2017-SA-SSCOMP
SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED | WINNERS ANNOUNCED 31 MAY

Critique for Writers Block - by Ginny Swart

This story hooks the reader from the first sentence and just builds up the interest and tension.

The title is spot-on ..."The well ran dry. It had been his final sentence for months now." Most writers know exactly how that feels, and Kickpush becomes not just a chilling figure of horror but is also a metaphor for real writer's block.

And as Dan writes him and fleshes him out on-screen, so Kickpush grows and becomes stronger. We get sucked into this strange but convincing world of a madman (but is he?) and an imaginary character living inside Sam (but maybe he's real).

There are some great inventive images here... Kickpush's voice sounded like a thousand pins shuffling in a plastic bag.... Kickpush was sticking to the window like a warmed lizard...as if God had taken a smoke break in the middle of the job.

There a nice foreshadowing of trouble ahead when the laptop flickers as he closes it, and a subtle brevity in telling us where he is...trapped in some institution with white walls, but we know exactly.

The whole story, although it falls into the horror/fantasy genre with the familiar elements of paranoia, alienation and displacement that this demands, somehow seems totally believable.

One of the judges suggested that the whole last paragraph could be left out as it overstated the case. I agree, but I'd keep the final line:

"No one noticed a tall shadow moving across the pavement to do some other business."

I can see the whole concept of Kickpush being expanded into a book. I'm thinking of Philip K Dick, a sci fi writer who first wrote a short story called The Defenders and later turned it into a full-length novel The Penultimate Truth.

This would make a great horror film!
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