July 19, 2018, 08:26:58 AM

Author Topic: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread  (Read 2281 times)

Offline JMack

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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread
« Reply #60 on: May 16, 2018, 04:20:08 PM »

Anyway, @JMack

Wow... What can I say. A couple of days before the voting ended 9 people had voted, and you came out with 10. That means you likely got well over 90% of the votes, and it was well deserved. This story was as close to perfect as can be, and knowing me as you do I don't say that lightly. I honestly didn't find a scene or word out of place, and the fact that you not only delivered strong characters and an intriguing world in the form of a letter, that you then wrote a second letter in response can be considered showing off.

I've not read all the 42 and some of the stories you've written, but if there's any one you want to put at the top of your portfolio to look back on when feeling low it's this. The narrative was flawless, the voices clear, the events compelling... But what got me the most was the sheer number of small details you stuffed in there, those things that oft get overlooked, but for me, as a reader at least, put the true creativity into creative writing. Things like her tearing the letter open to add that additional thought before she posted it. But the most powerful line I felt was the one about her breaking her ankle in the woods. It's so simple, so subtle, so unsuspect, yet it adds so much intimacy to their relationship and truly brings the characters to life.

That, to me, is the definition of show don't tell, even though the event was narrated as one remembered. I don't need to see her breaking her ankle in real time. I just need to know this intimate detail that is a representation of the emotional bonds between these two sisters. It was perfect, truly awe-inspiring, and is something I've aspired towards doing myself for a long, long time, something I feel I've constantly failed to achieve by being too focused in delivering story points, and something I've come to fear cannot be learned, but is rather a natural talent you either have or you don't.

So there you have it. You made a jesting comment at the start of this thread about me declaring your, and I quote:
Quote
utter and undiscovered brilliance
So it comes with great irony that you genuinely earned that praise with this story. This is a culmination of 4 years of effort, a story outside your usual humorous comfort zone, a deeply serious piece that was highly engaging. A well deserved win, and one you did in 1300 words with 200 to spare! And that's a great achievement in itself, because the two certainties in every one of these contests is:
1) there will be a winner, and
2) JMack will make one or more comments along the way lamenting the 1500 word limit.

@D_Bates:

I’ve been meaning to reply to this review, and to thank for it and the huge investment of time you’ve given each of us - and now, sitting in my hospital bed, I have the minute I wanted.

I’m really gratified that you and others liked this story. It came to me in a flash when I bumped into the term “as different as chalk and cheese” (I can’t recall now where.) So, two sisters with very different personalities, writing to each other. One of them (at first) was writing that she would never see home again. I started the first letter (“savvies singing in the scrub”) and the story rooted itself in a world I’ve been tinkering with for 40+ years. Finally, I had letters that pass each other in time, but connect in content, paralleling, and the second sister also leaving home.

The most difficult thing was getting the second sister’s voice to be her own, and to be both consistent with her twin’s idea of her but not exactly. Who is ever exactly what other people think of her? So I’m particularly chuffed to have gotten this close to right.

A very few old hands here may recognize the world. There is no sun, no moon, only day stars and night stars, shining from the peaks of great mountains that ring the world.

But really, my point is to thank you, David. I want to go back to when you beta read my story about a soldier going across a border to retrieve the body of his fallen sergeant. Toward the end of that story, you worked with me to order events properly that I had all the sentences for and none of the sense. I use that lesson now in every story I write.

(Having written this post, I’ve torn it open to add this postscript: the 1,500 word limit is the devil.  ;D )
« Last Edit: May 16, 2018, 04:24:46 PM by JMack »
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)

Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread
« Reply #61 on: May 16, 2018, 09:36:43 PM »
Well, I am happy you liked the story. The back-handed compliment stung because I have no idea what anyone's opinion of my writing is - only what they tell me. So of course I noticed the reference to accidental cleverness. Many of us will volunteer that a thing someone liked or hated was accidental, it certainly happens. But when a writer sees a critique, they look forward to something positive and prepare for negatives, hopefully of the work and not of themselves. The descriptor "accidental cleverness" felt not aimed at the work, but at me, suggesting a variety of negatives. I used the video to try and communicate that I didn't see this as deliberately insulting, only (ironically) accidentally so.

In response to your your critique I'll say I patterned the letter's tone and content from the Architect scene in the Matrix. I did this to be clever, as it is a pointless scene (like the letter), it communicates a broader perspective to undermine the hero's confidence (which I liked but it made little plot sense in the film), and shows the audience this whole conflict has a bigger and older context, which is cool (imo). Unlike that scene, the letter alludes to a future confrontation, so I incorporated some threat. There's more subtlety in there, but as is often the case, it lies below the threshold of what people are going to pick up on, if it even worked at all. It often doesn't in my writing. The repetition of "Indeed" is an example.

Anyway, no harm, no foul.

Well, hopefully you found a lot of positives in the actual feedback, because I genuinely did like this a lot. It delivered a lot of detail, including that older context to this war (which is cool!), and it did it all in 500 words which is quite impressive.

I saw Matrix so long ago that I don't recall that Architect scene, but from your description, it sounds like you not only nailed the scene you recreated, but also resolved the issue that made little sense in the movie that inspired it--which I'm going to assume (at my own peril!) existed in the movie for the point of exposition reveal. So yeah, nice job, and no hard feelings.
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread
« Reply #62 on: May 16, 2018, 10:15:00 PM »
Well, I am happy you liked the story. The back-handed compliment stung because I have no idea what anyone's opinion of my writing is - only what they tell me. So of course I noticed the reference to accidental cleverness. Many of us will volunteer that a thing someone liked or hated was accidental, it certainly happens. But when a writer sees a critique, they look forward to something positive and prepare for negatives, hopefully of the work and not of themselves. The descriptor "accidental cleverness" felt not aimed at the work, but at me, suggesting a variety of negatives. I used the video to try and communicate that I didn't see this as deliberately insulting, only (ironically) accidentally so.

In response to your your critique I'll say I patterned the letter's tone and content from the Architect scene in the Matrix. I did this to be clever, as it is a pointless scene (like the letter), it communicates a broader perspective to undermine the hero's confidence (which I liked but it made little plot sense in the film), and shows the audience this whole conflict has a bigger and older context, which is cool (imo). Unlike that scene, the letter alludes to a future confrontation, so I incorporated some threat. There's more subtlety in there, but as is often the case, it lies below the threshold of what people are going to pick up on, if it even worked at all. It often doesn't in my writing. The repetition of "Indeed" is an example.

Anyway, no harm, no foul.

Well, hopefully you found a lot of positives in the actual feedback, because I genuinely did like this a lot. It delivered a lot of detail, including that older context to this war (which is cool!), and it did it all in 500 words which is quite impressive.

I saw Matrix so long ago that I don't recall that Architect scene, but from your description, it sounds like you not only nailed the scene you recreated, but also resolved the issue that made little sense in the movie that inspired it--which I'm going to assume (at my own peril!) existed in the movie for the point of exposition reveal. So yeah, nice job, and no hard feelings.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHZl2naX1Xk
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Bender

Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread
« Reply #63 on: June 13, 2018, 08:54:11 PM »
@D_Bates thanks for feedback.

I just figured out how to identify mentions of me.

Offline D_Bates

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Re: [Mar 2018] - Letters - Voting Thread
« Reply #64 on: June 13, 2018, 11:09:13 PM »
You're most welcome @Bender ! Looking forward to reading your Fire story entry.
David Bates
Works in progress:
Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018