Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Year 1, Week 37: Results!

Thanks to everyone that participated in this week's competition! We had an excellent set of stories to choose from, and are pleased to announce the winners!

I wanted a gif, so there is a gif. So there.

Honorable Mention

Shae Moloney's Not Without Risk

Mars: Both Peter and Dr. Mattson feel developed in this piece; the doctor's nervous drumming, Peter's claustrophobia(? as well as his internal remarks), and their dialogue between each other all lent to building images of these characters in my mind. I was disappointed by the ending, since it didn't really feel like an ending--well, that is to say, it felt like the end line to a story, but I don't feel like I got all the information that I should have. Why's Dr. Mattson terrified of what Peter came out as? Is he a monster, or is he way older, or is he way younger, or what? I do like how her earlier statement of, "I'd be more concerned about what would happen if it does [work]," makes one think about how this kind of technology would affect the world as we know it. Nice piece!

Rin: This story had good description, in both the setting and in Peter’s physical reactions to what was happening. Made it all believable, easy to envision and experience from the main char’s pov. The pace was smooth and the dialogue felt natural. Peter’s apprehension gave it a nice tension and his doubts in the project was a good conflict. My favorite bit was the wrap up. The wrap up was a perfect cliff-hanger, making me want to know what had happened to him and wish that there were more. Nicely done!

First Runner Up

Carin Marais The Garden Where the Gnomes Are Alive

Mars: I was pleasantly surprised by the ending of this piece (mostly because I missed the line, "but they still needed a bogey monster hunter" the first time I read it through); I was expecting the witch to turn out evil or something, instead of actually being the nightmare police. (And the gnomes amuse me.) I was really curious as to how the toys attract nightmares, and would have liked a small explanation on that (it's a really interesting idea, though). The story was very cute, and brought a smile to my face!

Rin: This was a fun story! I loved the idea of an elderly woman playing the role of the hero and a monster hunter at that. The boys were fun little characters and they all felt distinct from one another. The dialogue was good too. I liked how people were afraid of her because of her appearance and that what she did went unknown and therefore unappreciated, which I felt added to her character that she’d still do it despite being feared and unacknowledged. The end was cute and a nice touch, but I felt that it stretched just a bit too long. Over all, great story! Well done!


Sam Malkowski

with Problem Solving

Mars: Ohh, I just got the title (lightbulb: *flickers on*). She's solving the problem of not having her mother's attention by getting into trouble, ahh (yeeaah, I'm slow sometimes, but that makes this story all the better now, haha). This tale certainly evoked pity within me as I read it; it's terrible that she would actually have to cry out for attention by committing reckless acts. I do wonder what her father's role in all of this is. Are they close at all? The story only focuses on the daughter and mother, but is the father a support at all? 

I thought the dialogue could use more emphasis (not necessarily actual rich text (I know some commentators know how to do that, but I forget after about 30 seconds of being told how)). For example, "Not when I am this pissed," sounded stilted (it's amazing how much a contraction can change the sound of someone's voice) (and/or, if there was italicization/caps on a certain word:  "Not when I'm this pissed.")

I do like the details dropped into the piece that indicate the family's lifestyle (I get the feeling that they're at least on the upper-end of the middle class, if not an upper class (I mean, I don't have a maid)). (Also, can you get suspended for dyeing your hair in the girl's locker room? (I've never heard of someone trying to do this, mind you, so there's that--it just sounds like the kind of thing only a private school might get uppity about, but I don't know, lol!)) Good job with this piece!

Rin: I loved this story. I loved the way that the mother’s words were contrasted to dust catching in curtains and the mental imagery that it brought up. It was all easy to envision and the dialogue was done well. I liked the little hints dropped in here and there, like the house description and the maid, to tell us they’re well to do. The dialogue was good and the characters all felt distinct and whole, though realistically broken people. It all makes me wonder why their relationship is so strained and the way that the daughter does outrageous things trying to get her mother’s attention was so true to life. I loved how every little thing built upon the last until it formed a clear picture of their situation. My favorite line was ‘I was starting to miss her’. It was so small, but so important for the story, a tiny bit tucked in that spoke volumes and that last line was an excellent, heartbreaking wrap up. Fantastic story! Congrats!

Problem Solving 
"Seriously? You expect me to go in there?" 
Maybe my mother thought her voice would not carry into my hospital room. Maybe she thought her words would cling to the billowy cotton door between us like dust did on the curtains at home. Each syllable could cling to its own newborn-blue fiber, thickening until the room darkened with grime. Then the maid could shake them out onto the balcony and we would pretend they never existed at all. That our house was always pristine, spotless. Happy. 
"You're not going to see your daughter?" That's typical. My father is always some shade of bewildered when mother and I fight. Sometimes confused, sometimes annoyed. Never in the room long. 
"Not when I am this pissed. What would I say to her?" 
Mother and I say very little to each other on a regular basis. We have our daily school and weather updates but I would not call that talking. The last time we discussed anything real was when I got suspended for dyeing my hair in the girls' locker room. I was starting to miss her. 
"Something comforting." 
Mother made it around the curtain and stood at the front of the bed. Her gaze was as cold as a compress and just as satisfying. It soothed the bruises seatbelted across my chest, eased the swelling around my broken bones. Her eyes found mine and for a while she stared at me. When she spoke, it was too loud for a hospital. 
"You stole our car. What were you thinking?" Mother went on and on, reminding me that I don't know how to drive. I grinned and she yelled at me for mocking her. I didn't tell her it was genuine.  
This is as close to her as I can get.

 See you all next Saturday! :D


  1. That is so awesome!! Thank you for the constructive criticism, and for putting on this competition. It is quite a creative workout.