the hanged man

The platform snaps open beneath the man’s brown shoes, and in an instant those shoes disappear as his neck pops against the noose, his feet swinging and clapping together. The crowd about August cheers — or perhaps they only give murmurs of approval; the world awaiting death is oft more quiet than that of life.

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Rating: 6.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Third weekly winner!


The third weekly winner is “Free” by Jean Blasiar. Prize of $50 AUD. Enough to buy a micro-advertisement printed on the wing of a butterfly.

Why I love “Free”

The unknown presumed crime intrigues me.  What could possibly happen so one person is free from responsibility yet the other is not? Then what could possibly happen to fill an entire book?  I think I imagined some Russian scandal, a 1984-ish world where two party members disagreed and that disagreement lead to betrayal.

I particularly like it for the implied connection between the two people in the story. Perhaps they were friends, co-creators, a team working together to make something great. Then, as some teams do … it all broke down in a flurry of lawsuits and accusations.


Comma Comma, killer of winners

There are a few stories I love but won’t win because of misplaced commas. I know what they’re trying to say but what they are saying is something else.

I suggest trying out your story (and all writing in general) sans commas to see if it still is correct. Peppering needless commas in the place of mental pauses is incorrect.

If you are using commas parenthetically, like this, then you need to ensure if the phrase enclosed within commas was removed the sentence is still correct.

–          You might notice a “that” could be added to the above sentence. But would this improve the comprehension of the sentence? This is the purpose of grammar – to improve and enhance comprehension.

“Commas,” said Mathew, “go inside quotation marks when writing dialogue.”

“Certainly,” said the three-toed sloth, not looking up from the chessboard.

Enough grammar.  Wikipedia’s comma article is a good read.

I’ve struggled with awarding prizes to fantastic stories that have a grammatical problem. My writer half says chill out and award it with a corrected version below. My editor half is strict and wants to karate-chop anyone committing a grammatical error (myself included).  Should I privately write back to the author and show them how to improve their work? Or should I do so publicly so everyone can learn from it?  Argh, I don’t know.  Suggestions welcome.

BIG prizes next week!

Next Sunday I’ll be awarding a $150 first prize, a $100 second prize and a $50 third prize!

All stories entered up to 6pm Sunday 1st March (Australian East coast time) are eligible for prizes. Write write write! Swamp the site!

Clarification: (because clarity is what good writing is all about) — ALL entries for the entire competition time and all new entries are eligible for the grand prizes.  That means an entry from weeks ago can win and one submitted at three minutes to six on March 1st can win!



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She made her away towards the stage, her heart beating like crazy, her legs felt like jelly and her hands just wouldn’t stop shaking. She stood there and stared at all the people staring back at her, then she opened her mouth and sang her song, and everyone was entranced by her voice and the lyrics that she had written.

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I imagine the waves crashing rhythmically against the shore, magnificent and powerful, crashing and waning, crashing and waning, but now the rhythm takes on a melancholy feeling and the desperation creeps back and the crashing waves become a drum beat and the drum beat becomes a heartbeat and I feel panicked and lonely. Damn it!

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A lily rose out of the pond, its scent sweet and bitter, its colors yellow and blue, its posture bent and straight at the same time.

I wanted to be like the lily, strong and smooth and sweet, but life weakened, roughed, bittered me without remorse.

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The Fall

He was at the top of the roof when he fell, rolled down the shingles into the gutter that ran around the roofline; then blackness as he fell further.

Coming out of the dark after the long fall, he felt the others around him who had fallen, as they joined together to became a flood of water pouring out of the downspout, into the light.

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Upon reflection

Staring at him, I was mesmerized by the chiseled features, the GQ magazine good looks with the long aquiline nose, piercing blue eyes, full, generous mouth with sparkling white teeth, and indeed the handsomest man I’d ever seen.
Ahhhh, thank heaven for mirrors!

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I Need Help

My addiction grows stronger every day, the desire to indulge in it intense, to the point where I can’t sleep without dreaming of it, can’t get through the day without thinking of it, can’t hold a conversation without it swirling in my head, begging me to do it “just one more time,” and one more “just one more time” ad nauseum.

Please tell me, is there a rehab for Two Sentence Story writers?

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