TWA #9 – Dessert – JUDGEMENT!

9-judgeAnother week, another brutal battle in the arena. Both of our authors tried to fast-track you to diabetes, and their efforts are to be admired. Either way, someone is going home with a candied pancreas this week. Let’s see what our judges thought:

Ellie Ann is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author, as well as a mother of three. Arena denizens and podcast fans know her for her fantastic work with The Silver Sickle, which you can find on the banner ad to the right. You can also hear her talk about her new project, The Tale of Frida, on today’s podcast episode:


Fantastic first line. It’s gripping–a good hook.
Mmm. Cocoa.
(note: many superfluous words are added: like brown in color. ‘In color’ should be cut, as there’s no other kind of brown)
Well done synopsis on how the rain effects the world. The stakes are clear.
(note: no character yet, which is worrisome)
(note: POV has issues.)
Hazelnut. Molasses. Now I’m getting hungry.
The stakes are getting larger, now things are getting dangerous. However, I’m still not feeling tension because there are no characters. It’s the difference between knowing there’s danger and feeling the danger in your gut. The danger is removed from me.
‘Tissue domination with sweetness.’ That’s awesome.
Why did people wait this long before eating it? Or have people been eating it this whole time, and the fungus just began? I don’t understand the timing.
I absolutely love this line: “We were as children in a gingerbread cabin filling ourselves for the witch.” And the rest of the paragraph is just as good. Really great writing!
I still don’t understand this very well, how everyone suddenly wants to eat it.

The sweetness is spreading. “It was a pleasant thing to hear.” Chilling line. Well done.
I want to eat the foamy, creamy cake.
Ah, so many good lines! I love the last paragraph, the narrator is sinking into a malaise, accepting his/her fate.
Note: Characters are story. They make us feel, they connect us to the event. The author should have narrowed this big, epic event into scenes–not given as many details, and shortened the scope. It would have made the apocalypse relatable.
There are a lot of great sentences in here, some fantastic paragraphs, and if it had characters is would’ve really taken it to the next level! On the whole, great writing in a short time.

The Gluten-Free Man

Haha. I love the title!
CHILD-EATING GINGERBREAD MAN. What?! Wow! That’s totally creepy and weird. And totally epic mythology.
I’m enjoying this voice, and the first bit of dialogue is great.
Candied sprinkles. *mouth waters*
(note: no stakes yet. What’s going to happen if the Gingerbread Man doesn’t get his goal?)
“The dogs would turn out to be vegan.” haha!
The voice keeps drawing me deeper and deeper into the story. Fantastic character.
Engaging first scene with Sam. Great pacing.
Cupcakes, strudel, ice cream, Turkish Delight…dude, I’d be there.
I love how this story plays with the fairy tales and myths of the past…fairy feasts that trap you for a hundred years, lettuce that makes you need more or you’re going to die, golden apples that turn you into swans, etc . . . food is an essential part to myths/folklore. Love how the author used it.
Cookies Anonymous?! ha! This is awesome.
Really, really great writing. The thing this author totally has figured out is self-editing, he used words with great care, and the story flowed effortlessly–which means it took great effort to create.
The tiniest bit of critique I have for the story is that I would’ve loved to know what the stakes are for him–what’s in it for him?
The voice is spectacular and I can’t wait to read more from this writer.

I choose The Gluten-Free Man.

Rich Alix is our second 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:

It seems that what the arena demands, the arena shall have, even if it is a “complete sweetness overload.” Both authors this week embraced this demand to the fullest. Let us begin:

“The Gluten-Free Man” by Nathan Cabaniss – This story was a little creepy. Casting the Gingerbread Man as some kind of cross between Pennywise and the witch from Hansel & Gretel was inspired and worked better than I might have imagined. That Mr. Cabaniss managed to make me side with, and feel for, an oversized pastry person who lives to lure children into his ovens is proof enough of a story well written. Riding along with him as he descends from a simple turn-down, to a very near miss, and then to complete and utter apathy really made me forget just what he was trying to do.
I like the ending, it reminded me of the Bad Guy meeting in Wreck it Ralph, although it did raise a bit of a concern for me. We know that the GM’s motivation is not a pure one. Does his invitation and inclusion in the support group mean that the other characters might also have had less than honorable intentions? I would like to have seen that explored further, maybe a discussion among the others on whether or not to invite him?
This story is one of those that is good as it is but, to me, has glimpses of what it could be. The bones are there and they are strong, just could use a little fleshing out. I still really enjoyed the originality of it and thought it was well written.

“Pillow” by Hannah-Elizabeth Noelle Thompson – If “The Gluten-Free Man” was creepy, this story was downright disturbing. Ms. Thompson took something as innocent and literally sweet as dessert and made it the agent of our complete destruction. Not content to just expand the obesity epidemic ad infinitum she introduces H. Procurro and tortures the entire world to death. Not sure I want to know where that idea came from, but the execution was fantastic.
The progession from weird weather to minor nuisance to mild concern to E.L.E. seemed very realistic, which went a long way towards helping me accept the chocolate rain. I like how the logistics of the plague of sweetness were examined from cleanup to water contamination. The final decision that everyone faced was reminiscent of people dying of thirst in a lifeboat. “Water, water everywhere,” replaced by “Candy, candy all around, in the air and on the ground.” Brutal but fantastic.
The issue that I have with this story is one that took me a couple of readings to identify. It’s the perspective. It gives the story a kind of historical, eyewitness account feel to it. This works really well right up until the final choice is made and the effects of the web and the fungus are described. To me, anyone who experienced these effects would not be able to relate them to anyone. The story would have had more impact to me if the account ended at the choice. Even with that, I did enjoy this story. It was completely unexpected given the prompt and what I know of Ms Thompson and I love being surprised like this.

To determine a winner this week I had to go with my gut instinct. It was another tough choice as neither story left a sour taste in my mouth so I went with the story that left me hungry for more. This week my vote goes to: “The Gluten-Free Man” by Nathan Cabaniss

There you have it folks! Another great week in the arena, and our first unified judges decision in many weeks. Let’s take a look at the audience votes:

[poll id=”5″]

The winner for TWA #9 is Nathan Cabaniss! Congrats Nathan!

It was a hard fought win as Hannah-Elizabeth Thompson brings literary stylings that far exceed her years. We’ll be thinking about “Pillow” and “The Gluten-Free Man” for a long time to come.

We had more votes for this contest than any other, and we would personally like to thank all of you who took the time to read our stories. We’ll see another set of stories in two weeks when The Writer’s Arena returns.


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.

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