?

Cast your vote for the best short story here:

Poll closed Monday at 12:08 PM.
  1. Waldo's Thoughts

    2 vote(s)
    10.0%
  2. UNCLE BULLFROG'S BOX

    3 vote(s)
    15.0%
  3. Miss Melody's Box

    3 vote(s)
    15.0%
  4. Blue Matches

    3 vote(s)
    15.0%
  5. That Stupid Box

    1 vote(s)
    5.0%
  6. Halcyon

    7 vote(s)
    35.0%
  7. Ribbons, Lace, and Clean White Satin

    1 vote(s)
    5.0%
  8. A Nightmare in Yellow

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Waldo's Thoughts

    This is two separate and distinct story lines which are not really related. Far, far too much word play in the opening paragraphs. Having read the whole story, I understand why but it was hard to get through that none the less. It's nearly four thousand words of convolution, I just don't get it. And, can we please bury Schrodinger's dead cat... please.

    Uncle Bullfrog's Box

    It's an interesting tale in so far as that goes, but I'm missing the "why." Why is the spirit in the box? Why not re-invest it in the body, what has it got to do with the long lost relative? I should probably read it again to be fair but should the reader have to read a story twice?

    Miss Melodies Box

    Pleasantly written. No end twist. Got the story of Pandora's box (jar) more or less right except I find no mention of Epimethius. I liked it.

    Blue Matches

    I have nothing good or bad to say about this story. Just not enough story for me to give a rat's rear about. An interpersonal relationship that I have no part of. I would care why. I found the writing style hard to read.

    That Stupid Box

    It was all a dream again. An earlier story in the contest used the same trope. Over all, I liked it.

    Halcyon

    Mind control drug with a body count of 1. Been there, done that, nothing original, couldn't get interested. Let's bury it with Schrodinger's Cat.


    Ribbons, Lace, and Clean White Satin

    I liked the style of the writing. Not enough action. The Cami character just sort of got lost. I think this story would have been greatly improved by being half this length.

    A Nightmare in Yellow

    I read it. I still don't know what it's about. The author has played waaayyy too much D&D I suspect. Take a deep breath, remove all the set description, rename the characters Bob, Fred, and Alice, and start again.



    Once again I find that I really wasn't impressed by any of the entries. All of them had to do with magic which I thought was odd. Science fiction is just magic with a partial explanation. In my book it was between Miss Melody's Box and That Stupid Box. A very close race. To be fair, I wish there was a "None of the above" check box but.... I don't really want to vote but I do so like to see the horse race unfold so, THAT STUPID BOX got my vote for want of Epimethius in MISS MELODY'S BOX.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  2. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Contributor

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    My thoughts on the stories.

    1). Waldo's Thoughts:

    I think this story would be infintely better with more of Waldo interjecting on his won thoughts and warping the story and idea as he went along. Instead it feels more like a memory, and distant as a narrator. The story within a story doesn't meld well, finding the plotlines splitting too far and not referencing one another much other than arbitrarily.

    This is also highly plagued by telling and not showing. It starts the secondary plotline off almost as a bit of a mystery, the goes into a huge descriptor of the box that just eats short story space.

    I would maybe lose the first section of Waldo in this story, and develop the inner plotline to a bit of a science thriller.

    2). Uncle Bullfrog's Box

    I actually rather liked this story,but there were a few things I took issue with. I think the description of the uncle goes on fairly well, adjust long enough, for a longer story. I really think the mystery of the box needs to be played out way way more. The uncle's story often "Swami" should probably play out out a little more, as a deeper hint of the cultural magic and significance of the box.

    You set up the story really well, but I'm trying to say I'm missing the excitement and interest later. I like what you did with the uncle, I just think you could play on the fact that everyone believes his stories are lies, when they are indeed truth.

    3).Miss Melody's Box

    This story started off especially well formulated, teaching the reader of the concept, yet keeping it interesting and not textbook like. It lost itself in feasibility later though, and I felt myself disagreeing with character reactions as well. There's no way the school wouldn't entirely shut down ifdamn near a whole class was gone by the end of the week. I understand it's a what if kind of story, but I just can't buy into in the last third.

    This story is also completely plagued with grammatical errors. I would suggest taking a good number of out loud read throughs to iron out the numerous kinks, and pay a little better attention to punctuation.

    4). That Stupid Box

    Solid overall story, if a bit weak in the beginning. The beginning was a bit harder to get through and felt as more of a means to get to anything real interesting. Probably should draw the reader in a little more immediately to keep them reading.

    I don't mind the it was all a dream thing while the MC was dying, and thought it was done rather well for an overused plot device. I like how a lot of foreshadowing was used, but I don't like how it was described a little too heavily. I was pretty sure of the plot a bit early because of the focus draw, on the bikes especially. Overall not bad though.

    As an editing point, I would really work on the showing and not telling. You lose a lot of atmosphere that would really round out the piece. A bit of time in the editing room and this could be pretty solid.

    5). Halcyon

    Any edits for this story are beyond my level, other than maybe an overuse of the first person "i" (there's a lot!). In my eyes the tension was perfectly executed, and I especially liked how the reader became blind to the happenings in the controlled environment as the MC did during his interview he conducted personally. You made another box which I feared for the MC to open, but needed him to. Played the reader just as the prisoners had been. Excellent.

    6). Ribbons, Lace, and Clean White Satin

    This story is quite farfetched in my opinion. There are also rather gaping plot holes that really bother me here as well.

    First, why is this dress continual being passed on. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anything saying it needed to be passed on. Couldn't this problem be solved by the bottom of the ocean, or a bonfire?

    Second, I'm just not buying the affair. That just isn't what happens. Yes, some couples overcome it with some work, but here it just feels arbitrary, and the characters just pass it off as nothing with seeming ease. This is bothersome to me.

    The plotline is alright, and the descriptions are rather nice, but I think it needs a little work on the characters themselves. Talk their conversations out and make them feel natural. Think of how your characters would respond in that situation a bit more.

    Only a couple SP&G errors.

    7). A Nightmare in Yellow

    I felt this story was fairly well written, but had a very lackluster ending. I also felt that it utilized the theme of this contest the least, so I cant vote for it for this reason mainly.

    The dialogue was not bad, only forced or awkward every so often. Marak was done well with dialogue, but some other more tertiary characters felt out of place or unnecessary. Which bring me to the main problem with this story, I feel the reader isn't given enough information related to the plotline, and veers on tangents that feel unnecessary. Emotional responses of the characters see a bit flat too. I honestly think less of the battle, anymore fleshing out of the characters and plot would help. The first half of the story really drew me in, but I was fairly dissappointedaround the end of the battle, and didn't really get the same feeling I had originally again.

    Only a few SP&G errors here as well.

    8). Blue Matches

    Sorry, I skipped over this one accidentally, but I'll get to it now. I can't vote for this one because it really didn't use the prompt. I enjoyed the style and the pacing.

    Again, like the Waldo story, the split storyline feels just a bit disjointed. Flash backs in short fiction are hard to do, and the fact that this one is basically an even split between past and present helps little.

    The awkwardness and mistakes of them make the story feel real. That's a major plus for the whole piece in general. I generally like it, but again, try using the prompt more.


    Thank you all for sharing your stories. I enjoyed spending time reading them. My vote goes to Halcyon, for the best use of the prompt, and a solid, if a little cliched, storyline. Uncle Bullfrog's Box was a pretty far second for me, but I did like it overall.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
    jannert and Merovingian like this.
  3. Dan McLeod

    Dan McLeod Member

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    Waldo's Thoughts
    It has a good sci-fi feel with the stone chamber etc. I would suggest that the story would be more compelling if I came into it with Gwen.
    The constant reference to Gwen's boobs seemed a bit childish to me. I may well be missing out here, but nothing gripped me in the intro of this story for me to carry on reading.

    Uncle Bullfrog's Box
    I enjoyed this, although it was very much the opposite of the prompt. My criticism would be that we should be experiencing that Uncle B is domineering through his actions, rather than being told through narration. He seemed to wait for questions to be asked.

    Miss Melody's Box
    I'm not a fan of present tense writing (outside of a film or stage script). The story delivered on a decent premise in a clunky fashion.
    Some recognition of the mechanisms of the boxes involved would have been good. The size of the boxes was omitted as far as I could tell, and that seems important when people or animals are going to be housed inside.

    That Stupid Box
    This was well-written, but ultimately felt like a kick in this shin with the ending. If the events had somehow led to a recognition of aspects of the MC's real-life I would have felt a lot more satisfied.

    R, L, and WS
    The story was on the whole very well written. There were some moments, like the defence of the text message which just seemed a bit stiff and strange.

    A Nightmare in Yellow
    I feel like the name Tirian is out of bounds these days. The character name is always going to draw comparisons, especially when the character is broadly the same as the Lannister with an incredibly similar name.
    In all honesty, I wrote this off as adapted fan fiction at the point where he drank and made merry.
     
  4. talltale

    talltale Member

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    My vote:

    Halcyon

    I enjoyed the build-up of tension and how it worked with the prompt. I also enjoyed the fact that Doctor Edmund Usher deserved the harrowing experience considering he was the one who chose to do business with such shady characters.

    Close, but no vote:

    Ribbons, Lace, and Clean White Satin:

    Well written and good use of prompt. Reminded me of the stress of marriage and the generational baggage (both literally and figuratively) that accompanies it. Nice job.

    UNCLE BULLFROG'S BOX:

    A fairly simple, yet heart-warming tale. The box made me think symbolically of how it could* represent our memories and what we dwell on as we move close to the end of our journey. Hopefully, it's not only full of regret but full of the positive things we've done as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  5. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Oops! Nearly forgot! Only read half of then up to now - very nice work :)
     
  6. Merovingian

    Merovingian Member

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    Top 3
    1/ Halcyon

    Well written, good suspense and an unexpected end despite being a cliche (bravo).

    2/ Miss Melody's Box
    Good story telling and quite entertaining.

    3/ A Nightmare in Yellow
    Well written and entertaining story till the end, however it is the story that use the less of the prompt.

    I voted for Halcyon.
     
    EFMingo likes this.
  7. Night Herald

    Night Herald Have you seen the Yellow Sign? Supporter Contributor

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    Voted for Waldo's Thoughts, which I thought had the best concept behind it. I give That Stupid Box second place for the same reason.
     
  8. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The third pronunciation of "potato" Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Twenty-five hours or so left, get those votes in!
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I voted for Halcyon ...grabbed me right away. I also liked that the story didn't revolve around some supernatural thing, but seemed based on exploring pure human curiosity instead—until the ending, where it all came together in a most unexpected and satisfying way. This is a damn good story, in my opinion. It kept me glued, but then surprised me.
     
  10. Writing Forums Staff

    Writing Forums Staff Moderator Staff

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    And the winner is Halcyon, by @Stephen Barnard !
     
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  11. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    Congratulations!
     
  12. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    Well done to everyone who entered. Really impressive work.

    BTW, apologies to A Nightmare in Yellow. I thought your entry was excellent, but I'd already voted for another equal favourite.
     
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  13. Night Herald

    Night Herald Have you seen the Yellow Sign? Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you, and don't worry about it :)
     
  14. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    * pins imaginary medal on N H *
     
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  15. Tralala

    Tralala Member

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    Really, though. The standard was very high. What a talented forum.
     

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