Matt Wallace reviewed Apex #9 and had this to say about my story.
Next up, flash fiction from Mary Robinette Kowal. It pains me to say this, but “Locked In” really didn’t get it done for me. It certainly didn’t have the impact that it seemed to have on others. I love Ms. Kowal to death, she’s a woman of many talents. She illustrated one of my stories and did a beautiful job. But this just struck me as a throwaway tale. The reason is the ending, I think. Because the story is well-written, and the narrative style was engaging (“the ball” is a great device). But where everyone else seemed to find the twist ending sick and shocking, I was let down. It was predictable and felt kinda cheap to me, like she hadn’t earned it. That sounds harsh, but that was my reaction, man. What’re you gonna do?
The interesting thing for me is that the “ouch” of this doesn’t come from the fact that he didn’t like it, but that the flaw that people seem to complain about in my writing is that it is predictable. Now, what I’m trying to figure out is if that’s a problem. See, in every case it’s been in a story where I wanted to the reader to understand what was happening before the character did. For me, when I’m watching a movie, or a play, or reading a book, it’s most tense when I know something bad is about to happen but the stupid main character is just blithely charging ahead.
I keep trying to do that because I like the sensation of mentally yelling “No, no, no!” at the main character. So, what I’m trying to figure out for myself is if the “predictable” tag means that there are people who don’t like that, or if I should tip my hand less about where we are going in a story.