The reviews from the first round of Martin T. Ingham's Shootout, as the title of this post suggests, have come around, and I found that it was almost more fascinating to read the other reviews from the stories I read than for my own contribution.
Suffice it to say, my reviews were different. At least one of the authors seemed to get their feelings hurt from what I had to say (but no to the extent of a writer I had no contact with other than seeing what other people thought; they took the one negative review out of a bunch of really positive ones and ran it into the ground), which is a little disturbing, because I know I said exactly what I thought was wrong with it and what could be done to improve it (well, maybe I was too specific?), besides the one offending line (and I was being generous, because I could not bring myself to read the entire piece).
I noticed that most of the readers were extremely forgiving to each other. My favorite story in the piece was hailed as a veritable masterpiece, but it still fit my label of Overachiever, which is a distinction I tried to make clear in my review, calling it a very typical writer's exercise. Well, now I know why most people are participating, and it's not generally to be a hundred percent accurate in their opinions (at least, from standards that would have to be considered reasonably compatible with mine), but rather to share stories from a pool of amateur writers.
This is not necessarily bad thing. If anything, I found the reviews for my own story to be remarkably accurate (and wondered where comparable minds were from the five other readers of the ones I read). I thought the first comment, which brought up the similarity to a recent Batman movie, was the most useful. If I'd seen the movie before writing my story, I'm reasonably certain that the story would have come out differently. Another review called it a thought piece, which is not how I've previously considered my writing, but anyone who's read Monorama (that would be Mr. Dilloway) will probably buy that critic a drink for the insight. Most of the reviews focused on the length (it was around 800 words), calling that its biggest weakness, and maybe I ought to seriously consider that as I write in the future (my story for the second round was a little over 400 words longer). Over the past year and a half, I've tended to write flash thought fiction as a rule, and that's what I did again, just to see what people actually thought about it, and now I have a better idea. It will probably mean that going forward I will write more extensive stories, meaning that I won't be able to crank them out in an hour or less. I've been able to push myself as a writer while working on longer form fiction, but I will probably admit a certain laziness when it comes to shorter efforts.
Yes, I love thought fiction, and while I've tried to work more action into some of what I've written in that regard, I still tend to believe that getting inside the character's head is enough to interest readers. Now I have some proof that this is not necessarily the case (even though I already knew that).
Well, we'll see what these guys think of the second story...
Please note that WRiTE CLUB has now begun its competition, pitting two entries against each other, two a week, and that submissions are still possible.