?

Vote for the best of the best two stories:

Poll closed Mar 18, 2015.
  1. Hardly Bearded Innocence

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  2. Coffin Forest

    11 vote(s)
    91.7%
  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Closed Voting Runoff vote, top two stories, "Twins"

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Mar 16, 2015.

    Short Story Contest # 170
    Theme: "Twins" courtesy of @@Lancie.

    I encourage authors to vote. While it is controversial, it remains acceptable in the short story contest to vote for yourself. I encourage you to vote honestly. In the name of good sportsmanship only vote for yourself if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation.

    Consider how the author has responded to the theme, as well as the quality of the writing and overall impression of the story in making your decision.

    Runoff voting open for 48 hours. The two stories tied for first place are below:
    _________________________________

    Hardly Bearded Innocence [906 words]

    He nearly sunk into a sleep, but his surrounding kept his dreamworld from creeping in. He looked around the equally not sunken yet classroom and realized it was Thursday, the only day of the week Miss Judy worked. The other days mister Bashir was in class. He was strand, and sometimes didn't realize how funny he was to the whole class. "Why are you laughing? There, there, enough!" were maybe the best phrases to remember him by.

    "Miss!" he held his finger high in the air.

    Her spine listened to the frequency of his little man voice, curved itself, guided buy a shiver from down her lower back, frozen into an arch, physiologically approximating a graph, would it be displayed on an oscillator of joy. He was her favorite, and she procrastinated looking up from her just as pretentiously concentrated class's assignment of the day.

    They both had goosebumps. He was already nervous, but now just deeply insecure from her radiance that aimed to translate his wants into satisfaction. Trying to avoid the necessary awkward eye contact, he made it clear he needed to go to the toilet. She gave in to his big panicky eyes, waved, and his little legs gamboled down the aisle and out of the stuffy classroom. Drowned with cheers and laughter from a classroom down the hall, his dribbling feet guided him along other doors that muted teaching voices, here heavy and bellowing, there faint and titillating.

    He pulled his trick once a week with every teacher: twice. He had to be smart, in first grade were smart teachers. He did not actively feel remorse for prematurely deserting the rest of the class, but they did not appreciate it, even though he had to do it, in order not to be the last out of class. They also knew he was slow. He did not understand why he already looked forward to tomorrow while he paced through the hallway, that waited in anticipation of this school day's wrap-up. He was going to finish his drawing of his group buddy that sat opposite of him, but was already proud of his effort, and the rest of the day. Tired, he hung his buried jacket on the rack in front of other's and started to tie his shoelaces.

    "You're still doing it wrong. You're supposed to know how it works by now."

    Aghast, Damian looked up. Think of the devil. His group buddy stood there.

    "You sneaked out, but it's nearly time. I'm going back now, before teacher gets mad", he said, as he kept fidgeting bunny-ears.

    "Wait here, you wiseacre silly head." Mohammed couldn't let him go just yet, he had to teach the unlearned Damian. "This is faster." And he taught him the 'grown-up' way. Ties a zealous knot. It was never explained to him properly and still didn't understand. "She's not going to get mad, trust me", his buddy said, who felt like the teacher would understand it if you'd teach things and be a bit of a teacher yourself.

    "I don't know. I'm going back fast now." He trusted his own gut. Besides, how could anyone ever just say things are going to be some way they say it is?

    -

    At home he asked his mother what wiseacre meant. His mother didn't understand where his friend learned that word. He wasn't wiseacre, usually he taught Mo things, for example this week when his best friend said "You're reading wrong. You have to read like me; the other way around." He had to explain that because he was opposing him his left became his right and his right was his left to him, if you'd mirror your world. But sitting next to him, he miraculously entered this mirror world where everything was written the other way around. They had a laugh trying to actually read backwards.

    "But mommy, what does it mean if you say something before it happens, and then it happens?"

    "Like a prediction? That's a prophet, honey. Whoever has that ability is a prophet."

    "Prophet." In a way, Mo's prediction did come true. Teacher wasn't mad. She was even a bit happy, or something. "School was fun. But I can't tie my own shoes. Mo had to explain it, but I still don't understand."

    Back home, his mother taught him once and for all.

    Next school day he finished his drawing. It was a portrait of Mohammed, and so he wrote his full first name. Also, because he thought highly of last day's prophecy, he wrote "The Prophet" there too.

    A beautiful fingerprint swiped crayon depiction of 'the prophet' Mohammed. He held it up, radiant, in anticipation of Mo's uplifting appraisal. It was the assignment to make a portrait. He did well, but he was kind of late lodging it.

    But, instead his face turned gray, saying "That's not me!"

    Well, who is it? A twin? Damian wondered disappointed.

    They never spoke again. That day was the last school day for the rest of the week, and the next week's sudden suspension. Apparently because there was going to be an investigation to reports of remains of asbestos in the building, but that was just an excuse... The school was regarded as a different kind of soiled by some, and was closed out of precaution for a different kind of threat that could have been aimed against the school.

    Mo's seat was empty when school opened again. And his picture was gone too. But for some reason, Miss Judy took mister Bashir's place, who had also mysteriously left.
    ______________________________

    Coffin Forest [2536]

    “Where did you find a two-headed dog?” asks the bearded man next to me as we both peer through the tower bars at the dogs wagging their doubled tails twenty feet below us.

    I grip the bars with all the fingers that I have left. “That's a long story. And it's not a dog. They're dogs. Two dogs. Conjoined twins means they're supposed to be identical twins, but the egg never split all the way. There are still two of them. Two brains. Two dogs.” Absinthe barks at me, and I make kissy noises back at him. More tail-wagging ensues.

    “I've been in this prison a quarter of my life.” The disheveled, bearded man backs against the cobbled wall and frowns. “And will be here until I die, so I guess I have time for a long story.”

    “Well, the short version is that I got my two headed dogs here, in Boondania." I pause and retie the bloodied bandanna around what's left of my hand before continuing. "There are fifteen inhabited planets, and I swear I've been to prison on every single one of them. I don't mean to. It's not like I'm trying to break any universal records. I just always end up on the wrong side of the law, and every damn planet seems to have a different set of laws! You know what I originally got thrown in here for? Pissing on sacred ground. That pile of rubble didn't look sacred to me! They should have a sign or something... Luckily my escape skills are unmatched and I've been able to break out of every prison I've been in, including this one.”

    The man looks up and smiles at me, a glimmer in his eyes. "You got out?"

    I smile back and nod, then stare off at the wall to better remember my story. “So the last time I escaped from this horrible, nasty place, I went east because I knew the ocean was a short distance east, and once I was on the ocean I'd be outside of Boondanian jurisdiction.

    “I'm running east, Boondanians on my trail, and I hit this gloomy, foggy forest, and I think, 'Great! It's dark and shadowy. The Boondanians will have a hard time finding me here.' And I was right, the Boondanians never even tried to follow me in because they knew something I didn't. That forest was deadly. It's official name is The Coffin. Who needs barbed wire fences when nature has provided it's own death trap on one entire side of your prison?

    “So right off some cat starts stalking me. A varc panther, or whatever they're called, the kind that have two sets of claws and a shitload of teeth. Luckily, I've been hunted enough to know when I'm being hunted, so I do everything I can to stay out of it's reach. I know I can't outrun it, but I try to outsmart it. This goes on all day. I throw every trick I know at this cat, and I'm tired, and I'm just done! Done! Luckily, I haven't heard the panther for a while. I think I've lost him when I happen upon this cave. I rush in and it looks good, I mean I can't see shit, the sun is setting, but I'm feeling up the rock walls and things feel good. It's solid, solid, solid, but then I stick my hand into a crack and find there's a whole back room to it.

    “That's when I hear the growling, and I see these glistening blue eyes. I slowly back away as this animal approaches, making this low gravelly, growly noise. A wolf. A big ass wolf, nearly twice my size. And then out of nowhere the damn panther attacks me from behind! I'd never lost him. He stalked me right into that cave. Probably thought he had me cornered, but he hadn't counted on seeing a wolf either. So the wolf becomes real agitated, seeing a second intruder in her cave, and she attacks the panther that's attacking me. Somehow, hell if I know how, I roll out of the mess and the two go at each other. I press my bloodied, torn up back against a wall and watch the whole thing in the dim light. It's a fight for the death. I mean, literally, they both die. So I'm like, 'Alright, two dead corpses, I'm not sleeping here.' But it's dark, I'm injured, and the forest seems to be screaming with predators, so I feel my way to that little back nook in the cave. I slip through the crack and see four sets of tiny eyes staring up at me. Pups. That mamma wolf was protecting her babies.

    “I always kind of liked dogs so I snuggle in with the pups. It wasn't the best sleep I've ever had, and the little fat pup kept licking my wounds, but it was do-able. When you're tired, you'll sleep anywhere. Morning came, and I knew I had to keep moving, keep heading east, but those babies weren't up to snuff yet. They'd probably die on their own, get eaten by panthers or some shit, so I do the stupid thing and take them with me.

    “The sun's not shining into the cave. I can't really see what I'm doing, but I know there are four of them because I made out four sets of eyes the night before. I make a sling out of my folded shirt and start stuffing the pups into it. I pick up the big fat one. Put the little one on top of him and a third body on top of that. One, two, three, and I can't find the last one. I bend over, I feel all around the cave corners, make kissy noises, and nothing. I've got two rotting corpses at the front of the cave that are sure to attract predators. I have to move. I think I'm abandoning the last pup and I feel pretty shitty about it, but I have to move. I tumble out the cave, trip over some hills, and finally trample my way to a stream to unwrap the pups and drink some water, and then, in the light of day, I see it. I had four pups the whole time, it's just two of them shared a body. Two heads, three front legs, two back legs, and two tails. I figure whatever. It's a forest in Boondania; nothing surprises me anymore. Sure it's weird, but you should see some of the other shit in that forest. The bugs have toes and the flowers have teeth.

    “I went the next four weeks trying to protect those puppies and myself from predators. It was hell. The big fat one was always getting himself in trouble and growling at everything that moved. Not to mention every time I got a scrape or cut, he was there licking it like it was dinner. The little, white female was bit by a snake. I had to suck the poison out and carry her feverish little body around for three days. She was such a sickly thing. And the twins constantly fought with each other. It's like they couldn't agree on anything, including how to walk. One pulling left, the other pulling right. They were all four too loud. They attracted every predator within miles. After a short time with them, I really wanted a drink which is why I named them all after my favorite drinks. See the one on the right?” I motion through the bars. “That's Whiskey. The one on the left is Absinthe. Those two and their fat brother and little sister followed me all the way to the coast. We never met up with another human, but, Christ, did we run into all manner of creature.

    “We were about a day's walk from the coast when I knew we were being hunted again. This time by wolves. We hit the sand by nightfall, and I climbed a tree. I don't know what my thinking was at that point except that dogs can't climb trees. The wolf pack starts to show, one by one slinking out of the shadows and into the moonlight, making their way toward the tree. My four pups they're at the base of the tree looking up at me and looking back at the dogs. I intentionally left them down there. I thought they should be with their own kind. I figured they were still young enough that the pack would let them in. The little white one was the first to leave the tree trunk. She always was the curious type. Then my big, fat puppy leaves. But Absinthe and Whiskey are still at the trunk. They're not budging. The wolves hang around most of the night howling and growling at me. That's what hell must sound like, an angry wolf pack right below you.

    “They're nice to the pups though. They even nudge the twins with their snouts to get them to come along with them, but my boys don't move. They just sit there looking up at me with their big, sad, puppy eyes. Finally the wolf pack leaves at daybreak, and I climb down. A couple days later I get lucky and catch the eye of a pirate ship and me and my twin boys are gone, never to go back to The Coffin, or so we think.” I pause and scratch at the itchy parts of my wound, the bandanna unraveling itself once again.

    My celly shuffles his feet a bit before eagerly asking, “So... How'd you end up back here?”

    “Well, I've got a drinking problem, and I get really stupid brilliant ideas when I'm drunk. So three years after escaping this prison, I happen to be back around these waters with my dogs because they go everywhere with me. They've got that dumb pack loyalty. And I'm drunk, and I say, 'Hey, boys, your brother and sister live in that forest right over there. You want to go there and have a family reunion! Let's do that!' The next thing I know, I wake up on solid ground in what looks like the middle of the forest with an empty bottle in one hand and a self written note scribbled on my belly. I do that sometimes, write myself notes when I get to the point of blackout drunkenness.” My good hand pushes up what's left of my shirt to show off the lovely, upside down manuscript to my cellmate. It reads:

    Dear Sober Me,

    In case you don't remember, you're back in this deadly forest for the family reunion. But don't worry, you came prepared this time. There's a knife in your boot, and it doubles as a flashlight so everything will be fine.

    Love Always,
    Drunk Me

    I pull down my shirt and continue, “So sober me pulls out the knife in my boot and the blade is only about two inches long and I don't know why the hell I thought it turned into a flashlight because it didn't. I really don't understand my drunk self. So after cursing myself to hell for a few minutes, me and the boys head east again. Luckily drunk me hadn't made it too far into the forest, and it's only about a half a day's travel to the coast. But hungover me had awoken so late in the day that it's dark by the time we get there, and those damn nocturnal wolves find us again. A slender, white one comes out first, spitting and baring teeth. Whiskey and Absinthe are in front of me growling right back at her. You don't see white wolves very often. I doubtfully whisper, 'Vodka?' And she stops, looks at me, and whimpers. My twins get confused for a moment and stop growling and then she jumps right over them and onto me! But not in a 'I'm gonna kill you' kind of way. She was all play and kisses.

    “I couldn't believe it was her, but the rest of the pack they're coming out of the forest now and making all those low gravelly, growly noises, so the boys start growling again, and this time Vodka stands in front of them and starts making yapping noises at her own pack! I'm looking for a tree, but it's a bit late for that. Suddenly the alpha comes forward and he looks like a brick wall. He's the biggest dog I've ever seen, and I'm sure we're all dead. He ignores Vodka's protests and practically walks over her, but my dogs, they're ready for a fight. They're growling and jutting out their chest, and a fight they get. The big one and my two just start tearing each other apart. Fur's flying. Blood's flying. Me and Vodka are both on the sidelines sort of crying together.

    "I'm trying to bargain with the flying spaghetti monster, telling him I'll never drink again if you just let my dogs live through this, but it's no use. My dog's are losing. I'm hearing bones crack. I'm hearing my pups' cries, and I can't take it anymore. I grab my little tiny baby knife, and rush into the fight. I thought if I got a good aim I could hit a main artery or something, but instead that brick of a dog bit my knife and two of my fingers right off my hand! I'm screaming in pain as he's chewing on my fingers, and he stops. Stops everything, and looks at me. Then he licks my hand.

    "I say, 'Rum? Rum is that you?' And he makes this little puppy noise which sounds downright comical coming out of a mammoth like him. I guess the taste of my blood brought back childhood memories. So we had our family reunion after all. I did my best to fix up my boys and what was left of my hand, and then the five of us cuddled the rest of the night. Rum kept his pack at bay. I can see how he managed to become the alpha as big as he is. It sure didn't take long; it was only three years ago he'd been that chubby puppy.

    "Anyway, a day later I get picked up by the Boondanians. They still won't set foot in the forest, but they're patrolling the coast these days. Now here I am once again, up the metaphorical tree with my two loyal dogs waiting at the base. Vodka and Rum won't come. They're all wild and shit now, back with their pack. But the twins... they're my pack. They're my pack forever. We'll probably never see their brother and sister again because I hate that forest. But to answer your question, that's where I got my two headed dogs, the stupid Boondanian Coffin Forest.”

    The bearded prisoner looks down the tower at my boys and then back at me. “I like your dogs, and your story, although it seemed a little hyperbolic... Anyway, a bit off topic, but... you're an escape artist you say?”

    I grin. “Yeah, but when we hit the ground, be sure to go west.”
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    One more day to vote in the runoff!
     
  3. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Now that the voting is officially closed, I'd like to know (if anyone's willing to say) why they voted the way they did in the initial vote - not the run-off vote. I was really surprised with the results for this contest. Am I the only one? For example, I thought Brandon deserved some votes.
     
  4. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    @lustrousonion, you could start by sharing yours. :)

    OK, here are my thoughts on the stories:

    One More Try: Well written, but there are so many similar stories already.
    Everything Is Either OK…: One of my two finalists, I enjoyed reading it but in the end opted for a more "exotic" setting.
    Hardly Bearded Innocence: I had a hard time reading it. First time I gave up, then returned back after seeing the number of votes it got. There's an idea in the story, but the author seems to struggle with the language, trying for flowery sentences, but they get very confusing.
    Fate's Decree: A little bit too abstract and general for my liking.
    Brandon: I don't know. Not bad, but it didn't leave any impression.
    Coffin Forest: That's the one I voted for. I liked where the story took us, the forest and the animals.
    The Exchange of Twins: Another one that didn't draw me in, I don't know.
     
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  5. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    @idle You're right. I should have done this. I'm a little embarrassed because in this case I voted for my own story. :oops: I'm not upset that it didn't win, though, and I didn't want my post to come off like that.

    I liked One More Try and Brandon for their tone, style, and themes, but their genres don't really do much for me. Of the two, I thought One More Try was superior. I thought Reflections was well-written but not developed enough. Coffin Forest was hard for me to read, for some reason. It was a good story and done well, but the chunky blocks of text put me off and found myself getting distracted while reading it. Fate's Decree and The Exchange of Twins both read like snippets of old mythology rather than modern fiction. There really isn't any sort of development in either one. Hardly Bearded Innocence was the one that confused me. I see that people voted for it and liked it, but I didn't understand what it was about. And there were some grammar/vocabulary issues that I couldn't overlook.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I, too, was surprised that Brandon didn't get any votes. It was actually my second favourite, but of course we can only vote for one. I'm quite pleased that, for only the second time ever, the story I voted for both times actually won! I enjoyed Coffin Forest because it seemed to be the most original take on the theme, by far, and it was well-written, too. I liked the tongue-in-cheek 'narrator' as well. I think I'd have jimmied the prose a bit, so it would read a bit more smoothly, but it certainly wasn't bad. And I loved the ending, which kind of brought the story full-circle. I still don't know who wrote it yet, but I did enjoy reading it.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I was surprised that the runoff was so lopsided when the top two had been tied.

    I too thought Brandon deserved some votes. I think @jannert's reason was accurate, you only get one vote. So a good piece can look like no one voted for it simply because it wasn't anyone's first choice.

    One More Try: @BeckyJean's excellent writing as usual. I voted for this one though it was a close call.

    Reflections: Well written, loved how the twist was executed, perhaps because it had been done before, I didn't pick it.

    Everything Is Either OK or Not OK, and It Isn't—But It Is: Hopefully this didn't suffer from my changing the title out of all caps. I try to make it so no title stands out in the poll. I thought the writing style was great. This kind of stuff is great: "Alex caresses his face and pastes on a smile." The way the Twin Cities was described was clever. The only negative I can say about the story was it needed just a tiny bit of tweaking to make it easier to follow as it switched between the two stories. But you have talent, @lustrousonion, definitely.

    Hardly Bearded Innocence: Another interesting story that I had just a little trouble following. All it needed was another sentence or two to clear up what was going on. And I agree with @idle, and comparing sections like these two illustrate the difference.
    Compare @Boger's:

    "Her spine listened to the frequency of his little man voice, curved itself, guided buy a shiver from down her lower back, frozen into an arch, physiologically approximating a graph, would it be displayed on an oscillator of joy."
    to @BeckyJean's
    "I’ll visualize the fleshy cord extending from my belly, perhaps grapevined and twisted around the second cord sharing this space with me. I’ll envision bumping against her arm or leg through the fluid; feeling peaceful and comforted, knowing she’s there.”
    I think it shows the difference between forced prose and unforced prose. Some people are born with a talent for prose, some aren't but can learn it. I wasn't born with it, I struggle. But I'm a believer it is a talent that can at least be approximated if not mastered.

    Fate's Decree: Well written, it deserved to get votes. It wasn't a story I enjoyed as much as others but that's no more than personal preference and not a comment on the writing. If I had to critique anything I'd say the main character needed more emotional pull.

    Brandon: I thought this story was good and well written. It was definitely NOT my last choice. The story only missed the mark by millimeters. I think it was because, while I was moved by the character's loss of his twin, it didn't translate to his child's loss of the twin. It's another story that only needed tweaking, something at the end to amplify the emotion, maybe making the birthmark more prominent in the story, I'm not sure.

    Coffin Forest: @BookLover's writing talent shows through once again. Delightfully written, making us see the interesting world she's built. You have to wonder how much is a tall tale of a confabulating drunk and how much is the fictional world they are on. Adding in the bloodied hand and missing fingers rounded the story up from average to great. The ending made me chuckle, but also it tied up the story nicely.

    The Exchange of Twins: This was an interesting story, the writing was OK. Perhaps as a short story it needed more or less to make it work. The story didn't make sense to me as it was.


     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
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  8. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi guys, sorry if I'm late detailing the reasons why I voted the way I did. I'm actually one of your newbie voters. It's the first time I've participated in this and I must say it was really fun. The end bit where all the writers are revealed, classic! Lol.

    OK, so when it came to voting, there were a whole lot of stories I would have loved to vote for. The first three stories and the last two stories particularly stood out. I would have voted for any one of those upon first reading them, they were amazing.

    When judging this contest there were three very important factors I took into consideration. In order of importance:
    1. Spelling and grammar issues.
    2. The way the theme is handled.
    3. Plot-line.

    The spelling and grammar part is the most important factor for me and if you look at my reviews on the forums, when I have issues with a writer's spelling I always let them know. There were two stories who I thought handled the theme in a very original and unique way (Coffin Forest and Reflections). My vote went to Reflection for those reasons. I'll go through them one by one:

    One More Try: Very impressed by the plot-line. The psychological development was great. What prevented me for voting for it was that the end was too dark and almost like we should be laughing rather than crying. And also why did it wait until the bitter end before letting us know that the woman was one-hundred and twenty pounds? I didn't feel like making her look hysterical was appropriate because I was actually feeling her pain.

    Reflections: This is the one I did vote for. First of all because I thought it was a different take on the theme and also because there were quirky and humorous areas eg this line 'Now and then I’d make a move suddenly to catch her off guard, but she was always on time.' I thought the fact that it was quite a short story was also not a reason not to vote for it or to assume it wasn't developed. It's within word-count guidelines and deserved my vote for the perceptive way it handles the theme.

    Everything Is Either OK or Not OK, and It Isn't—But It Is: Not put off by this story's awkward title, I was actually very impressed with the plot-line of this piece and another one my vote could have went to. I enjoyed the parallel lives idea, however.... The one thing that prevented me from voting for this piece was the writer did not make it clear enough that the primary characters were twins. There wasn't any identical physical descriptions and the twins theme needed a lot more clarifying. It needed to be clear.

    Hardly Bearded Innocence: My vote didn't go for this piece because of issues it had with factor 1, the spelling and grammar part. I read it twice and felt those issues affected the flow of the story.

    Fate's Decree: I felt like in terms of plot-line I wasn't really captivated by this story like some of the others. However, another reason is (like the other story above) it needed to be a lot clearer that the theme was being incorporated. Not clear enough to me.

    Brandon: I felt that the thought behind this was good, I noticed that the theme was handled well and the plot-line was good too, it's just a few of the others stood out more.

    Coffin Forest: This was a remarkable story and certainly deserved its win. The theme was handled in a very unique and original way and the longer word count means that the story was far more developed than some of the others. However, word-count wasn't what compromised the way I voted in the end but I'm glad I got to vote for Coffin Forest in the second vote. Well-deserved.

    The Exchange of Twins: I liked this story, it had an epic sort-of feel. There was nothing wrong with spelling or the way it handled the theme. The story line was a very different take to a lot of the others. It wasn't undeserving but I could only vote for one.

    OK, so that's the reason I voted the way I did. The pettier reasons would have been to vote for a story because of the order it is in or for word-count. Yet, if a story was under or above the limiting word count, it would have lost marks.

    Thanks for sharing the stories, it was so much fun!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
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  9. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    @dbesim I agree with putting spelling and grammar first. Of course typos can happen, but I think of these things like a foundation: if they aren't there, the rest of the story will be weaker for it.

    Interesting that you thought my story was set in a parallel universe. It wasn't! "Twins" in my case was the Twin Cities (real place), and two people who are flip-sides of the same coin, but not twins.
     
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  10. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Yes, certainly. I didn't get the Twin Cities idea but I did think your approach to the theme was trying not to spell it out for people which is good because they'd have to get it for themselves. In my case, I would have needed the word 'twins' used and spelled out for me to be clear the theme was there. You never used the word 'twins' so it was too subtle. As for parallel universe, I didn't mean that in a scientific way but in a 'parallel lives' sort of way. I know they were two different people but in the end I realized that neither of them were ok, Jupiter had eating problems and Alex had a troubled husband. They were both not ok. It was a great story but I needed the theme spelled out and obvious. It was great.
     
  11. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    It's an interesting point about whether or not the theme should be explicit. My opinion is that it should not be. So, I guess that makes me vote (and maybe write) in a different way from others. :)
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I thought your story most definitely fit the contest theme. Clever interpretations of the theme make the contest more interesting.

    I can understand someone from the UK might have missed the Twin Cities reference but most people in the US would have understood the reference.

    Minneapolis–Saint Paul
     
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  13. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Yes it does, I get your point. Subtlety is great.. unless someone misses out on it, D-oh!

    @GingerCoffee, thanks for the reference :)
     
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  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Finally read the entries - well, I couldn't make it past the first 2 paragraphs of Bearded Innocence as I was completely lost as to who "he" and "she" referred to, where they were, and goodness, the wordy sentences! But I read all of Coffin Forest. @BookLover - that was a really enjoyable read. I can see why you won! I kinda wish it was a novel :)
     
  15. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    Congrats to @BookLover for her imaginative story. I also want to thank some of you here for mentioning "Brandon" which I wrote. Honestly, it was discouraging that no one voted for it but knowing it was appreciated after all is very kind.
     
  16. BeckyJean
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    BeckyJean Member

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    ~ So sorry it's taken me so long to contribute to this thread. I agree with much of what's already been said by others. I was unable to follow Bearded Innocence and finally gave up, about three or four paragraphs in. :( I voted for @lustrousonion - Everything Is Either OK or Not OK, and It Isn't—But It Is, although I wasn't nuts about confusing title. The story itself truly captivated me. I enjoyed the 'twins' being the twin-cities, and although I think it was noted that the word 'twin' was never used in the story - I could swear it was...? (am i delusional?) Because that was my 'Aha!' moment - when I finally 'got it'. ;) I enjoyed the other stories, but my tastes, just like others, i'm sure, tend to run along a certain thread. Everyone has displayed writing chops, in my opinion - but typos, grammatical errors, and an over abundance of verbosity in some stories helped decide my vote.

    @BookLover is a TRULY gifted writer, and I enjoy everything she writes! I think I didn't vote for it the first time around because I was very sleepy when I was reading it and my mind kept wandering. :/

    Regarding @dbesim and this critique: One More Try: Very impressed by the plot-line. The psychological development was great. What prevented me for voting for it was that the end was too dark and almost like we should be laughing rather than crying. And also why did it wait until the bitter end before letting us know that the woman was one-hundred and twenty pounds? I didn't feel like making her look hysterical was appropriate because I was actually feeling her pain.

    - Yikes! ;) I didn't realize it sounded comical at the end. SO not what I intended :/ I guess because *I* pictured her forlorn and desperate, nothing seemed 'funny' about it (or her) to me. But that's what this learning process is for; to see what OTHERS see and imagine when I write. I'm unclear what your comment regarding her weight meant, tho...? Did a 120 lb woman come across as funny? I only mentioned her weight so that people knew that shower curtain rings couldn't hold her when she grabbed onto the shower curtain. Perhaps i should've said/written it differently. Can you clarify how she looked hysterical? I just want to understand what you saw/pictured. This entire site, my involvement on it, is for me to learn to tell a better story. Understanding what people imagine or picture from my words will help me for the next time. :) Thanks heaps for the critique!

    And @GingerCoffee - thank you for your vote - AND your kind words regarding my writing. They go a long way in easing my over abundance of insecurities. ;)

    As always - i'm grateful for those that enjoyed my story, and I enjoyed every story entered.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
  17. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Hi BeckyJean,

    I'm glad you voted for lustrousonion because her story was really good and all stories with a lot of effort in them deserve a vote. I explained to lustrousonion that I wished that her story used the word 'twins' a lot more than a bypass so that it is a lot clearer that the theme is there. The subtle approach works too.. and I get it now.. it was all about the city/twin city. Having said that @lustrousonion, the story she wrote in the 'sliced bread' section called 'Loaf' was the most original and unique application of the theme I read by far. The whole human sandwich idea was incredible and it was only because of the spelling errors (eg. misspelling 'Twelfth Night' at the beginning) that stopped me voting for it. I felt like the way she used the theme in 'sliced bread' was not only clever but so much clearer to me than the 'twins' one was. However, should probably mention that in the 'sliced bread' thread.

    As for making her look humorous in the end. I really loved your story but the part at the end was a little bit like.. 'by the way.. she was 120lb' as opposed to giving us all the physical descriptions a lot earlier in the story. Why did we have to find out so abruptly that way? What people look like is usually the sort of thing that gets established somewhere at the start or during the process of the story as opposed to a last minute mention. Shocking is good.. and having said that.. some people really do enjoy the black comedy or black humor genre and won't have a problem with it. In this case I was feeling her pain.. so thanks for detailing what you were trying to convey. I really loved your story, btw, and it had me really intrigued throughout it.

    Hope that makes my interpretation clearer :)
     
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  18. BeckyJean
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    BeckyJean Member

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    Well, it sort of does...? lol! I guess i'm still not picturing how saying what she weighs factors into making it humorous or funny...? It must have read a certain way to you that struck you odd. I've read it again and again and can't see what you saw. lol! Dang. :/ I purposefully didn't describe her physically because I didn't want anyone picturing who *I* imagined... I just wanted them to feel her anguish. That being said - a tiny gal might not rip a shower curtain from its rings if she grabbed onto it. A normal sized woman (which to ME is somewhere around 120 lbs -- not skinny, not large - just average) would. At least in my mind, they would. :) That was the only reason for the mention of her weight. I probably should've just left it out, eh? ;) But thanks for those details. I DO appreciate the critique!! It's all about learning for me...

    As for me @lustrousonion's minimal use of the word 'twins' - that is exactly what I liked. :) Isn't that funny? What you found wanting is what i actually enjoyed. hah! I will sometimes write a short story, adhering to the given theme, completely forgoing use of the exact words of the theme. I like relying on the insight of the reader; and I like it when writers rely on my insight and intelligence AS the reader. I find when things are spelled out too clearly, the whole story comes off as too elementary - for me, anyway. In fact, I worried about that with One More Try. ;) It was too obvious a use of the theme, IMO. I had written it, tho - so went with it. I didn't have time to write anything else.

    I understand your point, tho! I guess that's why we all are drawn to different writing styles, eh? It keeps things interesting. :) Anyway - happy writing and reading!! And thx again!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
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  19. BeckyJean
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    BeckyJean Member

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    I agree completely! It may not be fair - but when I read a story that is too obviously 'themed' - I tend to think they're a beginner writer. I know that's not cool - but that's what I tend towards. And I say that having actually BEEN a writer (on this site!) that does the exact thing. HAH! But there again - I am NOT a seasoned writer ... yet. ;)
     
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  20. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Yes, of course. It is all about interpretation. In a way it also depends on how strong the girl is (or how weak the rail is). But I know there's a logic to you mentioning and I wouldn't change your story. I also still do think the end is ironic because she got what she wanted but this time she wasn't trying. It's still come out as a shock to me, I can't get over it, lol..
     
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  21. BeckyJean
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    BeckyJean Member

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    True on all accounts. :) And the end was honestly all about the irony, from my perspective; her not having the gumption to get the job done throughout the whole story, and in the end - fate taking care of it for her. ;) Anyway - thanks for all your explanations and help!! It really does help me with my writing process. Have a good weekend when it gets here!!
     
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