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Author Topic: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread  (Read 14257 times)

Offline Lanko

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #30 on: November 04, 2016, 10:26:12 PM »
May want to read it again, I think the post bugged when I first submitted and it was actually incomplete!
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline night_wrtr

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #31 on: November 04, 2016, 11:02:16 PM »
Thanks @Lanko! Much appreciated!

Offline Lanko

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2016, 10:57:36 PM »
The last three critiques, at least until someone else requests one  ::)

And a thanks to @Gem_Cutter for his critique on mine as well  ;)

The Rule of the Curse, by @SugoiMe

Spoiler for Hiden:

Something Awesome: Alien pirates mixed with a traditional "feel" of pirates. Or maybe they just put a wooden carpet for tradition  ::). Anyway, I like to be surprised by the unusual.

I liked the curse. It kinda of reminded me of Death Note, for the effect to see when someone will die.

Another part I liked very much: you didn't bloat the story explaining how the curse works or how the character got it, why it exists, why they kill each other, bla bla bla.  It was simply left in the air for the reader to take their own conclusions (if they want) and that's pretty much how I like my magic, organic and mysterious. I don't really like when people go into too much detail about their systems, or God forbid, if they decide to simply spoon feed it to me.
So that worked really great here for another combination of unusual!

Something Boring: ---

Something Confusing: Maybe spaceship mixed with a feeling of traditional piracy and weapons could be a bit confusing for some, for me it was simply unusual.
Maybe they could have used some laser or energy blades (or lightsabers  ::)) and some guns and the traditional feeling used as Zeher's taste or form of joking around.

Something Unbelievable: ---

Extra:This may seem a short critique, but I guess that's expected from stories that we either like or don't really see anything inherently wrong. Well, it says, it won the contest after all!
Like with my own critiques of @Jmack's and @night_wrtr's stories, I guess the only other way to offer more critique for such stories would be a line-by-line analysis with word choices, editing possibilities and such.


A Seasick Sword, by @Anonymous

Oh yeah, all the Anonymous for me are totally free game. If he or she don't want/like critiques, they can come tell me  ::)

Spoiler for Hiden:
Something Awesome:  A wizard who doesn't use magic, a sword who doesn't fight and the mysterious chaser all make for a intriguing cast. Well written with some great humorous dialogue.

Quote
An edge of panic sharpened the sword's voice.

Hah, loved that one.

Something Boring: ---

Something Confusing: I guess some people could ask who is this girl who chases Icewind so badly since the last edition, why and how can she trace him with magic. For me is not a problem, but maybe Anonymous would like to consider it for the future.

Something Unbelievable: ---

Extra: As amusing as it was, I think the strongest part of the story was also its weakness: they talk to each other. And only that.

That also made the story barely fit the contest, as the pirates just looked like a sidenote.

I really wanted to see Icewind and Brightedge in action for us to see their agreement and change towards each other.

I wonder if they could've been captured or were simply hidden while the pirates dominated the merchant ship that was mentioned. Then they could talk, see that people would be executed and form a plan, which would involve more amusing dialogue with the pirates and the captain, turning the tables and victory!

I think the parts that described the sea, the other three or four times Brightedge blundered, about Icewind's name and even some repetition at the end prevented pirates from appearing:

Quote
"If you want my help, you have to do this."

"But she'll find me."

"If she does, I'll help."

And later:

Quote

"So don't turn back. Live your life as yourself, and hope she lets go too."

"And if she doesn't?"

"Then we'll deal with it."

It ends right when they are gonna fight, when that should have been the middle part or the climax! I think that's the only thing that prevented this from challenging the top stories: lack of pirates and ending just when the action I actually wanted to see was gonna happen.


'X' Marks the Spot, by @m3mnoch

Oh yeah, @m3mnoch said he is always free game, folks. He likes it hard and deep, so fire away at him!  ::)

Spoiler for Hiden:
Something Awesome:I'm actually surprised you were the only one who used a treasure map. That's like, classical stuff for pirates!

Quote
Terrance sighed, ignoring thoughts of babies trapped, suffocating in a barrel of oranges.

What? Awesome ;D

And that was a nice plot twist at the end. You seem to always do that, with your F¨#%* dragon story and the Potion for example. I guess since you like to outline, those twists come easy and naturally for you  ;)

Something Boring: I felt that Will, Terrence and Frank weren't very distinguishable from each other. You did try to make Terrance like books and Will a money guy but aside from that they didn't feel different.

Something Confusing: ---

Something Unbelievable: Frank has a gun and tells them he is gonna make the pair carry the gold for him. Then he tells them to stay where they are and ... runs off to the cave by himself and leaves them behind?  :o M3mnoch!

Extra: I think just like with Anonymous the story simply mentioned pirates as a sidenote (the map, as they weren't even physically present in the story).
Terrence and Will looked like explorers as well. Maybe this could've been a contest between two different pirate captains/groups.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 06:48:42 AM by Lanko »
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline m3mnoch

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2016, 11:44:46 PM »
Oh yeah, @m3mnoch said he is always free game, folks. He likes it hard and deep, so fire away at him!  ::)

ha!

PEW-PEW-PEW!!


Spoiler for Hiden:

Quote
Terrance sighed, ignoring thoughts of babies trapped, suffocating in a barrel of oranges.

What? Awesome ;D

oranges.

or nails.

or diesel.

heh.  that ended up being one of my favorite lines.



And that was a nice plot twist at the end. You seem to always do that, with your F¨#%* dragon story and the Potion for example. I guess since you like to outline, those twists come easy and naturally for you  ;)

man, i wish.  those things are HARD.  i'm struggling coming up with one for my 1750 story.  *sigh*

but, boy-o-boy, you should see the one in my main wip.  it's SOOOOO RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.



Something Boring: I felt that Will, Terrence and Frank weren't very distinguishable from each other. You did try to make Terrance like books and Will a money guy but aside from that they didn't feel different.

well, poop.

i felt like will and terrance were pretty clean.  maybe it was frank that muddied the waters?



Something Unbelievable: Frank has a gun and tells them he is gonna make the pair carry the gold for him. Then he tells them to stay where they are and ... runs off to the cave by himself and leaves them behind?  :o M3mnoch!

/facepalm

doh!  i didn't even THINK about that!!

damn.

you totally just ruined the story for me.  heh.



Extra: I think just like with Anonymous the story simply mentioned pirates as a sidenote (the map, as they weren't even physically present in the story).
Terrence and Will looked like explorers as well. Maybe this could've been a contest between two different pirate captains/groups.

yeah.  honestly, i thought this would be my biggest problem in the voting.  ah well.


thanks, @Lanko!  i'll review my notes and write one up for you really quick.


edit:  dammit!  you tricked me again!  i would have sworn it was LAST month where you didn't write a story!
« Last Edit: November 05, 2016, 11:48:32 PM by m3mnoch »

Offline Lanko

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2016, 11:54:23 PM »

Something Boring: I felt that Will, Terrence and Frank weren't very distinguishable from each other. You did try to make Terrance like books and Will a money guy but aside from that they didn't feel different.

well, poop.

i felt like will and terrance were pretty clean.  maybe it was frank that muddied the waters?

Hm, perhaps? Maybe if it was Terrence the one with a hidden gun, finally snapping for going through so much for the treasure and being the one who falls off... would that be better? Hm, I wonder...

Quote
edit:  dammit!  you tricked me again!  i would have sworn it was LAST month where you didn't write a story!

What are you talking about? Of course I have a story, I nagged you so much about those pesky italics  ::)

Wait a second... Are you telling me my story is not showing on your kindle/kobo/doc files?

....
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline m3mnoch

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #35 on: November 05, 2016, 11:58:53 PM »
What are you talking about? Of course I have a story, I nagged you so much about those pesky italics  ::)

Wait a second... Are you telling me my story is not showing on your kindle/kobo/doc files?

....

*whew*

that's right.

it was the late one that bea dropped in.  i was just skimming the submission thread for your name on the side.  totally forgot you weren't the one who posted it.  so much for "actually, rather than dig up my notes, i'm just going to click on the forum since it's right here."  because -- oh look!  there you are in my notes!

man, i thought i was going crazy for a minute there.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2016, 01:11:21 AM »
doing a bit of crazy with my notes here.  moving everything to a google doc for easier markup and a reading log sort of thing:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zikWOKKH_o-n-_gx4L3zvz5ENWZWZZQ9qRMzuiukRh4/edit?usp=sharing

that's basically what i was doing for the longer pieces in the writing groups.

oh!  and, i've copied most of my notes below in the critique sheet format from the ebook link post.

Spoiler for Hiden:

----------------------------------------------------------------
## The Red Chicken
### By Lanko

Summary:
rides the line between humor and serious.  i was never quite sure if it was supposed to be satire or not.  i think i've decided it's a tongue-in-cheek fairy tale.

all in all, the overall story had a TON going on.  probably way too much for 1500 words.


Theme Appropriateness:
we're all about the pirates in here!  she even steals a kingdom!


Opening Strength:
i wasn't clear on the actual ins and outs of how the coliseum sank, but i liked the thought of a grand-scale catastrophe.  i suspect it could have been cleaned up with some extra words and editing time.


Mechanics and Style:
lots of telling instead of showing.  mangled verb tenses.  some typos.  it's almost as if someone rushed it at the end . . . .


Characterization:
there were nice bits in there for lanny that i loved.  like the "Glory and fame awaits us!” scene.  oh!  and where she threw egg on the captain's face.

the other folks were fairly flat, even joshua.  tho, i could see where you were going with him.  loved his non-sequiturs like the squidink and the crab.

but, it's hard to get deep on character with so much plot.


Conflict and Tension:
there wasn't really a lot of tension felt, despite being LOADED with conflict.  this struck me as the result of packing so many events into a relatively small story.  doing that requires a lot of telling (vs. showing) which kind of negates a lot of the tension.


Cohesive Story:
it skipped around a bit -- like the clarity of the sinking/bursting/collapsing coliseum in the beginning to her getting random ships with a random plan to the throne seizure to the drunk and useless king.  there was SO much happening, it's just so hard to keep it cohesive in the word count.


Ending Payoff:
"Pirate, revolutionary and queen. Did I miss anything?"  pretty solid fairy tale ending.  in fact, it's what helped me to decide it wasn't satire, serious, or pure humor, but a "in need of some editing" fairy tale.  the beats of the throughline were good, it just needs some tightening up from a solid editing phase.


Offline Lanko

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2016, 03:01:59 AM »
Thanks, @m3mnoch.

And holy... how do you do that using Google Doc? That was so damn cool (and extremely useful).

And yea, I agree it was "loaded with conflict, but with little tension felt" because of excessive telling. A few days later after the submission I read it again and it felt more like a plan for a synopsis than a story. I guess I could expand it, it's NaNo month after all...

About editing, also agree, but I guess it couldn't be helped, as I kinda cheated already as it was submitted on October, 3rd  ::)

But I'm gonna get it right this month!
Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019

Offline Captain of the Guard

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2016, 10:23:23 AM »
I have to say, that being new to this I really enjoyed your stories and i would appreciate
critique on my story " the Wreckers Horn" Bring it on =) in your own time of course.
The man walked with a limp, it defined him and his appearance, the rest of him was unremarkable .
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Offline JMack

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2016, 12:14:18 PM »
I have to say, that being new to this I really enjoyed your stories and i would appreciate
critique on my story " the Wreckers Horn" Bring it on =) in your own time of course.

Hi, @Captain of the Guard. I'll definitely do a critique, because I really liked your story. The setting and situation were super. I wanted more from the ending. Will give more details later when I have a minute.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2016, 03:18:09 PM »
And holy... how do you do that using Google Doc? That was so damn cool (and extremely useful).

someone was nice enough to post a link to the word document version of the stories, so i clipped yours out, and pasted it into it's own google doc.

from there:
- switch to "suggesting mode" in the top, right-hand corner of the doc.
- highlight a bit of text, and click insert -> comment.
- when finished, click share -> get sharable link

easy, peasy.

Offline night_wrtr

Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #41 on: November 07, 2016, 08:51:03 PM »
@Captain of the Guard

Spoiler for Hiden:
I understood that Alfred and crew were going to steal/scavenge a ship, but I didn't get the understanding as to why or its importance to them for doing. What were they going to take? Just plain ol' plunder, or something specific? There were a few sections that held a lot of information, but I didn't know how it fit into the story. IMO, there was a lot of information that could be cut out that wasn't vital to the story.

Eliminating some of those details could allow you to use more of the highly coveted wordcount to elaborate on the characters, their interactions and getting closer to the plot of the story.

” Over there ” the call came from the dunes just ahead of them. It was Alfred’s uncle, Valter, who called. The three boys started running towards the caller.

Who is "them?" It was Alfred's Uncle that "called," but I'm not sure what that means. A yell? A signal? Could it just say Vaulter instead of caller since we/they know who it was? The opening lines didn't grab me which is always something I look for.

Valter kicked his small horse to get it to trot, the boys followed suit. Hildur turned to Alfred   “ We’ll be there before well before dark” “But won’t there be other families there?” Alfred was concerned. “There probably will, but Valter is senior… I think” Hildur lost his smile and looked at the moving back of their uncle. “Let’s keep going” he said and threw back his heels at his horse, Alfred kept going at the same speed.

Needed some paragraph breaks between these two speaking to make it easier to identify who the speaker was.

“ It’s a...cray...no it’s a…cog ?” Tostig turned to look at Valter to get confirmation. “ I think you’re right Tostig, but she looks a little funny doesn’t she” Ha had his head tilted slightly to the side, as he wanted to look at the ship from another angle.” Yes it’s a cog” His voice firmed up with decision. “Alright everyone it’s a cog, they usually have ‘bout fifteen to twenty crew. So we’ll do this as we always do.”

Not sure what this paragraph was supposed to tell me. What's a cog and why was it worth noting?

Valter led the three up onto the Cranners Moor that made up the most of Wrecker’s Horn. As Alfred sat there on his pony he wondered. Why did Valter insist on bringing me?  And this ship, does it have something to do with the fight on the south coast. The latest news from Ortolia was that the Prince was riding to Vesenburgh to fight the Vicas brotherhood.
 But he couldn’t understand how the knights could fight the pirate brotherhood, because they would be on horses, right?


Here is an example of some details that didn't have a big impact on the story and felt "dropped in."

I was mostly interested at the point when they climbed the ship and started seeing things, like the sword wielding man. It might have done well if the story started directly before then, inserting details like those above as they were climbing the ship, or coordinating their attack. It would have cut a lot of the early wordcount, given us some concrete description and still included part of the background detail.

“Welcome aboard, little brothers!”
I liked this part. Things started happening. 1500 words is such a small playing field. Every word has to count and I think that is part of what worked against the story. Going back to my earlier comment, there is a good amount of things that could be slimmed down or cut altogether. I guess my best advice is to go back through the story and see what you could cut out that would still allow the immediate story to continue. Then, do a wordcount and see how much room that gives you to work with for adding details. Tell me more about Alfred. Give me more about why I should care for him, or feel fear when he is caught at the end.

EDIT: forgot to say thanks for joining the contest club and hope to see more submissions in the future!
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 09:01:37 PM by night_wrtr »

Offline JMack

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Re: [SEP 2016] Pirates! - Critique Thread
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2016, 12:07:41 PM »
@Captain of the Guard:

Some comments on Wrecker's Horn.
But I think it might be useful to you to have a detailed line discussion, which I'll send as a PM.

As we all say, this is one reader's opinion, and everything is intended to be helpful. I will be blunt where I think that's also useful. But ignore whatever doesn't help you.

Spoiler for Hiden:
I really liked this story, though it had a variety of things that bothered me, and I wanted a stronger ending.

Here's what I liked:
> The whole idea of wreckers as pirates, and of this whole culture of farmers and country people who turn into brutal thieves when the opportunity arises.
> An almost dreamlike quality to the piece.
> Little details that make the story real, especially a sense for the landscape
> The POV of a frightened youngster, which gives us a chance to identify.

Here's what I struggled with:
> Technical stuff: grammar, punctuation, proofing, paragraph breaks
> Ideas, names, events that suddenly appear without necessary prior work laid down (I know this needs examples to be useful)
> No understandable reason that the ship was where it was, or that the pirates were ready for the wreckers. Of course, they're presumably professionals against amateurs. So matbe that's a quibble. But if they're pros, what are they doing getting into these straights. (;) see whart I did there?)

You've created such an interesting situation, here's where I'd have loved to see you take this deeper:
> The casual shift to criminal behavior is fascinating. But our MZ never really goes through it. He's afraid, the pirates appear, he dies. We never see him make a choice, or get swept up in blood lust, or anything.
> The story lacks conflict that matters to the MC. He doesn't want anything that someone else keeps him from getting. And this shows that in my view, the conflict with the pirates comes so late and is so impersonal, that it is interesting and surprising but isn't dramatic.

But I really enjoyed reading this.The whole story was clear in my mind (though I had to bridge gaps and fill them in). The situation was fascinating.



I have to go to work now, but hope to send you.more by PM this weekend.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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