Short Story Contest 3 : comments from the judges

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by Druid of Lûhn, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    Here are my comments on the stories . The bullet points describe exact thoughts relating to specific things, whilst the little paragraph at the end gives an overall idea (I know you don't have one bloodfiredeath, but I thought that the bullet points summed it up pretty well).
    Whether I've pointed out more good or bad things doesn't mean that your story was better or worse than others', but simply that I spotted certain things. The overall feel is, of course, very important.

    Overall I have to say that I really enjoyed reading all of these and that they were all excellent, so – as you may see – my criticism may seem slightly harsh, but it's because I had to find things that weren't perfect. So; here we go :D

    At the very end, I describe who's I thought is the best :)

    TFF Short Story notes

    Always At Your Right Hand – SJ Faerlind

    • Spotted an inconsistency in the spelling of Roarke, sometimes without the “e”.
    • There is definitely a lack of strong emotion and drama when Brenna sees the Drakan army: she quickly flies to see what's there and then quickly flies away, but she seems indifferent to what she sees at the time.
    • Even if the army weren't decimated by the plague, it would take too long for Brenna to hold off an entire Drakan army that is only a few hours' flight away, as it takes a long time to muster forces, even when preparing a professional army. I would have made her fly at least one day and one night.
    • I found that the end, although complete with drama, was lacking in feelings on the parts of the two characters. They just didn't seem as sad as they would be, or as resolute as they would be. The two moments that started this feeling were when Brenna arrives back after _years_ away, and when Aislyn doesn't seem to care much about the father he's just dismissed.

    Overall it's a very good story that definitely has drama and an interesting concept with the shape-shifters and dreamers, which I wouldn't mind you exploring further (sounds really interesting :D). Both characters do have a history, which gives them depth and a good feel to them. The simple touch of giving Brenna bird friends is also a nice little addition I find, as well as the part where you make the guards behave like… well, guards.

    Gorehag – Lord Yuan

    • You got me laughing with the descriptions from the beginning there, describing everything from a mad wizard's point of view, which makes it really fun and gives Gorehag a very good character from the outset. It really reminds me of the druids in “The Light Fantastic” by Terry Pratchett.
    • Sceptre of Indignation = WIN!
    • The first description of the band of mercenaries is difficult to follow: I would have added a few commas and replaced the commas separating the different people by semi-colons.
    • There are quite a few words that you've used in the wrong grammatical context, in forms in which they do not exist. Grammatical inconsistency and missing words are quite present here.

    I really enjoyed this story. Gorehag is a very good character who keeps the secrets from his mind until the end, which is always an excellent touch when pulled off like this. I don't think that there is anything to say about the story except that it truly is very good. The only problem that I noticed really was the misused/mis-conjugated and missing words.

    The Gate of Ages – Greybeard

    • There seems to be no tangible sense of urgency on Iddin's part, which is really lacking when he's trying to deal with the imp. The description of the events seems more as if he's doing it absent-mindedly and slowly, then just strolls out of the room to the corner.
    • A few typos/spelling mistakes around the middle: “loose his concentration”, “that” should be “than”, …
    • It seems that at times the gate is closed, whilst it seems opened at others. As there didn't seem to be any mention of it being opened or closed, then it can only be guessed by the context, which makes it quite confusing.
    • After this, once the enemy soldiers enter the room, then the action scene is quite dramatic and feels fast-paced: what was lacking at the beginning is definitely here in this scene.

    The ending is really good, although I was expecting that style all the way through. Your two magic systems are interesting and nicely developed, the music well described.

    Perpetual – bloodfiredeath

    • I like the detachment from the battle here: it has become only a secondary process to Reyal, something that his body can do whilst his mind works on other things.
    • A few parts where more commas would have been helpful, a few possessives missing or misused, a capital letter in the wrong place, a couple of mis-conjugated words.
    • The part about fixing the defences and boosting the men's morale repeats quite a bit.
    • Very nicely-written scene when Reyal and the king's daughter meet, although the beginning of it does feel very slightly empty when it comes to the story as a whole.
    • The jump between reminiscing about meeting the raven haired woman and actually losing the castle to the king's daughter is very sudden and doesn't fit into the flow that the story previously had.
    • Quite a few descriptions have repeated adjectives and nouns too close to each other.
    • A dagger wound to the stomach will take a long time to kill.
    • The whole thing is very ASoIaF like, some parts remind me of Feist and of Helm's Deep (slightly too similar).
    • Don't mix "…" and "." Use one or the other, but not both.

    An the winner (for me anyway) is… Lord Yuan
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  2. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Thanks for the feedback Druid :)
    You know I also read this story to the writer's group I belong to. Though the criticism they gave me wasn't at all like yours, they thought I should expand it into something much longer too.
     
  3. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    No problem :) What was their's like?

    I have the problem of having grown up in the Belgian school system where what you did well is never mentioned, but every single fault is brought to the fore, so I had to make a conscious effort to say what I liked, and then add that they were all really good (because they were :)).
     
  4. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    Hey Druid, thanks for the feedback!
    I was a bit rushed in writing, and had no time to review or edit. Though that is no excuse for poor grammar and poor story flow.
    I actually felt it was a bit disjointed in places, and would have loved to expand on the story and rewrite it, but time was an issue for me. I was not particularly happy with the raven haired girl meeting, but as I mentioned time beat me.
    I can understand the Ice and Fire likeness, but I fear everything written is compared to GRRM nowadays to a degree. To me it was merely a love tryst gone wrong, with a touch more grittiness in dialogue and writing. I have always tended to write that way (in a fantasy setting) even before reading GRRM.
    I don't quite get the Helms Deep reference, is that because of the wall collapsing, and the retreat to the citadel? To me this is merely a common way for a siege to occur and there is not much that can change.
    As for the dagger thrust....yeah I see what you mean! I missed that one.
    Anyway thanks for the feedback, hopefully it will help me in writing the next piece.
     
  5. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Actually I like the negative criticism better than the positive in some ways. There's nothing I hate more than reading a review of something I've written where the reviewer ONLY says, "It was great and I loved it." Though it's good to get positive comments too, getting only that kind of feedback doesn't make me a better writer. The other thing I like about criticism is it allows me to see if I achieved my goals for the story or not. For example, you pointed out that Aislyn summarily dismissed the father of her children as unimportant to her. That was put in there deliberately by me to show you that he wasn't important to her, not in the slightest. She's a matriarch who comes from a long line of matriarchs who only ever bear daughters. She is married to her realm and position, not to a man, and she needed him around for only one purpose. So you see, sometimes negative criticism isn't really all that negative after all. :)

    As for my writer's group, they had problems with the beginning. In the first draft it was too long and boring and just didn't grab anyone's attention. I had to chop a pile of crap out of it to get it moving along faster. They also had issues with a few of the words I used in various places.
    In the end, all feedback is valuable, regardless of where it comes from. :)
     
  6. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    @bloodfiredeath: your description there seems a little more negative than what I meant; the grammar is only a tiny part, but I didn't really have anything else to point out, whilst the ASoIaF and Helm's Deep references only jumped out at me because they seemed close enough, although here it's in a way that allows to reader to take what they know from the sources and add it to your writing, thus expanding it in their own minds.

    I spent 9 months writing a research project where I had to analyse many sources of inspiration of fantasy writers and I can certainly say that these are in no way a problem; they didn't jump out, but only made me think of those books/that battle.

    If your next piece is even better, I can't imagine what I'll have to say other than “this is brilliant!”
     
  7. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    No worries Druid, sorry if I sounded defensive.
    I understand what you are saying, and don't have an issue.
    I hope the next piece lives up to your expectations. I cannot wait to get into it.
     
  8. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    Not defensive, simply that the way you explained it made it sound worse than I meant it :)

    After these short stories, I don't think I can manage expectations, otherwise I'll have to send everybody's works off to a publishing house right away :D
     
  9. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    So does anyone else on TFF want to provide some feedback??
     
  10. Emerlas

    Emerlas Emerz

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    Comments on Short Story Contest Stories

    My comments and judgement on the stories, they were all fantastic, but there could only be one winner in the end. I encourage you all to keep on writing you are all amazing!!!
    ~Emerz
    (p.s. Sorry if my comment sound a little harsh, they are only my opinions and what I found in the story from my own view, hopefully they are helpful)

    sorry I have been drowning with uni work lately, really has had me chained to the desk


    Gorehag-Lord Yuan
    > Got me laughing from the very onset, brilliant way to start a story, I really loved the neat and precise description of character and their actions; it instantly gives me insight into Gorehag as a character.
    > The reference to time and a wizard instantly got me thinking about Gandalf about his remark about a wizard arriving precisely when he means to, very clever way of bringing forth the fun in a story through a character.
    > The descriptions of scenery immediately tells the reader where the action is occurring, like this is where the character is, this is the time of day, and this is what the significant thing is about this place because this occurs.
    > Some of the words you have used are not proper English or rather it is not the proper word to use in that context you are describing
    > Wand of Ultimate Destruction sounds so dangerous. I really like that aspect, that you leave the story behind the wand sort of hanging in the air, making the reader want to read on and discover the wand’s significance.
    > I really like the light humour you keep throughout the piece even during serious things, like when the warriors, grew beards and got back problems, the addition of “…a strong admiration for ragtime music.” Really helped to lighten the mood to the fact that the warriors were turning into helpless, old wizards and being killed by the royal guard.
    > Brilliant ending to the story, connects it to the beginning, a very clever idea/ I really enjoyed it, especially the, “…until now” aspect.

    Overall I really had fun reading this story. So many amazing Characters, just watch your spelling in some places, easily fixable. Other than that I don’t have much criticism for the story it was very good, very well done. A great read


    Always at your Right Hand-SJ Farelind
    > Wonderful imagery in the description, really drew me into the story
    > Inconsistent spelling of Roarke the raven
    > I love the detail that went into the description of her transformation in the beginning, I could really picture and feel like I was seeing her form fall away from her and slowly become a raven, very well written
    > The encounter with the Drakan army was slightly on the brief or vague side, she sort of went to investigate what was happening, got dismayed over it then sped away escaping arrow fire, it lacked a little tension, perhaps you could have built up something dramatic to happen there, maybe she recognised someone, maybe she got slightly injured, or something like that, it just needed something to draw the audience's attention to it as something important for later on in the story
    > The rebellious nature concerning what a princess should wear was a good addition to that part of the story
    > Never can have enough humour in a story, the part where the guards block Brenna from going forward any further, was a good addition to a seemingly serious mood, the looking over that the younger guard did of Brenna, made me smile, and released a little of the nervous tension which was building up as she went to her sister the queen, the question of, "What does the queen want to see her about, is there something wrong?...and instead of going down in a spiral of never ending questions of tension, the humour in the middle broke it up perfectly, allowing you to focus on the story, other than wanting to rush ahead to find out what is going to happen, very professionally written, I like it.
    > The area where the queen is first introduced needed a little bit more description added to it, like when Brenna walked into the room, she is the eyes of the reader at this moment, so try to tell the reader what Brenna is seeing, where she is, because that will keep the reader interested in the story, because they can imagine themselves there, in that location, walking the very steps the main character is.
    > The end lacked a sense of feeling or emotion that was needed, it definitely had drama, but in needed a deeper feeling in a way, the reader needed to feel what the characters were a little more in such a moment, I got slightly confused at what my response to this part of the story should be, should I be joyous that the daughters will be safe with Brenna, or sad that many people are doomed to die.

    Overall it was a great story, which I encourage you to explore further, the concepts you had were very well done. My main advice, is that you need to give the reader something to sink their teeth into, and understand in terms of location, you are ultimately taking a reader on a journey through a story guiding them over every stepping stone, but you can't just drag them the way you want, you must make the reader feel it, see it and experience the story as if it was their own. Which could be done easily with this story if you just gave it a little more subtle descriptions of location here and there in my opinion, mainly with the dwelling place of the queen, not too much, but enough to give the reader a little bit of direction. Well Done!!


    Perpetual- Bloodfiredeath
    > The first line is really well done, it just sort of threw the reader into the stories world, I like it.
    > A lot of spelling mistakes and punctuation mistakes, needed more commas, just to break up the lengthy sentences a bit
    > Reyal being rather removed from the battle was interesting, it was cool how he could almost multitask, participating in battle and also have the time and capacity to think, which is not an easy thing in battle. I found that was an interesting depth to Reyal’s character.
    > Moral bolstering is quite repetitive, but I guess facing battle needs that encouragement, but maybe don’t imply it so much.
    > There seems to be giant leaps from here to there, concerning the recollecting of meeting the Raven haired woman and losing the castle, it makes the piece slightly disjointed, and sort of seems strangely placed in the story, it disrupts the flow and movement of the story, causing slight confusion as to why something like that was suddenly jumped to, I got a little lost.
    > Try using descriptive words that are unique, or rather don’t repeat. Your descriptions are very good in terms of imagery and getting the reader to be there walking the story with Reyal. However try using various words that mean the same thing, with the use of a thesaurus or the like, or else find a better way to describe the intended point, without having to say the same word twice, no more than five words apart from each other, same goes for some of the nouns too. Try to write it in such a way that you need only mention the noun one or twice and have a good space of adjectives and descriptive content in between.
    > I really like your detailed descriptions of the meeting between Reyal and the Princess. The description of the Princess’ approach was brilliant, it instantly gave me the needed insight to this character’s attitude, in how she walked, and held herself, really fitted the snobby princess stereotype, well done.

    > A dagger wound to the stomach would take a significantly longer time to die from than a slit throat. So perhaps another wound would have been better, say the heart for instance, you could even connect getting stabbed in the heart to have some symbolic meaning, but that is just a thought.

    Overall your story was very well written, and I encourage you to continue in your writing endeavours. My main point of advice would be spelling and punctuation; it would just improve the story so much, and help the reader to fully understand the flow. Also make sure you connect your happenings in the progression of the story well, together, make sure it fits, or else it will stop the reader briefly and confuse them slightly, so just be mindful about where you place certain things to occur in a story, make it one continuous flowing piece, I felt it was a bit disjointed, but such a thing is easy to fix. Your description of the princess was amazing keep up the good work. Well done!!


    The Gates of Ages- Greybeard
    > A couple of simple mistakes with spelling, easily fixable
    > I got a little lost in terms of the front gate, where men running through it all the time or was it always open?
    Clearing up that detail, would help the story flow more without the reader getting slightly confused about the gate being opened or closed at two given points
    > I really like the tension you build using the conversation between Iddin-Lagumal and Sture, with the information concerning the queen, by making Iddin-Lagumal almost appear hesitant to tell, it makes the reader really want to find out what is wrong or what the problem is, and leaves them slightly anxious for the queen, that is a perfect example of drawing your audience in, I really felt it.
    > I enjoyed the brief description of the staff turning into a serpent, and how Iddin-Lagumal reached his mind out to the staff, and felt all those aspects of it, what it could be, what it thought of itself. This has a really nice sense of mystical appeal to it.
    > However Iddin-Lagumal is surprisingly relaxed about the whole situation of the imp to begin with, I was expecting him to be a bit more frantic about it or at least worried enough to real be focused on trying to get rid of it, not just laid back about the whole idea that the gate was breached, it seemed to lack a little bit in how much such an important issue, concerning the future of a kingdom could be treated with what seemed to be a too relaxed approach.
    > Finally when the serpent gets closer to the imp, you start to see the tension and nervous waiting occurring in Iddin-Lagumal, which was something that I believe should have been his feeling from the start, it well could have been, but reading it I failed to get that implication in that section
    > I noticed a few repetitive words “slept slept on the floor”

    Overall it was a wonderful story, the places you took me as a reader I thoroughly enjoyed. My main advice, is that you need to just watch those spelling mistakes a bit, don’t fret they are easily fixable. And perhaps in my opinion just increase the tension or describe the emotions of Iddin-Lagumal in that first initial encounter with the imp, tell the reader’s how he is feeling at this moment, the later on description of the cup shaking was a good example of displaying how the character is feeling. I also must mention that the description of the music and, melody was absolutely nailed and perfect, a rally well developed and presented piece of writing. Well Done!!


    The winner for me was also: Lord Yuan
     
  11. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Thank you for the feedback Emerlas! :)

    I especially loved this comment:

    My response to this would be that your confusion about how to feel is good, for I was hoping you would be feeling both. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
  12. Emerlas

    Emerlas Emerz

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    Well then you succeeded SJ
    are you planning on continuing this story? or start a similar one?
    it was very good
    all the stories were really good
    wish I could write like you guys
    :D
     
  13. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    TFF never ceases to amaze me. Between musicians, artists, singers, computer-geniuses, gamers, scholars, etc etc etc, the cumulative talent around here is staggering.

    As for my story: for now it will go into my "ideas" folder. I have a bunch of other stuff begging to be finished and started at the moment.....darn it all!
     
  14. bloodfiredeath

    bloodfiredeath Die by the Sword

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    +1
    Great to hear more about people's thoughts on the stories.

    I think from what both Em and Druid have said it is apparent that my lack of proof reading and editing have hindered my piece.
    To be honest 80% of it was rushed out in the 48 hours prior to it being posted. And it definitely shows as everyone has pointed out.
    So I have learnt that editing is very important to my writing....something I will try to consider more next time.
    And story flow is paramount, something I was not happy with in my piece and I should have addressed it before posting, but hey.....
    And I still cannot believe I left such a glaring plot hole as the knife thrust.....Especially when I think how I have taken so many stories/Movies to task in the past for similar obvious issues. Guess that is karma at its best!! :p
    I will also try to work on grammar and use a thesaurus a bit more!! ;)

    Anyway thanks guys for the feedback, it is great to hear how you can improve.
    And well done to Lord Yuan, who seems to be everyone's favourite!!

    Cannot wait to get started on another story!!
    Bring it on...............................
     
  15. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    Good to read your comments Emerlas; we do seem to agree, even though we never got to confer :)

    It's good to hear your comment there bfd :)
     
  16. Emerlas

    Emerlas Emerz

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    sorry for the delay in my comments, hope they were helpful
    so hard to choose the winner
     
  17. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    Thanks for following through with a review though too. Now if only I could write well any time my work is being graded for classes...
     
  18. Beldaran

    Beldaran Guest

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    yuan congrats :):)!!

    A long long time ago, a little blonde dutchy promised a bunch of very great people all around the world she would grade a few stories. Stories that were written with love and a great imagination. And most of all: stories that are worth to be read. However, the little blonde dutchy was being selfish and too busy with herself to let you guys at least know what she was doing and why the grading wasn't being done. Well, the thing is, she didn't really have a good excuse. You'll never have for not grading such great works. So the only thing that was left to say for the girl was: "My sincerest apologies, would you guys please forgive me?"

    :D
     
  19. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    ^^ lol of course! I'm just glad you're back Bel :)
     
  20. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    Everybody gets sidetracked or has to prioritize things somewhere down the line. It is a bonus if you mention it to people that you have to bail in my book, but I have a firm understanding if somebody gets so tangled or distraught from other work or personal life they can't bother.

    So I say, apologize for what?