Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Year 1, Week 36: Results!

A worthy meme for this blog indeed.
Awesome entries all around you guys! I love how some weeks we have wildly different stories with the same prompt, and other weeks a clear theme among stories emerges. Also y'all managed to resist the lure of pyromaniac Cthulhu. That's some serious self-control.

Inspired by the youtube series I have been recently watching like a productive person (*cough*), let us continue with the awards!

Honorable Mention

Sam Malkowski with When Freaks Grow Up

Si: I really like the way you weave lines from the main character's past in with his actions in the present! They're short enough to keep us interested, but give interesting tidbits that clearly shaped the main character into who he is today. Interesting how the main character's need for parental approval plays into his theatrics in the present. I would like to see more tension in the story—the initial tension of the danger of bomb-defusing fades by the end due to the main character's total confidence and apparent lack of obstacles. I really liked the line “The impact of the explosion, the thunder it made, the power ignited from my own hands- these were addictions.” Well done!

Rin: I really enjoyed the main character in this piece. The overall light tone to the piece was a nice contrast with the more serious subject of bomb control. The description was well done, I could easily put myself in his shoes and see what the character is doing and experiencing. I like how the back story was woven in with the rest of the story in little bits and the show vs tell was in good balance. It was fun to see a trait normally seen in a negative light turned into something positive. I also liked how in his past it was what made his mother look down on him and be disappointed in him, but now it’s what people admire in him. Very nice!

First Runner Up

Steph Ellis with Unforgiven

Si: This is a very creepy, rather frightening story. Excellent job with the atmosphere! I really like how you don't reveal Elise's injury until the very end. We initially get the sense that Christo is a pyromaniac, but later we get his real motive—a rather darker one. The last two lines are my favorite: “He would never stop until he had forced himself to suffer what she had suffered, what he had inflicted. And she would never try and prevent him.” In these two lines, we learn so much about the characters' relationship, motives, and the strange mindset of the order they're in. One confusion I had was with regard to the start of this line: “Her wax-carved face...”--I admit it took me a bit out of the story, because I started trying to imagine whether she was wearing a mask, or wax was spread on her face to hide her injury? I would like a bit more description there (or perhaps earlier in the story) to clarify. The dialogue is short, to the point, and feels real. Great story!

Rin: Man, this one gave me shivers! The slower pace of the piece added to the dark, cold tone of it well. The characters were clearly distinct, the contrast between them shown starkly in her cold, passive mercilessness, her brother’s single-minded desperation for penance, and Francis’ concern. My favorite line was ‘His eyes, obsidian mirrors reflecting the dancing flames, refused to meet hers, focusing only on the fire, always the fire.’ The bit about his eyes was awesome mental imagery, but the rest of it gives a glimpse into his mental state. Oh and that last line, chill-inducing, but a good wrap up! Great job!


Sara Codair
with The Phoenix

Si: This is a really excellently written story. I can hear the voice of the mother very clearly in the tale though she doesn't appear in story. I love the idea of the phoenix child—very original take on the prompt! Even though the story is mostly the mother “telling” what happened, it doesn't feel flat or info-dumpy—here's a great exception to the esteemed Writing Rule. It's fascinating, we want to know more about the situation and Dane. I love the contrast between the lines “The papers said all that was left of Dane was a charred skeleton. They don’t know about the infant that wakes me every night crying for milk or to get his diaper changed. ”. The last two lines are excellent closure—the literal rebirth of Dane and the metaphorical rebirth of his parents' lives. I like the way you juxtapose the fantastic--Dane's spontaneous combustion and literal rebirth--and the prosaic—the bureaucratic hoops his parents must jump through to give Dane his new life, the necessity to move where no one knows them. Intriguing story, great job!

Rin: Wow! With such a creative use of the prompt, I can’t help but love this piece! I liked the twist in that instead of a phoenix-like person being calm and serene as is usually portrayed for a phoenix, that the boy had a temper. And that it probably ran in the family, given they knew that he was going to set himself on fire. I love the blend of real world bits that grounded the fantasy bits firmly in believability and gave it a unique tone to it. The description really put me right there in the scene. It makes me wish that there was more of the story to read. Excellent job!

The Phoenix
We all knew he was going to set himself on fire, and we were right. Henry and I just never imagined how our son, Dane, would go up in flames.
It happened over summer vacation. The sun was scorching and the black top was so hot you could cook stir fry on it. Dane was angry. The wheels on his favorite skate board had melted. His face was beat red, aching with sunburn. So when Billy Jones tried to steal his Nintendo DS, he just lost and burst into flames.
The medical examiner said it was spontaneous combustion, but he wasn’t there when it happened. He didn’t see his son out on the street raising a fist to punch a kid twice his size, just go up in flames when the sun hit his fist. He didn’t see how quick the body blackened. He didn’t see the naked baby screaming in the ashes - a baby that looked exactly how the burning boy had looked twelve years earlier.
The papers said all that was left of Dane was a charred skeleton. They don’t know about the infant that wakes me every night crying for milk or to get his diaper changed. No one knows save Henry, and no one else can know. Not even my mother. 
We’re already packing. Henry has an apartment picked out across the country, and a buddy at work who can hack the system and get baby Dane a fake birth certificate and social security number. I don’t know what Henry told his friend, just that it wasn’t the truth.
Like a phoenix, Dane was reborn from his ashes, starting life anew. So we, too, would start over, in a new town where no one knew our names.

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