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UEMB Writing Competition Volume II Results and Discussion!

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8 hours ago, Gina Szanboti said:

Heh, I was afraid you were going to ask me that.  Now I gotta go c&p it and reread it again.

"Everyone stopped and postured to the dying man if he would appreciate any assistance to the other side."  I think you were after a word that means "asked" like "inquired of" but maybe you meant "proposed."  But if so, then making it a conditional (if) becomes awkward.  Me, I'd just rewrite the whole sentence as "Everyone stopped and pondered whether they should assist the dying man to the other side."  Or something.  Because "postured" doesn't mean anything here, so I'm still not sure what you intended to say.  :/

[I did like the whole recurring "me-shaped wound" bit.  But I think you jumped the gun on the prophesy joke by revealing it in the previous sentence. One step too meta. ^_^]

"Papa is in peril?" I eked out.  "eeked out" maybe?  I assume you were going for the onomatopoeia, but "eked" is already a word that means something entirely different.

"I barked into the hallowing abyss."  Hollow?  Hallowed?  Howling?  "Hallowing" would be making holy, which I'm not sure that an abyss can do.  :) 

"We waited with baited breath"  Bated.  Although in this story, maybe their breath was baited with something to attract monsters?

There were some other typos and grammar issues, but everyone has those, and I'm not dealing with that. :P

Postured was an odd word choice but intentional. Could've explained it better but they were all putting on a show, acting like they would help. 

Hallowing and baited were wordplay/puns, as well. Hallowing referring to Hell, and its entrance, being a holy place. Baited referring to baiting whatever was in the darkness to come out. 

Eked was an error, though. 

And the prophecy thing was intended for an immediate setup and punchline. Hence the "who could have foreseen this?" line. 

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2 hours ago, GunStarHero said:

Hallowing and baited were wordplay/puns, as well. Hallowing referring to Hell, and its entrance, being a holy place. Baited referring to baiting whatever was in the darkness to come out. 

Ok, but then you should've used "hallowed."  Using the gerund form makes no sense. :) The entrance may have been sanctified and become holy, but it's not conferring that holiness onto anything else.  And sad to say, you have to be careful about wordplay with words people chronically misuse, like "baited" when they do mean "bated."  It's like "weary" and "wary" (half the time I can't even tell by context which they intend anymore) or "bear with me" vs "bare with me."  You can certainly use them in wordplay, but rampant internet illiteracy means you've got to be very clear what you're up to, or it will just look like you goofed.

Yeah, I got the joke about the prophesy, I'm just saying I thought you overplayed it by doubling down on it with the preview.  Ymmv. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

I forgot to tell Sponges that the cheese bit in the factory somehow reminded me of The Cheese Man in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  "I really meet the most appalling sort of people."  :)

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39 minutes ago, Gina Szanboti said:

Ok, but then you should've used "hallowed."  Using the gerund form makes no sense. :) The entrance may have been sanctified and become holy, but it's not conferring that holiness onto anything else.  And sad to say, you have to be careful about wordplay with words people chronically misuse, like "baited" when they do mean "bated."  It's like "weary" and "wary" (half the time I can't even tell by context which they intend anymore) or "bear with me" vs "bare with me."  You can certainly use them in wordplay, but rampant internet illiteracy means you've got to be very clear what you're up to, or it will just look like you goofed.

Yeah, I got the joke about the prophesy, I'm just saying I thought you overplayed it by doubling down on it with the preview.  Ymmv. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

I forgot to tell Sponges that the cheese bit in the factory somehow reminded me of The Cheese Man in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  "I really meet the most appalling sort of people."  :)

That's all fair. I banged that thing out and didn't proof read it and sent it off all within an hour of seeing the thread. 

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Yo! I was the shitty mystery judge who totally didn't get their shit together for a low-volume reading job. The results are up, and so I'm not going to bother with a balanced assessment of everybody's work. Instead, just to celebrate the few who put themselves out there, I'm going to talk about what I enjoyed from everybody's work.

The Quest:

The anxious part of me loved this to pieces. I could tell the writer enjoyed the process. Particularly I was drawn into the voice, which was incredibly singular and unforgettable. I was laughing all the way through it. I believe by allowing the narrative to tinker with absurdity and chaos, and simply having fun, there were some sentences that sparked interest and attention and were truly innovative. I love a lot of poets, and some of my favorites shirk convention and create something unique through odd adjacent shifts, like Michael Robbins, Kyle Flak, James Tate, and others. I could imagine them each finding something about this piece that grabbed them. 

Oh Shit I Didn't Think of a Title

I read this after The Quest, and so I imagined it would be similar in how the name implies an impulsiveness. However, I was misled by my own assumptions, but not in a bad way. On the contrary. This story reminded me indirectly of Vonnegut's Breakfast For Champions, specifically in how the perspective shifts toward the end. Whereas Vonnegut goes from third to first by introducing himself as a character, this goes from strict second-person into first-person direct address, and flawlessly, and completely entertaining with a strong seasoning of vile, but never losing the tension that comes with the stranger, who hovers excellently across the protagonist's entire day. The cheese sandwich factory scabs also sounds like my new favorite psychobilly band.

 

Blowing it Spectacularly: The Lustful Gaze of a Saucy Stepdad

Y'all, your fucking titles! I'm actually amused though, and was impressed by how much understanding of tension and situation we got in the beginning simply from people talking. Being dialogue-heavy from the very beginning is difficult when it comes to building context, but I knew who was talking, what their relationship was, and what their other relationships were, that it compelled me through the story and into the action, which occurs only we're more than halfway through the story. That's not an easy feat, but it felt easy to read. 

 

The Bloody Scarab's Wrath

The main character finds himself beginning as strongly unsympathetic. He's selling his own wife to score. Yet, the sympathy--or empathy for that matter (depending on who you are)--I end up feeling for this character came as a pleasant turn and surprise for me. I was expecting to despise everybody like I did in other entries. However, the heart reveals itself splendidly, and when it's crushed, I feel flattened myself. 
Also, if the bloody scarab in a vial is a Cowboy Bebop homage: thank you.
If not, still. It made me think of it, so thanks!


While I regret not being able to provide a thorough critique, as the other judges took upon themselves, I'm happy I had the chance to read your work, and hope to read more later.

Edited by Bouvre
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On 2/7/2020 at 12:40 PM, SwimModSponges said:

Thoughts on the judgments of my stories:

Mthor- thanks, I read this to my wife  while it was halfway done (I got to the point where the shit hand man was chewing on your hair) and she just shouted "WHAT THE FUCK." Drawing people in and then repulsing them was 100% my goal.

philosopherstoned- didn't really try to have much in the way of symbolism or anything, and one of the criticisms I got from the last contest was how much time I spent just describing one environmental set piece so I tried to shy away from doing that again. Lack of plot/personality was intentional, wanted to have a blank slate for the reader to mold themselves onto, plus some pain for them to empathize with. The cheese sandwich factory scene was sort of pointless, but I didn't know exactly where my story was going at that point and I wrote the whole thing in a big stream and when I do that I don't go back and fix/edit/change things. What I put on paper stays on paper.

guybeardmane- the shit hand man will always be with you. He's part of you now. He's part of us now.

On @SwimModSponges

I would've judged you higher, but I've gotten used to descriptive world building with writing. If you remember I think I gave your last submission the highest score out of that batch. That was my creative writing teacher's main focus though. Aside from talking about the actual aspects of making it as a writer... Of course you are also supposed to keep the story concise and fluent at the same time you paint your picture right? Idk.. The shit hand man could've had more of a 'slender man' feel or something at least though I think. The character just didn't stick in my mind as well as it seemed you wanted it to since there's so little descriptions of everything. At least everybody else liked your character though right? 

*The scene that happened at the factory was pretty hard hitting it just seemed rushed. It was done pretty well It's just I wasn't able to insert myself into that situation again as well as you seemed to hope. I think it would've been way better if you built a protagonist to experience all this rather than take the angle that I the reader am in fact going through all of this. Again I have to say I regret not giving you at least a few more points for originality, and using such a creative point of view for everything. I was trying to put on my teacher's hat though lol. 

My score on it was only so low because it seemed like a basic outline or roughdraft as opposed to a solid immersive short story. There was a lot of good shit there still.. I probably would've given you those extra points if I thought about it a little more. 

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On 2/12/2020 at 9:57 PM, Bouvre said:

Also, if the bloody scarab in a vial is a Cowboy Bebop homage: thank you.

If not, still. It made me think of it, so thanks!

I'll confess, Bloody Eye did play a factor in influencing the Bloody Scarab. Avoiding coming off like a straight-up ripoff aided in the drug being an insect as opposed to an artificial substance.

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