Deathmatch 2014 Quarterfinals Round 3


Deathmatch Moderator

David currently resides in the sub-Arctic so he is cold very cold and always dreaming of that treehouse back in Panama.  He studies writing remotely via some northerly university with the hopes of upgrading his status from wannabe writer to burgeoning hack.





Step One: Read the stories.
Step Two: Vote for your favourite. Repeatedly. You can vote once every hour.
Step Three: Sound off in the comments.
Step Four: Blog, tweet, tell all your friends – help your favourite author win!
Step Five: Repeat until an Ultimate Winner is declared and all others lie bleeding in the dust.

Previous Results: Round 1, Round 2

Click here for Deathmatch rules and regulations and for links to all the people and presses that have generously donated awesome prizes for our winner and runners-up.

The 2014 Canadian MourningTM Championship Match

by Martyn Bryant

The Barbara Era eventually came to a close. Barbara had won The Canadian MourningTM Championship Match every year from 2006 to 2012 but in 2013 she was defeated by the relatively unknown Jane. Jane quickly proved herself to be fast mourner, after just 34 days of competition Jane had successfully accepted the death of her mother to a messy motoring accident. At that same point, Barbara was still in denial about giving birth to a stillborn named Simon.

After being crowned The 2013 Canadian MourningTM Champion, Jane said publicly that she didn’t want to defend her title the following year. That wasn’t unusual though, nobody ever said publically that they wanted to defend, not even Barbara would say such a thing – it’s considered bad taste.

Read on...

The Idiot without a Coat On

by Craig Calhoun


I know, Lord, that Your judgements are just and that You have afflicted me fairly.

–       Psalms 119:75


As soon as I’d pulled my hand from the hole that I’d put in the drywall, I knew that there was really nothing I could say. I didn’t even know how it had happened. Instead, I pulled the loose tag of skin from off my knuckle to make it start bleeding, so that you’d feel sorry for me. You were standing over by the television with your hands clasped over your mouth. Your eyes looked panicked, but I knew that you weren’t frightened. Nothing I did ever scared you.

Read on...

367 Responses to “Deathmatch 2014 Quarterfinals Round 3”

  1. JD says:

    Why are the numbers still changing? I was checking results early this morning and Craig’s story had won. A little later I checked the votes to update a friend of mine and the score seemed higher but I wasn’t sure. The numbers at 10:45 were Craig 7602, Martyn 7505,which I noted for my email. Just now I checked in and it shows Craig at 7604 and Martyn at 7506 at 12:00. Also, I tried to vote in today’s new quarter final and was shut out, though I definitely had not attempted voting since last night. There seem to be several technical flaws with this system and the way last night’s competition came to an end was a shame. It can’t feel like an actual valid win. Will Broken Pencil respond to any of the points people have raised here?

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  2. Joey says:

    Well done to both budding authors. The stories are very different, but both very good within their genre. However, this entire set up is flawed. It reminds me of the competition held a couple of years ago for the new theme song for Hockey Night in Canada. Some songs received a ridiculous number of votes (tens of of thousands) because it just takes one person with the know-how to set up a macro to cycle through IP addresses and automate the voting. Like the HNIC competition, this in the end did not determine the public’s favourite story, but how many tech savvy facebook friends they have. BP, do a little more consulting with the experts and try to find a better system next time.

  3. Al says:

    As a (no longer) silent voter, I’m so disappointed in how this competition turned out. I’ve been voting for Martyn’s story since the beginning and following the comments. I understand that the banter in the comments is all part of the fun of a “deathmatch” but this is just ridiculous. It took all the fun out of the competition.

    One thing I can’t figure out – why do those accusing Martyn/Martyn supporters of cheating seem to assume he would fail? The ENTIRE week Martyn and Craig have been nearly even in the voting, up to the very end. Since they ended within 100 votes of each other, is it not conclusive that Craig’s votes would be increasing at about the same rate as Martyn’s? Maybe the votes jumped because you hadn’t refreshed your page in awhile. Or maybe you’re just looking to blame someone because your team is losing, and you just can’t fathom why.

    Personally, I think it’s a shame Martyn stepped down, and I hope those who jumped immediately on the “he’s cheating!” bandwagon feel a little smaller today. This was not a win that was deserved.

    • Carol says:

      As a silent Craig supporter. I can tell you that I was glued to the screen, refreshing often and could see the votes coming in live. In 10 seconds 120 votes were entered for Martyn. People supporting Martyn said they saw it too. Even assuming the use of multiple devises that is still 60 or so people voted in 10 seconds.

      As this is a literary competition, suspension of disbelief is required but that seems to break mine.

      I can’t tell you about everyone else’s feelings but I don’t like the way this ended. Martyn and Craig both deserved better.

      • Mac says:

        What’s worse is the implicit suggestion that Martyn’s story did not have the support of Craig’s. You didn’t see a social media campaign because Martyn is not a showman, yet somehow this is indicative of cheating? You didn’t see the comments and shares on private Facebook pages, the chat logs and text messages of his circle rallying friends and friends of friends to get out the vote.

        You are seeking to de-legitimize both Martyn’s talent as a writer and the support he received from 100s of people. It’s really disappointing to see you all continuing this misguided campaign even after he lost the competition. Just shameful.

      • Mac says:

        People also said this about Craig’s numbers. It was confirmation bias, and you should all be ashamed of your behaviour. What computer program is going to end up with only 100 votes off of the competitor after 7500 votes? Seriously people. If someone is going to the trouble of setting up a bot, why would they program it to vote in jumps when it would only take a few more lines of code to have it stealthy spread its votes out over every hour.

        You all freaked out over nothing and bullied Martyn into stepping down. Stop trying to justify your awful behaviour.

    • Mac says:

      No. You and your “side” have absolutely humiliated yourself on this board trying to slag off Bryant for no reason other than your sore feelings. How could anyone think your radio show or the Ottawa’s literary “community” has any credibility after this embarrassment?

      Broken Pencil staff, you should be ashamed of yourselves as well for enabling this. Your contest is bad and you should feel bad.

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  4. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Well done Craig! Looks like Gandalf came through for you after all.

    Take heart — you both had great stories, and like I said before, you both won just by getting into the competition.

    Later haters 😉

  5. Who do we love? says:


  6. Cass says:

    As someone who has never met or had contact with Martyn or Craig, I’m pretty disappointed Martyn had to step down. I’ve been voting for Martyn every chance I could get just because I genuinely enjoyed his story. Now it feels like my time was better spent not doing so.

  7. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Martyn now has an 18-vote lead. Thirty-five minutes to go. Will Team Craig pull through? Will Martyn’s capitulation negate his photo-finish lead?

  8. QL says:

    Moderator/Broken Pencil,
    The legitimacy of this contest is totally undermined as the voting system was compromised. As a result, you have an author who just stepped down, which is sad, and another which may erroneously lose. I think both authors wanted a fair contest and to share their work. Please find a solution that benefits the authors. The result of the current contest appears to be totally unreliable.

  9. Amanda Earl says:

    another thought is that perhaps the stories should not include the author name in future competitions. that way the work is judged on its own merit. or perhaps in order to vote we would have to submit our critiques of the stories…something to make this more about literature & less a pissing match.

  10. Amanda Earl says:

    i think this method of voting makes no sense. it’s simply too easy for people to rig the system. i’m not accusing the writers. i think in future Broken Pencil should consider a different method for voting; perhaps registration? also the system should be transparent, rather than this just trust us method.

  11. I want to suggest a radical idea. Maybe people like Martyn’s story better. I haven’t seen this 100 vote change in 30 seconds.

    Isn’t it possible that some people vote for the story they like? If it’s only a social media popularity contest, then let’s forget the stories and just tally up the numbers outside of this forum.

    • Dave Currie says:

      So you are suggesting that people, including Martyn’s supporters, are conspiring to sully the competition so that Craig’s loss will be less harsh?

      I think that is a little foolish – obviously people are watching this very closely and when 120 votes appear in 10 seconds people supporting both authors notice.

      • Meg says:

        I have been voting for Martyn, and the facebook/real world of getting the word out has been full of ridiculous fun/spam. Verging on obsessive.

        I did notice the big jump a little while ago, and agree that it’s oddly huge.

        However I see that Martyn is stepping down, and as someone who knows him, this is such a deeply disappointing way to end.

        • Dave Currie says:

          I totally agree. Someone with good intentions and a bad plan of action ruined this for everyone. Martyn Bryant, is someone whose writing career I will be following closely.

          Maybe we can meet again on the radio.

    • John Seanson says:

      Many people have witnessed the votes increasing at a ridiculous rate. 100 in a greater time frame is absolutely reasonable with the attention this has received, but it’s literally been a matter of seconds.

  12. Thanks to Broken Pencil for a crazy week. Whatever is happening now, I don’t like it, and am stepping down. I’ve never had a week like it and probably won’t rush into another one like that in the near future – back to more traditional methods of trying to share my work to keep the stress levels down.

    Thanks to everyone else who read my work, some of the feedback you gave me was very insightful and I was sincere in my appreciation when receiving it.

    Writing – that’s what we want this competition to to be about, sharing our writing. The voting part should be a bit of fun and I prefer not to get dragged into the vicious banter – I don’t think I’ve got anything to learn from it.

    I wish all the best to Craig with his future writing. Your story concept I liked a lot and I’m still thinking about it. I’ve discussed with people what it means and heard various ideas but it came across to me as personifying paranoia, animating it enough that it had it’s own consciousness and narrating that consciousness. The way you choreographed it impressed me, it was no easy job.

    Dave, thanks for having me on the radio, that was fun.

    I’m not a fan of twitter I’m afraid. I haven’t worked out how it can work for me. I’m sticking to the privacy of facebook (yeah, kinda private) and email.

    Thanks to my frequent voters. The stories I’ve heard about your voting obsessions has amazed and embarrassed me. Next step for me is work out how to make lasagne.

    Good night all.

    • Gillian says:

      Martyn, I loved your story. I came on here to vote for Craig’s as I’m part of the Ottawa literary scene but your story grabbed me more.

      I also like your integrity and your values. Good for you for behaving well throughout this. I don’t believe anyone in your camp was cheating. I too watched the numbers. I contributed to them and made sure others did too.

      I look forward to reading your future work. You’re the real winner here. Congratulations.

    • alk1888 says:

      No, shame on you, for making such a horrible assumption. If cheating was indeed taking place, it does not necessarily imply that either author participated or was complicit in the perpetration.
      As someone who personally knows Martyn, I can tell you that he is a person of total integrity and a gentleman, in the truest and rarest sense of the word.
      Your words are cruel and completely uncalled for.

      • Maria says:

        Fair. Martyn’s camp. It’s impossible to get 120 votes in 10 seconds without looping votes. My apologies to Martyn for making it personal,but it seems very unfair and it is unfortunate to see this kind of action in such a close competition.

  13. Mar says:

    I’m not saying that this accounts for all of the votes, but I sent a request to a facebook group with students from my program at around 10, and I got 68 likes for people who said that they would vote for Martyn.

  14. Luciano says:

    Hi Martyn,

    First of all, I really have no skin in any of this and if you win: great. I’d be happy for you.

    But I was wondering if you could offer an explanation or best guess about the numbers of votes you’re getting? Can you give us some idea what your “get out the vote” strategy involves?

    I checked Twitter and see scantly anyone tweeting to vote for you. Am I missing something? I honestly expected to see more activity given the numbers you’re posting. And I’ll gladly stand corrected and give you your due if I’m way off base and there’s a sensible explanation for all of this.

  15. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Tons of votes streaming in for both sides, and there have been many swings back and forth all week. If Gandalf is rigging votes, he’s doing it for both sides.

    I’d suggest all y’all simmer down, but holy shit, the message board has been dead for days, so have at ‘er! Martyn’s cheating! Craig’s cheating! WHARRGARBL! Sprinkler dog just farted on your bed! Good-Guy Greg’s got nothing nice to say! Weeeeeee!

  16. Maho says:

    Martyn would never cheat. Anyone who knows him knows that. Please stop accusing him blindly and falsely. Either something is up with the system itself such that votes are being generated so quickly or there are people jeopardizing this whole process. The last thing that should come out of this competition is an attack on either Martyn’s or Craig’s integrity. Thanks to both of them for their stories.

  17. Confused says:

    Is it possible that votes are taking a while to process and suddenly loading all at once? Anyone who knows Martyn would agree that accusing him of condoning cheating is completely absurd.

    • Smart Man says:

      No, this is not possible. Votes are added immediately. I do not think anyone is saying Martyn himself is cheating, or condoning it, but that the system allows it and votes are being cast in his favour from unsavoury sources.

  18. Sorry everyone I have no control on this, I just emailed the organiser colin brush at broken pencil. sorry. I want the spirt of this to be positive. It’s obviously a very flawed system. I don’t mind not continuing, in fact would prefer not to. I just wanted to share my story.

    • DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

      Martyn, there’s less than a 3% difference in the total votes cast, and most votes will happen on the last day, especially when it’s this close. You’ve both done well and have had a big surge this evening. Yours was just a bit more.

    • JM ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I think both you and Craig can hold your heads up high, knowing your stories were picked and that you have friends willing to put this much effort into pushing you into the next round. Kinda sucks it’s taken such a sour taste in the lategoing!

      • Dave Currie says:

        Sorry if I implied Martyn. I didn’t mean that at all – I meant “This is how you want to win, person who is doing this.” I spoke with Martyn and believe him to be honourable.

  19. Ron Sly says:

    Hey Broken Pencil, now that this has devolved into one side slime-ing the other with unsubstantiated accusations – just hope you realize that you’ve turned two communities of young artists against each other for this “death match.” I hope you’re happy with this outcome…?

    • Evan says:

      Having watched the deathmatch this year and the last I’ve always loved the competition and jabs thrown back and forth. A lot of eyes are on this as it comes to a close. However, even I just witnessed Martyn’s votes go up by a tremendous amount in a very, very short period of time. Are you able to clarify how this occurred? I – and I’m sure everyone else including Craig’s very vocal supporters – would love some insight on how Martyn’s team just managed this.

      • Gillian says:

        I’ll tell you how it occurred. A lot of us were so disgusted by the nasty accusations we were reading, we called friends and got them all to go online & vote for Martyn’s story. I’d been watching the votes all evening. None of what you’re imputing occurred. This is simple slander and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

  20. JM ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is a crazy number of votes! I think it’s worth acknowledging that both Martyn and Craig clearly have a lot of people who care about them to combine for over 14 000 votes, and if the tone has gotten a little combative in the last few days, that’s just people being passionate about sticking up for their friends.

    Sounds like the spirit of the Deathmatch competition to me.

      • alk1888 says:

        Somebody’s dishonesty, perhaps, but it’s patently unfair to accuse Martyn of perpetrating it. I know Martyn personally, and he is probably the most upstanding guy I know. The real shame here is that someone who approached this contest with nothing but the best of intentions was bombarded with such harsh words due to factors beyond his control.

    • Drew says:

      Rule 1 of the internet: don’t demand responses from people in places where they can’t reply to your comment
      Rule 2: never use the words “strongly imply” and then follow it with three comments where every word is between brackets
      Rule 3: check your nearest calendar, if the year is 2008 or later then the acronym LOL makes you look like an elderly person drafting an email of a video their nephew sent them.

      now that that is out of the way, I only say these things to point out there is nothing suspicious about a man who is sacrificing his self respect for self promotion, getting waves of 50 or so voters – while a burst of a hundred within several minutes is much more suspicious so there is no reason for sunny day to be mudslinging. I don’t mean to cast suspicion on Martyn’s side- just to say those who live in glass huts shouldn’t throw stones.

  21. Jeff K says:

    All you people talking are getting crazy. With a score so tight both sides are watching each other like hawks. No reason to assume foul play. I’ve been watching this over the past couple days and have seen large ups and downs for both sides. Just two massive social groups colliding, lol.

    • Sunny Day says:

      That said, convenient that Craig’s votes have consistently been coming in mysterious ‘waves’, akin to someone logging in with an ISP-changing software and clicking 50 times. Has been consistent throughout the comp, and is happening now too.

      • Drew says:

        More consistent with waves of voting every hour, waves of getting that awkward pleading tweet every once in a while, waves of people voting as soon as they remember, waves because Craig just posted a youtube video of pump up music. On the other hand, Martyn has been trailing until the last 24 hours when a burst of a hundred or so votes boosted him into the lead. As someone who has received next to no sleep, been voting every hour as soon as possible, and taking time to explore the broken pencil website, I would hate to see this competition break down to cheating, or petty accusations of cheating.

      • Maho says:

        Kind of ridiculous really. He hinted at suspecting that Martyn or one of his supporters was doing something, and then all of a sudden, 80 some votes in 20 minutes.

  22. Amanda Earl says:

    “The finalists are encouraged to solicit votes for their stories in any way they can think of, provided it’s legal and *doesn’t involve undermining the principle of one vote per one person every hour*.”

    i hope this is truly being respected.

  23. Dave Currie says:

    The other day I speculated on the radio that there is an bizarro version of every supporter in this competition. I have noticed all day that every time I vote, the person I am not voting for gets a vote as well.

    I guess my theory is confirmed.

    • DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

      From the Broken Pencil Deathmatch Charter, Section 4, Article 11:

      In the unlikely event that a Deathmatch round ends in a tie, the combatants will meet in a neutral location for the purposes of a rap battle, or, if agreed upon by both parties, a beatbox duel.

  24. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Time for the Friday night drunk post!

    Just a couple days left to go and it’s still anyone’s game. One of you will go on to the semi-finals, and one will retire to a dark corner to lurk for the remainder of the contest.

    But the truth is — you are both winners just by making it into the Deathmatch. I’m not just being cheesy. Let’s be realistic. Internet votes don’t count for literary shit. What does count is that Broken Pencil consistently pits stories that are in some way edgy, experimental, and maybe even unique. They often aren’t super polished or free from unnecessary exposition, but they are doing something different and come from new writers with promise.

    So there.

    And when Martyn or Craig finally pulls out the victory in the end, let the loser be consoled — think of how miserable it has been spamming and hounding the shit out of your friends and family for votes. Guess what. The winner of this contest is gonna have to go through that hell two more times. Tadaa!!!

  25. Dave Currie says:

    From the Broken Pencil Facebook Page:

    Tonight on Literary Landscapes on CKCUfm, after a brief interview on an unrelated matter, current deathmatch competitors Craig Calhoun and Martyn Bryant discuss the psychological impact of the competition.

    We’ll be talking about the harshness of the comment boards the closeness of this race and …uhh… hopefully they realize they actually have a lot in common and become best friends.

    Tune in to to find out why 4444 votes have been cast for these two fellows and why those votes aren’t done yet. Also find out why 180 comments, with varying degrees of inhumanity have been thrown out into the universe.

    Tune in!

  26. Lo says:

    Hello! I’ve read both stories and have to say that I was thoroughly entertained buy both of them. I want to first and foremost congratulate both of the writers on their well written and thought out prose. I voted for Martyn because I found his story fresh and unique, a concept I have never come across before and one that I found I really loved thinking about afterwards. I love it when stories catch me off guard and present things in wholly new, interesting (and in Martyn’s case, hilarious) ways. Craig, I found that I really disliked your main character right away, I found him self-deprecating, self-indulgent, and cliche. I also found it a little hard to follow what was going on. Most importantly, it felt like something I have read before (a little too Palahniuk?). Martyn got my vote for originality.

  27. Heather Mcculen says:

    Superb stories and I love the friendly rivalry going on. I can’t believe I missed the other rounds! Thanks to BP for organizing this and both authors for giving a good show.

  28. Dave Currie says:


    This message board has become the Island of Doctor Moreau and I would like to talk about it on the radio. I host a program called Literary Landscapes on CKCU. On tonight’s program I would like to discuss this event and the thousands of comments (and comments on comments) that have come out of it.

    Full disclosure, I have a personal relationship with Craig Calhoun. However, I think it would be interesting to have both of you on the radio to discuss this Literary Riot and your differing styles of participation.

    I have attempted to contact you over facebook as well and have recycled some of my descriptions. Forgive me.

    here goes twitter.

    PS – the show would be available for all to listen to at

  29. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Fantastic levels of interweb violence, everyone. Keep it up.

    PS. Lara is paid by Broken Pencil to come here and troll you. But don’t tell them that I told you that. It’s top secret.

  30. I posted this up there. I meant to do it down here. I guess I need retraining on the commenting.

    The big problem with Craig’s story is, as I mentioned earlier, the late entry of the infidelity. It functions on some level as an apology for the behaviour of the man. However, since we don’t actually know what the man did and what he just thought of in many of the scenes, we cannot be sure. This jumping back and forth between various perceptions or alternative realities makes it seem experimental and dangerous, so then we kind of know we should expect violence (something far more powerful when not made explicit; which is why, for me, the story loses its power in the ending).

    The problem with Lara’s critique of Martyn’s story is that it seems to object to the reality of the obviously fictional world (which is never meant to be believed, it seems to me) at the same time as her cheering of Craig’s story could be about any story at all, really, that plays at being “gritty.” But both stories are not meant to be real in any traditional sense, right, even though they both get at universal problems through this unreality, which is great (hence the close battle — these really are two quite even stories and both could be stellar in their next draft).

    What is really the problem with Lara’s critique though, despite her amazing credentials, is the idea that because she has internet access and can type she deserves a certain kind of response. Who knew the internet could be so empowering?

    • Yes, the suspension of disbelief. I imagine an internal consistency and logic to the illusionary world underpins this. Each reader perhaps needs or wants more or less scaffolding to get them into this world. They need more or don’t mind less internal logic (I don’t really know but I think this might be were sci-fi and fantasy readers part company). It’s enough to reinforce those creative writing tips of writing for yourself and not others. Thanks Sean, I hope you haven’t lost all faith in this competition, I’m looking forward to reading your story.

  31. Ottawa folks:

    Hope I’ll be seeing you at the Ottawa Zine-off in like 62 minutes.

    Pressed Cafe 750 Gladstone


    Broken Pencil did a story about the event a few posts back. Interviewed organizers JM Francheteau and Maxx Critical.

    Serious. Please come.

  32. Meg says:

    I’ve enjoyed both stories, but am currently more interested in what is happening in the comments here. What are the authors’ responsibilities to the deathmatch? I think Craig has been funny and smart, and responded thoughtfully to real criticisms. I think Martyn has been gracious, and he has offered responses to several of his critics. Saying he needs to think about something likely means that he needs to think about something…

    Perhaps I’m too wishy washy for this type of competition.

    Good luck to you both, and like Terri wrote earlier, I’m interested in seeing what happens with both these stories.

  33. Mitch Shore says:

    Seriously weird to be ragging on Martyn for being gracious about his critiques. If you check Craig’s twitter feed you’ll see he’s done nothing but bully people he doesn’t know to vote for his hackneyed, cliched, mess of a story that reads like some high school guy’s idea of what a tortured relationship is. Seriously, adultery and murder? That must have taken ages to dream up. Never been done before! I hope he fired his proof reader because it’s almost unreadably sloppy.

    • Lara says:

      I’m not “ragging” on Martyn at all. I’ve offered him what he has callled a “detailed analysis” of his work but failed to respond to anything I actually said. While I might have made some comments that he feels he needs to think about there were quite a few points that he could have cleared up with a simple yes or no, or a brief description. He chose not to. In fact he hasn’t responded to any kind of criticism with anything substantial. He has offered brief expository notes only to those who began with “I liked your story…” Being polite does not equate being gracious. A truly gracious person would want to dispel any confusion or misunderstanding and enter into a dialogue with the people who have taken time out of their day to offer feedback that could potentially make his story better. What I feel Martyn is doing is simply refusing to “play along.” It’s like having someone on an improv team who says “no” to the ideas being presented when the first rule of improv is Never say No. I think for myself and possibly others as well this tact is more than a little frustrating.

      • daMa says:

        Wow. I really feel a strong need to weigh in my personal thoughts on this, as I find it quite ridiculous and sad to see how free-willing people can be in their malicious distasteful critique of someone’s work. For two authors to take the time to create and share interesting and novel short stories takes a certain degree of bravery, and they should at the very least be met with poise and respect in peoples’ critiques of their work. In my opinion, the moderator should have a stronger hand in doing so, regardless of the “Deathmatch” naming. Open, constructive and valid criticisms and debates should certainly be encouraged; however, targeted cyber-bullying should have been stopped dead in its tracks and deleted before it infested the rest of us any further.

        In any case, I did not see anyone attacking Craig in the same way that Martyn has been attacked in these comments, so I wish to direct my feedback at Lara’s disproportionate-and-clearly-biased comments. I genuinely enjoyed reading both stories. Well done to both of you, Craig and Martyn. If what follows below seems like a full endorsement of Martyn, please stop and realize that I am simply trying to right a wrong that needs fixing. I do this with respect to both your works. Good luck to both of you.

        Lara, first of all, deciding to tag onto Craig’s story the title of cult classic made it way too obvious that you were biased toward him for one reason or another. I’m sure the Carleton \ Ottawa-Zine connection has something to do with it, but I don’t wish to speculate any further. You could have done yourself a favour and avoided self-glorification. Listing your degrees here and discussing your ‘amazing’ chapbooks does not make any of your points any more valid. Martyn’s responses to you were much more polite than they needed to; but, I would venture to believe that they were measured due to a sense of professionalism, which you lacked in your comments and which made me question your editorial abilities. Anyone can take ANY story and decide to break it down viciously if they wanted to. However, that does not make that criticism valid or properly contextualized. All that said, me making such comments does nothing to disprove or respond to your points, so I will proceed to do my best to respond to your comments in the order they appeared in threads above. Your third and final comment is covered below as well but not explicitly.

        1. Dystopian Cultures & The Hunger Games – from my vantage point, there was certainly a staged show that monitored people, which is a form of reality show. The Hunger Games is one such example of a reality show, but has nothing to do with the Mourning games, as there is no immediate combative competition between participants, as with the Hunger Games. Secondly, the dystopian culture is meant to be entirely fictional, and does not need to be contextualized as much as you claim. We all got the picture that this story is set in a strange world. It’s a short story. Not much more is needed.

        2. Computers & Clinical Analyses – The society Martyn created did not value computers being human. It valued computers predicting human behaviour, which we have been trying to do for decades with AI. The computer software is one such example of AI. A society that is clinical would certainly value people not dwelling in their emotions, hence the description of progressing through stages of grief as though it could be predicted, analyzed clinically to the very minute, and kept as efficient as possible. As such, they have an obsession with quick mourning, which is why the competition is as popular as it is in this dystopia. It is valued for its efficiency. Note that the society recognizes different stages of the grieving process, so they clearly do not undervalue mourning itself.

        3. Long vs. short mourning & Sex – I believe you completely misunderstood all of this. Jane said that the computer program Sorrow2.0 was being stupid in predicting a longer mourning time as a result of sex with her partner. She was telling the audience and the panel that she thought sex with her partner would speed up her mourning process, allowing her a better chance of winning, but the program was predicting the opposite, which is clearly a mistake with the program. This is why there was a mention of needing to wait till Sorrow3.0 to come out and begin predicting such behaviours more accurately. Bobby’s comment on the program telling him to mop after spreading cheese dust everywhere was meant to prove how ineffective the program can be at times.

        4. Anger stage – There are allusions to the order of the stages, but there are quite a bit of situations where we speed through the processes without going through each of them sequentially with the characters. Instead, stages are mentioned throughout the text at different times. Bobby mentions that Jane went through anger extremely quickly but got stuck in the bargaining phase. That is the phase she was talking in when she said she was going to have sex with her partner to move into depression. Again, I think you had it mixed up here.

        5. The truth you call a ‘lie’ – Bobby is the person who won the Adolescent championship. He did so by remaining silent about his continued mourning and not having his mom talk about it. He was still good at it, but perhaps not as good as he would have liked to give himself credit for or admit to. His mother tried to help him with this by killing herself. These sections did not add confusion.

        6. Death and Dying – With a degree in Religion, you clearly got rattled by the less-than-typical exploration of God’s role in all of this. How about this scenario for one? Questioners from the panel may have always asked about the software use and God’s involvement in the mourning when questioning the competitors, but it was clear that both competitors had been moving away from it, because perhaps the society was doing so as well. Why mention it? Because it is meant to further enhance the idea of a society that is now far removed from what used to be the norm. I’m sure for a Religion major, this was frustrating. To me, I was happy that not a single other word on God was mentioned, as that would have frankly frustrated me instead.

        7. Humour – the story is quite funny in my opinion and pokes fun at aspects of our society that we do not often critique with satire.

        8. Competition & Respect – A worthy competitor is respectful of their opponents, will consider their opinions, and accept their differences. Martyn did not shy away from the competition by avoiding to respond to your ridiculous attacks on him. Instead and in fact, he was being both gracious and respectful, but most importantly, professional. After all, Craig and Martyn are in a writing competition, not a boxing match as Zimmerman is involving himself in soon. Stop berating his polite approach simply because people liked a work that you did not, when you seemed to not even fully comprehend what he was getting at. Professionalism is not boring. It’s the further from it. In fact, I find it boring when people just spew random thoughts in cyber space because they feel entitled to them.

        9. Alternative realities – You kept on suggesting that the story was not contextualized enough; hence, you were asking him to make it more realistic and/or change the reality within which it was being held. So, Martyn’s remark about you being versed in “fiction with alternative realities” was spot on.

        10. Your qualifications – No need. Really. No need at all.

        11. Improbability? – This was the moment I could no longer hold my thoughts and had to respond to you. Did you really think this was meant to be probable? What kind of fictional world that has a trademarked mourning competition is a probable one? Perhaps what you should be doing instead is looking for connections with our world today. Our increased disconnect from empathy as a result of reality TV, for one, comes to mind. Or how about our obsession with any sort of competition, regardless of how ludicrous it is. Does this not make Martyn’s story relevant albeit entirely fictional and impossible? The coveted position in this society is not mourning, it is the ability to get over mourning quickly. Notice that no one really wants to win the competition; but the desire to win at anything makes them even contemplate the deaths of their loved ones before they happen.

        These are just some of my personal thoughts on your comments, Lara. It was just way too apparent that you were trying to jeopardize Martyn’s chances of winning by confusing readers and tagging onto your comments your credentials, as though this was meant to make them more valid. I could not refrain from posting my own in response to yours as a result.

        • Thanks daMa. I read every word. Even if there are not 5 stages of grief, thinking about the five stages provided the scaffolding from which I built the story, thinking about two characters moving through the 5 stages and riffing on that. Maybe a competition doesn’t need to be the framing device but I was thinking about competition when I wrote it, principally after listening to carlsen and anand describe their world chess championship matches in november and trying to almost mimic the analytical diction that surrounds chess. That’s where the computer came in, computers have solved chequers and they think they might be able to solve chess and so I extended this to mourning. thanks for the close reading.

      • Meg says:

        But I wonder if these guys have other things that they have to do during the week? And maybe they (Martyn) will get to you? Or maybe he doesn’t want to “play along”? I read your comments, and I think you offer a lot of detail and good questions, and some I would love to hear the answer to as well. But I don’t think poorly of the author for not justifying his writing as of yet.

        I don’t see the world that Martyn has written as questionable as you have, perhaps.

      • The big problem with Craig’s story is, as I mentioned earlier, the late entry of the infidelity. It functions on some level as an apology for the behaviour of the man. However, since we don’t actually know what the man did and what he just thought of in many of the scenes, we cannot be sure. This jumping back and forth between various perceptions or alternative realities makes it seem experimental and dangerous, so then we kind of know we should expect violence (something far more powerful when not made explicit; which is why, for me, the story loses its power in the ending).

        The problem with Lara’s critique of Martyn’s story is that it seems to object to the reality of the obviously fictional world (which is never meant to be believed, it seems to me) at the same time as her cheering of Craig’s story could be about any story at all, really, that plays at being “gritty.” But both stories are not meant to be real in any traditional sense, right, even though they both get at universal problems through this unreality, which is great (hence the close battle — these really are two quite even stories and both could be stellar in their next draft).

        What is really the problem with Lara’s critique though, despite her amazing credentials, is the idea that because she has internet access and can type she deserves a certain kind of response. Who knew the internet could be so empowering?

    • Ernie Baird says:

      I don’t really think anyone is “ragging.” I read Craig Calhoun’s twitter page and after I got past the Malcolm X quote I saw what I believe you are referring to as Bullying. I would characterize it as several back and forth interactions, as well as a guy attempting to contact his support network (college etc).

      At once point I was a big fan of Larry Sanders, I learned from that early HBO show that networking is a really important part of being a writer. I read his comments here as an author trying not to take himself too seriously. I guess you read them differently.

      I haven’t decided who to vote for yet because I see merits in both pieces. To be honest, based on your comment I am leaning towards Craig, vilifying someone for doing what a writer is supposed to do, all the while throwing insults seems unsportsmanlike.

      Please do Martyn a favour and never post another word on this board again.

  34. Collett Tracey says:


    Are you deliberately positioning yourself as an underdog in order to drum up support? I feel this is a poor tactic, an artist should not be afraid to let their work speak. I appreciate the way in which Craig has done little to encourage votes (and maybe a little too much to discourage them).

    You’ve accomplished a lot to stand where you are standing, don’t undermine that effort in order to win a contest. Speak from your heart and don’t let the pleasantries of a public forum undermine the work you have done.


    Collett Tracey

  35. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    I am totally voting for whoever falls behind, just to keep the scores even and the tension high. Don’t go alienating your readership in the meantime. This is tight.

    • Re-working the opening before the first update to ease it’s density and folding some of this exposition into later sections. Also ironing out some inconsistencies/implausibilities that have frustrated readers – e.g. maybe re-working Barbara’s history with the comp. Also the Cruiseship suicide I’ve always been unsure about, it’s separate from anything else as it actively creates an opportunity to mourn. If I’m still close to Craig and his voting army on the weekend I shall get re-writing.

    • I am going to rework the middle I think, about him on the street being violent without consequences. Maybe less about him catching a cold. I think that will tighten up the end.

      and then fix up the parts where I don’t talk or right grammer good.

  36. Emily says:

    Martyn, I liked your story and thought it was pretty decent. The element of dark humour is great, and (IMO) could have gone even go further – Douglas Adams style! I was convinced the ending would be a twist to reveal they were robots learning how to be human…

  37. Lara says:

    I guess I’ll start with the easy comments because this is going to be long and a little rant-y…

    Craig: Yes, there are what seem to me to be a few typos. Easily fixed for the next round.

    But HOLY SHIT your story was AMAZING! At first it seems like a run-of-mill “boy and girl have fight, boy does something stupid, girl fixes it, they get back together and live happily ever after” kind of story but then it grabs you and pulls you in and you’re transfixed in that terrifying and exciting way that really good psychological thrillers get you to keep watching. The ones that make you say “What the Fuck!?” at the end. But you go back and watch it again. And again.

    This is the kind of stuff cult classics are made of.

    Martyn: Dude, I don’t even know where to begin…I’m sorry but your story was painful to read. It took me two days to get through it and I still don’t understand.

    First of all the idea of a reality show/competition seems trite and unoriginal. I agree with Kitcat that it’s seems a little Hunger Games-y. Except that you thought you could get away with it without the benefit of a creating a dystopian future society. For this story to make any sense it needs to be grounded so thoroughly in place/culture/environment that there can be no question that this competition is normative to the society that birthed it. This is a hard enough task to do in a novel let alone a three thousand word story, very few writers do it well and unfortunately, we didn’t get anything from you. Is this story perhaps a small piece of a larger work? It feels like you tried to cut something down for the competition and you lost all context and a whole lot of plot points as a result.

    Secondly what kind of society would be interested in people getting OVER their mourning? A society that values computers being human and humans being clinical wouldn’t be interested in anybody’s mourning rituals. People enjoy seeing others fall apart, they enjoy revelling in other’s messes and not having to deal with it themselves. That’s why reality television exists. If this isn’t the kind of society your story exists in that I can’t understand how this Mourning Championship could even exist. This was an incredibly confusing point for me. In some places you seem to allude to the fact that the winner is the person who mourns the longest. For example at the beginning of the question and answer period Jane is asked how she expects to transition into depression. Jane responds by talking about having sex with her partner and then eating banana pancakes. A few questions later she is asked about the computer programs and complains that not only would sex with her partner increase her mourning time but that the computer program didn’t even include sex as an option for dealing with grief. (A quick side note here. At the beginning of this dialogue Jane says that through the denial and depression stages they weren’t having sex but then sex was what she was going to use to transition into depression….see what I’m getting at here…I think you forgot ANGER.)

    Also, this sentence is a lie:

    “He impressed Canadian mourners in the early nineties when, at the age of just 14, he beat a 17-year-old to become The Adolescent Canadian MourningTM Champion.”

    If his competitor won by default because Bobby was still blaming himself for his father’s death then he was never a champion and the people who complained about him STILL BEING IN MOURNING wouldn’t be impressed by him at all. And his mother’s statement that he “was so good at it” and “showed so much potential” was also a lie. You might be forgiven for the latter by saying “a mother’s love…” but to me these sections just added to the confusion of the piece.

    All in all, it was confusing, unnecessarily sex heavy, and sophomoric in any kind of understanding or exploration of the stages of grief. It felt as though you had just finished taking a Death and Dying course and decided to explore the phenomena of acceptance without actually saying anything profound or meaningful about it. To this end the few lines you had about God seemed to be little more than a “shout out” (for old times sake). Bobby alludes to “God-free variations of Mourning” without elaborating on the fact that acceptance is reached far more easily by those who have conviction in their beliefs whether it be a Catholic Heaven and Hell or an Atheistic nothing (Death and Dying 101). This adds nothing to the story and fails to benefit the reader in any way.

    It’s been suggested to me that your story is supposed to be funny. If so, I don’t see it. I could understand if you were trying for satire but you missed the mark there as well.

    • Lara, thank-you for such a close reading of my story and taking the time to make such a detailed analysis, you’re obviously well versed in fiction with alternative realities. Having a stranger read a story of mine in this depth is wonderful. You’ve given me many things to consider. Thank-you.

      • Lara says:

        First of all – BAHHHH! You know you’re in a competition, right? STOP THANKING PEOPLE FOR THEIR CRITICISM AND REPLY TO THEIR COMMENTS! You’re doing a great job at being polite but a horrible job at actually supporting/defending/explaining your story. You can’t possibly reply to every critique with:

        “You’ve given me many things to consider. Thank-you.”


        “Thanks for the feedback Ron. I shall take a closer look at the repetitions if I get a chance to re-work my story for the next round. Also as I continue to distance myself from when I wrote it, 6-7 weeks ago, I can decide how I feel about the tone that I’ve established. Thanks again.”


        “Thanks Dave…some think that there should be less exposition at the beginning and …some want more expository padding…Maybe both can be enhanced without loss to the other. I shall think about it.”

        Yes, by all means think about it but rework your piece regardless of whether or not you make it to the next round. There are too many gaps, even for those who have liked the story. And for the love of whatever GOD you believe in STOP BEING POLITE. It is soooooo BORING!

        Secondly, this: “you’re obviously well versed in fiction with alternative realities”
        is a little insulting. What this should read as is “you’re obviously well versed in fiction [PERIOD]” I may be a stranger but that should in no way entitle you to make an assumption on my qualifications to edit/critique your work. Let me introduce myself: I have studied both literature and religion at Concordia and Carleton, I have an B.A. in English Literature, Honors and a minor in Religion. I have worked as an editor on everything from poetry to short fiction to academic work. I make some of the most amazing chapbooks you will ever see. Stop belittling your detractors by ignoring their comments and start responding to them. Craig, for example, has done an excellent job explaining the criticisms he’s been given. He explained his use of the
        quote from Psalms. He was also able to explain the issues some people had with the confusion and suddenness of his characters insanity.

        In critiquing your piece I was really hoping for something that would allow me to better understand it, or your inspiration for writing it.

        Third, in my critique yesterday I forgot to point out my issue with the improbability of such a contest existing. If the competition depends on close relatives dying on you how could someone be a reigning champion for six straight years? (And how is this relevant to the story as pertaining to Jane and Bobby?) If being a mourning Champion is a coveted position in this society wouldn’t people be off-ing their loved ones for the chance to compete? Maybe an extreme example but, again, I have no context of the society this is supposed to be happening in.

  38. Joshua Ericson says:

    I’ve got a beef with you, Martyn. I begin with critical clarifications. First, if I want to lie awake at night wondering who Martyn’s next victim will be, that should be my prerogative. I surely don’t need Martyn forcing me to. Get a life! So you see, ever since Martyn began his quest to scrap the notion of traditional mourning, he has been denying with his lips what he has been doing with his words.

  39. On second thought, what’s the deal with the portrayal of women in both stories? I cannot get over the privilege you both display here. If my votes could be rescinded and lit on fire I’d be far happier.

    A message to you both: Die in a ditch, you chauvinistic binary-privileged neckbeards. Your heteropatricarchal, white-normative, misogynistic laments are fuel for the MRA fire.

  40. I tried to allude to it earlier, but my main issue with Martin’s story was that I did not care at all about any of the characters because they were just placeholders to me. The detachment of the exposition in the beginning really through me off and trying to keep track name1 and name2 and name3 made me immediately not care.

    The only thing that I really wanted to know about was what kind of country Canada was like where this would be where this is entertainment. Or the world at large, if this was just a rip-off an an American show.

    Also, the allegory was lost on me. Strangers could really care less if you’re sad.

        • April Kelly says:

          May I be cynical for a bit? I hope you don’t mind, but with Mr. Dave Currie’s latest barrage of bloody-minded reports, I can’t resist the urge to make a few cynical comments. So, without further ado, I present you with this all-important piece of information: I’m convinced that Dave will create a factitious demand for his grotty inhalations faster than you can say “Palahniuk”. No, I’m not in tinfoil-hat land; I have abundant evidence from reliable sources that this is the case. For instance, we find among narrow and uneducated minds the belief that Dave possesses infinite wisdom. This belief is due to a basic confusion that can be cleared up simply by stating that Dave’s ramblings have a long and crafty lineage. In particular, they’re based upon all of the lackadaisical devices of the past: spheres of influence, balances of power, secret treaties, triple alliances, and, during the interim periods, appeasement of Stalinism.

          It would be charitable of me not to mention that my observations are perhaps unique. Fortunately, I am not beset by a spirit of false charity so I will instead maintain that we’ve all heard him yammer and whine about how he’s being scapegoated again, the poor dear. Dave’s conjectures are designed to advertise “existing” books and bogus stories. And they’re working; they’re having the desired effect. Help me nourish children with good morals and self-esteem. Join your hands with mine in this, the greatest problem of our Deathmarch.

      • I have always believed that you were an impostor, “April”.

        Broken Pencil, in an attempt to keep the deathmatch fresh and web hit numbers high, had one of their editors pretend to be the creator of Boy Meets World, thus plugging into youth nineties nostalgia.

        So convenient, how you just suddenly lost at the last second. I see through your mind games, Broken Pencil.

  41. James Strouse says:

    This is a great match. The stories are both original and challenging. The comments are thoughtful and constructive. And both writers’ responses are polite and well reasoned. Congrats to both writers for making it to the deathmatch. I wish you both the best of luck. For what it’s worth I found some really constructive things to think about and put into my revision from the comments made during my deathmatch. Even the mean ones. I think my story is better for it. After this is all said and done I think its the comments that matter more than the votes. Votes are just people clicking buttons. Comments are made by people really putting time and thought into what you’ve done. And you can put that back into your story and the things you write after the story. At least that’s how I feel about this all. Good luck and keep writing!

  42. Dave Currie says:

    The participation and constructiveness of the criticism this time is really, really great. In regards to a few of the other commenters, it is easy to correct minor typographic errors before the next round. What is more difficult is re-arcing an entire story.

    Martyn, you seem like a really nice guy and I really wanted to like your story a lot. I think conceptually a TV contest is a neat way of exploring public grief but I felt the pacing was a huge problem. It took me a full hour to read your story, mostly because I kept getting up and doing other things. There was so much exposition in the beginning that when the contest finally begins I felt like the story should already be finished. The jokes are ok, but the story arc really diminished their impact.

    Craig, I liked your story better but get a better proofreader.

    • Thanks Dave, yes as I mentioned above to David, some think that there should be less exposition at the beginning and I should just get on with the action. Although some want more expository padding to better define and ground the world they are stepping into. Maybe both can be enhanced without loss to the other. I shall think about it.

  43. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    and comments for the Coatless Idiot —

    Holy crap, Craig, that was a good read. Some universal emotions at play with very interesting twists and layers. You shifted my expectations several times. Your pace and descriptions are great.

    Have you considered putting a tiny hint as to the later narrative insanity in the first section? Something small might make people curious, and then there’d be less of a potential jolt from the story when things go off the rails. Other than that and maybe a closer proofread/polish as others have mentioned, I think you’ve got a gem here.

    • Holy crap is always a good reaction. Thanks.

      I didn’t really want to go into a flashback kind of thing. I wanted the reader to be as confused as the character about what was happening. Get into the weirdness together. Hopefully making the reader feel some empathy for the character.

      Otherwise he might felt generic cardboard cutout character.

  44. DM Moderator David Griffin Brown says:

    Comments for Mourning!

    Great story Martyn. I’m all for the experimental, and I like how you’ve tied these different threads together. I also like the flippant tone. Loved this part:

    “Jane is still in the denial stage. She just phoned her father. There was no answer.”

    You use a fair amount of exposition to establish the premise at the beginning, and then halfway into the story you switch your narrative format to the updates and panel discussion. I think the second half works really well, so you might consider employing this throughout. Like… drop right into the mini updates and championship dialogue between Bobby and Jane, and reveal the premise and backstory through questioning, surprise guests, and something like cheesy voice-over flashbacks. Yarr?

    • David, thanks for the positive feedback and the ideas. Yes, I’m thinking about how I might fold some of the expository opening into the structures that follow, or adding new elements like surprise guests and flashbacks. Thanks.

  45. I like them both, and these two are the closest for me, so far. I feel like Mourning maybe contains a bit of unneeded stuff at the beginning (about other mourners before we get to the main two) and agree with some other criticisms, but I also feel like there is something off about the structure of the Idiot. It feels like the way it’s broken up into sections might be more useful in working against the confusion in the text . . . and I also wonder if the infidelity works? It seems to me it takes away from the ambiguity throughout because of its place only at the end of the story.

    Still, I want to think about them, and read them again, so I like them. Not sure who to vote for, so I better read again and get at it.

  46. Jet Black says:

    Martyn, The 2014 Canadian MourningTM Championship Match is excellent, very clever and funny. I loved the clinical language and the idea of sorrow as a sport, especially as a comment on how we view private grief as something we have a right to understand or witness, especially when a celebrity dies. Well done!

    Craig, liked your story at the beginning but then it seemed to fall apart, lots of grammatical errors and mistakes that subtracted from the story. It felt like a rough work while Martyn’s story was very polished.

  47. Andrea Wrobel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Craig, your story actually reminded me of a short film I recently watched called “Waiting For You.” It’s by this super talented Torontonian Joey Klein. I tried to post a link before and it didn’t work so I’m going to tell you how to find it (assuming you’re interested). Go to Youtube and search “Waiting For You Bravofact” and it should be the first film that pops up. Eerie and nightmare-ish. Let me know your thoughts.

  48. Andrea Wrobel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    And Craig – BOOOO. No, okay, I’m kidding. I liked your story, too. I thought it was the right amount of abstract… very haunting and quite intense. I must ask where this story came from? Experience?

    I know Ron said the quote took away from the impact but I thought it did what you set out to do. I think your story will confuse and lose a lot of people while they’re reading but I found that you set it up and played it out the way, I believe, you intended. I was on par with the whole parallel on-goings, and such. It’s a bit of a reflection piece, I’d say. In my opinion, though, the graphic stabbing takes away from the emotional resonance that you set up using distance and angst. I was empathizing with him, I was on his side, then he got all out-of-control and I was left wondering who to root for. It gets murdery in haste and I think there are better ways or better words to exemplify your protagonist’s breakdown.

    Good work!

    • I walk around everyday being super abstract and intense. All the time. I sleep with my eyes open on top of the kitchen table. Of course this is from experience.

      I hear what you are saying about the suddenness. In an earlier draft, when he’s following her down the street while she’s searching for him, he starts going crazy and then started going crazy on people and then walking away, punching, kicking, showing off his genitals, spitting, etc. Leaving this would have made the idea that he stabs her and her lover easier to understand.

      But then I also wanted him to have this chance of being totally free like that, but all he does is cling to this woman who he doesn’t love, sick and afraid. I had to make a trade off.

      But it’s something to reconsider.

    • Max Planck says:

      If you had to live out possible outcomes from previous actions over and you’d stab someone too, Andrea.

      If you were stuck living out possible outcomes from previous actions over and you’d stab someone too, Andrea.

      If you were stuck living outcomes from prior actions over and you’d get murdery in haste too, Andrea.

      If you ran stuck, down and out, from prior actions, you’d cover and hide too, Andrea.

      If you were stuck, drowning from prior actions, you’d cower and hide too, Andrea.

      If you ran amok, counting out prior actions, you’d devour then subside too, Andrea.

      You ran, recounting prior actions, devoured then subsided, Andrew.

      Michael Jordan, recounting prior basketballic transactions, dunked then abided.

  49. Andrea Wrobel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hiya, it’s me here from Round 1. Didn’t see many of your around a couple weeks ago except for, well, Craig, who was lurking behind the curtains instead of commenting on all the things Suzanne and I did wrong… This means I am here without any pay backs or pent-up resentment… unfortunately.

    Martyn, great story! Your concept is unique but I do feel the competition needs more padding earlier on. I spent the first few hundred words trying to piece together the concept and structure of a Mourning Tournament so I could better understand who was doing what, when, and why. I felt like I was missing out! Maybe it’s just me and my control issues……… ANYWAYS… Though it feels a little calculated, I liked the moderator set-up, too. I think it’d be smoother without extra information like what the people are wearing who are asking questions. I thought, “Why do I need to know this?”

    Your story kind of reminds me of a black comedy, like Arsenic and Old Lace. Have you seen it?

    The idea that someone may die and, in turn, one can enter a competition because of it is.. well.. funny. Good job.

    • Thanks Andrea. Yes, the question of padding is interesting. I think what I tried to do was to give enough info to get the competition in motion, to provide enough background to the characters rather than devising the fine detail mechanics of how a competition like this might work. It might feel entirely different if the mechanics of the competition were fully explained. Coupled with this the story is already is already at the 3000 word limit so I don’t have much room to play with.

      In a first draft the questioners weren’t described and after getting some advice I added descriptions of people to make them part of a general public rather than making them journalists. I think I would work on those descriptions in a re-write to make them sound fresher and to justify their inclusion.

      I haven’t seen Arsenic and Old Lace but will check it out. Thanks.

  50. Simon J. says:

    Read both of them after a friend on Facebook told me to visit this site and vote for his friend. Unfortunately for him I liked his friends competitors story better. I voted for the Mourning story because it was funny and different. I really enjoyed it from start to finish. The concept is just hilarious, mourning championships. As for the other story Idiot without a coat on, it was very well written but was a little to deep for me. And I was confused throughout a lot of it. I’m like is this guy a ghost? And why does she keep waking up and then going back to sleep, then waking up hitting him and going back to sleep, then he passes out, I didnt understand that part? And then at the end again is he a ghost or not because he is there in the room with them Yelling at her and Brian, they don’t hear or notice him but then he kills them? Maybe I need to read the story again I dunno. Anyways just my opinions, only 1 can get my vote. That’s what death matches are all about right? Best of luck to both of you.

  51. Ron Sly says:

    Hey folks. I agree that both of these stories are the strongest published in the deathmatch so far – too bad to see them face off so early! This is the first time I’ve weighed in with my thoughts and I’m not a literary expert, so take them with a grain of salt!

    Bryant, rather than being heavy handed I actually thought you gave the championship a lot of the nuance that Jane and Bobby spoke to, so well done. The clinical language the participants use is window dressing for the meat of the story, but I can see how some people might find it off-putting since it persists through the entire piece. I think stylistically your use of the word “fuck” was a bit overdone, particularly when Bobby is speaking about having sex with her partner. I felt like the point was already made, unless “fucking” is an official strategy in the championship, haha. Also, I would insert a space into “Sorrow 2.0” since (unless I’m missing something) that is the more common notation for computer programs, come on Mr. Physicist! Overall, I was impressed with the depth you were able to actually give to the mourning process of the characters, despite the setting in which they were going through it.

    Calhoun, I think anyone who has had a foundation shaking fight with their partner will be able to relate to your story. The “what ifs” spiralling out of control are certainly everyone’s nightmare. I thought that the framing of the story with the quote from Psalms took away from the impact – maybe I’m just a bit tired of seeing otherwise great, complex, science fiction-type stories being wrapped up in a “god did it” box. In this case I think it takes away from the raw and personal experience your main character has by labelling it as a judgement delivered affliction that could be repeated upon any struggling couple as god sees fit, rather than a strikingly personal horror unfolding for this particular character. I am also confused with some of the plot points, but I think that comes with the territory, haha.

    Either way, it’ll be a shame to see either one of these go down early. Thanks for sharing gentlemen!

    • Terra Elena says:

      The quote from psalms was genius!!! It sets a tone to prove that one creates his own journey by the simple choices made, instead of believing that it’s “in God’s hands”!! Superb job Craig!

    • Thanks for the feedback Ron. I shall take a closer look at the repetitions if I get a chance to re-work my story for the next round. Also as I continue to distance myself from when I wrote it, 6-7 weeks ago, I can decide how I feel about the tone that I’ve established. Thanks again.

    • Oh man. My first criticism is valid, constructive, and was without spelling or grammar mistakes. No fun at all.

      Thanks for the feedback, Ron. The reason I opened with a bible verse was more to sort of give an abstract context to what was exactly was happening to this guy – that this was a consequence of something he’s done. It was never my intention to say that this was god punishing him or anything like that, but rather that he was getting something that he deserved, just like he deserved getting sick going out into the snow without the proper clothes on. I totally see your point though. Something to think about for sure.

      Initially, there was a spooky figure in the hallway and at the end of the story, but he got cut as a result of good advice.

  52. Kitcat says:

    As I was saying…both these stories are actually the best posted in the match so far. I love a good critical satire, but the story on the left seems a little heavy handed…maybe too hunger games-y…?
    The story on the right had startlingly realistic characters in an otherwise fantastical tale. Loved Idiot Without A Coat On.

  53. So I’m planning on going on the radio this Thursday to talk about the contest. Hoping to get some really vicious, self-confidence-smashing criticisms that I can take super personally and bitch about on the air. It’ll be fun.

  54. Yes, much appreciation for the reading and the feedback.

    But, fuck, seriously BP fiction editors, I write a story about alternate, multi-layered realities and the opponent you give me is a goddamn physicist! THAT’S appreciated.

    I have a degree in mechanical engineering that I barely earned. We can have science fights, dude.

  55. Mac says:

    Do you understand how numbers work? Craig’s would have needed to increase at the same rate! The totals were never more than 150 apart all week! You bullied Martyn into stepping down already, just give it a rest.

  56. Gillian says:

    In what way is there any evidence of computer assisted spamming of votes? Martyn and Craig had been neck and neck in votes all the way through the competition and remained so last night. At no point did Martyn pull ahead for very long and, in the end, he lost, something that would NOT have happened had a computer been set up to spam vote.

    There is absolutely no evidence of cheating but that hasn’t stopped any of you from slandering him or his followers. It’s sad and pathetic.

    Craig cannot be proud of this win.

  57. JM ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t think anyone is happy with a competition that ends in a disqualification or resignation, and it’s not especially fair to the stories or their authors either. But it does seem obvious that a computer-assisted vote spam happened in the late stages here, over and above the obvious amount of manual spamming required to get nearly 14 000 votes in the first place.

    It seems like Martyn and Craig have both kind of mentally checked out from this process because whatever the result is, it will seem tainted.

  58. Madden says:

    You said that right, MK. Martyn’s a strong offensive forward on paper, but if the quaterback throws the ball in the endzone and the Wide Receiver catches it… It’s a touchdown.

  59. MK says:

    Wow. Calhouns so clearly had the talent, audience and media wherewithal to actually turn a Deathmatch win into a career move. It’s hard to know if his competitor can say the same.

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