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Thread: Workshop: The Usual Suspects

  1. #1
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    Workshop: The Usual Suspects

    Thread: The Usual Suspects
    Name of Author: Passion of the Mice
    Type of Thread: Quest
    Thread Length: 9 posts
    Feedback Rewards: (Post Length of Thread/10) * ((EXP Needed to Level)*0.05) EXP
    Date Closed: 10th April 2017

    Critique Guidelines:

    1.) Standard rules for etiquette apply. No spamming or off-topic posts, no personal attacks or trolling. Focus on critiquing the thread, not the writer. Use constructive criticism and try to speak in terms of "strengths" and "weaknesses". For example: "Your story was strong, but the action seemed a little weak. Try using more adverbs to describe actions or use a thesaurus to spice up your word choice."

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  2. #2
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    jdd2035's Avatar

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    Captain Cain Jodin
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    Story:

    Storytelling: (10 Points) You have started off quite strongly. I like the entire start of it actually where you're bobbing and weaving through family and furniture. Actually this a great introduction to your character on the whole. But we're skipping a head. A thirteen post thread is a good thread not too long not too short and my only complaint is that I'm only getting 13 posts worth of XP and GP for this. I'm joking.

    Setting: (10 Points) The home and the town of your story was pretty neat. You gave both the home and the town it self a pretty good description using both your five senses as a surrogate for the readers and a general description of the setting to really immerse the reader. Though to be fair and this is more or less me nit picking because Dirks want's me to be more critical in my critiques; a wall of words can really knock out a readers immersion in the long run. I think this might be more of a problem of this being a solo and so I get very little break up from the same writing but still pretty good.

    Pacing: (10 Points) It's an even pace. Using my pacing barometer of Star Trek the Motion Picture to Mad Max Fury Road this story is at about. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. You start off slow gives a good explosive bit of action and then slows down just enough to absorb the action. Just remember action doesn't always mean an all out fight.

    Character:

    Communication: (10 Points) Again this is a one man show so it's all about your character. There were a few instances of where things got a touch muddled but that's understandable. You're playing multiple cast members while at the same time I power read. I know I shouldn't but I do. You made good use of internal and external dialogue to forward the plot and give exposition.

    Action: (10 Points) As mentioned before action doesn't always mean fights in fact the definition of action is "the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim." Was your action an all out end all be all fight to the death? Not at all, did I enjoy reading the action-y bit? You bet! Family squabbles can always be entertaining. Think of some of the earlier episodes of the Simpsons.

    Persona: (10 Points) As this is a solo this was nothing but persona. Through this solo I got to know Dult Hewes quite well his likes, his dislikes, his family and friends. Solo's should be the ultimate expression of the players characters persona. The player doesn't have to play off of another player so the s/he can orchestrate the events your character encounters to best show case your characters persona's.

    Prose:

    Mechanics: (10 Points) mE! am doog at righting,

    Clarity: (10 Points) I have one question. I may have missed the explanation somewhere in the thread or didn't google it properly but... What the heck is an AGA!? You might know what the acronym your character might know what the acronym means but I don't I'm the reader. Some times when dealing with acronym's and specific terminology that a reader might not understand you have to hold their hand! I get told this all the time when I really get my "pirate-ese" going my posting partner or the person judging tells me the same thing. A suggestion would be to do what Patric O'Brien did in the Aubrey–Maturin, where Captain Aubrey a skilled sailor knew jack shit about the political and social intrigue of the time and so Dr. Maturin explains it to him and thus the reader; and Dr. Maturin a spy and natrualist can't tell port from starboard so Jack has to constantly explain it to him and thus the reader.

    Technique: (10 Points) You have a very good technique. Third person POV is quite a good perspective when telling a story. First person is good too but can get a touch confusing in more complex stories involving more characters. Your writing style is readable and entertain I can go on and on. Being here is like reading a Louis L'Amour book then reading a Dean Koontz book you just gotta shit gears but you can still read them.

    Wildcard: That's a lot of ferrets!

  3. #3
    Maul-Slayer
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    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    Hey Duffman, good to see you back in The Writers' Workshop! The Usual Suspects was a fun quick read, not a whole lot of meat on its bones, but what was there tasted just fine. Without too many more bizarre analogies, let's move on to the rubric!

    Plot

    Story: As a "slice of life" thread, this story was quite nice. It introduced the main character and supporting cast well, and gave a decent feel for a typical day in the life of Radasanth's mouse detective. Even though the day it took place in was somewhat special (the harvest festival) the parts of the day that were actually explored still felt fairly ordinary. There was certainly room for improvement - the first post lacked a real narrative hook, and the thread ended about where I'd have expected the climax to begin. That said though, taking this for what it was, the story served its purpose and flowed well from one scene to the next.

    Setting: There were some strong points - one thing done remarkably well was the interaction between characters and setting. There was definitely space for more description, however, as I never really got a full "snapshot" of what the setting looked like, with the possible exception of the last post. Other strong points were the incorporation of all five senses (particularly important for an animal, I should think), and the (admittedly few) references to Althanas lore. One thing that could really make the setting pop would be replacing all of your Earthly turns of phrase with more "Althanas-y" alternatives. I would think that a bunch of anthropomorphized animals living beneath the Citadel would have a set of idioms all their own, and it would really behoove you to explore that.

    Pacing: The pacing was strong without being overly ambitious. Because this story was rather short, and lacking any real changes of pace, it mostly read smoothly. There were a few instances where I got bogged down by errors or awkward sentences, but I will most likely mention those in other categories and they are all listed in my rough notes at the end. Overall I'd say your pacing is strong, but some slightly more attuned editing habits could make it stronger.

    Character

    Communication: I already mentioned the Earth-based turns of phrase, but just to touch on that again, they really can be alienating. For example, you used "cool as a cucumber" toward the end of an otherwise strong post #6, and it really threw me out of the story's rhythm. Using such recognizable cliches is akin to giving your character a digital watch instead of a pocket watch; it just doesn't fit the setting. Other than that I felt your dialogue was strong and representative of the characters. You could however afford to get into some varying accents and ways of speaking. Considering how many characters there were in this story, they all seemed to have remarkably similar speech patterns.

    Action: As I mentioned before, you do a good job having your characters interact with their surroundings, which is the bedrock of this category. I do feel like this thread really wanted some sort of dust-up though. The comment about Jark only learning when his attitude led to a fight seemed like foreshadowing for a brawl that never happened, as did all the preamble about the rowdiness of the harvest day crowds. I'm certainly not saying that all threads require fights, but when you spend so much energy making it seem like one is going to happen, it's certainly advisable to give the reader that payoff.

    Persona: One thing you do really well is create windows into your characters' personae using dialogue. In particular Dult's various off-the-cuff remarks helped me understand the kind of mouse he is. I think using some more internal dialogue could have made this even stronger, as it would have given the reader a more three dimensional image of his persona. Still, Dult's character came off quite strong, and I appreciated the thoughtful little details you provided in order to flesh out the supporting cast.

    Prose

    Technique: I was a little disappointed here; between the seeming-foreshadowing and rising action leading up to nothing, and most of the literary devices coming in the form of Earth cliches, I think the level of technique in this thread fell well below what you're capable of. You show such strong creativity in other parts of your writing, I really want to see you apply that same inspiration to creating unique metaphors and similes. An extra couple of posts tacked on the end could have resolved the foreshadowing issues easily enough, so my advice for next time would be to plan a bit better, and overall, give more.

    Mechanics: Considering how short this thread is, there were a surprising number of errors. I've notated most of them below, so if you're interested in seeing which ones I caught, they're there. I don't really think there are any lessons to be taught here - you have an excellent grasp of the English language, you just need to be a bit more consistent with your editing. Consider reading your posts back out loud if you don't already, it will often highlight mistakes that your eyes can otherwise jump over.

    Clarity: There were a few occasions where I had to go back and re-read. Mostly these were due to small errors, a few run-on sentences, and some odd word choices. Two things which can be more easily changed that impacted the clarity were the use of brackets and hyphens. Now, I get why you were using these devices. The brackets create humorous asides, and the hyphens lump words together and speed up the pace at which they are read, also creating humor. I just think you need to be more careful where you use them. The hyphenation and brackets were funny the first few times, but I feel like you overused them and as a result, the last few weren't nearly as funny. Also, since you employ fairly minimalist setting descriptions, be careful at the beginning and end of scenes; at times you had characters seemingly appearing from nowhere.

    Wildcard: I'd definitely be interested in seeing a thread where Dult actually gets some detective work done! Here's hoping you return to the workshop again.

    And here are my rough notes. Feel free to contact me if you desire any clarification or have any questions.

    Spoiler:
    Post 2: What's an AGA?
    Paragraph 4 "her" not "here"
    There wasn't any internal dialogue, therefore not really necessary to say "aloud" after "he asked".
    Nice bit of possible foreshadowing at the end, post still lacks a narrative hook.
    References to "zombie appocalypse" and "yuletide" take away from the fantasy setting

    Post 3: "clusterfuck" again slightly too Earthly an idiom to feel like it fits
    "Where" not "were" halfway down the page

    Post 4: "Teach me p's and q's..." This piece of dialogue felt awkward and out of place, could have used a better setup.
    "It took the mercenary a good... before his tutor's home." This sentence could have benefitted from being broken up into two.
    How did the door open, if Father Clinton's voice is distant? This confused me

    Post 5: "out of trouble for at least an hour;" this wants a comma, not a semi colon
    The regular use of brackets as asides becomes slightly tedious - consider a different approach to these thoughts.
    "between before" would have done better simply as "where".
    "Both built like brick shithouses, the Underlift was the safest place for smallfolk on the planet." The second half of this sentence seems to have nothing to do with the first part, and caused me to re-read several times.

    Post 6: "...a tuft of ginger hair protrutded from under Dult's desk." This bit of description really threw me off, as it seemed to come out of nowhere. Giving a bit more attention to setting preceding this would have helped.
    "Cool as a cucumber"... you know what I'm gonna say.

    Post 7: I think "baited" should have been "bated"
    "and when the Sergeant entered the room all eyes to the front." Seems like this is missing a verb.
    "started" not "stated"

    Post 8: How exactly does an owl clap?
    Missed apostrophe on "hairdressers".
    I lost track of what was going on towards the end of this post, although I can't quite put my finger on why.

    Post 9: "... mouse holes he'd together..." missing word here
    "face-potential-death-again" the hyphens feel really out of place in this instance.

    Post 10: Noice? Really?
    "one" not "own" near bottom of the post
    "The road burst into colour as ticker tape, bunting smothered the last of the oaks trees..." This sentence could really use some re-organization, possibly breaking it into two.
    Nice nod to the title.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

    I wrote a book! ~ Most Suave Character 2010

  4. #4
    Hand of Virtue
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    SirArtemis's Avatar

    Name
    Artemis Eburi
    Age
    28
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    Human (+ Dovicarus)
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    Male
    Hair Color
    Dark Brown and Gray
    Eye Color
    Piercing Blue
    Build
    5'8"
    Job
    Smith

    Story
    Storytelling, Setting, and Pacing

    My biggest complaint with this story is that despite the pacing and setting being without complaint, there really was no overhanging story to be had. There was no purpose or direction to where this thread went other than an introduction to the character, which is all well and good if that was your intention and the purpose of this thread. However, it did leave me sort of feeling rather empty at the end with no real reward or satisfaction to be had. Like . . . cool, this character seems interesting. I have nothing else though so why should I care?


    Character
    Communication, Action, and Persona

    I think that even with the brevity of this almost introductory thread, you did get a bit of a feel for the almost mini civilization of rodent-folk living beneath the Citadel and their attempt at incorporating themselves into the world above and humankind. It is strange to imagine as I never thought of Radasanth as having these creatures, so the notion that they are commonplace and integrated is a bit jarring.


    Prose
    Mechanics, Clarity, and Technique

    I think you've come a long way since we worked more closely on your mechanics years ago while co-writing, and I'm proud of the progress you've made. As I mentioned to you, a lot of my qualms end up being more style choices or British aspects of your writing that aren't exactly wrong. Some of it is more jarring than other times, and there are points where it can throw off flow and clarity. Below are examples of things I found that can have more direct attention

    • so as to allow here extra time -- allow her
    • "Had he not been through it himself, or been a pushover they would have bunked off together." -- I feel a second comma is missing here that could tidy up this sentence.
    • between before - ctrl + f this and read the sentence
    • Cephalonia Samaras -- without context it took the second use and adding duo for me to understand that this was some kind of command word to activate his mouse hole magic
    • passed it pack - back?
    • Hoar - I mentioned this to you, but you throw the name out there and it is a bit jarring to realize that's the name of your squirrel friend
    • if or Sei Orlogue - I like the cameo here, and with Ruby the redhead, but in that sentence your presentation doesn't read cleanly. Extra word maybe?
    • butcher's and a hairdressers -- hairdresser's?


    I'd also make one final note that there are points where you are adding or missing a comma that interrupts the way a passage reads. Reading aloud and following the structure of your punctuation can be insightful in finding out if that is truly how you want that passage to read.


    Wildcard

    Overall this was still a pleasure to read. Your writing has a very distinct nature and I think you're an incredibly talented writer with a great imagination. I also felt like this was a very animal farm approach to probably a lot of what you've personally experienced in the professional world over the last few years so it's got an element of relatability that makes the character, despite its rodent nature, feel familiar. I'm intrigued to see where you take this, and how it can interact with the world of Althanas further.
    2011 Althy Winner - Most Realistic Character
    2016 Althy Winner - Best Contributor & Player of the Year (tie)

    Artemis Eburi Wiki Page
    Current Character Profile

    Solo Quests:
    Hidden Beneath The Canopy (75)
    Lost Loot of Lornius (74)

  5. #5
    Make It So
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    Rayleigh's Avatar

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    Rayleigh Aston
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    This workshop is now closed. Thank you to all participants!

    Rewards for Workshop: The Usual Suspects

    jdd2035 receives 225 EXP, 20 GP, and 4 AP.

    Breaker receives 810 EXP, 20 GP, and 4 AP.

    SirArtemis receives 585 EXP, 20 GP, and 4 AP.
    Althy's Judging Admin
    To try or not to try. To take a risk or play it safe.
    Your arguments have reminded me how precious the right to choose is.
    And because I've never been one to play it safe, I choose to try.




  6. #6
    Make It So
    EXP: 23,107, Level: 6
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    Level completed: 45%,
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    AP
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    Rayleigh's Avatar

    Name
    Rayleigh Aston
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    22
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    Human
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    Female
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    Brunette
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    Green
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    Mechanic

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    All rewards have been added!
    Althy's Judging Admin
    To try or not to try. To take a risk or play it safe.
    Your arguments have reminded me how precious the right to choose is.
    And because I've never been one to play it safe, I choose to try.




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