?

Which story should win?

This poll will close on May 1, 2018 at 6:07 PM.
  1. Should've Listened

  2. The Twins

  3. The Man Who Bought the World

  4. Fool Me Once

  5. What's In Your Head?

  6. Ghost-Hunters

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Open Voting Vote Now - April 2018 Contest (Voting closes 30 April)

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest' started by Tenderiser, Apr 15, 2018.

    Who should win the shiny medal?

    1. Read the entries: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/april-2018-short-story-contest.157315/

    2. Vote. Authors, please do not vote for your own story. If you don't want to vote for another but still want to know the poll results, don't worry - they will be visible to all once voting closes. If you really can't wait then feel free to PM me and I'll tell you the current results.

    Voting will close at midnight (GMT) on 30 April.

    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
    • Originality
    • Use of the prompt
    Please don't read the replies to this thread until you have voted! They may contain spoilers.
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot A Menace Contributor

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    I went for The Twins. I had a pretty good feeling that it would win out, even though it was such an early contender -- the premise was absurd and escalated just about perfectly, the pared-down style was a breeze to read, and it absolutely stuck the landing. I always try to read the entries as they come in, which means that by the time voting opens I've usually forgotten the title of the earlier ones I liked (unless they're particularly memorable titles), but in this case just seeing The Twins in the poll made me grin as I remembered the tone of that one. Well done.
     
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  3. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    The Twins - this one most got me feeling like some kind of April fool’s joke was being played. Yet just like the prompt says, it wasn’t one. I also felt like I was identifying most with this month’s prompt throughout the entire story. It also helps that it made me chuckle at the ending.
     
  4. GrahamLewis

    GrahamLewis Let me chew on your criticism a bit.

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    There's a lot of talent here. Two especially caught my fancy.

    I thought "What's In Your Head" was very well-written, real dark humor bordering on slapstick. But it seemed like a story that's been done a lot -- perhaps if I hadn't just seen a one act play on the same theme, I would feel differently. Very solid piece.

    I voted for "Fool Me Once." Very vivid writing; it might have swayed me that I have been to the Greyhound station in Des Moines (or was it Cedar Rapids? They all run together and it's been many years). I always thought I knew what would come next, but there was always a bit of a twist. My only criticism is that the ending seemed a bit weak to me.
     
  5. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Senior Member

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    What's in Your Head
    '

    Really good entries, but I chose it because of the sheer absurdity of it and because there were several clever lines that made me laugh out loud.

    It was a tough choice between the one I voted for and
    The Twins.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    As usual, I didn't read the prompt beforehand, because I'm not interested in how a writer 'solves' the problem of a particular prompt. If a writer uses a prompt to get them started, that's fine, but I don't want the prompt to show. Obviously some others don't share this opinion, but it's the one I hold. I don't care about how well a writer deals with a prompt, or how their treatment compares to other treatments of the same prompt. It's the story itself that matters to me.

    I ended up voting for the story that intrigued me the most. That was The Twins. Interesting, in that I normally don't enjoy reading stories that are all or mostly dialogue, but this one works. The fast pace of the dialogue works here, because we're not really interested in developing the personalities or backstories of the speakers so much as understanding the situation itself. The mostly unattributed dialogue was easy to follow, because a lot of it was in question-answer format. I loved the unique premise, and the humour, and it made me think beyond the story—about how we so often get multiple goods shoved at us in stores, and when we only actually want ONE we can't buy just ONE because the items come packaged together. So this story works on lots of levels.

    I thought Should've Listened was very well written, and kept my attention throughout. However, I figured near the beginning (it was well foreshadowed) that something bad was going to happen to the middle-aged driver of the car ...and it did. I wasn't actually disappointed, but when I read The Twins, I thought ...yeah, this is the story that sparkles, that stands out. However, Should've Listened contained a lot of really intriguing concepts, and could easily be the basis of a longer sci-fi novel.

    My third choice was Fool Me Once. I thought the situation was well set up and vivid ...although the backstory thrown in near the start was a bit distracting. The hows and whys of the the minibus dying and the incident in the garage, thrown in AFTER he'd found himself at the bus station, didn't really work for me. However, what actually shoved this story into third place, for me, was the flat ending. It just seemed way too easy and unconvincing, after what he had gone through before. However, the overall writing was very strong, and if it hadn't been for those two flaws, I might have chosen to vote for it. So well done. I do think it needs more thought when it comes to envisioning the outcome, though. Did the main character learn anything about himself? He nearly (or maybe actually did) killed somebody—which we were led to believe is NOT how he usually solves problems—and yet at the end he only seems concerned about rebuffing a girl he'd been briefly attracted to.
     
  7. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    Use of prompt isn’t usually the most dominant factor for me when critiquing a story but I do consider it along with the other criteria (technical ability, entertainment, originality). It’s usually technical ability that’s most important to me. But in this case, the writer I voted for did really well how they used the prompt, and I was impressed by how he/she did it, and I came to the same conclusion with @jannert’s vote but for very different reasons. :D
     
  8. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Voted. Been busy, I didn't even get to vote in the last one :(. I enjoyed this group and will post more details at the end.
     
  9. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    What's In Your Head? hit my favorite niche in all the right ways.
     
  10. 20oz

    20oz Active Member

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    Good lot of stories. It was a pleasant read.
     
  11. Michael R. Kage

    Michael R. Kage New Member

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    It was hard to pick a winner. Kudos to all the contestants.
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm doing critiques under the spoiler tags. Authors, don't read if you don't want to see criticisms. Voters, don't read unless you want spoilers.

    I love the opening, especially this line: "She saw them as potential serial killers, he saw them as secret soulmates. " It sets up the story wonderfully and makes sure I'm going to read on to find out who's right.

    The dialogue didn't have enough sparkle for me. I think the author could have played around with the tension in the initial exchange between Ernest and the hitchhiker and had me really wondering if the latter was harmless or dangerous. Exposition in dialogue is difficult to pull off - it calls to mind the cliché denouements in mystery novels - and it didn't sound natural when the hitchhiker was telling his long story. I was also confused about what the Order was, and it was strange that Ernest didn't seem to have any questions.

    I liked the ending.

    So, overall, I wish the middle had tied in with the excellent beginning and end. It would've been good to play on that serial killer vs. soulmate question throughout the story.

    It's a bold move to start with a long exchange of dialogue and I think the author pulled it off - kudos. However, the dialogue was stilted and unnatural, mostly because of the lack of contractions ("I am sorry sir. You will have to buy two or four,” instead of "I'm sorry, sir. You'll have to buy two or four.") Real people use contractions in speech, so a lack of them makes the characters seem wooden and unreal.

    I loved the absurd premise, though. It came off like something John Cleese might come up with, which is very high praise from me. I laughed out loud at this: “But sir, later we found both cans in the trash container behind the shop. She had just dumped them. One of our regulars told us that she is associated with the dog shelter. We can't be too cautious.”

    I feel like the ending punchline could have been stronger. Even something like the twins emerging from the staff room and turning out to be as non-identical as you could imagine; one tall and thin, one short and fat, dressed completely differently. I found the T-shirt line meh, especially since the customer said he wanted something for his wife so it was actually smart of him to buy two shirts. Maybe I missed the joke.

    This story suffered from a slew of spelling and grammar errors, which is a real shame. SPAG problems are so distracting that they can make brilliant stories unreadable. I liked that the story turned from something mundane to a sci-fi, but my overriding reaction is confusion.

    I was also confused by the structure - the opening scene was from the POV of a reporter of some sort, then the next scene takes us back in time and into the POV of the tramp but doesn't inform us of those facts for several paragraphs. Looking back, I can see the inference that the scene transition is taking us into the tramp's story, but it wasn't obvious to me when I was reading.

    The opening was really engaging. It was spoiled for me by the MC's description of the red-headed woman combined with strange slips between present and past tense. The MC lost my sympathy and the tense changes were distracting.

    Because the MC was an arsehole the rest of the events lost their impact... he deserved to be ripped off, so I felt no pleasure when he got his own back. Even if the MC had been sympathetic, I think short stories need a twist or a punchline and I didn't see it here.

    Thank you for the Pixies/Placebo earworm, author. :)

    This story has great voice and many great lines. The author had me from: “Yeah, I don’t think it’s funny that your boyfriend killed me, either!” I loved loved loved the developing relationship between the two women and the ending punchline was A+.

    I only have two minor criticisms. First, I was thrown right away by the POV: the second line puts us in Amanda's POV, and the rest is from Kori's. It took me a while to adjust once I realised the second line was a slip. Second, Amanda's jump from "This is a practical joke" to "I'm going to stab my boyfriend to death" was too sudden for me. The pacing of her accepting Kori was a zombie was perfect, but I felt like she needed to ask a lot more questions before deciding her boyfriend deserved to die.

    But I loved this story and it's going to get my vote unless the remaining one is even better.

    I'm bothered right away by the hyphen in the title, but I'm nitpicky like that.

    I want cottage pie now. Dammit.

    As soon as the haunted house was brought up I thought to myself, 'This has to be something other than a bogstandard ghost story,' and the author delivered! On the flip side, I think opening with characters discussing an upcoming trip to a haunted house and then not delivering the trip is a bit of a let down. I started to get impatient as the scenes kept coming and the trip was still nowhere in sight. I also found Lulah's reaction to the ghost story unrealistic... I'm sure there are very gullible teens out there who are terrified of ghosts, but I think 99% of girls Lulah's age would roll their eyes at Flo's story.

    The dialogue has two features that a good editor would want changed: first, an excess of dialogue tags and beats (in a two-person conversation, you need very few and certainly not one on each line) and 'As you know, Bob...' dialogue where characters tell each other things they already know for the benefit of the reader ("No-one who stays there is ever the same again, even if they do make it out alive!" "You've been my best friend since nursery.") An editor might also have something to say about adverbs with dialogue tags.

    Not sure what happened with the giant wall of text in the middle of the story, so a general reminder to authors that you can edit your anonymised posts like regular posts.
     
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