Oof, I think that either story of the second bracket wins against these two honestly. Story 1 has the decency to give me pretty decent prose and a readable story. However, where is the horror? No tension, no nothing. It's the epitome of not scary. However, the story itself is pretty enjoyable and decently paced. But it's not really horror.
Story 2 did more of the horror stuff, but the amount of names that are thrown in at random, makes my eyes glaze. It also is the weakest story in regards to prose out of all four submitted stories. The most grating moment was when they discovered Robert's corpse. Any normal person would have fucking be traumatized and scared as hell. What did these people do? Oh just search his pockets lolol. Where is the mourning, the terror, the horror of seeing your dead friend's body?
Story 1 was also pretty light in the portraying regular emotion and human reactions, but at least the story was easy to follow, readable and didn't make me visibly roll my eyes.
If the prompt was to write any regular short story, I would have no trouble picking story 1 over story 2. You know, after heavy thinking, I'll still go with my gut instinct.
Story 1 wins even if it's not a horror story.
My vote goes to story #2. Less because I thought it was it was masterfully written or some other nonsense. No, Story #2 won in my eyes because Story #1 shot itself in the foot.
I was actually kinda excited reading number 1, and it low-key had the potential to be the best one of the 4, but the old woman turning out to be a fantasy witch ruined it for me. Suddenly a potential horror story is transformed into a lame fairytail that has been done a thousand times over. Surprise, surprise! The old woman was a witch all along. Now, I think everything knew the old woman was evil, but it might have been a lot scarier if the pie was a real pie, but baked out of human. Even better if the old woman was actually an old woman, just a demented one. Part of the beauty of horror stories is the turning of mundane things into scary things. The author of story 1 was so close to doing this in some part with the pie AND the old woman, but ruined it by changing both into something else entirely.
Story two wasn't super bland, but it was predictable, and kinda unrealistic with everyone being so dumb. What saves it is its few subtle words that create some suspense. Like when the others thought Amber ran after Rob, but she didn't. That created some aspect of horror there. There were a couple of other things that created more suspense, but there was also a lot that took away from the story. Too many names. Unrealistic decisions, and an unsatisfying ending to boot.
All of the stories were at least enjoyable to read, so I am by no means trashing on these for the lulz. They were good, and the authors should all feel good that they submitted something on time that isn't complete trash. However, in competition, I believe it is always valuable to know why one story was placed beneath another. Hence the focus on what went wrong.
I'll go for 2 here, even though I was reaching for my red pen the entire time. I guess I was doing that for story 1, too.
I don't know. I thought there were a few interesting bits of prose in there, and it had a pretty decent hook; the plot itself was decent as well, as opposed to story 1, which sort of ended squib-like.
Both of these felt profoundly clunky to read, which sucked any atmosphere they could've had drier than a salt lick sucks a week-old snail. The first person of #2 was sp strange-feeling, but I'm leaving that up to the fact that I have not, since The Night Land, read anything written in first person in earnest, and I cannot be an impartial or worthy judge. 2 has my vote simply because, out of the both of them, a vague attempt at doing something creepy was at least made.
Both stories had decent concepts, and mediocre execution. I think both could be made considerably better than they currently are with a serious round of editing and proofreading; in both stories, clunky sentence structure and pacing kept me from really being immersed. The clunkiness was the main issue for both entries.
Story #1 explains too much, whereas story #2 doesn't explain enough. Story #1 would be stronger leaving more of the stranger's identity and methods up to the imagination. What we do learn about her doesn't really make sense. She wants to... trick Sean into eating raccoon meat and then hunt him for sport? Uh, why? Story #2, alternatively, has too many elements that don't seem to connect. Is the disappearing angel statue at all related to the creature that kills them? What triggered it, the grave robbing or the chapel robbing? Is there some supernatural element affecting the character's emotions, or are they all just naturally idiots?
Kudos to both authors, however, for a reasonably tight premise and avoiding complexity addiction. I really think these could both be made into strong stories with a sufficiently aggressive editing round.
I'm voting for #2, not for any profound reason, I just think it was slightly better in a variety of areas.
I'll be voting for story 2.
Once again, I took notes while reading each story, which spiraled into a text wall for some reason. Starting with my usual disclaimer, I’m not a professional writer by any means, nor am I a seasoned reviewer. Do conduct your own research and bear in mind that not everything I say may be correct. As for potential readers, beware of spoilers galore.
It isn't really obvious who is talking at the start. Also, if Sean's cabin is 'new', does 'home sweet home' really apply?
The story starts with too much exposition for my liking, which isn't the most interesting way to hook the reader.
I'll suggest balancing the telling (e.g. Sean did this, the cabin was far in the woods, etc) with showing (An expanse of twisted branches, dark green leaves and shrubbery was all he could see for miles.) I mean, that's not the best example but I suppose you get the idea.
You probably intended to juxtapose the initial calmness against the eventual suspenseful scenes, but it comes off as a bit bland. If you decide to write something suspense-related in the future, here's a suggestion: make the quietness eerie, or the peacefulness somewhat unnatural. Draw attention to the haunting silence or the way tranquility lulls the main character into a false sense of security. Not only would that hook the reader a bit more, but it'll match the atmosphere of the story too.
I would prefer a bit more build-up to the crow thing but that's just a nitpick.
What's with the apostrophe after 'its'? I thought it was a typo at first, but after that was repeated, I'm not sure anymore.
Since the bird is speaking, you may need quotation marks.
I like the suspense that's built upon the strange feelings the main character goes through (and him dismissing them due to his hangover).
Ever since the first mention of an 'apple pie', I thought I knew what was going to happen. Then the pie is described as 'salty' (just like a certain profile denouncing apples) but it turns out this was foreshadowing something else instead. Oh well.
Aha, the name 'Faye' (fae) actually was meaningful! I thought it was weird how the main character started blurting out personal life details but I'll chalk it up to the fae's power.
This story has a simple premise which ties most things together, although it doesn't stand out and isn't the most memorable. This could be fixed by having characters that are more developed, and possibly giving the villain more of a motive too. Even if she's just torturing him for fun, show us how she cackles with glee or relishes in victory.
I suppose the loophole part was your attempt at making the villain smart? For some reason, I expected the crow to have more impact due to how many times it was mentioned; kind of like a Chekov's gun scenario. Maybe if the crows had done the chasing, there'll be more symmetry involved in the story, and the initial parts would also be considered as foreshadowing.
Overall, I couldn't really see the horror elements, but I'm not much of a horror reader anyway so I can't really judge by that metric. In terms of the story, there were some stronger instances of suspense near the middle. Proofreading and possibly rewrites could make this concept stronger; you have interesting plot points but some parts could be executed a bit better.
Interesting start, which piques my interest since I'm wondering why the main character is heading to the graveyard in the first place.
There's a grammatical error in the first paragraph. Not the best thing to start with, yet since that's common in these duels, I'll let it slide.
The commas after dialogue is usually only there if it's followed by a dialogue tag. If you're breaking up dialogue with action, I think it's grammatically correct to use a full stop instead.
Not sure if introducing so many characters at the same time is a good idea, especially since it isn't easy to distinguish between them based on the one-line introductions.
The way you take the time to ground the reader in the setting is pretty good. It makes the story more immersive and I like how the graveyard is portrayed as equal parts beautiful and eerie.
Look up dialogue formatting tips—it'll be helpful. Proofreading would be useful too.
The recurring motif of the statue, coupled with the atmospheric late-night, graveyard setting, enhances the story and the suspenseful mood.
Introducing the previously-nameless main character in the middle was a bit jarring and broke the immersion for a second as I wondered who 'Amber' was, but that's a minor nitpick.
The conflict between the main group of friends adds an extra layer to the story (and I keep wondering which of them will be the villain). Even subtle details like the lack of harmony in the group and Taylor being unable to see the statue all add to the impact of this narrative.
While I anticipated the murders, I was confused when you suddenly mentioned 'the thing pretending to be James'. Where does this thing come from? Aren't there only two people in the room—half-dead James and Amber? Why is the main character so nonchalant about seeing her friends die? What on Earth is happening?
Maybe you suffered from a lack of words or time towards the end.
Then I have even more questions: just like the previous story, you brought up a recurring motif, but why was its relevance to the story never stated? And what happened with the phone message? Who killed everyone? This story seems a bit incomplete in my opinion.
Not sure who the smart villain is, but I might have just missed it due to being tired.
In conclusion, the metrics by which I would judge these would probably be the following: the genre, readability (basically grammatical/ spelling errors), enjoyment, and adherence to the theme. Both stories had an almost equal amount of grammatical errors, especially in relation to dialogue. While the first story fits the 'smart villain' criteria better, I felt more invested in the second story despite the unsatisfactory ending. It had more 'horror' elements too.
Therefore, my vote goes to the second story (but only by a very slim margin).
Crow was a banshee. Some myths they transform and their cries for tell death, she was just a messagenger.
Oh I see, so it was foreshadowing the danger that would arise! Thanks for letting me know.
Also, if Sean's cabin is 'new', does 'home sweet home' really apply?
Also, if Sean's cabin is 'new', does 'home sweet home' really apply?
I read that phrase as him being sarcastic, as in he actually didn't like his new home. He heavily sighed right after saying it, indicating that he wasn't really in a good mood, along with pulling himself out of his car, as if he did not want to enter the house. It also said that this was "only" the second time he had seen the building, as if he had buyer's remorse. He also shook his head later on and started having second thoughts about the purchase toward the end of the paragraph, all of which suggest that he did not really have warm affection toward his new abode.
How could I have missed that? Thanks for telling me.
I'll vote for story #2.
This was really close vote for me. The second story had stronger strengths and worse flaws (more mature writer's voice, more descriptive, but the inadequate dialogue tags and how difficult it was to keep track of who was speaking annoyed me [there were multiple times when I thought one character was speaking, but then it turned out to have been another character]), while the first story had fewer strengths and more minor flaws (effectively creepy, but immature and simplistic writing style). The tiebreaker for me was that I thought that the idea for the first story was more enjoyable, with the deliciously cruel witch, so my vote is for Story #1 by the thinnest of margins.
Voting for story number 1.
Story 1 didn't at any point succeed in creating a "horror" atmosphere, and the author's use of apostrophes gave me several aneurysms.
Story 2 did succeed at creating a tense atmosphere suitable for the horror genre, but the start was too slow, and the middle and end was quite disjointed plot-wise.
My vote goes to Story 1.
This one was a close call for me because while I thought that the writing was better in the first one, the second one was more fun to read. It does leave me wondering though, what was the killer? At first I thought it was James, then I thought it was the statue, and now I'm just confused. Even though I think I enjoyed the plot of the second one a bit better, I'm going to have to give it to story number one for better writing overall.
Oh, everyone just calls me Faye.”
Oh, everyone just calls me Faye.”
@TheChef we need to have some words with this individual
It wouldn't be such an issue if tman hadn't gone and lost. Even I had to vote against him.
Damn that tman, should've been able to pull it out of his ass smh.
I'm guessing contestants are not allowed to vote?
Do you know when voting will end and the next round will begin?
Current Votes (In case anyone is curious how close things are)
Story #1: 11
Story #2: 13
Thank you both for actually turning up with a story, we can't have these events without people willing to do that. And both sets of stories really stood out as being more readable and much more on theme than the usual fare with these duels (even thigh I have a special place in my heart for the works of Corgi and Fem...) so congrats to everyone.
And oh yeah as usual both contestants go ahead and reply to this post so I can hand out commendations.
Congrats to lux.
oh boy lux
you missed a bit while you were gone
Sure. Just to clarify it has to be in by 11:59 pm on the second?
I don't know if I'll be able to work on it completely during the school week. I think the 2nd to the 5th would work for me. However, if it's cool with everyone else, doing it during Christmas break would be ideal for me. But if y'all don't want to wait that long, I understand.
You could just drop out.
Great advice, thank you! :D
You are so smart and talented, tman.
That sounds good! Sorry for the rescheduling, I'm almost failing some of my classes and I need to bring them up by the semester. I'm excited to see the prompt!
Sounds like a you problem. I'm not agreeing to rescheduling.
Grades are temporary, CYS points are eternal.