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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Voting Thread
Definitely difficult to only vote for 3 this month.

It was fun to see the variety of approaches people took to this one, especially as many of us noted that we were not immediately struck with inspiration for this topic.

Yup, that's me every month. Coming up with a story to fit the theme is certainly a challenge, but I also love that we have so many talented writers participating. I write the best story I can but in the end, when I'm reading, there's always a few where I'm like "Dammit, why didn't I think of that? It's soooo good." Yet I feel like I learn from that as well. That's why I adore this little contest/club.

December 18, 2016, 05:15:59 AM
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Re: [NOV 2016] - 1750 - Critique Thread
I'd be interested in critiques for "There had to be a reason".
Critique for "There had to be a reason."   I liked the story and thought the premise interesting, and very well done in the teacup that the space limit was for such a piece.

Spoiler for Hiden:
On the positive, I liked the dialogue and the physics references. Your writing was clear and concise. I felt for Sam and I liked the irony that Sam's knowledge was not enough to protect her. Yay pharmacies! I liked the irony of Plank's final thought in direct opposition to what he told Sam, but thought Sam got a really bum deal. That means you made me sympathize with her, so good on ya. So most of my points don't relate to your execution, but rather to the shaping of the story itself.

In terms of issues that might be improved:

First, you begin with the question of “why”, which seems straightforward, but I think is actually too open-ended. The opening of any time-travel or other weird piece is complex. The big questions are potentially distracting elephants in the room, at least for me. These are 1) how did this happen? (mechanically), and 2) why did this happen? (at all, to her, and not to someone else, etc.), and then there's the "why" you were focused on 3) for what purpose?

So I think the question needed a frame or precursor to knock these distractions off the table, queue the audience to forget notions of time machines, spells, potions, etc., and establish that she has no idea how it happened at all, etc. I think inserting a "how" with the question would have helped. Or something like “Sam believed everything happens for a reason. But if there was a reason for finding herself instantly and inexplicably X number of years in the past, she had yet to discover it.”

This puts us in the same mental space as the character, wondering "OK, so what was it?" and leading us to where she is at, trying to figure out "why" since "how" is a mystery.

Second, the story's plot is thin and depends entirely on answering the question above, on Sam realizing what's happened. The dialogue was good, but its end was abrupt, and I felt she was cheated somewhat. Plank's motivations and character come across as dubious - if he was comfortable killing the girl, why bother talking? What did he hope to achieve by it? What about their conversation went too far?

This is a really tough story to write, which is why I punted and went with a pithy poem, so I do not suggest you missed X, Y, or Z easy options - if I thought I could engineer a clever story in the space available, I'd have written one. The only thing I come up with is having Plank's goal be to calm and reassure Sam as he waits for the chronologically best moment to end her life. Or maybe, really changing things all around and sending her back, but that required her to destroy her own notes.

Thematically, there's a final issue relating to this story's unpleasant ending. It's refrigerator logic, but still, if this event was a cosmic accident, did God not feel she got sort of cheated by life? History deserves protection from them - but a single person does not? Seems like a case that warrants a cosmic Mulligan. He couldn't just zap her back once things aligned properly? Anyway, my point is the end was darker than expected.

Like Nora's story, I really felt bad for the character, in this case, even as she learns what the hell happened. That's effective writing, so I have no real execution advice to offer. Hope this is helpful.

January 04, 2017, 06:18:55 AM
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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread
Y'all be makin me nervous. Why is everyone such good authors?  :-[

aha!  we're discovered!  it's all a clever ruse to get you to be nervous!

<insert cardboard villain laugh>

but, seriously -- no way, man.  we're all learning!  some of us have just been doing it a bit longer.  working up more entries.  eventually, you'll be there too!

but, to be honest, this is less a contest than a big ol' club where the only membership requirement is that you write a story.  stretching, challenging yourself, reading other interpretations of the same topic, critiques at the end, it's all a growing process.

we get excited when more people enter.  we get excited when other people read our stuff.  we get excited to practice.

winning?  meh.  whatever.  nbd.

working with a deadline?  awesome.

getting someone to read your stuff and give opinions on it?  awesome.

deconstructing others' writing and offering a critique?  awesome.

these are all things that will grow your toolset as a writer.  it's a super-fabulous thing.

tho, keep in mind, this is all coming from a guy who, while driving through the countryside, STILL points out the window and hollers, "look! horses!!"

yay!  mad props for having the courage to take the first step!

January 26, 2017, 03:31:11 AM
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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread
I definitely agree that rewriting can get you to a much better story, but often if I am rewriting, the write becomes fundamentally different from the original draft. The one that I posted had the same setting and some of the same characters as the original, but their personality traits had shifted and the conflict was different.

So, in a lot of ways, I would consider the re-write a completely different story. Does that make sense? That's why it feels inefficient to me. Writing the second draft went quickly because I knew where I was going, but it's frustrating that I had to write a different story to get to the posted one.

I suppose that's how we grow as writers though...   :P

That does happen, especially in shorter stories.  One write, you have a modern day, 1500 word thriller, the next you've got a 1500 word yesteryear dystopian alternate history.

That is why I try to keep my complete rewrites to a minimum, but sometimes you just have to take the plunge.

January 31, 2017, 05:07:08 PM
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Re: [Jan 2017] - Urban Fantasy - Discussion Thread I DID IT! IT IS OFFICIALLY IN!!!!!!!
February 01, 2017, 03:05:44 AM
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Re: slow starts? I suspect that behind the trends in preferences in pacing there is some brain chemistry going on. We know that dopamine-addiction from mobile devices and social media is a thing, and like any addiction, it makes people anxious to get that next hit of reward hormone. Even at levels of engagement that fall below "addiction" level, this makes one inherently less patient. With the rise of mobile devices and social media, the scale of what is considered slow, medium, and fast-paced has shifted accordingly. Melville was SLOW, LoTR was medium, and The Da Vinci Code was fast. Now Melville is glacial, LoTR is slow, The Da Vinci Code is medium, and I don't even know what's considered fast, but I'm sure it's frantic by comparison.
February 03, 2017, 04:03:00 PM
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Re: [Mar 2017] - Through the Beast's Eye - Discussion Thread Oh man, this month is going to be challenging for me. But that's absolutely why I love our little club, as it pushes me outside of the stuff I normally write. Looking forward to this one!
March 01, 2017, 04:22:03 PM
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Re: Writer's Block
but it could be that the characters aren't individualized enough or you don't have the rules of the setting fleshed out well enough or something else entirely.

This!

April 24, 2017, 01:49:48 AM
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Re: How much did you write today? I have managed to write 2,700 words today on my first short story since writer's block! The story turns out better than I had expected too, so things are getting pretty great.  8)
May 10, 2017, 02:36:21 PM
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Re: [Apr 2017] - Scavenger Hunt - Voting Thread As I said, it was fine. Especially because you didn't go and make it gory. You limited yourself to the one word that makes it sound like she can feel it. Which is perfect in the pitch of the story. Nowhere do you go and elaborate that she ran for the toilet but ruined 25m of carpeting with a bloodshed!  ;D

But to go on with the cliched part :

Spoiler for Hiden:

Yeah, there is no way that menarche could be this gory. The book extract doesn't make it sound like such a large stain, but blood touched the cover as well (how?? Did she twist it in her legs while sleeping? That's the one thing you can't really stain...), and way down the mattress, and as she tries to hide evidence and is taken away she starts bleeding again.
So, unrealistic but very effective, dramatically. It works fine for Sansa's situation and twists her character in a dark place.
Funily enough as I started googling around for examples of periods mentioned in stories and how they affect characters, instead of finding women finger pointing the lack of realism in menarche, I found a lot of women complaining that periods seem to never be mentioned, and that it should be more present, especially in YA.
 ::)

May 11, 2017, 03:31:12 PM
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