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We read these in my writing group last weekend and had a nice discussion about them. I love the variety of writing styles represented. In terms of voting, what it came down to, for me, was the definition of a horror story. In my mind, a horror story is - bottom line - SCARY. It should leave you with that "oh no..." feeling of dread in your gut. Some of the stories here, while beautifully written, didn't seem like horror stories to me, but rather stories in a different genre.
"Displacement": Great writing with excellent, gruesome descriptions, but in the end I found myself thinking "huh?" more than feeling dread. I think I just needed some more direction about what possibly might be going on. Instead of being scared, I was more focused on coming up with explanations. Other writing group members had similar opinions.
"Alone for Life": Really dug this one. For me, it was a hard choice between this and "Body Art." In the end, I chose "Body Art" simply because it was scary in a more relatable, real-world way, whereas "Alone for Life" was frightening in a more cerebral sense. Great story, though, and a few of the other members did vote for it.
"Body Art": No secret to me why this one is winning! :) It's SCARY. We can all imagine being in a vulnerable state, with no clue how much danger we're walking into until it's too late to get out. Great stuff, and glad to see it has so many votes.
"Paternity": An interesting image, certainly, but beyond that I didn't get anything out of it. Needed more story? Would have liked an expansion. Group agreed on this one.
"The Birth": I thought this story was awesome! Loved the imagery, the concept, and the writing. My only problem: It wasn't a horror story.
"Love and Hate": Very mixed opinions from the group on this one. A couple of us liked the build-up but felt let down somehow by the twist. One member didn't like the beginning but thought the twist was a good one.
"Wean": We really dug the writing style on this one, especially the descriptions. Really everything about it was well-done. It's moody and creepy. Kudos to the author.
"I'll Be Right Back": Loved this one. It's very tactile with the descriptions of the man's hand and the cold basement floor. "Brutal simplicity" is a good way of putting it. You definitely feel like you're in the scene, and the last line is priceless - unexpected and horrifying, yet, as one group member mentioned, it also has a touch of twisted humor.
"Varlok": Rich, beautiful, poetic language. Very unique and creative. Several of us wanted to see more from this author. I would definitely read a longer story set in this universe. It didn't get my vote because it didn't feel like a horror story, but I definitely dug it. "...splashing into the river like a coin." Love that!
"The Feast of Days": Cool story, and pretty romantic actually, but the end doesn't surprise or frighten. Nice writing style, though, very smooth. I'd classify this one as dark romance.
General Note: VERY surprised to see that almost HALF of the finalists (4/10) went with the theme of pregnancy/childbirth/babies, very closely matching the example story, which was presented as not-quite-worthy. I don't think it's unusual that a lot of people were subconsciously influenced by the example, but it is weird to see such a high percentage of them make it to the finals. There's good variety in terms of writing styles, but theme-wise it's a little one-note. Maybe next time it would be better not to give an example. Also, a woman would be a nice addition to the judging panel.
Nice job to the authors, and to the voters, as well. True horror is winning out, just as it should. :)
I wasn't thrilled with many of them, but I chose to vote for Displacement as it seemed the most unique, creative, and original. Deeper than the rest and I'd like to know the whole story. I am not sure why Body Art is getting the most votes, I find that chainsaws have been over done and it's predictable. No offense to author, just an opinion.
With the Destruction choices, I liked Varlok as I like fantasy, which this seems liked a fantasy/horror. It also seemed like a larger legend, tale, or story could be told and was more unique and original than the rest.
I selected Paternity with two thoughts or reactions in mind..it is quick to make it's point and the second as a woman myself, honestly I believe the thought of a man enduring birth and all that leads up to it is enticing. It is a point well made and well taken.
Valork hits home with me as the tale of what price one is willing to pay for what they believe is of so much worth to them.
Nice job in what you have selected thus far. Vitina