As a fairy-tale romance, today’s story shines.
The Lighthouse and the Sea
[Romance] [Slice of Life] • 1,042 words
A short tail of love and lighthouses, seas and sea ponies.
FROM THE CURATORS: Here at the RCL, we’ve featured everything from short-short stories to door-stopping novels — and it’s always a pleasure to find a story that can tell a big tale in a small space. “This is evocative in its succinctness, and uses the reader’s familiarity with fairy-tale conventions to its advantage,” Chris said in his nomination of this Writeoff Association medalist, and that sentiment quickly gathered broad consensus. “It is almost a doodle of a story, utilizing the least amount of detail possible to deliver its premise,” Soge said, and Present Perfect agreed: “We get the bare minimum of words to convey the story, and it never feels like we’re missing out or being shortchanged.”
It was that economy of words — and the emotional depth that went along with it — which drew the most praise from us. “This is a story that shows how to create emotion out of setting and arc,” Chris said. “Rather than trying to smash a bunch of character development into too little space, the author keeps the narrative carefully reserved, leaving the reader to infer the hows and whys from a brief highlighting of thoughts and events.” That was helped by a fine attention to detail, AugieDog said: “The details that the author chooses to include are more guideposts than plot points … I’d almost call it a prose poem that way. Or a lighthouse beam, sweeping over the narrative, picking out certain moments to call to our attention.”
And we found emotional resonance within those moments, from start to finish. “The author’s note laments the ambiguity of the ending, but I thought that was one of its strengths,” Horizon said. “That it’s so gracefully balanced between such different interpretations gives it, if you’ll pardon the pun, a lot of depth.” That effective use of its wordcount added up to an exemplary story, Present Perfect said: “In that tight space, we get that sense of loneliness, so that the romance can be a catharsis. Easy to see why it’s a medal winner!”
Read on for our author interview, in which The Cyan Recluse discusses scientist weaknesses, sturgeon addenda, and silent pigeon-holing.