Jeez, you lot don't believe in making things easy for a girl, do you? The entries for the challenge were wide-ranging in subject, approach and style. Many were inspired and the writing was good throughout.

Making a decision for a final three was … impossible. So I chose four. In the end, it had to come down to personal preference, but any of those stories in the "highly commended" list could have made the placings, although, from my point of view there was a clear winner.

I'm glad I did this, I've had a lot of good reading out of it.

I've commented briefly on all the competing entries.

Given how close-run a contest it was, I've made little differentiation between the prizes. The XP awards were as follows:

  • First: 40
  • Second: 30
  • Third: 25
  • Highly commended: 20
  • All entries, other than mine, received a 10XP bonus for rising to the challenge.

First

Sands

What can I say? Great plot, great use of words, EVIL puns, appalling cheating. I laughed and I loved it.

Second

The Swan

A marvellous treatment, well drawn, beautiful use of description giving the story great realism and a firm sense of time and place. The words from the list were used seamlessly throughout. Wonderful.

Equal Third

A Night to Remember

Minimalist, hilarious, excellent in idea and execution. Brilliant.

The Hat Trick

Excellent evocative writing, very accurate portrayal of the time and place of the setting, great use of dialogue and seamless integration of words in the list. The characterisation is strong too. The ending is particularly effective if you know the back story, but it isn't necessary for enjoyment of the piece.


Highly Commended

I dedicate all my love to your hot inner beauty

Wonderfully surreal, laugh out loud stuff. No attempt at true integration of the words, but much may be forgiven in something this funny.

Sestina for a Turning Point

I loved this, but I can't in all justice give it a place in a story competition – the form is much more than the content. Great writing though.

Give In, Or Give Up

Wonderful story. Well written, evocative, good use of dialogue and an involving plot. Use of 'complicious' jarred a little for me in this one, other words were integrated seamlessly.

Miranda's Right

This story is near perfect. The plot, dialogue and characterisation are all excellent. The use of 'zealous' didn't quite feel smooth, which is why it's not in the placings.

The Sandstone Dancer

Beautiful use of language, strong characterisation, and a haunting plot. I really liked this story, and if 'backhanded compliment' hadn't felt just a little out of place, it would have been in the placings.

Tom and Tom again

Beautifully written, which is no surprise, given the author. Made me smile. Didn't quite grab me enough for a place at the top, however, though I'm not sure why.

Movin' on up

A very well written, bleak and realistic story. Words used well, and writing is restrained and sharp, evoking a sense of hopelessness and reinforcing the message "be careful what you wish for".

The One True Meme

Very funny, extremely well written, and I enjoyed it very much, but it's an in-joke, and a total cop-out as far as using the most difficult of the words in the list is concerned. On E2, this is great, but it has no currency outside the site.

Of First and Last Noders

Another brilliantly funny e2-centric story. I loved it, and judging by it's rep, so did a lot of others. Beautifully written, and great reading, but like RimRod's entry, it suffers from being too specific to qualify as a 'good story' off the site.

A Little Ring

Great story, well executed. Excellent dialogue, good use of list words and very fine characterisation.

Redemption for the Fallen

And another good one. I'm running out of nice things to say here without becoming boring. This one isn't in the placings just because it didn't quite hook me in – a purely preference thing, and not a judgement on the quality, which is excellent.

Heirlooms

Touching story, well written, with a strong protagonist. Excellent ending.


The rest

Confessions of a Pedestrian Traffic Light Gnome

Very funny, well written story. A novel plot, good use of dialogue, and a very unusual protagonist. The use of the list words was a little clunky once or twice, but otherwise, excellent.

Serena

Involving story, excellently written, with good integration of the list of words. The premise is very strong, but the ending is perhaps a little too rushed to be believable.

Just Another Night at the Frat House

Sharp dialogue, strong plot, good writing, and excellent use of list words. A couple of times I thought the story suffered for gratuitous use of hardlinks – a hazard of the medium perhaps.

You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille

Strangely touching for a story about peanuts <grin>. Good integration of words, and a well written story, with very effective characterisation for such a short piece, I think, however that it could have benefited from being longer.

Ruff! Meow mreeeow, ribit reeeebit!

Really nice, conversational stream-of-consciousness stuff. Needs proofing for browsers other than IE though.

Hot Bullets of Betrayal

Amusing, though somewhat contrived. Needs more work to realise it's potential.

Going faster and faster and faster in the 21st Century: An Analyst Essay Contest

Amusing, and entertainingly written approach which parodies this type of letter very accurately. My only reservation is that a couple of the words on the list don't fit in as smoothly as I'd like.

Deception - Day One

A novel approach, and an entertaining story, with the list words well used throughout. I'd have liked to see more though, the ending was too swift, and didn't really resolve the situation.

Nothing New

Good evocation of atmosphere, and the dialogue is strong, but a bit of a cop-out once or twice on use of words.

Secrets of the Gods

Another involving story, with good use of the list words. The dialogue could be tightened a little, but overall, it's well written and enjoyable.

Nice Night for Stars

Once again, a nicely evocative piece of writing, that communicated the emotions and sense of time and place well. A couple of editing/grammar errors let it down a bit, and the use of 'zealous' jarred a little, but, again, it was very well written.

The 2-sentence Fin de Siecle Fiction Challenge Entry and The 1-sentence Fin de Siecle Fiction Challenge Entry

Both show how much can be done with only a few words – not serious contenders as stories, but both very well realised.

Binary Opposites

Great fun and very well written, though a little thin on substance. Enjoyable though.

Far from Home and Hearth

Yet another different and interesting approach. Good writing, and an involving and worthwhile story, but forced a little in the use of 'soy'.

The Farmer Becomes The Knight Again

Good plotting, well drawn character, involving writing. 'Uneaten Pizza' was the jarring element here, the other words being integrated very well.

I know other people won't agree with my choices, and they are clearly subjective, but there isn't a story on the list which isn't worthy of reading and an upvote.

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