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Monday, July 12, 2010

And the winner of the Road Trip challenge is finally announced!

We're sorry this is running late, but we finally have our results for the Road Trip Friday Challenge!

Kersley says: Are the goosebumps on my arms because of the story or the smoothie I'm drinking? Writing's a little rough, but I love how you exemplified that so much of a road trip is dependent on the car.

Henry says: Welcome to the Friday Challenge! Yours was a fun entry, particularly since I remember that car (barely). I could easily see yellow Pintos zipping around you as I read it. For future entries, I'd recommend using new lines to start a new person's dialogue. It makes the entry easier to read and makes it clear the person speaking has changed.

Bruce says: Welcome aboard. I hope we don't scare you off. I really like the look of your blog, by the way. Is that a standard template or a customized one?

As for your story: you had me going there. Unlike Henry I don't object to the violations of standard dialog typography conventions, as it serves the purpose well in this case. This one had a light and breezy feeling that read like a diary account or a blog entry. I completely bought into the credibility of this story, and it wasn't until they picked up Grandma and got back onto I-95 heading north that I realized: "Oh, this is fiction. It's a Phantom Pinto and she's being stalked by her youthful self." Maybe it was the cold chills and the goosebumps, but something tipped me off, and after that it was just a matter of seeing whether the story led to the conclusion I expected -- which it did. Maybe you could have telegraphed the ending a little less heavily, but then again, maybe that's just me, and everyone else was fine with it. [Question to the gallery: was that ending too heavily foreshadowed, or did it work for you?]

All the same, you have a great narrative style and this story was a delight to read. Thanks for sharing it, and I hope we can continue to look forward to reading your writing.

Kersley says: Clever, descriptive. The line "but invoking the sudden fear that there might be is a little game the conscience plays lest it go entirely unheeded" edges into telling. Not a story, of course, but it rings true.

Henry says: Speaking as a Martian, I found your descriptions quite interesting. Short skirts were not in vogue during my dating days, so I had to use more imagination than recollection. Good musings on what our subconscious mind might cause us to do, too. The piece seemed less about the road trip than the Venusian, but none of the events could have happened unless the Martian was driving a car, so you qualify.

Bruce says: Oooh, I don't know if the women will get this one, but for me the soundtrack to this one was "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights." You have captured the Man's Dilemma perfectly. Is she actually asleep, or merely pretending to be asleep and sprawling her body in a provocative pose so as to encourage me to make the first move? If I touch her thigh, will she whisper "Yes" or scream "Date Rape?" There are some lines you do not cross, indeed.

Kersley says: How can you start like that and then just drop it? You don't love us, do you?

Henry says: Obviously, this is the start of something, though it's not apparent what yet. I enjoyed what was there, but you didn't get to the road trip. And, tell us the truth, this is going to be a depressing story once you finish, isn't it?

Bruce says: This was a great, nasty, beginning to a horrible post-Apocalyptic story. Have you read "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy? It reminded me of that. I'd have to see the rest of this one in order to have a more fully formed opinion, but it's an opening that hits me where I live and makes me want to peek fearfully at the rest of the story. Keep it going, if you're so inclined, but be forewarned: it's hard to keep this level of bleakness up for any length of time unless you suffer from clinical depression.

Kersley says: I love this. Especially the repetition of the steps and road.

Henry says: I got tired just reading your story and can only imagine how it felt to actually make that round trip two and a half times. I'm pretty sure this story is further proof of the fact that the male members of your family are simply not wired to be on time for anything. Even when you plan carefully in advance, some mysterious force causes you to forget something and end running late. Great story!

Bruce says: I just love this one. Your use of repetition is especially skillful; I can just see every wretched step of this journey, down and up, down and up. This one would be absolutely terrific if read/performed live. In fact, if Vidad and KTown ever check in again, I'd love to see you three get together and use your photos and a few seconds of carefully shot video (hand slapping the passport down on a desk, etc.) to turn this one into a YouTube short.

Kersley says: The last time we took the pass out of Vail, we were delayed by an RV that caught on fire and burned to its frame. Love the pictures.

Henry says: You know you've got a good story when you can include idiot drivers who end up wrecking, getting a jump start from a policeman, great scenery, unexpected snowstorms, non-working telephones, and a snow-covered friend at a bus station. Great photos, too!

Bruce says: But as you've probably guessed by my switching the order around, I have to go with Al's story as the winner this week. It's got everything: a bad idea to begin with ("he's going to sleep on our couch for a few weeks until he gets on his feet"); compounded by bad advice ("Don't take highway 40"); some good strong schadenfreude (the tale of the crashed Mustang); an idyll amidst sweeping vistas and natural grandeur in Utah; interrupted suddenly by the terrible grinding roar of reality coming crashing down ("I didn't drive from Flagstaff. I drove from Phoenix [...] And I wasn't going to Denver, either. I was going to Colorado Springs"]; a race against time, compounded by growing complications (the pay phones not working, the snowstorm, the bus station closing at midnight); a dramatic climax (pulling into the Co Springs parking lot at three in the morning and finding Paul there, covered with snow); and then the uplifting they-emerge-blinking-into-the-dawn-of-a-new-day ending. Roland Emmerich could make a two-and-a-half-hour film out of this one, and totally stiff you on the writer's share of the net. I love it.

Kersley votes: It's a toss-up between Al and Arvid. I'm going to go with Al, though. It had the ramblingness of a road trip and the photos didn't hurt.

Henry votes: All of the stories had their strong points, but Al's works best for me. He captured the "feel" of a road trip perfectly and gave us some great photos, too. So my vote goes to Al this week.

Bruce votes: Al gets my vote for this win this week.

That makes it unanimous! Al, you're this week's winner. Come on down and select your prize from behind Door #3.
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