Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Monthly Writing Contest => [OCT 2016] Corpses => Topic started by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 11:49:03 AM

Title: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 11:49:03 AM
Here is a chance to start your critics before the authors are revealed.

Usual rules apply :


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: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 12:39:27 PM
Anyone up to give critics of the stories who remained Anon, besides the ones they have on hand? Anyone followed the issued 'critique as you go' sheet?
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 01, 2016, 03:12:34 PM
A lot of good stories this month.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Osahon on December 01, 2016, 04:02:59 PM
Also interested in reviews for DRIN :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 01, 2016, 04:18:10 PM
I'm interested in critiques of The Bridge Battle if anyone is interested. I am really curious - who voted for this and why?

I voted for it, because I thought the character and the action were really clear. I also think the style is highly marketable, and that's a good thing.

I almost didn't vote for it for two reasons:
> It reads as the in media res start to a larger narrative (or the in media res of an in media res  ;D ), rather than a stand alone short story. I usually don't go for that in the contest, but I made an exception.  :D
> The corpses, while key to the MC's decision to face down his brethren, don't get as much highlight as they might need for a "corpse" story. Again, I liked the piece so well that I made another exception.  ;)

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 01, 2016, 04:25:01 PM
I would be interested in getting a critique. I've said it once, and I'll say it again. It was really rushed, but I feel like the first half was okay. Like, up to 700 words? I'm not sure though.  :P
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on December 01, 2016, 04:27:22 PM
@shadowkat678, it's funny you say that, because that's exactly what I wrote in my comments (I don't really do 'critiques', but I can share my comments if they help):
"interesting story but very confusing at the end, couldn’t tell the characters apart or what had happened"

So just some tweaks and it would have been a very good story!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 01, 2016, 04:31:04 PM
@shadowkat678, it's funny you say that, because that's exactly what I wrote in my comments (I don't really do 'critiques', but I can share my comments if they help):
"interesting story but very confusing at the end, couldn’t tell the characters apart or what had happened"

So just some tweaks and it would have been a very good story!

Yeah. I was high on caffeine and low on sleep as well, so that likely wasn't helping matters any.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 01, 2016, 04:48:53 PM
I'm interested in critiques of The Bridge Battle if anyone is interested. I am really curious - who voted for this and why?

I voted for it, because I thought the character and the action were really clear. I also think the style is highly marketable, and that's a good thing.

I almost didn't vote for it for two reasons:
> It reads as the in media res start to a larger narrative (or the in media res of an in media res  ;D ), rather than a stand alone short story. I usually don't go for that in the contest, but I made an exception.  :D
> The corpses, while key to the MC's decision to face down his brethren, don't get as much highlight as they might need for a "corpse" story. Again, I liked the piece so well that I made another exception.  ;)

btw -- i did not vote for it.

it ended up on my "good" tier instead of "great" for exactly those same two reasons jmack pointed out.
1) could have felt more like a complete story rather than an intro to a longer story.
2) corpse could have been more integral to said story.

but, obviously, mechanics-wise, it was fabulous.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: NightWrite on December 01, 2016, 04:52:34 PM
I've decided I should get more critiquing into my life, so I wouldn't mind a critique of my story Fashion Monsters.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 05:07:07 PM
I've decided I should get more critiquing into my life, so I wouldn't mind a critique of my story Fashion Monsters.

I was just about to rip my way through your story's behind, hold tight, I'm making myself a cuppa before i get to work on it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 01, 2016, 05:43:07 PM
I will give a critique for everyone who asked for one in a few days (I'm trying to finish my own story!).

Always remember that me and @m3mnoch are always free game for you to offer critiques, you don't need our permission!

And all the Anonymous entries too. If they like or don't like a critique, they can come forward to tell us so!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 05:44:29 PM
And all the Anonymous entries too. If they like or don't like a critique, they can come forward to tell us so!

Superb baiting technique.

I think anonymous authors should get reviews regardless, unless they reveal themselves and come forward.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 06:12:07 PM
I've decided I should get more critiquing into my life, so I wouldn't mind a critique of my story Fashion Monsters.

Okay, so I came here to drink my tea and rip your story, and I'm all out of tea.

So. Fashion Monsters, which some people thought was probably my own work...

The very first time I picked it up I was just browsing around seeing if one of the stories would grab me, and that one didn't : the first line wasn't so catchy, but if the last of the first paragraph sure was, I felt that the following lines drained my curiosity by not addressing that super startling morgue-model parallel that was so compelling. So I moved on.

When I came back and sat to read the story because it was voting time, I was paying more attention, and read it all without effort, but that impression remained : 'décousu' as we french say. It's what happens to a seam that unravels.
It's just that your concept was truly glorious, but your beginning was too haphazard.

This

Quote
She wasn't sure she could handle another of Tya's rants about how society shunned her craft.

Heavily contradicts this :

Quote
nothing like the media's portrayal of fleshcrafter dens

What's the real deal? Does society shun and dislike her art, or is it made to look appealing in the media, so that our MC felt attracted to a career in it? Did she not know it would include corpses?

Quote
She often thought of the families whose loved ones' bodies had been stolen from them.

Did they suffer each time they saw familiar features hidden in a stranger's face

Another idea that was perplexing and unexplored. Their craft doesn't seem illegal, so how come the acquisition of bodies seem to be so?
When you use the term "stranger's face", my mind literally went on a trip down imagination lane, in which I pictured your sown up corpses to be made ambulatory again, and sent back outside in the world.
The use of the corpses is not made clear, despite the idea of the thing taking place under a modeling agency.

Quote
Did it matter, the city was already infected; where there's one weeper there's a horde.

That was a really good line, really liked it.

Quote
Those who stole bodies to supply the models, those who paid for their creation to fatten their coffers, and those who put them together

So I guess the first sentence here explains away my previous wonders, and we're in a world where resurectionists are doing a come-back. But it's a whole story apart, too far to mend my previous worries.
But I truly don't get the second part. Who pays for the corpses? How does paying for them make them richer? Is it the fashion industry? How are model used exactly?

Now, the truth is, I think your story could have been super-duper-fuckin-amazing.

Why so short? There was so much you could have shown us. I didn't vote for you because the beginning was too messy, the hatred for Tya too vaguely grounded, but most of all it had so much undeveloped potential! It left me with a serious case of literary blue balls, if you'll excuse the image.
Your MC did things that were not entirely warranted, because her state of mind and daily struggle wasn't made dramatic enough to us. I was barely getting enough worldbuilding to get what was the story about, not enough to see the MC go on a cruel murder move in a good way.

The idea of magically altered frankenstein creatures as top models and the industry making them being a thankless hole of depression and gory despair is gorgeous and genius! You had so much room for moody prose, describing the environment, hinting on some of the processes, using chaffing repetitions to make her environment seem oppressive and grinding...
And then the weepin grin was another great idea. More internal dialogue there could have helped (did she just sign her death sentence by touching it? does it go by fluids, or via air and miasma? Will she be forced to stay in the shop even though everyone around her contracts it? Could the furnisher realistically not see this? Confusion could have been great there, because her murderous intent could have been a glorious moment of a dark imago coming out of the rotten place she's been cocooned in) but keeping it short was good as well. It felt great as a twist, but you hadn't built a strong idea of "opening boxes full of corpses" as a repetitive motive before.

Overall, if I could force you to re-write it like a school teacher, I would, because I think you're on to something really solid and satisfying there, dark and full of angst, but the story as it is doesn't give it enough flesh to make it from skeleton to corpse (ha..ha.. :-[)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 01, 2016, 06:14:12 PM
@NightWrite, Fashion Monsters

Here's what I liked:
> Very cool concept for the story: Corpses reanimated and re-purposed, especially for such a pretty much frivolous end
> A worker bee trapped in the web, and forced to participate in the gruesome work
> With no way out, the MC wants to throw a spanner in the works
> An opportunity to do more than that come along and she acts

Here's where it didn't work for me:
> The story is told not shown. One hallmark of this is all the sentences with "had." She had been; she had done; she had burned. Everything told in the "past perfect" tense. Action would be: She was, she did, she burned.
> Along these lines, the antagonist never appears in the story except as reported for past deeds. Even the MC barely appears in a present action sense.
> There's a transition moment from past perfect to past that feels awkward to me. Both paragraphs take place in the "now", but the first is passive and past perfect, while the second is more direct and straight past tense (but with inconsistencies).

Then it happened, a body which shouldn't have made its way into their hands had arrived. She'd had to force down a scream when the harsh, broken smile and bleeding eyes were revealed. Weeping Grin, fatal and highly contagious with no known treatment; most healing magics she knew of made it more virulent.

She should have burned it and alerted Tya the moment she'd opened the box. Instead she cleaned his face with care and did her best to rearrange his features. Everything to hide the major symptoms; she wondered why the media hadn't raved about a weeper yet

I'd have tweaked it to be all past at that point, and nothing passive in construction. This is the critical moment, and it needs to feel immediate.
Then it happened, a body arrived which shouldn't have made its way into their hands at all. Rema forced down a scream at the sight of the harsh, broken smile and bleeding eyes. Weeping Grin, fatal and highly contagious with no known treatment; most healing magics she knew of made it more virulent.

She should have burned it and alerted Tya the moment she opened the box. Instead she cleaned his face with care and did her best to rearrange his features. Everything to hide the major symptoms; she wondered why the media wasn't raving about a weeper yet.

Which gets me to:
> Is Rema infected now? She must be, if the whole city is now going to die of this plague. How does she feel about that?
> And unrelated but also confusing: Rema burned several bodies and got away with it as an accident? Totally don't get it.

I hope this is helpful.
Meanwhile, I'm with Nora. Really super concept and plot potential, but want more.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: NightWrite on December 01, 2016, 10:02:06 PM
Looking back on it I didn't explain what Rise High was doing very well or the legality of things. Fleshcrafting and all other forms of necromancy are currently illegal in Rema's culture; fleshcrafting was the name given to those practitioners who focus on cobbling together multiple bodies, or at least part of multiple bodies, into one. The media portrayal line was too vague I realize now as it was meant to indicate the media works to demonize it. The excuses Rema used to get away with the body burning was the same protocol she should have followed with the weeping grin victim. Any body with signs of an infectious disease are to be burned.

Rema is infected as weeping grin is highly contagious, contracted through both breath and fluids. What she didn't know was if she was already infected for the same reason she said one victim leads to a horde. Weeping grin has no signs or symptoms until the terminal phase, but a person can spread it before then.

I do plan on going back to my story, I really enjoyed the concept but I looked back on it the other week and realized I was selling the concept short of its potential. Something which happens with most of my contest stories.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 01, 2016, 11:25:50 PM

I'm popping out of work just to say.  Yes!  I love getting ripped to shreds.  Please do! 
And I'm sort of an anarchist, so feel free to critique any way you feel like it :)

Okay I need to get back to work or i'll get fired.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 01, 2016, 11:59:08 PM
I'll write more but the people who want critics should also be writing them... Come people, even if a few lines!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 02, 2016, 01:10:24 AM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 02, 2016, 01:35:16 AM
corpse could have been more integral to said story.
I am really curious about this. The four corpses were each described in distinct terms (peaceful, ghastly, broken, unrecognizable), in ways that impacted the character and evoked different emotions from the protag, and from some readers (disgust, loss, and sadness). Their discovery changed the mood of the story and the protag. They altered the protag's intentions, who abandoned plans of escape and chose a lop-sided confrontation. The protag used the energy from their cremation as a weapon to avenge them.

So I am at a loss. In what other ways should/could they have been more integral?
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 02, 2016, 02:25:49 AM
corpse could have been more integral to said story.
I am really curious about this. The four corpses were each described in distinct terms (peaceful, ghastly, broken, unrecognizable), in ways that impacted the character and evoked different emotions from the protag, and from some readers (disgust, loss, and sadness). Their discovery changed the mood of the story and the protag. They altered the protag's intentions, who abandoned plans of escape and chose a lop-sided confrontation. The protag used the energy from their cremation as a weapon to avenge them.

So I am at a loss. In what other ways should/could they have been more integral?

I think it's a matter of interpretation. Your corpses were catalysts for the aciton of the MC, but they weren't the subject of the story.

Still, I find that I apply this thinking inconsistently. Soulspeaker isn't really about corpses, either. And I voted for both stories.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 02, 2016, 03:38:46 AM
corpse could have been more integral to said story.
I am really curious about this. The four corpses were each described in distinct terms (peaceful, ghastly, broken, unrecognizable), in ways that impacted the character and evoked different emotions from the protag, and from some readers (disgust, loss, and sadness). Their discovery changed the mood of the story and the protag. They altered the protag's intentions, who abandoned plans of escape and chose a lop-sided confrontation. The protag used the energy from their cremation as a weapon to avenge them.

So I am at a loss. In what other ways should/could they have been more integral?

Tbh TGC-- (TBHTGC should be like a new word or something), I didn't think much about corpses when reading through the story, but in retrospect when ppl started talking about the corpse-ness of stories, I thought of yours and was like-- wait, were there even corpses in that one?

I was really blown away by Bridge Battle, it was nail-biting excitement and really really really well done!!!!  But word limits were really your enemy.  If you wanted to emphasize that decision point, you needed to settle in that moment a bit longer, draw the inner transition out, and maybe even refer to it more in the final battle.  But moving forward as a critique, I think we should explore whether you want to do that or not-- at this point the corpse-ness of the piece is irrelevant should you want to use it elsewhere.

My biggest concern with it was that it had a media res opening and a media res ending.  I didn't have a sense of a story arc, it felt like an excerpt (a *fantastic* excerpt, mind you!) of chapter 23 of an existing novel.  There wasn't enough rising and falling action for me to feel it as a short story-- it was all ramped up from the beginning to the end.  It was a delightful read-- but it didn't feel like it could stand on it's own.

That said, this was the one story that I reaaaaaaly wanted to know the author of, b/c it was so exciting-- it made me want to read some of your longer work for sure.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 02, 2016, 05:13:49 AM
corpse could have been more integral to said story.
I am really curious about this. The four corpses were each described in distinct terms (peaceful, ghastly, broken, unrecognizable), in ways that impacted the character and evoked different emotions from the protag, and from some readers (disgust, loss, and sadness). Their discovery changed the mood of the story and the protag. They altered the protag's intentions, who abandoned plans of escape and chose a lop-sided confrontation. The protag used the energy from their cremation as a weapon to avenge them.

So I am at a loss. In what other ways should/could they have been more integral?

Tbh TGC-- (TBHTGC should be like a new word or something), I didn't think much about corpses when reading through the story, but in retrospect when ppl started talking about the corpse-ness of stories, I thought of yours and was like-- wait, were there even corpses in that one?

I was really blown away by Bridge Battle, it was nail-biting excitement and really really really well done!!!!  But word limits were really your enemy.  If you wanted to emphasize that decision point, you needed to settle in that moment a bit longer, draw the inner transition out, and maybe even refer to it more in the final battle.  But moving forward as a critique, I think we should explore whether you want to do that or not-- at this point the corpse-ness of the piece is irrelevant should you want to use it elsewhere.

My biggest concern with it was that it had a media res opening and a media res ending.  I didn't have a sense of a story arc, it felt like an excerpt (a *fantastic* excerpt, mind you!) of chapter 23 of an existing novel.  There wasn't enough rising and falling action for me to feel it as a short story-- it was all ramped up from the beginning to the end.  It was a delightful read-- but it didn't feel like it could stand on it's own.

That said, this was the one story that I reaaaaaaly wanted to know the author of, b/c it was so exciting-- it made me want to read some of your longer work for sure.

I agree with that. Though I did vote for it anyway, because it was just so awesome.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 02, 2016, 06:19:12 AM
Thank you for your kind words Bradley, and everyone, I really appreciate them.  ;D

And your observations on losing sight of my corpses does me just as much credit (maybe more) as your praise. I intentionally used my corpses more subtlely than most would. Rather than direct the corpses' impact on the audience, I aimed it at the protag, and gave what I thought was a plausible reason to have a battle and not run, a cliché I despise. 8)

My inspiration was the grievous impact bodies have on the living, the transition of flesh from someone beloved to something that evokes melancholy or makes one vomit in public. My experience with corpses is not as a feature of entertainment. My mental images of bodies and concepts like "grisly" are not so much imaginative as memory, so of course I took a different path. I set about trying to capture all that in a tight space, with action and some dramatic weight, some symbolism, everything I could think of. I think it worked. Hence my disappointment. Which I'll explain for those interested, and to get the venom out of my system.

There are four, perhaps as many as nine corpses in my story, depending on how you count. The four have detail, mood and plot impact, all that. I could have gone further, but I certainly believed the requirement "One or more corpses must play a crucial role" was fully met. They changed the protag's intentions and mindset, and made the protag feel remorse and regret before circling into anger without lapsing into a caricature of it. Their impact led to a change in the landscape, literally.

The notion of voting for/against "corpse level" is frustrating looking back, and disconcerting looking forward, because I seem to view requirements like these unlike everyone else. To my mind, it was like the page count - a pass/fail that is met or not. To me, trying to compare and then voting on the degree of saturation is as absurd as voting one story over another because it had more words (or fewer), "more fully meeting the requirement."  >:(

There is a gray area on the periphery, where the topic is raised and then ignored, an obvious "check the block" approach. I was nowhere near that line. ;)

I am competitive, perhaps more so than most of the others here. That said, in a writing contest, I do not mind losing to more entertaining writers. Far from it - they make me better and teach me with every story I read, analyze, discuss, or critique - and I get to enjoy their talents for free at the same time. That said, I am competitive. And though I do not mind losing a race to faster runners - it is infuriating to hear my sneakers weren't regulation, or some similarly petty thing when I met the requirement.  :-\

People will vote how they're going to vote, and there's no accounting for taste. I followed Nora's point in our voting debate(s) and casted one vote for Hoy Girl, because Jmack's use of language was difficult and superbly done, and although I know he doubted his level of action, I enjoyed the character study of the girl, and it touched me in a quiet way that no one else's story did. With subtlety.

I feel better already.  ::)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 02, 2016, 08:09:13 AM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 02, 2016, 08:28:59 AM
Also interested in reviews for DRIN :)

I voted for DRIN-- It wasn't my top pick, but I felt it was a very strong piece.

I loved the atmosphere, consistent tone and rich voice. It felt very rooted in the time and place it was set in, it made it almost feel like magical realism which is hard to pull off well, so kudos. It almost felt like literary fiction! 

* I felt like I needed a more solid motivation for Har to join the Wagonman.  I didn't have a strong sense of Har and his paranoia almost felt like an ill-spirited antagonism.  Some little triggering nugget to make him want to investigate further, or even shifting away from the paranoia and just not wanting to let go of his loved one... As it stands, he was sort of judgy which made him unappealing.

* This is just me, many might disagree, but I hate hate hate *** unless they are integral to the rhythm of the story.  In this case they took me out of the story, so I much prefer a smooth transition.  With something that was more of an staccatoed allegro, a back and forth sort of melody ***'s could have worked, but you had sort of a slowly building adagio going on.

* I feel like the ending would have felt more sinister if we had gotten a little subtle supernatural foreshadowing, as well as foreshadowing that Har might be in danger.  The final song could have hit home harder if it was implied more heavily, somehow that Har was going to join the dead in the closet.  As it stands it didn't quite land and I'm not 100% sure what to make of it (which sometimes the indeterminate ending can be a good thing, but in this case it left me feeling a little off/unresolved-- there needs to be a resolution conveyed at the same time as the question of the possibilities are laid out in that sort of ending, and I didn't feel that resolution.  I think it would be better to play up Har's implied death a bit)

Anyway those are just my arbitrary thoughts.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 02, 2016, 02:32:08 PM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....

Maybe your kid had aspergers. We often get called little professors, and for good reason. I was talking at nine and a half months, and, probably due to the amount of documentaries we watched at my house, using twenty dollar words in every day vocabulary. The first talking thing is pretty uncommon, but using big words and having strangely adult ways of speaking is something you see a lot accross various parts of the spectrum. Even autistics who are nonverbal that I've communicated with online kinda can sometimes have that trend in their typing style. I think it would be cool. It's pretty difficult to find characters I can relate with. I guess it's just not common enough for most people to think about, but it always feels great to see a kid like that for me. Not all kids are made the same, and I thought he was perfect. If, er, a bit scary there at the end. XD
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 02, 2016, 02:44:51 PM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....

Maybe your kid had aspergers. We often get called little professors, and for good reason. I was talking at nine and a half months, and, probably due to the amount of documentaries we watched at my house, using twenty dollar words in every day vocabulary.

I kinda liked what you did, and probably for that reason. Made me feel a bit less...quirky? Would that be the word? It's not impossible to have kids like that. I'm proof...then again, I also didn't get out much either. Doesn't seem like that kid did.either. I don't know. I guess it's just not common enough for most people to think about and relate.

Hi. Maybe not (easily relatable). I tend to see it as a trope in TV and movies: the precocious, genius-kid, usually wise-cracking. Doesn't mean it doesn;t happen; just that it's used a lot. At the end, my issue isn't with the soulspeaker's genius and verbal skills, but with not noting and explaining (or hinting). Bradley's response seems to indicate he wasn't so much making a conscious choice about these things as defaulting into the child's speech. To the degree that's true, I think the call-out may be useful.

Meanwhile, @shadowkat678, your experience sounds really interesting. And huzzah for quirky!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 02, 2016, 03:00:50 PM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....

Maybe your kid had aspergers. We often get called little professors, and for good reason. I was talking at nine and a half months, and, probably due to the amount of documentaries we watched at my house, using twenty dollar words in every day vocabulary.

I kinda liked what you did, and probably for that reason. Made me feel a bit less...quirky? Would that be the word? It's not impossible to have kids like that. I'm proof...then again, I also didn't get out much either. Doesn't seem like that kid did.either. I don't know. I guess it's just not common enough for most people to think about and relate.

Hi. Maybe not (easily relatable). I tend to see it as a trope in TV and movies: the precocious, genius-kid, usually wise-cracking. Doesn't mean it doesn;t happen; just that it's used a lot. At the end, my issue isn't with the soulspeaker's genius and verbal skills, but with not noting and explaining (or hinting). Bradley's response seems to indicate he wasn't so much making a conscious choice about these things as defaulting into the child's speech. To the degree that's true, I think the call-out may be useful.

Meanwhile, @shadowkat678, your experience sounds really interesting. And huzzah for quirky!

I guess that's true. Though, to be fair, they wouldn't know what autism was at that time. And I guess it was interesting. Though it came with a bucketload of problems too.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 02, 2016, 03:07:20 PM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....

Maybe your kid had aspergers. We often get called little professors, and for good reason. I was talking at nine and a half months, and, probably due to the amount of documentaries we watched at my house, using twenty dollar words in every day vocabulary.

I kinda liked what you did, and probably for that reason. Made me feel a bit less...quirky? Would that be the word? It's not impossible to have kids like that. I'm proof...then again, I also didn't get out much either. Doesn't seem like that kid did.either. I don't know. I guess it's just not common enough for most people to think about and relate.

Hi. Maybe not (easily relatable). I tend to see it as a trope in TV and movies: the precocious, genius-kid, usually wise-cracking. Doesn't mean it doesn;t happen; just that it's used a lot. At the end, my issue isn't with the soulspeaker's genius and verbal skills, but with not noting and explaining (or hinting). Bradley's response seems to indicate he wasn't so much making a conscious choice about these things as defaulting into the child's speech. To the degree that's true, I think the call-out may be useful.

Meanwhile, @shadowkat678, your experience sounds really interesting. And huzzah for quirky!

I guess that's true. Though, to be fair, they wouldn't know what autism was at that time. And I guess it was interesting. Though it came with a bucketload of problems too.

No, they wouldn't have given it a name. But surely they'd have recognized its presence in a child's demeanor.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 02, 2016, 03:25:33 PM
corpse could have been more integral to said story.
I am really curious about this. The four corpses were each described in distinct terms (peaceful, ghastly, broken, unrecognizable), in ways that impacted the character and evoked different emotions from the protag, and from some readers (disgust, loss, and sadness). Their discovery changed the mood of the story and the protag. They altered the protag's intentions, who abandoned plans of escape and chose a lop-sided confrontation. The protag used the energy from their cremation as a weapon to avenge them.

So I am at a loss. In what other ways should/could they have been more integral?

i didn't pick up on the peaceful/ghastly/broken/unrecognizable bits.  it just seemed like random dead people.

i also didn't pick up on the mc going from fleeing to fighting.  it felt like he was already mid-fight and these were his buddies as war casualties.  his flight seemed more a regroup than a "screw this!  i'm outta here!"

for example, the blurb (basically one or two sentences to summarize each story to help jog my memory) i wrote for your story is:  "wizard fighting on a bridge, discovers bodies of his buddies in the bridge tower, exits and engages in a wizard battle where he wins by collapsing the bridge on the final badguy.  now, he's the enemy of the whole wizard school."

so, to put it succinctly, your story was about a guy battling a wizard school, not necessarily anything to do with the corpses.


I think it's a matter of interpretation. Your corpses were catalysts for the aciton of the MC, but they weren't the subject of the story.

Still, I find that I apply this thinking inconsistently. Soulspeaker isn't really about corpses, either. And I voted for both stories.

see?  and i don't think that applies to soulspeaker.  the story there is about a guy who tries to assassinate people who speak to corpses, but gets out-maneuvered by his target.  take away the corpses, and it's a totally different story.  why was he hired to assassinate the people?  how would he bluff his way in?  why would it be a kid who was really the target?  you could construct answers for those questions, but you'd have to rewrite the entire thing.

take away the corpses in bridge battle, and it could have pretty much the same plot, but the dude could just decide to fight back when he was finally cornered instead of when he saw his dead buddies.

also, i didn't hate the cliche-ness of the ending in soulspeaker because i thought the double-punch of two cliches -- "talent misdirection" and "poison trick" -- was interesting.  meaning, i expected just the one twist, not two.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: shadowkat678 on December 02, 2016, 03:35:07 PM
Hi, @Bradley Darewood:

I voted for Soulspeaker. It was one of my favorite stories despite something that really bothered me.

And what was that, pray tell? Well let's call it two things.
> I've never known a 6-year old who could speak like this sophisticated child. Now, there's a pretty logical explanation, which is that the ghosts have been teaching him, or some such. But still. Such unusual brilliance should be noted in some way, at least.
> I'm a little tired of stories that end this way. A wants to kill B. B tricks A into drinking poison. A dies.

But I liked this story!
It was well-written, overall smart, and with a cool premise.

Awe I'm blown away that I got a vote from such a talented writer!!!!   Good point on the age-inappropriateness of the dialogue.  Age is a struggle for me, perhaps I need to spend more time in a daycare for research :)  I could have brushed it over with Merrick commenting on it, and the grandmother saying that the Soulspeaker is beyond his years, but it would be nice to learn how to pull off youth a bit better.

Re: the plot-- yeah not sure what to do there, other than revel in my triteness :)  Any suggested alternatives? Every other way out seemed difficult, and I kept wondering "why doesn't he just poison him?" I suppose I could always have had the boy get offed....

Maybe your kid had aspergers. We often get called little professors, and for good reason. I was talking at nine and a half months, and, probably due to the amount of documentaries we watched at my house, using twenty dollar words in every day vocabulary.

I kinda liked what you did, and probably for that reason. Made me feel a bit less...quirky? Would that be the word? It's not impossible to have kids like that. I'm proof...then again, I also didn't get out much either. Doesn't seem like that kid did.either. I don't know. I guess it's just not common enough for most people to think about and relate.

Hi. Maybe not (easily relatable). I tend to see it as a trope in TV and movies: the precocious, genius-kid, usually wise-cracking. Doesn't mean it doesn;t happen; just that it's used a lot. At the end, my issue isn't with the soulspeaker's genius and verbal skills, but with not noting and explaining (or hinting). Bradley's response seems to indicate he wasn't so much making a conscious choice about these things as defaulting into the child's speech. To the degree that's true, I think the call-out may be useful.

Meanwhile, @shadowkat678, your experience sounds really interesting. And huzzah for quirky!

I guess that's true. Though, to be fair, they wouldn't know what autism was at that time. And I guess it was interesting. Though it came with a bucketload of problems too.

No, they wouldn't have given it a name. But surely they'd have recognized its presence in a child's demeanor.

Oh. No. Trust me. Or, maybe they would, but never in any "oh, there's just this group of people who think a bit different and he's just one of them. No biggie" kinda way. Funny thing though. Mostly people still don't unless they're obviously on the "low end of the spectrum" which is honestly so dehumanizing and horrible. I still get people try to explain mine away.

"But you can make eye contact", "socialize sometimes", "are so smart" (ummm...excuse me?), "don't LOOK autistic", "not like my best friend's sister's son who has autism!", etc. Back then it was so much worse. Autism in of itself has become a special interest. The history is...no. If so likely they'd just be labeled a social deviant if it was too visible and then ostracized, or, if it was a case that was visible (the whole low functioning junk), they'd have been drowned, left in the woods, or locked away from sight in order to avoid bringing embarrassment on the family. The disabled community has a very dark history with this. If they learned to mask themselves and explain away the oddities, they would probably have just been the strange village oddball and get no help with difficulties. Normal, but someone who no one would really want to be around or encourage others to be around. Might even be accused of being demonic. They jumped way overboard when it came to people who didn't fit ridged social norms and expectations.

Acceptance would be a hard thing to find. Even a lot of famous figures (artists, philosophers, scientists) who anyone who's familiar with what to look for would say they no doubt were autistic, were considered erratic loons or standoffish a-holes. And still people deny that they were anything "truly abnormal" as I once heard one jerk say. I went on a rant off the thread topic, but...eh.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 02, 2016, 03:59:45 PM
i didn't pick up on the peaceful/ghastly/broken/unrecognizable bits.  it just seemed like random dead people.

i also didn't pick up on the mc going from fleeing to fighting.
Sounds like you read it at a sprint and didn't pick up on a lot of things.

take away the corpses in bridge battle, and it could have pretty much the same plot,
No. If you take the corpses out, the story collapses - the protag runs away.

but the dude could just decide to fight back when he was finally cornered instead of when he saw his dead buddies.
Yeah, you think? ANY STORY could have been altered by removing the corpses and going some other way, just a matter of how much they'd have to be altered. Some could not happen, mechanically. Mine would not have happened. And that's a pretty fine discrimination you're making considering how much you're not picking up on.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: night_wrtr on December 02, 2016, 04:50:47 PM
i didn't pick up on the peaceful/ghastly/broken/unrecognizable bits.  it just seemed like random dead people.

i also didn't pick up on the mc going from fleeing to fighting.
Sounds like you read it at a sprint and didn't pick up on a lot of things.

take away the corpses in bridge battle, and it could have pretty much the same plot,
No. If you take the corpses out, the story collapses - the protag runs away.

but the dude could just decide to fight back when he was finally cornered instead of when he saw his dead buddies.
Yeah, you think? ANY STORY could have been altered by removing the corpses and going some other way, just a matter of how much they'd have to be altered. Some could not happen, mechanically. Mine would not have happened. And that's a pretty fine discrimination you're making considering how much you're not picking up on.

I just want to post that I agreed with m3m's comments. I don't think we have to assume someone wasn't paying attention to the story because an element wasn't picked up on that you intended. Maybe look back at the story and see if there is anything that could have been done differently that could have emphasized those aspects more.

Just my two cents as another reader. 
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 02, 2016, 04:51:53 PM
i didn't pick up on the peaceful/ghastly/broken/unrecognizable bits.  it just seemed like random dead people.

i also didn't pick up on the mc going from fleeing to fighting.
Sounds like you read it at a sprint and didn't pick up on a lot of things.

i read bridge battle at no different pace than i read the others.

*shrug*


Yeah, you think? ANY STORY could have been altered by removing the corpses and going some other way, just a matter of how much they'd have to be altered.

that's precisely my point.  it's the amount of alteration required.  that gives you insight into how closely tied to the theme the story is.

bridge battle basically only needs a 250-word drop-in replacement where the guy gets cornered after his retreat, blasts a couple red-shirt pursuers, and finds the nerve to head back to battle after his friends betrayed him.  the rest of the story could basically stand as-is.  "wizard starts a war with the wizard school because of his friends' deaths betrayal."

can you say that with where there's a will?  or navigator?  or weincawnathun?  or hoy-girl?  or blink?

sure, you can rewrite them, but it's a massive undertaking and they're totally different stories then.  not same-plot-different-motivation.


edit:  also, i don't want you to think i didn't think it wasn't tied to the corpse theme at all, it was just not as strongly tied as some of the other stories.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 02, 2016, 08:41:21 PM
Okay. Lesson learned: 20% of the story devoted to theme isn't enough. All theme elements in a cohesive scene in the story is too comparted because the story could be too easily edited into something else. Character motivation is less important than plot.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 02, 2016, 09:08:49 PM
Okay. Lesson learned: 20% of the story devoted to theme isn't enough. All theme elements in a cohesive scene in the story is too comparted because the story could be too easily edited into something else. Character motivation is less important than plot.

not necessarily.  obviously other people thought differently since they voted for your story.  so, that's just my opinion.  and, in this case, it's not catastrophic, it just barely pushed you out of voting range for me.  it's not like i thought it was terrible or anything crazy like that.  with lots of good stories, it comes down to weird things sometimes that make the cut.

also, i'm not sure if character motivation is worth less than plot.  it's just with such a short format, where you're spending the wordcount matters.  for example, hoy girl has a pretty quiet plot, but blazing-badass characterization.  or harry (which got lots of votes) was also quiet on plot, yet crazy-loud on character motivation.

i think it's just really hard to do "all the things" in such a small space.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 02, 2016, 10:33:18 PM
Okay. Lesson learned: 20% of the story devoted to theme isn't enough. All theme elements in a cohesive scene in the story is too comparted because the story could be too easily edited into something else. Character motivation is less important than plot.

not necessarily.  obviously other people thought differently since they voted for your story.  so, that's just my opinion.  and, in this case, it's not catastrophic, it just barely pushed you out of voting range for me.  it's not like i thought it was terrible or anything crazy like that.  with lots of good stories, it comes down to weird things sometimes that make the cut.

also, i'm not sure if character motivation is worth less than plot.  it's just with such a short format, where you're spending the wordcount matters.  for example, hoy girl has a pretty quiet plot, but blazing-badass characterization.  or harry (which got lots of votes) was also quiet on plot, yet crazy-loud on character motivation.

i think it's just really hard to do "all the things" in such a small space.

The degree to which corpses were involved in your story had no bearing on whether I voted for it or not.  I was very very close to voting for it, but I ultimately didn't because of the story arc issue.

Sometimes people vote for reasons I can't fathom.  I loved the Grinning Man.  I'm the only one out of 24 people (all of whom had 5 votes!) that even voted for it.  They might not like xyz thing I think is pretty irrelevant.  Tying it to theme is no more arbitrary than the other myriad preferences people use to decide-- taste can't be standardized and it's a fickle audience we've got here.  I wouldn't stress it and just have fun with it.  You did an awesome job and I know you earned yourself at least one new fan (me) and probably others :)  That's a bigger win than votes imho
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lordoftheword on December 03, 2016, 06:44:05 PM
Yeah I really enjoyed Bridge Battle. Kept me engaged, the action was done masterfully (something I personally struggle with), and I did pick up on the motivation for your MC. Like Bradley, I'm quite a bit less picky about attention to the theme. If the story is good, the story is good.

But that doesn't mean I voted for it either. I had three tiers of stories this month, and in the end I voted for the top 3 (Where There's a Will, Weincawnathun and Is It Really Graverobbing if it's for Science?) . Bridge Battle fell into the second tier, only because I wanted more and, like others have said, it felt like part of a story rather than a complete short story wrapped up in a tight little package with a cute, curly bow on top.

Well I might as well let the dogs out on my story: Harry. What did you guys think? What would you have liked to see more of? The good, the bad?

It was what I would call a "safe" story by my standards. Not too complicated and fun. That would be my own brief critique, but I am curious to hear what others have to say. Thank you kindly :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 03, 2016, 07:23:22 PM
So, no one is interested in giving a critique to the Anonymous stories?
Blink, Memories and Pit of Forgiveness

Everyone was so frantic about doing anonymous reviews, but people are rarely frantic to do reviews at all.  :D

For whoever wrote Memories :

I voted for the story, but at first I didn't like it much, and abandoned it to my final reading time. The prose seemed a bit thick, in the sense that it gave an eeriness, a very "blurred memory" feel to it, that kept me from easing inside the story, and also I had the vague impression that the dead things were actually fairies.
I think the key thing is that the word for 'birds' came too far inside the story, so I had a bad visual of what we were talking about.
Corpses and feathers don't necessarily mean birds since we're all writing SFF, after all. I think a little bit more description of the content of the shelves would have riveted me harder.

This being said, a lot could be done to better the pacing, but it really worked once I was eased inside the story.

As arrogant as it might sound, I loved the last line, as it remembered me a lot of the sort of things I could write as well. "Faded, frozen, locked forever into one final pose, the lines of little corpses conjured sweet echoes of flight." very good.
I really enjoyed the mental process that went on, despite this "They were the reason I hated that place. They were the reason I was there." early on, I worried for a while that the story would focus on the one moment and the narrator's distaste of the stuffed birds, but the way things went, with the story being more about mending bridges and seeing things through someone else's point of view, it was very pleasantly surprising and well made.

I think the beginning of the story is what could do with some mending, but otherwise that's some great work. Beautiful, simple idea and nice prose over it.
I also really enjoyed that the little corpses were : things of beauty and horror - not human - the reason for a fracture in a strong relationship. All three were great points.


Is it Really Graverobbing if it's for Science? - by @Rukaio_Alter

I liked it, but didn't vote for you because, while good, it felt less reflected than usual. The grave digging was the scenery, but the dialogue was too farfetched, the relationship between the characters too improbable.
Actually think this could be a great little tv skit or youtube video, but on paper for a writing contest it vibed too much like a grab for laughs on situational matters.
I really don't want to offend you, given that I don't know how hard you worked on that, but for example your circus story was infinitely superior in my eyes.
The thing is, I think that with your vibe of humour, if you'd set such characters in a different situation, with more action, like for example the mad scientist trying his dumb experiment, and the experiment actually working, and the other guy being completely dumbfounded and then obvious running for his life, it could have caught my fancy more, with the corpse being a stronger key. Here we don't even see it, the grave is even empty. It's only an excuse for dialogue.

Anyway, can't do god-emperor stories each month...  :P  Your prose was solid and your style truly as unique as usual though, so it's only me being nitpicky.

For Pit of Forgiveness, I didn't finish the story, to be sadly honest. The way it was written, in huge chunks with no regard for airy presentation, dialogue swallowed in the paragraphs, it was just too confusing. A lot of the spoken text was very exhibition-driven and felt a bit unnatural and forced. It gave a weird impression of what the guy was feeling, and left us without much bearings.

As for Bridgebattle, by @The Gem Cutter I can echo the feelings that it wasn't corpsey enough for me, but then again, I just stated the same excuse with Rukaio's story! At the same time it's not my main reproach. Here are some of the things that bugged me :

This "the color of headstones" - left me so perplexed that it pulled me out of the story.
"Without sunlight, without energy, I was doomed. I had been a fool and would die like one at the hands of a layman." was a very strict and strong indication of what the MC thought was the immediate future, and to me it made "I don’t work that way" turn into a big case of Deus Ex.
I like my magic a lot the way Sanderson does it, with strict rules and limitations that I know, so I can enjoy watching the characters skirt trouble and get out of it. This was of course too early in a short story to make such accusations, but I think, if the MC had said "I was in trouble", and "I had been a fool and might well die", then the wind would have been hope and the development feel more natural.

"But better to be betrayed than to betray. By far." That's a very cool line, though I don't think I've ever thought up a character who could even think that way  ;D

"Without wind, I had no power, but I didn’t care." - I wish he would have cared. The MC appears less realistic for it, at least in my definition of what a normal human who just nearly escaped getting strangled would feel. Having only the wind to protect him, I'd expect him to feel a shiver of worry, and then to make the greater heroic step of going forward anyway. A character who doesn't fear death or injury is not as compelling as one who does but goes on anyway.

"The laboratory we had painstakingly built was now a shipwreck of broken furniture in a sea of loose papers and torn books." I really liked this, because the very first bit of story I ever tried to write in English, when I was 20 and completely immature on the writing part, had a very similar image, where a pair of shoes were linked to men drowning in the sea of discarded clothes they were in, but heck it wasn't nearly as neat a sentence as yours.

"They didn’t betray me, I thought." I think this would have been smoother as "They hadn't betrayed me" which would feel just as much like internal dialogue, since we're very much discovering the situation as he does.

Now here is the key of why the corpses felt less necessary to the story : "I emerged from the tower, and there, on the causeway before me stood Rachtus, flanked by two men and two women. Five wizards to one."

See, the thing is, your character wants to go and warn his friends, regardless of whether they might have betrayed him or not. As a result, the fact that when he emerges, the enemies are already there, blocking his way, makes the deadness of his friends a lot more incidental.
Might as well note, I didn't feel that the idea that they might have betrayed him was vital. If anything, because he doesn't care, it lessened the feelings I had for the dead people. He goes in thinking maybe it's his friends, maybe it's people who just organized his untimely meeting with a wizard killer.
Now, if he'd gone in to warn them, or being sure that they were traitors, only to find them dead, it would have distraught him, one way or another, but since he doesn't know, it leaves the reader a lot less certain of what must be felt.
If your MC had waited for the enemy, or met them, or trapped them, it would have felt like the corpses had more influence. He would have made a clear, marked decision based on them, to stay and fight.
As it is, he has to fight for his life anyway.

I think that's what people meant when they said corpses seemed a bit less relevent, that it could have been triggered by something else. As it is, if the MC's friends had betrayed him, were alive, and warned, and the MC left, he'd still bump in the other people at the end.
Other stories less so, like Blink for example, which features a chick who's got the FBI on her ass because she can see from the pov of dead bodies, being some sort of super corpse hound, and gets into a serial killing case. Bodies are vital to the character's key arch as it is to the plot (the killer's chase).
A bit as if your magician used necromancy of some sort, for example.

My final line is that the story felt very "taken out" of bigger work, you must be tired of hearing that - sorry.
Mostly due to your use of names and unexplained backstory that wasn't so much left "fuzzy" as it was referred to directly without explanation. If you mention Liza and John and Jack and Jill, just the once as they appear, it feels a lot more like we should have heard about them before.
On that part, the only thing I can warmly recommend is to keep from using names, for fun. I was encouraged in that way, and it was pretty discussed 2 years ago. So on my second entry ever, I wrote about "the little girl" "her father", "her grandmother" and "the Wolf". It was very refreshing to see what could be done, and I've done it a couple of times after that.
Not sure it'd solve everything, but hey!
and it had a few looser ends on plot, or moments when the prose jagged a tiny bit. Overall good, but I didn't really feel for the MC, and in first pov it's a bit disgruntling, so I ended up not voting for you.
However I initially thought the story was written by Jmack, and I still wasn't gonna vote for it :p

Jmac already got his critic in private, so I'll stop here for today.


edit :

since it'll be a fast one : @Lordoftheword, for Harry, I didn't vote for you for two simple reasons :

# 1 - the corpse was completely supernatural, and as far as I knew, probably a ghost or demon or artefact of some sort, but definitely not a normal corpse.

# 2 - the way the corpse decides to appear and save the little girl along the time of the story felt like another huge case of Deus Ex Machina. He came out just when it was convenient.

It left me a bit bummed out because you had really strong prose and pretty good characterisation for the little girl. If it had been more in topic, I could have forgiven the Deus Ex, and if the Deus Ex had not been so strong, I might have forgiven some of the uncorpsyness of the story, but with both, it left me liking your story a lot but not wanting to vote for it.
Let me add, in all discretion, that with my liking for darker stuff, your story ended so well after building such thrilling gloom, it left me with a minor case of literary blue balls.
Otherwise nothing bad to say, it was a very strong submission, I'm confident you'll steal my votes before long.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lordoftheword on December 03, 2016, 08:51:23 PM

since it'll be a fast one : @Lordoftheword, for Harry, I didn't vote for you for two simple reasons :

# 1 - the corpse was completely supernatural, and as far as I knew, probably a ghost or demon or artefact of some sort, but definitely not a normal corpse.

# 2 - the way the corpse decides to appear and save the little girl along the time of the story felt like another huge case of Deus Ex Machina. He came out just when it was convenient.

It left me a bit bummed out because you had really strong prose and pretty good characterisation for the little girl. If it had been more in topic, I could have forgiven the Deus Ex, and if the Deus Ex had not been so strong, I might have forgiven some of the uncorpsyness of the story, but with both, it left me liking your story a lot but not wanting to vote for it.
Let me add, in all discretion, that with my liking for darker stuff, your story ended so well after building such thrilling gloom, it left me with a minor case of literary blue balls.
Otherwise nothing bad to say, it was a very strong submission, I'm confident you'll steal my votes before long.

Thanks Nora! :) I appreciate the constructive feedback, but I will challenge you on the Deus Ex point, though not completely invalid.

The impending "belting" from Scarlet's step-father is the result of Harry's awakening and resurrection in her bedroom. If you remember, her screams and panic only happened when Harry started to speak to her, enraging her step-father. So while it was convenient that Harry was there to stop him from hurting Scarlet, he wasn't necessarily brought to life to stop him from doing so. The step-father treated Scarlet poorly before that moment, and Harry was never there to help her.

In fact, we don't really know why Harry chose that particular time to reanimate. Unfortunately, that kind of explanation just simply wouldn't fit into a 1500 word story. But let's just say it might have something to do with her real father ;)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 03, 2016, 09:09:04 PM
That's the exact point that bothers me : we see the story from the moment it happens, but we know it must have happened before, so why now? To save her from another belting? One too many, or convenience for the story?
I think the idea of linking that to her real dad is great, and maybe could be put in the story, is only in passing : what if the more he mistreats her, the more the skeleton takes shape? What if she gloomly talk to Harry thinking to herself that whoever that skull had belonged to, he'd probably made a better father than her step dad ever did?

 :P
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lordoftheword on December 03, 2016, 09:43:31 PM
That's the exact point that bothers me : we see the story from the moment it happens, but we know it must have happened before, so why now? To save her from another belting? One too many, or convenience for the story?
I think the idea of linking that to her real dad is great, and maybe could be put in the story, is only in passing : what if the more he mistreats her, the more the skeleton takes shape? What if she gloomly talk to Harry thinking to herself that whoever that skull had belonged to, he'd probably made a better father than her step dad ever did?

 :P

Oooo, I like that! A progressive reanimation born of hate and revenge. Mwahahaha
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 03, 2016, 09:49:22 PM
That's the exact point that bothers me : we see the story from the moment it happens, but we know it must have happened before, so why now? To save her from another belting? One too many, or convenience for the story?
I think the idea of linking that to her real dad is great, and maybe could be put in the story, is only in passing : what if the more he mistreats her, the more the skeleton takes shape? What if she gloomly talk to Harry thinking to herself that whoever that skull had belonged to, he'd probably made a better father than her step dad ever did?

 :P

Oooo, I like that! A progressive reanimation born of hate and revenge. Mwahahaha

Huh. Given the tone of your story, I thought more of a positive reincarnation, born from love and the desire to protect!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 03, 2016, 10:04:25 PM
This one's for Jmack:

I think a slice of Americana is a bit of a tough sell as fantasy-types are often euro-philes.  That said, you did an impressive job of layering setting and culture into every line.  the body that had been "weeding, picking and pickling" yesterday, the shelled pea pod imagery, rushes and cedar shavings and the wedding quilt.  "witnesses" like in 4 lines you've got richer worldbuilding and thicker atmosphere than most can manage in a whole chapter!  It was impressive. [minor side note-- the thous and thees felt a little off as they were the only archaic bits in an otherwise country lexicon, not sure if it plays out that way usually but an extra "needest" or "hast" or something might have helped]

I also loved not only the auras but the way she saw them-- orange like when he's going for the belt-- you did your research, these are lined up with some of the modern explanations for those colors :)

There was a lot to admire about the piece, and to be honest, I can't offer you much in the way of a critique-- everything I have to say is resoundingly positive!  So why didn't i vote for it? Well, there was just a lot of really great stories this month.  I admired the artistry and construction of your piece the way I would admire a pre-impressionistic painting.  It was a pretty landscape, very neatly pieced together and well-constructed, but I didn't feel the emotions I would in viewing a much messier "Guernica".  The stakes were low (which to be fair can work sometimes...) and logically I can see the girl is struggling with her new role, but her character transformation still felt a bit unrelatable to me-- in part perhaps b/c we didn't ruminate on her attachment to her gran?  I'm grasping at straws really.  Honestly I wouldn't change a thing about it-- it's perfect as it is. It just got nudged out by pieces that made me feel a bit more of an emotional connection to the scene.  I know that's probably intangible and useless, but good job!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 03, 2016, 10:34:10 PM
Thanks Nora
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Rukaio_Alter on December 04, 2016, 05:26:33 AM
Is it Really Graverobbing if it's for Science? - by @Rukaio_Alter

I liked it, but didn't vote for you because, while good, it felt less reflected than usual. The grave digging was the scenery, but the dialogue was too farfetched, the relationship between the characters too improbable.
Actually think this could be a great little tv skit or youtube video, but on paper for a writing contest it vibed too much like a grab for laughs on situational matters.
I really don't want to offend you, given that I don't know how hard you worked on that, but for example your circus story was infinitely superior in my eyes.
The thing is, I think that with your vibe of humour, if you'd set such characters in a different situation, with more action, like for example the mad scientist trying his dumb experiment, and the experiment actually working, and the other guy being completely dumbfounded and then obvious running for his life, it could have caught my fancy more, with the corpse being a stronger key. Here we don't even see it, the grave is even empty. It's only an excuse for dialogue.

Anyway, can't do god-emperor stories each month...  :P  Your prose was solid and your style truly as unique as usual though, so it's only me being nitpicky.
*shrugs* Eh, I actually don't disagree as much as you might think. Graverobbing wasn't as planned out/action-filled as some of my other popular comedies, albeit for a few good reasons.

See, the thing is, I was actually suffering from pretty hefty writers block at the time I wrote Graverobbing (at least as far as my prose work was concerned). So, to make sure I had the motivation to actually finish the story in time, I did basically the writing equivalent of binging on a tub of triple chocolate ice-cream. By which I mean I largely stuck to writing the sort of stuff I enjoy doing most (dialogue/comedic banter/fun characters bouncing off each other) and deliberately avoided the stuff I get more sluggish on. Plus, (unlike stories like my Mighty Beasts winner, which I had pre-outlined), here I was happy to let the story go wherever felt right, rather than having any specific plot planned out. Some of the original plans I had for the story did actually involve cutting away to actually having the experiment take place/go wrong, but I couldn't find a good transition point, couldn't think of enough good jokes that would work with the change and I already had a strong comedic flow going in the graveyard, so I stuck there.

That said, I'm still pretty damn happy with how the story came out. It was meant to be a fun, silly romp, ended up as a fun, silly romp and I'm certain a lot of people enjoyed it as a fun, silly romp. The comedy flows well and I achieved everything I wanted with it. But I admit it's not as balanced as it could be and I completely understand if you've got issues.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 04, 2016, 05:36:37 AM
See, the thing is, I was actually suffering from pretty hefty writers block at the time I wrote Graverobbing (at least as far as my prose work was concerned).
Wish I had that excuse. Haste is a poor scapegoat. I wrote mine in 45 minutes, spent 90 minutes polishing, and another hour trimming down to word count, which was hard. Busted Xiagan's chops with a half-dozen typo-repairs. In the process I lost the bits that would have prevented most of Nora's issues. The frame approach failed and I should have known no story without a corpse for a protag was going to be competitive, but as you say, I liked it, even if was a hack job.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 08:30:02 AM
Rukaio : the fun silly romp worked anyway since it's what I read as well. It worked too well, being a little bit too silly for me  ;D
But I can totally see that the transition would have been awkward. Interesting to know you had a block at the time, because dialogue is the last thing to get me out of such woods! Funny to see how true is the "each his own" statement.

TGC : is it me, or do you often sound bitter in your replies to criticism here? I'm being curious, nothing else, I know it wouldn't be the first time I misinterpreted your tone.
But there will never be any pleasing everybody. Just go on your favourite book's GR page and look for scathing reviews calling it a hoax pile of horse vomit.
You can't reproach yourself to not have made corrections to please me, and maybe only me. It's a contest, you don't get peer review criticism before you publish, so you get maybe more mistakes or plot heaviness here and there that you would otherwise, because you're immersed in your work and fail to see some issues because you know all the back story.
We all have that problem. That's the point of this entire thread.
You'll always find people to critic stuff. That's why we come here and ask for it, whether or not we won. Next time you might write a story from the dragon's pov in a dragon society, and still find people you not vote for you because of plot, style, general feeling, have X many votes gone to stories they preferred, etc. etc. 
I personally had more issues with the way the character felt overpowered and unfazed, than by the lesser key role of the corpses. I'm fussy with magic. I find it extremely hard to write and generally avoid writing it.
I'm also not a big fan of high fantasy, and require a lot to be drawn in those stories. There is nothing you could have done to avoid that, but on the other hand it gave you votes from all the people who precisely enjoyed that!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 04, 2016, 04:51:34 PM
You can't reproach yourself to not have made corrections to please me, and maybe only me.
No, you're not wrong. But it has nothing to do with critique input. As for most of what you said, you were right. You're the only one who picked up on them, but that doesn't surprise me. Technically, you were right - I didn't explain why he went from one mental state to another well enough.

My issues arise from illegitimate comments, the "not enough cowbell" crap. Arbitrary and irrelevant, at best. Insulting at worst. Pushing that kind of judgment onto someone else's work falls outside a legitimate critique, because it's not relevant and it's completely subjective. But drive on, Blue Falcon. Drive on.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 05:05:12 PM
But that's a lot of what we do after all  :-\
Have you seen my crit of Rukaio's piece? Basically just explaining how there is nothing wrong but mostly me saying why I didn't fancy it. It's pretty vague and entirely subjective. some people here don't like dark stuff and chronically don't vote for me. That's just how it is.

Of course I crave good reviews, and think that half baked ones are worse than none, but beware of sounding so aggressive : you might make people shy of reviewing your work, or worse, half people say half truths, keeping any harsher insight on your work.
Better subjective input than lies.

This being said, it's true that we often see critics here that aren't really critics, more of a "general impression and pov" than a detailed re-read or immediate impression. Which is a shame. 
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 04, 2016, 05:20:36 PM
I may be a bit of a Pollyanna,  it I like to say:

"Thank you for those comments. They're helpful for understanding how folks approach this. But in the meantime, I'd really like some comments alone the lines of...". Etc.

Of course, we all have our own styles, and I'm not prescribing mine. Still, I do recommend it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 06:23:46 PM
I may be a bit of a Pollyanna,  it I like to say:

"Thank you for those comments. They're helpful for understanding how folks approach this. But in the meantime, I'd really like some comments alone the lines of...". Etc.

Of course, we all have our own styles, and I'm not prescribing mine. Still, I do recommend it.

Speaking of which, do you consider you were out of your usual style this month? Because I really didn't guess your story. I was pretty impressed by the change of voice, even though I didn't like the voice itself, it was consistent and realistic, which is why I thought it was some good newbie's new contribution. I guess it's a compliment of sorts, if you like being called a chameleon...
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 04, 2016, 06:29:59 PM
I specifically wanted a story in which no violence occurs, and very "low" magic. Aside from it's archaic dialect, I think of it as being more realistic, and in that sense closer to my multiple POV story: Three Times Seals the Spell.

And thank you (I guess).  ;D

Meanwhile, I'm sure you're finding that my dragon story is back to my usual voice.
What I really want to do is write some sentences like yours while staying true to my concepts. (And yes, that's a real compliment.  8))
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 06:43:08 PM
I specifically wanted a story in which no violence occurs, and very "low" magic. Aside from it's archaic dialect, I think of it as being more realistic, and in that sense closer to my multiple POV story: Three Times Seals the Spell.

And thank you (I guess).  ;D

Meanwhile, I'm sure you're finding that my dragon story is back to my usual voice.
What I really want to do is write some sentences like yours while staying true to my concepts. (And yes, that's a real compliment.  8))

As far as recognizing myself in your work, I found the final action to be something I'd enjoy writing, though of course you found that concept first, so good job, it's so deliciously mean, like a two sentences twist, very well done.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: night_wrtr on December 04, 2016, 06:48:42 PM
You can't reproach yourself to not have made corrections to please me, and maybe only me.
No, you're not wrong. But it has nothing to do with critique input. As for most of what you said, you were right. You're the only one who picked up on them, but that doesn't surprise me. Technically, you were right - I didn't explain why he went from one mental state to another well enough.

My issues arise from illegitimate comments, the "not enough cowbell" crap. Arbitrary and irrelevant, at best. Insulting at worst. Pushing that kind of judgment onto someone else's work falls outside a legitimate critique, because it's not relevant and it's completely subjective. But drive on, Blue Falcon. Drive on.

I am not the only one that sees agression in your responses. It can do more harm than good when attacking someone that is willing to drop a comment or two on your work. If you feel insulted, that is unfortunate, because I don't think anyone is trying to insult you.

This would be a good time to just say thanks to the comments, or not respond at all. This is the second time in this thread I felt the need to say something to one of your posts as I see it as detrimental to the development of these threads as a more popular aspect to the contests and bringing in crits from individuals that may never have done so before.

Comments like those above are not a welcoming sign to someone wanting to take part, but doesnt, because they might get hasseled for their opinion.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 04, 2016, 07:03:04 PM
Thanks Nora
Noted. My apologies.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 04, 2016, 07:49:14 PM
I'm a bit late for critiques promised. So here it goes some:

The Bridge Battle, by @The Gem Cutter


Selected quote:
Quote
But better to be betrayed than to betray. By far. If they tried to kill me, so be it.

Something Awesome: Very well-written, smooth flow, dark atmosphere perfectly set. There's a lot implied regarding the past friendship between MC and Rachtus.

Theme Appropriateness: Low. Seeing the bodies of his dead friends made him reminisce about them and a bit of insight of their relationship, but for the core of the story, they could even be removed.

- Maybe MC could have gained their elemental affinity or a momentary surge in magical power to surprise Rachtus and the other four mages.
- Or reanimated the bodies to make it look like he had help and confuse the enemy.

He dealt with the enemies without much effort despite being five to one (they were on the defensive the entire time despite five to one - only once they threw fire at him and it was even used to burn that wizard with her own spell), so even rage or revenge didn't look like major components for MC's triumph.

Conflict and Tension: Very high, right from the get go. Many other implications from past relationships (alive and dead), future of MC, the first battle, the bridge battle.

Something Confusing: ---
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 04, 2016, 08:04:37 PM
Weincawnathun, by @m3mnoch


Selected quote:

Quote
"He says 'It's Dallas from that shit in the sixth grade.' Or maybe, 'shivving the six gays.' Jesus, I don't know, man. His nose is broken and my arms are getting tired from holding this dead bastard out here. Just open the fucking door and let us in."

Something Awesome: Dallas, obviously  ::) Extremely creative dialogue writing.

Theme Appropriateness: High. Target had information, but was killed. They try to reanimate the body to get the info before they get screwed. Billy uses the wrong spell on the body. Everyone is fucked and most likely will become bodies themselves.

Conflict and Tension: Medium. Dallas and Karla have plenty of it, even if friendly. There's a clock ticking, but no one or something exactly going for their throats right now.

Something Confusing: ---

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 08:08:59 PM
Keep it flowing Lanko, you're making a great sales pitch of m3m's short review templates.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 04, 2016, 09:39:29 PM
You can't reproach yourself to not have made corrections to please me, and maybe only me.
No, you're not wrong. But it has nothing to do with critique input. As for most of what you said, you were right. You're the only one who picked up on them, but that doesn't surprise me. Technically, you were right - I didn't explain why he went from one mental state to another well enough.

My issues arise from illegitimate comments, the "not enough cowbell" crap. Arbitrary and irrelevant, at best. Insulting at worst. Pushing that kind of judgment onto someone else's work falls outside a legitimate critique, because it's not relevant and it's completely subjective. But drive on, Blue Falcon. Drive on.

I am not the only one that sees agression in your responses. It can do more harm than good when attacking someone that is willing to drop a comment or two on your work. If you feel insulted, that is unfortunate, because I don't think anyone is trying to insult you.

This would be a good time to just say thanks to the comments, or not respond at all. This is the second time in this thread I felt the need to say something to one of your posts as I see it as detrimental to the development of these threads as a more popular aspect to the contests and bringing in crits from individuals that may never have done so before.

Comments like those above are not a welcoming sign to someone wanting to take part, but doesnt, because they might get hasseled for their opinion.

i wanted to chime in one last time on the subject.  mostly in regards to the "not enough cowbell" being an illegitimate comment.  i feel like this is a common enough response to critiques that it merits a reply.

i may be interpreting that incorrectly, but i'm equating that to "criticizing creative choices" as being "Arbitrary and irrelevant, at best. Insulting at worst" and "completely subjective".

yes.  yes, it's subjective.

also, the creative choices an author makes in their storytelling -- and the execution of those creative choices -- is the large, large, large majority of that author's commercial success.

packing up the prose in a clean delivery method is important only so far as it delivers the story without confusion.  once an author can safely deliver their creative, any excess focus on mechanics brings diminishing returns.

as proof, you only need to look to best-selling authors in the modern era.  if precise and flawless presentation of storytelling was a requirement, we'd not have the commercial successes of neil gaiman, stephen king, james patterson, j.k. rowling, john grisham, dan brown, stephanie meyer, danielle steel, etc.  none of their prose is seen as anything remotely approaching "perfect".

the mechanical quality of the prose itself is useful merely as a delivery mechanism to the storytelling aspect.

of first and foremost importance -- tell a good story.  if your target audience is missing the main thrust of the story's creative content, that seems to me like a valid criticism.  and not in any way irrelevant.  learning and applying rules of grammar is the easy, objectively-scored part of writing.  using those rules to tell an amazing story is the actual hard part.

if you think about it, there's probably a reason why editors are editors and authors are authors.

so, i would think that any help you can get from your target audience in the more subjective aspects of storytelling would be useful.  it's certainly not insulting, nor arbitrary.

personally, i LOVE when people tell me they missed some critical piece of my work.  that gives me the ability to go back and analyze why that happened.  what key piece of foreshadowing or description didn't make it from my brain to the page.  it's incredibly helpful.

above all tho, the path to success isn't telling every critic "you just read it wrong."
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 04, 2016, 09:53:43 PM
Blink, by Anonymous  ::)

Selected Quote:
Quote
Corpses are everywhere. They're much more common than the average death fearing citizen thinks. It's people like me who are rare.
The dead clutter, live together like we do. They converge in morgues, hospitals, research buildings, cemeteries, houses, the odd back alley.

Something Awesome: - Great use of present tense, it does change a lot how a story is read. Mood was also greatly set up.

- The magic eyes are pretty good as the source of magic in the story. It's unique, but at the same time it doesn't solve anything by itself, as Sorensen has to use her own intelligence, reflexes and experience (needs to know specific types of plants and wood, has brief windows of time to describe house interiors, people's descriptions, streets and buildings around the city and etc... and a also a great deal of luck, like the woman killed and remained dead with her eyes open). She also needs to do all this at the same time she's experiencing a sensation of herself being chopped off.

Theme Appropriateness: High. Magic eyes who see what happened to dead bodies. Ability highly desired by the FBI. Sees bodies whenever she blinks. Even dreams with bodies. But it's not the amount of corpses that makes it fill the "theme checkpoint", but how they can help move the story forward thanks to the magical eyes.

Conflict and Tension: Very High. It's actually discretely done, maybe because of the psychological or the pace not simply moving at breakneck speed. Various kinds of conflict, to Sorensen trying to hide and the FBI finding her everytime.
Psychological conflict: MC's mind slowly falling deeper and deeper into the abyss because of everything she saw and still sees and will continue to see.
Moral conflict: her own sanity or the lives of innocent victims.
Physical conflict: time ticking to save the victim.

Something Confusing: When Sorensen agrees to help, she says her job now is just to blink while they drive her around town. When she finds the killer, she says she "is blinking through many morgue drawers, freezers, closed and open casks". And one of the bodies is a victim of the serial killer.
But they had autopsies and bodies of eight women in the beginning with various information, why instead of driving her around town they just didn't brought her to look at the bodies they already had? Wasn't that body in there? EDIT: I guess she wasn't experiencing what a past victim passed through, but the one they were searching for was killed.

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Captain of the Guard on December 04, 2016, 10:07:33 PM
Hi
If here is anyone who want to take a stab at critique my
story, I'd appreciate it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 04, 2016, 10:16:05 PM
Blink, by Anonymous  ::)

Selected Quote:
Quote
Corpses are everywhere. They're much more common than the average death fearing citizen thinks. It's people like me who are rare.
The dead clutter, live together like we do. They converge in morgues, hospitals, research buildings, cemeteries, houses, the odd back alley.

Something Awesome: - Great use of present tense, it does change a lot how a story is read. Mood was also greatly set up.

- The magic eyes are pretty good as the source of magic in the story. It's unique, but at the same time it doesn't solve anything by itself, as Sorensen has to use his own intelligence, reflexes and experience (needs to know specific types of plants and wood, has brief windows of time to describe house interiors, people's descriptions, streets and buildings around the city and etc... and a also a great deal of luck, like the woman killed who looked over her shoulder). He also needs to do all this at the same time he's experiencing a sensation of himself being chopped off.

Theme Appropriateness: High. Magic eyes who see what happened to dead bodies. Ability highly desired by the FBI. Sees bodies whenever he blinks. Even dreams with bodies. But it's not the amount of corpses that makes it fill the "theme checkpoint", but how they can help move the story forward thanks to the magical eyes.

Conflict and Tension: Very High. It's actually discretely done, maybe because of the psychological or the pace not simply moving at breakneck speed. Various kinds of conflict, to Sorensen trying to hide and the FBI finding him everytime.
Psychological conflict: MC's mind slowly falling deeper and deeper into the abyss because of everything he saw and still sees and will continue to see.
Moral conflict: his own sanity or the lives of innocent victims.
Physical conflict: time ticking to save the victim.

Something Confusing: When Sorensen agrees to help, he says his job now is just to blink while they drive him around town. When he finds the killer, he says he "is blinking through many morgue drawers, freezers, closed and open casks". And one of the bodies is a victim of the serial killer.
But they had autopsies and bodies of eight women in the beginning with various information, why instead of driving him around town they just didn't brought him to look at the bodies they already had? Wasn't that body in there?


Great review, but funny insight : Lone is a Danish name... for women. So your Sørensen is a she.  ;D
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 04, 2016, 10:42:21 PM
DRIN, by @Osahon

Selected Quote:
Quote
The closet had several corpses in it, all stacked together like they were a pack of sardines.

Something Awesome: The mystery of who was the Wagonman and the grimness of the setting were pretty well done.

Theme Appropriateness: Low-Medium? I was totally unsure how to rate this. There is Drin's body, a whole wagon full of it and even more on a closet, and even that the MC is gonna become one inside there too, but body count by itself doesn't do anything for the story.
However, it was because of Drin's body that Harrap joined the Wagonman and moved the story forward, so there's that...

Conflict and Tension: Low. It begins with Harrap worried about Drin's body and what Wagonman was gonna do with it. But Drin's story was never explored, I don't know who he is besides being Harrap's brother. How or why he died.
The Wagonman doesn't seem to antagonize or oppress anyone, he just travels to villages collecting their dead. People seemed to treat the whole thing naturally or with conformism. Even the strange creatures didn't dare fight him.
While understandable, I'm not sure if I believe in Harrap's reasons for going alone with Wagonman, specially with only a knife. The ending has a little plot twist, but it was a bit too late.

Something Confusing: ---

Extra:

- I didn't understand why the title DRIN is in full caps. When I first read the story last month I wondered what that meant, but it was the name of Harrap's brother, Drin.

-
Quote
Harrap grunted, folding his arms.
"There's no soul anymore. Let him take them and dispose of it," Ma said. A cold chill went down her spine when she heard the fourth bell ring: a cruel metallic song.

The story was told through Harrap's point of view, so he couldn't know his Ma's cold chill down her spine, that was a head hop!

Hope this was helpful.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 04, 2016, 10:44:24 PM
i'm loving the "selected quote" part, lanko.  well done!

Sent from my LG-H811 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 04, 2016, 10:59:18 PM
Great review, but funny insight : Lone is a Danish name... for women. So your Sørensen is a she.  ;D

Corrected!

i'm loving the "selected quote" part, lanko.  well done!

Thanks! As someone who heavily highlights passages in the Kindle (something I simply couldn't and can't do with my physical copies) I think it's extremely helpful to let people know they wrote some amusingly unique and memorable!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 04, 2016, 11:26:30 PM
Thanks Lanko
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 05, 2016, 06:39:24 PM
Job Gone Wrong, by @shadowkat678

Selected Quote:
Quote
"Once dead, the mind no longer restricts how far the body can go."

Something Awesome: The scenery descriptions were well-done. The plot twist was pretty good as well, but I did need to re-read it three times to finally understand it.

Theme Appropriateness: Low. There's a body but the central part of the story was the magical artifact they were hired to steal. It can control the dead, but it's still about the ring. Durum at the end was nice, but I felt a hired goon could do the same thing - the only thing that could make it work was if we had know Durum better for more dramatical effect, or better yet, if they were betrayed and the reanimated body was Frank.

Conflict and Tension: Low. Now, this doesn't mean it's a bad thing.
One can have a calm story seeming to progress without much trouble then a massive plot twist shows how wrong it actually was. You don't need a duo bickering at each other in every story for the sake of conflict. Rob and Frank get along very well and it's nice and cool. Their boss doesn't betray them, and it's cool too.

But from the starting point to the ending point when Louis reveals himself, there's no conflict, no danger, no moral questioning, no second thoughts, no ticking clock or something new.

Maybe you could have started with the robbery itself, since that was the event that led to their current situation. Something like Rob and Hank sneaking around a mansion, disabling traps and bypassing other things, finding the ring, fighting Durum, who is a wizard. "Shit, that guy used magic! Did you see that?" They put the body on their card to dump it and continue where you started. And then we know more about that reanimated body at the end.

Something Confusing:When Louis mentioned Durum for the first time, I thought it was the guy who hired Rob and Hank. Then he appears as a controlled body and I was like "What? Who is this guy, where did he came from?"
It took me three reads to finally figure out who Durum actually was, he was the corpse inside Rob and Hank's car from whom they stole the ring.

You did say you run out of time and rushed it a little, so that's what probably caused that confusion. Overall, your writing is pretty good, you also describe very well and even foreshadowed a good plot twist.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 05, 2016, 07:37:41 PM
Fashion Monsters, by @NightWrite

Selected Quote:
Quote
Did they suffer each time they saw familiar features hidden in a stranger's face?

Something Awesome: That concept was really amazing. A society that uses models with dead bodies. An activity glorified in the media, but with gross hidden realities. Fleshcrafter dens. The plague seemed pretty good too, although we could've known the symptoms or how it killed, it looked a bit generic as "fatal disease with no cure", but it had a pretty cool name.

Theme Appropriateness: Very high. MC works with bodies. A modeling agency that works with bodies. A society that appears to have a thing for them. They even appear to move a good part of the economy, and maybe it's the only story with such implication.

Conflict and Tension: High.
- Psychological conflict: Working in such a place day and night it's obviously wearing her down more and more. Fear of her boss and for her family. I would like to know a lot more about Tya, though.
- Moral conflict: Tries to sabotage the agency. Keeps working, but wonders a lot about it. One thing that could've improved this even more would be knowing why Rema accepted this job. Besides a magical contract, the money could've been helping her family or something.
- Physical conflict: Takes action, risk of punishment and death, not only her but for her family. Highly infectious disease probably caught her too.

Something Confusing: Probably caused by lack of time, since it did have space to add more things.

- The first paragraph says the conditions of work that she never expected for a modeling agency or the media's portrayal of fleshcrafter dens. Since they are so deplorable, the image they have on society must be glamorous and excellent.

- Since they have a positive view (maybe a large part of society doesn't approve, but it's no said or implied so we can only speculate) and it generates a lot of money and seems to have an absurd high demand, then the own families of the bodies would be selling them for a good price, the famous or more beautiful ones could even have large auctions, idols both in life and death.

- So this made me think why they're hidden, unless a good part of society simply don't like it and they have to steal the bodies, which is probably the case, but I would like the "dystopia" style a little more with dead worshiping.

- The magical contract would supposedly know when Rema talks about the place to the police, but does nothing to prevent her from actively sabotaging the agency from the inside constantly. She even burned some bodies and even passed along the plagued body.

- Tya complains about the media portrayal of fleshcrafting and her works. Maybe to avoid some confusion with the initial media portrayal it would be better if it was just for her own works. Maybe that was the intention.

- Just as Rema wondered, why the Weeping Grin body wasn't reported and the media wasn't raving about it. I suspect of vengeance by someone who had the body of someone dear stolen and processed and it had extra luck it made it's way to Rema, but again, it's speculation.

Overall, great idea!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: LightRunner on December 06, 2016, 04:15:08 AM
I would also be interested in getting some feedback on "Some Called it Freedom." What was confusing? What was boring? Are there any scientists out there that couldn't handle my inadequate knowledge of the brain and body?

Here's a critique for @Captain of the Guard

"The Raid"

Things I liked: The sister dynamic, and I would have liked more of it. I think it would have helped with making the characters more distinct too.

Also, after Sam fell in the hole, you did a good job ratcheting up the tension and increasing the urgency of the situation. That was the most engaging part of the story for me.

Things I had trouble with:

-Confusing POV switch

She fell and slid across it’s surface into an opening. As she fell down into the pitchblack hole, she thought… this is going to hurt.

But it did not, but it did knock the wind out of her.

Marai sat rubbing her legs, when she heard the strange crashing sound. She instantly stood again and stared about her; she saw or heard nothing out of the ordinary. “Sam!” she called…no response.

-There were occasional grammatical errors that threw me out, like this one:

Her head was not far from, what she perceived as the ceiling of the cave.

or when two different people were speaking without a paragraph break between.

As a note, I am definitely a reader who has a hard time moving past grammatical errors, so it might negatively affect my reading of a story more than it might for another reader.

-How do the girls (women?) know the goblin's names?

-I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to understand at the end. Is this the end of the goblins, and the people didn't know it?

I hope that's helpful!

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Captain of the Guard on December 06, 2016, 12:15:19 PM
I would also be interested in getting some feedback on "Some Called it Freedom." What was confusing? What was boring? Are there any scientists out there that couldn't handle my inadequate knowledge of the brain and body?

Here's a critique for @Captain of the Guard

"The Raid"

Things I liked: The sister dynamic, and I would have liked more of it. I think it would have helped with making the characters more distinct too.

Also, after Sam fell in the hole, you did a good job ratcheting up the tension and increasing the urgency of the situation. That was the most engaging part of the story for me.

Things I had trouble with:

-Confusing POV switch

She fell and slid across it’s surface into an opening. As she fell down into the pitchblack hole, she thought… this is going to hurt.

But it did not, but it did knock the wind out of her.

Marai sat rubbing her legs, when she heard the strange crashing sound. She instantly stood again and stared about her; she saw or heard nothing out of the ordinary. “Sam!” she called…no response.

-There were occasional grammatical errors that threw me out, like this one:

Her head was not far from, what she perceived as the ceiling of the cave.

or when two different people were speaking without a paragraph break between.

As a note, I am definitely a reader who has a hard time moving past grammatical errors, so it might negatively affect my reading of a story more than it might for another reader.

-How do the girls (women?) know the goblin's names?

-I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to understand at the end. Is this the end of the goblins, and the people didn't know it?

I hope that's helpful!


Thank you, every advice helps. It seems to me that my most consistent mistake in all my stories.
Is that do a occasional thought leap without explaining how I got there =) I'll try to do better =)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Crystallynnfairy on December 07, 2016, 04:48:21 AM
ok, I'll go ahead and throw Affinity in as well for a critique. I know that there are quite a bit of grammatical errors and some tense mess ups, more interested in story stuff. Thanks for any of you thoughts

In no particular order, the below aren't full reviews/critiques but more what I liked and what I didn't care for.

DRIN by Osahon
I enjoyed the creepiness of it, especially the bit about knowing if all the dead were out.
I was confused about the end. Does Har get out of the house, become one of the bodies, become a new Wagonman, or something else.

The Bridge Battle by The Gem Cutter
The only thing that threw me a bit was picturing the action in the opening, I had to reread it a couple times to get straight and see it clearly.
I enjoyed the inner turmoil of the character thinking his friends had betrayed him than finding out the opposite was true. I really wanted more story when it ended.

Job gone Wrong by Shadowkat
I enjoyed this story more on my second read. I enjoyed the dialogue especially the "not the employee guy" bit. Easily pictured the story in my head. The twist of the meeting place and dead controlling ring were nice. I don't really have any critique.

Fashion Monsters by NightWrite
I enjoyed this story, it had a smooth flow and good pacing.
Just a personal preference, I would have liked a mention of the sickness and just how contagious it was so that when she opened that box the reader would know what's up at the same time.

Soul Speaker by Bradley Darewood
This was one of my top voted stories. My only critique is that the boy talked older than his age. Though the part about him being proud of his ability to not need the bodies helped, it is a kid bragging.
I would very muck like to read more in this world.

Harry by Lord of the Word
I enjoyed this one quite a bit despite Harry being more of a supernatural corpse than a basic corpse. Imagining a visible to only me corpse that just hangs out on my dresser watching over me without moving every night would creep me out.  I liked that by the end I liked the corpse. The girl was written like a girl and acted/talked that way.

Wainacawnathun by m3mnoch
I know that it was need for the story but reading the busted nose speaking bits was tough because I had to think about it, that prevented me from slipping into that forgetting your reading state. I adored the idea of a magical fixer/cleaner. Loved the comical ending.

The Raid by Captain of the Guard
I liked the interplay between the sisters, it felt like a real relationship. I wasn't sure what happened in the village and what they were running from, are the dukes men bad or not? I like the unexpected of the goblins and goblin king. I would have read more.

Some Call it Freedom by Light Runner
I liked that it was an unexpected take on a corpse story. I enjoyed the struggle of keeping everything else going until it just fades away. I liked the viewpoint character.

Blick - Anon
It flowed nicely. While it wasn't my normal style I enjoy it kept my interest. I wish there had been a bit more explanation of how she got those eyes or what she was if that was the case.

Memories by Anon
The use of animal corpses, taxidermy intrigued me. I know people whom it terrifies. I enjoyed the end, that a dead bird they found she saw the beauty in letting nature take its course while he wanted to preserve it.

Pit of Forgiveness by Anon
Interesting, I liked the premise. I think it is relatable to most people in that at some point we may be alone in our life and while not everyone will I think suicide is a that more people than you'd think at some point think about suicide even if not seriously. I would have liked  a to know more the creatures that are trapped in there with them.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 07, 2016, 11:33:33 PM
The Soulspeaker, by @Bradley Darewood

Selected Quote:
Quote
It was his earnest eyes that made him good at this job. No one ever suspected a man with earnest eyes.

Something Amazing: Creative magical ability, six year old boy that looks much older than he is (influence of the spirits?), royal assassin. Sadly that bodies aren’t needed, it would be cool if he had a mausoleum of some sorts, like a “libraby of bodies” he used to study.

Theme Appropriateness: Low.
Surprising? First, the reason the assassin is sent is because his target is able to speak to… spirits. Second, he doesn’t even need bodies. Third, apparently even Aaris didn’t (I will talk about that later). But a corpse did allow him to approach the Soulspeaker, but there are still questions about this.

Conflict and Tension: High.
The curious thing is that conflict and tension isn’t really high for the assassin that serves as our POV. He already commited many murders. He does think “damn, an old woman and a six year old”, but shrugs it off very quickly.
The brilliant part (whether was intentional or not) was allowing us to see the conflict in the boy through the assassin’s POV. His conflict is clear. He only conforms at the end “you won’t be the last”, but before that he even speaks and asks about Aaris (and others) as a way to justify the poison, so not even killing in his own self defense was justifiable for him. The assassin could’ve lied and said he didn’t find the Soulspeaker and other difficulties, but the boy didn’t have that choice and still weighed the choice much more. Pretty damn good part.

Something Confusing: You gave us some confusing - or downright contradictory - information in some parts. Sometimes I thought “Wait, but previously you said X”.

Quote
The Nightravens sang for the dead, it was said. It had taken him months to discover the price of admission. His fellow Southlanders kept their secrets carefully.

Quote
”He told me the Queen ordered you to bar the doors of the Bearwynd House and burn it to the ground. The dead cried out to him (Aaris), and the next night you sliced him apart in his sleep. He just wants to know —”

This kept me wondering that if he killed the previous Soulspeaker, he would know the secrets and already be in the hidden “inner circle” of the Soulspeakers. Specially since it took eighteen years to kill Aaris (although only one day after an arson), and it was done by him. If he already was inside (took only months to find Dowen, after all), I kept thinking he wouldn’t need another price of admission.

Quote
”Two questions for Leck Meggragor.”
She knew the corpse’s name! He hadn’t even unwrapped the corpse! Still, she more than likely heard of his demise.

Quote
Merric pulled the wet bundle of rugs and cloth from the back of his cart and heaved it over his shoulder. Gods, it was heavy! He had hoped to find a lighter corpse, a child maybe, but maybe this was freshest dead man he could find on short notice.

This led me to believe that initially he didn’t have Leck Meggragor with him, but some random person he killed or a body unburied or bought for the meeting. He had even hoped to bring a child’s corpse because of the weight, but couldn’t find one.
And then how would he find out the Soulspeaker if his questions were for another person or if the Soulspeaker talked about the name or something else of a person he didn’t know?
Because it turned out a specific corpse for specific questions was needed to confirm the identity of the Soulspeaker.

Quote
”Aaris needed the bodies, but I don’t.”

Quote
””He told me the Queen ordered you to bar the doors of the Bearwynd House and burn it to the ground. The dead cried out to him, …”

This led me to believe he actually didn’t need the bodies too (there wouldn’t be any left). Unless he was passing by and got into contact with the spirits before the bodies turned to ashes or skeletons, or maybe some charred carcasses.

Addendum: Overall this was pretty good, very well-written, specially the conflict and tension you managed to put into it.

Hoped this critique helped you!

Cú Sith, by @Saraband

Selected Quote:
Quote
He was breathing, and warm to the touch once more. And his eyes… they looked at her, full of life, with a hint of the same defiance she had witnessed that night in Moibeal.

Something Amazing: Bleak atmosphere. Magic acting in mysterious ways, with powers, consequences and limits only implied and left to the reader’s imgination. Some social issues briefly explored in the beginning. Great ending paragraph.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High.
Nothing to say here. No baby corpse, no story.

Conflict and Tension: High.
Physical conflict —> Moira mentions the dangers of the forest, specially on a moonless night (maybe something could’ve appeared on their way to the Cú Sith). It was also a very cold night that could’ve killed the mother. Moira’s sacrifice.
Emotional conflict —> The mother’s for the baby. Moira for the mother. She tries and wants to help, but…
Moral conflict —> The Cú Sith can help but from Moira’s information, it’s obvious the price is not a good one. He is not a good guy either. Worse fates than death, but it’s for a dead child. Even if Moira didn’t care for her old body to bring the baby back, she still didn’t want the Cú Sith receiving power or whatever it was he gained with a body or soul.

Something Confusing: ——

Addendum: The internal monologue of Moira kinda of spoiled the ending and what was gonna happen, unfortunately (at least for me). After I read that I knew what was gonna happen: Moira was gonna sacrifice herself to bring the baby back and her soul would be put inside the baby.
That reduced a bit of power from your last paragraph. It would be much more impactful if we were just wondering what was gonna happen and what happened. And then discovering in the last line what Moira and the Cú Sith did. And her sacrifice.
Hoped this critique helped you!

Harry, by @Lordoftheword

Selected Quote:
Quote
She saw Harry’s back, a mixture of yellowed skeleton and gangrene flesh covered by a tattered layer of green and burgundy cloth. He was rooting through the top drawer, and when he found what he was looking for he held it in the air in triumph. It squirmed in his hand like an over-sized, pink slug, and when he turned around to face her, Harry put it in his mouth, rolled back his skull and shook his jaw side to side. After five seconds he let out a haunting sigh. Scarlet wailed louder than she thought she knew how and peed herself.

Something Amazing: That was a very creative approach. Pretty good creepy stuff. Child-parent abuse theme also explored in the story. Good resolution.

Theme Appropriateness. Very High.
Nothing stated the corpse needed to be real, just like the boy in The Sixth Sense and similar stories. It only happens to her. Corpse makes her mother think she has mental problems, makes step-father beat her, corpse doesn’t allow her to fully use her dresser. Corpse revives and kills abusive step-father.

Conflict and Tension: High.
Physical conflict —> Scarlet and Trevor. Harry and Trevor. Children’s body limitations (can’t reach certain drawers, lack of strength).
Emotional conflict —> Scared of Trevor. Lost her father.
Maybe she really doesn’t care seeing something nobody else sees at the age of 10, but at some point (if she isn’t already) she’s gonna think there’s something wrong with her, that she’s a weirdo, etc, and that will lead to all kinds of problems. Her own parents already see her as such. While amazed, she is also afraid of Harry.
Moral conflict —> Her thinking is correct, who knows what would happen to her after Harry was gone and Trevor regained his senses. But maybe the decision was a bit too quick and without much deep though. She’s 10, though.

Something Confusing:

Quote
Mother told Scarlet she would get a new bed when she turned ten. But instead mother took her step-father, Trevor, to Mexico and left her here with grandma and grandpa. Scarlet hadn’t minded though. She hated Trevor and she’d been glad he wouldn’t be here for her big day.

Quote
… Scarlet screamed and dropped the eyes on the ground before running into the hall and calling for her mother.

Oh no! She remembered, making it only halfway down the hall. Mother was out of town for the weekend! She turned to go back to her room when Trevor lumbered around the corner.

Wasn’t Trevor in Mexico? Where are Scarlet’s grandpa and grandma?

Maybe Scarlet is remembering what happened in her birthday, but “she’d been glad he wouldn’t be here” implies it’s now or within the weekend, considering the second quote.

Or the whole confusion is because of typos.

Hope this critique was helpful to you!

Is it Really Graverobbing if it’s for Science? by @Rukaio_Alter

Selected Quote:
Quote
”You create one unkillable murder zombie and suddenyl your work is considered ‘questionable’. Or ‘insane’. Or ‘illegal in most of Europe’. It’s a mess.”

Something Amazing: The comedy effect, of course. Some reflection on scientific research and business.

Theme Appropriatenes: High.
“What? But Lanko, there’s not even a corpse in this story!”
Yes, I know. But I looked at the situation and the intent.
Why were they in a graveyeard at that time? To dig a body. For what purpose? For Dr.Calstein’s experiment. What was it? Strike a corpse with lightning. Why they were caught by the groundskeeper and probably arrested by the police? They were attempting to dig a corpse. Why did Sam shoveled Calstein in the face and most likely turned him into a real corpse? There wasn’t a corpse in that grave.
It was never said the body needed to exist, or to be a specific body. If we remove the search for the body, this story wouldn’t happen. They wouldn’t be there. They wouldn’t be caught. Sam would not even shovel Calstein in the face, because he most likely wouldn’t even be holding a shovel and wouldn’t be angry for digging for hours for nothing.

Conflict and Tension: Medium-High?
With comedy and satire the conflict and tension lies more on the questioning and reflection it provokes about the theme being explored, or an aspect of the theme.
We have the physical conflict of experiments going wrong and causing unforseen havoc. The emotional conflict of the main character for studying, getting a medical degree, expected a bright and clean career, but it’s not what he expected and he even gets used to do criminal stuff in the stead of his employer.
The moral conflict is a questioning of scientific research without any regard for consequences, laws or ethics. One of the labs get buried 50 feet (witness/evidence elimination) and the disregard of the doctor for “paperwork” (legal way) and he just goes for it in the hopes no one sees it.
Maybe that could’ve been explored just a little more.

Something Confusing:

Hope this critique was helpful to you!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 07, 2016, 11:38:50 PM
Lanko is pulling out all the great work and putting us all to shame!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lordoftheword on December 08, 2016, 12:29:56 AM
@Lanko - thanks so much for the thoughtful review! It was very helpful.

You are completely right about the typo and confusion. That little bit about the grandparents and Trevor going to Mexico was supposed to be her remembering/reflecting, but I fuddled it up. Saw that after it had already been up for three weeks, and just decided to leave it. In hindsight, probably could have taken that whole bit out to begin with, but I had it in there initially to build upon Trevor's character and her mother's willingness to take his side and ignore the signs of abuse (which actually didn't end up playing a role in the story after edits).

Thanks again Lanko! I really do appreciate this :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 08, 2016, 12:40:45 AM
Lanko is pulling out all the great work and putting us all to shame!

yup.  he's basically a superhero.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 12:48:49 AM
Lanko is pulling out all the great work and putting us all to shame!

yup.  he's basically a superhero.

Hm, maybe I should use another Lego as my avatar now  ::)

Fun fact: I don't have any Lego. Just searched for a knight picture and found one by Lego. Used two or three throughout the year. Also found out there's a Lego of everything.

Yes, I know, nobody asked  ::)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 08, 2016, 12:50:04 AM
Hmm. Did I ask for a review of Hoy Girl?
I hope I did.
I want a Lanko review.
Or did he already give me one?
I have no memory left.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 12:50:46 AM
Stuff it.

Special Announcement!

Nora wrote Blink. Nora would love critics for Blink.

Anything goes, have at it! Thx.

Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 12:51:30 AM
Hmm. Did I ask for a review of Hoy Girl?
I hope I did.
I want a Lanko review.
Or did he already give me one?
I have no memory left.

I don't think you did, I'm doing "first come first serve".

Or maybe I missed your request in the thread.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: tebakutis on December 08, 2016, 12:53:14 AM
Stuff it.

Special Announcement!

Nora wrote Blink. Nora would love critics for Blink.

Anything goes, have at it! Thx.

Woo hoo!

Full disclosure: I adored Blink and voted for it. Critique away!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 12:55:39 AM
Stuff it.

Special Announcement!

Nora wrote Blink. Nora would love critics for Blink.

Anything goes, have at it! Thx.

Woo hoo!


Full disclosure: I adored Blink and voted for it. Critique away!

(http://i.imgur.com/H7RRiZp.gif)

I'm wondering how long it'll take for people to notice I only ever post gifs from Hannibal, and how long for me to exhaust them. Prolly never though.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 12:56:56 AM
Stuff it.

Special Announcement!

Nora wrote Blink. Nora would love critics for Blink.

Anything goes, have at it! Thx.

Woo hoo!

Full disclosure: I adored Blink and voted for it. Critique away!

(https://67.media.tumblr.com/242e7894bef220a86b65e7a444dc7690/tumblr_n3j4kje8Cl1rvs9wso1_500.gif)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 12:57:40 AM
Replying with Supernatural gifs is... well...
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 12:59:34 AM
Replying with Supernatural gifs is... well...

Didn't even know it was Supernatural, never watched it.

Anyway, your character does have supernatural eyes  ::)

There. there, it's fixed now!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 08, 2016, 01:03:33 AM
Replying with Supernatural gifs is... well...

uh . . . is AWESOME?!?

i soooooo want to be jensen ackles when i grow up.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 01:05:11 AM
(https://67.media.tumblr.com/242e7894bef220a86b65e7a444dc7690/tumblr_n3j4kje8Cl1rvs9wso1_500.gif)

(http://67.media.tumblr.com/51876ab9cf82919374f217d6bc4b1c47/tumblr_mlxvbt2yEN1qzcakzo2_250.gif)



edit : wondering why m3m doesn't want to grow up to be Hannibal?
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lady Ty on December 08, 2016, 01:10:27 AM
(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/lgPtbfHyY4U/maxresdefault.jpg)

Definitely awesome, got my vote.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 01:14:02 AM
Lazer shooting space kitten!

Please, become my grandma Lady_Ty! Not too late to adopt me!  ;D ;D

Seriously though, feel free to let me know whatever was off or confusing or could be done better, like Lanko did.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 01:15:11 AM
It's just me who saw the spectre of a dog at the right of the cat?
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 01:21:00 AM
Great perception. Definitely there but can't quite tell if intentionally or not.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: JMack on December 08, 2016, 02:05:34 AM
@Nora, I really want to turn you on to a wonderful novel "Very Bad Deaths",  by Spider Robinson. So many interesting similarities and contrasts to Blink.

Meanwhile, I just re-read Blink and realize I didn't read it attentively enough the first time. It's got so many great ideas and sentences.

What I wish is that the story went beyond the concept to a conflict. Yes, Lone is hesitant, but not too hesitant. She (He?) jumps in pretty quickly, and we watch as she does her job. It's fascinating, with great atmosphere. But there's never anything that Lone wants which someone else is stopping her from obtaining.

Most awesome: The last line.

Things I tripped over: Names. It took me a while to get Lone Sorensen as a name. I didn't even realize Lone was a first name. (Ok, I'm stupid.) And the business with "Agent Caulk" is clever, but got me confused when I hadn't really learned Lem's name enough. I also tripped over the name of the church. I've never seen a Lutheran church named for the county it's in.

These are really small things, but I did trip on them.

Second reading: great writing, a few puzzling name things, wanted more of a story arc.



 
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: LightRunner on December 08, 2016, 03:24:48 AM
Here's another critique:

Affinity @Crystallynnfairy

I really enjoyed this story. It kept me engaged and wanting to know more. It also did a great job capturing Mella's thoughts and the attitude of a little girl.

For me it doesn't quite feel like a complete story because I have too many unanswered questions. It almost reads more like a prologue, a teaser to something bigger.

I wanted to know more about the magics of the individuals. Is there a set number of "types" of affinities? Is Mella a late bloomer? Does everyone have magic?

One thing I would recommend is to check the formatting before posting - it's a bit clunky without proper paragraph breaks.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Saraband on December 08, 2016, 08:17:48 AM
Thank you for the critique @Lanko, you're awesome! :D And you're entirely right, of course. Will keep your advice in mind when writing inner monologue in the future, I really need to hone it  ;)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Crystallynnfairy on December 08, 2016, 03:51:40 PM
@LightRunner
Thank you for the critique. Now that you've said it I can see Affinity as a prologue. Maybe I will revisit it in some time as a prompt. You've given me some valuable things to think about.
100% right about double checking the formatting before posting. It was hard to read without the visual space breaks.
 

@Jmack Here are my thoughts on Hoy Girl
I got into this story, slipped right into that forget you are reading space.
This bit
Quote
on top the wedding quilt she’d slept under forty years married and twenty years widowed
I just loved. It said/described so much about the character for me in a second.
There was a styling to the words that lent the story to a place without being overdone. I liked this line.
Quote
"Hells, Gran. Won't do any good to give you a smack, so I guess I gotta give you that kiss."
It made me chuckle and I felt the mourning of the relationship for the Hoy Girl.
I would happily read more about this character, I would like to see some of the fights Brother Kent and she get into.
There wasn't anything that I didn't enjoy.   
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 08, 2016, 05:50:32 PM
This would be a good time to just say thanks to the comments, or not respond at all.

This is SO true! Good advice.

Although, also, if you're critiquing people, and the receiver of the critique isn't receiving it the way you intend, you could always just be silent and let it lie, too. If the writer has reacted negatively and now feels defensive - (whether you feel they should be or not), maybe your editorial input is more trouble for them than it is worth.

Since the only reason you're offering your opinion is to help the writer, if the writer becomes defensive and upset, maybe it's time for the person with no emotional investment, no embarrassment or other emotions to back off, and that's the critic.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 06:19:03 PM
maybe your editorial input is more trouble for them than it is worth.

Since the only reason you're offering your opinion is to help the writer, if the writer becomes defensive and upset, maybe it's time for the person with no emotional investment, no embarrassment or other emotions to back off, and that's the critic.

I don't agree with that.
If you can't take a polite, non insulting, by-the-rules critic, then you should not ask for any critic, you should specify for people to take it easy, or highlight the good parts more, or only comment on plot or grammar, etc.

We have rules at the beginning, which state what a polite and civilised review is, and if an author is offered such a one and reacts badly, all he does is put bad emotions on this very thread, where some people are currently saying they're afraid of offering critics or asking for them.
Honestly, unless a critic is going overboard or the criticism is going into insult realm ('you couldn't write your way out of a paperbag!') there is no reason not to thank the person for their input, even if you disagree with what they have to say.
Writers often take the time to reply to their critics too.

I think it's the author's own work to either brush it off, or cool down before analysing and answering to the critic, if said critic really offered no constructed insult.
If you feel strongly against any more critics, you can say so.
If you want to deepen the conversation with the reviewer, you can send them a PM.
It's also stated in the rules that you can have your reviews sent by PM if you'd rather not have it done here.

I really don't see any reason why anyone should have to "back off" from a conversation if it's done politely and respectfully. If you come here asking what people thought and can't tolerate that they thought your story didn't work for them, shutting it out isn't going to make their thoughts go away, but the following month they might not offer you a truthful review, or no review at all.

Here are some of the meanest reviews on some books I truly enjoyed and rated 4 stars, which ought to put our critics in perspective, and are things we might all have the joy to receive if we get published :

Quote
Book four, and the addition of the hackneyed ‘amnesia’ device and some blood drinking were-witches does nothing to help Harris’s lazy characters and poor plot development skills.
This series is so consistently and repetitively poor that it’s hard to know how to express my disgust.

Quote
Given up on it approximately 40% in and the last 10% I was skimming to desperately see if the pace picked up or things just became more coherent.
I'm trying to analyse why a gripping opening went so wrong and all I can conclude is that the opening was basically repeated over and over and over again with no progression or character development.

On Abhorsen, a pure 5 stars I adored :

Quote
piece of trash. dont even bother starting this, i was bored the whole time. Its totally weird and what the heck. i never really got what they were doing and why they were doing it. I never got what the bad guys were. This book is confusing and so boring you dont even want to try to figure out whats going on. Dont waste your time on this, you have better things to do like hitting your head agaisnt the wall.

On the latest novellette by Rothfuss... Which I also loved and rated 5 stars...

(http://i.imgur.com/y7OgDbi.png)

And authors don't even ask for reader's reviews, people just come and give it to you. Might as well train for that.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 08, 2016, 06:55:47 PM
If the reason for the critique is to help the writer, at their request, and things get emotional and hurtful, they are not always going to be able to respond the way you think they should. Does someone have to kill themselves before you can appreciate just how painful this stuff can be for some of us?

Clearly you're thick skinned and better than I am. I've got baggage, genetic and acquired, and like many others with issues on this forum, these things make me unreasonable and at moments, unstable. Can you see that those of us who are sensitive are trying to receive things as intended, but not always able to? Do you have any idea the courage it takes to open yourself up when you feel this way? And when we reach our limit, you think it's okay to just keep pushing and pushing and pushing?

If you don't care that a well-intended critique can go from helpful to hurtful, if you don't care how intensely that pain can hit people, then I am sorry for you. You may think the feelings of others must pass your standards to be legitimate, but their legitimacy is not subject to your opinion and was never within the scope of a critique. If a critic detects that they're hurting someone, and they continue, then this is not about helping anyone anymore.

And when you point to training on dealing with trolls as a reason for continuing to force a critique when the writer's clearly hurt and upset, then you are proving my point.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 07:44:17 PM
If the reason for the critique is to help the writer, at their request, and things get emotional and hurtful, they are not always going to be able to respond the way you think they should. Does someone have to kill themselves before you can appreciate just how painful this stuff can be for some of us?

Wow, sorry to say that, but I think that if hurtful reviews that weren't purposefully insulting are enough to bring up talk of suicide, you need to either ask for positive comments only or entirely avoid the process.
I think it'd be extremely unfair to come around asking for a review and then place the responsibility of any mental deterioration on the shoulders of critics, especially if they weren't forewarned.


Quote
Clearly you're thick skinned and better than I am. I've got baggage, genetic and acquired, and like many others with issues on this forum, these things make me unreasonable and at moments, unstable. Can you see that those of us who are sensitive are trying to receive things as intended, but not always able to? Do you have any idea the courage it takes to open yourself up when you feel this way? And when we reach our limit, you think it's okay to just keep pushing and pushing and pushing?

No, but people commenting here aren't pushing you. You can very well ignore the thread if you think you've read enough, or demand that people stop from commenting on your story. You're in control.
You don't even have to participate in this thread. Some month I don't ask anyone's opinion because I know I messed up and I don't want anyone to pile it up. What can I say?  :-\

Your case this month was odd because you replied to a comment from someone who mentioned your work, and said you were really curious on why they thought X, and all the reviews you received on that part seemed to get on your nerves.
Fine, maybe it'd be good to warn people again not to give a full blown critic unless the author has specifically asked for one. After all I saw you guys were discussing the topic and offered my own critic without going through the thread to check if you even wanted one specifically.
Maybe that's something to correct, so that you can still participate without getting undesired input.
But again, if you feel close to limits, then you should take distance, and verbalise your disquiet rather than lashing out at people who think they're helping (of course I understand that emotion is often involved, but it's still worth saying so).

Quote
If you don't care that a well-intended critique can go from helpful to hurtful, if you don't care how intensely that pain can hit people, then I am sorry for you.

Would you please care to quote me on that?
Or maybe you can re-read the very first post of this thread?
Or maybe go and look around on the forum for a proof that I have sadistic tendencies and enjoy the emotional pain of others?
Your argument, asking for my consideration and understanding, would work a lot more if you didn't bag it with implications on my moral standing.
Don't be sorry for me. I have a cosy level of empathy, I feel for people, I cry when movie scripts want me to, and when book characters have it rough. If I didn't care for people 's pains and efforts, I wouldn't even waste any time on a critic thread intended to help relative to complete strangers improve on their skills and quest to author-hood.
I can perfectly understand that people get hurt, what I can't understand is why backlashing should be okay when we're trying to make this thread friendly for everyone. It shouldn't be a "critic-till-emotional-backlash" system. It should be the emotional writer asking others the kind of review they want, until they feel it's enough. You being in control rather than everyone stubbing toes in the dark.


Quote
You may think the feelings of others must pass your standards to be legitimate, but their legitimacy is not subject to your opinion and was never within the scope of a critique.
And when you point to training on dealing with trolls as a reason for continuing to force a critique when the writer's clearly hurt and upset, then you are proving my point.

Where do I speak of trolls, or dealing with trolls? I never even thought about trolls for weeks.

The problem in your case is that when you were upset, you were engaged in a battle of sarcastic remarks that kept your reviewer responding in defence of his opinion, and others to chip in – but to them the entire discussion was literary, maybe seeing you defensive but not necessarily that hurt. Hurt pride is common enough and doesn't always go on with people talking of killing themselves.
We're on the internet. We're faceless strangers spread across the world, and none of us are professional psychiatrists trained to spot distress and respond professionally to it.
If you don't help us and help yourself, you're bound to end up in such arguments, especially if you get entangled and both of you have wounded feelings!

Were you caring about the opinions of others, when you were making caustic remarks and attacked one of your critics for not having read you properly? What of the people scared to participate in this thread? What of the people who thought of giving you a review and thought the better of it?

Again, if you want me to extend you the courtesy of caring for your feelings, I'll ask of you to not go on and put baseless comments in my mouth.
I only ever exhort you to speak out before you get hurt, and you more or less say I went and critiqued your emotions?
Please copy paste examples of me, or people on this thread, critiquing your emotions, or applying standards to them.

We're not here for this.
We're here for reviews on our writing, and we all put different amount of emotion and involvement in this month's work. The key is communication, and specifying what we're all after and what our limits are!
You can't expect people to catch any tone on the internet. If it's dire, we should all try and spell things out, which is exactly why I came out and asked you what was up with your reply to m3m. I wanted to make sure I caught the bug that was happening.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Crystallynnfairy on December 08, 2016, 07:56:51 PM
Just because...
(https://pics.onsizzle.com/i-dont-always-catch-mice-but-when-i-do-ileave-4942624.png)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 08:29:21 PM
Which would have made a fine corpse story as well!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: m3mnoch on December 08, 2016, 08:50:39 PM
Which would have made a fine corpse story as well!

dammit!

*shakes fist at the sky*

stupid missed opportunity.  that would have been a brilliant misdirection story!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: TOMunro on December 08, 2016, 10:37:45 PM
@Nora

I really loved the inventiveness of Blink - the grim creativity of it, that just sucked me in.  Not so much "I see dead people" as "I see through dead eyes"


Quote
"I suppose you've noticed the numbers in the autopsies, here, such high levels... He does that to them while alive, Lem. Dying. Damn it, you come here to ask me to go with you and look out for this, look down a peeled chest being sawed off and then up the monster's face. Who's gonna pay for my therapy after that, the FBI?"


There were bits I didn't quite get - like in the above quote what "numbers" in the autopsies?  but then it doesn't really matter that I don't know what it means, it is clear the characters know what it means and that gives a terse realism to the dialogue. It makes the reader feel like they're a child/foreigner witnessing a conversation between adults/native speakers - and I like that. The author resisting the urge to explain everything, make the reading an immersive/showing more than an educational/telling experience.

At the same time I loved the dark humour "Who's gonna pay for my therapy." and you can see what a curse this gift would be, to witness through dead eyes how a murderer disposes of a corpse and in so doing help to unmask them.

I really was struck by the core idea and the way it was carried through. It was so true to the corpse theme and yet different from the others. It also had that darkness - this was not a rescue mission, this hunting would only work when it was too late, when the victim was already dead.
 

It was my top pick - 'cos the ripples it set going were still washing back and forth after I'd finished reading it.  More so than most, I thought this was the kernel of a really good novel/novella.  I'd certainly read more of Lone's work and her reaction to it.


I liked the glimpses seen through freshly dead eyes, the kind of experience that would make you afraid to blink.  I was content to be swept along by the story, but thinking back I wonder did the dead show up when actively blinking, or whenever Lone's eyes were shut? Would make for some crap dreams. 


I must admit, I read the whole thing thinking Lone was male.  I think the story works equally well if the protoganist is male or female, but I suppose a question would be - did the gender matter to you? Are you disappointed that I thought it was a man.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 08, 2016, 11:02:12 PM
Some Called it Freedom, by @LightRunner

Selected Quote:
Quote
Some called it freedom. Others, death.

Something Amazing: I loved the concept, it easily stood out. Some good humorous parts that made me smile. Also how the bickering among the different parts of the body allowed us to know about the character (the person), what she liked to do, her job and even beliefs.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High.
We see the whole dieing process of the person, and she becomes a corpse at the very end.

Conflict and Tension: Medium
Good parallels between vices/desires and etc pleasing one part of the body and upsetting another. And how we squash many attempts of "rebellion" against our "tyrannical abuses". Or how the "populace" suffers the most.

Something Confusing: ---
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 08, 2016, 11:13:36 PM
Ah, thanks, now that's a very positive review, full of nice compliment, even if sometimes indirect. The immersive effect is what I tried hard to aim for, since it's what pulled me most in the book I read before that month (omg, wondering how fed up everyone must be of me mentioning Red Dragon everywhere?).

So really glad it worked on you!

The "levels" were meant to be Histamine levels, meant to be studied in order to decide if wounds are done post or pre mortem.
I forgot what the term was, it's often used on CSI type shows. Sadly if you google it, you find papers like that :

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12166591

I also thought it'd work great as a novella (just put up some of the extra passages up for review), but like always I'll need a lot of determination to make it work. I found the character pretty compelling.

I'm not fussed with people thinking Lone is a guy, but I think it needs to be made clear early that she's a woman for any longer work, because the relationship I'm building between her and Lem is not a bloke-to-bloke one.
Mentally she could also fit a guy, but I have enough hassles writing a story set in America. I won't go and wander writing a 1st person guy pov.

And no, the dead show only if she blinks, but imagine trying to drive in a city! The blinking thing needs focus to keep it from 'wandering', so she'd often be seeing nightmare-inducing stuff anyway :P

By the By @TOMunro do you want reviews too? Because you were also my first pick!  ;)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: TOMunro on December 08, 2016, 11:59:43 PM
@Nora I'm always interested in feedback of any kind. Writing is too often a business of sending stuff out into a void and even when you get the lovely plaudits of people's votes you never know quite what they liked or would have preferred different.

I was quite pleased with how Where There's a Will, turned out but - as is often the case - it was done in a bit of a rush and there are a few things I could have tried to tidy up on. I wonder if they are the same things you saw?  :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: LightRunner on December 09, 2016, 04:12:49 AM
@Lanko Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad the story wasn't too confusing - there's a fine line between info-dumping and under explaining. I think I tend to land on the info-dumping side of that, but I'm working on it.

@TOMunro I don't have too much feedback on this. It was well written, and I loved the last line.

I'm trying to remember what I thought on my first read, and I think I felt a little overwhelmed by the number of characters. Maybe that was the intention, with the sisters and the wife and the brother, but it was a little bit of a detractor for me.

Looking at it closely, I have one minor question that doesn't really impact the story, but might or might not be worth thinking about:

How long has Tomas been dead for? If he's been dead for a while and she still wanted to bequeath more to him than to the others, then why didn't she change the language in the will regarding him predeceasing her? The way it is written, Tomas is aware of the predeceased clause; if he weren't, I would think he would ask to see the language in the will.

Again, doesn't really impact the story, but I think the answer to the question reveals a little more about the characters.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: TOMunro on December 09, 2016, 06:42:23 PM
@LightRunner Thanks for the feedback.  I'm glad you liked the last line, in my mind the whole story pretty much grew backwards from that point.

I did try to do the sums about how long Tomas had been dead for and how old his mother would have to have been when she died in order to have so many grown up children (one of them several times married).  I figured he'd been dead about 15 years and it was that death + reanimation that led to his alienation from his family.  It would make him late 30s maybe.

The will is a tricky plot point and the essential throwaway line "I know she never changed it" begs a lot of questions - how does he know? have they been in contact etc - it was a necessary sleight of hand to fit within the word limit.

The best way I could imagine it is that she was alienated from him but never changed her will and he knew this possibly from some contact with the family solicitors.  I figured the predeceased clause is a normal phrase in many a will - just one that probably didn't have to be applied to the reanimated dead.

I did like "Some call it freedom" the anthropomorphising of individual body parts. It reminded me of various children's stories that had that element - I think one about the day the rest of the body rebelled against the lazy stomach and decided not to take orders from it.  But this updated that theme with some nice biological detail.

Quote
surviving even an attack led by the heart
made me smile at a meaning I think I was meant to infer and then

Quote
“Gone. We’re free.” The hormones drifted languorously.

While it had a certain light hearted quality, there was also the sort of grim reality underpinning it that death is more a process than an instant.  We don't know how "She" died and in a way that might have been an interesting one or two sentence prologue.  Though the story still works well with the cerebrum flexing its muscles - like the forst lieutenant discovering he has just been bequeathed command of a sinking ship.

On a science note - I wonder if perhaps you meant cerebellum rather than cerebrum. My recollection is that the cerebrum is more associated with consciousness and personality (the "She"), while the cerebellum is more of the "secretary" function your protagonist is ascribed by the brainstem. Though that query did not the spoil the story for me, or even occur to me until I re-read it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 09, 2016, 09:44:13 PM
The Raid, by @Captain of the Guard

Selected Quote:
Quote
What they saw was the two hugging, sobbing girls, the bloody and gored goblin corpses and encased in a pillar of ember, the mummified corpse of the last goblin king….

Something Amazing: The Dark Woods were set up very well. Dark, wet, mysterious. Goblins are also not commonly used, so another point there.

Theme Appropriateness: Low.
I thought the spear was what kept the goblins at bay, but it seemed to be the corpse of the mummified goblin king. Still, it appeared so late in the story, specially when the bulk of it is about the two girls trying to survive in the woods.

Conflict and Tension: Medium.
The girls in the wood was very well done. Externally we have their physical conditions, cold, lack of food, being pursued by goblins and being in uncharted territory. Internally, you have fear mixed with courage, annoyance, whining, and so on.
Maybe the fight with the goblins was too easy since they didn't react.

Something Confusing: I didn't understand why the two goblins seemed so in shock. For me that was a goblin cave that looked their home base. There were even more goblins talking there (and they ran away).

Also, Samina says goblin speech "was all grunts, yips and growls", so if communication with them was supposedly impossible, I was wondering how she did she know the names of the two she killed (Longrunner and Headcleaver).

Addendum: You have a lot passages with "she thought", so I think you intended those passages to be in italics to indicate internal thought. When you copy-paste from any word processor, formatting like bold or italics won't automatically transfer. You have to manually format it using the forum tools. You're not the first one that had this happening. Maybe we should put a warning when announcing the theme of the month.

I hope this critique was helpful to you!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lady Ty on December 10, 2016, 01:06:38 AM
Please, become my grandma Lady_Ty! Not too late to adopt me!  ;D ;D
No problem, delighted and, like all good Grandmas, am in discussions with a Matchmaker to get you sorted out straightaway.  :P :P :P :P


Coming in rather late, with apologies, because I am slow, but here are a few comments from me

Blink by @Nora

Awesomeness

This was deliciously horrendous leap straight into darkness, although in fact didn't guess the author correctly, but once I knew not at all surprised. :P

Unusual oblique approach and I was intrigued by the idea of the Death Eyes that could see through those of corpses, really grim but clever concept. What a terrible talent to live with, there were hints of earlier disaster which left me wondering if this had always been so or if the Death Eyes had been the result of some other event. It didn't matter, because this story stood on its own just left me wanting to know more and how the eyes worked.

Soon found out as the tense search built up and we saw glimpses through the eyes of other corpses and the variety of what they were seeing. Also added to the picture of what Lone went through all the time. Incidental sighting of yet another murder to be solved was a good detail.

I also assumed that Lone was male, because the name conjured up a male nickname for a loner, which is what she had become, but it was irrelevant in this instance.

The final views with the murderer were horrific and the slim chance which led to his capture was clever, this emphasised even more the hopeless twist that Lone can only ever find clues when it is too late for the victims. Very grim but intriguing and it got an easy vote from me. 

Confusing /Query

Why didn't the dead corpses in the morgue reveal the killers physical features even though they never had chance to see surroundings or location?  This made me assume at first they could only see for a limited time, but then later there was a bloated corpse still able to see, so that was confusing. I think you may have answered this elsewhere by now, so will check.
 
Quote
Such drives are long gone, and my own case is another thing 'Caulk' cannot mend. I didn't retire for nothing.
That is a fine hint and enticement about a past,to justify being a loner,  but then later in dreams there is much harsher hint 

Quote
I drift asleep, my mind stumbling into dreams of the past, corpses I made, where I blink back up at my own blood-speckled face, my eyes like twin black holes amidst a red galaxy.

This implied Lone may have been a killer herself in the past and it detracts too far from the thrust of this particular story, even if relevant as part of a longer one.  If only nightmare it still felt confusing.


Affinity by @Crystallynnfairy

Awesomeness

This story got my vote for several reasons. What appealed in particular was reading from the viewpoint of the child Mella and I felt for her so strongly on several occasions and could relate.

Firstly, the process of having to see Grandmother in a coffin  and realising she didn't smell or look right. Having the cinnamon candy to slip into the coffin, a loving gesture between them to make it feel better. All Grandmas have a particular smell associated and it is often one they like to use in baking or special treats they give nibble on. That little touch got a huge tick from me.

Clever indications of the kind of world, but without long detail, by showing it was unusual for a crowd with diverse magical talent to be all gathered together at once. Obviously not all those talents were mutually respectful but Grandmother as a Birther needed by all.
 
I was fully engaged in the part where Mella was absorbed in playing and manipulating the loved marionette and then the tension as Fedar began to remove his gloves.  Confirmation of magic as power in this world with his spiteful action.

The final build up and the last sentence were stunning. I was wickedly cheering at the form her anger took as she discovered her hidden power and a bit sorry her mother had to stop her.

This seems to be a part of a whole, and I would like to know more of the world and its characters, but it stood perfectly well on its own. Hope you will keep writing more stories here, Crystalllynfairy. ;D

Confusing/Query

Switching from past to present tense a few times, especially in the incident with the marionette. This may have been done on purpose to show heightening of  tension, but I felt it read awkwardly.

Just wondered if giving the candy had any actual transfer of power significance between Grandmother and Mella? I took it as a loving gesture but later wondered if it meant more.

Some Called it Freedom by @LightRunner

Awesomeness

This whole concept blew me away, a Corpse in a state of denial. ;D

 The different approach first got my attention and then with more clever detail and wit coming across clearly, without any unnecessary detail in the prose, this story had me smiling all the way through. The dialogue style was excellent.

Awesome having a Body Politic, which thought and presumably learned from their real life persona, who was unfortunately now deceased perhaps from stress in the government fast lane, and I enjoyed reading from the pov of the arrogant bossy cerebrum.

Assumed the biological detail was correct and not sufficiently informed to know otherwise, but it didn't matter as all that was needed came across perfectly.

Stealing Lanko's crit  style for two quotes that cracked me up with the fun of their accuracy, but there were many other places where I grinned with delight.

Quote
She had abused the lungs, inhaling that wonderful smoke. It had made the cerebrum happy, but it did upset the lungs. That seemed to happen a lot; whenever She pleased one department, She upset another. The cerebrum supposed that happened in a lot of bureaucracies
;D

Quote
The cerebrum pulsed, calling adrenaline and noradrenaline. But only a few weary messengers came. They always seemed weary, except when they traveled in riotous mobs. ;D
Happy to give it my vote, thank you for the fun, hope you keep on writing for us, Lightrunner.

Hoy Girl by @Jmack

Awesomeness

Quote
“Thou must kiss her,” said Marley’s pa.

Gran’s body that been weeding, picking, and pickling yesterday were laid on her bed like a pea pod shelled. Nothing good left inside.

What an uncompromising start, immediately put me on side of whoever Marley is and I was almost certain I guessed the author from here on in.

I absolutely revelled in the change to an earlier time and the rural American setting, somehow that  put me on to Jmack. Perhaps in his childhood there may have still  been a few of such characters still around, crosses between friendly Jeb Partridge  :-[ Jed Clampett and the stern couple in  the American Gothic picture, the whole atmosphere was very authentic.

The careful prose drew me straight into Marley's mind easily, and into the whole intimidating scene all those big men towering around Marley, one of them certainly willing her to fail. Brother Kent was an excellent creation and with those little turns of phrase you could see right into his murky soul, and Marley has him figured alright, which bodes well for her later on.
Quote
Oh, he were a sneaking man were Brother Kent, asking that like a little knife to slip between Gran and Marley, ……………………Except that Brother Kent were wrong. Gran told Marley a lot. It were just Marley hadn’t quite understood some of it before.

Very impressed by keeping up the dialect so well all the way through. Also what a clever trick to leave out any obvious or conventional magic, only that wrought from tradition, superstition and faith.  Very unusual approach here and made it all the more memorable, although I didn't know you had planned that at the time of reading.  Granny Weatherwax would be happy, Jmack.

Last two down to earth sentences were perfect.

No confusion, no queries and gladly given a vote


Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 10, 2016, 11:04:39 PM
Affinity, by @Crystallynnfairy

Selected Quote:
Quote
He brings his ungloved hand to the cheek of the doll and caresses it. The marionette dissolves into a pile of dust.
"I may do that to your grandmother's body."

Something Amazing: The feeling of loss and the little personal details Mella and her mother had of the grandmother, like the cinnamon scent and the candy. Fedar is the psycho brat that would make a great antagonist to Mella for everything she will do from now on.

Theme Appropriateness:Very high.
Grandma dies, and there's a ceremony for her. Fedar, joking or not, threatens to dissolve the body. Mella manifests her powers and controls the body to slap him.

Conflict and Tension: Medium.
Emotionally it's very high, with the feelings of loss from Mella and anger because of Fedar. Physically there's the threat of Fedar dissolving the body and Mella goes to great lengths to protect it, even if Fedar was just pissing her off.
It looked like there was much more to it, but maybe you ran out of time, considering the short length. Things that left me wondering, like how Grandma died - was the different scent because of death or a subtle hint to something more? Or between Mella-Mom-Grandma relationship and something more personal with Fedar.

Something Confusing: ---

Addendum:Someone mentioned the formatting. The story has no issues reading on Kindle, but in the forum it did lack paragraph breaks. I guess it couldn't be helped, as this was your first submission and instead of posting and editing you had to send to someone else to post. And I see you got that perfectly covered already in the 1750 story  :D

Hope this critique was useful to you!

Hoy Girl, by @Jmack

Selected Quote:
Quote
"Hells, Gran. Won't do any good to give you a smack, so I guess I gotta give you that kiss."

Something Amazing:The setting has an extremely good setup. I knew it was some small, isolated and traditional village, but it still took me halfway into the story to realize the usage of "were" instead of "was" and "is" instead of "are" - and vice-versa - were also part of the character's upbringing and local culture, and not typos. Guess Americans would have picked up that earlier as dialect used in the interior parts of the country (or in the past), but I still got it, so it worked  ::)

Also exploring themes like belief vs reality, or certain answers meeting new questions. As the character comes to realize the whole ritual might be a lie, and the conversations with her Grandma also imply the same thing, it's also pretty clear that Marley has magical powers, so is the hoy girl really a deception or just she who didn't yet see it? Pretty good, as those doubts are the same for a lot of people in relation to our own world and keep readers curious and wondering.

Theme Appropriateness: Very High.
Grandma's body. Grandma's job also involved corpses. Marley was slowly being trained into it as well. She has a corpse in front of her. Also, the corpse ritual is a major event that affects everyone in this society.

Conflict and Tension:Medium-High?
Internal conflict is very high. Everything she believed and took for granted is shattered. She is full of doubts, questions and fear. Morally, she now knows she may just be continuing a lie, and ironically, giving more prestige so another takes her place and continues an infinity cycle.
External conflict wasn't as high. She's intimidated by the presence of so many men looming over her, expecting her to do what's simply expected of her. I wondered if this meant something more, but would still be intimidation or expectations and that would fall under internal conflict as involves emotions. Maybe we should have a threat or sense of danger of what could happen to her if she failed.

Something Confusing:---

Hope this critique was useful to you!

Where There's a Will, by @TOMunro

Selected Quote:
Quote
“Ah,” he said. “I see you have your mother’s eyes.”

Something Amazing:Very well-written, good catchy descriptions and bickering (I loved the part "Try not to drop any fingers on your way out"). Death insurance is a... creative business, certainly. The last line was killer.

Theme Appropriateness:Very High.
Thomas goes to the mansion to see his mother's body. Meets the family and contract clauses of the will don't apply to walking corpses. Is a corpse himself.

Conflict and Tension:Very High.
Physically Thomas has the limitations of his own decaying body (limited sight, can no longer smell, mentions knee problems, etc) and how it must look to others.
There are the obvious emotions regarding the family history, the mother and her three children and between the siblings.
Morally, even if necromancy and death insurance are normal in this world, the siblings still didn't care and found a way to grab all money and properties for them. Since they know the will, it's obvious the animosity against Thomas is the legacy, not his zombie condition, because as much as they point at it to make it clear it's that, they have no problems in giving him their own mother's eyes so he can just leave them alone with everything.

Something Confusing:---

Addendum:I had no trouble wondering why the mother didn't change the will. Maybe she simply didn't know it would apply to Thomas in reanimated state.
And more importantly, what mother would think that their own children would fight among themselves for money and property, using lawyers to hunt for any little technicality to leave their own brother with nothing?

Hope this critique was useful to you!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: TOMunro on December 10, 2016, 11:12:55 PM
@Lanko thanks very much for the feedback.

I wrote the story and sent it on and then read the detailed discussion thread - including the bit that was saying it shouldn't be a zombie story - so I was a little bit worried about the theme appropriateness in that context.  But it did have the mother's corpse in it and @Anonymous was kind enough to say that was going to make it ok when I asked - so I left it in (and was glad that I did)

Congratulations also on doing so many critiques and to such a helpful template - an impressive workrate!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 11, 2016, 12:59:24 AM
1,300 words in, all pure, distilled depression, looks like I'm really going to go for a happy ending. 2016, year of wonders!  :D
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 11, 2016, 01:07:22 AM
1,300 words in, all pure, distilled depression, looks like I'm really going to go for a happy ending. 2016, year of wonders!  :D

Hm, wrong thread?  ::)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Crystallynnfairy on December 11, 2016, 01:25:36 AM
@Lanko Thank you for the feedback. Happy to get one of your critiques.  I like the way you set them up.
If I write more to the story the Grandmother will have been killed but in a way that everyone believes to be natural.
The scent difference was just usual death changes.
 :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 11, 2016, 04:05:26 AM
1,300 words in, all pure, distilled depression, looks like I'm really going to go for a happy ending. 2016, year of wonders!  :D

Hm, wrong thread?  ::)

Indeed!
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 11, 2016, 12:32:37 PM

Special Announcement!

Nora wrote Blink. Nora would love critics for Blink.


HOW COULD YOU TELL THEM OUR SECRET?????  Blink was awesome btw.
Speaking of secrets, I still don't know who it was that guessed my story correctly and it's DRIVING ME CRAZY.  I think I need Sherlanko's sleuthing skills... or your detective from Blink...

Soul Speaker by Bradley Darewood
This was one of my top voted stories. My only critique is that the boy talked older than his age. Though the part about him being proud of his ability to not need the bodies helped, it is a kid bragging.
I would very muck like to read more in this world.

The Soulspeaker, by @Bradley Darewood

... He only conforms at the end “you won’t be the last”, but before that he even speaks and asks about Aaris (and others) as a way to justify the poison, so not even killing in his own self defense was justifiable for him. The assassin could’ve lied and said he didn’t find the Soulspeaker and other difficulties, but the boy didn’t have that choice and still weighed the choice much more. Pretty damn good part.

Thanks @Lanko and thanks @Crystallynnfairy !!! that's very kind of you to say. I want to recycle Dowen for a part in a not-yet-written (maybe never written) sequel to the novel I'm currently working on (like Book 7 when I'm still revising Book 1).  I want to pit him against the main antagonist in Book 1.

I was really interested in exploring how hearing the voices of the dead would influence a child's mind, even turn him into a killer.  I want to write a scene where his brother is killed and his brother comes to guide him to the series antagonist to try to kill her for vengeance.  So in Dowen's POV you kind of hear the voices of various dead people competing to manipulate him to do one thing or the other.  I haven't gotten anywhere near that part in the series yet, but it's just a thought of something I want to write.

Thanks for the tips Lanko-- Just to clarify some of the confusing parts:

Something Confusing: You gave us some confusing - or downright contradictory - information in some parts. Sometimes I thought “Wait, but previously you said X”.

Quote
The Nightravens sang for the dead, it was said. It had taken him months to discover the price of admission. His fellow Southlanders kept their secrets carefully.

Quote
”He told me the Queen ordered you to bar the doors of the Bearwynd House and burn it to the ground. The dead cried out to him (Aaris), and the next night you sliced him apart in his sleep. He just wants to know —”

This kept me wondering that if he killed the previous Soulspeaker, he would know the secrets and already be in the hidden “inner circle” of the Soulspeakers. Specially since it took eighteen years to kill Aaris (although only one day after an arson), and it was done by him. If he already was inside (took only months to find Dowen, after all), I kept thinking he wouldn’t need another price of admission.

So I had a very hard time cutting this story down to the word limit.  I was hoping I could get away with leaving things out b/c the details were a bit unwieldy to cram in to such as short space.

So there isn't an "inner circle" of Soulspeakers, there's only one alive at a time.  They advised the ruling clan when the people of the Southern Reaches lived as tribes, but I'm trying to capture that transition into feudalism.  The ruling Queen isn't a member of the previous ruling clan and for whatever reason finally found it expedient to destroy their entire line.  She wanted it to appear as an accident.  The Soulspeaker (Aaris at the time) would invariably be at the funeral and invariably visit the charred house, as the town is small and as Soulspeaker he's close to the clan.  She couldn't have him revealing the murder so she had Aaris killed (that's the reason for the timing of his death), though the Queen didn't understand that a new Soulspeaker would be born immediately after.  At the time, Aaris operated in the open.  But given that Aaris was murdered (and the Soulspeaker before him) when Dowen was born his grandmother insisted that they keep his gifts a secret.  She sheltered him from the other kids, and revealed his gifts only to those she trusted. She told them that if anyone they knew to be trustworthy needed the services of the Soulspeaker, to come to her house bearing the feather of a Nightraven, and she would then confer with Dowen in private, masquerading as the Soulspeaker herself to the very end.  So the feather was a tradition she instituted, and the secrecy was a direct result of the previous assassinations.

Re: the other stuff-- useful critiques.  They definitely help me improve my writing.

and last but not least:

Theme Appropriateness: Low.
Surprising? First, the reason the assassin is sent is because his target is able to speak to… spirits. Second, he doesn’t even need bodies. Third, apparently even Aaris didn’t (I will talk about that later). But a corpse did allow him to approach the Soulspeaker, but there are still questions about this.

DID YOU SEE THAT @The Gem Cutter ???? DID YOU???  Just checking :)
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Lanko on December 11, 2016, 05:28:51 PM
I was surprised I was the only one who entered Nora for Blink in the guessing table.

First person present tense (Did no one noticed that?). At then there were plenty of other leads like Danish names (and she's been talking about learning Danish and moving to Denmark for some time in various threads). Detective searching for serial killer and getting a mental breakdown (Hannibal raving), etc. And the style that just had her prints everywhere.

@Bradley Darewood , I see, that makes sense. The word count worked against you. The reason I thought there was an inner circle (besides the Nightravens) was in the beginning when you mention "no place for superstition" for the Queen and that Merrick hated going south (which implied it's a conquered province or something). Then the Soulspeaker would be someone the south could rally to.

And then there was the Soulspeaker who was hanged and dumped into the river, which also led me to believe the killing of Soulspeakers was systematic (since we don't know the reasons he was hanged).
If there was a crime, it would make sense Aaris operated in the open (BUT be careful with this, you mention in the beginning "Soulspeakers are folkstories and whispers"! Aaris operating in the open wouldn't create that effect, hence why I thought he operated hidden as well  - for a decade, if he started as early as Dowen. I thought he came out of hiding because of the fire, and since you mentioned the target was a girl, it could be his lover and then he had a mental breakdown and that's how he was caught).
You do have an excellent backstory there. If you are planning on using, definitely expand it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: The Gem Cutter on December 11, 2016, 06:31:37 PM
DID YOU SEE THAT @The Gem Cutter ???? DID YOU???  Just checking :)
I did. And since you bring it up, I apologize for my unreasonable outbursts. And as I tried to communicate, my issue was not so much a petty inability to receive criticism as it was an episode of  emotional instability caused by other things and manifested here to my lasting embarrassment. Now let me be, Bradley.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: Nora on December 11, 2016, 07:01:23 PM
Alright, after a gruelling week, and today a shift so horrible at work I considered walking out a couple of times, I finally can sit down and give @TOMunro the review he deserves.

I'll steal Lanko's good use of the template :

Selected Quotes:

Quote
I drew in a pointless breath, dragging the soft perfume of mother’s flower garden through a nose that had lost its sense of smell long ago.

That was the first hint that something was terribly off with our narrator, but I love how it doesn't quite sell things away.

Quote
One of my sisters no doubt, or perhaps Ernest’s latest wife – whatever her name was.

Quote
Despite the intemperate urgency of my sister’s question I turned slowly, not wanting to try my rickety knee.
Love how counter-tempo this is.

Quote
I had not done much looking in mirrors lately so I was out of practice at facial expressions.

Quote
Ah, she had me there, I had to admit.

Loved that too. Again, the counterstep, it works great for a quiet sense of humour.

Something Amazing: What really did it for me was the mix of the humour and the irrelevance of the ending, with its rather lame pun. Yes lame, as in, easy, tad bit corny, it was perfect.
It crowned the other lame jokes (literally), and gave a caustic tone to the tale. I liked the humour a lot because it was well thought, well integrated, often irreverent, well paced.
The plot was easy to follow, nothing tangled, and the character was compelling. I would totally read more or that dude's adventures. The non-healing body reminded me a bit of Ellantris. 

Theme Appropriateness: Very high.
I mean, zombie MC goes to his dead mom's wake and steals her eyes, you can't really get any more spot on.

Conflict and Tension: Low.
We don't know what Tomas is after, and he encounters little struggle, none at all obviously by the end, but it wasn't a story that needed it. It wasn't a conflict driven piece, but a curiosity driven one, with me wanting to understand what was going on with the narrator, and looking over his shoulder with growing enjoyment as the humour caught me and kept me in.

Something Confusing: Not confusing but not so nicely done, I'd say there is a couple of timewhere the "beat" was lost because you didn't break the line.

Here :

Quote
people look after themselves after they were dead. His policies were expensive, too much for me to pay for all upfront. But I had not regretted it.  Knocked down by a runaway cart I should have been dead, in fact I was. But the joy of necromancy is that death really isn’t the end.  Thanks to Kirren I could walk and talk and function pretty much as well as I used to, though to be honest a dead body wasn’t so good at the mundane business of repairing all the knocks that life so irritatingly threw in one’s path.

And there :

Quote
Kirren was bent over the counter when I got back to the shop, getting ready to re-animate a mouse that the cat had caught that morning. He looked up at the jangle of the bell; I stood in the doorway savouring the moment. Motes of dust danced in shafts of sunlight, beads of sweat gleamed on the necromancer’s bald head. “Ah, you’re back,” he said.  “Did it go well?”

The bold sentences ought to be at the beginning of a new paragraph, for sure. It feels like I almost skipped over their importance, buried as they are.
The motes and beads are what he can now see after you emphasize his bad eyesight, the revelation that he is, indeed, dead, those are important moments in the story and it felt like the tempo of it broke there.
Nothing else confused me or disappointed me.
Also just noting, eyes flatten out very fast after death, and knowing some of the technicalities of post-mortem decomposition had me suspend my disbelief there, but again, not by much, and it was an afterthought. More like me wondering whether his own eyes are leaky and dull, or if the spell keeps whatever he integrates fresh.
I mean, necromancy leaves a lot of leeways, and I didn't think about that eye bit until re-reading.


Addendum : It was my favourite, in the end, though I can still see weaknesses in the prose or the way the reveals are arranged–aka, re-writing it to polish it off would still seem desirable in a couple of places. But overall the topic was great, the pov of the dead guy was refreshing, to me, I entirely put this in the world of Howl's Moving Castle, be it book or anime.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: TOMunro on December 11, 2016, 08:45:42 PM
@Nora Thanks for the lovely review and the helpful pointers.

I'm sorry your week and the shift was a bit of a pig - work can be like that - which I guess is why we take such refreshing refuge in fantasy writing about death and corpses!

The observations are spot on, particularly about the paragraph breaks.

Reading back I thought the story could do with a bit of polish - I felt at times I was overworking the decaying/decrepit body theme - and I will confess that (while I research many things) I hadn't googled optical rates of decomposition.

Looking forward to reading your dragon piece!



 
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 12, 2016, 02:11:54 AM
DID YOU SEE THAT @The Gem Cutter ???? DID YOU???  Just checking :)
I did. And since you bring it up, I apologize for my unreasonable outbursts. And as I tried to communicate, my issue was not so much a petty inability to receive criticism as it was an episode of  emotional instability caused by other things and manifested here to my lasting embarrassment. Now let me be, Bradley.

Sorry TGC was just trying to commiserate.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: LightRunner on December 13, 2016, 02:11:10 AM
Thank you for the kind and helpful critiques!

@TOMunro I am not a physiologist, so I could definitely have been using the wrong body part. With science (as broad as term as that is, I know) I often know just enough to be dangerous, but not quite enough to always get it right. I also like the suggestion of starting just a bit earlier - maybe with a sentence or two of mad scramble to keep all systems going and then wading into the silence once She has left.

@Lady_Ty  Congratulations on guessing that I was the author with only one or two writing samples! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Title: Re: [OCT 2016] - Corpses - Critique Thread
Post by: J.R. Darewood on December 13, 2016, 11:44:17 AM
And then there was the Soulspeaker who was hanged and dumped into the river, which also led me to believe the killing of Soulspeakers was systematic (since we don't know the reasons he was hanged).

My thinking was that, as advisors to the clan rulers in the olden days, Soulspeakers would be protected, but as clan influence waned and Soulspeakers were just an out-of-place feature of an urbanizing society, they would inevitably get mixed up in conflicts--there's always someone who doesn't want the secrets of the dead to be known.  Thus, the Soulspeakers keep meeting unsavory ends.