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Fantasy Faction Writers => Archived Contests => Monthly Writing Contest => [MAY 2015] Fairytales => Topic started by: xiagan on July 01, 2015, 09:43:18 PM

Title: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: xiagan on July 01, 2015, 09:43:18 PM
So here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our Fairy Tales writing contest - and to give critique as well. I know that the voting goes for ~13 more hours, but I don't know when I'll have time again to open it. :)

If everybody wants and gives critique, this thread will be pure chaos soon, while 2-3 critiques for as many stories shouldn't be a problem. We'll see how it goes and adapt if necessary. :)

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

IF this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has it's own one to avoid confusion. :)

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:

This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
Quote
Critiquing Other’s Work
1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on July 02, 2015, 01:47:10 PM
Looking for people to obliterate my story (nice things allowed too).
Will pick at stories in return when desired.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 02, 2015, 05:41:09 PM
I guess I'd better live up to my reputation now that someone's oh so kindly fixed up my title. I actually have a bit of an advantage in that I was distracted this month and didn't read or vote, so my responses can be purely from a first time read perspective.

So for Henry, don;t worry, no obliteration here. In fact I'd like to start by saying how impressed I am that you always manage near 500 word entries. As someone who struggles to even write a short post on the forums, I find that quite enviable, and every story of yours I've read has been well structured with a clear plotline, so great work.

Narrativewise, this was well written, clear, concise, and had an underlying tone that worked really well for a story to be told to children. I didn't see or else notice any spelling mistakes.

"The shrine priestess refused the gathered villagers"
I don't think you need the extra gathered here. This was likely a product of gather being in your head from the previous sentence.

"The spirits of this world don't understand what it's like to work each day for the sweat of their brow."
Something jarred me with this sentence. I think the phrase, 'for the sweat of their brow' didn't quite make sense. Maybe there's a typo here and you meant sweat off their brow, but even then, brow sweat is a product of working hard, not something you work for, unless your using it as a simile, in which case, do these foxes get sweaty brows?

Opulance is probably not a good word in light of the target audience of this type of work. You'd be better to go with something like wealth.

Plotwise, you may want to rethink the black fox and/or some of the elements. The moral didn't really grab me because I was more sympathetic with the villagers than the foxes.

First off, the underying hunger issues meant that the villagers acted more out of desperation than greed, so I'd remove the backstory of their bad harvests and push it towards them wanting more than they reasonably needed.

Secondly, the one who tricks them also being a fox is a slight issue, since I'd assume these foxes are revered equally, so the black one being a bad egg is beyond the scope of the villagers understanding. From their eyes a fox spirit has come down and told them they can take some food to sate their hunger pains, so why wouldn't they do it?
Also, if the supreme spirit fox is all seeing and knowing, then surely he must be aware that it was the black fox who tricked the villagers and not them just going vigilante before the priestess returns with an answer. I'd suggest switching the black fox out with another animal like a snake, or, if you wanted to keep to the status quo that foxes are sly and inherently evil, change the forest spirits into either deers or something that is more easily pictured as a berry eater.

Finally, it comes off as rather odd that the fox spirit condemns the villagers for stealing food from the mouths of animals right before going out and massacring animals in vengeance. You need some more clarification between the wild beasts vs farm ones here, but even still it seems a somewhat ironic response, one that feels ineffective to me since there's nothing stopping the villagers hunting the wild animals of that forest now that they've been deserted by the spirits and are unprotected and vulnerable.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Raptori on July 02, 2015, 06:34:23 PM
We'd love some critique too  :)
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on July 02, 2015, 07:11:54 PM
Thanks @D_Bates (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40257). Title 100% deserved  :P
You always think things through a lot more than I do, proves I need second opinions on my writing ^^
I simply thought "the sweat of their brow" sounded neat. Was nearing deadline >.>

Your story was very clear and well-paced, but I had trouble with the lack of spacing between the paragraphs, giving it the appearance of a wall of text. Bit of a shame for such a good story otherwise really.
The celestial theme made it very different from any other fairy tale I usually read. Really awesome  :D
Ending seems a bit patched on, as initially I assume you wanted a beauty and the beast style story, but decided otherwise towards the end. It turns the celestial deity from being a nameless instigator (the crone from beauty and the beast) to a villain. This seems a bit contrived as he actually had no real reason to be this evil. (hope that makes sense)



For Raptori and Saurus:

It rhymes  ;D
And it's so sweet. And yay  :D
Maybe redo the formatting, so it's easier to tell where the breaks are for the rhythm. That's all I can think of really. Sorry :/
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 02, 2015, 07:34:29 PM
You're welcome Henry. I don't think there's a writer alive who can't use a second opinion on any of their work :p.

And thanks for the feedback on mine. I'm still struggling a bit with formatting for forum posts and double spacing between every paragraph rather than just scene breaks. And I never really base my plots off anything, probably something I should start doing more often tbh.

I tried to squeeze a bit of goldilocks in there, but it never really worked out, and while I initially wanted the deity to teach the planet a lesson, kind of got enchanted by the whole love element between her and Moon by the end.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Raptori on July 02, 2015, 09:51:26 PM
It rhymes  ;D
And it's so sweet. And yay  :D
Maybe redo the formatting, so it's easier to tell where the breaks are for the rhythm. That's all I can think of really. Sorry :/
Haha thanks!  ;D We did consider putting each sentence on its own line to emphasise the rhythm, but that might have taken it too close to being poetry I think, which would've had a much lower word limit. Might've been a bit better that way I guess, though there are a few places where the rhythm is a bit awkward anyway so there would've still been problems with it...  :P



@both of you, I enjoyed both of your stories, and honestly can't think of any critique for either beyond what the two of you have already said.  :o
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on July 02, 2015, 10:41:35 PM
@Raptori (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=38840)'s story is my argument for Likes.

Meanwhile, if I were to offer one problem I had, it's that while almost every line is imabic septameter... some aren't. For me, the interruption of the pattern felt random, rather than planned. You and @Saurus (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40290) took on a huge challenge. No surprise there are moments when the words or scansion don't quite fit. And sticking to the septameter would often have meant more words, and we know the challenge with that! ;)

So, I didn't choose your story as one of my votes, but I'd have offered up a bunch of Likes. Really fun, really ambitious.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on July 02, 2015, 11:49:26 PM
@Henry (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=8080) Dale, I think David got a number of things right, though I'm not so bothered by the balck fox/white fox dialectic. I agree, though, that the villagers don't come off as particularly abusive. But I think that could be fixed relatively easily. My suggestion would be that we see them go beyond the need to stave off starvation. You say they fill their baskets to the brim, but not that this scours the forest and leaves it empty for the animals. We could see them cast slightly blemished fruit on the ground, and other things. The point would be that they do become greedy when given the opportunity to take and take and take. I think this would resolve much of the problem.

A minor thing: The connection of the white hair of the priestess to the white-haired fox mentioned at the end is a bit hard to make.

I have some wording comments inside the spoilers. Well, a bunch. And I sort of switched around words and stuff, based on my personal taste. Which may not be what we're supposed to do in these critiques. Sorry.  :-[

But one of the things I was going for was to strike a somewhat more contemporary balance in the wording. In a few places it just felt a bit convlouted in the interest of being traditional.

Anyway, a lovely legend, and a lot to like.

Once upon a time there was a mountain where foxes lived around a shrine to the local god. There was a rich forest there with plenty of food, but none dared gather from it because it was a sacred place. The shrine was led by a shrine priestess and who  while although she was young, she had long white hair.

Now There came a time when the kingdom had several bad harvests in a row and the villagers pleaded to the shrine priestess to let them- just this once- gather food from the mountain for the coming winter. At first, the shrine priestess refused the gathered villagers, but when she saw the hungry children, she was moved and climbed the mountain to ask the deity god for food.

As While the shrine priestess was gone to plead to the mountain god, a black fox approached the villagers. His fur was smooth and his tongue was silver.
"Do not fear me." He spoke said. "I've heard the tidings of the land, your hunger and misery."
The fox shook his weary head. "The spirits of this world don't understand what it's like to work sweat each day for the food in their mouths the sweat of their brow. They live in the opulence of nature and know nothing of your labour and grief."
The black fox smiled at the children and played with them.
"Go ahead and take your food. The spirits won't miss a handful of berries from this mountain." The people nodded at the wisdom of the black fox. They climbed the mountain with baskets and filled them to the brim with sweet berries and powerful roots. [This is where to show the villagers going beyond hunger into greed and waste.]

Meanwhile the shrine priestess had climbed the many steps of the shrine, cleansed herself with water and tolled the bell to call to the god of the mountain. "Oh, spirit, the people living upon your land are starving. Please be benign to them, spare them. Let them live another day."
The god spirit fox answered her call and appeared before her as a great spirit fox, grand in his majesty.
"Then why is it they are already scouring the my sanctum, stealing the food of the animals that live here? Why didn't they wait for me to speak? I see everything that happens here and what I see is greed without reserve. I cannot grant your wish."

The shrine priestess looked down and saw the spirit fox was right. She pleaded for forgiveness, but it was too late. Tears burned hot on her cheeks and she was never seen again after that. Some say she left out of shame for what the villagers had done, others that the spirit fox had taken her with him. The spirit fox abandoned the blessed mountain along with all his foxes. When the large group of foxes passed through the village, they devoured every animal there, leaving the villagers to die. [Because this would kill them how?]
All black foxes, who were traitorous, were turned to stone as punishment to watch over the mountain forever and sometimes people would talk about seeing a white-haired fox roaming the dark forest.

No longer would the forest be as rich, no longer was it spiritual and full of life.
Let it be learned that he who steals from nature, only hurts himself.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on July 03, 2015, 06:55:00 AM
Awesome detailed critique @Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094)! I'll check it more thoroughly tonight after work and do yours too.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on July 03, 2015, 08:24:43 PM
@Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094)'s story

I loved the entire premise of your story, but the part of Moggmathkin seemed a bit attached to the rest of the story. As if you were just looking for a cause to get your story going, I did vote for you in the end for the second half, but I think you might need to rethink that first little bit. Just my opinion though, others may think Moggmathkin is a great addition :3
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on July 03, 2015, 08:29:57 PM
@Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094)'s story

I loved the entire premise of your story, but the part of Moggmathkin seemed a bit attached to the rest of the story. As if you were just looking for a cause to get your story going, I did vote for you in the end for the second half, but I think you might need to rethink that first little bit. Just my opinion though, others may think Moggmathkin is a great addition :3
Ah. Very interesting response. Thanks. I like having alternate POVs - gets me thinking.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 11, 2015, 05:31:19 PM
@Raptori (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=38840) Sorry for delays again! My attention to time seems to be pretty terrible these days.

So yea, last month I may have ended up coming across somewhat brutal overall since the critique kind of went off track into greater discussions, but have no fear!

First impressions here, I really liked this story. I don't think I saw a single typo in there, and it flowed from start to finish with a well defined plot.

Jmacks right when he says there were stages where the rhyme fell apart, mostly with the speaking elements. But when you consider the sheer size of the piece, I think there were only three occasions which drew a frown and threw me out of the pattern, which is incredible.
On a side note, I think speaking is extraordinarily hard to do in rhymes outside of one liners. Something like:
"The man leaned in and took her hand and looked her in the eye, and said "There is a way to find the one before you die."
You can see the rhyme when searching for it, but when simply reading the disruptive nature of he said <quotation marks> sort of throws you out of the rhythm. It's also possible that the double 'and' isn't helping, so cutting out "and took her hand" and patching in another generic word may help here.

There were also a few places where the rhyming words didn't quite hit, but as someone who dabbles in rhymes myself I know all too well the pain of trying to wedge two similar sounding words together with plot. Huge, huge props for using paradigm though, holy shit did that raise an impressed eyebrow from me!

But beyond the rhyming, I thought the outcome of this story was fantastic. I really liked how you broke the mould of happily ever after and pushed on through to their married life and the way their individual habits irritate one another. I have to admit, I was rolling my eyes a fair bit near the start with the whole princess looks for perfect prince (and this isn't a criticism of your story rather than the standard trope that befalls these sort of things), but when you opened up the marriage quirks I was smiling like a chesire cat. Part of me wonders how much of that was fiction and how much was being taken from your real life relationship :p.

But yea, I thought this was an absolutely stupendous effort and something you should be really proud of.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Raptori on July 11, 2015, 06:02:15 PM
@Raptori (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=38840) Sorry for delays again! My attention to time seems to be pretty terrible these days.

So yea, last month I may have ended up coming across somewhat brutal overall since the critique kind of went off track into greater discussions, but have no fear!

First impressions here, I really liked this story. I don't think I saw a single typo in there, and it flowed from start to finish with a well defined plot.

Jmacks right when he says there were stages where the rhyme fell apart, mostly with the speaking elements. But when you consider the sheer size of the piece, I think there were only three occasions which drew a frown and threw me out of the pattern, which is incredible.
On a side note, I think speaking is extraordinarily hard to do in rhymes outside of one liners. Something like:
"The man leaned in and took her hand and looked her in the eye, and said "There is a way to find the one before you die."
You can see the rhyme when searching for it, but when simply reading the disruptive nature of he said <quotation marks> sort of throws you out of the rhythm. It's also possible that the double 'and' isn't helping, so cutting out "and took her hand" and patching in another generic word may help here.

There were also a few places where the rhyming words didn't quite hit, but as someone who dabbles in rhymes myself I know all too well the pain of trying to wedge two similar sounding words together with plot. Huge, huge props for using paradigm though, holy shit did that raise an impressed eyebrow from me!

But beyond the rhyming, I thought the outcome of this story was fantastic. I really liked how you broke the mould of happily ever after and pushed on through to their married life and the way their individual habits irritate one another. I have to admit, I was rolling my eyes a fair bit near the start with the whole princess looks for perfect prince (and this isn't a criticism of your story rather than the standard trope that befalls these sort of things), but when you opened up the marriage quirks I was smiling like a chesire cat. Part of me wonders how much of that was fiction and how much was being taken from your real life relationship :p.

But yea, I thought this was an absolutely stupendous effort and something you should be really proud of.
Glad you liked it, and don't worry about  it - I'm much worse at keeping up with stuff like this. I didn't think you were brutal last time, just very constructive and helpful (same goes for this month too)! :D

Yeah there were a few flaws that we had noticed before posting it, we just left it too late to fix it all sadly. Really need to get out of the habit of leaving things so late. Great to hear that most of it worked well for others though, and your critique (and @Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094)'s too) makes a lot of sense. Separating the lines out would've probably helped make the rhymes more obvious as well as helping with the rhythm - it's one of those where if you know what you're looking for it stands out, but for other people it probably won't.

The last bit where we got stuck actually - we wanted to carry on after the marriage and twist it somehow but couldn't work out a way to tie the wind back into the story, then @Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094) came to the rescue! I think it helps to use tropes like that, since it helps readers fill in the unspoken back story and characterisation. Plus people appreciate it when you twist them, hence the number of different versions of things like Red Riding Hood or Cinderella. :P
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 11, 2015, 07:26:27 PM
You certainly did the right thing pushing it on past the marriage though. It was very clever. Mr. Mack seems to have been in the zone this month. And yea, royalty and paupers are pretty much a fairytale staple no less than the mother in law, godmother, or any numvber of unnamed brothers and sisters since they're easy descriptions for children to relate to.

Not gonna lie, Fairytales was not a strong topic for me, but neither was Multi PoV nor the sub 500 words of this month. I think I upset xiagan at some point along the line ><.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Raptori on July 11, 2015, 07:31:52 PM
It's all about the challenge, xiagan likes to make things difficult!  ;D
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: xiagan on July 12, 2015, 09:37:38 PM
Not gonna lie, Fairytales was not a strong topic for me, but neither was Multi PoV nor the sub 500 words of this month. I think I upset xiagan at some point along the line ><.
If it goes on I'm just going to believe that you don't have strong topics at all.  ;D
It's certainly not that I'm basing the monthly themes on what I found out when stalking you.  ;)
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 13, 2015, 10:50:48 AM
This month seems pointless since I struggle to write a forum post under 500 words let alone a story! I'm hoping next month will break the streak though. I've been looking back on topics over the past year and thinking, God, why was I not around for that one!
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: Elfy on July 14, 2015, 12:57:28 AM
This month seems pointless since I struggle to write a forum post under 500 words let alone a story! I'm hoping next month will break the streak though. I've been looking back on topics over the past year and thinking, God, why was I not around for that one!
I thought that too. Lejays17 even teased me about it here. She claims that I struggle to keep an opening paragraph under 500 words, let alone an entire story, but that in part is why they're called Challenges. 500 is a tight word count, but I've read some of your other entries and I think you can do it, you've got an inventive mind and you use your words well. I haven't posted it yet, still needs some polishing, but I did manage an entry under 500 words for this month's challenge.
Title: Re: [May 2015] - Fairytales - Critique Thread
Post by: D_Bates on July 14, 2015, 07:38:06 PM
Funnily enough, I had an idea last night, but it's a bit of a morbid one so I guess I'll see how it goes. Good luck to both of us ramblers!