He was six, so pretty much anything made him laughs.
Drop the s off of laughs.
>>They leaded me
Lead, not leaded.
>>They leaded me out to the bitterness of the northern winter, into the unknown.
I’m going to suggest using a colon instead of a comma there. Not everyone will agree with me on that, though. I just think it would really make the “into the unknown” pop. And I think you want it to pop. That’s why you put it there. (I think.)
>>Then I might as well die.
This sentence construction seems very awkward. To me, it looks like something that would make sense in an inflected language, but not in English. May I suggest:
That I might die as well.
>>As my final vitality disappeared I started to lose consciousness.
“as my final vitality” doesn’t really work, I don’t think. First off, if the final remnants of his life were disappearing, he wouldn’t be alive to tell the tale. Second, we don’t really use the word vitality in that sense in English.
The word vitality, though it has a couple of other meanings, is used more, in my experience, to mean the animation and liveliness of a person. For instance, if I saw an eighty year old man going for a jog in front of my house, I might say “That old guy has some serious vitality going on.” (Though really, in most circles, people would give me an odd look if I used the word vitality. It’s not used much.) It’s also used to describe something or someone’s endurance in existing. Example: “The vitality of the written word has proven to be. . .”
>>And then I was saved, someone, somehow, managed to find me and pulled me to safety. At the moment I was able to speak I shouted for Rudy, a lot of people had gathered around me but there was no Rudy.
There’s a lot going on in this sentence. I really think this needs to be broken up into a bunch of different ones. I’m going to suggest something like this:
“And then I was saved. Someone, somehow, managed to find me and pull me to safety. When I found my breath, I shouted for Rudy. A lot of people had gathered around me, but there was no Rudy.”
Here is my reasoning for this suggestion:
“And then I was saved.” This is one thought. End sentence.
“Someone, somehow, managed to find me and pull me to safety.” This is a second thought, completely unrelated to the first sentence. He was saved. He was found.
“When I found my breath, I shouted for Rudy.” I’m suggesting this and not using your own words because I feel that “At the moment I was able to speak” was:
1. Not something someone would actually say.
3. Awkward, but it’s awkward because of 1 and 2.
>>I didn’t put any attention in him
To put something somewhere is to physically place something into something else. You can’t do that with something like attention. You give someone attention.
>>I was sparkled
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “sparkle” used like that. To sparkle is to glitter or shine. I don’t think it’s the right word for this sentence.
Last edited by NickeeCoco; December 30th, 2009 at 11:38 AM.
In the end, I only used two votes. I went with Founder's Day and The Endurance of Snails. I felt that these two were the most complete, needed the least amount of editing and were marketable.
He's not saying he might also die because he's never going to see Rudy again, he's saying if he can't see Rudy again, he may as well be dead. It's a fairly common turn of phrase, so I'm surprised it caused you problems.The cold of the water invaded my heart just as is realized that I would never see Rudy again. Then I might as well die.
Van Halen isn't saying "I might jump as well" when they sing "might as well jump".
Here are a few notes... Opinions expressed are the sole property of the expressor, and should not be folded, spindled or mutilated. So there.
By: Brenda Pernack
I had a bit of trouble understanding what the narrator did to himself, I expected he would die, and maybe he was going to, but it wasn't really clear to me. The story is told with depth and feeling, and the most I can say is 'wow'.
What His Sister Saw
by Tristis Ward
A clever retelling of the Christmas story. Dickens would turn over in his grave, maybe he is. Nicely done though.
Sisterhood by Sean Regan
It's nice to see our young one has progressed so far. That being said, this particular account doesn't quite have the punch I expected. There were no twist nor turns, not a single surprise. Well written though, and interesting.
Traditions Old and Unforgotten by Peter William
Um, saw that coming. I'm surprised he didn't shush Harker with three fingers when they found the tree, that is, if Harker had been there -- he didn't show up, wink wink. Good presentation, good direction.
By David McPherson (Sancho)
Okay, I like it, well written, the conversation felt real the the characters were believeable, however, I'm still dealing with the end where it was. There is no definite what's going to happen next. One could suppose the bright side and father Christmas brings them what they want, but maybe not.
Lepidoptera by Robert Garbin (Gkarlives)
Nicely done, there is some colorful imagery and fine wordcraft to your story. I liked that the end was upbeat and not 'dark and gritty', but the end lacks some of the punch it could have. I felt a lack of information about what they hoped to accomplish with the rite, and what the tattooing meant, and how it was done. I guess I was left with a lot of questions.
by Mike Hazelwood
Starting with the tradition of searching for a tree and ending with a fight for life against the weather, which seemed to be stacked on the side of the weather, but isn't it always? I was good but not great, but that's just my opinion. I don't know how it could improve.
One of us
by Federico Patané.
This was unique, if for no other reason it gives you points. The story is good, makes sense, somehow I expected more at the end, this may be the beginning of a good short story or a novella. The red eyes thing would freak me. The fighting the enemies part is a problem, it's not mentioned or seen and seems like a fragment and not really tied to any thread.
Nice twist at the end, I should have expected it and didn't. The last section could have benefited from quotation marks, but that's about it, good stuff.
Kanshi by Brenda Pernack - There are some mis-handled time frame shifts that dilute the strength of the story. Consider reordering some of the passages. In addittion, without your clarification at the beginning, the story would not have meant as much to me, this should be part of the story.
What His Sister Saw by Tristis Ward - The connection to the theme is thin since it connects only to the fact the "A Christmas Carol" is a tradition for many at this time of year. The writing and characterization are good, but some story elements were too incredible to disbelive. Ebenezer was a real numbskull to fall for hokey puppets hanging from a hole in the ceiling.
Sisterhood by Sean Reagan - Very well written sequel fleshing out more of the world you are creating. Taken together, these stories could be the foundation of a good book. lots of cerrmony and tradition.
Traditions Old and Forgotten by Peter Williams - Well written but not to my liking. The main character comes off as a vigilante with severly slipped morals. He feels justified at getting furious at Harker for beating his sister, yet he sees no wrong in killing an officer of the law doing his duty. Unfortunately, their are many people like this in the world.
The Tree by Mike Hazelwood - Good writing but predictable. I did like the early characterization of the father and the terrible weight of fatherhood.
One of Us by Federico Patane - Good unusual story with a unique tradition somewhat akin to American Indian tradition. Some cleanup needed and maybe a little expansion to flesh out the story.
Rudy by Dandelliondeath - Needs a lot of cleaning up for timing and gramar, but can become a good story. Ending was predictable. Maybe expansion can improve the timing of the punch line with more misdirection.
Lepidoptera (my story) - Here are answers I have given to other people that cover most of the comments I have seen:
Actually everything is there, I just left a lot between the lines. The tribe has been a war for a thousand years. Every person in the tribe learns their place in the tribe through the Wood of Calling and for the last thousand years it has been returning warriors, weapons makers, generals, and people to support the war effort (Her bother comes out tattoed and dark of eye and leaves for his duty. Later returned dead in honor. Father went to his duty.) Being the first person to come out of the woods with a non war related calling is a signal to the tribe that the times are changing and for the good.
You know me by now, I expect people to work it out. Those kind of stories always stuck with me more. I hope this clears up the story for you.
First things first. Yes, that seems a long time, but I was thinking more of completely home made like something Ghandi would make (homespun). As for the timing, I thought the idea of the dress fit the ideal of the wood, thus the two are interconnected.Originally Posted by Hereford Eye
First, I enjoyed the story. The concept and execution are near flawless.
The coming of joy after long conflict, a tradition, works very well. Now, to things that do not work well for me:
The first para has two topics, one the forest and one her dress. And her dress is an oxymoron: a dress that takes two months to make but is unadorned by finery.
In the third para, you remind us that brothers can be a bother.
Then in the next para you use the last line to change the subject of teh forest to the butterflies. This, to me, ruins the notion a para should contain a single thought.
Finally, and it's probably chauvinistic as all get out, what does an elegant breast look like?
Brother: Not ment to be a bother. He was as much beloved by the whole family and was a great loss.
Butterflies: All of the above is just rumination as she walks through the forest waiting for it to do what it is going to do. She does not know. It is a magically powerful wood that changes every persons life but non are able to talk about it because it is personal.
Elegant Breast: Just a turn of phrase, but I do have a definite idea of what I envisioned, but I won't mention it here.
Finally, the use of too many adjectives in the story. Yes, I like good descriptiveness. I get this from Donaldson, Willianson, and Mckillip and I am not ashamed of it. I felt it was necessay to give the sense of lore and magic inherent to the story and the woods. Too little and the story would have felt like a cardboard wall in a brick house.
Last edited by Gkarlives; December 31st, 2009 at 04:09 AM.