?

Which story should win?

Poll closed Nov 1, 2016.
  1. The Haunting of St Lawrence's

    2 vote(s)
    5.0%
  2. The Eerie Light

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. The Washer Woman

    5 vote(s)
    12.5%
  4. Family Affair

    1 vote(s)
    2.5%
  5. Damned

    3 vote(s)
    7.5%
  6. Roy

    2 vote(s)
    5.0%
  7. Grandma Called Me Susan

    4 vote(s)
    10.0%
  8. Love Sick

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. The Cold Pale Hand of Fear

    1 vote(s)
    2.5%
  10. Her Story

    3 vote(s)
    7.5%
  11. Coming Home

    2 vote(s)
    5.0%
  12. Your Face In The Mirror

    4 vote(s)
    10.0%
  13. The Girl And The Door

    3 vote(s)
    7.5%
  14. Meeting in the Mirror

    3 vote(s)
    7.5%
  15. The Old Manor

    7 vote(s)
    17.5%
  1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Closed Voting Vote Now - October 2016 Contest (Voting closes 31 October)

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Tenderiser, Oct 15, 2016.

    Who should win the shiny medal?

    1. Read the entries: http://www.writingforums.org/threads/october-2016-short-story-contest-instructions-and-entries-here.148307/

    2. Vote.

    Voting will close at midnight (GMT) on 31 October.

    You can use whatever criteria you like to choose a winner. If you want some guidance, the criteria we used for the 10th anniversary contest was:
    • Technical ability (spelling, grammar, etc)
    • Entertainment
    • Use of the prompt
    • Originality
    Please don't read the replies to this thread until you have voted! They may contain spoilers.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  2. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Was a tough choice but I went with The Old Manor. It was an absolute delight to read.

    All of the entries were great ideas. Special mentions for Damned and Grandma Called Me Susan. Well done all!
     
  3. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    Great to see so many entries and good ones too!
    Voter turn out hasn't been bad either considering it's only been a few days, though I hope we'll have a lot more voters before this ends.
    Maybe a banner on the front page announcing that voting is open for the short story contest can get more people to vote?
     
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  4. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Yes, there're so many entries with more voters needed.
     
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  5. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    I cheated ...

    but I'm not telling how.

    :superhello:
     
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  6. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    Put in my vote. I actually wrote something for this but didn't finish it in time :(
    They were all really good, quite hard to pick one, but I got there in the end!
     
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  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm debating whether it's wrong to start discussing the stories before voting is closed... on the one hand, it might influence votes. On the other, people might have forgotten what they thought of each story by the time voting closes.

    Hmm.
     
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  8. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    That's disappointing. Maybe you should make a start on next month's then (or December's or January's)? :)
     
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  9. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    I was actually thinking of asking if it was the norm to review or critique the stories. Was hoping for some feedback for mine!
     
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  10. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    Rock on I say.

    Be interesting to hear what people thought of what was posted and I say that as an entrant.
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It hasn't been in the past, but I would like it to become the norm. :)

    Okay, I'm swayed! I'll post my thoughts later on but feel free to post yours in the meantime.
     
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  12. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Only if you're going to be kind of course... :p
     
  13. Carly Berg
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    Carly Berg Contributing Member

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    I'm almost done with my first round of reading. (From there, I'll re-read the ones I liked the best to decide on my final vote). One thing that strikes me is it seems many of the stories tend to fall off at the end, just not quite tying it all together in a satisfying way. Endings are hard.
     
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  14. PapaSmurfberry
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    PapaSmurfberry Active Member

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    Yeah endings are hard any you like?


     
  15. PapaSmurfberry
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    PapaSmurfberry Active Member

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    It would be neat to get anonymous feedback

     
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  16. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    There are some lovely stories in that lot. It was a tough choice, but I shortlisted three before finally casting my vote.
     
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  17. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    I expected some of the stories to get a few more votes than they are. I had a few favourites.

    I'm glad that the votes are scattered the way it is because it's reassuring for a writer here to know that somebody thought their story was the best. Considering there are so many stories, that's a wonderful achievement.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
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  18. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    Or an email flyer to members?
     
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  19. Carly Berg
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    Carly Berg Contributing Member

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    I don't want to influence any voters or critique any writers who didn't request it so I won't say anything specific.

    However, for those who feel badly about rejections, look how hard it is to win when you only have fourteen other competitors. When you figure a hundred, a thousand or more may be competing for that same slot with your story in a magazine or anthology, it's not hard to see that plenty of good stories do get turned down!

    Good luck to all the competitors.
     
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  20. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm re-reading all the stories before giving my mini-critiques, and it's taking longer than expected! I'll post up some tonight and then do the rest. So if I missed your story out, don't worry (or do worry, if you don't want my critique :D).

    I've separated my comments on the story and the technical aspects of writing, because I think storytelling ability is often at odds with technical ability and it's good to recognise that.

    The Haunting of St Lawrence's
    I like that it keeps us guessing - it starts out like a straightforward ghost story, then the narrator calls that horseshit, then freaky shit happens but it turns out to be the friends playing a prank... but I did want a final twist at the end. When a spooky story starts with rumours of a haunting and a skeptical narrator, readers expect the rumour to be true and the narrator to get a nasty surprise. Although there are moments of doubt along the way, the story does end as one can predict from the start. My favourite thing about short stories is generally a twist at the end.

    Technically, this had plenty of my Kryptonite: comma splices. But Author, you weren't the only one. :D I also felt there was too much exposition and not enough immersion in the scene, which could've added to the creepiness.

    The Eerie Light
    I liked the premise a lot. I'm always drawn to books set in asylums (in fact, the last book I read was set in one) and I'm interested in psychics too. I thought the author did a great job of making Molly sympathetic; I was really happy for her getting off the streets, and wishing her a happier life. But the ending didn't quite live up to the beginning and middle, for me. I found her release unbelievable (because any medical professional could see she wasn't better AND someone being released would be offered structured support, not just told she was going) and I'm pretty sure the doctor would be struck off for taking a vulnerable patient to live with him. It was also creepy that she saw him as her prince, what with the power imbalance in the doctor/patient relationship. But hopefully the doctor was more like a father figure than a love interest and protected her forever more. :D

    Technically, the non-standard line breaks distracted me. It wasn't always clear who was speaking which bit of dialogue, and I had to re-read to get it. This one also had comma splices. As a reader, I can't deal with much (if any) deviation from standard SPAG and formatting rules. It throws me into editor mode when I want to be in reader mode.

    The Washer Woman
    I really liked the tone of this. Maybe it's because my family is highly dysfunctional and I have no sisters, but I love reading about close families and especially close sisters. I also liked that the ugly old woman wasn't evil, because I get really bored with ugly=bad and attractive=good in fiction. The ending was very sweet. A sweet story overall!

    Technically, dialogue was punctuated incorrectly and an awful lot of 'creative' (non said) tags were used, which I find distracting. I also found there were too many adverbs, even though I seem to like adverbs more than a lot of writers/readers. On the other hand the imagery was strong, e.g. The air around the woods is infested with the smell of mildew. The plants seem to fight endlessly to strangle the light from the sky, leaving the small snaking dirt path void of all color. I love it when authors use smell in descriptions, as so often all we get is sights and sounds.

    Family Affair
    Well.

    Well.

    What to say?

    I love black comedy. This is delightfully odd with a wicked black sense of humour. Author, you made me laugh at "such a loser with his cancer", damn you, and put my karma bank back in the red.

    ‘Get off me, you cunt,’ said Lemsil.

    ‘Oh, I thought you were a human being,’ she said, and flicked crumbs into his working eye.


    Just exquisite.

    I can't help wishing this had been more closely edited. I think with such a strong voice and unusual sense of humour, the writing really needs to be smooth and to disappear - which means really good editing.

    Damned
    This is my kind of story and I was very impressed. A creepy hospital with creepy men wandering around being cryptic? Yes please! I loved the idea of an angel and devil (as such) fighting, and I loved their different voices. I would have liked a twist at the end as it felt like a bit of an anti-climax.

    It's a personal bug bear of mine when characters have a "feeling" that something is going to happen. It just feels like artificial tension, and this was far too well-written to need artificial tension. The author did a great job of setting a creepy scene, and didn't need to spoon-feed me tension.

    Technically... so close! I noticed "Who's" instead of "whose" and there were several places where a comma would have improved clarity. While it's not incorrect, the sentence construction "Dialogue," action, "continued dialogue." is unusual and was used frequently in this story. I'm starting to sound like a broken record but again, it was distracting because of its non-standard-ness. On the other hand...

    The second man continued to look at Sharon in a manner which made her skin crawl. His eyes seemed to flit over her face, never quite looking at her direct. His gaze seemed not only to strip her of her uniform but lay her very soul bare.

    "Well, Miss Florence Bloody Nightingale," spittle flew off his lips and his breath was foul, "Just what do you know of this man?"


    ...such a good example of character description/introduction IMO. No laundry list of traits, no eye and hair colour, and yet I have a very clear image of him including the 'tone' of him. Excellent.

    Roy
    Another one I enjoyed very much. Within the first paragraph you had every civilised human wanting Roy to be shredded in a meat grinder. But despite him clearly being an arsehole, I felt quite warm to him - probably because I recognise the cynical side of me in him. :D I really love stories with 'anti-heroes' who draw me in.

    I was surprised when Roy didn't argue about having to go to the job interview, and nearer the end I felt you missed a trick there. If Abigail had threatened him with being sanctioned unless he got his act together, it really would have increased the tension during his journey to the interview.

    And yay, I got my twist-y ending!

    Technically - close. The only outright error I noticed was appointed card instead of appointment card. In some places, several short sentences in a row began to sound repetitive, but that's not an error as such.

    Grandma Called Me Susan
    "even the owls were too tired too hoot" - I love that!

    This was another strong entry IMO. Grandma was creepy as hell. though I would've liked to feel more of that from Ellie. The way she opens by saying Grandma never told her "bullshit" fairy tales indicates a sort of understanding and bond between them, where they both thought fairytales were stupid and other stories were better. In fact, it seems like Ellie would prefer to hear about Cinderella? That first impression of a cool, understanding grandma was hard to shake off.

    I liked the ending, but felt it would have been stronger if it hadn't been predictable. From the moment Grandma says "Why don't you tell me?" it's obvious that Ellie is one of the DNA/IVF babies, so the ending isn't a surprise. I think it would be more effective to give Grandma a pretext for telling the story and something in it to make us think it was impossible for Ellie to be one of them (maybe say it was all stopped long before Ellie was born...?) After all, Grandma doesn't need to be a reliable story teller. I'm also unsure if DNA could be extracted and stored that easily 70 years ago, but I genuinely don't know so it didn't put me off.

    Technically - Grandma, when used as a name, should be capitalised. So "my grandmother" is fine, but "...with Grandma sitting on a stool beside me" should be capitalised. I'd never thought about the distinction until I began writing and a beta reader picked me up on it. Apart from that I only noticed a capitalisation error (“I don’t know, Susan,” She’d say, “Why don’t you tell me?”).
     
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  21. dbesim
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    dbesim Contributing Member

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    Great so far @Tenderiser.
     
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  22. Sal Boxford
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    Sal Boxford Active Member

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    I did the same. I had scores for criteria, picked the three highest scoring and went on gut from there: which one did I enjoy most?
     
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  23. Alphonse Capone
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    Alphonse Capone Member

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    Are you allowed to mention which stories you shortlisted but didn't vote for?
     
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  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I still haven't voted because I CAN'T CHOOSE! I'm sure others are in the same boat.

    I don't see why not. I think it'd be nice for the authors to know they were highly regarded.
     
  25. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    I'll wait until all the votes are in before I comment on any of the entries.

    I like @Wreybies mini critiques, especially the way she differentiates between what she likes and the technical aspects. I'm looking forward to reading her other critiques.
     
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