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Old 31st October 2011, 10:22 PM   #226 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I have to confess I didn't understand it, DA. I had no idea why he was in the tank of water and who the people were and what was going on generally. I wasn't even sure if he woke up in the water or it flooded in over him or what.

Also, I couldn't believe the scenario as I tried to imagine it -- struggling goes beyond futile if this is happening every day, and why would his captors be watching and smiling? It would get pretty boring after a month or two, I'd have thought. And why would they be concerned if he was in danger of drowning? (that is you say they're not concenred, but I frankly wouldn't expect them to be.) What's the Elixir, apart from a kind of deus ex machina to allow the story to progress? How is he made unconscious? Would the not-drowning do that? Why would they allow him to be released?

I didn't dislike it as a piece, and I thought the last two sentences were great, but as you can see I just ended up with a load of questions. I don't mind a bit of mystery, and I enjoy trying to puzzle things out when I have the time, but there were so many issues here I kind of gave up. Sorry.
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Old 1st November 2011, 02:53 AM   #227 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post
Well, if anyone would like to take a gander at my entry, here it is:

Thoughts? Suggestions? What did you hate about it? Come on, now, be honest, I know some of you hated it. I won't take it personally. Or if I do, I'll make the effort not to let you know.
to simply say "I couldn't follow the imagery" doesn't really help you out, so Im going to try and take you where your story took me so you can see how I got lost.
Quote:
Philosopher, Be Damned

It is futile. I know that, and yet I struggle. Flailing my arms in vain against several tons of water, I succeed only in amusing my captors; they smirk through the glass front of the cube, looking at me helplessly submerged. Not concerned in the least, knowing the Elixir I drank will keep me alive.
here I picture something out of an x-men movie or some morally driven anime. The terrified mutant/altered human subjected to repeated assaults on their abilities/alterations for the sake of research. The sadistic scientists pushing the boundaries of ethics for the sake of knowledge.
Quote:
As blessed unconsciousness approaches, I finally relax. Sweet release.
this made me think he did die. the nightmare then is facing death every day with out the release of actually dieing. force to die every day for someone else's research.
Quote:
I wanted immortality. Instead, every day I wake to find perdition
this is where I got a bit lost, thinking he didn't die, and if he didn't die what did happen in the line before?
Quote:
As blessed unconsciousness approaches, I finally relax. Sweet release.
so not dead, really unconscious? what does that prove?
Quote:
Flailing my arms in vain against several tons of water, I succeed only in amusing my captors; they smirk through the glass front of the cube, looking at me helplessly submerged.
so maybe not scientists and their mutant but a magician and his audience. but the magician holds his audience captive not the other way around...
Quote:
they smirk through the glass front of the cube,
someone in a zoo?

then I decide I must be over thinging the whole thing and give up.
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Old 1st November 2011, 04:45 AM   #228 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I didn't quite understand it, either. I think I get that he is being forced to drown repeatedly without ever actually dying, but I'm not even entirely sure of that. I have the feeling that I'm missing something important in the title that might give me the clue I need. I'm thinking Philosopher's Stone / immortality, which goes ok with the elixir, but if he was forced to drink it, that doesn't quite follow in my mind.
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Old 1st November 2011, 08:28 AM   #229 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDustyZebra View Post
I'm thinking Philosopher's Stone / immortality, which goes ok with the elixir, but if he was forced to drink it, that doesn't quite follow in my mind.
I assumed he'd already taken it before being captured. He was then captured, the captors tried to kill him, realised he couldn't die, and then decided to divert themselves by drowning him over and over.

But I admit it's unclear.
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Old 1st November 2011, 09:38 AM   #230 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Firstly, thanks to all for the feedback. Some interesting points made, with one common thread in particular, one that admittedly surprised me. Before I (try to) address the specific questions raised, let me begin by explaining what I thought the story was. (Warning: I will likely be double-posting here. This is either because I think replying to the specific points will take up too much space for a single post, or because I am trying to artificially raise my post count. One of the two.)

Okay, so the 'backstory' is that the protagonist is an accomplished alchemist who has been hired to unlock the door to immortality. And he has done it. He has successfully created the Elixir of Life. The man who had hired him to work on the project obviously wants the formula for himself, and demands the alchemist hand it over.

Prior to the beginning of the story, our clever alchemist (for funsies, let's call him Al) decides to double cross him, and drinks the (only vial of) Elixir himself. Turns out he is not immune to the allure of living forever. Our villain's henchmen have subsequently captured Al, and are in the process of... encouraging him to reveal the secret. Since Al is now immortal, they come up with the rather humorous (to them) concept of using his new-found ability against him, and putting him in a situation which would normally kill any man. Indeed, they want him to wish he was dead. The gift he thought to steal, then, is now his biggest curse. This is very much the reason I haven't dabbled in alchemy, myself. The hazards are too great.

So the general complaint seen here is that apparently the story wasn't clear. Obviously, I did something very, very wrong, because it never occured to me that the concept was unclear. This is what surprised me. I normally find my stories to be quite heavy-handed and blunt, about as subtle as a kick in the... shin. I usually wonder if there isn't some way I can do more showing and less telling. Never realised I had gone over to the side where not only am I not telling, I wasn't showing much, either.
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Old 1st November 2011, 10:18 AM   #231 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Okay, so now for the specifics. Again, I was surprised that so many thought it unclear. The idea was quite simple, as my entries usually are. I lack the capacity to write a clever and multi-layered story.

RabbitFoot
Quote:
My main criticism would be that the voice sounds too calm and passive, no more concerned at his drowning than his tormentors are.
Hmmm... Very good point. I see that now. To be honest, this is one area where I usually struggle, i.e. conveying emotion and feeling in the character's voice.

Quote:
And do the first two sentences really add anything? Their cutting would have given you several more words to play with.
I guess they were my way of attempting to add some emotion. Some sense of the hopelessness that he feels in his predicament.

Quote:
It's a neat idea, but it feels underdeveloped -- you have idea, but not character or (really) plot.
Interesting... I suppose that's the whole point of the Challenge, huh? Out of interest, how would you have reworded it? In fact, this question goes out to any and all. Maybe if I see a better version of my story, it will help illustrate my mistake better?

Le Law
Quote:
I wasn't even sure if he woke up in the water or it flooded in over him or what.
He was captured and forced into the cube. It wasn't an accident or anything.

Quote:
struggling goes beyond futile if this is happening every day,
I'm not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting that, since this has been going on for an extended period of time, he would no longer bother struggling?

Quote:
and why would his captors be watching and smiling? It would get pretty boring after a month or two, I'd have thought.
Because they're cold-hearted b******s? It hasn't really been months; probably closer to a week or two. And they're sadistic so they enjoy watching him suffer. But I get your point... if he has been there for a while, the captors should not still be gloating. Perhaps cold indifference would have worked better?

Quote:
And why would they be concerned if he was in danger of drowning? (that is you say they're not concenred, but I frankly wouldn't expect them to be.)
Because he is a prized captive. Like any such (I would imagine), the captors would be under orders to hurt him, but not kill. Conveniently, that is not something they have to worry about here, since Al cannot die. Hence, they have no concerns about going 'too far'.

Quote:
What's the Elixir, apart from a kind of deus ex machina to allow the story to progress? How is he made unconscious? Would the not-drowning do that?
The Elixir is the reason for what is happening to him. Without it, none of it would have happened. His unconsciousness... Well, I'm no doctor, so I have no idea if this is medically sound. But I imagine the lack of oxygen to the brain would do it, although in this case it is not enough to kill him. Does that even make sense?

Quote:
Why would they allow him to be released?
So he can recover enough to be tortured all over again. The endless cycle of torture was the point of the story. Or it was attempted to be, in any case.

Quote:
I didn't dislike it as a piece, and I thought the last two sentences were great, but as you can see I just ended up with a load of questions. I don't mind a bit of mystery, and I enjoy trying to puzzle things out when I have the time, but there were so many issues here I kind of gave up. Sorry.
Yikes. Is this revenge for the time I caught you sacrificing little puppies to appease the Blood God Xanth? I told you - I didn't tell anyone about that. I swear!

Seriously, though, thanks for the feedback.

UndercoverUnicorn
Quote:
I didn't quite understand it, either. I think I get that he is being forced to drown repeatedly without ever actually dying, but I'm not even entirely sure of that.
That's pretty much it.

Quote:
I have the feeling that I'm missing something important in the title that might give me the clue I need. I'm thinking Philosopher's Stone / immortality,
Yup. I thought maybe just writing the Elixir might not be clear, so I 'cheated' and worked the "Philospher" into the title. I figured the combination of Elixir, immortality, and Philosopher would be good enough. Turns out, I had far bigger problems...

readinghopelessness
I believe most of your points should have been addressed above?

Last edited by Devil's Advocate; 1st November 2011 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 1st November 2011, 10:49 AM   #232 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I guess since I have yet to either stick anything up for review or reviewed anything I should start someplace. DAs has been well reviewed.

Spice Child's Sweet Life



Spice Child's life is very vile.
He's another unloved, lonely chile
who works hard in the spice mines.
His parents slave on the lines
but had no wish to love and treat.
Instead chose to hurt and beat
Spice Chile incredibly fair.
T'was a miserable nightmare.


He fled ...


In Chocolate Land life was very sweet
with parents who couldn't be beat.
No more working the hot spice seam,
'cos his nightmare became a dream.
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Old 1st November 2011, 11:54 AM   #233 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Advocate View Post
Out of interest, how would you have reworded it? In fact, this question goes out to any and all. Maybe if I see a better version of my story, it will help illustrate my mistake better?
Well, I'm making no great claims for this, but I've had a quick bash, and I at least think this addresses some of the problems of clarity and maybe has a less passive voice.

***

I drank the elixir he ordered made. Now I cannot truly die. My enraged master makes this a punishment.

The water pours in. My twelfth drowning. I try not to struggle, not to give him the satisfaction as he smirks through the cubeís glass wall. But my body resists: flailing, panicking, as water suffocates, as lungs spasm.

Blackness nears: sweet, but short. Tomorrow, the same again, my masterís hatred as immortal as my wretched self.


***
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Old 1st November 2011, 12:40 PM   #234 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Rhythm in poetry is more important by far than rhyme
You start here in a trochaic pattern, a two syllable module with the stress in the first foot, dah dit, dah dit
Spice Child's life is very vile.

Which continues in the second line, if you remove the "he's", so you've established your pattern.
But later;

His parents slave _ on the lines lacks an unstressed syllable
but had no wish to love and treat.
Instead _ chose to hurt and beat lacks an unstressed syllable

All right, I'll rewrite, but make no claims at being anything great in poetry, yet

His parents, slaving on the lines
Had no desire to love or treat.
Instead they chose to hurt and beat

"Incredibly" is only going to fit if it's "incredibly unfair", but is the word optimum anyway? His beauty, or blondness, or sense of justice (when you use a word in poetry all its references travel with it, even if you didn't intend them) seems relatively unimportant in the tale – feels like padding (as does the "king sized" in mine, by the way; it was intended to emphasise the aloneness of the awakening but ended in the wrong line to be effective).

If "chocolate" can't be replaced by any other confectionary, I's suggest reducing it to two syllables; lots of people do while talking

In Choc'late Land life's very sweet

And, to finish:-

His nightmare had become a dream.

I'm sorry if this seems a violent criticism (or if the Bumpty, bumpty simplistic rhythm we're achieving us too juvenile, not what you were aiming for; there is, obviously, no need to simplify as far as I tend to, as long as the structure is consistent); I really hope this will be helpful.

And no, I didn't keep checking it was staying within the word limit.

Last edited by chrispenycate; 1st November 2011 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 1st November 2011, 01:13 PM   #235 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our Challenge Stories -- READ FIRST POST

No not harsh at all I suck at rhythm which is why I'd never tried my hand at poetry before so all this is useful. It was a children's story I was writing and the only way I could think to condense it to 75 words.
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Old 29th January 2012, 07:30 PM   #236 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Hi, I'd love to see people's feedback on my latest entry. I try to keep the rhyming fairly simplistic. In this cae I chose ABAB, but I also like to use the ABCB rhyme scheme , I'm not sure if that may too simplistic for some?

If anyone is unsure, my poem is about the ghosts of those who died at the Battle at Little Big Horn , with the 'dread Genera' being Custer. The title is a pun on the 7th Cavalry , though I now wished I'd named it '7th Heaven' rather than 'Seventh Heaven'.

Feel free to bee as brutally honest as you wish.

Seventh Heaven

In dead of night, I've heard it said
On grassland green, which once ran red
That warriors arise from rest
To put each other to the test

Bugles blaring, pennants flying!
Arrows loosened, bullets crying!
The bloodlust of the men so fierce
They do not feel the missiles pierce

Dread General afront the host
With flowing locks as white as ghost
Entreating them to set upon
And die once more with their boots on
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Old 29th January 2012, 07:50 PM   #237 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I quite liked it, PM. It was probably on the tier below Mentions for me. Even though I did a Custer story too (and researched it too) I didn't spot him in yours.
I thought the rhyming and rhythm were spot on. I probably prefer an ABCB scheme but I don't think it makes too much difference.
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Old 29th January 2012, 08:08 PM   #238 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Actually PM, that's an AABB scheme you've used there.

Quote:
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Seventh Heaven

In dead of night, I've heard it said
On grassland green, which once ran red
That warriors arise from rest
To put each other to the test

[I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to explain this very well, but what you've written here is that somewhere on the grassland green, which once ran red, the narrator has heard it said that warriors arise from rest etc. In other words, the "that" is in the wrong place for the grassland green bit to be part of what's being told him. To say what I assume you want to say, the "that" would have to come at the start of the second line.

But you don't actually need it at all. It would make more sense to get rid of the "that" altogether, and replace it with another one-syllable word, such as "dead" maybe.]


Bugles blaring, pennants flying!
Arrows loosened [arrows are loosed, not loosened], bullets crying!
The bloodlust of the men so fierce
They do not feel the missiles pierce

Dread General afront [I guess you mean "in the front of" but "afront" is a made-up word (and is very similar to "affront" which means something else entirely). Though I understood what you meant.] the host
With flowing locks as white as ghost [I would rather you put "ghosts". The rhyme is less exact, but at least it's proper English!]
Entreating them to set upon [doesn't really work without an object]
And die once more with their boots on
For me, you made too many compromises with normal English in order to get it to rhyme and scan. Poetry can sometimes get away with being creative with the normal rules of English, but apart from "afront the host", which I personally would let you get away with, I don't think you quite got there with the rule-breaking you've done in this.

You did say brutal
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Old 29th January 2012, 08:13 PM   #239 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

I liked it, too, PM! It was one of the ones on my original shortlist, but dropped off when I had to shorten it more. No fault of the poetry or idea, which were both great. The rhyme scheme (I believe you mean AABB) is fine, and the rhythm was right on -- and that's something that bugs me if it's off. I'm afraid I missed the title's reference, but that's probably just me. I doubt that "7th" would have remedied that.

HareBrain has slipped in ahead of me with some commentary, and I do agree on many points, but I allow for a lot of poetic license in stretching the language and torturing sentence constructions. I am a fan of Ogden Nash, after all!

So there wasn't anything wrong with it for me, just some stories that grabbed me more for one reason or another.
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Old 29th January 2012, 08:16 PM   #240 (permalink)
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Re: Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Thanks for the quick replies guys , and I'm learning already. And yes , sorry I meant AABB!

One of the reasons I like writing poetry is that I can get away with breaking the rules of English, but it still has to make sense, which I'm now realising my entry didn't quite do.
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