Our warrior writers have fought admirably, but ultimately only one can emerge victorious. Our esteemed judges have sifted through the carnage and rendered their decisions. So here we go, TWA #4 – This Man Judgement Day.
Rich Alix is our first judge. He is a patron of The Human Echoes Podcast, and an all-around awesome guy. He is the voice of the common man in this contest, and here is his judgment:
To be honest, when this week’s prompt was announced I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. I thought I knew exactly what these stories would be and wondered how I would pick between two stories that had to be so similar. I was wrong. So very wrong. Let’s get into it.
Comments on CM Stewart’s “This Man“:
CM Stewart’s version of This Man was probably the most original take on a prompt we have seen yet.
And, on top of being lukewarm about this prompt at first, I have another confession to make here: I have a strong dislike for the word ‘meta,’ but this story seems to be the very definition of it. Ms. Stewart blurred the line between reality and fiction convincingly enough to make me Google more than one of her references.
I loved the calls to the mother. The second hand discovery of the weapons, the mother’s reactions, and the protagonist brushing them off in pursuit of the man were a nice touch that helped to ground the story even more for me. The journal format was well done. It felt authentic and very real where it could have easily felt as a way to cheat the deadline. Kudos to her.
The only part of the story that I wasn’t a big fan of was the idea that stealing various weapons from random houses could protect the antagonist. Just seemed a little forced.
All in all though this was a well executed, very original entry and I enjoyed it very much. I remain amazed at what real writers can do in little more than a week.
Comments on Danny Brophy’s “This Man“:
Danny Brophy was also able to see the good in This Man, but in an otherworldly way. From the very first sentence we know something strange is going on. Bouncing from the surreal to the horrific to the near absurd, we are given a guided tour of the land of dreams by This Man. Along the way we learn what he is, where he came from, and just what he is or isn’t capable of.
There is a fascinating dichotomy that exists within this powerful being who is so emotionally naive. Even as This Man comes across as dispassionate and detached, his comments and advice are always spot on and provide the dreamers with comfort, relief, and encouragement.
That such an emotional story can be created around a being who doesn’t himself feel emotion is a direct reflection of the talent of the storyteller. Even with such a short format I found myself reading faster to find out what was going to happen. Bravo, sir.
Verdict: This week, in battle This Man, I award my vote to Danny Brophy.
Donald Jacob Uitvlugt is our guest judge this week. Donald strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction,” stories that are small in scope but big on impact. (Find out more about haiku fiction here. He welcomes comments at his blog http://haikufiction.blogspot.com or via Twitter @haikufictiondju.)
Both stories this week took the prompt and carried us off on vastly different flights of the imagination. In my opinion, both had some small issues, but much of that is attributable to personal preference and the strict time limit of the contest. The fact that both authors gave their stories the same title is obviously a sign — of what, I have no idea. In rendering my decision, I want to concentrate on what the stories do well.
Comments on CM Stewart’s “This Man”:
I liked CM’s diary style, it reminded me of a long legacy of horror fiction starting at least as early as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. And I loved all the meta-narrative features like the talk about confirmation bias and the mention of the guerilla marketing hoax. Through all of this, I enjoyed as CM persevered to find an answer to the mystery. (Unless her story itself is simply another level of obfuscation…)
Comments on Danny Brophy’s “This Man”:
Danny’s story took the prompt in a direction I didn’t expect at all, telling the story from “This Man’s” perspective. He created a character with alien abilities and motivations, yet one that became so very human by the end of the tale. A benign, avuncular figure, until circumstances called upon him to become something more.
I know how difficult TWA is, so I’m also impressed that both stories weigh in at close to 3,000 words or more. Clearly, a lot of work went into both. But in the end, I have to vote for the story that had the greatest emotional impact for me, and that would be Danny’s.
The plebeian masses turned out this week in force, and can be seen in the comments for each story as well as the battle thread for this week. The throng voted for Danny’s story as well.
Ink has been spilled in the arena, and this week’s winner is Danny Brophy! Congratulations Danny! You’re at 1-0 in the arena!
CM, it was a pleasure having you and we hope to see your words grace the arena floor once again sometime soon.
Personally I’m glad that I won’t have to type “This Man” again for a long time.
Hit up the comments section below to let us know what you thought about this contest and if you agree with the verdict. We’ll see you next week as we shift focus to the final fight of this round, Tony Southcotte versus David Webb as they take on TWA Challenge #5 – Soul for Sale.
On a side note, we are paying our authors a base level rate at the moment, but if you really enjoyed their story and want to help us make sure these awesome people get paid, please donate below. 75% goes to the author, the rest goes to keeping this place up and running.