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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And the winner is...

As has been the norm these last few weeks, work on Stupefying Stories has slowed down judging. Add in a challenge with eleven responses and you've got the perfect recipe for a few days' delay. But now the time is at hand!

Arisia, “Yellow”

Kersley says: I remember this. Did you enter it into another challenge, or was I just stalking your blog? Not a monologue, of course, but still a creepy, ominous story.

Henry says: What a strange, compelling story -- and you end with the actual challenge title. Score!

Triton, “Old Grudge, Modern Vengeance”

Kersley says: Love-love-love the premise! (Just keep in mind that my cousin may be in Maine, but she’s really from Oregon. Could you let her go?) Just a couple of comments. I’m not sure about the dialogue. It’s been a while since I’ve actually heard a Cajun patois, but I think it could be better represented with word choice. (And he may be educated, but at this point I think he’d revert to his original speech pattern.) The other is, since he’s taking personal revenge on Wolcott, I can see why he would monologue. But this is all about revenge--not the work of a super villain/megalomaniac. He has no plans to rule the world, just to take out the East Coast. Which I don’t have a philosophical problem with, but that’s terrorist stuff, not super villain stuff. Still loved the premise.

Henry says: Hey, I've lived my whole life in the South and figure it's past time for those carpetbaggers to get their comeuppance -- if you can find a time machine and use to get the actual carpetbaggers. Good bit of diabolical bragging, though. Nicely done!

Tom, “Monologue”

Kersley says: Great tone. Nice set-up to who the villain is. I wasn’t sure if the Neanderthal’s accent was supposed to be Russian or Brendan Frasier from Encino Man. I went with Russian. (Thanks for the “Nyet” in the first paragraph.) My biggest problem was I didn’t understand what his motivation was and who is captive was. If he was a super villain, pain and destruction would be its own reward. As a relative new-comer, what is he doing? Loved the bit about PowerPoint slides. Beautiful that he used them for a villain monologue. And nice play on Einstein’s quote: "I do not know what the third world war will be fought with, but the fourth world war will be fought with sticks and stones."

Henry says: First, a quick note on punctuation; when the same person is speaking in two or more paragraphs, you should put quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph. It took me a bit to get into the flow of speech, but it worked once I got used to it. That kind of thing isn't easy to pull off, so good work, there. And I loved the line "How Neanderthal live with no Powerpoint, do not know." Nice mix of humor in your monologue!

Arvid, “Mwahahahahahahahah”

Kersley says: Hilarious! A couple paragraphs in, I realized it was going to be somewhat satirical. Then I spent the rest of it expecting the bad guy to have stolen someone’s pizza. (I guess I want pizza.) The surprise ending was brilliant. The writing needs some polish, and I felt the ending, with the scientists, went a bit long than it needed to, but the idea is fantastic.

Henry says: Wonderful monologue that just goes on too long. I would have stopped it at “It's that little demon rat. It’s been squeaking like that since it got a hold of the cheese.” That's your revelation point and a really good point to stop. The extra stuff might add some to the background of the story, but you lose anything gained by belaboring the joke. Other than that, excellent stuff!

Miko, "987-6687"

Kersley says: Maybe because I’ve been trying to keep a swarm of wood ants away from my rhubarb all summer, but I got pretty quickly it was about bugs. Fantastic writing. Really nicely done.

Henry says: I picked up on the whole pest exterminator bit while reading the monologue, but it was still so well done that it didn't matter. I can't think of a way you could have hidden it for a surprise ending, so that's not a big deal. It's well written and interesting.

Carmine Vrill, "Alexander"

Kersley says: Great writing. Fantastic tension. Wonderful twists and turns. And then I get to the end and I didn’t get it. I’m mad at myself because I’m sure it’s a wonderful scene and well done, and I didn’t get it! Whose company? What did Alexis do? What do you mean “Alexander’s body”? Ergh!

Henry says: Well, that was dark. And unsettling. And a bit puzzling. And well-written. Unlike your arch-enemy Arvid, this one does not go on too long. Very creepy.

Waterboy, "The Death of MegaUltraSuperHeroMan"

Kersley says: I love how the villain is so eager to say everything he’s been bottling up since he started planning his dastardly deed. I know someone who does that. As soon as she hears you near, she rushes to say everything she’s been thinking about…wait--that’s it? What is the strange vibration? Did Mushmallow get out in time? Curse your premature ending, Waterboy!

Henry says: There were some good analogies in this bit of monologuing, worthy of some chuckles and good as added flavor to the story. I also liked the ongoing "MUSH" jokes. You covered all the "nothing can stop me now" bases and then left us wondering what was about to happen. Was he going to be stopped after all? We'll never know! Curse you, Monologue Man! Curse you and your plot to deprive us of sleep! Ahem... Good work.

General Nils, "Disaster On Teh_Interwebz"

Kersley says: That was really very lovely. I mean, the whole “Where’s Waldo” was a bit out there, but the execution was just delightful.

Henry says: Fun entry, from the "Where's Waldo" revenge plot to the typical dude-pretends-to-be-hot-babe-online way of turning the tables on the bad guy. Nice.

ApolloKioku, "For the History Books..."

Kersley says: I have to think about this one. I think the reporter’s words rang true—more intent on getting the scoop and riling the interview subject than really absorbing the implications. I just have to think about the whole dynamics of such a calm man choosing to throw the moon into the Earth just for fame.

Henry says: I'm not sure about your villain's rationale for his great plot; getting his name in the history books. Then again, there seems to be a regular flow of people interested in killing someone famous just so they'll appear in the news. I found the techno babble a bit tough to wade through, though I understand why you put it in there. Some of that can be fine, but several paragraphs of it can be a chore to get through. Good idea, but simpler wording -- it is a TV interview, after all -- would make it more accessible.

Davey Dickson, "The Blind Eagle and Master Evilstein" (drop.io, password "challenge")

Kersley says: Very funny and cute. My only issue is with speech attributions. For a while, there, I couldn’t tell who was saying what. It seems my comments are getting sparser the more stories I read, but I really do like this one.

Henry says: This was a lot of fun made more difficult to read than necessary because you didn't tell us who was saying each line. Never underestimate the power of the words "said Master Evilstein." Many beginning writers try to find ways around the continued repetition of "he said" and "she said" (or whatever variation is appropriate). Most experienced writers will tell you to stick with those simple, effective words. Other than the problems figuring out who said what, I found your entry quite entertaining.

Al, "Cadet E and the Baron"

Kersley says: Cute idea. The writing needs to be cleaned up just a bit. The villain didn’t have quite the crazed tone I was looking for, but it got me thinking about what would happen next.

Henry says: Do you think you can have the Baron program his nanites to have the deed to my house sent to me at the same time they're removing all evidence of my mortgage from computers? It With the fairly long build up for the Ron Paul revelation, I think the payoff wasn't as strong as needed to make it worth it.

Kersley votes: I think this week is going to prove to be more challenging for the judges than the writers. I liked all of them for different reasons. If I had understood Carmine Vrill’s I think it would have gotten my vote. Whether because I’m clueless today or because of technical writing difficulties, I didn’t. General Nils’s execution was very creative. Waterboy’s MUSHman’s ending was infuriating! If Tom’s “Monologue” had been a little more fleshed out, it would definitely have been a runner for the top spot, too. Miko’s tone is nearly flawless; I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get a lot of votes, and it’s not your fault I’ve been fighting ants all summer.

I’m going to have to go with Arvid. The writing’s fantastic. I didn’t mind that something the hero cherished was at stake instead of the hero, himself. My advice, such as it is, is to tighten up the ending, but the rest is great.

(Phew! That was hard!)

Henry votes: All right, time to finish this up and get back to my vacation. I'm tempted to pick Carmine simply because I've seen that Kersley picked Arvid -- egg on the ol' rivalry and all. But I liked Arvid's entry better than Carmine's, even if Arvid's went on too long after the payoff. Conversely, Arisia's entry was tight, taught, strange, and compelling. Arisia gets my vote this week.

As you've no doubt guessed, work on the magazine kept Bruce from judging this week. So that means we have dual winners this week! Arvid and Arisia, come on down and claim your prizes!
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