The Official Writing Challenge
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Perhaps I'm dense, but on the first read I was completely baffled, stymied, and...well, let's just say I was inadequate to comment; then on second read I got the message...but the point was disappointing. Creative and well written, however.
This just needs to be longer. I want to no more about the other colorful characters he met. You said they were colorful, I want to hear about them! Intriguing story! Me thinks I see a novel in this.
Excuse me, that was I want to KNOW more.:)
This one puzzles me. The first part seems like a realistic short story, then it dips into allegory country, and the ending is just, well, puzzling. I think you still had some words to use...could you have clarified this situation for your readers? Your writing skills are apparent, and you draw your reader along.
Your story drew me in, and there was some good writing throughout.

However, I too was confused and had to read it twice. You had some clever phrases (like "even though he was nothing but an old crab").
A fishy novel at that! I know I'm "hooked".
I'm confused...I thought he would find his dad and maybe he did at the end? You have an interesting topic and your story drew me in but I got lost in the ending.
Kaelin's a fish, right? Think I've got it. Rather clever, although perhaps we need a few more clues to make us sure. Interesting story.
Since I caught on by your hint that the story was about a fish - it was great! Maybe your title could indicate it somehow without giving it away. It still is a really good story if the reader knows or suspects. Not sure about the 'smelling' part - but I liked knowing and it didn't ruin it for me. It was funny and poignant that way.
Be careful not to give history in dialogue that would not normally be spoken. Would the mother actually tell the son all those things he already knows? Colorful characters? Show us those colors!! Blessings!
I thought this was clever. I did "get it" the first time I read it. I particularly enjoy stories told from interesting POV's.
Rest assured--I got it by the time you introduced the 'old crab'. Maybe because I have read and reread more childrens books than I can count (or care to count!) I caught on pretty quick to the beginning and to the end (poor lil' fishy...)
I think maybe you dwelt too long on his goodbye to mom. The description seemed sparse (on purpose?)and, while you couldn't have put too much in (you'd ruin the surprise ending) maybe a bit more would have helped flow. You could have come up with some pretty catchy sea names for the characters he met and perhaps just mentioned them in passing to 'bait' the reader a bit more. I think, too, that I would have had the crab try to discourage him, tell him that some adventure is good, that pushing your boundries can be a good thing, but The Wild is a dark, dangerous (evil?) place, not to be ventured into AT ALL--paint a clearer picture that that's way past the limits of good sense, safety and wisdom.
Cute idea, hard to do with a limited word count!
I only read this after you hinted, so I already knew it was about a fish. But then I got distracted with lunch before reading and forgot about the hint. lol I still was reminded of it though, when I read the clues, such as leaving school and the old crab, so I think I would have figured it out with out already knowing. :)

I like the names you chose, Kaelin is a lot more interesting to read then Tom or Joe. I had a bit of a problem with their talk though, when the mom said the spiel about the dad not coming back. It seemed like she was informing the reader of what her son should already know. And I agree about shortening the good bye to make room for the characters you alluded to.

Nice imaginative take on the topic. I think Debora's ideas about warning of the dangers of pushing your limits would be that 'great meaning' you were looking for. ;)
You did a good job in the first section introducing the characters and that made the ending so much sadder! The poor mom! I can just see her distraught at home all alone! I'm not sure what the point of the story was though - never venture out into unfamiliar territory? I caught on that Kaelin was a fish when you introduced the crab. I liked the creativity of the story - a fun read.
Thanks fellow commentators, for filling me in! I didn't get it w/ the first read...but then ended up laughing at myself for being so dense! Well written, I just needed another fishy hint somewhere early on (maybe that was just me, though).
I'm at the end of a long list. After reading the comments, I get it now. How humorous!
I came back to read after seeing your hint! I'm so glad I did...just call me ditzy! Sooo he's a fish! I like it much better and now I see the clues! Sorry about before!
*smacking myself on the forehead* Of COURSE he's a fish! And that makes this sotry absolutely charming. I love your "gotcha" ending. Sorry about that earlier confusion; you played absolutely fair with your readers. All the right clues were there! Lots of fun here.