November 21, 2019, 10:45:52 PM

Author Topic: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques  (Read 1352 times)

Offline JMack

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[NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« on: January 06, 2019, 09:05:35 PM »
Here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our writing contest - and to give critique as well.

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.
   
       
Critiquing Other’s Work
Quote

            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.”
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)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline JMack

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 09:07:10 PM »
I’d be quite interested in folks’ thoughts on my Ships story.
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)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Slaykomimi

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2019, 11:24:03 PM »
I would also want as much critique as possible, thanks in advance for helping me.
Truly, if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of mankind.

-Edward d. Morrison

Offline ShadowKnight

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2019, 09:40:30 AM »
I’d be quite interested in folks’ thoughts on my Ships story.

Here are my thoughts. Apologies for the late reply.

Overall I loved the setup but felt a little let down by the resolution. The start got me hooked but I found that the ending was abrupt and left too many unanswered questions.

Style

I found your prose easy to read, with no unnecessary flourish. It fit the protagonist's personality, which is important in a first-person narrative.
I particularly enjoyed the description of the battle. It was short, reflecting the fact that the crew didn't stand a chance, with just enough detail to let the reader imagine the brutality of it.

Characters

I was engaged by the two main characters.

I liked the idea of having a crippled protagonist and seeing his inventiveness as he adapted to every problem through his own creations (lifting platforms on the ship, sled runners, crossbow, kite, etc.). He felt competent despite his physical disability.
I'd have loved to learn more about his motivations for undertaking the journey. The first paragraphs imply that he's simply driven by greed. I'd have found it more interesting if he had other goals as well, such as curiosity about what lies in the far unknown or a need to prove that a "legless grotesque" could be an apt captain.

I found Karadal captivating, with his eerie calmness and authority, and the aura of mystery that surrounds him.

Plot

I loved the way you built up tension bit by bit (the storm, the cold, the compass going crazy, the mist, etc.). I knew that something was going to go wrong but I didn't know what and when.

I liked the interactions between the two main characters and how Captain Bucket didn't trust Karadal but knew he needed him to achieve his goal. I thought that relationship ended too abruptly with the short final confrontation where the former kills the latter.

The Aelfs remained too much of a mystery to me. Why did they attack? Did they felt threatened? Is it because of Karadal? Are they just evil?
In the same vein, the father/children relationship between Karadal and the other Aelfs was an interesting concept, but I'd have loved to see it explored more.

The ending left me with too many questions.
What was the place "of age and secrets" where Karadal went? What is the deal with the pyre and the babes? Is that how Aelfs reproduce? Does that mean that all the other Aelfs are Karadal's descendants?
What happened to the aelfgeld? Is it merely a legend designed to lure sailors into the far unknown? Is aelfgeld the skeletons of the Aelfs? If so, did Captain Bucket know that? He doesn't seem surprised when he finds Karadal's golden skeleton. Aelfgeld is what the story opens with and the whole reason for the journey so I would have expected a clearer resolution on that point.
How is Captain Bucket going to get back? I liked the kite idea but they were at least 6 weeks out and he's in the middle of a frozen sea.

Offline JMack

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2019, 12:02:17 PM »
Thank you,@ShadowKnight. Its clearly another case of a) too much story to fit into the contest length and b) author out of control of his plot.  8)

The positives in your comments are really helpful, though, since they tell me there’s a kernel of good stuff there to be mined in the future.


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)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2019, 02:07:03 PM »
ShadowKnight, it's interesting you think Jmack's protagonist is a man, I thought it was a woman! Now I'm going to check if there's anything there that says either way ???

Edit: no hints there, so I'm not sure why I thought that. Too much "difference"? It does make more sense to be a man, I suppose, to gather a crew and all that...
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 02:09:12 PM by ScarletBea »
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Offline JMack

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2019, 03:39:35 PM »
ShadowKnight, it's interesting you think Jmack's protagonist is a man, I thought it was a woman! Now I'm going to check if there's anything there that says either way ???

Edit: no hints there, so I'm not sure why I thought that. Too much "difference"? It does make more sense to be a man, I suppose, to gather a crew and all that...

Oooh. I want to know, too!  8)

There’s a story here.
I’m really struck, @ScarletBea, that you picked up on this. My original concept for the character was that she is a woman, and is in love with the male character. Who was originally someone else entirely than the Aelf. But in the process of eliminating complications to fit the contest length all sorts of things changed. Still, there must be an unconscious thread running through things. I’m actually quite delighted that she stuck around behind the scenes. 
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 03:42:47 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)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ShadowKnight

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Re: [NOV 2018] Image Prompt: Ships - Critiques
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2019, 06:02:09 PM »
Thank you,@ShadowKnight. Its clearly another case of a) too much story to fit into the contest length and b) author out of control of his plot.  8)

My pleasure, @JMack.
That's the eternal challenge, isn't it? Building enough of a story to engage the reader but not cramming too much into it lest it feel dense or confusing. I struggle to strike the right balance in my own entries.

The positives in your comments are really helpful, though, since they tell me there’s a kernel of good stuff there to be mined in the future.

Glad I could help. I enjoyed the story despite what I said about the ending. There is definitely a lot of good stuff in there.
By the way, I thought your entry for December ("Negative Effects") had a powerful ending. And I'm not saying that just because it won. ;)

ShadowKnight, it's interesting you think Jmack's protagonist is a man, I thought it was a woman! Now I'm going to check if there's anything there that says either way ???

Edit: no hints there, so I'm not sure why I thought that. Too much "difference"? It does make more sense to be a man, I suppose, to gather a crew and all that...

You're right, there's no indication of the protagonist's sex until halfway through the story, when Karadal refers to him as "Mr. Bucket". I have to admit I assumed he was a man from the start. It was an unconscious choice, probably one guided by my personal biases as a reader and the preconceptions I have about ship captains.
Now that you've pointed that out I would have preferred a female protagonist for this story. :)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2019, 06:04:35 PM by ShadowKnight »