NYC Midnight Challenge Round One Update

I had almost forgotten about entering this until this week, when I suddenly wondered when Round Two was, and the results were posted yesterday. I took third in my group, so I advance to Round Two this weekend. I thought the judge feedback was fair, and I’ll probably tinker around with this a bit to tighten and smooth around the edges.

Hogging the Spotlight

Pete shoved a foot into the wetsuit, almost falling over in his excitement. “The chemical analysis is back, Jez. That pool you found is water. Two years looking for life in this godforsaken galaxy, and I’m going to see it today.”

“Shouldn’t we send down the probe first?”

“Look, I outrank you. You’re just going to have to wait. Maybe I’ll name a species after you.” He pulled the zipper up and shrugged on his SCUBA gear. They could breathe under the portable biodome they’d set up over the site, but underwater was a different story.

“It’s not about that—”

“You’ll get your chance when you’re commander. It’s my day to shine.”


Jez monitored his vitals and watched the video feed from his goggles. Visibility wasn’t great even with his headlamp, and she strained her eyes looking for shapes in the murk. “Pete, what’s that off to your right?”

Suddenly the screen was filled with tiny greenish lights. “Well, look at this. Who’s a cute little bioluminescent life form? That’s right, you are.” He captured one in a sample flask. As he capped it, a warning blared. “They’re getting into the wetsuit,” he said, rubbing at his arms. 

“Stay calm,” she said, watching his heart rate with concern.

“They’re going under my skin, Jez. It burns!”

“Turn around and swim back.”

But he just hung there, a green glow in the darkness.

It was sort of pretty in the light. He was right. It was his time to shine.


{1970}  I do like “Hogging the Spotlight”. Poor Pete should’ve listened to Jez, I particularly like the way you tied this into the ending. They never listen, do they? While it is sad that Pete met with a tragic end, one could say he had it coming. I think that you’ve done a good job with the plot and the relationship between these two characters. Thanks for the story. I enjoyed reading it.  

{1597)  I liked the idea of discovering new life somewhere in the galaxy. I liked that there was rivalry between the crew about who should do what. I liked the drama of Jez being able to see Pete’s heart rate as he encountered the danger. 

{2039}  No good decision in media has ever begun with the sentence “I outrank you.” I love Pete’s ridiculous character, and his fitting end.  


{1970}  This is a good story that needs very little work. What do I suggest to take it up a notch? I think there’s something that’s hard to pinpoint in the nuts and bolts, how things are put together. It could be smoothed out a bit. Every word counts in a short story. When I went back and read this for a second time, my first thought was that it could’ve almost started with “Shouldn’t we send down the probe first?” That would have hooked me more than Pete shoving his foot into a wetsuit. All this said, still a good tale. Thanks!  

{1597)  In the beginning of the story, there could be a little more clarity; specifically, if they’ve gotten the results of a chemical analysis, this implies that some kind of probe has already been sent down, which makes Jez’s comment a little harder to understand. Instead of simply saying “a warning blared,” be specific about what kind of warning it is, and whether it is only on his suit or also showing up on Jez’s monitor. It’s great to end with a joke, but it changes the tone of the story and in this case it seems quite sinister and cold, which seems out of keeping with Jez’s character. 

{2039}  I wish I knew more about Jez, and why she seems completely disinterested in the ignominious demise of her captain (or whatever rank he is). If she didn’t want him to die, that should come through. If she kinda’ did (which is understandable, he seems like a jerk), I think you can make that come through also. But right now, she just seems vaguely sociopathic, which I don’t think was your intent.

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