Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Year 1, Week 22: Results!

Oh my goodness. There were so many good entries this week that it was hard to chose! Seriously, the struggle has been real.

Also, if you have not seen the new Star Wars movie, DO IT! Or don't. Whatever. 
*Rin slips away into the dark sid- shadows*

Anywho... back to the reviews!

Honorable Mention

This week, we have a tie between two great contestants, Patrick Stahl with Safe Flight and Firdaus with The Test!

Si: (Safe FlightI really liked the whole situation in this story. The conflict—is the auto pilot plane really safe? Can Stronson really trust Yi's assurances of safety? I like how we're oriented in the story world pretty much immediately. The dialogue provides basically all the details to the reader, but does so as part of the discussion which we're also involved in—very effective! I like how we get a taste of their personalities through this brief encounter—bluff, hearty Admiral Yi, cautious and skeptical Major Stronson. The humor amused me, especially the last line--”Major Stronson saluted Admiral Yi and coaxed his body into the Sparrowhawk’s coffin—or cockpit, as the Air Force insisted it be called—and prayed that it wouldn’t become his casket today or any day soon.” I also like the hint of a very different world that we get from the brief farewell: “On behalf of the thirty-eight remaining states of America...” I would have liked to see more details from the story world in the piece—who are they fighting? Why? Why 38 remaining states? Overall, a very cleanly written piece with good character interactions. Well done!

(The Test) The characters in this story are very likable and fun, I enjoyed the childish situation (though really, it's quite a serious one—runaway kid and mysterious girl sitting on working railroad tracks, then recklessly jumping into a big river … ). The writing and interactions between the characters make it seem exhilarating, as the main character surely sees it. This interaction is particularly well done: “"Good," she grinned, "because I can't."”I liked the way the main character's history is slipped into the story. The moments after the main character hits the water are also very well written: “I couldn't be bothered to catch any, I was struggling to stay afloat. She was bobbing at a little distance. I needed to get to her.” High tension and very immediate action. One thing I wanted while reading this story was more details about the characters and their setting—I'm not entirely sure how old both characters are, and there aren't any clues to this “Test” that the main character undergoes (test for what? Why is the main character being tested? Who is she and why is she testing MC?). Intriguing story and great writing!

Rin: (Safe Flight) This was a fun story! It was reminiscent of something you’d seen in an episode of an older military comedy show, like M.A.S.H. or the like, which I enjoyed. I immediately liked Major Stronson’s personality and booed Admiral Yi’s lack of concern for the safety of his pilots. They played well off each other, the protag and antag clearly obvious. The story had a great balance of tension and comedy relief. The idea of a vest warbling angrily made me crack up. That last sentence was a perfectly amusing wrap up and my favorite of them. Well done!

(The Test) I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Behind the first, lighthearted impression of the boy trying to impress the girl, is the harsher reality of their homeless/runaway situation, giving it a warm, but gritty tone. The pace of the story kept moving right along and I liked the dialogue in this; short, with good flow, and realistic, lending their speakers distinctiveness. Like Si, I also wish that there were more explained behind the significance of the test, but overall thought this a good piece flash fiction. Nice job!

First Runner Up

David Novak with Safe

Si: First off, interesting choice of POV here! Though we're seeing things from first person, the frequent use of “you” is an unusual choice but it works here. It draws in the reader to immediately be involved with the story, especially with the accusatory tone. I liked the way “safe” is played with in the story here—we hear both character's views, but we also see them, in their manner of speech. I like how we aren't given the whole picture, only pieces to figure out what their relationship is, and what happened. I loved the ending—great imagery with “Every word you ever said, you swung as hard as you could. You made sure to shatter something. To leave an impact. Nothing was ever safe with you.” and the main character's somewhat frightening conclusion “Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.” Something I would change would be around this line: “And I left behind all those unspoken words in favor of the safe ones.”, I don't think it is necessary to explicitly say “safe words” or “safe ones,” I think it would be better to leave it as implied as the reader has clues already from the previous exchange that the MC is very safe in their choice of words. This is a story whose word choice makes it very in-your-face, very dynamic and real. The balance of descriptive imagery and tension is well done. Great story!

Rin: I’m personally not one for first person povs or audience characters, but this was an exception. I really like all the metaphorical imagery in this one and the tension that was built off the parent-child relationship between them. Both feel fully developed and distinguishable from one another, realistic. My favorite line was ‘Like you could swing a sledgehammer and be fine with the foundation and the walls and the roof just crumbling all around you.’ I could just see it in my mind. How the thoughts of the parent character change toward the child character at the end made for a nice bit of development and a well-done wrap up. Good job!


Molly Morrow

with Safe Harbor

Si: I think what I liked most about this story was the narrator's voice and personality shining through, even though they talk more about Delia than themselves. Delia is definitely a living character in this story: crazy and passionate and a bit creepy. Both the narrator and Delia feel very alive. I liked the first person POV, and the little snippets of life and description we get—leaving the imagination to fill in the details, to infer the personality guiding Delia's actions. My favorite line was the last one: “She cups a hand to my ear and says she’ll never have kids, she’ll never get old – she’ll just roam the country like Odysseus after the storm. ” Beautiful! One thing I would look out for is some tense changes which were a little confusing—I'm not sure if they were intentional or not. “You’re sick I said. I would think Child Protective Services is on speed dial at this point. But it’s not my place.” (I said, I would think, it's/it is). I love the progression of the piece and the ordering of the little snippets of life. Starting out with something worrisome about her personality, then shifting to her wild aliveness, then back to a snippet of her past that contrasts with the first one—she'll never have kids. The writing is very expressive. Beautiful piece!

Rin: Wow, just wow. This story set me on edge right from the start! The tension is palpable and the pov character’s nostalgia for the better days gives it an melancholy tone. The two siblings feel well developed and are clearly distinct, the calm, stable pov character and Delia, a free soul made twisted by her mental instability. There’s lots of good descriptive bits and it makes it easy to remember along with the pov character. My favorite line of it was definitely ‘Before there was any shadow over our lives, before we had any feeling of danger, any run-in with a stranger to make the hair stand up on the back of our necks.’ I love how it gives the sense that the story has a lot of back story under its surface. Gives it a weightier feel and makes me wish that I knew what it was. Excellent story!

Safe Harbor
I’m not sure we have the same definition of ‘safe.’ Delia once held her baby boy over the railing of the Bremerton ferry and giggled hysterically before I scooped him back into my arms and held him inside of my coat for the rest of the ride. She said it made her dizzy, knowing she could drop the kid. Just knowing she had that power made her giddy. You’re sick I said. I would think Child Protective Services is on speed dial at this point. But it’s not my place. Nights when it rains and I’m alone in bed I close my eyes and see Delia running through the field behind our house in a spring-time monsoon, running like when we were kids. Before there was any shadow over our lives, before we had any feeling of danger, any run-in with a stranger to make the hair stand up on the back of our necks. I see her running with her hands outstretched like airplane wings, cutting through the braided grass. The rain comes down hard and the garden shed looks like it will fall over into the bay. We lock ourselves in and feel the thunder through the slatted boards and see the lightning like a flash from an old camera. Her face is bizarre and warped in the light, giggling in that same hysterical way, that same giddy dizzy way. She cups a hand to my ear and says she’ll never have kids, she’ll never get old – she’ll just roam the country like Odysseus after the storm.

Excellent writing all. We hope you join us again next week!

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