Anna, of Wendy Higgins’s novel Sweet Evil, leads a life full of constant temptation after meeting to-hot-for-anyone’s-good Kaidan. Her dark side, the gift from her fallen-angel father, makes her to want to impart darkness in others as well. Inspired by Anna’s dark side, we challenged you to write a story about a character who is tempted by something.
You wrote and voted, and we sent the ten finalists to Wendy Higgins for judging. Check out the winners and Wendy’s comments below, and be sure to congratulate your fellow Figs!
Wendy says: “It takes very strong writing to be able to convey a full story arc that grips the reader in 1,200 words. Cates is a very strong writer, because that’s exactly what’s been done! My attention was grabbed right away, making me wonder why ‘so many swallowed laughs now lied within her belly.’ As the story goes on, and we meet the stranger who falls for her silent intrigue, and I found myself holding my breath and reading faster. I wanted her to kiss him! But I wanted her to stay away from him because he might make her laugh or accidentally talk. The seven years was nearly up. She was so close. The stakes were high, and it could have gone either way. I felt the Swan Girl’s temptation, completely, and my heart broke hard at the end (which shows how invested I’d become in the story). The last line was haunting.
“My only suggestions for Cates are to avoid unnecessary phrases at the beginning of paragraphs, such as “Now, it happened that. . .” and “And so. . .” because they can detract from the flow of the narrative. And I think it might have up the stakes even further if we knew why these seven princes were cursed in the first place.
“Otherwise, fabulous! Congratulations!”
Way to go, S.E. Cates! You will receive a copy of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins, a copy of Insurgent by Veronica Roth, a copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass, a copy of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock, a copy of Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, a copy of So Close to You by Rachel Carter, and a copy of A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix.
Wendy says: “Another haunting entry! This one was especially effective because I could feel her back and forth emotions—the pull of her temptation to cut versus the pull of her boyfriend’s disappointment if she does it. I love his line, ‘You’re not the only one it hurts.’ This piece perfectly shows the agony of being addicted to self-harm, and at a loss about how to deal with the issues in a healthy way.
That brings me to the one line that made me pause and wonder. . .the line about her watching the people she loved die slowly. I would have liked to see a bit more there, to show the pain she’s facing and help us empathize with her further. If it only mentioned one person dying slowly, then I would assume a disease like cancer had struck. But it sounds like multiple people she loves are dying, which made me curious about her situation.
Overall, very powerful. Well done, Margaret!”
Great job, Margaret! You will receive will receive a copy of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins, a copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass, a copy of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock, a copy of Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, a copy of So Close to You by Rachel Carter, and a copy of A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix.
Wendy says: “Freaky!!! Mermaid/Siren horror was unexpected and tantalizing. As much as I wanted to hate her for what she was doing, you presented her in a way that made me understand. She was acting on instinct, not impulse. It’s very difficult to pull off a piece from the first person point of view when the narrator is, well, a cold-hearted killer. But you did it beautifully, and actually made me feel for her! I understood that she was doing what she was naturally created to do—seduce and kill—but we see that glimpse of wonder and regret after she’d let herself experience something with him. It twisted my heart. I loved the line, ‘My blood ran for his drowning, but my heart ached for his lips.’
“As far as criticism, the very last line seemed a tiny bit out of character—I couldn’t imagine that she sat around wishing human boys would like her. I would have liked a slightly stronger ending line that showed her confusion about her feelings and overpowering lure of her nature.
“All in all, a fantastic scene!”
Wendy also had comments for two of the other finalists:
“I had a terrible feeling of despair in the pit of my stomach as I read—I wanted to holler, “Don’t listen to the scream!” but it was clear that the screaming was too loud—too overpowering—too tempting. This is a beautiful, chilling narrative, a glimpse into a depressed mind being lured and seduced by the thought of death. Descriptions such as ‘Blood swallowing the floor’ bring the scene vividly to life.
“I would have liked to know a tiny bit more about this girl to get to know her better and feel further invested in her struggle, but what you have here is just enough to make us care.”
A Recipe for Craving and Self-Loathing by Isabel Filippone
Wendy says: “I’ve never been concise enough to write poetry—it’s very difficult for me, so when I see it done well I’m always in awe. In a few handful of words you’ve pieced together a wide span of emotion. In the first stanza I was grinning. I knew that temptation of the rich dessert, and I was thinking “Go for it!” And then the second stanza hits and the language changes from light to heavy and negative. The switch is sudden and very effective. What starts as an innocent-seeming temptation turns into something much deeper—someone struggling and hurting—someone for whom this one temptation is a seriously big deal. By the end my grin was a frown, and I wanted to clutch my heart at the last two lines. All of a sudden I felt guilty for being so flippant and happy in the first stanza. The range of emotion surfaced in this piece is impressive. Very well done.”