Sorry this post took a little while. I hope you all had a spectacular few days, and didn't fret over the lateness of the post. If you missed any of our entries this week, go read them here. Otherwise, here's what the judge had to say:
A heart-felt thank you to everyone who responded to the plea for entries this week. They were all interesting and varied responses to the prompts.
‘Not Ordinary People’ by Sal Page
Due to your advancing years, Sal, I overlooked the missing words in the opening sentence prompt. ;-)
I liked the use of ‘It happened one night’; it seems very natural after the opening sentence. (Perhaps adding ‘... in the heat of the night’ would have been a step too far, although the story is set in a summer holiday resort.)
I was beginning to be irritated by the repetition of ‘she said’, ‘I said’ until I twigged that this was to emphasise that they were BOTH compulsive liars. (Six months to live but planning to go to university? does not compute!)
It’s a very intense piece, nicely broken up by the explanation of the MC’s pathological fibbing. It took a few readings to appreciate everything that was going on, but in the end, I really liked it.
The film titles were incorporated in a natural manner. But I counted EIGHT Oscar winning films. Unless I missed one, I assume you’re counting ‘Ordinary People’ in the title. Alissa’s full rules says the Special Challenge is a prompt to be included ‘in your story’. I take this to exclude the title, since word count does so. [Alissa, can you clarify this point in the full rules, please?] Yes, and done. Special Challenges are the sole discretion of the judge. That said, this particular issue has never come up before, and while the title is very much a part of your story, it isn’t included in your word count and so not eligible for Special Challenge inclusion.
Even if the title is allowed, you mention ‘Ordinary People’ in the story; mentioning the same film title more than once definitely doesn’t count - Steph includes ‘Marty’ NINE times!
Hang on… Looking back, I see that you say “One is two words split.” If you mean ‘Annie’ (second para)… ‘hall’ (end of fourth para), that’s a little too creative - even for me!
(It’s a good thing that @FlashDogs volunteered me to ignore typos, otherwise I might have been compelled to point out that it should be ‘redcoat’ and ‘Brasenose’...)
‘Special Delivery’ by Stella
A potential punch-up and shotgun wedding, turns out to be a marriage made in heaven. ‘Good ale wasted was not on our to do list’ tells us a lot in a few short words about the characters involved and their environment.
[ Sorry, Stella, but I couldn’t let ‘anymore’ slip by: it’s an adverb, meaning ‘any longer’. What you needed was ‘any more’. Oh, and ‘Marilyn MONROE’... ]
The Special Challenge was films that won Best Movie Oscar, not nominees. I assume that ‘Black Swan’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Colo(u)r Purple’ are included as movie titles - they were all nominated, but did not win. I counted seven correct references - a goodly number.
‘Just Friends’ by Lauren Greene
A gentle tale of watching one film (The Graduate), while its plot explores the premise of another (When Harry Met Sally). The MC’s misuse of ‘December-February relationship’ and her failure to pick up the implication of the expensive cologne indicate that she’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
I like the phrase ‘not the kind you wear when you’re schlepping on your friend’s couch watching an old movie’ and the description of the ‘classic movie move’. I haven’t seen ‘The Graduate’ for years, but the bewildered question “Is he in a swimming pool?” brought the opening scene flooding (no pun intended) back to me.
You didn’t say that you accepted the Special Challenge, Laura, but I found five film titles scattered throughout the story. If you did accept the challenge, I have to point out that none of them are Oscar winners for Best Film, not even ‘The Graduate’ which you say did! Perhaps you mistook the challenge to include all films nominated for best movie, but two of them don’t fall even into that category!
(Also, the idea was to use the movie titles in a creative way - not simply to refer to the movies themselves. Perhaps that was my fault for not stating it explicitly.)
SPECIAL CHALLENGE CHAMPION:
‘Elixir of Youth’ by Steph Ellis
A light-hearted but darkly humorous take on the prompt.
I liked the use of ‘No Country For Old Men’ as a contrast to the ‘cult of youth’, and ‘We can make a killing’ is a chilling omen.
‘...led her across the carpet in a bizarre tango’ sounds like a judge’s comment on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’! Not quite top of the leaderboard, Steph, but close.
I counted ten Oscar-winning films incorporated into the story, some with great dexterity, making this the Special Challenge Champion.
‘Social Media’ by Catherine Custard
I loved this story! It reads like a family breakfast scenario that could very easily happen.
Giving one child’s phone to the other, to make up for losing her rag and smashing the first phone, is a classic gambit by a parent.
The staccato, telegraphese of the one-sided telephone conversation is deftly written, allowing the single word film title ‘UNFORGIVEN’ to be incorporated seamlessly.
There are a lot of references to contemporary culture that are alien to this old codger, but ‘busting your geriatric moves’ was a LOL moment for me; it was great that you resolved the tension by ending the story with another one for Kat.
Great stuff, Catherine!
I counted 4.5 Oscar winning films... People familiar with my posts to flash fiction contests will know that I am a stickler for exactitude: The 1968 winner is entitled ‘Oliver!’; Lionel Bart was infamous for his musicals with an exclamation mark in the title. ‘Oliver!’ would have fitted quite naturally into the story at that point, but, as I said, that’s just me being a little bit picky. :-)