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Otaku Prose Contest Round 1 (pfisland VS. Shy)


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Round 1

[SIZE="4"][COLOR="Red"]PFI[/COLOR][COLOR="Silver"]SLA[/COLOR][COLOR="White"]ND[/COLOR] [FONT="Impact"]VERSUS[/FONT] [COLOR="Magenta"]S[/COLOR][COLOR="DeepSkyBlue"]H[/COLOR][COLOR="SandyBrown"]Y[/COLOR][/SIZE]

[SIZE="1"]Voting is open to ALL Otaku members except pfisland and Shy. Voters, please state your vote clearly. Also, please give your reason for casting your vote the way you do. [COLOR="Red"]Voting will close on Friday, January 23.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER]

[SIZE="4"][FONT="Courier New"][B][U]The Challenge: Sex Change[/U][/B][/FONT][/SIZE]
Each contestant will write a short story between [SIZE="3"]200[/SIZE] and [SIZE="3"]500[/SIZE] words. Each short story must be told from a first person limited point of view. Authors, the narrator of your story must be the [U]opposite[/U] gender that you happen to be.
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[size=1][indent]I arrived to pick up Jeremy from soccer practice five minutes late. There was still plenty of light out, but as I pulled up to the park my little boy looked at me as if he had been stranded in the desert. How a seven-year old can learn to instill so much guilt is beyond me; he must have learned it from his father.

Speaking of which, it wouldn’t kill the man to pick up his own child from the park every once and a while.

I rolled down my window, “[b]I’m sorry I’m late, sweetie. Are you okay?[/b]”

“[b]Mom, can we give Dewey a ride home?[/b]” Jeremy asked me as he slid open the door to the van, motioning towards a little boy I had never even seen before. He had pale skin, curly brown hair, and a runny nose.

“[b]That’s fine. Hello Dewey.[/b]”

“[b]Hi Mrs. Jones,[/b]” he replied sheepishly.

I pulled a box of Kleenex from under the passenger seat and handed it to the boy, “[b]Here, blow your nose before you get in the car. [/b]”

The two boys sat in the second row of seats, nestled on either side of my briefcase. My eyes widened as Jeremy ran his hands all over it.

“[b]I’ve told you a thousand times not to touch things from my work,[/b]” I said as I snatched it from his hands and placed it on the passenger seat, “[b]Marielle… left this here in the carpool…[/b]”

I looked at the time, 5:45. Dammit. I’m going to miss him.

Dewey nodded. Soon we were on the road. The two boys whispered amongst themselves as I listened to the police scanner.

“[b]How was soccer, Jeremy?[/b]”

“[b]….Good. Coach says everyone has to wear an orange shirt for the game tomorrow...[/b]”

I turned my rear view mirror towards the boy, and glared, “[b]You have a game tomorrow?! Why didn’t you tell your father or I?[/b]”

There was an awkward pause, “[b]Sorry… I just forgot.[/b]”

“[b]That’s no excuse, Jeremy Jones. You need to show more responsibility![/b]” I said as I made a sharp right into an empty office parking lot, “[b]This is just like your project on Thomas Jefferson you forgot about until the night before. I bet Dewey’s parents knew about the soccer game for weeks; weren’t you supposed to bring home a paper with all of your games listed so that we could bring invite grandmother?[/b]”

The lot was abandoned, save for one other car, just as I had been told. I parked the car towards the backside of the office to avoid street traffic, and turned up the radio.

“[b]Mommy needs to do something real quick,[/b]” I said as I exited the car, taking the briefcase with me, “[b]You two boys stay here, and I’ll be right back.[/b]”

“[b]Okay Mom,[/b]” Jeremy replied, rolling his eyes.

I approached the building, and opened my briefcase, withdrawing a small pistol. After I made dinner I was going to have to give Jeremy a stern lecture about respect.[/indent][/size]
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"No one likes you, Otto. No one likes you. And no one ever will."

Please tell me what kind of sick, sadistic middle school teacher would say such a thing to a perfectly normal sixth grade boy? That stupid school dance was the only thing that mattered to me then. All I wanted was for a little girl with brown hair and green eyes to pull me aside and say, "Otto, I really would like to dance with you. Would that be okay?"

Sure, I know. I'm not the most attractive person NOW, but at the time, I wasn't fat, I didn't have clubbed feet, or dandruff or anything. And that brown haired green eyed girl was NOT the prettiest girl in the class! I wasn't aiming too high! She was IN MY LEAGUE!

Stupid Ms. McFarland. And her stupid glasses that bobbed up and down on her stupid neck.

She found me crying in the closest after the rebuff of the brunette girl and I was naive enough to ask her why no one wanted to dance with me. That's when she said the immortal saying. The comment that haunts my dreams and my every waking thought.

Maybe that was the day that I became the low-self esteem bum I am today. Maybe Ms. McFarland is the reason I question every step I take, every joke I laugh at, every thought I think.

What a hell of a life I lead, where sixth grade was the peak.

Middle school is a drag.
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[FONT="Garamond"]I'm going with Shy, and here's why (oh look, a rhyme!):
There was so much going on in his piece and you didn't even realize it until the end. It was engaging, relatable and surprising. It was believable, even though it wasn't. If that makes sense.

pfisland, while yours maybe took a more "realistic" story approach, it ended up falling further from that mark for me than Shy's did. I don't know what kind of teachers you've had, but I've never heard of a teacher so mean that they told a kid that nobody would ever like them. Completely unreal and thus unrelatable. I think it also felt a little bit forced.

So yes, my vote is with Shy =)[/FONT]
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[SIZE=1]I'm going for Shy with this one - his whole idea seemed better formed and more fleshed out. It seemed to flow better as well, while pfisland's felt a little jerky and forced. Maybe it's because you were working to a deadline, but I just preferred Shy's.

Count one vote for Shy.
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[FONT="Arial"]Shy gave a very clear impression of a parent running short on time and the ending left you with a slight jarring feeling. It made you wonder just what was going to happen next. pfisland captures the nature of kids easily being affected by a thoughtless comment, though it felt a bit off. Perhaps having the teacher as the antagonist is why. In the end Shy's entry caught my attention the most so my vote goes to [U]Shy[/U].[/FONT]
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Critique to follow, in order of posting. Voting below.


I actually don't have a whole lot to say to you here, Shy. The attitudes and personalities of all three of the characters were not only believable, but I was able to empathise with them easily without relying on logic or projection. I quite enjoyed the little motherly-minded details you snuck in?did everyone's mother have a crusade against runny noses? :p?and while the situation was almost absurd, the way you played the narrator made it seem completely reasonable.

Couple of minor notes:

I rolled down my window, ?I?m sorry I?m late, sweetie. Are you okay??


...and handed it to the boy[COLOR="Red"],[/COLOR] [B]?Here, blow your nose before you get in the car. ?[/B][/QUOTE]

The comma usage there is wrong. You only use commas to separate a sentence from speech if the sentence is continuing with the speech. The only way that can occur is with a speech tag because then the dialogue acts as an appositive; e.g. [I]Tim said [B]This.[/B][/I] Tags can go either before or after the dialogue, it doesn't matter: [I]Tim asked, [B]"Is this method okay? Maybe I should do it this way,"[/B] he added.[/I] Technically I wrote two sentences there, though the dialogue obscures that. But you see how separator commas are used like that.

You can get fancier with how you use them; but as far as I know, unless there is a speech tag somewhere in the sentence, you should use a period between the sentence and the dialogue.

[I]Ellipses[/I], if they're used in the middle of a sentence, should attach to the word on either side to indicate the thought is still going. An ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence uses three periods, since that is what makes one up, and an ellipsis at the [I]end[/I] uses four—three plus the ending period.

[QUOTE][B]"...weren't you supposed to bring home a paper with all of your games listed so that we could

bring invite


Editing mishap.  =P

Like I said, really minor stuff.


The first thing I notice about your piece,


, is that I can't make out the age of the narrator. From the beginning of the short it sounds like he might be early-mid thirties, but from the very end, the[/FONT] "Middle school is a drag" [FONT=Calibri]line, it sounds more like . . . well, like a kid in eighth grade. And the usage of capitals (as opposed to italics) makes the narrator's youth even more suspect; it carries the connotation of melodrama, while italics would have simply indicated intensity, or passion at the greatest. I understand preferring one over the other, but a middle-aged bum is not prone to screaming for little reason, and an eighth-grade child is.

That, and the second to last paragraph, will all the 'maybe's, just feels false. And I know this to be true because I used that same style to end one of my shorts and felt the same way?except I called the ending of mine trash, which it was. Point is, the impact of that paragraph would have been much much better had you not given it that doubt.

On the positive side, you carried the embittered tone of the narrator very well. I never doubted for an instant that he saw his cup not just as half-empty, but evaporating. Kudos there.


To me this match was all about believability. While the situation in


's was much more likely than in


's, the characterisation was the clincher.


's [I]felt[/I] real, and


's was questionable.




Edited by Allamorph
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[B]Shy:[/B] I think you did a nice job of giving a short look into a mothers life and yet leaving a few unknowns in there that tugged at your mind, leaving you wondering just what kind of story it was.

[B]pfisland:[/B] Though I feel you captured the emotion of feeling like you have nothing and no one cares really well, it felt a bit off for a sixth grader and the cirumstances just doesn't come across as very believable.

I vote for [B]Shy[/B].
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[FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"][B]Shy[/B]: Your story was real, believable, and presented a situation that many are familiar with, only with an unusual twist. The ending was different yet somewhat predictable, but flowed well with the story. You did well with the limited point of view and word count.

[B]pfisland[/B]: When I read the first line, the first thing I thought of was, "Oh, a story where someone doesn't belong or doesn't fit in with their peers, and they make fun of him/her." Then I found out that a teacher had said that line, and it just didn't fit. I think it could have been a really great story, but the way you presented the protagonist's problem through the comment of a teacher, and one that wasn't believable, ruined it. Maybe if you changed the last line, which also seems out of place, and changed the character of the teacher, the story would flow better. :animesmil

I vote for [B]Shy[/B]![/FONT]
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[size=1]I can't make a good paragraph of criticism at the moment because I'm on a mobile phone but I'll try to get one up later.

My vote, however, goes to [B]Shy[/b] because it was clever and interesting. It was quite unpredictable and I really enjoyed reading it - awesome piece.[/size]
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[FONT="Tahoma"][COLOR="DimGray"][quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]?and while the situation was almost absurd, the way you played the narrator made it seem completely reasonable.[/FONT][/QUOTE]This.

I really liked your piece from the start, [i]Shy[/i], though I had no clue where it was headed. By the end of it I was rather attached to the mother figure and could sense her motherly love. What I loved most, though, wasn't the fact that she brings out a pistol in the end and actually has a secret agenda but rather while she's bringing out that pistol she's still just thinking about her boy which seems really believable. Kudos.

[I]pfisland[/I], I can see where you were going with your piece but the execution was seriously lacking. Not only did you use the word "stupid" too many times but the actual idea of a teacher insulting a kid like that for no [i]apparent[/i] reason seems rather ridiculous. A little more attention to detail, some background info and a spell check would have benefited you greatly.

[B]Shy[/B] gets my vote.[/COLOR][/FONT]
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