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Author Topic: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread  (Read 4412 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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[OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« on: December 01, 2015, 06:58:21 PM »
So here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our 'the Books one' writing contest - and to give critique as well.

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.”
[/quote]
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Offline JMack

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2015, 07:36:12 PM »
I'd really appreciate thoughts on "Lord of the Rings."
I know things about the story that bug me. It would be interesting to know what worked and didn't for you all.

And of course, I'm up for trading critiques.

Here's the story, so you don't have to click around for it.

Spoiler for Hiden:
THE LORD OF THE RINGS

You humans cannot comprehend what it means to battle the Breaker of Souls, pitching yourself against his power, winning not just the right to take another breath – we all breathe – but the privilege of striding one more time into that terrible, wonderful Ring. Goblins know. Goblins feel the Breaker in the stone of their hearts, demanding their utmost, watching for the slightest faltering of their wills. Goblins alone fully savor the struggle. Goblins like me.

Think back to Sullen's Day, in the heat of the summer. If you’d listened to the hawkers as they shouted their slogans throughout the city, you’d have heard there was a championship match scheduled at the Ring between the Great Goblin Gorbajod and the Avian Avenger. You’d have rushed to the coliseum, slapped down your coin, bought a watered beer, sat next to some clerk with a taste for other people’s blood, and held your piss through five undercards and a dancing show because you didn’t want to miss the start of the real thing. You came to see to gladiators, but you’d have been utterly blind to the true contest.

I against the Breaker.

Here is what you saw:

I caught the Avenger with one hand as he dropped from the sky, and I crushed him into the dirt. I pulled his heart from his chest and ate it in front of a crowd gone mad with cheering, jeering, and ecstasy and despair from wagers won and lost. Couples and strangers eying each other with lust, such is the power of blood. You are alive. Another is dead. What more is there?

For two years I've killed for you in the Rings. Two years since I was taken from the mountains and brought to this city. At first, I was weak and longed for the deep warrens and the smell of my own kind. I longed for the feel of granite roots under my feet and stone walls over my head. But I grew strong. I learned to crave the Ring, to revel in the contest. 

It was on the day I fully embraced the Ring, forgetting home and clan, desiring only blood, that the Breaker revealed himself to me. He appeared suddenly in the midst of battle, as a shadow riding the back of my foe, shielding him, strengthening him, guiding his hand and blade. That first mount for the god was a giant from the North, eager but dumb. I had known his next move before he did. I'd been toying with him, just to excite the crowd. Then the shadow came and rode the giant. From that moment, every step, every swing was a race against death, and the more he pushed me, the more I thrilled to it. To live! To fight! To kill! At last, I let the giant’s corpse slide off my blade and saw the shadow depart. It looked at me. I swear it saluted me. My body trembled, my mind turned to fire, and ecstasy filled the universe of my being. From that day on, it was I against the Breaker of Souls no matter whom they brought to the Ring.

I’ve killed more men than any goblin since the great wars, each unaware they were but vessels for the god. I fought. I survived. I sang with glory and heard his voice.

Over time, I grew arrogant.

“You are nothing!” I said to the god. “You cannot kill Gorbajod. You are weak!” Each day he appeared, and each day I taunted him. “I am Gorbajod the great, greater than any goblin before me, greater than any after! God killer, god despiser. See me and despair.” I laughed. At night, I drank the wine my human masters brought me and ate their food. I bedded the women and the men they sent. I wore fine clothes and sang the songs they wrote to praise me. I was a lord. The Lord of the Rings.

Until Sullen's Day. That day, I stood with the Avian’s red heart meat in my hand and waited for my communion. I looked for the shadow; its back was to me. No salute. No ecstasy. The shadow faded, and with it, all joy emptied from me. The blessed meal turned to ashes in my fist.

Your are human, and don’t know how the world is. You might ask: “Did Gorbajod at last kill the Breaker?” Fool. The Maker and the Breaker cannot be destroyed. They are the doing and the undoing, the smith and the fire. You might ask: “Did Gorbajod dream his god from the beginning and saw at last his own confusion?” Foolishness again. Goblins know the touch of the Breaker from our birth.

I raged. After I raged, I wept. “Come back to me!” I cried. The crowd grew restless, seeing me still standing over the body of my foe. “Do not leave me!” Soon, the guards came to take me back to the barracks, back to my soft rooms and the softnesses of my human life. I killed five before they could chain me, and I would have killed them all except that I did not care. The Breaker was not in them. What value was their blood?

 The next day, they came for me. I was to battle three warriors riding elephants, while carrying only a whip as a weapon. I walked to the center of the Ring and waited for the god. The drums sounded, and the three men and their walking mountains came for me.

One had a bow, one a net, and all had swords and tridents. I rolled under the belly of the archer’s beast and leapt onto its back, taking the man from behind. The god was not in him, and I cast his broken body down. With his bow, I sent a shaft through the eye of the one with the net. The god was not in him either, and he fell to the dirt. “Come!” I called. “Come and fight me!” The last warrior crashed his mount into mine and I tumbled onto the sand of the Ring. “Yes! Yes!” I cried. “Fight me! Be worthy of me!” The man guided his beast, trying to crush me beneath its massive foot. As I rolled away, the trident missed my face by a hair’s breadth.

You want to hear how I slew him, don't you? But does it matter? The god was not riding him. I spilled his blood into the sand.

I lost myself then, and have no memory until I found myself manacled to a dripping wall deep under the coliseum. My entire body was covered in blood - some of it my green but most of it red. My skull pounded. I spat out a fang. It was utterly dark.

Above me, I could make out the distant cheering of the crowd. The walls transmitted the stamping of ten thousand feet. I wondered who fought, who won.

This is how I counted the days. Five days of fighting, then a long period of quiet - the Maker’s Day - then the week began again. I licked foul water from the sides of the wall. I ate worms, beetles and rats. I strained against the chains over and over, but if there is one thing you humans are good at, it's  the making of prisons.

At last, I’d counted twenty weeks, twenty weeks wasting down to skin and bone. That was when they came for me.

“Get up,” said a man, while another hammered off the shackles. “Get up, goblin. It’s time to meet your Maker.”

They dragged me through the tunnels and had to slow while I crawled up the slime-covered steps. “Did he really kill his master?” said one. “Gutted the poor bastard with his bare hands,” answered the other. “Took a whole troop of us just to knock him out. We wanted to cut his throat right then and there, but the dead man’s wife hated to see nothing more come from their investment. Looks like this is pay day.”

The light was blinding as I stumbled out of the tunnels and into the Ring. There was the crowd, but they weren’t cheering for me. A huge tanned man stood in the center, whirling two swords over his head.

The Breaker’s shadow stood at his shoulder but it wasn't riding him.

“Come to me,” I whispered. "Take me." The shadow moved. It covered. It mounted. My eyes were His eyes. My hands were His hands. At last, I was a mount worthy of him.

Now I looked with the eyes of the god and saw what had been there all along. A figure did ride my foe, a thing of white star-shine. I looked at the crowd, and saw that each and every one had the same spirit. All the children of the Maker. And none of them knew. None of them cared.

“Now, Gorbajod,” whispered a voice deep inside me. “Now we fight.”
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)
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2015, 08:51:52 PM »
I actually liked your story about the goblin in the ring and was playing with the thought of voting for you (eventually I didn't).
Reason was that there wasn't a real conclusion as to the mysterious spirit figure. It kind of left me hanging. He's some kind of god figure that takes over warriors...and the humans have one too or something? And they fight against one another through their warriors?
It'd be cool if you could elaborate somehow about that in-story. Of course you were bound by the word limit but yer, that could be an improvement maybe. Made it feel rushed by the end.  :)

Here's my story for anyone who feels like giving a critique, The Pit and the Pendulum:

Spoiler for Hiden:
My name is of no importance and neither is my future. The only thing that matters is that I will die today and it will be my salvation.

***

I looked down the pit, a monstrosity, a gaping maw in the middle of the room. No such pit should exist and yet it did with its barbed edges to prevent the people in it from escaping. I could hear their screams in my delirious mind if I wanted to. It was black with the blood of convicted and the scratches of desperate fingernails. I'd heard stories about it. There was a pit in the court of justice where the guilty disappeared into. They left no corpse, no name, no memory. Ridiculous stories of course, urban legends, and yet I was here now, in this very room and the pit was about to devour me. I was guilty of heinous crimes they said so maybe they were right to throw me into the pit. Either way it had led to this moment and I felt death's bony grasp around my neck.

A masked man pushed me down to my knees in front of that black hole. I sat upon the black smears of blood my predecessors had made. Their cries echoed in my head. Innocent or not, this was a final judgement. A leather glove punched the back of my head to make me bow for the power of justice. The man stripped me naked as if to reduce me to my very being, but it was unnecessary. I had become nothing. To the world I was what I was about to become, a dead man.

I thought I heard a bell sound in the distance, outside these vaults under the city, through all that solid stone. Maybe it was simply a last illusion, a last torment to give hope to the convicted? It didn't matter. My end had come.

Cold steel snapped shut around my ankles, chains rattled and I found myself unable to move forward. The heavy doors closed and I was alone in this dark room, with the pit right in front of me. Then it hit me. This pit was not the source of suffering, the fingernail scratches were directed towards the pit, not away from it. My eyes wide open in terror, blood pumped through my veins and the putrid smell of the pit came up to fill my nostrils. I tried to bring myself to scream but could not.

This was my punishment, not a physical one, but a mental torture. I didn't long for the outside world anymore, but for that pit in front of me. If only someone would free me from these shackles, I could plunge myself into the embrace of a horrible death and that would be my freedom. Free from my own thoughts.

***

Today my end would come at last. I heard voices behind the door and the bar being lifted. A leather boot kicked me to the floor which I found funny in some kind of macabre way. It was the complete superfluity of the act that triggered that feeling, as if I could've resisted in any way. A man in a grey gown went to sit down on the other side of the pit. He was a complete contrast of my past few days, with his clean cut beard and peaceful blue eyes. What kind of death was this?

I wouldn't die just yet though, somehow they were about to play more tricks upon my broken mind, though I had no idea of what sort. The man coughed and raised his bony hand over the pit, a long cord wound around the knuckles. As I followed the cord round and round those hands, the man started swinging it left and right and I lost focus of its movements. A pendulum swung left and right, in a mesmerizing way. I fell forward into the blood covered dust and lost consciousness.

***

When I woke up again, I had been washed, fed and wore new clothes. My fatigue had vanished completely but here I sat again, in front of the pit I loathed and longed for.
My days passed and while they kept me alive, the call of the pit grew stronger and stronger. I treated it as a welcome friend and spoke to those decrepit depths in the most amiable way.

Although I told you I would die today, that is what I tell myself each and every passing day. I must leave you, readers, here as I await my final demise, but know that one day, just like every one of you, I will die.

If not today, then tomorrow.

The only thing that matters is that I will die today and it will be my salvation.

 

Offline JMack

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2015, 08:57:58 PM »
Hah! Of course, unsummonable @Henry Dale. It's the old trap of the writer: I know the backstory, and forget that everyone else doesn't know.  :o 

Maker and Breaker have become these familiar concepts whenever I work in my "goblin-heart" world. Weren't you reading my mind?
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)
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Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 09:07:25 PM »
Hah! Of course, unsummonable @Henry Dale. It's the old trap of the writer: I know the backstory, and forget that everyone else doesn't know.  :o 

Maker and Breaker have become these familiar concepts whenever I work in my "goblin-heart" world. Weren't you reading my mind?

I don't use my scrying monocle of all-seeing because then I couldn't give you fair critiques that are helpful  ;)

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2015, 10:05:58 PM »
Henry, one thing I felt about your story, and that made me downgrade it a bit, was that I felt it was too close to the original - in the sense of the darkness and the torture and the psychological tension.
It was quite good, don't get me wrong, but I felt the month theme was to get a title and then do a completely different story.
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Offline JMack

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2015, 10:27:54 PM »
@unsommonableHenry Dale, here is my read on your story.

I see it as a scenario rather than as a story. The focus is on the situation and a recognition of the nature of the punishment, rather than on character and conflict. As scenario, it's quite interesting. I like the twist on the pit as the place you want to go to escape your reality. Though I was a little unclear on why the reality outside the pit was so horrific. Clean, dressed, pressed, and seated. Doesn't seem so bad?

Of course, it's a matter of taste that I prefer story to scenario (and how I define them, even).

Meanwhile, the dark imagery and writing was good. I struggled a bit with "Today, my end would come at last". When exactly is today? Is it really the present, and the opening and closing lines are spoken today? Once possibility for the whole piece might be to write in the present tense. That might create more tension and suspense. (Of course, it might create problems for the framing sentences, but I never promised not to complicate things  ;) )

Um. Why couldn't he bring himself to scream?
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)
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Offline Nora

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2015, 12:27:23 PM »
I'd love a critic of mine as well, anything that bugged anyone or could have been done better...

I'll get the time to write a few critics later, maybe tomorrow or saturday, but I can already tell @Jmack that Henry entirely covered my problem with your story. I really liked it, and it built really well, until the end, which I did not understand! I re-read it but really didn't make any sense of what was going on (I'm also a "good public", rarely seeing through plots, I need things well explained) so it left me flat.  :-\
It was a shame, because the writing was visual and the concept excellent. It's the only thing that prevented me from voting for you.

Also, from memory, @tebakutis my only and main problem with your story was that your characters are just absolutely not the age you pretend they are. I remember being 14 and three times less mature than any of these girls. More importantly, my younger siblings are 8, 11 and 14 years YOUNGER than me, so I've had plenty of mature and recent experience with 10 years old, and I can assure you that none of them would speak the way your little heroin's friend do. "Your pumping one of our prototype" - A 10 years old would not have that sort of casual vocabulary. Also, she orders everyone around with ease and experience...
Overall I voted for you because your story was great and totally different from the original, but I assumed both girls were 20.  :D
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Offline night_wrtr

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2015, 03:19:58 PM »
Henry, one thing I felt about your story, and that made me downgrade it a bit, was that I felt it was too close to the original - in the sense of the darkness and the torture and the psychological tension.
It was quite good, don't get me wrong, but I felt the month theme was to get a title and then do a completely different story.

I'll second this, Henry. These were my thoughts too. I enjoyed the story, though. You did a fantastic job of expressing the emotion of the scene. I really felt his pain by the end.

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2015, 03:29:18 PM »
Thanks for the critiques everyone  :)
I'll get to critiquing you guys once I get home.

Just off the top of my head and a brief glance:
@ScarletBea no critique for you.  :P
@Nora you could've done with a little more description of the underworld maybe, but I think that's where you cut to stay within word limit amiright?
@night_wrtr your story was fairly complex and great but it was the names that threw me off. It was hard at first to make out who was who because you referenced to people with different terms. Goat is god if I'm correct? I think for a story this size you could've stuck with just calling them god and angel instead of using those names. (Which one is goatarian?) Hope that makes sense.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2015, 03:52:57 PM by Henry Dale »

Offline night_wrtr

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Re: [OCT 2015] - TNotSSmbtoaFBbtSiathatdwtB - Critique Thread
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2015, 04:15:55 PM »
Thanks Henry! Yeah, @Nora mentioned that to me also. Looking back, I  agree with you definitely. Consistency would have been better with the names.