Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Year 1, Week 20: Results!

Aren't you excited?

Oh, I wasn't talking about the holidays.


*throws confetti about for awesome contestants*
Let's get down to business--

No, I meant the winners.

Yup, enough with the gifs.

Honorable Mention

Carin Marais' The Barman Always Listens

Si: I enjoyed the theme of this story--the image of the tired barman, always being forced to listen to everyone's woes. But then, we find out he's not the victim in this interaction--he's the one in control. He's doing this for a reason. And what more perfect job to quietly figure out people's secrets? There's good description in this piece and I like the atmosphere of the party--rich people amusing themselves elegantly, while a murderer sits among them stupidly admitting to his crime. I would reccomend to be more aware of how much information the reader is told, versus finding it out via conversation. I would have the information about Mrs. Van Houdt come out in a conversation between the two characters to make it more dynamic. The final dialogue takes place rather abruptly and makes it seem like a very short conversation for James to become so trusting and spill the beans. My favorite line from the story was: "The scotch stood untouched and he wondered if it had been ordered more for effect than anything else." I liked your turns of phrase and ability to establish an atmosphere--and the central idea of the story was excellent! Well done!

Mars: Ah, the crazy things people do for love. I like how cut-and-dry this plot is, while the dialogue still dances around what occurred. I imagine the look on his face when the "barman" was all, "Did it have to do with this dead guy?" might have been closer to, "Aw crap, you're not actually a barman are you," instead of "Yeah I killed him." The image amuses me.

I thought the bookendings didn't work well for this piece--opening with "Other laughter would soon follow as it came from Mrs Van Houdt" and ending with "A crystal laugh sounded" felt a little odd and forced to me; it took me several read-throughs to finally get who was laughing at the end, which dulled any shock effect it might have had. 

And we have some truth in fiction going on here, I think. It's pretty obvious that Mrs Van Houdt will not be going to jail, now that she has billions of dollars to her name, even if James testifies against her, but James is most certainly headed there once he confesses! All in all, well-done piece. 

First Runner Up

Bunmi Oke's For Love or Country?

Si: I really thought you did a great job with the way the theme and emotion is woven through this story! It's emotional and feels very immediate--everything is happening quickly, with barely a pause for MC to think. We get a hint of how the story would end just from the first line, then are taken into the MC's memories immediately, which does a great job of maintaining reader interest in the story--how and why is this person unworthy of the MC's sacrifices? I thought you picked two scenes from the MC's life very well--short, and to the point. This story has no dialogue but works very well without it--it's fundamentally a story taking place in the MC's mind, we feel everything he feels. Interesting choice with the present tense, it actually works great in this story and isn't intrusive at all, which sometimes happens when a story uses a less common tense. His long-lost love's betrayal is shocking and we want to know what happens next--here, we had a little confusion as to who is shot. Given that rage and vengeance are the primary emotions at play I would assume his gun is aimed at either his old lover or the man she's with, but the blood upon the dashboard indicates it's the MC himself. I would clarify that by giving us more of a hint into his thoughts right before the end. Great story!

Mars: The sentiment and irony of this piece were its strongest points; it would be unbelievable to come back from a war and find that your signifcant other was betraying you--and not only betraying you, but betraying you with someone who probably KNEW you were together. 

I felt the piece was a little jarring emotionally--I recognize it's hard to have a lot of emotional development in <300 words, but the love-her-enough-to-lose-limbs-over-a-PICTURE kind of seemed unrealistic to me without prior development of that emotional bond. I also was unclear on the ending--I'd say 'paying for it' would be killing either the girlfriend or commanding officer, but it reads like he commits suicide (since dashboard = inside the car)? I got a little lost there.

The indignation came off well when he pulled up in front of her house (probably hers, anyways? I'd assume his commanding officer wouldn't be foolish enough to snog the MC's girlfriend in front of the MC's house, after all); this time, the emotional build-up was understandably justified. Good job!



with The Tea Party

Si: I loved the rambling, unexplained craziness of this story. No info dump, just bewildering weirdness until it's all explained in the end. Of course she's crazy! 

Good clean dialogue and I liked the personalities of all the strange characters we come across. The disjointedness of the dialogue: "Doesn't ring a bell. It's my birthday you know," works very well for setting the atmosphere of confusion that Clara finds herself in. One thing I would recommend is increasing the tension of the story just a little--make us feel not only Clara's confusion, but also desperation. I liked the Alice in Wonderland references--good connection there!--familiar to the reader, but we don't know where you're going with it until the twist ending. Great job giving us just enough dialogue from the Nurse to get what's going on, quickly setting the REAL scene. Favorite line: "Of course not, dear. The Hatter is a copyrighted name. You can call me Mr. Chapeau.", very funny. We can really feel Clara's bewilderment throughout the story! Excellent job!

Mars: "The Hatter is a copyrighted name," got a chuckle out of me! The Alice-is-insane has been done before (though it's Clara in this instance), but it's usually not done with any sort of levity like this piece is. I appreciate the allusion to Disney's Alice in Wonderland (though I'm going to have "Merry Merry Unbirthday" stuck in my head now); I am very fond of references. 

Watch out for how names are juxtaposed next to dialogue--"'I'll take some cheese,' Clara turned to see a rabbit" could infer that either Clara or the rabbit were speaking, particularly with the comma there that runs into her name. The problem occurs once more later, when the mouse yells from the tea pot. 

The beginning of the piece was a nice touch; it utilized the prompt in a unique fashion by making it sound like idle small talk, then drew the reader's (and Clara's) attention with the question, "Cheese?" Nice job!

The Tea Party 
"Sometimes, people really are just useless. Cheese?" 
"I'm sorry, what?" Clara stared at the strange man in front of her. A moment ago she was having tea with her boyfriend and listening to him talk about work. But this man was definitely not her boyfriend. 
She closed her eyes for a moment. 
"Would you like some cheese? It pairs well with your tea." Reluctantly, she opened her eyes to see a big grin stretch across the stranger's face farther than a grin should. A large hat dipped over his crazed eyes as they darted from her to the other guests at the table. 
"Who are you? The Hatter?" 
"Of course not, dear. The Hatter is a copyrighted name. You can call me Mr. Chapeau." 
"I'll take some cheese," Clara turned to see a rabbit sitting upright in a white gown. 
"Where is Jason?" 
"Jason, my boyfriend. Tall, dark hair, dorky tortoise shell glasses." 
"Doesn't ring a bell. It's my birthday you know," the man with the hat said. 
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" Clara jumped at the exclamation that rang out from a tiny mouse in a tea pot. 
Did I fall down a rabbit hole? Where was Jason? He was just here. 
"HEY!" She shouted over the loud singing that had commenced around her. "Please! Where is Jason!" 
They all stopped and stared. She realized, now, that she was standing with a cheese knife held over her head. A small pinch in her shoulder made her go limp, falling into the arms of a strong woman. 
"Take her to the holding cell." A nurse said as she took a pencil from Clara's fingers and walked out behind them. "Poor girl just can't get over his death. Best keep her out of the common room for a while."

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