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  #1  
Old Jul 16th, 2022, 04:53 PM
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Summer 2022 Competition Discussion Thread


Short Story Contest - Summer 2022
Discussion Thread

The entries were awesome! Please vote for your favorite BEFORE checking to see who wrote what! This thread is for congratulations, discussion, story feedback, questions... and whatever other use you make of it.

Please be considerate of author feelings. If you have feedback to offer, please make it constructive.

I encourage everyone to RPXP their favorites (or how about all of them!), quick links provided here.
Angelic Rage

Eydiss Enchanted

Gift of the Gods

Nothing, Something, Everything

Overtime

A Ranger's Summertime Tale

Short story

Summer afternoon

Three Nights in Brimhaven

Wishful Thinking

Last edited by Aethera; Jul 16th, 2022 at 05:05 PM.
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Old Jul 16th, 2022, 05:00 PM
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Good luck to all my fellow writers. There are some hellaciously good stories here. I can see I'll be spending a lot of RPXPs here over the next few days.
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 02:53 PM
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Oh gosh, before this went up or before I noticed it) I was reading the short stories in the other thread, so I do know who wrote some of 'em. I think I can be impartial...Should I not vote?

ETA yes GOOD LUCK I really am enjoying reading them all. Read half yesterday and am reading the others right now. GOOD STUFF!
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Old Jul 17th, 2022, 03:23 PM
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Good luck everybody.
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 09:17 AM
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How do we avoid seeing who wrote what? The links above go to the posts made by the authors with their bylines at the top.

Never mind, I saw the other voting thread. But I was looking at them as they came in, so I can't really vote blind. *shrug*
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 10:37 AM
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A bit of feedback for now, more tomorrow:

Angelic Rage

Wow, what interesting material you have here! I really like how you've imagined a story to fill the gap in the historical records, and explain the monk's death. I think the twist is good, with this acolyte Michel getting more than he bargained for. Your biggest struggle here is how to explain that the satchel full of notes is accessible to him and undisturbed. I wonder if you could bend history a little bit to have Adelbert imprisoned in the monastery where he did all his research, so that Michel could retrieve notes and sketches for him that he had hidden somewhere in the library. Adelbert sends Michel for them, the acolyte gets distracted by his own greed, and the angel is released. You've got such an interesting pivotal moment here, with Michel wrestling with loyalties and desires -- a great focal point for the story.

Eydiss Enchanted

This is such a charming story. I really love the layering of the points of view, and how it starts out with the evil Halagren and ends with the awakened dragon. I can almost see a graph of this, with overlapping lines, as one point-of-view drops and the other rises. In the middle is the most interesting part, with the back-and-forth between Eydiss' dream and the wizard's attempt to control her. All those little details were really lovely. I don't even think you need the ending, after "one flip of her wrist." It would be satisfying just to see her take him out, without him getting a chance to share his take on anything, just gone. One dangling curiosity: I did wonder about the firm hand that pushed her forward. Maybe just a smudge more clarity if it was Albur or her own will. Maybe they are the same?

Gift of the Gods

You really have a strong command of language. The paragraph that starts "She walked out on the deck" was so excellent I reread it just to hear it again in my head. I found it really poignant that Robbie chose a bee theme for her identity as a luchador, when the disappearance of bees was the harbinger of bad times for her home. Her sense of yearning and optimism was great. I liked the Gershwin reference and loved the concept of riding cows. Robbie and Eustace were a sweet pair and you set up an interesting scene there in the parched valley. The story got a little bit lost in the references to bananabadger's luchador game, and I don't know how accessible this would be to someone who hadn't read the source material, but you laid down some really cool ideas.
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 12:08 PM
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I know the voting isn't completely blind, but I was attempting to keep it as impartial as possible. We've had popularity contests here in the past, so I figured it was worth a shot. I can skip it entirely next time if it's not of any use.

Great stories, everyone! I'm reading slowly, but I am enjoying what I'm seeing!
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 06:49 AM
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to lostcheerio:

Yes, that passage is somewhat less clear. It seemed an approach suitable for Eydiss's dream perception.

In my mind, when writing, the "firm hand" and the "whisper" were influences from Albur. But the character was already dead at the time, so his influence could be expected to come from inside the dragon, somehow. Perhaps a thing of the collective subconscious?

That "something from inside her" was of the subconscious. We find it later in "some willing, some pushed by that energy from inside", where her will is shown to play but a smaller role. Will takes a fair share of control only when she awakes, and there you might see the influence of Albur's teaching - as if they would now be one being, if you wish.

In the dream... the dragon's subconscious may have relied on an emotional connection with the good wizard - as on external help. I think that works too

Nice to hear that you enjoyed the story, thank you
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Last edited by writelite; Jul 20th, 2022 at 05:19 AM. Reason: a couple of minor corrections, for language's sake
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 01:14 PM
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A bit more feedback as I read through. Great job everyone! Really enjoying the variety here.

Nothing, Something, Everything

Hi GeneT! You know that I love your writing, and you have such a beautiful command of language. I don't know what your voice sounds like, but I have a feeling this is the kind of word-wrangling that would be even cooler read aloud. This story is great to read, and gives me a Studio Ghibli meets Phantom Tollbooth vibe. There's a confidence to the tone that makes the magic work, and the allegorical names and roles are delightful. I have a couple of small notes to help with immersion in the world you're invoking. First, I don't think you need the paragraph at the beginning or the rest of that in the middle. If you want to keep this material (and it's cool, just IMO not necessary) maybe put the two pieces together and put it at the end. The second thing I would look at is removing the places where the golem is analyzing his own nature/composition, like "a perfectly suitable material" and the place where he notes he doesn't have eyes. One of the things I like about the story is that it doesn't explain much, so I think cutting that awareness would be good. Finally, trim one of the "something, everything, nothing" occurrences to strengthen the first and last one. The first one, when he's paying the fare, and the last one, where he's assumed his new job, and *one other one* would be sufficient. But think about cutting the middle one too. And possibly cut the last sentence.

Overtime

My friend, the d20 really did you dirty on this roll, as "It was all a dream!" is the most played-out trope in the cabinet. But here's what you did to save the day with this dull prompt: instead of fantastical or urgent or dangerous or tragic, this character's dream is so mundane that the fact that it was all a dream becomes hilarious and horrifying. So, no rabbit in a waistcoat, no spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, just desperate customers, unfeeling bosses, and repetitive tasks. In the last paragraph, I really feel the terror of this character's trap -- even in sleep he can't escape the drudgery. A couple of thoughts just on tweaking some aspects of this. I like "beep, beep" coming back again. I also wondered if you or the site gave your character asterisks in the first paragraph. If they are intentional asterisks, and you added maybe one more, and then changed the asterisks between sections to 4 instead of 3, that might be an interesting little play with the form. I especially like the overlap when he says "beeping silence" -- it's paradoxical, it's a play on "bleeping," and he has bleeped himself in an earlier paragraph. Just a thought!

A Ranger's Summertime Tale

This felt very real to me. All the details of the birds and the plants, the sounds of the forest were evocative. I truly believed I was hearing the point-of-view of someone very skilled and in-tune with his environment, particularly as he was describing the movements and sounds of the enemy soldiers who weren't as at home in the forest. I liked the syntactic irregularities you introduced -- using constructions like "they be" and "be we" instead of more modern English to give us a feel for the character's culture, baked right into the language. Sometimes your descriptive language got in its own way a little, such as "in a line abreast formation" where "in a line" makes me think one thing and "abreast" makes me think another -- you really only need to say "abreast." Another place the description undercut itself was with "subdued tell-tale hues" -- those two adjectives seem to contradict each other. I know what you're saying but one or the other would be better than both. My final note -- this is a very "we and they" story. I'm reading about a hundred dead, many traps, "our side and their side," rather than one fallen enemy, a particular trap that was set, or an individual to position myself with. We do have an "I" at times, but there's nothing to really distinguish him from his comrades. The effect of this choice is that the camera stays kind of far from the action, like an aerial view of what's happening, rather than sitting on a shoulder or focusing in on one conflict. That's definitely a valid artistic choice I'm just pointing it out with the thought that maybe a singular image as part of the general violence might make the conflict more memorable.
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Old Jul 29th, 2022, 05:19 PM
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lostcheerio,

Thanks for your feedback. I will most definitely keep it in mind. As far as line abreast goes, that was me reverting to my time in the Army. Line abreast is a formation used in the infantry. It's probably used by armor and mechanized formations too, but being a paratrooper for my whole career, I can't swear to that. I see what you mean about the 'subdued tell-tale hues.' I should have caught that. As far as the way I was describing it, I was actually picturing the battle in my mind in a birds eye view and that is how I described it, even though it was the warrior who occasionally said the 'I' who was describing the action. Again, thanks for taking the time and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 03:16 PM
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More feedback.

Short Story:

I'm not going to give you any critical notes -- just want to applaud you for pushing through the internal nay-saying and presenting something for us to read. That takes a lot of guts! If this isn't autobiographical, then I'll applaud you for making me believe this inner conflict, and presenting it so credibly. I will say this, just looking at what you've put on the page: the idea of calling that inner critic "the Vizier" is really interesting. One thing I noticed is that sometimes "the Vizier" contradicts itself (like saying "You have to push on!" and also saying "What's the point?") and I think that if you were to find a specific scene where the inner voice was in conflict with itself, that would be a great moment to dramatize. In terms of timeline, you've got a broad scope here. Narrowing on one decision/pivot and basing your choice on where "the Vizier" got in its own way, making "David" take control, would be awesome.

Summer Afternoon

As I read it, this is meant to be a peaceful vignette -- what we might call an idyll -- and I think you did a great job establishing a mood. You gave me enough physical details to inhabit the scene and feel what it's like to be there, from this character's point of view. But I'm going to make a pitch for adding some kind of conflict, some movement from point A to point B, no matter how slight, to give some plot scaffolding to the story. You've got lots of cool material here -- a relationship, an attitude toward work, a volleyball game, a rich setting -- but it doesn't really hang on a structure right now. An element of conflict would give you that shape. It doesn't need to be a fist fight, or a break-up, or a shark attack, or anything cataclysmic at all. Could be a bet on the volleyball game. A slight disagreement over some aspect of what to do about work, that bleeds into the volleyball game. (The game itself is a great place to lean into conflict, metaphorically. Put them on opposite teams and see what happens.) Some movement, something that sets the characters even minutely at odds, to give my mind a small edge to unpeel, to complicate the peacefulness of this beach afternoon in some way. Just a thought!

Three Nights in Brimhaven

What a clever story, and what a great character! Selene is really cool, and I liked the trial scene. "A story told in a series of flashbacks" can feel a bit like an explanation told in the aftermath, as it literally has a foregone conclusion. This is a limitation of the prompt and not your storytelling. One fix, to save the story from feeling like it's already over, is to withhold from the reader that they're reading a flashback -- and that's what you've done! We don't know that Selene is safely in the carriage and rolling away until the end. Another fix, though, is to have something urgently unfolding in the present tense of the story, which I think would also be a possibility for you. As I was reading, and Selene was crafting her argument to pin this crime on Birch, I really thought you were going to twist it around to where Selene actually did it, and had framed Birch, who had to take the rap. I'm not sure how you could reveal this in the carriage -- maybe as they're pulling away she says something about always hating that "Saint" who did something terrible to her family, and maybe she's got white paint stains on her hands when she picks up her pen to write. Just a suggestion for a twist within your interesting mystery.

Wishful Thinking

Your writing demonstrates a lot of control while you're showing me something pretty chaotic. That's impressive. This story is a swirl of thoughts and visions and interpretations of what's happening -- sometimes coming from the character, and sometimes wrong. You did a great job of managing this stream of input without explaining too much, and letting me bounce around a bit in confusion. Often when I as a reader feel confused, I feel let down by the author. But in this case, I felt reassured by the strong voice, and assumed it was intentional, so I could let go and enjoy the ride. I would like to make a suggestion about verb tense. This story has a very "now" feeling and I think taking a run at it in present tense might yield some good results. In your reader's mind, a picture is taking shape, then changing, and changing again. Reflecting that immediacy in the verb tense would be good -- there are a couple places where you're already slipping into it. Something to experiment with.
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Last edited by lostcheerio; Jul 30th, 2022 at 03:18 PM.
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Old Jul 30th, 2022, 04:59 PM
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@lostcheerio: thank you very much, both for taking time to read my story and to give this feedback. Both my Vizier and me can act illogical. The pushing on is mostly in caring for others. The ‘why bother’ is more about self-care and development.
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 01:51 PM
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A tie!? How exciting! So what happens now -- is this an "everybody wins!" type of joint or do we get to see a run off?
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 02:00 PM
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Well done all.
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Old Aug 1st, 2022, 02:15 PM
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@LostCheerio: Many thanks! I'm honestly surprised I did so well, far as I can tell. I definitely messed up with a "decade" instead of a century in the writing, but that's the most glaring error I caught rereading it, before your review. The confusing nature is kind of intentional, yes: it is, after all, a dream. Considering how a good number of mine go -- things suddenly changing, by a little or a lot, and somehow this it all makes sense -- I tried to emulate that for Nazreen's. So I'm glad you felt there was a proper method to the madness, and that it wasn't too jarring to read.

As for verb tense, that's a good suggestion. I try to stick with Consistently or notpast tense as it seems easier for me, but trying different ones for different feelings does seem good. I'm mostly self-taught as an artist in general, so I don't think I'd formally learned how past or present tense affects stories. That said, seems it's worth experimenting with.
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