Thursday, November 24, 2016

Year 2, Week 17: Results!

I loved this week’s prompt – it had me writing until late on my NaNoWriMo novel. As I read through the entries, I was amazed at the different takes on it.


First Runner Up

Angie with “Doomed Shipwreck”

I enjoyed this. Very vivid descriptions of this strange sea. I can even see it as a strange metaphor for bathing the dog. Great twist ending. Good job!
In terms of constructive criticism: dividing the story into shorter paragraphs will ease reading. Also, repeating “the ship” and “Pulga” so close together (ending a sentence with it and starting the next with the same) weakens the idea: either find another word that conveys the same meaning, or rewrite the sentences to make them shorter and more powerful.
E.g. “Swirls of copper and bronze, typical of this region, flowed steadily past the ship on her maiden voyage. Pulga, a wealthy sheik living three continents over on Croup, had commissioned our ship and crew to find out the whereabouts of the Psýllos inhabitants of an island somewhere in this region.”
See that? The flow is better and all the words that didn’t contribute to moving the story forward had been cut. Also, the numeral was replaced with the word (the way we write in fiction for the most part) and the word “colors” was cut because we already know that “copper” and “bronze” are colours – don’t overload on adjectives. Mark Twain wrote: “When you catch an adjective – kill it.” And Stephen King believes that the road to hell is paved with adjectives. We don’t have to go that far – adjectives have their place in fiction, we just need to know when they are unnecessary and when they can give startling intensity to a noun.
Your story is very imaginative. Remember the basics when you read over your stories, making sure it flows, and your writing will soar.



Y2W17 Winner

 Benjamin Langley


with “Pioneers”

Ooh, a creepy, yet fascinating, take on the prompt. Did the experiment kill them, turn them into weird ghosts or some form of medium? I like the way you use the repetition of “three days” to show the awful state they’re in.
In terms of constructive criticism: I would’ve placed each confession in its own line for effect; the last line too. Don’t jump from past to present tense (there’s a lot of reasons for that – check out the Writer’s Digest or similar publication), though I understand that you wanted to go for a sense of immediacy – rather use the different types of past tense.
Using different punctuation marks will make some of your writing clearer: e.g. “… but on the third – as I said – shapes, no more than that: hazy and distant.” See how the dashes and colon changes the meaning slightly? The colon can even be replaced with ellipses for effect.
Remember to read through your writing to pick up on typos like “if” instead of “is” before the confessions start. Good job!


It took us three days before we started seeing shapes in the fog. Three days without sleep. Three days in the sole company of like-minded folk desperate enough to get involved in the kind of medical research that’s advertised on the dark web. Three days with nothing to eat but the meal-replacement bars laced with Dr Hoffmann’s experimental drug.

Pioneers. That’s what he called us every night before he sent us out into the graveyard. But he always remained on the other side of the door. Two dropped out immediately, refused to enter the graveyard. We lost five more over the next two nights, leaving only three of us: Tim with the lazy eye, a homeless woman called Mary, and me, who thought doing this would solve all my problems.

I thought this would be easy. On the first two nights, there was nothing but mind-crushing boredom, but on the third, as I said, shapes, no more than that, hazy and distant.

It’s day four.

“Pioneers,” Dr Hoffmann says. I’m not listening to the rest, because there’s another sound; it gets louder when he opens the door. Tim steps out first, cautiously, and I follow. I’m so exhausted it’s more of a shuffle than a step. I can hear Mary begging not to go, but then her voice if lost among others, a thousand people all talking at once: “I slept with my brother’s wife.” “I stole from the church.” “I slipped poison into my husband’s tea.”

The voices started to take on shape. People, long dead, confessing their sins, over and over. That’s when I realise where I am. Purgatory. I back away towards the sanctuary. I reach for the door, but my hand passes right through it. I want to call for help, but instead I confess.



Thank you all for your participation! Until Saturday…