February 2015 Critique/Review/Thoughts
Mar 13, 2015Posted by on
Yet another difficult month for making choices, the discussion helped in making me think a lot about how difficult it must be to co-ordinate this group and especially to ‘score’ the contributions. I try to group the entries (romance, drama, etc) but this isn’t easy as such simplification doesn’t necessarily provide the key to what may be the contributor’s intent.
This month I thought especially problematic as the contributions ‘crossed genres’, inasmuch as the length and composition of the entry fitted a particular genre. I identified three such possible genres this month; being flash fiction (yet it’s debatable exactly what this is), the scripted and the short story (each of which can take many forms). By veering to the really short story end of the challenge (say less than circa 1500 words), or going for the short story (circa 3000 words), has a significant impact on the composition of the contribution.
As I use a spread-sheet to rank each contribution the points allocation is not an issue. This month, and for my own benefit, I simplified my personal preferences (worth 30%) to include a question (worth 10%) requiring me to rank the entries for publication in the anthology (this certainly made my personal ranking easier). Six contributions (75 percentile for the statistically minded) ranked by the inclusion of this question are all short stories, which I assume are 2000+ words (I don’t have the actual count).
NOTE. I accept that entries may include references, footnotes, authors notes, call them what you will, but what is on the page is read by me in toto as the entry (including the validation of any addenda). Here I’m not including what may be called ‘legal disclaimers’.
In order – the actual CWG results for February were:
- JACK FINDS LOVE AT THE CAFÉ MARCHÉ. Written by Expatangie.
- LOVE COMES IN MANY FORMS. Written by Atiller.
- RICHARD III’s PARKING PLACE. Written by Turkishjenny.
In order: my CWG choices for February were:
- Love Comes in Many Forms – Atiller. I found the relationship between a man and his animals very well expressed, as was his relationship with the other characters. Particularly the emotional impact that age can have on a relationship between a person and their animals. While the end for Sonny was expected that of Frank was not. A fitting end to such a shared relationship.
- Valentine Reunion – Colmore. “This romantic stuff will get you down. What on earth will you get up to when you retire?” I wonder how females will respond to this story? I thought it really expressed the emotions of the situation and I am also left wondering what he will get up to. Perhaps he read more into Marion’s responses than she intended and raises that ubiquitous question, Is there any point when a man and a woman can be just friends?
- Not Puffed Up – Seadams. A good character portrayal of Finlay Pettigrew where the reasons to be suspicious of his behaviour were cleverly released slowly as the story progressed. Even so, I wasn’t expecting Janis to be a dummy, but there were many directions the story could have taken at this point. It was really a very sad story about the emotionally tragic life Findlay led.
The other three (75 percentile) in no particular order:
- Love at first sight – Giselle. A really interesting portrayal of what has increasingly become a common social problem. The influence and use of modern communications in the stories development was cleverly introduced. I found this story questioning the mature development and social responsibility of teachers, the lack of thought given to the social immaturity and naivety of students and how, in this case, it resulted in a tragedy for both.
Jack finds love at the Café Marché – Expat Angie. This was a story with a delightful twist, which was not predictable at all. The characterisation, adults and children was skilfully done. Then re-reading some of your previous contributions you are clearly a ‘romantic’.
- Mrs Bloom – Fizzeerascal. As I approach 76 the prospect of dying on a surfeit of butter ridden sauces and cream laden desserts sounds a good way to go, but I sense that Mrs Bloom is not a happy woman. Whether or not she is on the verge of a breakdown or is simply becoming ‘deranged’ is difficult to discern. While I think that the story can be read as comedic it’s really quite tragic. I fear that this is not going to end well for for Mrs Bloom, Mr crinkly blue eyes or Bocato.
Again in no particular order are the other stories:
Poly Love – Gazoopi. I’m not sure why it was felt necessary to explain the NATCO acronym or provide a rationale in the way of a footnote. Searching for either failed to lead to what may be your intended source. I have to wonder where polygamy fits into this concept as the story itself became, I thought, a justification for a specific polygamous relationship rather than just a story of one. When the story remained only within the framework of the relationship, I thought that it was really good.
Park Love – JackNoal. I’ve had to refresh my memory over Flash Fiction and it would seem that our monthly competition includes stories that could be termed ‘Flash Fiction’. However, the issue here is relatively simple; Does the ‘really short story’ tell a complete story? I thought your story was quite delightful and complete. I have to give some thought to story ‘length’ and what the CWG think flash fiction is.
The Librarian – AmericanMum. Has Isabel become the antithesis of Findlay Pettigrew? We hope so! I’m not sure if this is ‘flash fiction’, but the characterisation was enough to completely set the scene for Isabel to cast off the shackles her father had bound her in. It was interesting how the father’s denigration of Isabel immediately made him unlikeable. I’m not sure if Isabel’s implied metamorphosis will be realised. I believe we are to assume the best for Isabel.
His & Hers – Pavlova Queen. Another flash fiction? An interesting situation in which I thought the ‘telling line’ was Eleanor’s father recounting that Suzanne had said, “No, it’s not. I’m your life now.”, leaving the reader to answer the question, Has he paid the price, or did we? It’s hard to think of all the complexities in this story, I’m not sure if the price for him is the prison term or his life without his family and another form of internment. For Eleanor it would certainly seem to be the loss of both her parents and if she isn’t careful her siblings.
Amara Eliana Mathew – Capucin. I guess having read the previous story adds to this sequel. Nevertheless, a softer side to Jesus now appeared. Perhaps not a spiffing yarn, though there are elements of that, but a really ‘nice’ story snippet that I’m sure enhances the series.
Whatever That Means – Angie. I once read in a horoscope that a Taurean (my wife) needs a Gemini (me) like she need a hole in her head. Your story was very traumatic for me, with a minor niggle. The POV was either wrong throughout, or the story needed to allow a change in the POV in the last paragraph. How did Maria recount the story, or have I missed something? Tosca comes to mind Opera Anecdotes. Chester’s scripted format or Jenny’s narrative form would have also worked well here?
After the Big Bang set Everything into Motion – Chester. This scripted story format is interesting and at first I thought it was wrong in that it was not practicable. However, I was being constrained by my thoughts on the media that it might be used in (even a stage production could run two – or more – scenes to be viewed simultaneously). I’m a fan of the cinema version of Tennessee Williams’ stage plays, especially Cat On A Hot Tin Roof which frequently shifted scenes. I enjoyed your script immensely. Given the right casting and production, it has real potential to challenge and amuse (imagining the cast for it will keep me occupied for a while – although the people I immediately think of are all dead).
RICHARD III’S PARKING PLACE – Turkish Jenny. I’m a history buff and I really loved your story, but the dialect of the narrator gave me a problem which I thought, for me at least, added an unnecessary complexity. I understood the car park being the narrator of the story, it was a clever contrivance to tell the story that way. However, it took me a number of readings to fully appreciate the timelines (although you included some dates), for example, the accounts of the King’s death at Bosworth and the creation of the Elizabethan garden. I’d like to read this story again, including a more detailed history of the car park site (this information seems to be very sparse and what there is spread over a number of web sites), probably following the re-internment of Richard III this month and from a different POV regarding the car park itself.