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Halloween Short Story Contest Discussion

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I think I have an inkling about who wrote stories #1 and #3.  We'll see if my suspicions pan out :)

To date, I have read two stories.

  1. I skimmed Story # 1 because it seemed to include characters from the author's other stories.  Since I haven't caught up to their shenanigans, I felt it prudent to hold off until I catch up.
  2. Story # 2 was only tangentially related to Halloween.  Fully nine-tenths had absolutely nothing to do with the theme.  Admittedly, this changed with the denouement at the end, where horror tropes started coming into play, but this won't be a strong contender for me.
  3. Story # 3 has compelling characters and a gripping plot.  Although the protagonist still possesses some kind of innate ability, this is considerably more believable than what you would normally see in a fantasy story about heroic boys.  The tie to Halloween is stronger, although it is not really the main theme.  Still, the tale was nicely tied up at the end, with enough room left for a possible sequel.  I can most confidently say that the resident Musketeer who is an avid hanger of Cliffs did not pen this story. :D
Edited by Zergrinch
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So, like Zergrinch, I took notes as I finished reading. Not going to try and say which I think is best, that's what the voting is for. Here's how I've tallied the stories:

Story #1 - Having followed this story, since it was introduced last Halloween, and continues as a current story, it was a nice addition to the ongoing saga.

Story #2 - The story did not appear to contain an outright "Halloween" theme, until you got towards the end. Then it lept out and smacked you. This is another Halloween story that needs to be continued, either now or next year.

Story #3 - This was another story that did not seem to embody the Halloween theme as well as some others. Regardless, the story drew me in. The ending of this story almost demanded a second installment. It is easily among my favorites.

Story #4 - The Halloween theme on this one was spotty. Regardless, it kept my interest because I really wanted to know what was up with the mother and the new family. It wasn't until towards the end, that I had it figured out. Gomez and Morticia have nothing on these folks!

Story #5 - At the risk of having the author dislike me... the Halloween theme was only a sidetrack to the overall theme of the story. Not that I dislike stories with a moral imperative, mind you. I think I just wasn't expecting this one.

Story #6 - All Hallows Eve, right from the gate and down to the end. Another favorite from this years crop.

Story #7 - Halloween themes can encompass many different things. This one was just not my cup of tea. A really overworked theme, lately.

Story #8 - Another story that grabbed the theme and ran with it. The diversion scenes, rather than being titillating were quite humorous, which only added to the overall tension. Well done!

Story #9 - This was another story that started off strong and finished strong. Pure Halloween, in my opinion. I liked this story very much, and I had a hard time with not putting it in the class of my favorites this year.

Story #10 - I think, if we are honest, everybody likes a well written murder mystery. Halloween themed all the way through, which made it even more thrilling. Among my favorites.

Story #11 - This is one I want to see a next part. It begs the question which was asked at the start and possibly hinted at the answer in the end. Heartache and/or heartbreak. Have a box of tissues handy.

Story #12 - Another shot for All Hallows Eve, from start to finish. Good overall story, but I just couldn't connect well with the characters.

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I have only read through to number six. Voting as I go, from the heart and my first reaction once done reading. Number six has my favorite vote so far. Number four was interesting and caught my attention, even though not very Halloweenish for me. Off to work and then more reading tonight.

I am glad you extended the reading deadline! I don't feel so rushed now.

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Well, I have read them all...

We certainly have have some divergent stories this time.

While it took me a while to really think it over There are three that really kept me fully gripped. Because I am one of the writers I am not going to do an Al and go over each one. However, if forced to pick one I would start with what I see as the top 3. From there it gets a great deal more difficult, but after mulling it over.... I have to give one story a bigger thumbs up... So between the three I felt were my favorites, I am going to give a shout out for #12. 

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12 very different stories, which is great as there should be something for everyone in this collection. My two favorites are 6 and 10. Both very well written stories, from characters, to plot and dialogue. 

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First, thank you to everyone who submitted a story. They were all wonderful, so if your story isn't listed below, know that I loved it. So many different themes.

My top five that really grabbed me were the following:

Nine and Ten were a tie, I couldn't choose.

Twelve came in next.

Then Six and Four tied for fourth place.

I chose to pick five and let me tell you it wasn't easy, I kept changing numbers on my paper and moving them around! They were all wonderful!

Hugs to all of you. Thank you, again, I really had an enjoyable birthday weekend reading so many Halloween stories! You made my weekend special.

Edited by Cynaira
misspelled a word.
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I have read all the stories and I must say that most of them are very well written.  There was only one or two that unfortunately were not the best.  As to what one was the best I can not say.  I would hate to be a judge to determine a winner.  It is good that there is voting.  I voted on each one as I finished reading them.  Some I can see as a continuing story and maybe they will be.

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I finally finished all 12 stories - and there was much to like in them all! For someone who doesn't particularly pay much attention to Halloween, this was a pleasure.

A couple of general thoughts before I give my specifics on each story. I was pleasantly surprised by the TOTAL diversity of all of these stories - not one of them was really like any of the others. Some focus on modern American, run-of-the-mill Halloween activities and celebrations, others more supernatural, and still others more historic and old world. I learned things in reading these stories, something I am always grateful for after a good read.

This diversity of genres and focus leads to the phenomenon I see in the scoring - people's opinions are all over the map of these stories. Some say a story has definitely provided a strong Halloween theme and others say it doesn't exist. How can this disparity be true? I can only surmise this is because readers are looking for their particular thematic elements and finding or not finding them, as the case may be. Such is why reading (and writing) is art and extremely subjective.

Here are my thoughts on all twelve. (Full disclosure: I wrote one of these, and yes, I liked it...grin!)

Story 1
Even though I don't particularly like vampire stories, and therefore have not read many (or any, really) I actually liked this story. There were several touching moments which is my primary reason for recommending it. The Halloween theme was not front and center, but it made for an interesting background to the conflict between good and evil. Well done.

Story 2
I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I liked the conflict and thought the author did a masterful job illustrating the behavior and mindsets of the stalker and the stalked. I was into it until the ghost business, then it felt like it left the rails a bit. Halloween wasn't really in this one, but the story as it is didn't need it.

Story 3
Very interesting and creative. Never read anything like it. Halloween theme was there, but not the focus of course. I enjoyed this story and thought the author did a nice job of merging different cultures and themes about acceptance. As a reader I like learning about other cultures. My only negative is there was too much detail about weaponry and the battle scenes became a tad bit repetitious, but overall the story moved along nicely. I emotionally connected to this one, which is always nice.

Story 4
Wow.. This one had me from the very beginning. I was so interested in this kid and what his life was going to be like in the new place. The new family was interesting, with just enough of a hint early on that things were not quite as they appeared to be. Halloween was not much of a theme in this one, but who cares - it's a great story! My only quibble was the naming of the characters by a single letter - it was too "Men in Black" for me. But I suppose that was easier than making up a ton of "real" names for a whole extended family. I definitely recommend this one.

Story 5
This one was interesting in a lot of ways. I loved the overall theme and message of the story within a story, and it captured my heart for sure. The ending was poignant if not totally unexpected. When I finished this, my first thought was this could be a Readers Digest story. My only negative thought about it is it was too short and really had nothing to do with Halloween at all. But I liked it anyway.

Story 6
First of all, this is incredibly polished and well written, which makes it enjoyable to read overall. Second, it captures a completely different side to Halloween than the commercial and kid-focused aspects we in America think of generally. But I have to say while I understood what the author did with the main character in the end, I didn't like it, but I don't know why. I suppose in someway it's a HEA, but I don't know, it left me wanting a different outcome. I do recommend this story.

Story 7
Several interesting plot lines are laid out in this one, with lots of hints of what is to come. We feel for the protagonist from the very beginning, but...then it peters out. This is more of a first chapter of a longer story than a complete short story. But it did leave me wanting to read the next one.

Story 8
One of my favorites. Sometimes you just want to read a beautiful story of a loving home and the day to day activities of raising a kid that make life so interesting and enjoyable if you let them. I cried, I laughed out loud, and mostly I related to this story. Obviously not written by an American, but it captures perfectly the essence of Halloween for a small child without the evil spirits, vampires, witches and warlocks of fantasy. I loved it!

Story 9
This was a very well written story on the paranormal, not my usual cup-o-tea, but...it was very interesting and thought provoking. I liked the pacing and the dramatic ending with it's unexpected link between two of the un-human house guests was a fun side note. Halloween was not the focus here, and the story could have happened at any time really. I would definitely recommend this one.

Story 10
A good not-so-old fashioned murder mystery, which is one of my favorite genres I must admit. Interesting take on having the main detective be gay and still not sure of himself. Can catch the bad guys but not a man of his own? Haunted houses, pumpkin carving, candy eating, trick-or-treating fun are in the mix, with a homicidal maniac thrown in for good measure. What's not to like?

Story 11
I really liked this one. It made me cry happy tears many times, which I like. And...I think the author did a masterful job of portraying the true emotions of what people would go through in this kind of dramatic life change. Halloween is happening all around, so the theme is there. The characters - especially the main character, Sandy, are well drawn out yet there is room to learn much more about all of them. This is a great beginning to a much longer story. I hope the author is currently writing it. Well done.

Story 12
This was probably my first reading of a story about shape-shifters (I know, I know, what prehistoric rock have I been living under?). I found it fantastical and highly unbelieveable, and yet...I really, really liked. Early on I suspended logic for heart and soul and went for the ride. The characters were well done, the story moved quickly, and I was definitely interested to see how it all turned out in the end. What I did NOT like, however, and found very confusing and aggravating, was the story is primarily running dialog, and there is little to no indication of who is talking most of the time. I found myself lost and confused many times as I read, and it stopped the flow of the story for me. I pressed on, but a few "X said" or "said Y" statements would go along way to make this a perfect story. I still recommend it.

Overall, my favorites were 8, 10, and 11. But honestly, I liked so many others that I can't imagine being able to "judge" them. They are all so different and so wonderful. Thank you to ALL the writers who put their time, talents, and serious skills to the task of providing many hours of enjoyable reading.

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OMG, Jack, I read your thoughts above and thought, did I put #8 in my list. Went back up and re-read and found I didn't. Shame on me! I guess in all the juggling around of my favorites I lost it in the shuffle. I too laughed so hard I cried and it made me remember my boys when they were little. :)

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The score calculated. The top 3 scoring stories will be posted on the Website library on sat October 31.

Thank you to everyone that participated, The authors, Forum members and staff. This has been another huge success. And it has proven that making this an annual event is the way to go.

It seems as though everyone really enjoyed this years contest. Based on how tight the scores were everyone had a good time.

Thank you and


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Mr Prosser:But, Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.
Arthur:Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them had you? I mean like actually telling anybody or anything.
Mr Prosser:But the plans were on display…
Arthur:On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.
Mr Prosser:That’s the display department.
Arthur:With a torch.
Mr Prosser:The lights had probably gone out.
Arthur:So had the stairs.
Mr Prosser:But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?
Arthur:Yes yes I did. It was on display at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard.
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congrats Driver. Well done.

Thanks to all who voted.

To be honest, I am both surprised and honored to be in the top three. This was a fun story for me to write, so the storyline wasn't a whole hearted Halloween story as I could have done.

Anyone who want to give me some harsh/critical feedback, please feel free to do so.

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Thanks to all the writers. All the stories were good and interesting in spite of the divergent themes and topics.

Congrats to the winners. One of the best things about these contests is discovering new writers to like. Even though Drivers' story wasn't my personal fave it was still good and caused me to check out his regular stories. Found out I had already read his short story 'Long/Division so decided to try 'Falling Off a Log.' Read every chapter in one sitting now waiting on more.

Get to writing please!

For those who don't know I already follow the other two winners.

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