Rejection from The Carve Magazine’s Short Fiction Contest
Oliver “Shiny” Blakemore

I’m a reader, not a writer. I don’t analyze stories, I don’t compare literary styles, I don’t approach anything I’m reading from an intellectual point of view, at least not from the outset. When I read something, I’m only interested in one thing: does it make me feel something? Anything?

And indeed, your story did make me feel something. Unfortunately it was the feeling of being let down in the end.

The first sentence of about there always being a choice set the expectation for me. Then, not to throw a cup of coffee was established as being a choice as well. So, as a reader that’s what I had in my mind from there on; this is about having choices, let’s see where it gets us.

We observe Evan and the others doing things and saying things, we hear these are choices but in truth they aren’t. I don’t feel that anything he does or says is a conscious decision which I think defines choosing. Another reader said of this part that nothing happens. Well of course things happen but they are detached from the theme you set (at least for me) at the beginning. So they might as well not happen at all.

Still, not all is lost at that point. Until Evan says “You’ve got it” — he makes his choice — and you spoil your own closing with the last paragraph. It deflates the story like a popping balloon and it made me feel deflated as well.

As for your way with words though, I feel a bit jealous if that helps at all.

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