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Sunday, September 19, 2010

And the winner is...

In the matter of the 9/10/10 Friday Challenge, "The Kid, The Boy, and The Creature," the results are:

Miko, "Stranded"

Kersley: It’s a beautiful metaphor. Personally, as a reader, I would have felt cleverer had you not overtly explained that the boy was an alien in that place. I’m lucky enough to be from a place where the mountains go right up to the ocean, but I certainly felt like this when we lived in Alabama!

Henry: A good story in which you totally nailed the "boy" voice again. It's like, I don't know, you've had experience being a boy sometime in the past! I think you spent too much time having the Boy contrasting the mountains and the coast. I can understand him being bored, but it seemed like the first half of the story was taken up by the internal complaint about the coast. Nice bit with the jellyfish as an alien creature, though, including the Kid's reaction to it. I think this story would be better if it was shorter, with a few examples about the Boy's love of mountains the distaste for beaches and then move on.

Bruce: I really liked this one. It could use another rewrite and some serious tightening in places, but the voice is terrific and it's a really beautiful metaphor. I'm not sure how to rewrite it—that requires more subtlety than I possess—but I think this is the first draft of a wonderful story about feeling like a stranger in a stranger land.

Arvid, "The Kid, The Boy, and The Creature"

Kersley: This is the best sci-fi/fantasy/poker story I’ve ever read! I like how you had the announcers explain things for their “audience.” I do think you might consider upping the ante when it comes to the climax. "The Kid wins and The Creature goes ballistic" is a little tame. I was expecting the Creature to get caught cheating somehow.

Henry: Interesting description of a poker game, though I note you had one a straight flush lose to four of a kind. Sorry, a straight flush is the highest hand in poker! Adding in the Creature from the Black Lagoon was pretty fun, but televised poker doesn't appeal to me that much, so this story fell a bit flat for the same reason. There's nothing you could do to offset that, it's just that I'm not your target audience.

Bruce: This is not only the best sci-fi/fantasy/poker story I’ve ever read, it's quite possibly the only sci-fi/fantasy/poker story I've ever read. Great dialog: normally I consider watching someone else play cards on TV to be about the most boring thing it's possible to watch—and there have been times when I have been required to watch paint dry—but you manage to make it sound exciting. The ending is a tad weak; it'd be better if the Creature did something more imaginative than simply going wookiee. But still, an entertaining read.

Topher: "Friday Challenge Entry #9"

Kersley: Lessee, paragraph 5, there’s a major POV break. Major. Huge. The first bit is a tad choppy with the descriptions intermingled with the dialogue. I think I’d have Pratley bringing the guy in and asking if he could leave, then Harper commencing the interview and having physical descriptions intertwine with the dialogue.
“Jack asked leaning back in his chair interested in hearing the answer.”
Big-time telling. To show he’s interested, have him lean forward and cut it off there.
“Did it now? And what did the creature look like, a great big beastie with dripping fangs and talons I suppose?” Jack asked jokingly thinking that he was being put upon and this was all some bizarre prank.
I don’t know about this part. He saw the crime scene. He knows how messed up the Kid is. It doesn’t feel in character.

This has tremendous potential, but the writing’s not there quite yet. The Kid goes from having horror visible on his face to attacking Harper pretty quickly. Once you work out the writing and the pacing, it’ll be a good story.

Henry: Nice bit of horror as the creature shifts from person to person, though I'm at a loss to describe exactly what the creature really is. I think the idea needed just a bit more description to get across clearly. I did follow the idea of the creature metaphysically jumping from person to person, but I think more could have been done with it. Perhaps the actual person is still inside, just forced to be a horrified observer as the creature takes over? Something that builds up some more horror.

Bruce: I didn't have a problem with the lack of physical description of the creature, as my imagination was able to supply sufficient detail. There are quite a few "craft" problems with the verbal mechanics one, all of which can be easily corrected in rewrite, and a few fiddly technical details about police procedures and life in 1959 that need correcting that you couldn't be expected to know. But all the same, this one has a great Twilight Zone -slash- Night Gallery -slash- Alfred Hitchcock Presents feeling going for it, and I really liked it a lot. I'd like to see you give this one a rewrite and put it into the drop.io Rewrite box for further comments and development.

Ben-El, "The Kid, The Boy, and The Creature"

Kersley: Too cute! Just a couple of rough spots, and it could have done with the climax (i.e.: the last two paragraphs) being drawn out just a bit, but I really liked it. The whole explanation about fishing without a marshmallow was funny.

Henry: Take a couple of boys and put them in a strange place, say on vacation, and suddenly they're best friends for the duration of the vacation. We saw this with the actual Kid and Boy at Dragon*Con. Add in the general fascination boys have for odd things -- and goat boys definitely qualify as "odd" -- and you've got a neat little story of friendship and the joy of scaring your sisters whenever possible. You've written a great little story of friendship.

Bruce: Great beginning; delightful middle; strange and somewhat abrupt end, but that's not a serious flaw.

And the winner is...

Kersley: For writing, I think it’s Arvid. For message, definitely Miko. Topher had the best story (in there somewhere), but Ben-El had the best voice. I think Ben-El has the least amount of work to make a really great story.

Henry: In the end, my vote goes for Ben-El. His story was just plain fun.

Bruce: Miko voted for Topher, Ben-El voted for Topher, Arvid voted for Miko, and Carmine voted for Topher. I know my fellow members of the troika voted for Ben-El, but I'm going to call it a split decision. Ben-El's entry was a great piece of fantasy and is probably closest to being a finished piece of work, but I'm a sucker for the Richard Matheson ending and I think Topher's entry—with at least one more major rewrite, and a good bit of elbow grease and polishing—promises to deliver that. So Ben-El and Topher, come on down, because you're this week's winners!

And everyone else, thanks for your entries and comments, and remember: the next two deadlines are coming up this Thursday!
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