?

Which story should win?

Poll closed Jun 1, 2018.
  1. The Waiting Field

    5 vote(s)
    22.7%
  2. Progenitor

    2 vote(s)
    9.1%
  3. A Day in the Afterlife of Leon Larkin

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  4. The Arcade

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  5. A GOOD DEAL GOES SOUTH

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  6. Don't Trust Anyone

    1 vote(s)
    4.5%
  7. Modern Art

    3 vote(s)
    13.6%
  8. Bedridden

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. Long Range: WWII Sniper Story

    3 vote(s)
    13.6%
  10. 404

    3 vote(s)
    13.6%
  11. Butterflies

    2 vote(s)
    9.1%
  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Closed Voting Vote Now - May 2018 Contest (Voting closes 31 May)

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

    Who should win the shiny medal?

    1. Read the entries here: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/may-2018-short-story-contest-open-contest.157677

    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 31 May. I'll be abroad so @theoriginalmonsterman has very kindly agreed to close the poll and announce the winner.

    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.
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    A Day In the Afterlife of Leon Larkin -- The name intrigued me, and I liked the set-up. It was ultimately more the implication of the story that I liked than the story itself -- I'm into organized crime stuff, but almost everything was told rather than shown, which made it a bit dry, and I didn't have any emotional connection to Leon so the ending didn't stick for me.

    Modern Art -- This one was easy to read. I found the characters likable and genuine, and the mundanity and predictability of the plot was not at all boring, but rather charming. It's a cute, unobtrusive story and it's the one that got my vote. Maybe I just needed a pick-me-up, but the author certainly delivered on that ;)

    404 -- I liked the set-up of this one, as well. It's interesting, I think it's well paced, the exposition is handled nicely, and the characters are quite distinct. I enjoyed that last line. I really don't have any major complaints -- it's a good story with a genre and subject matter that typically appeals to me that just didn't quite click at the end of the day. Kudos to the author.
     
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  3. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Supporter

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    The Waiting Field
    I really enjoyed this one. I found it interesting seeing the world through the eyes of a pet non-human dead protagonist. It even had a happy ending. It did not disappoint.

    404
    This was an intriguing story. The author did a good job of character development and added in a nice twist. It made me want more.

    Butterflies
    This was a sweet story about a first crush. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Progenitor
    This was a novel story. I found it revealing to have the protagonist to be a non-hominid alien. Where it fell down for me is the notion that they would be shocked at their beginnings. It might have been a function of that alien's personality but I couldn't relate to the existential shock that they experienced.

    Modern Art
    This is a well-written contemporaneous almost-love story. I enjoyed it.

    A GOOD DEAL GOES SOUTH
    Firefly-esque. It was gritty enough, but in the end I felt it was a little too predicable and the trope has been done a lot, so I was hoping for something different to happen.

    The Arcade
    It has an interesting start to the story. I enjoyed the character development. I got confused, though, when things switched to horror. I thought a bit more of an explanation of where the protagonist was and what was going on would have worked better.

    A Day in the Afterlife of Leon Larkin
    I found the character development to be reasonably well done. I found the plot to be predicable, though, and rather pointless in the end.

    404. I really enjoyed it. It was well-written and had a twist I did not see coming. Well done, author. It's also the only story that left me wanting more.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I thought there were a lot of pithy stories here this time, and all of them well-written. These contests throw up some really good stuff, don't they?

    My brain has been in 'easy story' mode this past couple of weeks, and I didn't want to read stories that were difficult in any way—either thematically, or via writing style. So there were a few stories here that I just couldn't get into, at least not past the first few paragraphs. However, I that was my problem—I was just in the mood for a light read this time. Any other time I might well have dug into them and been pleasantly surprised and/or moved. However, this time I gravitated towards the stories that set the scene quickly and didn't make me work too hard at figuring out what was going on.

    I thought Progenitor was good, and it's the kind of sci-fi I usually like. Speculative, with an earth connection. I did find the ending a bit strange, though. The protagonist suddenly not wanting to return to his own civilisation didn't make sense to me. I didn't see anything in his character that would cause him to do that, and there didn't seem to be any real reason why he couldn't have returned. Maybe I missed a connection?

    A Day In The Life Of Leon Larkin kept my attention throughout as well. It was interesting to experience (vicariously) what a person under witness protection must go through. Especially when they are 'hiding' from a mafia that seems to watch every corner of the universe. The ending wasn't surprising at all—in fact it was inevitable. If not now, it would happen later. I could tell how trapped Leon must feel. Don't mess with the mafia, eh?

    The Arcade ...I came very close to voting for this one. The characters and the setting were original, and I could certainly feel the mounting unease and fear as things began to go strange for the boy. I also felt quite sorry for him. He has a brother who can't be bothered, a family who will give him hell when he gets home. He seems very alone, and he doesn't really want to be. A carnival where nothing is as it seems to be is a place where, I imagine, you could begin to feel a bit unhinged, even if you're not already feeling isolated and ignored. And there's always that seedy edge to a carnival operation as well. I was on board right up to the end, and horrified that he got locked in for the night. But the ending did disappoint me. I know that not revealing a really scary 'thing' is often done in short story writing, but I've never been a fan. I want to know what happened. But other than that, this is an amazingly well written story. It was the runner-up for me.

    I also stuck with Don't Trust Anyone, but while it was well-written, it was too obvious that the boyfriend wasn't the real deal. So it was hard to empathise with her blindness towards him, after a certain point. And the fact that he killed her, and she was writing from the grave ...somehow that didn't quite work for me. But it was well-written. Just not my thing.

    Modern Art - Well, that was a nice YA story, with enough detail to make it come to life. The two girls had bags of personality, and I was cheering them on as the tale developed. I like that Primrose didn't see herself the way her new friend did at all. Nice to be admired when you don't expect to be. The ending seemed a bit rushed, though. Still not quite sure if the two girls did meet up afterwards and become girlfriend/girlfriend, or if they're just pen pals or what. But it was a good story, and I enjoyed reading it.

    Butterflies. Another YA story I liked very much. I thought the characters were believable, and I'm glad Sara and George found their way to each other. I thought the start was a little bit spotty—and there were places where the dialogue and the action beats were done by the same character, but split into a separate paragraph, so it didn't flow as smoothly as it could have done and required a re-read—but not so much that I quit reading. I was very glad I did, because these opening problems disappeared quickly. I think this writer certainly has a future with the YA genre. It was a good depiction of the nervousness young people feel when it's their first time falling in love. Not sure if they're doing the right thing or not, etc. I have certainly 'been there.'

    Okay, here's the one I voted for. I loved it from the first time I read it, and it's the only one I've read twice. It surprised me a little bit, because it's a heartstring-tugger, and that's not usually my thing. But I voted for The Waiting Field.

    It's not a heavyweight story, but it certainly deals with an issue that most pet owners will relate to. I've seen it written that pet owners hope that when they reach 'the other side' that all the pets they've loved all their life will come running to greet them. It's sentimental, but it's actually how many people feel, including several of my friends. At least the ones who believe there will be another side.

    Telling this story from the POV of the dog was a wonderful twist. The writer has captured 'dogness' down to a T. The dog is cheerful, and certainly living in the here and now. It worries when it sees its master unhappy, on the other side of the door it can't cross over to, but is happy to see its master with other animals and isn't jealous. And it's happy playing with the other dogs in the field, and likes the field itself. And while it remembers its own death, it does it in a very dog-like way—just accepts what happened, remembers the good stuff, and is glad the master was with it at the end, glad the pain stopped. The personality of this cheerful and well-adjusted
    dog is so accurately depicted that it makes the story work. It's not an earth shattering story, but I think it's a damn near perfect one. While I appreciated the time and effort that went into all the other entries, including the ones I was too airheaded to finish, I just had to vote for this one. I hope the writer gets it published.
     
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  5. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    I voted for Butterflies. I thought it was a really cute story about two great characters - neither seemed overly confident, and I always root for the underdog. I thought the interactions with Fred were pretty great, too - he added a nice sense of wit to the tale. For me, he was the backbone that held the thing together and balanced out the fluffiness of George and Sara.

    Special mention also has to go to The Long Range. Errors in historical accuracy and in the German kept it from the top spot (also, I'd advise against writing part of a story in a foreign language) but again, it was very sweet, as well as keeping me on the edge. I didn't want either of them to lose, but I knew that one would have to. I thought the ending was unpredictable and very touching. Even though I know it's unlikely, given Germany's situation post-war, I'd like to think Simon and Hedda remained in contact. I think this one's rather underappreciated.
     
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  6. GB reader

    GB reader Senior Member

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    I allow myself to be totally subjective. I am not experienced enough to determine which story is the best (but I can actually see comma splices nowadays).

    I am a softie, easily scared. So I will not choose perfectly perfect stories that are to sad, dark or scary. As I am not native I have problems with to complicated stories or to many complicated words.

    So don't feel bad you are not on this short list.

    The Waiting Field

    I have read about using a dog as 1:st person POV, but not read any.

    We have a dog so I was very touched. I really liked this. Dogs seams to live in the “now” and I think this was shown very well.


    A GOOD DEAL GOES SOUTH

    When I was young I loved adventures at sea with pirates and exploding gun powder rooms. When I was a little older I loved western and when I became adult I loved SF. This is a powerful mix of all that.


    Modern Art (romance)

    Sweet, sincere. I know they ended up together. Extras for chiaroscuro. I only knew because serious portrait photo literature will cover it. This got my vote.


    A Day in the Afterlife of Leon Larkin

    Cooperation with police, witness protection program, hunted by the mob. My kind of story.
     
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  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I voted. Will post my thoughts later. I was very happy to see the sci-fi entries. One in particular had a very Asimov feel to it (which I liked) and both dealt with transcendental ideas.
     
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  8. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    My top three contenders in this contest were

    The Waiting Field, 404 and Butterflies. There was something very special and fundamental in all three of these stories though they were all very different! This is what made voting between them particularly difficult.

    Butterflies - If ever there was a story about love in its purest and most innocent form, this is it. There is something so touching about how first love (or young love) is presented in this story. What makes this particular piece work is the fact that the protagonists, Sara and George, are both so cute and so true. The fact that both of them have never experienced love before they find each other and they are both so innocent and coy about it and the world around them is written so beautifully. In a world where most love stories have to spice things up with temptation, betrayal or conflict, this cute little story was simply a breath of fresh air. The characters are both so cute and loveable and everything about the story (including the writers dedication to his/her characters) is so very heartwarming.

    The Waiting Field - This story reminded me of something written here by someone before and the style and story-telling too (I won’t reveal names because of the anonymity rule and because it could be someone else :bigwink:) However, still, the idea is so unique I encourage the author to keep this up! Often when we think about the afterlife, it’s always a partner, friend or another person we imagine is waiting for us. This story takes the idea to a completely new level, not only by writing in the POV of a dog but by representing people who’ve lost animals and giving them hope that one day eventually, they’ll be reunited with these beautiful creatures too. What a wonderful tale of a dog watching over his master in the afterlife, and rather than envying the other dogs the Master looks after, he feels happy for him and this pleasant world created of a doggie paradise. Such a beautiful story too! Well done, writer.

    404 - the themes represented in this story were far more grave than the other two stories in my top three, and yet I felt the author did an excellent job of shocking me! If ever there was a story with a statement being made, this is it. The things that could go wrong in a society that takes technology too far. How we’re losing our humanity and where and how far is the future going with this? At first I found myself wanting to know who this protagonist is and why he believes the things he does. When he begins to heartlessly torture and electrocute his victim, and then the victim makes a statement and we find out the protagonist is android (shock number 1), then we’re invited into this creepy futuristic world where everything is just not right.. Then the dialogue is repeated again and we find out that the whole scene isn’t even real but part of a script for a movie (shock number 2).. don’t even get me started on his android world-view! There’s just so much in this story.. and suddenly it just becomes a statement on how everything could go wrong if we took this technological world and age of IT too far. I recently read a book by Dan Brown called Origin and he makes this point exactly. I recommend this book to the author. So this is the story that got my vote.

    I’d like to comment on a couple of the other stories that didn’t make my top three but I still want to mention..

    Don’t Trust Anyone - this story is going the right direction in terms of idea and there is something really creepy about a murdered woman floating in the afterlife, hoping to get some justice so that her murderor will be caught. At the moment I don’t feel as is this story is a finished piece and I really would like to see you do more with the story so that she could perhaps get some sense of justice (or not). I feel like there is a great idea brewing here and more could be done with it.

    A Good Deal Goes South - I felt as if the entire story was based around the hold-up and pirates pointing weapons at each other. While I enjoyed the quirky comments, I felt like this was just one scene and in some places my thoughts began to wonder elsewhere. I think the characters are strong, but a fuller story-line is needed so that there’s a more developed plot created. This story has the ingredients to achieve this and, again, I hope the author considers doing more with it in future.

    The Arcade - this is a wonderfully written story and while some of us might consider that Nik doesn’t belong in places where his parents forbid him, others might think that this little boy is really brave facing his fears like this... and boy, won’t he have a lot to tell his friends when he goes back to school! I felt however that the ending was a bit abrupt and left me feeling unconvinced. There’s more to be done there.

    Modern Art - wonderful story that makes a great statement. The setting at a modern art gallery is perfect. Everything about this story says ‘modernity’ - very good, author.

    Bedridden - I found the parts where the soldier is recollecting the past very well told. I think that the end part needs to be tied into the present (at the beginning) a little tighter and you need to take a couple more sentences to explain more what is happening there. I think a few more paragraphs at the end will achieve that.

    A Day in the Afterlife of Leon Larkin - I think the author takes too much time to establish what the backstory is and I’m left a little unclear about what’s happening in the protagonist’s present. Something about time-travel and an afterlife? I feel as if the parts about him being chased by a mobster leaves me a little unsure as to what exactly is being narrated here and the story-telling could be stronger if the author focuses more on Leon’s present and less about his murky past.

    That’s all writers! I hope my comments might be helpful somehow, and sorry if I haven’t mentioned your story but possibly another reader before me already has. Once again, great effort! Push it further!
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
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  9. Night Herald

    Night Herald The guy in the $3,000 suit. Supporter

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    Voted.

    I'll put up some comments near the deadline, maybe once the winner is announced. Don't want my own entry identifiable by process of elimination. Not that I think it would make much difference, but in the spirit of anonymity...

    For now, I'll settle for saying "well done" to all the authors.
     
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  10. Sal Boxford

    Sal Boxford Senior Member

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    I voted for The Arcade. This was a really nice idea and well done. I liked the characterisation and the non-cutesy depiction of a kid heading out on his own to grown-up places. I would have liked the second part of the story - after he regains consciousness - to have been drawn out a little more. More false frights might have been nice - taking the reader from 'alone in scary arcade at night' to 'lost happily in playing a game'/'feeling pretty cool and grown-up' and back again a few times before the inevitable arrival of real monsters. As soon as the kid starts to play the game, the reader has a pretty good idea of what's coming. I think you the writer could play with us a bit more.

    I LOVED the ideas in the opening paragraphs of 404. I was really hoping we were going to explore either the idea of disease as recreation or as punishment. I also loved, "The last time we had a World War it literally broke the Internet." I could have gone for that as the story too. I liked the complexity of the plot, although having read it four times I'm still not 100% sure what happens! I feel bad not voting for this, because the creativity demonstrated by the author was incredible. Maybe there are too many ideas in this one story? It felt like a novel and the blurb for three other novels crammed into 3000 words.

    I liked the atmosphere in Progenitor - sense of lurking menace, cosmic indifference. I felt it could have been built up a little more. Perhaps needed more information to make sense of the protagonist deciding to just sit down and wait for death? I loved the phrase, "monochrome majesty".

    The Waiting Field was too damned sad for me to cope with. It's a lovely idea well done but I cannot do sick or dying animals! Heart-breaking.
     
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  11. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    My vote went to the story that hooked me from the get-go and gave me the strongest urge to keep reading. There was so much potential in so many stories, but excess idle conversation or info-dumping caused my interest to fade. The story that most effectively got me to continue reading was:

    Long Range

    Though it could have been tidied up with a little editing, Long Range was the story I felt compelled to finish. I enjoyed the sense of urgency as we jumped back and forth between snipers; it was a great example of "show don't tell". I would have liked to see a bit more strength in the ending, though. My heart rate picked up as Simon exposed himself to approach Hedda; I legitimately thought he was about to get a bullet between the eyes.

    Honorable mention goes to Modern Art. I was pulled in to this adorable little story about the budding relationship between two girls, but there wasn't any conflict to spice up the narrative, so it gets second place.

    Finally, I agree with @Sal Boxford 's assessment of The Waiting Field. So well-done, but it bummed me out something fierce. My vote had to go to something a little less heavy, although it was beautifully done.
     
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  12. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    The Waiting Field. It so perfectly captured the characterization of a dog, it had my vote from first read, before I even read any of the others. I'm all about the characters, and this one did it for me. It was just so wonderfully, fully-rounded character dog. And on a personal note, it reminded me a lot of our dog who died of cancer. I could picture our adorable goofball thinking those exact same things, behaving that exact same way.
     
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