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Sunday, April 12, 2009

And the winner is...


I suppose you want more than that, huh?

Okay, Jamsco, "Two in Cold Water" was wonderfully, horribly, awful. It's hard to write a bad story intentionally, but you did, and I can see why Torainfor and Henry voted for it. It is really funny, in an, "Oh my God, it just keeps getting worse," kind of way. But I have to side with Snowdog here. I don't think I've ever disparaged anyone's doing research. I do a heck of a lot of it myself. When I go off on the "write what you know" dictum, I'm not advocating writing from ignorance; I'm just objecting to the sort of whining, trivial, self-absorbed navel gazing I've read far too much of from would-be writers who adhere to the WWYK received wisdom with the tenacity of a frightened remora.

Very funny, but not a winner this week.

Henry, thanks for giving as a peek into that hellish alternate universe in which "write what you know" absolutely applies:
"Ah, I have just the thing!" she said. "Have you read anything by J. R. R. Tolkien?"

"Never heard of him," I replied.

"Then let me recommend his Professor of English Literature trilogy," she said. "It's all about the fourteen years Tolkien spent teaching English Literature at Oxford!"
Have you ever read The Practice Effect by David Brin? It's a funny little novel about a fellow from Earth who gets sent to an alternate world where "practice makes perfect" actually works, and I think you might enjoy it.

Torainfor: you, of course, refute my entire argument, and do so brilliantly. You've pasted a collage together with wonderful, deft, strokes and carefully cropped family snapshots. There is not one word wasted here; not a single line that doesn't contribute to the whole.

And that, I think, is what makes the difference. Too much of the WWYK-induced prose I've seen is just pointless noodling, words splattered on the page by people whose lives mean nothing to themselves and who therefore they feel WWYK is a license to try to capture their meaninglessness and put it on display, in expectation that others will applaud their bleakness and lack of direction. You, on the other hand, are clearly working towards a point:
It seems like my entire life is filled with what I don’t know. I swim in the uncertainty...
This piece has a powerful narrative arc, and builds to an emotional climax that's fully supported. Brilliantly done.

P.S. Forget imported Parmesan, though. Try Sarvecchio.

Arisia: I react to this one as only someone who's spent nights hunkered down in the shelter, trying to keep the kids from seeing how frightened I am, waiting for the tornado to pass, can. Good story. Very powerful stuff. You really put me right into your shoes in this one. Or perhaps back into my own shoes.

Tom: But tempting as it was to pick Torainfor or Arisia, I've got to go with Tom this week. This one really hits me where I live, for reasons I'd rather not go into at the moment. The first part of it was a terrific head-fake, that both had me thinking it was going in one direction and got me really hungry for a steak!

But then that radical shift in direction in the second half, and the disturbing ambiguity regarding the nature of his change — am I the only one who keyed on that? Anyway, the story really resonated with me, and gave me a cold chill that's still with me hours later, so in a week with some very strong entries, I've got to go with this one. Tom, you're our winner this week, so pop on over to Door #3 and select your prize.

P.S. Special bonus award this week to Snowdog, not just for being the only one who wrote a song, but for writing a good song, too. KTown, Vidad, I expect you two to get together with Snowdog, lay down the tracks, and get it up on YouTube pronto. Let us know when it's posted.
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