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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 328

Now You See It...

  1. We sometimes receive stories in which non-standard speech has to be conveyed. The problem for the writer is not the grammatical forms; not even a dialectician would be so pedantic as to insist upon absolute accuracy in fiction. Rather the spelling must instruct the readers without confusing them.

    In Glenn Gray’s “A Day in the Cornfield,” Karl and Stew speak a rustic stage dialect.

    1. When is the ending -ing contracted to -in’ ? When can it not be contracted?
    2. The word “and” has both stressed and unstressed forms. When can the unstressed form ’n be used? When must “and” be written out in full?
    3. “Dems” often represents the actual dialect form “them” used as a demonstrative pronoun. Do Karl and Stew normally pronounce standard th or do they regularly replace it with d?
  2. In Kevin McFarlane’s “Hounded by Heritage”:

    1. Is the slain werewolf ever identified?
    2. How can Bernstein kill a werewolf easily and yet Russel can withstand a posse of fourteen heavily armed men?
    3. The men discuss at length a secret that has been kept from Russel. Does Russel evince any curiosity about it?
    4. How will Russel get his pills after he’s through “thanking” Mr. Wren? Or is Russel thinking about the pills ironically?
  3. In Randy D. Ellefson’s “The Insultalon”:

    1. Aside from the soliloquy, what is the only insult quoted? What kind is it?
    2. What does the classic “free soliloquy” consist of?
    3. The Insultalon might constitute the ultimate declamation decathlon from Hell. What examples might be added to make the story truly Dantesque in scope?
  4. Jan Hamlett’s “Through the Looking Glasses” is a cautionary tale warning of excessive self-criticism. How likely is it that the dancers could have advanced as far as they have without the realistic self-confidence needed to improve?

  5. Gay M. Walker’s “Bernice’s New Muse” is a kind of frame story told almost entirely as a flashback. How does the closing frame complete the setting? Can you suggest another ending?

  6. In Mark J. Kiewlak’s “Open to the Sky,” Brian seems to create things out of nothing. Is his talent to be taken literally or is it an allegory?

  7. In Bertil Falk’s “Our Love Will Never Die,” why are the characters not named? What can the female character see? What can she not see? Does the story have an analog in human terms?

  8. In RD Larson’s “Alone,” who or what might “You” be? Does it matter? What is the effect of capitalizing the pronoun? How would the poem change if a person were named or alluded to?

Responses welcome!

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