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Figgy Idol

Like American Idol, only our contestants write. We are a multi-round, short story writing competition held annually-ish here on Figment. Anyone with any kind of experience is free to sign-up.

Discussion began on 02/18/2017

Feedback & Eliminations (season four)

  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    SEASON FOUR FEEDBACK AND ELIMINATIONS DISCUSSION

    Below you will find comments from some of the judges as well as the official elimination list for each round. This will be the format for this discussion. Before the next prompt is posted, I will be posting similar announcements here. No post made here will be hidden unless it is not relevant to the topic at hand. This way, you will always have access to these notes should you wish to review them in the future.

    If you have any questions or comments directly relating to a note given, please contact the judge that gave you the note on their wall for clarification. We are here to help you as much as we can, and our intentions are nothing but good. Everyone here is a strong writer, and you should all be very proud of your accomplishments thus far.

  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    It appears as though that my initial post is waaaay too long for Figment to handle and is distorting my formatting, cutting off my entire elimination speech. I didn't realize it until this morning. (This is what I get for trying to get ahead in life by posting everything at midnight when I'm nearly unconscious. Don't do it, kids.) I've actually never written a post that exceeded its limits before, so this is a first for me. Let me try this again--this time, breaking everything up.

     

     

    Round one is behind us, officially. I must say that you all had us judges torn about our decision today. Nothing about this is unanimous; I think we all had our own individualized lists of top and bottom writers. Overall, though, it was incredible reading the things you all were able to conjure, and it made this decision all the harder for us. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the journey you all took me on, and you should all be very proud of yourselves.

    Below you will see individualized feedback from each of the judges. It’s nothing in-depth, merely remarks and casual thoughts. This is so we can give you an idea of what we’re thinking when we make our judging decisions.

    Before we get into that, though, I need to introduce one of the features you will see in each of these posts. We started something last season that we would like to continue doing this season. Each round, I ask the judges to submit to me their top three writers. The writers that receive the most votes get featured on the Figgy Idol home page. I will always post the top three writers’ feedback first. So, let’s get to it, shall we?


    ROUND ONE - TOP WRITERS

    TOP WRITER: Jane Apricity, A Real Hero 

    • Becka: I really like the way that you set up this story.  I like the image of a group of people sitting around listening to stories about the legendary character, and I like that the main character wasn't the legend, but he did know her personally.  I like that the legends were told this way, and you get some major bonus points from me because of that.  I think that you did an excellent job creating the legendary character.  I like the usage of the main character's obvious jealousy to drive this story, and I like the little twist at the end.  Great job on this one.
    • Ellie: I love that you added tidbits of story that focus on Jael and her exploits. It really brings a depth to your piece that was missing before. I do still think you relied on dialogue to carry your story at times, and I would have liked to see a bit more descriptions of the tavern and the people in it. Trayn’s commentary is still fabulous, though, and I enjoyed reading about his character.
    • Grant: An interesting take on the prompt to be sure, a legend (or wannabe legend) describing the feats of another while trying to establish his own legendary acts. The best part of the story are the kids, who fill the roll as the read a sense. Though where I do find myself getting lost is Taryn’s tone. He’ll shift from praising Jael to naming her as a sidekick to building up heroic deeds and right back to demeaning her. He’s a little all over the place and these  shifts are kind of jarring when trying to follow along. But, Jane's technical abilities are superb. The characterization, dialogue, and description are great. This idea just needed to be fleshed out a bit more.
    • Jo: The plot is good and I really like it. At first I thought I wouldn’t quite so much because of how the story was told as a story, rather than showing us what was done in most of the cases, but I liked it. I just didn’t understand the ending, how Jael was there. She seems like she’s meant to be an extraordinary hero and I definitely found her interesting. I wish we’d seen more of her and honestly, I’d love to see more of these characters.
    • Tilda: This was a great read! The pacing here was good, I think, and the whole story works this way. And most of all, your characters actually feel like people. Seeing the humanity makes it so much easier to relate. However, I think this would benefit from a little bit more establishing detail and a bit more from Trayn to make the shifts in how he views Jael feel more natural as now it is a bit all over the place.

    RUNNER-UP: Hazel Gatoya, Pestilence 

    • Becka: This was an excellent piece.  I like how your character wasn't a legend at the beginning of the story, but rather became a legend through what he did in the story.  What he did would without a doubt make him a legend, but he didn't start out being one.  You also did an excellent job creating this world and describing what was happening and why.  I didn't finish reading this and come out feeling confused or even feeling like I needed more, which I really appreciate.  This is a well-developed story and I feel as though the concept was interesting and creative.  Good job.
    • Ellie: I still really love the interactions between Plague and the skeledemon. Re-reading your entry now still brings a smile to my face. Conceptually, I think this is my favorite idea out of all of the stories presented to us this round. It’s a little out-there, but you ground it to reality nicely with your conclusion. It’s just… crazy creative, and you did a wonderful job with this prompt.
    • Grant: This is full emotional spectrum! The ideas present in this story are ones that you see pop up often, even through the history of Figgy Idol, but Hazel seems to just crack her knuckles and say “Okay, but what about this?” It’s funny, it’s dark, it’s uplifting, it’s tragic, it’s everywhere and managing to take such a heavily used platform and give it a fresh spark of creativity is a huge breath of fresh air. The characters are fleshed out, the action is gripping, and while you can find yourself getting lost in the story it’s easy to get pulled back in when the dialogue starts up. Slam dunk piece from Hazel.
    • Jo: The plot and characters are good and I found the concept of Princess Margaret’s special ability intriguing. The skeledemon and the way that Jusuke is in control of their surroundings is really cool and I liked reading the fight scene a lot because of this. Honestly, I loved the skeledemon a lot, particularly his love of games and his fluffy hair. The ending was good too and overall, I really enjoyed reading this.
    • Tilda: This was good. I think you scored high on most counts that I look for - this take on the prompt was really cool, nailed the creative topic right on. I found your characters interesting and didn’t really want anything more from them. Your details were good. But I found this rather hard to follow. This could be a personal thing - too much ‘leave it to the imagination fantasy’ in one place just doesn’t work with me like that - and I fell off a number of times. Perhaps just a tad too overall complicated for me, but I definitely think it’s well written.

    SECOND RUNNER-UP: Elizabeth, Annabelinda 

    • Becka: I liked this piece.  You don't really read stories where the dragon is the main character and the one that you're rooting for, so I like that you did that.  I also like that you recognized that the dragon would indeed be a legend and wrote based on that, when it would be easier, perhaps, to make the sorceress that killed her the legend.  However, I came away from this piece a little confused.  I'm not sure if I just missed something, but I don't quite understand why the prince was such a big deal to Annabelinda.  I wish that you had expanded upon that more, because that would have made this story a lot better.  I do like the concept, though, so good job with that.
    • Ellie: I like the new direction you took your story in. It was completely different, and I applaud your ability to pull something together that’s this interesting and fun to read. It could definitely a bit more polished, a few details added here and then, but the focus you have here is excellent. You managed to draw me in and allowed me to enjoy your story. I wanted more. Good job.
    • Grant:  I adore this one. It’s such a simple route to go, dealing with dragons and sorceresses, but Elizabeth delivered a fantasy master stroke through dialogue and gripping description. There’s a clear and present mystery that hovers over the entire story as these two characters go back and forth. We learn more and more about them slowly with incredible timing and pacing. The climax and falling action are beautiful. And maybe this is just a personal preference, but I’m such a big fan of legend’s being told in the third person. Also, I saw a lot of what Ellie talked about being applied to the story so that’s a huge plus for me. Elizabeth didn’t swing for the fences. She slowly prepared a delicious meal where every bite was a treat.
    • Jo: This had a good concept and the plot was interesting, the characters definitely worth trying to understand. I have no idea what Eleanor’s motives were or who the Red Wizard is or why Annabelinda was protecting Nicholas or why he’s so important, and I wish I did. However, it was well written and it was definitely worth reading.
    • Tilda: This was thoroughly enjoyable. There’s not too much going on, just enough revealed not to make it confusing but enough left out to keep things focused. Your characters, despite not showing us everything and nothing, don’t feel hollow or dull. I quite liked how different this was, too. If I have to nitpick, I think I would have liked to see Eleanor being a bit less ‘typical evil’, but that’s really digging into nitpick territory. But outside of that little thing, this is just good. The pace is great, there’s balance and it wasn’t predictable. Though I find Annabelinda to be a kind of funny name, so extra kudos for managing to write a story to made me forget all about that - it sounds simple to do such a thing, but it really isn’t. Great job on this!

    Good job, you three! You really impressed us with your stories. Take this moment and allow it to propel you into the next round.

  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    ROUND ONE - FEEDBACK

    For the rest of our writers, you will find your feedback listed by the first letter of the first word in your pen name.

    Abigail June, The Legend of Jasmine the Fearless 

    • Becka: Overall, I think that this was a good take on the prompt.  It's very clear to me that Jasmine would be a legend, considering she's the one that ended the war by killing Percival.  However, I like that she didn't feel that she was the true hero.  I think a lot of legendary characters know that they're legends, and I liked that she accredited her success to someone else.  When I first started reading, I thought that she was going to singlehandedly defeat the army, and I found myself pleasantly surprised.  I suppose the biggest problem that I have with this piece is the dialogue, as it felt a bit awkward at times.  Overall, however, you created a legendary character that didn't feel too cliché, so good job.  
    • Ellie: I thought this was an interesting concept, but it does need a bit of fleshing out. It felt a little flat, and it was a bit dialogue-driven. I would have liked to see more details and emotions throughout the piece. Because of that, I had difficulties connecting fully to your story. You have moments when you phrase something one way, but it doesn’t translate the way you intended it to, so I questioned that. But it was interesting, and I liked the idea.
    • Grant: Abigail’s story has a “paint by numbers” feel to it. The plot structure itself is sound but where I find it lacking ultimately is in the creativity department. This is classic telling without showing. Each action reads “I said this and then this happened.” What we don’t get a lot of is emotion so there’s nothing in particular that makes Jasmine stand out to me. The dialogue is kind of lacking as well as it clashes with the time period it’s supposed to be set in. Not a bad story by any means, but definitely could use more touches to help Abigail shine.
    • Jo: This was an interesting story, unnecessary capitalizations in some places but it was mostly written well. Aiden’s death was predictable as well, but I can look past that. However, I disliked the ending. I didn’t like that the death of Percival was so simple and quick, or that he was such a young kid and was a psycho, but I thought the last few lines were kind of awful. I definitely didn’t like the final words where the main character says that they are fearless and act as if they are someone legendary after stating how the real hero was someone else.
    • Tilda: I feel like the beginning didn’t really set the mood right. Certain elements made it feel more silly and unserious than anything - I would have liked to see it stick to the mood better. I’m not sure why the word ‘Archer’ is capitalized all over. I’m no English expert, I admit, but that doesn’t fit into what I’ve learned. And I do think this story tells me a lot instead of showing it in certain parts. Overall, I find the characters here a bit too cliche. Legend or not, I would have liked to see believable characters. Your main character, most of all, strikes me as almost a parody of the ‘strong fab female’ that pops up a lot and feels incredibly hollow in my opinion. I think the topic of war was handled rather badly and came off as both rushed and highly unrealistic. Whilst I am quite fond of ‘war stories’, this one could do with more work as it feels somewhat like a rushed first draft to me. It does follow the prompt, however, so kudos to that!

    Adrianne Etheridge, Types of Legends 

    • Becka: This piece definitely had its good points and bad points.  You followed the prompt and did make a unique legendary character.  I like the fact that you made your character a different type of legend, one that wasn't necessarily well-liked, but one that was a legend nonetheless.  However, I feel like you could have added more to this story.  You hint at the fact that he is a legend, but I would have liked to see more of that.  The story lacked plot, which I feel like would have helped you better develop this character as a legend.  I don't just want you state that he's a legend.  Show me that he is.
    • Ellie: It’s a little flat. And that’s a big disappointment because I know you’re capable of so much more. Your hero needs to be fleshed out a bit more, your narration energized. You tell us a lot of things, but you don’t invite us in. When there was dialogue, you relied on it heavily to carry the story. It fulfilled the prompt, but it does need some work.
    • Grant: I think Adrianne really found the soul of the prompt. Our main character reflects on his status and helps us grasp the weight of his deeds through clever scenery description and introspection. It’s a unique twist on the idea that I think plays out really well. The conversation that is held hits on all variety of emotion so you really get a grasp of the character’s history without being blatantly spelled out. The king twist at the end seems a little sudden, but overall Adrianne opens up the competition with a fully unique peace and is off to a strong start.
    • Jo: This is interesting, though there are a few places where a word or two seem to be missing. There was a spelling mistake in one part where it said alone instead of along or be instead of me. There are a few bits where it feels rushed, such as bringing in Ami only to make Fionel leave her without a word of it. All the same though, it was an interesting entry and I think it fulfilled the requirements.
    • Tilda: I did spot a few mishaps with words here and there (ex - ‘anyone can that you could do it alone’) which kind of snapped me out of the whole experience. I did like the twist at the end, however, and the story as a whole was enjoyable. But I do feel like you could have told us more, added in a little more of what actually happened. Dug a bit deeper into this and really showed your main character here, made him more memorable. Made him really stick out from the crowd of other legendary characters here.

    Ducky, The Lying Legend 

    • Becka: I loved this piece.  The point of this round was to be creative, and I think that you did an excellent job.  I really love the idea of the "legend" being a celebrity, and I love that you gave him a power to make him truly legendary.  I think that it's very true that our celebrities end up becoming legends in a way.  I think that my favorite thing about this piece, however, was just how real the characters seemed to me.  Your character was a legend, for sure, but you explored what being a legend made him, and I love the way that you did that.  It seems very believable to me that being so famous would turn him into an alcoholic, and eventually lead to him wanting to commit suicide.  I also love that it was his friend that ended up saving him.  This was a very unique take on this prompt, and I must say that I'm impressed.
    • Ellie: This story is very emotional. You definitely created a lot of depth to your character, and you did it well. There were a few small details that I questioned, though. Your hero was initially supposed to be on that talk show to broadcast which celebrity he had a dream about dying? Isn’t that a bit, I don’t know… callous? Would the said celebrity need to grant permission for this information to be released? I just see giant lawsuits waiting to happen if this is your character’s modus operandi. And then there was the small detail when Freddy catches your character about to off himself when he asks if Freddy had seen the interview, which he replies no because he’d been shopping--a trip he’d clearly just returned from. Yet in the paragraph directly following the one that described the embarrassing interview, your narrator said, “I ended up spending the next week hiding in my apartment, cancelling interviews, and curling up on the couch watching TV.” Based on that detail, at least a week has passed. At least, I thought it had until this moment. Continuity is a big pet peeve of mine, so just be careful that your details match. Otherwise, it’s a good story.
    • Grant: Ducky could have used a once over of her piece. There are a number of grammar mistakes and misused words early on that take you out of the story. There’s also an over dependence on dramatic line breaks to the point where the breaks stop being dramatic as you can almost start to feel them coming. That all being said, Ducky does capture the relationship of the two roommates pretty well. Once the story starts hitting the middle, she hits her stride with the shining moments coming from the dialogue. The legend itself, I feel, is fairly weak and not explained. But the dialogue is strong. Going over things to clean things up and make things more clear would do wonders.
    • Jo: This was yet another ten for me. It’s really cool that the legend is a psychic and I get the feeling that they don’t like having these powers. I liked Freddy a lot too. There were a few errors where I thought it seemed like the wrong word was typed or a letter didn’t come out, but I choose to ignore that. I genuinely enjoyed reading this and the characters were interesting. The concept of Joseph wanting to die makes this story feel like it has more depth. I liked reading the scene where Joseph almost killed himself because it felt like it was written really well.
    • Tilda: I actually quite enjoyed this. Despite the topic being dark, the characters were good. And while I would bet it was intentional, there were parts that ended up being a bit difficult to follow. Keeping things in the mood is one thing but I do think it could be a little bit cleaned up. I’m probably not the prime example when it comes to drunk experiences over here, but it feels a bit too extreme to be something I believe easily when it gets that muddled. I think it works with the prompt - a different take on it, for sure - and I had a grand time reading it.

    Hannah E., The Captain’s Curse 

    • Becka: I'm always up for a good pirate story.  This was, overall, a good story.  I liked the concept, I think that you did a good job describing what was happening.  I also really like the idea of the "cursed sapphire" taking away someone's ability to feel, and I think that the idea of that lack of empathy being how a pirate gets rich is pretty cool.  However, I'm not completely sure who the legendary character in this piece is meant to be.  I'm pretty sure that it's Blake, but I came away from this piece not sure if it was really him.  You wrote a legend for sure, but I'm not sure who the legendary character is.
    • Ellie: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It has the excitement of adventure (even though not much truly happens) and the despair of tragic loss. I’m also a hopeless romantic, so this made my heart smile. Your descriptions are beautiful, and the story flows very well. I loved how each chapter was about a different generation and that in the end she did find the person she was looking for. Her path was tragic, yes, but it did come to a conclusion. Very well done.
    • Grant: Sometimes when I see “chapters” on a short story I’m a little weary, but Hanna actually used them very well. Each one highlights a new, significant part of the legend. It’s almost like 3 stories for the price of one in a good way. The Captain is an engaging character right from the get go as we see a vividly described intro to his history and motives. The subsequent adventure he goes on pulls you right in with solid description and interesting characterization. The final chapter serves as the establishing of the legend itself and while not nearly as fleshed out as the other pieces, it still does a fine job in the areas where the story has otherwise succeeded.
    • Jo: The beginning was good and the part about the sapphire definitely made me curious as to what the plot could be. I liked that they became pirates, but Blake felt secondary once Min came in. Blake’s mom and dad’s deaths were interesting and Blake’s character is very likeable. However, this was somewhat confusing. I liked the last part, how Min and Blake had a child and that child was immune to the power of the jewel, but the story felt like it jumped a bit too much and the way we learned of Blake’s death felt like it was worded in a complicated way. I’m guessing he touched the sapphire and got greedy and psychopathic. But overall, the story was really good.
    • Tilda: I rather liked this story, actually. The characters are quite good, working very well in their setting and the pace for each little chapter is alright. However, I do think it was dangerously close to going a bit too vague for me in places, specially the last part. Other than that, it was just a good story. I very much liked it.

    Isabel S., The Talker and the Singer 

    • Becka: This is a very interesting variation of the Pied Piper legend.  I like that although you did use the same general idea of the Pied Piper, you did make the character very much your own and you changed the story enough that I do feel like you created your own legend and your own character.  However, I really would have liked to know what made his character a town legend to begin with.  I understand that he chased off all the vultures, but how?  And why was that significant?  I also think that the plot felt a bit thin.  The story could definitely use more background detail.  I think that would make it a lot easier to understand and the story would feel fuller.  However, the main point of this round was to be creative, and I think that you did a good job with that.
    • Ellie: The message behind this piece is a very strong one, and it fits today’s current issues. It’s easy to ignore something if it’s not what you want to hear, especially if it comes from a source you are not comfortable approaching. However, that doesn’t mean it should be disregarded. I enjoyed reading your story. It flowed nicely and told a cohesive story. I do wish you’d gone farther on some of the descriptions, but I was able to picture everything necessary. Nicely done.
    • Grant: In this one it’s hard for me to pin down who exactly the legend is. I mean, I know The Vulture Man, but it’s explored so little that I’m not still totally clear on his legend. It reads like a normal story that is alluding to some great threat the entire time. He does come in the end, and the ending is great and kind of terrifying in its own right, but having less of the goings on of the town and more time honed in on the legend would have been preferred. Apart from that, the stereotypical southern bumpkin tone of the town was a big distraction for me. This might not be an issue to other people, but the lack of believability in the way of speaking is a distraction.
    • Jo: The descriptions in this story are really good, and the characters are easy enough to read without having a detailed description of their personalities or appearances. I didn't notice any spelling or grammar issues. I particularly found it interesting that they tried to deny her as a witness just because she's a young woman. The women disappearing is a really interesting and I like that the main character could choose whether or not to go, and that she took care of Liam. However, I am unsure as to who the legend is. The story is named for Hamelin, I imagine, and she's the main character, but it feels more like Carn is the legend here. If it's Carn, then I understood, but if it's Hamelin it feels like she's been overshadowed by Carn. The end bit was also a little confusing to me.
    • Tilda: My biggest issue here is that I don’t know who the legend is supposed to be. It feels like it’s the Vulture Man, but it also doesn’t. I wish it would have been more focused on the legend and less on the whole dramatics with the town, in that sense, since it took over too much for me. I think the overall point of the story is incredibly good, but I don’t actually care much for your characters. Alongside the fact that something about this rubs me the wrong way - there’s just something about the general setting here that fails to convince me it could be real - I think this could do with a little bit of work, yet I absolutely adore the plotline and story itself.

    Kiamesha Denise Sims, Golden 

    • Becka: I honestly just didn't like this piece.  The character, first of all, barely feels like a legendary character, and the only thing that would qualify him as a legend simply doesn't make sense.  When I'm reading a piece that's meant to be creative, I expect more than him "feeling magic" and then him turning into a dragon.  I want more than that.  You also told the story entirely through dialogue, which doesn't allow for much when your dialogue only consists of a few words at a time.  There isn't much detail, there's barely a plot, and I feel like the story fell a little flat because of that.
    • Ellie: This is definitely a unique take on the prompt. And I like the idea of a koi fish dreaming of becoming a dragon. However, there isn’t much story to read. It’s very dialogue-reliant--you used the blurbs of speech to carry your story. That’s fine and dandy if we were asking you to write screenplays this round, but we’re not. I wanted more--more descriptions, more emotions, more narration, more details. I know there were extenuating circumstances surrounding your piece this round, and I can see where you rushed to get it done. I commend you for putting together something so quickly, but it does need to be fleshed out some.
    • Grant: The idea is cute and straight forward, but there’s so much telling as opposed to showing. The dialogue, while not awful, doesn’t paint us a scene of where we are or what’s happening. Every detail instead of being described to us is stated as a matter of fact. We’re told how the fish are feeling instead of being shown how they’re feeling. To be honest, I didn’t get a sense that we were being told a legend until the very end where Cory turns into the dragon. And I want to believe it was because of a time crunch and I know Kiamesha had to start from scratch a couple of days before the deadline, but even a little extra effort could have made a world of difference.
    • Jo: I didn’t find anything particularly special about this piece. It lacked all description and felt both rushed and slow because it was so short and yet so slow-paced. I didn’t like the characters because they were simply fish with no details in their personality other than that Cory wants to be a dragon rather than a fish and somehow gets his wish because he and all the other fish saved a person from drowning. This random person happens to fall near them and for some reason Cory is the only one who becomes a dragon. That wouldn’t be so bad if the other fish had their wishes come true, but it appears it’s only Cory. I didn’t like this at all and to me, it didn’t seem legendary in the slightest because Cory becoming a dragon is just too unbelievable.
    • Tilda: The dialogue is stiff and lacking. I also noticed that the research is rather lacking as are the characters - it feels like a quick draft, something to build on. The random thoughts kind of break up things a bit for me. A bit more context in that area would be nice. I also would have liked to see more general details overall. The idea is nice but the execution could have been better.

    Lois, Atlantis 

    • Becka: I like the concept of a, well, nobody being the legendary character here.  However, I'm not quite sure that I would consider your character to be legendary.  When I think of someone that is a legend, I think of someone whose story has been told, exaggerated, and twisted, someone who did something amazing that people talk about for years to come.  What you've done is you've written the character pre-legend, and while I understand that that's what you were doing, I would have liked to have seen more.  You definitely COULD have written more, and I wish that you had.  What happened to your character once he became a legend?  How did the fact that he killed someone affect him?  I love the idea that you had, I just wish that there was more to it than this.
    • Ellie: The premise of this one is interesting. How did George know it was Atlantis? A bright light and unusual stones could be anything. It was a little vague in that sense. Also, why did the researcher decide to show George, a complete stranger, her discovery? I get that scientists can become overly excited about things, especially if they discovered it, but what was the purpose behind it--aside from your plot? Overall, though, your story had a good pace and was exciting. There were a few places that were a bit muddy in the details department, though, and it did have a sort of rushed feeling to it. I also didn’t get to connect to George as well as I wish I could have. I felt like there was a wall between him and I, and that relates back to the rushed feeling I got about it. Take your time with it and create engaging characters to go along with your interesting plot.
    • Grant: I like this idea for a legend; discovering an ancient legend and thus becoming one yourself. It’s a great idea, I just would have loved to see a lot more of the main character actually becoming a legend. And what’s more, I just would have liked more out of the story. I feel like we got a taste of what Lois is capable of with the introducing of the main character but when it actually came time to do the legendary act we got rushed through the action.
    • Jo: This was rushed and I can’t decide if it had too many details or not enough. George was unlikeable long before he became a murderer, as he seemed to pity himself far too much. His job bores him, that’s great, but things could be worse. You could have no job, George. Or you could, oh, I don’t know, be a murderer. I was not a fan of this piece. Overall, this didn’t even feel like a legend.
    • Tilda: Overall, I enjoyed this. It’s a cool take on the prompt as well and I rather enjoyed the main character, actually, even if I would have liked to see more. I would have liked to actually be allowed into his mind a bit more. I also do think a bit more details here and there could do this story well - specially around the ending, as it felt a bit abrupt to me. But outside of that, I liked it.

    Mys Marie, The Dark King 

    • Becka: I'm not going to lie, this piece was difficult to get in to.  While your descriptions are beautiful and very elaborate, I think that they dominated the story.  It moved very slowly, which made it rather difficult for me to get absorbed into the story as I would have liked.  However, this reads like a legend should.  I liked the idea behind this legend, and I even liked how he wasn't going to tell anyone that someone had to die in order for The Dark King to be defeated.  I think that was a nice touch.  I definitely would have liked a story that wasn't so slow, though.
    • Ellie: I really liked this take on the prompt. It felt real, plausible almost. Your characters’ actions felt natural. What I enjoyed most was Soram’s emotional decline throughout the piece until we hear his woeful apology at the end. His and Cassandra’s interactions were just icing on the cake for me. It’s really wonderfully written. Great job.
    • Grant: Tone wise, Mys’s sounds the most like a legend. The setting and history are deep and described terrifically and the exchanges between Soram and Cassandra are my favorite parts of the tale. Where I think this story falls short is it’s pacing; it reads a bit slow. The bulk of the story is description and introversion in between action to the point where description seems to overpower the story. This completely changes once Cassandra hits the scene towards the end. The story flows much smoother at the end.
    • Jo: The description of the clothes in the third paragraph felt crammed because it was all in one sentence. It was hard to get through that. Soram’s conversation with the statue was interesting though, so I liked that despite disliking Soram’s behavior there. It did, however, make me think he might have cared for the woman who died. Honestly though, this story was somewhat boring to me because it felt like it dragged on with long sentences and paragraphs. I kind of thought Soram was going to be the Dark King when we got to that flashback scene. I did really like the ending with Cassandra though.
    • Tilda: I think that the length of your sentences and paragraphs could be better balanced. I also feel that things got too complicated at times. Details are great - too many, however, can get tiresome to keep up with. Personally, I found myself struggling somewhat to make sense of what was going on at times, specially in the beginning. I wasn’t terribly fond of your characters. You tell me a lot about them, but show very little. It makes it difficult to get really attached to them. I also would have liked to get a bit more backstory on the actual war, some touches of reality in all of it and some sense as to who the Dark King was and, well, what was going on there. But I do think that the basics of your characters were rather nice, it fit the prompt and I quite enjoyed the pace of the story.

    Neah Christine, Angels of the Deep 

    • Becka: The first thing that got to me was the fact that you started this story with a quote.  Aside from being cliché, I think that it's a rather lazy way to introduce that this story was a legend.  I would have liked to figure out that this was a legend because of the way that this was written and from the story, not from a line at the beginning of the story that didn't really tie in too well with the story.  Aside from that, I think that this piece was pretty good.  I like the concept, and I like that you created your own story about how nymphs are and what their purpose is.  It is also a little cliché that your main character was a type of "Chosen One".  Since the nymph had been watching her since she was young, she was always going to end up here.  My final thought is that Cameron shoving Vivian off the boat seemed to come from nowhere.  Yeah, he's a jerk, but I don't really think that this behavior fits.
    • Ellie: “A gasp ripped through her throat and she felt panic and misbelief. She was losing breath along with a new feeling of dizziness.” This is incredibly nitpicky on my part, but how can someone gasp if they’re underwater? Isn’t a gasp a sudden inhalation of air? I guess Google defines it as an inhalation with the mouth open, but same thing. Additionally, if this gasp was successful, how was she suddenly losing air? Inconsistent small details like this stand out to me like a thorn in my foot and have the power to completely distract me from the story, as is evident by this rant. So, I had to mention it. Otherwise, your story is great. The ending was a smidge confusing--it took me a minute to realize that Aradia was Vivian’s mother. It’s late, and I’m a little slow right now. I did enjoy the read, though.
    • Grant: A word of caution: do not spoil your story with an introductory quote. That one line made the main characters almost impossible for me to get attached to and root for because I knew how the story was now going to end. That being said; great work with setting and stakes, but I would have liked more depth in the character and less predictability to the story. Note, predictability isn’t always a bad thing, but when your story is being written as if we’re not supposed to be able to guess what happens next but we can anyway, it’s not a great thing.
    • Jo: Cameron interested me, however I wasn’t sure what to think of Vivian. Then I wound up not disliking Vivian and strongly disliking Cameron. The story was interesting and rescuing the whale was an interesting though not legendary plot. This did feel a bit too long, however it was well written rather than rushed and I was glad for that. The backstory was good and didn’t take up too much time. However, only just mentioning when it did that Aradia is a legend felt out of place and like it was just thrown in randomly. And the story of the sea nymphs is somewhat confusing, though I did enjoy this a lot. The ending was amazing even though I liked Aradia and she had to die. I just thought it was worded excellently.
    • Tilda: This take on the prompt is actually one I enjoy a lot. I think that there’s some improvement that can be done to characters and general nitpicky details, but the plotline is nice and it’s not difficult to follow. I kind of feel like the main character is a bit forgettable and doesn’t exactly shine - make them people! Make them stick out in the sea of characters and individuals, let them do their thing. But I think that adjusting characters and combing through this a little more would really make it shine.

    Paris Pearl, Finn 

    • Becka: I liked this.  I like that the legend was told as something that had happened in the past as remembered by someone who was close to it, but was not the legendary character.  It seemed like the narrator was speaking with a sort of pride in Finn, and I liked that element of the story.  However, it's difficult for me to believe that he would have gone to a parallel world with so little information and without saying goodbye to Kaitlyn, knowing that he would never see her again.  Him doing that made me feel a little upset and confused, since that's not something that I would have pictured him doing otherwise.
    • Ellie: The concept you’ve created here is wonderful. You have nice details sprinkled throughout the piece. I do think you could push yourself a bit further, though. At times, the story came off as a bit rushed. Play with the character’s inner dialogue a bit more. The one thing I did question is if Finn disappeared into the mirror, trading spots with his mirror image without another word to anyone, how did Kaitlyn know what his actual fate was? But overall, nicely done.
    • Grant: I have a powerful admiration for the work Paris put into creating a believable, loving relationship between our main characters. It’s a skill that can take a long to hone and there’s just a great job done here. What would make this story better is a focusing of the tenses and jumping plot points a little slower. The shift from 1st person to 3rd person and back to 1st seemed unneeded and I wish it was one or the other. In addition, the twist towards the end, as well as some key plot points, seemed hurried into that could have done with the same kind of slow burn the character development received.
    • Jo: It was hard not to put this in the top three, but it's definitely close. This is written really well and it definitely captured my attention. I must admit, after your audition piece I had high expectations for this and you delivered. I really enjoyed your audition piece and knew this was going to draw me in. This is really incredible. It was perfect and the ending definitely brought on the sadness I imagine it was intended to. This was wonderful and I enjoyed reading it. I can't think of anything I'd really recommend changing, as that one line I previously mentioned was the only thing I didn't understand.
    • Tilda: I felt like this was a bit rushed at times. Certain parts, I think, could have been given more attention. As I assume this is told from the perspective of a woman in love telling about the most noble action of the love of her life, I would expect more of a hit. But these characters don’t give me much. I do understand that it’s more of a ‘tale’, but since you tell most of it in third person I would like to actually get to meet these two characters and would like to actually care for them in some way. As it is now, I do not. But the story itself, I think, is nice. It’s certainly not something I’ve seen before and I like the concept quite a lot.

    Rachel Rauch, The Legend of Arlos and Zaman 

    • Becka: I felt like this story was lacking in some areas.  It seems like that last little section, where Arlos killed his brother, should have been the main focus of the story since it was the part of the legend that would really matter to all the dream magicians, but if anything, it was the least developed.  Along with that, I have absolutely no understanding of "dream magicians" and "time magicians" and you didn't really do much in the story that would make me understand.  I don't understand the world that you've created, which causes me to not be able to understand the rest of the story.  I can't understand why anything else is important.  This seems like the good beginning to a story, but I really need those background details to make it seem more developed.
    • Ellie: This is a really cool concept. At times, your story is excellent, full of emotions, details, and descriptions. However, other times, you tend to gloss over the details and revert into narrator mode. Try to focus more on showing us your story as opposed to telling it. I would rather be in the moment with you than taking in the facts you’ve given me. I do that all day at school with my textbooks. Let me escape that for twenty minutes of my life and enter your world of imagination. Nicely done, overall.
    • Grant: This reads like a first draft. A few grammar errors, lots of telling instead of showing, and while having some really solid ideas, the piece feels underdeveloped.  That being said, I really do enjoy the concept and the legend itself is incredibly interesting, it’s just hard to get past the large clump where we’re told exactly what is happening like a play-by-play instead of letting these emotional characters use their emotions.
    • Jo: It was an interesting concept and the dreams in the beginning were good, though worded in a long run-on sentence that made it almost confusing at first. I didn’t like the way the bedroom was described—big enough for an oven? A bed that had never been used, but Arlos then used only moments later? While Zaman felt somewhat boring to me, I liked Arlos a lot. I liked that Peter Pan was brought up. Devadas was interesting, but the whole ending of the story was rushed after he was brought in. Arlos loving him like a son was great, since I thought Arlos would wind up with someone nearer his age as an apprentice that he’d wind up in love with, but then Devadas dies and Zaman dies and Arlos became awful and ruined the future of all the dream people. However, I did still enjoy this despite all that.
    • Tilda: This felt so, so rushed and unfinished. It told me more than it showed me, the characters didn’t impress me and I kind of wonder what happened here. This needs to be developed and polished a whole lot, I think. The idea itself is neat, but the way it is now I’m just not sold on it. The pacing could do with some work, shave off unneeded details and balance this out and you’ll have a killer story. But as it is now, it’s pretty underwhelming.

    Sekerya Mackenzie, The Girl in Blue 

    • Becka: This was a really unique take on the prompt, and I really enjoyed it.  I'd guess that the Girl in Blue was the legendary character, since she seemed to be the focus of the story.  I like that you set this up as more of a local legend.  I think every decent small town has its own little legend, and you did a good job of creating one.  I also liked the use of the little rhyme as a way to present the story.  It made it feel kind of eerie and creepy, which I loved.  The creepy vibe I get from this story really completed it.
    • Ellie: “The roof of the old farmhouse caved in on a group of stoned teenagers. There hadn’t been… any serious injuries…” Lucky, that’s what those teenagers are. I did question that detail. I really enjoyed your idea here. It’s creative and fun, if borderline creepy. This reads more like a folktale than a typical fiction story. With the confusion behind the prompt, this doesn’t affect my opinion on your place in this competition. I think it would have been a little more fun to read about a group of teenagers who, believing the myths, go and explore the property and tell us what makes Old Man Saunders legendary this way. But like I said, this is a good story, and I did enjoy reading it.
    • Grant: This story is unique and original up against the other entries in this round. The creation of a nursery rhyme was a stroke of brilliance and it’s cool to see the world building talent that Sekerya has coming out for a round where that was key. Where I have the problem, however, is I find myself getting lost near the end. I re-read and re-read looking for a climax or something to tie in the story of the granddaughter to the original story of the legend and I’m just not sure I found it. I feel like we have two kind of related stories that are both written well individually but just don’t unite as a whole.
    • Jo: Another ten. The concept and plot is great, though there seem to be no main characters. I actually really liked that because it was more like just knowing a legend than being told one. Everyone knows Peter Pan and everyone knows Mulan, but to most people it’s just something we know. I really liked that this piece told us about the story in such a way that it was like this is a story we’ll just know and don’t need showed to us. The rhyme about the tracks and the old conductor was actually really good. The ending was my favorite part if I had to pick one, because the way it started to repeat the beginning and then spoke of the little girl on the tracks rather than just a warning that people shouldn’t…this was one of my favorites.
    • Tilda: It’s a different story, that’s for sure. It doesn’t really follow any characters like so and it’s more of a told tale. In it’s own way, it’s memorable for just that. But at the same time, I’m reluctant to say it even follows the prompt. It is a legend, yes, but it is not really about a legendary character and their actions. It tells me a story in a way that is detached and keeps me firmly outside, but it does work. I’m overall a bit uncertain, as I really do like this story.

    SS, Legend-dariy 

    • Becka: When I first looked at this piece, I expected it to be a silly story.  I was right.  However, I kind of found myself enjoying how ridiculous it was.  The idea of a cow going around saving other cows isn't something that I think I would have thought up.  I must admit that I'm rather impressed with your creativity.  However, I think that this piece moved awfully fast at times.  It would benefit you to slow down the pace just a tad.
    • Ellie: Well, I don’t think anyone used cows in their story, so this was definitely unique. And I couldn’t help but think of the ice cream commercials from the last decade the entire time. This is a wonderful take on the prompt. It’s good to know that our bovine friends have a hero out there. It’s short, simple, and to the point, but you get the job done nicely. Good job.
    • Grant: The story is cute, no question about it. It’s got an elegant simplicity to it and is just a delightfully quirky twist to what was generally expected from the prompt. It’s right up SS’s ally; it’s fun, it’s lighthearted, and is pretty well written. There are a few instances of redundant expressions but more importantly it’s very distinctively SS’s style. I’d like to see her break out of it and try some new things in the future.
    • Jo: I personally haven’t been a fan of either of SS’s submissions thus far, but I really dislike reading about an animal’s perspective and that makes it difficult for me to connect with this story. Honestly, all I could think of was a giant sign on somebody’s front lawn saying “MEAT IS MURDER”. Anyway, a cow superhero feels kind of…well, I suppose it’d be legendary if it were real, but it feels more like a cartoon for kids than a real legend.
    • Tilda: It’s a cute story. I can definitively see children enjoying this. It’s fun, it’s simple but it’s not blowing my mind, to be honest. I definitively think it’s a nice story, it’s cute and it’s a cool take on the prompt. But as more simple stories tend to, it doesn’t connect to me. It probably isn’t something I’m going to remember in a week. Otherwise the only thing I think would have added to this is some sort of descriptions of these, no doubt, really bad farmers. Some sort of brief, caricature-like pointers besides one being tall and one being short would have sold that part a tad more to me.

    Stephanie S., The Girl Who Could Heal Death 

    • Becka: I liked this concept when you had me read the first little bit, I loved it when you had me glance over it again, and with the small improvements that you've made since then, I think you did I really good job on the final draft as well.  I think that what I enjoyed the most was how all of the people that came to see Neve were really just trying to use her power.  The fact that no one, aside from her mother, noticed how this was affecting her seemed honestly very believable to me, and I think that was one of my favorite parts of this piece.  I enjoyed seeing you improve this piece over the course of your writing period, and I'm very pleased with what you ended up providing us.
    • Ellie: This is an interesting take on the prompt. Intriguing, really. The ability to gauge one’s health based on their aura--I feel like I’ve seen stories LIKE this, but not presented in this exact way. Anything dealing with death or cheating death is a great story in my mind. Your story was easy to follow and had a powerful message at the end. The descriptions were great, characterizations wonderful. Overall, it’s a good story.
    • Grant: The concept brims with creativity, which is the heart of the challenge so it succeeds in a major way in that realm. Our main character comes off a little mopey, but the selflessness that is constantly present is well worth the mild teen angst. What gets me is the shift of the mother towards the end, who at one point was completely nonplussed and borderline uninterested in our hero but has a sudden shift in the end. Which is fine, I suppose any parent would feel that way, but it’d be a turn I’d actually like to see; or at least an acknowledgement that the shift is sudden on purpose within the story itself to justify it.
    • Jo: The plot and Neve’s abilities are actually really interesting. I’d totally read a book about someone with these powers. I particularly liked that her power wasn’t endless and it actually took a toll on her. And as sad as it is that Neve died, I thought it was a good end to the story. This was well written and I liked this a lot.
    • Tilda: This was really good. The emotion hit home and the characters felt genuine, felt like actual people. Even the small ones, even the ones that most don’t think matter. I rather liked the plotline itself, the way it all worked out, or didn’t I suppose, and the fact that you didn’t shy away from ending it that way. Some would. But that is what really sells this, specially the mother. I do think a few tweaks to details and descriptions could have set this a bit higher, but it’s high up there regardless. Kudos!

    Trin Aster, Kadain Oubarch 

    • Becka: Overall, this was a story about a legendary character.  There wasn't much that was incredibly unique or that makes this story stand out to me.  Your descriptions were beautiful, I rather liked your characters, but I felt that it was a little, well, cliché.  Your writing ability is certainly evident in this piece.  However, I would have liked to see something more original than this.  The idea of two siblings who are essentially "chosen ones" is something that I've seen a million times.  Along with all that, I would have liked to know more about what it means to be Elected.  You used the term, but I don't quite get why it's so legendary.  I wish you had explored that a bit more.
    • Ellie: “But what caught Kadian’s attention the most was the short parts when he saw her eyes…” Sometimes you have these descriptions that seem to have more words than they should. I get lost in them, retracing my steps as I try to interpret them. Try reading your piece out loud; this should catch anything that isn’t as you intended it to be. Overall, I enjoyed your story. I feel like I have seen this idea before, but you made it your own. I wanted to know more. What you presented, however, got the job done and told a concise story. Good job.
    • Grant: I just want to say that I was thrilled with the way Trin took direction. The result is a gripping adventure with a compelling and engrossing setting. The story itself is action packed, a blast to read, and ripe with history that is easy to understand and lets you get invested in the world. The climax is built up to beautifully and the story is super satisfying. Great work.
    • Jo: This had an interesting setup and plot, but we never saw anything about the Elected until the end and I didn’t understand what was really so special to the plot about them being Elected. It was predictable that they would be, and I could look past that if Kadian being Elected meant something. Lynn had that moment towards the end, but it didn’t really effect a general plot. It felt like the story had to be missing half of it. Overall though, despite some wording issues, I liked it.
    • Tilda: In general, I think this is a little bit oddly worded in places. Like there’s a style trying to peek through but it hasn’t quite figured itself out yet. The emotion feels a bit lacking to me, as I struggle to really feel like I am a part of this story. Like I care for these characters at all. No matter how much I enjoyed the concept here, it crumbles quite a bit when I care so very little for the ones that play it all out. I do quite like the story, however, and find that the rest of it holds up very well.

    Twinz, Luster 

    • Becka: I do like this concept, but there are some things about it that definitely bug me.  First off, the idea of a teacher who is also a superhero but a superhero is constantly overshadowed is a cool idea, and I really loved how at the end she did become a hero, but in a way she never would have imagined.  However, there are two big issues that I have.  First of all, there could be a crazy amount of problems with the teacher having a student spend the night at her house.  I feel like that isn't something that would realistically happen.  It also seems unlikely that she wouldn't have called this boy's mother the night before.  Obviously the mom would be worried out of her mind.  Why wouldn't the teacher tell her that her son isn't, you know, dead?  That honestly was what prevented this story from being higher up on my list of the best stories.  It just really bothers me.
    • Ellie: When Myra tells Ami that a “student is sleeping over,” Ami didn’t find anything weird about that statement? She just took it as it was and moved on with the conversation? No questions about what happened or what prompted it? Or does Myra save her students from darkened streets on the daily? It’s small, but I did question it. I did like the twist at the end. Everyday, real-life heroes exist, and they definitely do not get the praise they deserve. You left a very poignant message with this one. Nicely done.
    • Grant: Luster is a fun story; it’s got a Dr. Horrible vibe to it but with less villainy. And I will say that this story had my favorite “twist” ending out all of them that really puts the legend thing into a unique new focus. My only complaint is in the dialogue in that it’s really only there as a means to the end. As if these are things that have to be said in order to get the ending that was envisioned. Not a terrible thing, but the dialogue should have a more natural flow to it. Once Twins gets that down, she’ll be a force.
    • Jo: Seriously, I give this a ten out of ten.  This was amazing. I didn’t like Myra or Ami all that much, but I loved Peter immediately. At first I thought maybe he’d be Captain Incredible or something, but I loved what really happened. I thought Peter was going to have been upset about an abusive parent or something, but his near suicide was interesting and I’m so glad Myra saved him. Even better, it was as herself. I loved this.
    • Tilda: The way the prompt was handled, the lighthearted parts hand in hand with the far darker parts sold me on this. I do think there could be a few fixes, mostly with adding a bit more to your characters and the dialogue, but outside of that I actually loved this. Which is kind of odd, to be honest, as I’ve never been a fan of anything superhero. Ever. Then again, I suppose that isn’t the only focus here. But I think the topic, the way you handled it and the balance you have here is a hit for me. Kudos!
  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    ROUND ONE - ELIMINATIONS

    This is the absolute worst part about this whole process. I hate disappointing people, and I feel like that’s exactly what I do every time I have to write up one of these announcements. If I had all of the time in the world, I would seriously keep you all. Not a single writer in our competition is a bad writer, so do not let this decision affect you negatively. Learn from it, grow. Come back next time all the stronger.

    Before I announce the eliminated writers, we have decided to try something new this season. In reality shows, you always have a “bottom three” or a group of contestants that came close to ending their run. We are going to try this, and we’ll see how long it lasts before it starts hurting my heart too much to continue. We call it the “Danger Zone.” Kind of corny, yes, but just go with it.

    We are not doing this to be cruel. Our intentions are not to hurt your feelings or offend you. We do this because we do not want to see anyone blindsided by an elimination. If we see someone with vast amounts of potential slipping a bit, we want to let them know that we see it and that we are concerned. We’ve had way too many writers get eliminated in the past long before they should have (if at all) for small, consistent things, and we want to try to prevent that this season.

    Those writers who find themselves on this list did receive some votes for elimination but were spared for one reason or another. This round, we had two drop-outs. Two writers that may have been eliminated had those two writers presented something to us this round will continue on to fight through another round. But we will be watching, seeing how you improve. That is the whole point of this competition-- to learn. I learn with every round. Look at the mass chaos I caused with this last prompt. Definitely a learning experience for me. (Hell, writing this post was a learning experience for me.) So, take our words to heart and figure out how you can apply them to your next entry. Get in touch with your judges and fellow writers. We are all here to help each other.

    Again, I would like to reiterate that you are all amazing writers. You survived our most competitive audition round yet, and that deserves a pat on the back at the very least. Without further delay, let’s get to the sad part of this post.

    In the DANGER ZONE, we have:

    • Abigail June
    • Isabel S.
    • Lois

    And our, unfortunately, ELIMINATED writers are:

    • Emma
    • Kiamesha Denise Sims
    • Zavier Alexander

    @Kiamesha, I saw the effort you put forth, and I love that you weren’t willing to give up. Even when we threw you that giant curveball there at the last-minute, you persevered, and not many others would have done the same. You’re strong. I have seen great improvement from you over the last few years, and I am so happy that I have been able to be a witness to your journey. I’m excited to see where it goes from here. Good luck to you! =]

    For those of you continuing on in the Figgy Idol adventure, your next prompt will be posted soon.

  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    These post for this round will be without much ceremony as I'm trying to get this done as quickly as possible so you can all get started on your next stories. Next time, I will come prepared with all the frills! (Hopefully.)

     

    ROUND TWO - TOP WRITERS


    TOP WRITER: Sekerya Mackenzie, Little Dipper

    • Becka: What, crying?  Me?  Never!  But seriously, this piece definitely made me feel something when Rosie died.  You did an excellent job setting up the death, making me fall in love with Rosie, allowing me to get in touch with the narrator's emotions, and then ripping my heart out of my chest.  I love that you used the death as the plot rather than an event that drove the plot, as well.  I don't know much about NCL but I did do a quick Google search and it seems that what you've written was fairly accurate.  You did a good job describing both the decline of Rosie and how Emily felt about all that, which made the death scene all the more emotional and heartbreaking.  Thank you for breaking my heart so beautifully.
    • Ellie: “Life is made of pieces. Candids. A series of moments, individual and decidedly unimportant, until they are strung together.” I loved this line. It’s poetic and deep, and… ah, wonderful. The relationship you’ve crafted between Emily and Rosie is very beautiful. I was nervous that when you setup the plot with Rosie being terminally ill that this would turn into a cliche, be something I’ve seen before. It *has* been done, but nonetheless, you hit me in the feels. The last few paragraphs had my chest squeezing. So, while it’s not as creative as it could have been, the overall craftsmanship is wonderful. Great job.
    • Grant: This is innocence done totally right. Sekerya doesn’t try to trick you with who is going to die, she took the opportunity to do some solid research on a relatively unknown disease and then threw some incredibly dense and diverse characters at them. I love everybody and the roles they play in this story. It’s raw, human emotion at its finest and it's the only death in which I could actually see people shedding tears. But not me though. I uh, I don't do that.
    • Jo: I thought this was amazing. As sad as it was, it was written beautifully. This was one of the few long stories where it doesn’t feel like it takes forever to get to the point. It was great, the characters were great, the plot was great. I thought this was pretty much perfect.
    • Tilda: This was rough. In a very, very good way. I usually don’t get too bothered by these kind of things, but this one was solid. Your research holds up, your characters work with each other so well and the way you handed this prompt is so good. It didn’t feel long, it simply felt like it was taking me along for a journey and it was absolutely enjoyable. Good job on this!

    RUNNER-UP: Hannah E., Wilt Thou Rose

    • Becka: I loved this piece.  The letter format with the newspaper article was a great way to write this story.  I felt like I really understood what the narrator was thinking and feeling.  The format of this piece was a great way to show the decline of your character, and using an article to tell us that the narrator had died and why was, I felt, quite creative.  I also appreciate the usage of the unreliable narrator.  Unreliable narrators can be difficult to write, but I think you did a good job with it.  The story itself was unique and well-written, as well as well-developed.  I liked how you used a poem as a sort of foreshadowing device, as well.  Great job!
    • Ellie: I’m so glad you didn’t have the whole story done when I wrote my review. Reading this now was so worth the wait! I loved the emotion you injected into each letter. It was engaging and exciting. One thing I did find odd was the timing. The landlord found her body on March 27th. In the April 20th issue of the university newspaper, it mentioned that they would be laying her to rest the upcoming weekend. Almost a month later? I guess it is possible as I know criminal investigations can take quite some time, but it gave me pause. That’s a long time to wait to lay her to rest. Her poor, grieving family. Overall, though, very nicely done. I enjoyed the read.
    • Grant: Super strong outing from Hannah this round. Having to showcase an entire relationship exclusively through letters is something that I’ve seen go wrong time and time again, but Hannah does great work with the character’s voices and ways of speaking. When you’re actively rooting for somebody to not die, that’s a great sign. The story could still a use few more once overs, but going by sheer drama and storytelling, gold stars all around for this piece.
    • Jo: The concept was interesting and I like that the story is told through letters. I figured right off that Bennett was going to be a ghost or something. The death was great, and the way we jumped from her letters to a newspaper story about her dying was particularly well done. What I don’t understand is how Emory died. Was she really killed by the gas or was it by something supernatural? Did Bennett ever really exist or was she really just hallucinating? I’d really like to know this, but this story was great anyway.
    • Tilda: The ‘story through letters’ is not something I personally enjoy. And I can’t say I really enjoyed this one too much. It wasn’t just the way it was told - I simply didn’t find this incredibly engaging. While I did see glimpse of character, I don’t feel like it’s genuine. Writing letters is something everyone does differently, but I simply didn’t fall for it. It feels more like a broken up story than a series of letters which is probably what throws me off most. However, I do think the plotline itself was quite interesting and really liked the twist of it - I expected something far out, yet it ended up being pretty ‘normal’ all things considered.

    SECOND RUNNER-UP: Stephanie S, Beyond the Stars

    • Becka: This story was overall kind of cliché, but you did a good job developing it and setting up for the death.  I also do like that you used the death to help the narrator further develop.  I could see a change in the narrator as the story went on, and I think that there was a difference between him at the beginning of the story and at the end.  I like the love story, especially since this is a forbidden love, and I like the idea of two people running away together.  Like I said, this piece was cliché, but I think it was written well and that you did a good job with it.
    • Ellie: Oh, the feels! So many feels! I was hoping against hope that this would have a different ending. In reality, I knew that it couldn’t because I was the one who wrote the prompt, but oh! How I wished. You created two great, fantastic characters that supported each other wonderfully throughout this entire ordeal. I wanted you to go more indepth with it, but I know you couldn’t due to word restrictions. What you have, though, is… fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece.
    • Grant: It feels like a story I’ve seen many a time before which is fine, but I wouldn’t say that there was anything new or exciting brought to the “let’s run away together” premise. There’s some hammy dialogue coupled with some pretty alright setting, but I do love the clear tonal shift in the narrator following the death. An excellent, professional touch that shows me that there’s still much more Stephanie is capable of.
    • Jo: After several minutes of reading, it occurred to me. OH HELL SOMEONE HAS TO DIE! And I started hoping it was going to be Roy, but I began to think it would be Daniel from, like, lung cancer or something and I was really hoping it wouldn’t be because I liked his relationship with Walter. I was literally crying when Daniel died. This is the only story that’s actually made me cry. I loved this a lot, definitely my favorite entry. It was well written and the plot was excellent.
    • Tilda: This was very enjoyable. One thing I unfortunately see a lot in stories that touch upon gay characters is that people forget to develop the character and tend to get lost in some bigger meaning, often using it as a simple way to ‘kick up a story’ instead of adding it to their characters as a natural part of them. But not this time. Here there were two enjoyable characters in an enjoyable story that I really enjoyed - the characters came first and I absolutely adore that. Perhaps not something completely new and never seen before in terms of the plot, but so well done. It moved smoothly, it got it’s point across and it worked really, really well. Good job!
  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

     

    ROUND TWO - FEEDBACK


    Abigail June, A Sister For Hope

    • Becka: This was a pretty mediocre piece.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either.  My biggest issue is that I just don't feel that it followed the prompt very well.  The death scene was meant to drive the plot, and I don't feel that it did.  You used the death to end the story, so there is no way that it could further develop the plot from there.  I also had an issue with the characters in this story.  The way that Hope talked and the overall voice of the piece made me think that she was younger.  Had you not said that she was 14, I would have thought that she was much younger, probably around 7 or 8.  That really prevented me from enjoying the story.
    • Ellie: The concept of this story is interesting. The ending was a surprise for me; definitely didn’t see it going there. However, I think what bothered me the most about this story is that everything is too convenient. She happens to find the right Markus on her first try. She conveniently gets an ad on her computer at the opportune moment--free of charge, might I add. That’s rather lucky. Markus gives in without much of a fight from Hope, and his meeting with his mother went well, I’m assuming, since there’s not much said about it. There’s no real conflict, no real struggle. It’s too easy. And then, once Markus is reunited with his mother, you shift focus abruptly to Hope getting a new sibling. How old is Hope, by the way? At times she comes across as being mature while at others a bit immature. But again, the ending was unexpected, so that was good to see.
    • Grant: It’s a technically sound story, but there’s not a lot that’s unique about it. The characters are pretty one dimensional, the main focus of the plot is fairly predictable, and the ending is way too rushed and sudden. I suppose one could make an argument that that’s how death tends to be, but it feels more like an afterthought than a plot twist. I’m forgiving of a predictable plot if I can get solid characters and I didn’t get that.
    • Jo: This was cute but unbelievable, sad but it seemed to drag on in bits. The idea of Hope tracking Markus down so easily and just so happening to find an ad that will help her with exactly what she needs to know is unbelievable. Markus laughing about his mother being in the hospital just because she told him not to be an author? I know for a fact this is unrealistic. We are just to assume Markus dies, I guess. The only scene I genuinely loved was the end with Hope and Kaitlyn because it was sad and actually meant something.
    • Tilda: I do enjoy this story but I think if lacks the ‘bamf’ that makes a story really memorable. I’m not completely sold on the characters and certain parts seem too easy, too quick and can come off as a tad rushed. I do enjoy most of your descriptions, though, and definitively think they lift the story. Add that same attention to detail onto your characters and I’d be totally sold.

    Adrianne Etheridge, Alice and Everything Inbetween

    • Becka: Depression and suicide are some of my favorite topics to read (and write) about, so I was pretty excited to read this piece when I realized what it was about.  I came out pleased with what you had done.  This is a fairly accurate depiction of what depression feels like.  I'll admit that I was worried when I started reading this, as I thought that the death would be the suicide of the narrator and the writing style seemed awfully simple, but I was impressed with how you used the unexpected suicide of her friend to drive the narrator to a suicide attempt, and then to a decision to recover.  I thought that was a good way to use death to drive your story.  I also like the journal format that you chose as opposed to a typical story format.  I think that was a good way to properly show us what your character was experiencing.  Good job on this one.
    • Ellie: Watch out for your small details. On 3/2, she wrote that she was so sick that she’d “missed five days of school.” Yet, back on 2/29 (clearly this was a leap year), a mere two days prior, she was talking about how she skipped school and went to McDonald’s instead. She sounded fine then. Also, you mentioned she’d once worked in a pharmacy at the beginning of the story. Ironically, so do I, except I’m currently employed. How old is she, and where does this take place? There are a few states that do not require certification to work behind the counter (ie, actually dispense medications), but most do, and most require a PTCB-like certification. To be certified through PTCB, you need a high school diploma or GED. From what I can infer, she’s still in high school. If she’s not, why is she being grounded for poor grade performance? Seems a bit… oppressive to me, and I would get out of that situation super fast. I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but things like this have the great potential to drag me completely out of a story. But wow, beyond that this is a very emotional piece. You do emotional well. The last two journal entries grabbed my heart and squeezed with all their might. Excellent ending there, my friend.
    • Grant: Suicide is such a tricky territory to navigate, especially when we frame in the setting of high school. It’s nothing I actively encourage, but Adrianne has a wonderful way of tackling the subject through the eyes of a character instead of through the eyes of suicide itself. This isn’t a constant rumination on the subject, but rather it’s watching a character change as months go by. It’s well done. The diary entries were a smart choice. The climax hit right at the appropriate time, but what I’m most impressed with is how complex of a rising action we get. No neat bows, just a completely real slice of life finish to a heavy, but real story. Great stuff.
    • Jo: The concept was interesting and the way it jumps between days is great, but it’s not written well at all. There are many points where words are missing and a few where the wrong word is placed. However, the ending was excellent and a shock to me that Lucas, not Alice, was the one to die. I determined that the personalities of the three girls are diverse and that’s what makes them interesting. I wish we’d known more about Lucas and why he decided to die, though.
    • Tilda: I will say that I, personally, cannot stand ‘journal formats’ to things. I’ve never liked it, probably never will. Yet this was a good story. I actually enjoyed these characters, brief as they were, and they seemed alive. As someone that’s kind of been down that road a few times, I didn’t end up thinking ‘this is bullshit’ but more so ‘this seems about right’. It works with what I hear from people and what I see - it’s believable and I like it quite a lot. This was complex, yet so simple and I’m pretty sold on this one.

    Elizabeth. The Puzzle

    • Becka: I love the idea that you have here, and I think that you do an excellent job with your writing.  However, I feel like this piece was lacking something.  We get no clues as to how they ended up in this place, and the ending is vague.  I suppose my biggest problem with this piece was just how confused I was about the "why".  Why were they there?  Why did any of that happen?  Why was it important?  Since the theme of this round was plot, I think that those questions need answers for this piece to really feel complete.  However, your writing is beautiful and you did a good job describing what was happening.  Had you added a little more background I think that this piece would have been pretty amazing.
    • Ellie: I thought this was a rather fun take on the prompt. A little Nancy-Drew-esque, but I enjoyed reading it. I love any story with a demon, and this one was no exception. I think my biggest downfall was that I never quite figured out how they got lost to begin with. Solving a mystery of some sort, yes, but what specifically? This could be something I managed to skip over (I’m working on less than four hours of sleep right now) and, therefore, be a me problem. I think I just wanted more story in that sense. Overall, though, it’s a good story.
    • Grant: Puzzle has a lot of good things going for it. The friendship and report that Ryan and Delta have between them is great, two very distinct characters who work well together. Elizabeth also does a great job with the raising of stakes and description of the puzzles themselves. There’s an elegant simplicity to the story and it’s kind of neat having a story with so few characters that makes you really have to guess and wonder who’s going to be getting the axe by the end of it. I think there are a few stories that outshine this one, but that does not change the fact that Elizabeth is still shining in this competition.
    • Jo: This felt long but was also really interesting, and I liked Delta a lot. The story really got interesting when the demon was brought in, though I actually thought Ryan was going to die. The end was good, though a little confusing because it seemed to me like Ryan might actually have died too.
    • Tilda: This is a good story. I don’t think the characters were that special, but they were good. Decent, working characters that get the story done. The plotline itself was entertaining, even if it wasn’t the sort of thing I’d usually read. It’s simple and easy, yet doesn’t stick out too much for me. It’s in the middle - enjoyable, interesting but nothing out of this world.

    Hazel Gatoya, Aces

    • Becka: Oh gosh, the clowns.  When I saw that you were using the "creepy clowns" as a part of your story, I got excited, because I feel like there was so much you could have done with the idea.  However, I came out a little disappointed.  This story feels extremely underdeveloped to me.  I have no idea what is happening and what these characters are trying to do.  I also feel like the characters were rather weak.  They didn't feel like individual characters, but rather like slightly different versions of the same person.  I would have liked to see some variation here.  I feel pretty confused about what happened and why.  You left a lot to be assumed and inferred, and I think that was your downfall here.  If you're going to create something out of the ordinary, you need to provide background.  I like the basic idea, but I would have liked to see it better executed.
    • Ellie: The idea behind this story is fun. Having evil clowns running amuck is absolutely terrifying, and something that happened not too long ago in a few states in the US, am I right? Where I think this misses the mark is that it’s not very engaging. It’s to the point, straightforward. I didn’t get sucked in like I usually do with your stories. So, that was missing for me. But the storytelling is there, and it has the potential to be something great with a little polishing.
    • Grant: Aces suffers from not nearly enough detail. You’re constantly lost throughout the piece with the plot seeming to shift and turn on a dime. There are terms that are unexplained, characters who don’t stick out, and a concept that just never fully forms. Hazel was our runner up last week so I'm willing to chalk it up as a fluke, but world building is something to be on the lookout for.
    • Jo: This story wasn’t exactly a hit for me. It was confusing and I didn’t understand the motivation of the characters or anything about the clowns or the Ringmaster or any of it. All I could figure out was that the three main characters wanted to get rid of the Ringmaster for some reason cause we assume he’s a psychopath. It was written well, but I just didn’t understand a lot of what was going on.
    • Tilda: I wasn’t a big fan of this. I struggled to keep up, generally having quite a lot of questions and wondering what was going on. The characters are fairly average, the plotline seems to be eternally determined to not let me in on where it is and I’m simply confused. I’m really, really confused here. I don’t know what I’m supposed to think, I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know why any of the things that happened actually happened.

    Isabel S, A Kind of Origin Story

    • Becka: You did a good job following the prompt in this story.  You included a major character death, one that I didn't see coming, and you used that death to drive the plot in an interesting direction.  There were a few characters that you could have killed, and you chose the one that I least expected.  I liked this piece.  However, the ending kind of ruined it for me.  You used the death to build a plot that you didn't really expand on.  I can see where you were taking the story, and then it dropped off with no satisfying ending.  I would have liked to see you take this farther and expand further on the plot that you had set up.
    • Ellie: If she’s afraid to ask a guy his age, a trivial detail indeed, then this relationship is off to a rocky start. And they’re engaged. Ah. Don’t see this lasting very long. This was a different approach than most of the authors took, and I appreciate the creativity. I saw the ending coming, though (told you it wouldn’t last long), so I didn’t get as excited about it as I wish I would have. Ethan seems a bit soft for a gangster, especially a “president” of a gang. So, I didn’t really buy that, either. You have good storytelling abilities, but this story does need a little tweaking.
    • Grant: I have some similar issues that I did last round which isn't great considering she was in the danger zone last week. The pacing is kind of out of whack. There is time taken to explain our settings but no time spent reveling in the action as we speed from point to the next. There are scenes with too much information and others with not nearly enough. The dialogue is weak and awkward, the twists come too quickly. But the magic word is definitely pacing. If the pacing was tightened and consistent, some of these other problems would fix themselves.
    • Jo: The plot was interesting and I couldn’t determine who I thought was going to die. Through most of the story Ethan or Amy was my guess, but Laura surprised me. It was well written and the plot was interesting, definitely worth reading. I really hope you write a continuation or something, because the cliffhanger ending was great. It was hard not to put this in the top three.
    • Tilda: This was just on the edge for me, but tipped down, unfortunately. I found this a bit lacking, really, and the pacing got to me. It was up and down and keeping up wasn’t the easiest for me. I also found that I didn’t feel for these characters. They had a few things going for them, but not too much. I think that some balancing and pacing would have put this a lot higher for me.

    Jane Apricity, Trapdoor

    • Becka: I really love cyberpunk as a genre, so I was excited to read what you had come up with.  I came away impressed with what you had done.  You did a good job at creating the world.  Even though I think there were some things you could have explained better, I feel like I have a good basic understanding of how the world works and what is going on.  The plot was well-developed.  The thing that bothers me the most is how little Siren seemed to care that Vincent died.  It was obvious that they'd known each other for quite a while and had a good relationship, so I feel like she would have shown at least a little emotion instead of immediately replacing him, which is what I felt happened.  You had a death scene, you had a well-developed plot, but I feel like the death was something that you included because you had to, not because it was being used to help the plot
    • Ellie: I enjoyed reading this piece. It’s fun with an interesting setting. The interactions between the characters are lively and entertaining. I did find myself getting a bit lost at times with all of the random details and new lingo being thrown my direction. Sometimes you kind of gloss over those things, but when you’re introducing a new concept, it does need to be explained fully in order for the reader to comprehend. But, like I said, I did enjoy the read. Good job.
    • Grant: There is a skill in being able to throw somebody into a world without having to explain too much. Jane does a good job with context clues within her world that tip us off on what’s happening in it; something that I think a lot of writers struggle with. The setting is strong and consistent, but because the setting is reveled in so much it starts to over power the plot and characters. Which is shame, because there is certainly an interesting plot unfolding, but not a wholly engrossing one. There are beautiful details in the way the characters are described that doesn’t quite translate in the way they speak. Strong writing for sure, just could have used some more equal focus.
    • Jo: This was a really interesting concept, but it felt really long. However, the plot and the characters were good and it was mostly enjoyable. Vincent was pretty interesting and I really liked Siren and Henry. I assumed that Siren would be the one to die, but not Vincent. I just dreaded the idea of Henry being killed because I took an instant liking to him. I also thought Cromwell was going to have been Siren’s father…all the same, the ending was awesome and I enjoyed this a lot.
    • Tilda: This definitively isn’t the genre for me, I’m realizing, so trying to keep everything straight for me was a tad difficult. Though I think that the setting took over a bit. There was too much going on for me to be able to thoroughly enjoy the characters and what they were doing - I know that the technical this and that is important in this sort of genre, which I understand, but I think it got a little bit too much. However, since this really isn’t my sort of genre, take that with a grain of salt. I did enjoy your characters, though, and I do think this is an interesting story.

    Mys Marie, The Whispers of the Dead

    • Becka: This story moved very slowly, which made it difficult for me to focus on and get into.  You have a lot of description in your pieces, and while the description is nice, it tends to overshadow the rest of the story.  The theme of this round was plot, and I don't think that there was a strong plot in this story.  The first chapter didn't fit with the rest of the story, and with how much writing you did I was disappointed to find that it was mostly description instead of the story moving anywhere.
    • Ellie: Iso and Isac. Very similar names. Very easy to confuse, especially when your reader is surviving on four hours of sleep and should be in bed. It’s not a bad thing to have some variance in your characters’ names. Other than that bit of confusion, I really liked reading this piece. It’s creative and intriguing. You have a great gift of telling stories that compels me to read more from you. The details you incorporate throughout are lovely. (I love details and descriptions.) That first chapter--ah, I lived for it. It was beautiful. Great work.
    • Grant: Not to sound like a broken record here, but once again, lots of strong setting and description work completely taking over the plot and characters. But in this instance, I feel like instead of merely taking a back seat to the wonderful descriptions, the plot was kind of sitting outside the car not moving along with it. The plot moves at an incredibly slow piece which forces readers to go back and re-read more than they should be. A quicker pace with a faster burn could have really benefited this one. For example,  a little bit more reveling in WHAT our villain does instead of WHERE or WHY would have really helped.
    • Jo: This was a cool concept and the time jump from the beginning was good. The characters were interesting to read about and I didn’t ever guess that Iso would be the one to die. I thought Odain or even Nelak would die, but the end was definitely a surprise to me. This was a good piece.
    • Tilda: My biggest issue with this is that the pace is slow, like it’s lagging behind and getting lost in the vast amount of setting we have here. There’s so much focus on where everything happens that the why got a bit lost and I found myself struggling to pay attention at times, having almost forgotten what was going on. I’d love to see this a bit more balanced - then the characters could shine more, the story itself could show up and get the spotlight it deserves.

    Neah Christine, Price of War

    • Becka: This was, overall, a good story.  You did a good job creating this world and describing everything that was happening.  I liked that you showed this story from a more childlike perspective.  It can be difficult to show something horrific from a child's eyes, and you did a decent job of that.  The plot was well-developed and it seems like you were taking this story in a good direction.  If I would change anything about this story, I think I would have less setup and add more after Peter's death, because I think that would be more interesting to read.  However, I know you had to operate within the word limit and you did a good job developing your story with what you did.  It's hard to read about the death of a two-year-old, especially one as awful as that, so I give you credit for being brave enough to write it.  Not many people would dare go there.
    • Ellie: This one truly pulled at my heartstrings. I had an inkling from the beginning that Peter would be the one who was offed, but being faced with that reality was devastating. Ah, but it was such a good read. Interesting and fun. I like futuristic settings, and this one was no different. Nicely done.
    • Grant: Writing from a child’s perspective is tough to do. It’s difficult to capture that innocence while also making it feel honest instead of using a child to pull some cheap emotional shots. Price of War does a pretty good job, but there is a tendency to delve a little into that cheesy fabricated innocence. BUT I will say that Peter’s death scene was one of the better written ones in the round.
    • Jo: This was really interesting and written well, however I think this is one of the saddest deaths I’ve read this round even though it wasn’t overly described or anything. I probably only found this death so sad because of how young Peter was. So I loved this piece while at the same time hated the end because it was so sad. But you did really well with this.
    • Tilda: This was a pretty harsh piece. There were some topics in here that most wouldn’t tread into and I think it’s pretty cool that you did. I do, however, feel like it went a bit too ‘out there’ at times. At times it felt like it was layering on a bit too much which can make it difficult to stay as engaged and into the story. But I did like this, the story was enjoyable despite it’s sad ending and worked. I do think there were a few unneeded parts in here, however, that didn’t add too much to me. Yet they didn’t really take from the story and is probably more personal preference, I suppose.

    Paris Pearl, Balancing Act

    • Becka: I liked this.  The concept was original and well-executed.  I like how you used the death as a type of motivation for your character although she was at first adamant that she would never walk a tightrope again.  I think that the way she reacted to the death was a fairly accurate depiction of what someone might feel and how they might behave, so good job with that.  I also think you did a good job using the doctor to help motivate her to not let the death of her friend stop her from doing what she loved and what her friend would have wanted her to do.  Your usage of the death was excellent in this story.
    • Ellie: They ran from the fire, escaped, were too tired to support each other anymore, then… Gina, while coughing and violently trembling, collapsed and immediately died? That was very abrupt and, dare I say, glossed over. Also, a doctor and a nurse aren’t necessarily the same thing. (There is such thing as a doctorate in nursing practice, which, I suppose, you’d then refer to a nurse as a doctor. Does Dr. Sam hold one of these, then?) You refer to “Dr.” Sam as a nurse in some sentences. In fact, that’s literally how you introduce her. “I’m Dr. Sam,” said the nurse. It just struck me as odd, and that could be a me problem. It’s an interesting take, but I was left wanting more.
    • Grant: What I appreciate in Pearl’s piece is how it’s so focused on optimism that you almost forget you’re in the death round. Paris gives us two easy to follow characters, defines them really well, introduces risk, and hits us perfectly with the death scene. It’s nearly picture perfect. I want you all to look at this piece as a glowing example of pacing and flow for future reference.
    • Jo: This was an interesting story and the characters were good, and I actually expected Jayna to be the one who died, considering she was doing the tightrope walking. Then I started to think Tyler would die. I think this was really well written and I liked the end a lot.
    • Tilda: First of all I have to point out that car do not explode. Gasoline does not burn - the vapors do. It would flare up, which is unpleasant as well, but they will not explode. It just irks me so bad that no one ever researches that kind of thing before adding it in. Also it is generally no that normal that a nurse will introduce themselves as a doctor and the whole situation there strikes me as strange. And I have to say that the tightrope parts weren’t very believable - basically, my point here is that I found these things so glaringly unrealistic that it really took away from this story for me. While I wanted to focus on your characters and what was going on, I could never get completely into it when I kept tripping over things that simply didn’t add up in any way. Outside of those thing, sure. I enjoyed this. But I can’t say I loved it, unfortunately.

    SS, America

    • Becka: …Well, that escalated quickly.  I like the way that the ending and beginning tie together, with it being set up the same way.  I enjoy when stories are circular like that.  However, I think that was just about the only thing that I liked about this story.  One minute, two people are running into each other at the mall, and a few lines of dialogue later, one of them has shot and killed the other?  I don't like that.  I don't see something being this heated over a $60 rug, either.  I can understand him being upset, but the typical person would not be quite that aggressive over it, and the typical person wouldn't shoot someone for being that aggressive.  Perhaps if you had better developed these characters, I might be able to believe their actions, but since you did nothing to set up this story I'm left guessing what these characters are like and have to assume that they are relatively normal.  They did not behave in a normal manner.  This story is quick and I feel rather unbelievable.  If you'd done more to develop the story it may have changed my opinion, but because you just jumped right in, I just didn't like it.
    • Ellie: A sixty-dollar rug that got knocked to the ground and “ruined” is causing him that much stress? While that is way more than I hope I ever pay for a rug, it’s still not that expensive. Not for rugs, anyway. He’s a bit melodramatic, yeah? I wanted to slap him. And Traci… she should have just walked away the minute he started yelling. It escalated way too quickly and dramatically. While I love stories that make me feel, this one kind of frustrated me. Made me dislike both characters, to be honest. However, I did like the commentary on the American lifestyle. It’s a very honest approach, and it’s very fitting. So, that I appreciated.
    • Grant: I actually enjoy America as a statement piece. Art should be able to make certain stances about things and offer a commentary on our environment. That being said, this feels like a piece dividing itself. It opens with description and paragraphs that put us in the scene, but then the story basically descends into straight dialogue. Which is fine, but it would have been great to get the extra element of what was happening around the two arguers. The dialogue does put you a little on edge which I think is well done. There just needed to be more, the story feels hurried with lots of last second feeling stuff.
    • Jo: I can’t really say I liked this piece very much. I liked how the end was like the beginning, but it seemed very unbelievable to me. A guy wants this woman to pay for damage done to his property after they walk into each other. So she shoots him “on accident” and goes to jail. All because of a rug and sixty dollars. It just seemed very unrealistic and we don’t really feel anything from the death because Scott is so unlikable.
    • Tilda: While I really, really enjoy the story as a whole it doesn’t quite hit home as it feels a little bit quick to me. I can’t tell if the ‘expensive’ rug is supposed to a lie (I mean, darn, if someone can find me a custom made rug that cheap I’d be over the moon) or why it would escalate to that point that quickly as the pace is too high for me to get really into it. Now, I do know quite a lot of ridiculous people. And some of them probably would freak out like that so quickly but it doesn’t quite seem believable. If you’re aiming for things to be over the top, make it a bit more clear. The message is a bit muddled at the moment in my opinoin and it threw me off - otherwise, however, I really enjoyed it!

    Trin Aster, Embers That Fall

    • Becka: It isn't often that you see a mix of fantasy and depression/suicide, so I'm definitely impressed with how you included both in your story.  That being said, I think that you could have done more to set up the story as both of those things.  The world felt underdeveloped, which made it difficult to understand what and why things were happening.  It became obvious near the end that Ember was depressed, but I think you could have done more to hint at it early on in the story.  The plot itself felt just a little weak, and I think that it's because the world was underdeveloped.  Just make sure that you do more to describe the world and characters that you've created next time.
    • Ellie: I felt like I walked into an already in-progress story initially. You introduced three characters to us by name--Caylyn, Jane, and Ember--and I had no idea who any of them were. It was a little disorienting and confusing. Be sure to introduce your characters to us and get us acquainted with one another. Give us a reason to care about them. “How’s your sister? You two look exactly alike!” What an odd thing to say in a greeting, especially when the other person is not present. After all of that, Ember would just leave poor Tomas alone? I get that her grief is deep, but… man. It’s an interesting take. It does need some fleshing out and tweaking, but it was enjoyable.
    • Grant: The disadvantage of Embers is going up against a really strong suicide piece. Embers that Fall does take the unique fantasy approach, but in doing that we’re not treated to engrossing settings. Which, I get it, if your main character is depressed we’re probably not going to get a lot of detail about where we are, but small things like that really tip us off to where we are. More evidence of our protagonists suffering throughout would have been welcomed. Instead of a slow, constant burn like depression actually is, it seems to bloom out of the blue.
    • Jo: This story was interesting and since this was the only one where the main character committed suicide, I was looking forwards to seeing how that would go. However, since nearly everybody in the story died, it kind of made Ember’s death in the end seem considerably less important than it could have been. The plot was interesting and the characters were good, but I didn’t quite love this. It nearly ended up in the bottom three for me.
    • Tilda: I do enjoy the way this went about. The plotline is really interesting, but there’s a few things here and there that could have been worked out. And I do think I would have liked to know what actually killed Caylyn. It got me thinking, after a while, and I can’t help but wonder about why a single smack to the head would kill someone so long after in that way. I still do feel like the drowning part didn’t feel absolutely genuine, but those are the only things I really trip over here. Outside of that, I think general finetuning could be in order. Look a bit at balancing and developing your story as a whole a bit. But I did like it, so good job with that!

    Twinz, The Wolves Are Coming

    • Becka: This is an interesting concept.  I like the image of a girl, bunny, and wolf all living in harmony together because it seems just a little silly, but I think you set it up well enough that it wasn't ridiculous.  However, I think that this piece could have used some world-building.  Why was Adelaide in the woods in the first place?  Why were the wolves such a big deal?  Why can they all communicate?  I think I would have enjoyed this piece a lot more if I understood the world it was taking place in, but I really don't understand it.
    • Ellie: This is an unique take on the prompt, for sure. I like the message behind it, and the plot is good. It reads summary-ish, however. It’s not as developed as it could be, and some aspects of it do need to be fleshed out some. I wasn’t as invested emotionally in your story as I would have liked to be. WIth a little work, this story could be wonderful. You’ve got the foundation in place; now, build upwards.
    • Grant: At first I was kind of taken aback by how literal the title was. As I go further in I see just as simplistic writing. The writing is very straight forward without giving us much in the way of character. The only real identifiers we get are “they are together” and “they are running from wolves.” Developing of the characters would have made this literal chase thoroughly more engaging.
    • Jo: This was interesting but made little sense to me. This girl has a talking rabbit and a talking wolf running around with her while wolves hunt her down? It was pretty well written, but when she kills it felt a little repetitive in the way it was worded. Despite the idea of animal deaths rather than human deaths being interesting, this wasn’t exactly a hit for me.
    • Tilda: I do like this. But I feel like it was nipping on telling me a little too much at times and I would have liked to see more explanations here and there. There’s a lot going on an incredibly few questions regarding the bigger picture answered - why were they all there anyway? What’s up with those wolves? Are there no other people anywhere? What’s actually going on? And what’s up with the whole cross-species communicating? Outside of the blanks, I think this was good. But it didn’t wow me, didn’t really make me feel too much. Specially not with so many unanswered questions and that’s sort of why this landed low for me.
  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

     

    ROUND TWO - ELIMINATIONS

     

    In the DANGER ZONE, we have:

    (Remember: you are NOT eliminated. You just came perilously close to being eliminated. Let us know what we can do to help you prevent this from happening. We want you to be able to put your best foot forward and avoid having to leave the competition before you're ready to.)

    • Abigail June
    • Hazel Gatoya
    • SS
    • Twinz

    And our, unfortunately, ELIMINATED writers are:

    • Ducky
    • Isabel S.
    • Lois
    • Rachel Rauch

    @Isabel, do not let this discourage you! Just because your journey is ending this season does not mean it cannot continue in the next. You have the talent. You would not have made it this far if you didn't. I have enjoyed reading your stories; the ideas you've come up with are so fun. Keep writing, and we will see you again, yeah? =]

     

    For those of you continuing on in the Figgy Idol adventure, your next prompt will be posted soon.

  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams

    This round’s judging was… interesting. In general, we agreed on very few things, and our top and bottom lists were vastly different. Some even contradicted others. I know that I found myself being extremely nitpicky during my critiques; some of you may see that reflected in my comments. But this is a good thing. It just shows how incredibly talented the lot of you are. You are making our job very, very difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever started nitpicking as much as I did this past round this early in the competition before. So, kudos. You should all be very happy and proud with what you were able to accomplish this round.

    However, because of our split votes, we were only able to determine a top two and a bottom two. Luckily, no one who submitted an entry this past round will be eliminated, but we will still be having a danger zone. Please read through our comments and reach out to the judges if you have any questions or concerns regarding them.


    ROUND THREE - TOP WRITERS

    TOP WRITER: Stephanie S, Life At Alhern

    • Becka: Wow.  Just… wow.  I am really impressed by this piece, Stephanie.  The descriptions were beautiful, the characters were both likeable and believable, and the plot was very well-developed.  I was immediately drawn into the story and you managed to keep my attention for the entire duration.  I love the idea of an escaped convict being the event, but even more than that, I loved how you made him seem human rather than a monster.  I get that he's a bad person, but I still really felt for him.  It broke my heart to find out that he died before he was able to see his wife.  You really did a lot of good things here.  Excellent job.
    • Ellie: How noticeable would claw marks be on a chain link fence? You’d have to look pretty closely to see those, I would think. Overall, though, this is a very nicely written story. It captures Hayley’s existence very well without drowning us in minute details. And her profession--not one you see described too often, so I loved it. She keeps her cool throughout the ordeal, and it does fit into her established personality. The one thing I will say is that you could have pushed the emotion factor a bit more. She may be calm and collected, working with a clear head, but I would think the adrenaline would be there, still making her excitement level somewhat elevated. Overall, though, well done.
    • Grant: After reading about a lot of teenagers, it’s refreshing to have an adult protagonist just trying to do their job. The twist, while not wholly unique, I think is handled the best in regards to keeping an established character consistent. Our protagonist is established as a strong fast thinker and that’s exactly how she acts throughout in the face of danger while still giving us a view into the inner psyche of the character to round her out and flesh her out. The tension is potent, the twist keeps on twisting, and the story is great.
    • Jo: This was written really well, the wording and descriptions just excellent. Hayley is a really likeable, unique main character with an interesting job. It was unpredictable and I think the prompt was fulfilled really well. The act of heroism was done well and wasn’t overly exaggerated, actually something I think is plausible. The way some things were written made it feel like there was a sense of humor to this story that I really liked. I couldn’t think of any way to make this better.
    • Tilda: While the twist itself wasn’t the most unique one in the book, it was very well done and the characters here felt thoroughly alive. The main character was enjoyable, standing out as a solid person and dealt with the sudden happening in a believable way. There’s just not much to say, I think - it’s a very good story.

    RUNNER-UP: Sekerya Mackenzie, Our Own Olives

    • Becka: As someone who has spent her entire life in small towns, I felt strangely connected to this story and the people in it.  I think the idea of a rundown restaurant that still draws loyal customers, people who know everyone's business, and the stereotypical small town bad boy all really made this a good story.  I liked how the event that happened here was mundane, but a sort of mundane that made it out of the ordinary.  There was something about this story that felt familiar and comfortable to me, and it was nice.  Perhaps it's because small town life is all I know, but I really thought that this was a nice story.  Good job.
    • Ellie: You said Timothy doesn’t talk to people. Correction, you said he doesn’t talk. Period. Yet, a third of the way in, he’s already spoken to Barney and came into the classroom “laughing with a couple of guys.” On top of that, he’s invited to high school parties. If his silence is such a noticeable thing, so noticeable in fact that Barney remarks on how strange it is that he spoke to Miles, do you think that maybe he would be more of an outcast at school? Maybe kind of keep to himself a bit more? Small details, they have to add up. Your characterization of Miles is great. The insight we get to her personality throughout the piece is wonderful, and you did it smartly. It was a natural excavation of her character. The piece wasn’t flashy or exciting, but it was very well written. It flowed naturally and was easy to follow. Your descriptions were good; I could picture it all. Nicely done.
    • Grant: I think Sekerya had the most unique approach to the prompt in making the twist the mundane life itself. Using snapshots of a small town life through the perspective of the new girl in town allows for a gripping frame by frame that highlights a stretched period of time, growth, and observation for all the characters. Each one has a great voice and the story somehow leaves you wanting more but also very satisfied. Another solid outing for Sekerya.
    • Jo: I was dreading what might happen with Timothy through this because of his conversation with Barney about Miles and I loved Timothy immediately, always asking for olives but not wanting them, it’s just interesting to me. I thought this was actually really good and written well, and I was surprised by how much I liked the ending. I thought Timothy was either going to be a bit crazy or he and Miles would get together, but the way you ended this was good anyway which surprised me because endings like this usually drive me nuts.
    • Tilda: This is so simple, yet quite complex. I have to say that these characters spoke to me. Their encounter was a tangle, brief but believable and genuine. People tend to ignore the briefly intertwined fates of the world but they make brilliant stories as well, as you’ve shown here. It was so normal, but yet so new. Frankly, it’s difficult to really pinpoint which aspect is the one that sticks out to me but I absolutely enjoyed this and finds that it was one of the most genuine ones for me. Great job here!


  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams


    ROUND THREE - FEEDBACK

    Adrianne Etheridge, Vera

    • Becka: There was a lot that I liked about this piece.  I like that you went beyond a mundane character.  Your character had her schedule down to the second.  I really liked that about her and I liked that as your way to introduce the idea that something was wrong.  You also did a good job setting up the idea that something was wrong without giving it away until the very end.  I could tell that David was going to do something, but I so did not see that coming.  I think that Vera was a very believable character and that the way she acted as she realized something was wrong was spot-on.  I wish that I could have seen more of how Vera acted after the shooting, though.  I would have liked to see more than just "nothing was going to be okay again".  However, I think that you did an excellent job with this prompt.
    • Ellie: You got the gist of my comments when I left the review, and most of them still stand. You did remove your notes to yourself, but the ending still feels rushed. If you would have focused on that part initially as opposed to the beginning, this story could have been epic. The day-to-day stuff… while important for this challenge, it’s easy and should have been used to create a comparison of your character before and after the adrenaline kicks in. Instead, I feel like that took up a good chunk of your time. Overall, it’s a nice piece, but it does need some polishing.
    • Grant: You can kind of tell that this was written close to the deadline. There are some grammatical mistakes that are a little too obvious to be missed which are the clear result of typing as fast as one can without proofreading. Not a huge problem for me, but if I can notice it than the other judges are sure to. Apart from that, Adrianne’s world building is fantastic. Our protagonist’s voice is easy to get lost in and the twist involving David coupled with the forensic separation of mind and reality are tastefully done. The story is need of a cleanup, but the story itself is solid.
    • Jo: I didn’t understand this piece. It was a good plot and had potential, but it was confusing. The main character had an interesting personality and stood out to me in the beginning. How did Andrew die? If it told us, I certainly didn’t see where. And I’m assuming that David killed himself, but I wasn’t sure. I honestly didn’t see all that much about the main character that was special enough for me to feel like this fulfilled the prompt. It just wasn’t written clearly.
    • Tilda: This was interesting in a number of ways. The main characters routine doesn’t get overwhelming but shows enough tidbits to convey a character that is alive. There were a few smaller errors I spotted here and there but they didn’t bother me too much in the long run, especially not considering the rather shocking ending. Very well done.

    Elizabeth, The Melting of Tahlia Le

    • Becka: So, I totally understand the need to say what her name means in order for the title of the story to make sense.  However, I think that there could be a better way to do that than saying it before the story begins.  I also didn’t particularly enjoy the inclusion of the quote at the beginning, especially since you also gave us the definition of her name.  It seemed like a lot before the story actually began that wasn't really needed.  As for the actual story, it was cute.  I've seen a lot of pieces where the main character is fighting her parents, and I think you did a good job showing that.  The fire in the library was a good out-of-ordinary experience.  However, I would have liked to see more leading her to the conclusion that she could be closer to her family.  It seemed like a kind of awkward jump, and I would have liked a smoother transition to get us to that point.
    • Ellie: This story nailed the prompt perfectly. You gave us a sense of who Tuyet is day-to-day and contrasted that well to how she responded to the fire. I think you could have pushed her reaction to the fire a bit more, played with her inner turmoil and really sold what was going on in her head, but it worked. Why wasn’t she receiving oxygen at the hospital? You always see fire survivors with an oxygen mask, and that makes sense due to how damaging smoke inhalation can be. That small detail I did find odd. Overall, though, your storytelling ability is wonderful. Your descriptions were lovely. I really enjoyed reading this piece.
    • Grant: The teenager voice is a delightful touch of realism throughout the piece. There’s melodrama to be sure and some stereotype, but the whole new baby with absent parents thing is done as well as it can be here. The story is at its strongest during the fire scene, but I did find myself wondering if Tahlia was going to actually melt in the fire or would be badly burned following the events. It’s a good piece with plenty of enjoyment to be had.
    • Jo: This was interesting and I could see a lot of the characters and their personalities immediately. I disliked Tahlia’s parents because they didn’t want to let her see Star Wars, and because they stuck her in the closet. The dangerous situation she was in was a good concept, I suppose, but I felt like this story was lacking something, I just don’t know what. I didn’t feel very connected to it like I have with some of the other entries.
    • Tilda: I overall really enjoyed this story. The characters were nice and their family dynamic was interesting, shining through and appearing to be realistic. I did find the fire itself a little bit underwhelming and somewhat unbelievable at times, but it was rather minor. This was nicely done.

    Hannah E, A Stupid Story About a Stupid Cat

    • Becka: I really enjoyed this piece.  I found myself smiling and even laughing at some of your descriptions.  As a huge cat person myself, and someone who is studying to be a counselor, I can so see myself decorating my office with pictures of cats.  Good to know that I should avoid that.  But seriously, this is a really good story.  I love how you didn’t really use some huge extraordinary event, but rather something that most of us would see as insignificant to help your character grow.  I also thought that this was a pretty good example of how a depressed person might feel.  Overall, your descriptions were nice and I found your character extremely believable and likeable.  Good job on this piece.
    • Ellie: What makes this piece so enjoyable to read is the inner dialogue you’ve developed for this character. It’s not too conversational, but it feels as though she’s casually telling me about her day. Even with the undertones of depression and cynicism, it’s got an almost upbeat feel to it. My only complaint is that I don’t feel as if there is enough contrast between Samantha’s typical routine and her saving the cat. It does feel natural, but it’s not as dramatic as I was hoping for. And the title does lack a bit in the creativity department. Otherwise, it’s a very enjoyable, character-driven piece. Your storytelling ability cannot be denied.
    • Grant: Teenage clichés are brought a little bit more down to the Earth in this one, which I appreciate. You get a good sense of our character’s life through the first part and then have a needed tonal shift once the cat is introduced. It’s light, it’s funny, it’s got some good characterization happening throughout. I don’t have much to complain about here. It’s not the most creative thing ever, but it’s delightful.
    • Jo: I wasn’t sure what to think about the main character at first, but I really liked her. The part about cats having nine lives and being cliché and cosmic brownies (delicious) is hilarious to me. I liked reading about her having depression because it’s a really interesting topic. The cat rescuing scene was interesting to me particularly because of the inner dialogue like how the cat is most definitely a male. This was good, but I didn’t really understand the end much. My thought is that she wants a cat?
    • Tilda: This is pretty ‘in the middle’ for me. The story is cute, if not the most inspiring or ‘wow’ story ever. I do think the ‘main challenge’ was rather underwhelming, but the characters were actually very nice and I feel like they carried this story very well. It’s a good story, though, and was nice to read.

    Hazel Gatoya, Today It Rained

    • Becka: It's hard for me to consider your character "mundane" with a name like Alexandria Zephyr.  You should keep things like that in mind when you're making decisions like names, locations, etc.  A part of me thought that this might take place in some of fantasy land simply because of her name.  Just something to keep in mind.  Other than that, I felt like the writing was a little sloppy here.  Some things were a little confusing or could have been introduced better.  It was difficult for me to picture Zephaniah as Alexandria's adopted father based on their interactions.  I also thought that the whole thunderbird thing was kind of poorly explained and rushed.  Overall the story just felt kind of rushed and poorly pieced-together.
    • Ellie: “The sharp smell of ozone,” what a specific description. To make that kind of observation… it’s not a typical remark. People don’t really go around saying that. It just struck me as very odd, I guess. Then, the transition from the ordeal to her normal life--when her father greets her--felt a bit stilted and unnatural. The whole, “You’re never going back to foster care,” reassurance, while sweet, was a bit out of left field. I didn’t think the situation warranted that kind of reaction from him… it took me reading Tilda’s comments to figure out where it could stem from. So, I just found that to also be a bit strange. Small details are killing me this season. As a character, though, Alexandra feels nicely developed, maybe a little usual. There’s nothing that really draws me to her, but she is cohesive. You maintain her personality throughout, and her reactions feel normal. So, you nailed that aspect of the prompt.
    • Grant: Hazel has this fantastical style about here that makes even the mundane seem mystical and enchanting. It’s cool to see such vivid, colorful descriptions of my neck of the country being written about in the piece. The setting and description are great but sadly where I think we fall a bit short is in the name of the challenge: the characters. While the descriptions are great, they do certainly start over shadowing the rest of the piece to the point where the characters read one dimensional and the action takes a backseat as the setting drives the story. It should be the other way around. Beautifully written, but I need more character.
    • Jo: Honestly, this was really well written, but at first I got the impression that Alexandria’s dad was her sibling because of the use of his first name. Her not calling him dad since she was adopted makes sense to me I suppose, if she hasn’t been with him all that long I suppose. Also, you said she forgot to ask him how the case went, but she did ask. I like that Alexandria does her schoolwork online and hasn’t ever been to public school, and I like her personality a lot. This all helps me relate to her more. Unfortunately, there was a rule about nothing fantasy and this certainly seemed like it. Perhaps she got struck by lightning or something and that’s why her hair went white, but this still doesn’t make much sense to me.
    • Tilda: The details is what shines through here. Which is a little bit unsatisfying since the challenge was about the characters. The surroundings and world itself takes over too much for me and the characters and overall events strike me as more bizarre and unrealistic than anything. Which is a shame as I do love this concept - it’s creative and fun but the balance here is way off.

    Jane Apricity, Shutdown

    • Becka: That was a trip.  You did a good job setting up a mundane hero, and that event was insane.  I so did not see that coming.  I had to sit and rethink my life for a few seconds after I'd finished just to try to work through what I'd just read.  I'm not quite sure how I feel about it, honestly.  I feel like a group of freshman that witness the death of their friend is something that is rather daring to write, and then seeing the friends' reactions was interesting.  I'm just not quite sure if I like how you did this.
    • Ellie: I feel like sometimes you get lost in your descriptions. Not always, but there are moments. The first paragraph is a good example of this. And sometimes you give us too many details. I don’t need to know the minute details of her logging in to the chatroom. Gloss over it; that’s acceptable. Otherwise, it can be borderline annoying. And… wait. They’re just… casually speaking while the guy’s webcam is broadcasting his dead self in their chat? Did I miss a detail where a day had passed or someone disconnected his feed? They all felt incredibly too calm for that situation, especially for teenagers who have no idea what to do or have ever encountered something like this. I was waiting for more panic, more chaos, but I… dunno. I feel almost let down at this point, unfortunately. I’m just not buying it.
    • Grant: As far as character goes, Jane nailed it. Her eagerness to write this piece is telling as each character and their way of speaking is incredibly fleshed out with patient detail. Plugging her character into a roll playing setting is the perfect way to blend fantasy into the mundane. And for how good of an excuse to have the stakes be fantasy based are, Jane banked on her protagonist and made the struggles very human and realistic. I’m all about this piece, a master stroke from Jane.
    • Jo: This was a great story to read with a plotline that interested me a lot. The characters were all really diverse and it was cool that a lot of their communicating happened through a chat thread. The fact that they did online schooling was interesting to me as well and I like that they’ve never met in real life. I thought this was written really well and I can’t really figure out much negativity on this piece.
    • Tilda: Something that just sticks out to me is that it sounds so strange to say ‘on cocaine’. I also can’t quite fathom how someone can see a keyboard for a few moments when someone slams a laptop shut - it’s just darkness, isn’t it? And even so connections tend to be terminated quite quickly. I’m not sure why I keep tripping over these things, to be honest, but I do. Outside of that I found this more strange than anything, if I have to be honest. The entire getup doesn’t make sense to me and feel unrealistic, too easy. The characters I found decent, even enjoyable more than once. But I’m not sold here.

    Mys Marie, Saving Time

    • Becka: I really liked the concept of this piece.  I like the idea of there being something supernatural about the hour lost for daylight savings time.  I think your descriptions were beautiful and the emotions were deep, and you did a good job of showing the emotions being felt.  However, I felt like some of the paragraphs were too long which made them kind of difficult to focus on.  Maybe try breaking up your paragraphs more in the future.  Also, you could benefit from reviewing some grammar rules, particularly rules regarding dialogue.  The story itself, however, was excellent.
    • Ellie: The interactions between Secadia and Aiden at the beginning are super adorable. It really showcased the love they have for one another. Just a note: when you said “A lot of states aren’t doing it anymore,” in reference to daylight savings time, the only US states that do not are Arizona (thank goodness) and Hawaii. Some overseas US territories also do not, but otherwise, all of the other states participate. The concept of this is quite interesting, actually. If you could delve into it and really develop it, it would make for a great sci-fi novel. The one thing I do question, though, is the harvesting. They say they use the hour that “disappears” to do what they came to Earth to do. “Did you think all those minutes in between just faded away? They have to be removed from the flow of time somehow.” Don’t we get those minutes back when Daylight Savings Time ends, when we turn our clocks back an hour? That would be the biggest flaw in your plot. Otherwise, though, very enjoyable. You’ve characterized Secadia nicely and in a believable way. Her reaction to the harvesting felt natural and true to the character you’ve presented us prior.
    • Grant: Descriptive powers have gone up across the board this round, but I think this piece suffers a bit from having a lot of description happening towards the beginning. Once the action picks up, it gets better, but there’s a slow pace throughout the story. HOWEVER, I’m fully willing to forgive that given the unique twist that happens in this story. A twist that was so clever, it got an audible laugh out of me in the solitude of my own home. I would say the slow pacing would be worlds more effective with just a touch less heavy detail.
    • Jo: This was interesting to read, though I wasn’t sure what I thought about daylight savings being the plot. I expected it to be one of those sort of boring plots, but it wasn’t because you actually did it really well. However, this felt like it had an element of fantasy that I think was just supposed to be a dream. I feel like this was a way of using a fantasy story while still listening to the prompt rules. And this doesn’t seem like a realistic ending either. This girl has two jobs so she can help pay rent, and they happen to have enough money saved away for her mother to quit her job? I find that difficult to believe, but otherwise I suppose this was actually pretty good.
    • Tilda: I had a slight problem with some of the longer paragraphs, as if you just had to shove some more detail in before the fun. At times it got a little tedious as not everything felt very important to the story itself. However, I think the characters were alright. I’m not really sure what to think about the twist itself, to be honest, and I think the ending to it just didn’t agree with me. The concept itself was mildly interesting (to be honest, my personal taste makes me a bit biased there) and I liked the beginning of the actual twist here more than the solution to it. But overall, this was okay and I did enjoy reading it.

    Paris Pearl, Marshall

    • Becka: I'm a little confused about the ending here.  Was he actually a spy, or not?  I still feel like he isn't but I think that you left that kind of open when you ended the story.  I definitely didn't see Petra being the bad guy coming, though.  I knew that she was significant, but I didn't see that coming.  I liked the whole spy thing that you had going on here.  I thought that it was intriguing, especially since Marshall might not be a spy.  However, like I said, I really don't know whether or not he is a spy and that would make a huge difference in the way this story was written.  If he is a spy, you've got a nice unreliable narrator thing going, and if not, I like the idea of him being accused and possibly killed for something he's innocent of.  I just wish that the ending was more definitive.
    • Ellie: I liked the details you added before Petra pulled out her notebook. It’s not perfect; the conversation feels a bit stilted and unnatural. (They already said their goodbyes, so why must she feel compelled to apologize for forgetting his presence?) The new ending is also much more satisfactory than the other ending. Again, not perfect, but I do know you were pressed for time. There are a lot of unanswered questions and more that I want out of your story. However, it is a step in the right direction.
    • Grant: It’s an interesting concept, but the twist does seem to come out of left field. And once we’re in the twist, the tone and nature of the story take a sharp turn. There was some great observation and description happening before the spy twist, but all that character seemed to jump ship once the twist was revealed. On top of that, I think the dialogue leaves a bit to be desired in the believability department. I wanted to get into this idea but I have a few hang ups with it.
    • Jo: I actually really liked this. Open endings drive me nuts, but this was actually really good. We’re assuming Marshall dies, right? I actually didn’t quite expect Petra to be evil, though I supposed her annoying personality in the beginning was hint enough that I wasn’t going to like her. I found Marshall likeable. I thought the plot was actually pretty good and this was really well written.
    • Tilda: I found myself quite enjoying the first part, but the twist here turned it rather bizarre for me. It stopped feeling believable and, frankly, I found the whole thing to toe the line to silly a few times. The character is decent, but not one I find myself intrigued by or care for. I would have liked a little more logic here, really, because I can’t really take it completely seriously the way it is now.

    SS, More Than Okay

    • Becka: This was cute.  I've been wondering if someone would use a kiss as their event, and I thought that you did a good job writing it.  However, I feel like this piece felt much more childish than I would have liked.  These are high school students that talk like they're in elementary school.  There should be a difference between the way they talk and the way her little brother talked, and there wasn't.  That kind of ruined the piece for me.  I'm find it difficult to take the piece seriously when it feels that way to me.  The idea was cute, but I think you need a bit of an older-sounding voice to really make it work.
    • Ellie: I liked this story. It’s simple, straight-forward. There isn’t a lot of extravagance to it, but that’s okay. I enjoy your stripped down stories. They don’t need to be flashy to be enjoyable, and this is a prime example. I think you could have played up the situation a bit more to make it more dramatic, however. There had to have been some awareness between the two prior to their kiss. On the steps, maybe? Total flirtation. I could see it, but I didn’t feel it. Play with that a bit. Overall, though, pretty good.
    • Grant: I appreciate that the event that broke up the monotony of the story was a simple, well executed kiss. Nothing Earth shattering, but something small that is still life changing. It’s a simple, elegant read from SS and I think this is the realm in which she excels. There are some slower parts in the middle and we’re introduced to a few too many characters a little too quickly, but the mundanity of the small talk coupled with a satisfying ending shows us what SS is and can be capable of.
    • Jo: I knew from the first scene with Drew what was going to happen and if it didn’t, I would’ve been mad. This was worded really well and I thought it was excellent, the idea of it and all was great. I like that Casey wants to do something as interesting as designing spaceships rather than not bothering to show us what she likes at all. I think this is your best piece so far.
    • Tilda: This just didn’t blow my mind, despite being generally cute. I find that the ending just seemed too light and that it didn’t quite ‘challenge’ the character. I would have liked to see more of it as now it just seems a little too simple for me and could have been more dug into to really sell the effect. It got a little bit slow at certain points, perhaps a bit too caught up in the ‘one quirk’, but it was generally a simple and okay piece that doesn’t stand out to me in a good way or a bad way.

    Twinz, Ten

    • Becka: There were things that I did and did not like about this story.  I do like that you chose to write about a character with OCD falling in love.  However, that was also something that I didn't like.  Your representation of OCD felt kind of over-the-top.  I would have liked to read something that felt more real to me rather than something exaggerated.  It was also a pretty cliché story.  It was cute, but nothing about it really stood out to me.  It just didn't make as much of an impression as I would have really liked.
    • Ellie: To live with extreme OCD would be… I couldn’t imagine it. It’s something we’re so flippant about in our current society, but it’s definitely not something that’s easy to live with. You portrayed it well. It was enlightening and real. The characterization of Theresa throughout the story felt natural and consistent. Her reaction to Rachel’s freckles initially was great. I loved her spark of curiosity, of excitement. Their relationship, however, I didn’t buy. I didn’t feel the spark that I should have when reading romance. And I think their relationship progressed a little too quickly for my liking. Other than that, though, I thought it was good.
    • Grant: It’s an interesting gimmick, but the ten bit gets stale very quickly due to repetitive information. Furthermore, the reasoning behind the quirk is never fully explained. Or even briefly explained. It feels like a character trait for the sake of having a character trait and makes our protagonist feel one dimensional. Apart from that, we have a fairly rushed love story between our two leading ladies. It’s certainly cute, but not wholly gripping. Some further developing in the character department could have done wonders.
    • Jo: This was incredible, really. I loved this a lot and I was fascinated by the tens. I feel like this portrayal of an OCD character was actually really good, not that I’d know but still. It was written well and I loved how Theresa basically lives in tens. And her relationship with Rachel was interesting to read about too. I don’t really have anything negative to say about this.
    • Tilda: I did not find this very memorable. The only trait that’s really show of the main character is the obsession with tens which becomes rather stale and repetitive quickly, the details taking over the story completely almost. While OCD can take over lives it is not something that erases a personality but here it kind of seems like it did. The love-part feels rushed and kind of bland, no real connection established before it dives straight into the deep. Could do with some work, specially in the character department.


  • 20170513_114616 (3) Icon-founder Ellie Williams


    ROUND THREE - ELIMINATIONS


    In the DANGER ZONE, we have:
    Again, I would just like to emphasize that you are NOT eliminated. Talk with your judge to figure out how to get yourself out of this whole. Do not allow yourself to be eliminated before you’re ready to end your journey with us.

    • Hazel Gatoya
    • Paris Pearl

    And our, unfortunately, ELIMINATED writers are:

    • Abigail June - no entry
    • Neah Christine - no entry
    • Trin Aster - withdrew

    The next prompt will be posted momentarily. Stay tuned!

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