The Official Writing Challenge
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Beautiful! This was a moving testimony and loving story. Thanks!

God bless~
I like this.

There were a couple places I noticed that could have been reworked a bit, but nothing major and nothing that took away from the entry as a whole.

Nice job.
I really enjoyed the story. You had a great beginning that showed the inner conflict of the MC, drawing the reader into the story.

Out of the criteria the judges use to score the articles, I think your weakest one will be Is it on topic? That's not to say you didn't touch on repeat, but that other criteria were stronger.

As I got near the end, I had a feeling that the girl on the carousel would mysteriously disappear. Many writers will use that literary device of the stranger turned angel, however, you did not fall into that trap and that made your story stand out. There are people out there who are human, who love Jesus and want to share the good news with others. This is a great bit of writing with a powerful message. I really loved it!
I loved this! Right from the start with the repeated circling of the carousel, you were on topic. The reinforcement of the message 'Jesus Cares' continued the theme and the whole story was thrilling to read. Well done. A really good entry.
Very nicely done. There were some beautiful descriptive phrases in here and it came to a satisfying conclusion. Keep up the good work!
You made me want to meet this rider upon the "wooden steed" as you so eloquently referred to it in your piece. You did a great job of using the theme repeat in 3 ways that I saw: the carousel itself that went round and round; the rider's smile who was constantly there from the moment you first spied her looking at you to the end of the story when you invited Jesus into your life and of course the wonderful fact that Jesus does indeed care for each one of us all the time. This carousel rider with the beautiful smile so intrigued me and yet what was even more intriguing is that when I went back to re-read your story I noticed that you had written that there was nothing physically beautiful about her.It just goes to show you that the real beauty found in life is in the repetition of our spirit's showing forth God's love to one another. Thank you for this piece of wonderful writing that made me want to be both people in the story yet for different reasons...
I saw the 'repeat' theme in your story and I really enjoyed reading how the MC was led to Jesus. Lovely job!
This is a wonderfully inspiring piece! It encouraged me that a genuine smile can be both an invitation and an entrance to share Christ with others. Your story was very well-written and I loved your descriptive style! Great job! :)
Sweet testimony. It's so wonderful... that moment we realize that... Jesus Cares. Good job!
You have a winner here. I want to be the gal on the carousel! I love this so much, I read it to my hubby and sis - we all agree: "Excellent"!
Great story telling - you do have a way with words - that tug at the emotions and draws the reader in. I loved the idea of the carrousel to show God's repeated attempts to catch our eye and finally begin a conversation that will change a person's life forever.
Just to clarify to all, this, my 5th entry in the challenge is a fictional story and not my personal testimony. I felt that writing it from the p.o.v. of the MC, I could rationalize having intimate knowledge of what was going on inside of the MC. Thanks for all the wonderful comments.
I noticed your comments about a critique on the message boards, so I thought I'd go back, take a look at your article, take a look at my first comment, and see what I could do. :) I said that some parts could be reworked a bit. Here's an example. Your second paragraph:

I had been rejected, hurt, and afraid for so long. Trudging through life stooped over, carrying heavy bricks of shame and guilt on my back was normal. Loneliness and darkness and self pity were constant companions, they were my friends. Nobody wanted me. No one could possibly want someone as ugly inside and out as me. Yet, what was this forceful shaft of hope that offered acceptance with just a facial gesture of kindness?

It's a bit wordy. You might try something like this:

I had been rejected and hurt for so long that carrying the heavy burden of guilt on my back felt normal. Loneliness, darkness, and pity were my constant companions. They convinced my that nobody could want someone like me. I was ugly inside and out. What was about just a smile that offered such a fierce hope?

You still say the same thing, but it's not quite as wordy, and it flows a lot better. I'll keep in mind that you want "hard" critiques when I comments on your future challenge entries.

What a way with words you have. "...monolithic mountain of pain; a loveless void... Nice. Axing words, especially when one is naturally good with them, is so painful but improves clarity so much when needed.
Since you asked for s more detailed critique on the message boards, I thought I'd run through some of the judging criteria and leave my opinion. This doesn't mean this is how the judges would score it, but just my thoughts.
The beginning felt a tad slow to me. Some may feel that by opening with questions, the piece might turn preachy. In fact I think I'd start with the second paragraph, after tightening it up some:
As I trudged through life, rejection, failure, and loneliness dogged my heels. The weight of my burdens stooped my back. Dodging bricks of shame and guilt, I found the path I had chosen to be filled with danger."Nobody cares about a loser like you. Why, you don't have a single friend. Who would dare be seen with such a pitiful creature?" The tape in my brain ran on a loop and constantly hurled insults at me. Yet, every once in a while my eyes caught a glimmer of light. Who dared to enter the dark recesses of my mind and offer me a glimmer of hope?
That may not be perfect but I hope it shows how using more active verbs can help the reader relate and create a picture. It would also serve as a nice transition into the original paragraph about the smiling person.
Overall, I'd say your beginning was above average, you did a nice job of showing the reader the conflict immediately. Every great story needs a conflict, not necessarily the typical definition, but something to intrigue the reader and make her want to keep reading to see how the conflict is resolved.

The next criteria is creativity. Basically, is the story fresh, does it tackle the topic in a creative and different way. I think you would range in the very good area for this criterion. Many people would have been tempted to have her be a mysterious stranger who later is discovered to be an angel so I liked you went in a different direction.

As for topic, you do touch on it with the merry-go-round, but it may have been too subtle for many readers. I'd say for me it would be on the average end of the spectrum. Could the story be told without that in it and still be effective? And If the reader didn't know the topic was would they guess it correctly? These are two questions I try to ask myself when I'm writing.

Next is crafting. This is pretty straightforward. Do you use proper grammar and punctuation or is it riddled with typos or change of tense (starts in present but ends in past) Is there a POV shift where the reader sees or knows something that the MC doesn't know. We can only see, hear, smell what the MC feels, sees, and does. I think you would rank quite high on this, it may have been a tiny bit predictable, but not really as I would have guessed they run off into the sunset in ,love. So I think you did a nice job with the mechanics of writing. There may have been times when you slipped into some minor purple prose. Take this for example: I couldn't walk away from an offer to fill this deep need that had been crushing my spirit under a monolithic mountain of pain; a loveless void, locked, unreachable in an inner chamber of myself. Yet, somehow the barrier had been breeched.
That might be a tad too poetic. It's great to give the reader a picture, but try to use great verbs like crushed, breached instead of fancy adverbs and adjectives
Oops my finger accidentally hit submit. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to check typos before hitting submit. The last criteria is ending. I think you did very good on that too. You resolved the conflict in a reasonable way. Some questions were left to make the reader think, which is good,

The transitions, I would say were good too. You don't seem to have problems going from one paragraph to the next. I think if you looked for suggestions on transitioning, you could easily catapult the next story into the great level for transitions. The last about publishable is harder for me to guess. I think with some polishing it could be good if you find the right publication for this type of story.

I want to stress that though I picked it apart quite a bit, that doesn't negate any of the good things I said earlier. You do have a knack for story telling. The more you write and study other stories, the better you will be. Keep at it my friend, God has great things stowed away for you and I have no doubt that more people than you can dream of will be touched by your words. :-)