Welcome back to our weekly judging session!
|Si was under time constraint and so the task fell to Mars|
to find something to put here. She's not as
imaginative as Si, sadly.
We're delighted to bring you results from last week's competition! :)
Sarai Manning with 100% A Bad Plan
Si: I like how the reader has no idea what the “bad plan” is right up until the end. I thought that Brad was getting betrayed/blamed by his friend! My favorite line from this story was the very last (of course!): “Colin bragged afterwards that bad plans are 80% hope, 10% confidence, and 10% pity. It’s a pity I didn’t punch him first.” Funny and well written! The dialogue flows smoothly and feels natural. We really get a sense for Colin's and Brad's personalities in this short piece. Great job creating tension and giving the main character a choice—does he follow Colin or no? Great descriptions in this piece too! I particularly liked the description of Brad getting punched, and the image of the “blood-thirsty” shrubbery. I also thought it amusing that the guardsmen know that they are lying. One thing I would add is make the reason for ignoring the lie to be a bit stronger. Are they apathetic, resigned, impressed? Great writing!
Mars: The second paragraph stands out to me particularly for the use of language (it was both descriptive (to both location and how Brad feels about his situation! Two birds with one stone) and amusing), though the piece was fairly technically sound all around. I would have liked to know what the dare was; it's not crucial to the plot arc of the piece (and there are word restrictions, of course), but it feels like the reader is missing a little piece of background that could go a long way--what did they do that is causing the guardsmen to look for them?
Humor is definitely a big part of this piece that I felt was pulled off well; the last two lines are hilarious, and I keep looking back at, "Adventure awaits, Brad!" and giggling (because I can only imagine Brad being like, "Ugh, nooo, I hate you so much right now," in his head as he reluctantly crawls after Colin). Good job!
First Runner Up
Benjamin Langley with The Plan
Excellent twist on the Romeo and Juliet story! I love how you show us what a scene between Juliet and the priest would have looked like—one we never get to see. I am amused that the friar acknowledges it's a horrible plan, and that the alternative—death!--is totally okay as a possibility. I was very amused by the line ““Yes” said the friar, looking sheepishly at the floor. “Probably.”” The addition of modern dialogue was funny in places: “the instructions are weirdly specific”--but I felt that the last line didn't quite fit with the rest of the story's tone. I really liked how you don't reveal that the girl is Juliet until the very last line. The dialogue really makes this piece. It's funny, fast, and has a lot of back-and-forth interaction which gives us a sketch of the characters' personalities and situation in an amusing way. A humorous take on a scene from a classic tale! Well done!
Mars: "What's the worst that can happen?" When will fictional characters learn to never utter that phrase? It worked to the advantage of the piece that Romeo & Juliet has been done so many times before, since everyone knows what the worst is, and that it does happen! Oh, irony, our good friend.
Something that made me pause at the end of the piece is when the friar uses the word 'chill'. It's a very modern word ("no problem" is a fairly modern phrase, too, I believe), and made me wonder what time setting this is in, since, up until that point, I had been thinking that this was set a couple hundred years back (I think that's because I associate 'friar' with books/movies set in old ages (the most notable example in my mind being Friar Tuck)).
Nevertheless, the voice of the friar and Juliet come through the dialogue well; I could hear Juliet's skepticism and the friar's insistence; it's a great example of characterization.
with Her First Rodeo
I really liked this story! First of all, the description is great—we really get the atmosphere of the seedy, rather unpleasant bar. I like the interaction between the characters a lot—Joe's assurance, and Molly's more reluctant aquiescence. I loved how Joe's plan played out—the men's instant unfriendly reaction, the redirection to Molly, and the real plan of drawing the alien out of hiding. Very smooth inclusion of a scifi element in an otherwise-Our World-like story. It didn't feel jarring and adds an element of strangeness to the story—I want to know more about this world and the alien-hunting main characters. Molly's faint as a signal was very amusing—and I agree with that last line! By playing to their expectations, Joe and Molly con the crowd and achieve their goal, even if their plan includes every gun in the bar being pointed in their direction. I would like a little more background on why the name Joe asks for causes such an instant reaction. Great tension in keeping the plan from the reader, but including just enough forshadowing—Molly's comment about the guns—to give us the background we need to really “see” the critical scene. Excellent job!
Mars: I was duped. When Molly fainted, I thought she'd fainted for real! It was clever to keep the reader in the dark that it was all an act--it certainly made me question Joe's motives (I supposed that should have been my hint!). Turns out it wasn't such a bad plan after all!
There wasn't as much wordbuilding as there could have been; we only get a glimpse into the fact that this is actually a sci-fi story and not just a fiction one! Are they even on Earth? How many aliens are there on Earth? How many people know about them (is it common knowledge)? It's not integral to the plot, but the piece seems unsure of what genre it wants to be.
The pacing between dialogue and description is tasteful; there were very little minced or wasted words in this piece. Everything used advances plot and characterization. Well done!
Her First Rodeo
“It’s a bad plan, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s making bad plans work!” said Joe.
The Cantina was dark place that reeked of stale beer. Horrid country was barely audible over the drunken shouts of ranchers--exactly the kind of place their quarry would hide.
“We’re gonna get killed,” muttered Molly. She was rookie, fresh out of the academy. “Every man in here is carrying a gun.”
Molly wasn’t wrong about the guns, but Joe was unconcerned. They were a crucial part of his plan. He walked straight to the the counter and order a shot of whisky before shouting, “I’m looking for Greggor Tams. First one to give me intel gets fifty bucks.”
The men froze. Conversation ceased. The automated singer crooned about losing his wife, truck, and hamster while the click of safeties switching off improved the melody.
“We ain’t snitches,” said a man whose face resembled a raisen.
Joe grinned. No face matched his quarry’s, so he examined each gun and hand carefully, focusing on a gleaming silver pistol, held by a blue-tinted hand. Alien magic could create some good illusions, but the flaws always showed closest to objects from their home-worlds, especially laser-pistols.
He knew Molly had spotted it when she fainted.
“I ain’t askin nobody to snitch,” shouted Joe. “Just wanted to see how my apprentice held under pressure.”
“She didn’t hold at all,” laughed raisin face, putting his gun away.
“Next round’s on me.” Joe slipped three bills to the bartender, picked Molly up and carried her to his truck, careful to bump his quarry on the way out and plant a tracking device.
Molly sat up as the pulled onto the road. “I can’t believe that worked. The fainting act is the oldest trick in the book.”
See you back next Saturday! :D