July 23, 2019, 09:25:50 PM

Author Topic: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread  (Read 7701 times)

Offline Lady Ty

  • Blessed River Lady and Defender of Baby Dragons
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3445
  • Gender: Female
  • So-Old-That-She-Can-Nearly-Be-Called-Oldest-Ty
    • View Profile
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2018, 11:32:44 PM »
Congratulations @JMack, you got my vote for this for sure, personally love that particular 'folk tale' style you've made your own for certain stories, it was exactly right for this theme and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

But is it time we devised a handicap for you? ;) You have to write two stories per month?

My other vote finally went to @Anonymous with that dark contrasting approach to the theme, very hard hitting. Can't say I actually enjoyed it, but it was a satisfying read and was most impressed because a difficult subject and well brought out in details.

The reason I wished for a third vote was to give to @OnlyOneHighlander, I loved that gentle story, perfectly ended, but had to make a final hard decision when voting
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline OnlyOneHighlander

  • Writing Contest Regular
  • Builder
  • ******
  • Posts: 116
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • The Macpherzone
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2018, 12:20:59 PM »
Well done @JMack You had my vote this month too. You packed a lot in that story. I had a really strong sense of the world from the beginning and a really satisfying ending.

My other vote went to @Anonymous too (great minds think alike @Lady Ty  :) ). It was a very challenging subject and quite uncomfortable to read at times but a brave attempt. And that ending: bold stuff.

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” Neil Gaiman

Check out my book Here Be Dragons here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-Be-Dragons-David-Macpherson-ebook/dp/B07CCGBDQW/ref=sr_1_3?s

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6925
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2018, 12:39:06 PM »
It’s fun to win, and thank you for the votes. I really enjoyed taking a world that had been rattling around in my rain for decades and finally putting a story to it.

But I would have been happier to celebrate @The Gem Cutter’s cool fantasy story. His was my favorite this cycle. I also voted for @OnlyOneHighlander based on such really lovely prose.

I might just do a D_Bates and drop some mini reviews in a bit, since I have some times on my hands.  ;D

Meanwhile, props props props to Xiagan and ScarletBea for don’t this month after month, even with new babes, work, and the odd assortment of anniversaries. This contest is one of my favorite life things ever.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline The Gem Cutter

  • Captain Analogy
  • Writing Group
  • Khaleesi
  • *
  • Posts: 2960
  • Gender: Male
  • We've exhausted all possibilities - time to begin.
    • View Profile
    • The Gem Cutter Tales
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2018, 01:45:11 PM »
I voted for you @JMack and I would like to echo Lady Ty's reference to your folk style - it's distinctively you and you've perfected it, managing to achieve a perfect balance of exposition, telling details, succinct description, character-conveying dialogue. I consider myself a writer - I write every day and make a good living with it. But there's a subtle distinction between a writer and a story-teller; the former is a technical skill with artistic aspects; the latter is an artistic skill with technical aspects. And of course, from my point of view, the grass indeed seems greener on your side of the fence.
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline The Gem Cutter

  • Captain Analogy
  • Writing Group
  • Khaleesi
  • *
  • Posts: 2960
  • Gender: Male
  • We've exhausted all possibilities - time to begin.
    • View Profile
    • The Gem Cutter Tales
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2018, 02:03:34 PM »
It’s fun to win, and thank you for the votes. I really enjoyed taking a world that had been rattling around in my rain for decades and finally putting a story to it.

But I would have been happier to celebrate @The Gem Cutter’s cool fantasy story. His was my favorite this cycle. I also voted for @OnlyOneHighlander based on such really lovely prose.

I might just do a D_Bates and drop some mini reviews in a bit, since I have some times on my hands.  ;D

Meanwhile, props props props to Xiagan and ScarletBea for don’t this month after month, even with new babes, work, and the odd assortment of anniversaries. This contest is one of my favorite life things ever.
Thanks Jmack, you've very kind. My inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40ZgWexMkbg
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 08:48:56 PM by The Gem Cutter »
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline D_Bates

  • Story Critiquaire Extraordinaire and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Bridgeburner
  • *****
  • Posts: 526
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2018, 02:04:01 PM »
My votes went to Carter and OnlyOneHighlander, but it was really difficult to pick two as most stories had things I really, really liked that would steal a vote in any other contest, while they also had a flaw here and there that slightly let them down--mostly due to shifting PoVs that I struggled with in most cases.

Gemcutter's - The Queen's Price
Spoiler for Hiden:
This story got extra props for being the pure fantasy entry, and I really liked the twist in the ending to what was a powerful story and underlying theme. I particular enjoyed a mother story without the need for a birth, whereby motherhood for me is more about that platonic bond rather than the event that created it.

Where it fell short on my end I think was likely due to word count. I struggled to get into it and understand what was going on at the start, and the enmity in Muriella and Moiraile's relationship had to be taken at face value. I feel an extra 500-1000 words to give proper context to those situations could really elevate this story to something special, where the underlying message was spot on and it just lacked a few polishing details to really make it shine.

Carter's - Confronting Reality
Spoiler for Hiden:
This got my personal brave vote that LadyTy and OnlyOneHighlander gave out to Anonymous's entry. I suspect it lost votes due to being more real world than fantasy, but for me I like how fantasy is so flexible, and the idea of her having this fairy garden in her head as she suffers from dementia... that's what fantasy is all about to me.

Like most entries, the PoV shifts confused me at times and wasn't helped by the narrator's dementia also confusing who characters were. Honestly, I can't see how to fix that though, where the simplest way would be to stay in the nurse's head but you'd then lose all that wonderful fairy garden material. I do however think the issue was compounded by the sub-plot with Zuzanna and her kid, where it may have been more prudent to have had the previous carer be Isobel's daughter who could no longer cope with her mother's condition and thus kept the story focused on her. But ultimately this tackled a serious current day issue, had some beautiful descriptive scenes as always, and that made it extremely interesting to me and was something I was proud to vote for.
Alex Horman's - Maiden to mother to crone
Spoiler for Hiden:
Ah, Alex. The curse of poetry strikes again. Honestly, this entry reached my last three. I read this 3-4 times, which is a good sign that poetry isIt's difficult to put into word s hitting its mark. The story within the verses was really well constructed, and I loved this almost internal monologue of showing a circle of life in how one generation grows up but remains the pillar and role-model for the next to follow in its footsteps. Maybe I look into these more deep than I should?

Where it fell short was the syllables, and on a few occasions the lines felt unbalanced and threw me off. So I did syllable counts, believe it or not, and when it turned out the lines were fluctuating between 6 and 9 that cruelly was the deciding factor that got it the cut. For the record, syllable torque is the worst thing I find about writing poetry myself. But don't let the 0 vote take anything away from your poetic skills. I completely respect someone who can cut a rhyme with a story beneath the surface, and you're landing that with every entry you make.
OnlyOneHighlander's - Quietly to the dawn
Spoiler for Hiden:
It's difficult to put into words why I liked this story so much. On the surface it's merely a descriptive tale of a woman giving birth. But something about the way it was written... I found it so respectful with an underlying admiration for what is an amazing natural process and one that's rarely if ever given the full respect to those who go through it.

It would be easy to dismiss this story as something non-fantasy, or there not being much of a story there at all, but it made me genuinely smile while reading it and that's what counts the most at the end of the day, right? You often hear less is more, and stories like this is why, where simply showing an event that's going on all the time in an honest light for what it is can either remind a reader of the magic that's out there or potentially make them look on the world in a different and far better way.

I loved the blacksmith metaphor btw.

Jmack's - Ghosts at the Bonfire of Birth
Spoiler for Hiden:
I'm not surprised this won as it's the sort of whacky fun read that Mr Mack's renowned for. I can't praise enough the uniqueness of the madcap situations you pull out of your head.

Where this story fell short for me was mostly scale, but also had a bit of personal taste involved.

Scalewise, I thought there was too much going on at the start to the point where I found myself getting confused by all the random ghosts, family members, and their relationships. It's strongest points for me definitely came when it was focused on the one crazy ghost going poltergeist, but by that time I was still confused over the stakes involved.

Tastewise the charm seemed to be focused more around the situation than it did with the crisis within the characters. I suspect that works for most readers, supported by the story coming out on top. But as enjoyable as I found the events, I found no underlying message that made me dwell on any particular subject once it was over, and as such, when it came to voting there was nothing that made it stand out to entice one of my votes. But again, that's me and says nothing about the work itself, which likely achieved everything you set out for it to achieve.

Anonymous's - Delia's Doll
Spoiler for Hiden:
I was deeply torn on this one, jumping on a rollercoaster of love/hate. Like Ty and OnlyOneHighlander I found the subject of domestic abuse brave and highly interesting. Exploring the moral underside of the love potion trope I also liked, and I'm sure somebody did a similar story a few years back which I also loved and believe I voted for. The idea that the person she used the potion on turned out to be an abusive pig... that's a great twist!

Where this story lost my vote was how truly awful the messaging in the end was. The idea that she puts a curse on her son to protect him from her abusive husband--great! That she did it just so she could kill her own son to kill her husband left me agape. Especially when it was already established that she cut her husband while shaving, thus meaning she could have killed him whenever she liked, so it left the suggestion that she went through her own child only to be as spiteful a cow as possible.

To me the story felt to have an underlying venom towards her shallowness for getting together with this abusive guy to begin with. Where it could have veered towards her making that mistake and then coming to realise the error of her ways and getting together with the far nicer Bartholeme, or it could have veered towards her waking up to her own foolishness and growing into the mother protecting her child in this flawed relationship of her own making, instead she remained a bitch throughout, where she murders her own kid just to get back at this abusive guy who she herself manipulated into their relationship to begin with.

So if the underlying intent of the story was for me to look at her as a victim of abuse and think 'she deserves everything she got' then job well done. But when domestic abuse is such a serious and ongoing modern day concern I'm not convinced this is sort of story doesn't do more harm than good, where on the one hand it succeeds in leaving me feeling angry and thinking on the subject, while countless others may come out laughing along and thinking dumb bitches get what they deserve. And while I'm sure there are domestic abuse situations where both parties are equally culpable and toxic, the addition of the love potion manipulation puts the physical abuser in this scenario in an almost sympathetic light, and in the end that's too awful a message for me to resolve in my own conscious to ever support.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 05:48:06 PM by D_Bates »
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Online xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Elderling
  • *
  • Posts: 5870
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
    • Fictional Times
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2018, 04:52:53 PM »
Congrats, JMack! Should we devise a special challenge for you from now on? ;)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6925
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2018, 05:57:39 PM »
@D_Bates, as usual, your remarks are right on.

Scale: I kept re-writing the beginning until I found a groove I could follow. In the process, I discarded three characters: the midwife’s assistant, her dead female lover, the pregnant woman’s mother. They were replaced by the husband (whose only role was to introduce the idea of the ghosts) and the miller’s daughter (replacing the both the assistant and the mother). I could and should have dropped the dead husband and the little boy, at least. Most of my starts were with the midwife arriving at the house. Not sure why I went backwards to the fly fishing; it’s just what happened.

Focus: I also agree about the focus having been on plot without an underlying point or resonance. Earlier drafts tried to deal with grief and sacrifice. The midwife’s dead love sacrificed her remaining ghostly existence to save the midwife and the newborn from the poltergeist. Or, the midwife allowed herself to be killed so that the poltergeist couldn’t occupy the newborn’s soul. Or,...  but I couldn’t get the word count to work with any of these. The plot solution (crowd of ghosts rushed in) ended up clever rather than touching.

I’m still quite happy for the win. As I said, I’ve been playing for years with this world where the dead hang around in gardens and attics, and everyone either ignores or tolerates them. They gradually fade away and rarely interact with the living. Except for great Haunts, who carry their anger and passion from life into the shadow world. And thereby can hang a tale...
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 06:00:20 PM by JMack »
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline D_Bates

  • Story Critiquaire Extraordinaire and a Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Bridgeburner
  • *****
  • Posts: 526
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: [APR 2018] - Maiden, Mother and Crone - Voting Thread
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2018, 12:44:27 PM »
I find it quite interesting reading the inner stories of how the story came to be, so thanks for that Jmack.

'What readers want' is a common writing world phrase I've been wrestling with a fair bit in recent years, and seeing the writers' own struggles in this contest and how the voting turns out is rather insightful.

So here you had this idea of this troupe of ghosts which in and of itself is awesome. There's no part of me that doesn't like this concept. But from your own story, it seems like you were trying to find this way of introducing a character or human element into the tale that met the theme. That's the thing always preached 'character driven, character, character, character'. And for myself it was definitely that character element of the jaded ghost that I found most interesting and grabbed my attention after the initial swoon of 'this seems like a cool world' that the ghosts going to the house delivered. Yet I imagine that in the voting a large amount of the votes for this story rode off the cool concept of the ghosts alone, and it was certainly why I suspected this story was contesting the top spot when Bea posted her update.

So it makes me wonder just how much the character, character, character push really matters to wider audiences, where a bunch of wild antics from random ghosts could well have satisfied more and have been less stressful to write than trying to shoehorn in a deeper character arc with the midwife.
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018