I have time to squeeze in a story or two from the slush tonight. Let’s hope for a gem.
See my previous post for disclaimers about my posted reactions, etc.
Story 5 (12/6/2010 SF 2700 words)
This comes from a writer I admire, so fingers crossed, I begin. Dialogue heavy opening works because the dialogue is lively and moves the story forward. Not sure I’m fond of the gust of wind, unless there’s some purpose behind it. Good pacing. Just as I’m beginning to think the dialogue could go on too long, it ends, and we get a new encounter with just the right hint of strangeness. Scene 1 ends very well.
Second scene opens well, but is slipping into familiar territory. I’m losing interest, but not to the point of stopping. There is a nice irony to the protagonist being selected. The scene recovers; it’s familiar but specific.
Some fun writing in third scene. I see an end coming. I hope the story surprises me.
Ah, darn. The ending doesn’t really impress me. I liked the selection of the protagonist, but he resolves into a stereotype by story end. Why does he drink? Because he’s one of those people. Why does he make the decision he does? Because he’s one of those people. The decision complicates Al’s objective, but it doesn’t really contradict or complicate the underlying concept. Consequently, I’m left feeling like the story, while engagingly written, doesn’t really rise above the usual, at least not enough to recommend for the collection. We’ll likely end up with a couple stories of this sort, with fairly straight-forward premise and fun writing, but this one doesn’t quite do the trick for me. I will share it with other editors because it’s well written and tastes do vary.
Slush-o-meter (1-10): 6 It succeeds at building a quirky, likable character and setting forth a reasonable premise, but fails at taking me to a really new place. That seems essential for this “type” of story, which is meant to be clever, with a vein of serious conjecture running through it.
Story 6 (12/6/2010 Fantasy 2000 words)
This uses an unusual viewpoint device (2nd person), which is typically difficult to pull off. Technically, this is handled well here. The genre reader in me, however, feels it is slightly pretentious. My literary side likes the attempt. Unfortunately, the story devolves (for good reason) to a sort of explanation of necessary background that detracts from a sense of story movement. I mean, isn’t this a version of talking heads? The protagonist is telling me stuff I would already know for the most part. Some good character details, but I can’t get past the artificiality of the technique.
Second scene is more intriguing.
Third scene has a good sense of story movement. We discover the protagonist is male. That came as a surprise to me. This is not a good thing.
Fourth scene maintains sense of movement. I’m hoping there’s going to be more to the story than the surface details we’re getting. An interesting line at the end.
Fifth scene begins with a rainbow, which reminds me of last year’s anthology theme. This is not really good, though I’m not sure why it should matter to me. Ends with an escalation of the prior scene. Technically sound, but not really getting beneath the surface of the idea.
Final scenes move along at a good pace. I like the visual we get with the phenomenon, but I’m still not feeling like the story has deepened from its initial premise. It’s basically a ghost story. I like the final line, but not so much what it implies. Suicide seems likely. Reject, I’m afraid.
Slush-o-meter (1-10): 4 It’s strange to rate it so low, because the prose is actually quite good and the pacing is about right; the idea is acceptable, the execution solid. But the story fails to accomplish what a story of this “type” needs to accomplish, which is to show me a new facet of the ghost story idea. The technique interferes with characterization and the reveal doesn’t really require the second person viewpoint; in fact the viewpoint detracts from the reveal for me. If I were revising this, I’d start with deeper characterization of the protagonist and more specific life history. And definitely stick to first or third person. Either should work at this length. The idea is simple; character will have to carry the tale, I suspect.
Well, I’m out of time for this session. See yinz soon.