When submitting your work to a contest, it's always interesting to see and understand the reason for rejection. But, judging, how fair is it?
I thought you'd enjoy an example of the procedure and outcome. I leave it to you to decide.
This is my latest submission to a WOW flash fiction contest. 750 words maximum. $10 entry fee and an extra $10 fee for critique.
This is the critique, I recieved.
Full Moon Confessions
Detective Cypress watched his prey with interest. The man sat quietly, staring straight at him. "Creepy," he said to the Sergeant in charge. "It's as though he's looking through plain glass. Why hasn't he been stripped of those clothes?"
Sergeant Jones answered, "Forensics will be here any minute. They have his overcoat, plenty of blood on it."
"Good. What else?"
"Bastard claims his name is J. T. Ripper, as in Jack the Ripper." Jones handed Cypress a file and an evidence bag with a cell phone in it. "Happy Halloween, Cy." He chuckled before giving a summary of his findings. "Fingerprints, DNA, name, not in the system, but they do match all the evidence we've collected from the crime scenes. Claims he's one-hundred-forty years old."
Jones gave him an odd look but ignored the remark. "Well, it beats anything I've ever seen. He denies everything, which doesn't make sense because we caught him red-handed. Literally. The man was holding his last victim's heart in his hands when we arrived on the scene."
"It's a full moon and Halloween. They don't come crazier."
Before sitting, Cypress opened the file and deliberately laid out the picture of each victim while staring into the black abyss that was the man's eyes. Eyes that didn't blink until the man smiled.
Cypress sat, leaned back, and folded his arms.
“The Master Interrogator. You've done your homework," the man in black said.
"Dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's. So, J. T. Ripper. What's your story?"
"Jack. Please, call me Jack. How should I address you?"
"I kind of liked Master Interrogator, but Detective Cypress will work too."
"A detective with a sense of humor. Don't find that very often." Jack held out his left hand because his right hand was cuffed to the table.
Cypress shook the man's hand. Surprised at the strength it held. "Serves me well. So, Jack, what motivates you?"
"Gets straight to the point. I like that too." Jack said and sat up straight. "Well, Detective, it's all about the fog."
"The fog?" Cypress said, his curiosity piqued. "Please, explain."
"Simple, it's my inspiration. Has been since I was young. I've seen all the 'fog' movies and watched gleefully as the victims paid for their audacity. Slashers, horrendous creatures, and hideous bugs have all hidden their evil in the obscurity of a foggy night. But that's moviemaking. The scarier, the better. A walk into the thick mist is super energizing."
"It allows me to disappear, lurk, stalk, and, yes, kill with delicious precision. I bet you thought I was going to talk about how I enjoy being swallowed by nature. How I become part of the mist and relish the invisibility. Well, that's all true, but for me, it's all about the victim."
"So, you admit all these women were your victims?"
"Of course, why would I deny it? I mean with today's science. It'd just be a waste of your time.
"I appreciate that, but why these women?"
"They made the mistake of walking into the fog. I don't choose them. They choose me."
"Just by walking into the fog?" Cypress asked.
"Because I know exactly who you are." He laid the cell phone on the table. "Your Tinder account told me everything."
"But it was encrypted!"
Cypress laughed. "My expertise. Jack's last kill date? Really?"
The suspect caught in his own web said, "I see." His bluster dampened.
"Sorry, but your masquerade is at an end." Cypress snapped his finger, and Jones came into the room carrying a yellow-lined tablet and a pen.
"Walk Mr. Terry O'Reilly through the process. Make sure he gives explicit details. You got this, Jones?" Cypress asked as he brushed his hair back and checked his appearance using the mirror.
Cypress read the message. Under the address were the words. "Just kidding about the werewolf. Couldn't resist in front of this piker."
Wearing a grin, Cypress turned and saluted Jones.
© Yolanda Renée 2022
Scores: 1-5 (5 being strongest):
OPEN PROMPT (Any genre in fiction)
Word Count: 750 max
Professional Evaluation of Full Moon Confessions
Subject (Is it fiction? Appropriate for readers? Brief summary):
Answer: Yes, this is a work of fiction and appropriate for WOW! readers. In the light of a full moon, a murder suspect claims he’s Jack the Ripper, but he’s met his match with a seasoned detective.
Content (Is the story well developed? Is there a plot/point to the story? Is it compelling? Are the characters well-drawn?
Answer: This is a good story that flows nicely and has quirky dialogue. My only suggestion would be to add in a bit more character development to distinguish the two detectives. The story is tight regarding the word count but a few small tweaks will help break up the dialogue and give the two characters a little more distinction.
Technical (Did they follow the rules--is there a title and proper word count? Check for proper spelling, punctuation and grammar, correct tense, active not passive sentences, overuse of adverbs, use of "wrylies"):
Answer: This is a polished piece, with no grammatical or spelling errors.
Overview (This is where you give your general impression about the writing style, how the story affected you, etc.):
Answer: The story is well-developed, and as a nod to classic stories about paranormal/murder mysteries, it’s a fun read. My only critique is that the author should consider adding in a little more character behavior/description in between dialogue to break up the conversation between the detective and “Jack the Ripper.” I made suggestions in the story above. Great job! My suggestions are below:
[DR1] Is the phone password protected? How would he break through this? Facial recognition? Something to think about given when this story is set.
[DR2] Is the detective shaking his head here? Shuddering? Add a brief description to break up dialogue.
[DR3] Great line!
[DR4] I'd suggest breaking up the dialogue here by giving a small hint on the killer's face. Does a muscle twitch in his jaw? Does an eyebrow raise? He knows the detective is onto him so you should show his face betraying his calm exterior in some way.
[DR5] How does O'Reilly react to this statement? A roll of the eyes? A smirk? Or does he simply ignore it?
Do I agree with this critique? Of course not. 😄 I thought it was perfect. But as the writer I always do. Even so, I do agree with the suggestions that were made. Even with the tight word count, I could have added those reactions without taking away from the story or adding to the word count.
Although, Giving a score of 4 for each area also seemed a bit arbitrary, but as a judge with numerous stories to filter through, well, how well do you think you would do?
Full Moon Confessions is a recent Kindle Library Vella creation. Of which Detective Cypress is the star. I've started a selection of "Full Moon Confessions" highlighting the oddest of his cases. This story is one of them.
How well do you recieve a critique?