Feedback from the Judges

I received some feedback on my first flash fiction from the NYC Flash Fiction contest. This is a pretty nice thing since you don’t always get the judges feedback on contests.

My story placed in the top 15. I had originally thought I had placed in the top five which was really exciting to me, but looking closer at their judging and scores I realized that it wasn’t 5 as in fifth place, but it was 5 as in 5 points. So if you got 14th “place,” well… you know.

I have to wait another month before finding if I made the next round. I’m going to guess that I probably will not make the cut on the next one. The second challenge just didn’t come to me and I just never felt that good about the story. And, now that I know my last story didn’t do as well as I had originally thought, I’m pretty certain my most recent entry is going to probably bomb. Hell, at least I’m writing. It’s hilarious that the only way I can now get myself to write is to pay someone else to challenge me to write. Seems to work. I grow broke, but I grow broke anyway.

So here’s the positive:

WHAT THE JUDGE(S) LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – ………………I enjoyed the fact you included action from the opening sentence, instead of building up to it. I think it created a stronger sense of suspense and engagement. This was an excellent premise, too!…Good suspense in this story — great pacing. The first person narrative works well, and I like the writing. ……………This is a very interesting take on biological warfare and some of the various things that could happen. There is a real sense of suspense. I like how you drop the reader into the action after it has already started. I always knew where I was and what was going on, which is a real achievement.

I think that’s some nice positives. I have to say the whole including the action from the opening sentence is proof that those writing classes I took in college paid off. So many times teachers told me I took to much time to get to the meat of the story. I really thought about that when writing this piece.

Now the negative or better put- the “still needs” work.

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – ………………I would have liked to know more about “the Doctor”, and how he had formed a relationship with Max, Steve and Clair – just a little bit of background here could really round out the narrative….Watch some of your descriptions and try to make them carry more weight. Here, for example: where they left Clair’s stiff, but living body… Why is it stiff, but still living? Be more specific with your descriptions. ……………This story needs another edit for spelling and grammar. In some cases you have used the wrong word, e.g., effect instead of affect. Pay attention to these details and it will make your writing stronger. ………………………………

Oh my god, so much of this is the bane of my writing existence. The reasons I often don’t bother sharing my work.
I’ll begin with the non bane part. I’d like to know more about the doctor too. In all honesty the story wasn’t fleshed out at all. I was in China at the time I wrote it and got completely confused about the time difference and at how much time I actually had. I ended up writing the story and sending it in within eight hours of getting the assignment. There wasn’t any real editing or back story- na-da. It wasn’t until after I hit the submit button that I realized I had a whole 24 hours left to work on it. I was bummed, but I still got some points so I’m doing something half right.
The descriptions carry more weight comment is so important. I know this. I get this. But, I have trouble with this. I’ve always dreamt of being a poet and poets are the masters of using the less words to have the most impact. Hemingway was amazing at this. It’s because I am not a master of my own language. I’m not even an apprentice. I’m behind. And speaking of behind, let me get to the bane part.
Oh my spelling and grammar. Will I ever improve? I’m not lazy about it I’m really not. I try to improve, but obviously something is wrong with me. The affect vs effect- I’ve seen the aardvark example so many times- but the skull is thick with this one. I could say, in my defense I wrote and sent the story in with only eight hours worth of work time, but why bother. I’m not a strong writer. If I had done at least one slow edit maybe it would have been a little better, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, I’m glad to get the feedback. I think it’s helpful. Unfortunately, I sent in my second story before seeing my weaknesses so I’m sure I repeated some of them.

If you want to read the draft you can read it here.

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