Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Year 1, Week 11: Results!

Can you tell NaNoWriMo is coming up in a couple o' months? I think Si is practicing her word count--though, certainly, this is quantity and quality (not to say that all novels written for NaNo are only quantity. I like NaNo.). Either that, or she's trying to show me up by writing reviews twice the size of mine (Oh, alright, she wrote hers first.).

What's that? You want to see the reviews? Oh, tch. Very well, here they are.

Honorable Mention

Firdaus' Paranoid

Si: GREAT twist at the end! I like that you first show us the MC running in terror, then the memory of the hammer. Good immersion into the character, from the line "She had seen it in his eyes again," you establish the close third POV very smoothly, and give us something to add to the tension. This definitely feels like something awful is going to happen, and the MC MUST flee! I like that she grabs the broken branch to defend herself, then is talked out of it with calm words by the guy--THEN THE END! You give no hints in their conversation and effectively turn the reader about with the talk about meds. The last line is the best in the story; excellent job! I would suggest perhaps reducing the exclamation points ("She bolted!"; "looking frantically around for something--anything!") as with the first one we are still unsure what the tone is going to  be, so it can be read as 'Yay, she bolted!' or 'Ahhh, she bolted!' This is established by the end of the paragraph, so by then the reader is fully immersed. I would aim for a tone more like that of the line, "She had seen it in his eyes again, just like before," and that of the last line of the story. Excellent plot twist, and good story!

Mars: Ah, the old question of, "Is it paranoia if someone really is after you?" returns in full force with this piece. For a few minutes now, I've debating if the ending was actually a bad one--the reader has no reason to suspect the husband actually is going to kill her . . . but then I realized that him suggesting she has paranoia gave me a reasonable explanation to discredit the ending, which is a fine twist indeed. Fooling a character within the story is one thing, but the reader as well? That gets props. Something I notice is the piece feels less tension-y than it does rushed; the long sentences strung together with commas probably contributes to this--I would try to match the sentence and paragraph structure with the words. Action scenes are better written with short sentences and paragraphs, to pace the story appropriately (Periods are nice. Very punctuating.). Again, I think the most masterful lines in the piece are these:
"I saw how you looked at me, you were..." She hesitated, not sure anymore.
"Have you stopped taking your medicines, honey?" He looked concerned.
Nicely done!

First Runner-Up

Iores Trooly's Close Call

Si: What really struck me about this story was the clean writing. There's no confusion and it's descriptive without slowing down the tension. I loved the images the story gives us: "the faceless crowd parting for her and merging again," "functional infinity," the description of the metallic voice, the arrow flashing above her head--some really excellent turns of phrase there. It takes a very mundane setting--that of an airport--and turns it into something both poetic and mysterious. The tension is maintained the whole story, and I really applaud you on your imagery--the damp paper, the knowledge that, as long as the voice speaks, she still has a chance. One thing I would add would possibly be an additional hurdle or object in the middle--give us a chance to catch our breath and something else looms up--is she going to make it?--then bring it down again as she dodges past. Something to vary the tension a little. I liked the picture of the boy happily celebrating, oblivious to the MC's panicked run. Well done!

Mars: (Don't worry, we trust your word count. Or, at least, it looks close enough to 300 that we don't really care. XD) This piece is a little clever. The tension is dramatically built up, and reading through it the first time, the reader can't tell quite what's going on. The scene could be anywhere, yet it can only be one place--the airport. I applaud the vivid imagery maintained throughout the piece (I'm usually horrible at that sort of thing, so I appreciate it when I see it!). It's a quaint story--very well written, with the feel of a melody coming to a resolution at the end. Truly, it's not the plot that I find particularly compelling--'a mother rushes through airport to make her flight on time' is an, honest-to-goodness, boring idea. It's the way this is written, however, that makes this piece a little gem.

And, without further ado, though I do wonder what ado we give it, the moment you've all been waiting for--

Y1W11 Winner!

Steph Ellis

with Hunter Reborn

Si: What a great story! The opening is really excellent--we get a mixture of emotions from Rowena: fear, hope, pain, exhilaration. The way that hints are dropped through the story gives us the details we need to get her situation and also makes us want to know more. "How many years ... since she had actually seen him?" is a great example of this. Just enough is left unknown so we NEED to keep reading, we're curious. This story plays with tension well, mixing suspense with occasional pauses that heightens the contrast. I liked that here had been some change in Theo--that he wasn't the terror she remembered. That felt very real to me. Only a few quibbles: I wasn't sure exactly what to picture with the description "long-shackled limbs" (long limbs that are shackled, I assume), and in, "Making mistakes like the one that had allowed her to escape.", I would stop it at "Making mistakes," as the reader could infer the rest from the story. "The scent grew stronger, coppery notes playing a metallic symphony that roused her hunger." This is a BEAUTIFUL line, well done. I love how, with only a few words, the story changes from one of the hunted to that of the hunter--a palpable transformation in the MC without it being explicitly stated. Excellent story!

Mars: This piece is enough to send a shiver up one's spine. I think it's a fine example of 'showing'--the character's emotions are present between the lines: "Adrenaline fueling her long-shackled limbs onward . . ."--hope--". . . a perfume that had infiltrated her uneasy sleep on so many nights . . ." --fear--"Who else could boast such a trophy? . . . Vengeance."--disgust, anger! The emotions might have been amplified by different word choices, to knock the tension up another level--for example, I found the line, "Rowena paused and sank back into the shadows . . ." somewhat lacking; I felt the fear should have been stronger--perhaps 'froze' instead of 'paused', or 'shrank' back into the shadows--minor changes, but large effects. Nevertheless, the quality of the plot--the shift from prey to predator--is well-crafted, subtle tension already woven in. 

Hunter Reborn 
She bolted down the hallway. Adrenaline fueling her long-shackled limbs onward, away from the room that had been her prison for an eternity. Occasionally Rowena stumbled as daylight shot its daggers through shrouded windows, skewering her eyes with a pain that she found strangely welcome. The windows, though, were mercifully few. 
She continued forward but found her progress slowing as she fought the weakness caused by her imprisonment.

A door slammed somewhere ahead.

Rowena paused and sank back into the shadows, old instincts allowing her to merge with the stillness and become part of the silence.

Footsteps. Slow and heavy on the stairs. Theo. He was getting old. Making mistakes like the one that had allowed her to escape.
He was closer now, she could make out his shape as her sight adjusted to the gloom. He had been a giant of a man but this … this version was a shrunken copy. How many years had it been since she had actually seen him? Unwashed and unkempt, he was not the man she remembered. The smell though. The smell was the same; a perfume that had infiltrated her uneasy sleep on so many nights, pulled her mind back to the surface of life.

The scent grew stronger, coppery notes playing a metallic symphony that roused her hunger. 
Closer. Was she strong enough after so long in the dark? 
The call of his beating heart, the siren song of skin-clad blood, hammered loudly in her ears. 
Vanity had stayed his hand, kept her alive. She had been his prize exhibit, a creature of the darkness. Who else could boast such a trophy? 
Hunter. Hunted. Hunter reborn.


  1. Thankyou Si and Mars. Your tips and suggestions are really helpful and much appreciated.

  2. Thank you both! Love your reviews, very thorough (and very flattering ;) ) And of course you're right, Mars - the idea itself was incredibly boring ^^