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One Shot · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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The Vendor at the Stall
"Will you throw the ball?" asked the vendor at the stall.

Mr. Cormerick with his cane read the sign at the vendor's side, with its glittery glitter and silvery silver:

Land the ball in the hole, win your dream!
Only one throw per customer.

Mr. Cormerick asked, "What does it mean by 'win your dream'?"

"Why only what it means!" the vendor declared with a grin.

Mr. Cormerick scoffed and walked away, seeking vendors with more realistic booths.

"Will you throw the ball?" asked the vendor at the stall.

Hard working Ross read the sign and laughed. "And if I win, you'll give me my dream?"

"Absolutely, indubitably, yes!"

"Well," declared Ross, "I could always use a new tractor. Let me give it a go."

So Ross took the little red ball in his big bear hand, pulled his arm back, and threw with all his impressive strength. Alas, his throw was too high, and the little ball sailed into the big net around the tiny hole.

"Oh, too bad, sonny. Better luck next year."

Ross stared at the little ball with eyes like fire. "Now hold on, that ball's too light! Let me have another throw."

"Sorry, sir." The vendor tapped the sign beside him. "Only one shot at this dream."

"But that's not fair!"

"Life's not fair."

And though Ross breathed with all the fury of a steam engine, he walked off. "It's all a scam, anyway," he muttered. "That vendor wasn't going to give me a new tractor."

"Will you throw the ball?" asked the vendor at the stall.

Miss Carol's eyes went wide upon seeing the sign. "Does this mean dear Mr. Lodgings will love me?"

The vendor raised an eyebrow. "Not my business to know, ma'am. All I can say is you'll win your dream."

Giggling as only those in love can, Miss Carol took the little ball in her little hand and threw with all the skill she had, which wasn't much to say the least. So it was to her surprise that the little ball flew through the hole. She clapped her hands and gave the unsuspecting vendor a hug that might have broken bones were it not from such a tiny woman, and then she went running through the crowds of the fair.

The vendor stared after her, at a loss for what to say. Then he smiled and sat in his old wicker chair. "One satisfied customer, I suppose. Dreams are grand things, are they not?"

"Will you throw the ball?" asked the vendor at the stall.

Schoolboy Zack squinted at the vendor, then at the sign. Now, Zack was smarter than your average schoolboy, and he found this sign to be odd, so he asked, "You can really make my dreams come true?"

"I suppose that depends," the Vendor replied.

"On what?"

"On what your dream is."

Zack set hands to hips and struck the most dashing pose he knew, chest thrust out and head held high. "I want to be a sergeant in the army like my pop!" Then he leveled a frown at the Vendor. "But I'm only twelve. Can you make the army accept me at twelve?"

The vendor shrugged. "Nope. I'm just a vendor at the fair, kid."

Now Zack crossed his arms and glared. "So you're lying about me winning my dream?"

"Not at all." The vendor offered the little red ball. "Try it and see."

Zack peered at the ball, but took it at last. He hesitated for a few seconds, face set in a pout, but at last gave the ball a throw. And what a nice throw it was, sailing through the air in a pretty red blur. Even so, it bounced against the edge of the hole and dropped back to the grass.

"Aw, too bad, kid," the vendor said. "Maybe next year."

Zack stuffed his hands in his pockets, but stopped himself from turning around. "Hey, mister? What if it went in?"

The vendor smiled at Zack as he picked the ball up. "Tell me, what did you want the most when you threw that ball?"

"To be a sergeant..." Zack blinked. "No. To get the ball in the hole."

The vendor sat back in his chair, set the ball down and gave Zack a pat on the head. "There you go."

Zack thought long and hard on this. "And I can try again next year?"


And Zack smiled.

"I think I will."
« Prev   27   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>PaulAsaran
I'm wondering if this was intended as a children's story. The first couple of sentences, in particular, have that kind of feel to them:

"Will you throw the ball?" asked the vendor at the stall.

Mr. Cormerick with his cane read the sign at the vendor's side, with its glittery glitter and silvery silver:

The first sentence has an internal rhyme (ball/stall) and enough rhythm to it that it feels like verse (almost Seussian, though the foot size is two syllables instead of three and Seuss didn't write much with two-syllable feet), and the two combined give an impression that either one alone might not. The second sentence, of course, has "glittery glitter and silvery silver", and I have trouble believing that was unintentional, but those aren't phrases you generally see aimed at anyone over the age of about 5.

Beyond that, this story as a whole has a lot of monosyllables, which tend to slow down a piece of text and make the reader take a little longer. This, of course, makes them ideal for younger readers.

If that was, in fact, the goal, then it seems to be decent, though the pacing feels a little off in a way that I can't identify as clearly, and there are a few commas missing. However, since it seems written for a much younger reading level, I'm having trouble rating it high (Tier: Misaimed).

I do like the repetition of the opening sentence at the start of each scene.
#2 ·
· · >>PaulAsaran
That was great, cute and funny.

I'm also wandering if it's intended as a children's story. Not because of the pace but because of the metaphor. Indeed, what I keep from children stories' metaphors (both the stories I read as a kid and as an adult) aren't the possible meanings and implications they have. I can see and understand them but in the end, it's still the first image that remains, like in Roald Dahl's books. Whatever are the messages that come with the story, I always remember the BFG blowing dreams to children and don't really care for what it could symbolise.

I got the same feeling here (even if it was weaker), there is probably a message to get from pursuing your dreams and stuff but in the end, it's just shooting a ball to try to achieve your dream.

I loved it and it will undoubtebly be a top contender.
#3 · 1
· · >>Ranmilia >>PaulAsaran
I -also- suspect this was intended to be more of a children's story (or at least a prose piece). That said, this initial expectation not being met throughout the rest of the fic actually has a hugely negative effect on me, because I think the story would be significantly better having maintained a prose-ish scheme.

Also, I'm not really convinced on the final message. I get what the idea is, but I'm not quite sure what the path that message is supposed to be sitting along is, if that makes sense. Basically, the booth man here seems like a real asshole for no reason by intentionally setting people up to fail, because I feel an immediate desire is different than a dream. So I -want- to land the ball in the hole, but that's not really a dream per se, IMO.
#4 ·
· · >>PaulAsaran
I agree with Fenton, albeit to a smaller degree. It's a fun piece, written using a quite nice, straightforward prose. I'm a sort of sucker for children books, so in a way it was right up my alley.

Sounds like an Aesop of sorts. I'm sure the takeaway is something like "focus on your dream, not on the way to achieve it" but I do agree with the other commenters we're left somewhat on the fence, and I can grok this nebulous ending can let down a number of readers.

So yeah, despite those (minor) flaws, this is going to land in the upper half of my slate.
#5 · 1
· · >>PaulAsaran
Yeah, very much comes across as a children's story, especially the "glittery glitter and silvery silver" phrase. But I enjoyed the central conceit, which reminded me of one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics. Near the top of my slate so far.
#6 ·
· · >>PaulAsaran
Semipoetic children's lit form, huh.
Mr. Cormerick with his cane read the sign at the vendor's side, with its glittery glitter and silvery silver:

"Why, only what it means!" the vendor declared with a grin.

Right here, two awkward strikes, I'm already shaken out. When you step into the arena of form devices, that means your form needs to be on point. Every typo, every missing punctuation mark, every awkward rhyme or adjective that the audience might let slide, they're all getting amplified because you're telling the audience to read your precise words closely and try to savor every morsel. ... And then the rest of the piece mostly drops the form elements anyway, so, ech, what was the point of doing that in the start?

"It's intended as children's lit" isn't an excuse one can just pull out to cover for simplistic writing. I think I had some words on that a few goes back, not gonna repost it all here though because this is much less up that particular alley. Still applies though - writing actual children's lit is very difficult and a totally different judging arena.

Yeah, >>AndrewRogue already covered that and more, now that I'm moving on to the content. Ball dude's carney game is weak, he could stand to take some lessons from Mr. Gaunt's shop of Needful Things. What happens if little Zack scrunches up his face and says "But I was thinking of my dream, that's how I took the shot! In that moment the ball was my sergeant's stripes!" Or even just "No, I definitely wanted to join the army, I didn't care too much about the ball because I didn't believe you!" I wind up agreeing with Zack the least, and Ross the most.

Overall this was not a very effective piece for me. It seems to be option selecting between very lofty and very modest goals: an effective Aesop, children's lit, rhyme and form devices, no form devices, something about goals... I can admire lofty aspirations, but they have to be backed up, y'know? I'd be much more behind the piece if it stuck to its guns on form or devices, or went for a more thoughtful line on the messaging that could respond to "Uh, disagree?" As is, mid to low for me. But thanks for writing!
#7 ·
· · >>PaulAsaran
I feel like your tone is clashing with your ending here. The... childishness of the setup feels at odds with the matter-of-fact ending, to me. Either the promise-of-wonder needs to be toned down a bit, or the ending needs to be rationalized a bit more, maybe? Comparing this to the comic CiG posted, I think Waterson's works because he's contrasting childishness to maturity; this feels like it's simply aiming for one while substituting the other as some sort of 'twist' or joke, and I don't think it comes across as well.

That being said, the conceit does feel strong; perhaps with a bit more smoothing, it would feel less bait-and-switch to me.
#8 · 2
>>TrumpetofDoom >>Fenton >>AndrewRogue >>Monokeras >>Cold in Gardez >>Ranmilia >>Not_A_Hat

Huh. 7th. Considering the reviews I was getting, I didn't anticipate being any where near that high. I'm pleased, but also nonplussed.

The Vendor at the Stall was one of those sudden urges. No pre-planning, no big goal, just a little idea that I threw together in about five minutes before tossing it to the sharks to see how it would do. I remember being abruptly inspired upon remembering the story The Stiff and the StiIe by Stepan Chapman and wanted this to be of a similar whimsical nature, and many of you caught that in the opening bits. Alas, the original version – which had a lot more of the playfulness – proved too long for the contest and I ended up cutting out most of it to make it fit. I wasn't happy with it, but I just didn't have the time I needed to polish it as the idea came to me late.

I didn't expect much out of this one. Maybe I should go back and polish it off. My thanks to everyone for their opinions and giving me something to think about for later.