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Thread: Workshop: Flowers

  1. #1
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    Workshop: Flowers

    Name of Completed Thread: Flowers
    Name of Authors: Hysteria
    Type of Thread: Quest
    Thread Length: 18 Posts
    Feedback Rewards: (Post Length of Thread/10) * ((EXP Needed to Level)*0.05) EXP
    Date Closed: Cinco de Mayo!

    The fascinating, unusual universe of Talent continues to grow and change. Enjoy the next chapter!

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    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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    Hi Hyst how are ya? Thanks for letting me judge ya. I don't think I've ever did a workshop for you yet This will be fun!

    Story:

    Storytelling: (10 Points) Ok first things first your poem is quite melancholy. That really sets the tone for the entire story it's a touch on the dark side if I remember you lean on the dark side any way so that's neither here nor there. The story was pretty good in spite of its melancholy start.

    Setting: (10 Points) This believe it or not is the start of the action scenes. With out the geography of an action scene the action gets confusing. Think Hitman or something done by Michael Bay. It frustrates the audience you set up the setting pretty good explaining the scene it's weather and the "feel" of the people.

    Pacing: (10 Points) The pacing was pretty smooth. If I had to compare it to a running pace I'd give it about a 5K pace. You're not jumping from scene to scene at a break neck pace making me wonder what the heck is going on it's a really smooth pace and I have time to absorb the scene before you move on.

    Character:

    Communication: (10 Points) I had no problems trying to understand what your character was going about. The poem was a good start and both your internal and external dialogue forwarded the plot quite well. The use of NPC's also showed what sort of character you character is both in what they thought of them and how he interacted with them.

    Action: (10 Points) Action scenes are tricky thing to get right too much detail and things get muddled, too little and you got the Michael Bay problem. Your action scenes are pretty detailed but not so detailed that I go cross eyed slogging through endless details. You set up the the action and the geography so it's very hard to get lost and the use of pro and proper nouns help out too.

    Persona: (10 Points) I got a good sense of your character reading your solo. But then solo's are nothing but an examination of the character and thus the persona. Through your writing the persona of Talen came out nice and clear though I got one mild complaint. I am not a fan of first person in role play. It's a mild thing but still it's there. In a solo it's quite fine but when you use first person while RPing with other people it gets a bit jarring switching back and forth.

    Prose:

    Mechanics: (10 Points) elbissopmi s'taht hsilgne liaf em

    Clarity: (10 Points) Your writing is quite clear and it seam's like all the punctuation right n proper so I can't really complain here. Even with it being a solo I don't have any problems figuring out who's who or what's what. Sometimes during a solo there can be so many him's and hers flying about that it can turn into a mess. Yours didn't.

    Technique: (10 Points) This is pretty much like Mechanics. I have no idea what to really write here. The first person aspect is a bit jarring but it's kind of reading The Last of the Breed or The Walking Drum both books I have enjoyed they had week endings but I still enjoyed them. All in all a good thread

    Wildcard: Good thread.

  3. #3
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    Story
    Storytelling, Setting, and Pacing

    I think you had quite a good foundation in place for a compelling story, with a lot of background going into the events that lead up to this moment. However, there was very little exposition to allow me as a reader to know more of what exactly was going on and the point of it all, and why everything happened as it did. Where things stand, I am more inclined to think of this as a thread with the sole purpose of justifying a character rebirth than anything more. I understand the need for that, but as a reader, it can be jarring to understand why things are as they are. The setting was sparse and did not feel particularly vivid, though there were mentions of it throughout to get a sense of things. The pacing itself did feel like it dragged a bit and quite honestly I took a break for a few days while reading because I didn't exactly feel engaged. This was in part to what I mentioned above, and later I'll mention the other reason. I'll also say this started out very strongly, to which at one point I was wondering why you workshopped it. Later I understood.


    Character
    Communication, Action, and Persona

    I'm still trying to sort through everything that happened here. Seph, despite his age, behaved like a rather young person. The girl, Hysteria's Brood Mother, seemed rather bizarre. And given her thoughts from first person, there would be no reason to detect anything that lead to the final reveal. There were no hints that I picked up on that pointed to that. Talen, for all his experience, seemed to get beat pretty easily. Things just didn't seem to add up.

    This also goes hand in hand with some clarity issues. For example:

    "There was nowhere for us to run, nothing to brace ourselves against, all we could do was try to brace ourselves and wait."

    If there was nothing to brace against, how is it that all you could do was brace yourself?


    Later you say:

    "I couldn't think, all I could do was think about my Lord and the white light."

    So you couldn't think, but all you could do was think?


    You later say through Seph's dialogue that he saw what happened to Talen, yet earlier in the thread you distinctly mention Seph not seeing those events.





    Prose
    Mechanics, Clarity, and Technique

    I'm gonna be a bit of a hard-ass on you here. Apologies in advance. This section drove me nuts. I wasn't half way through your thread before I had over 50 screenshots in my phone of errors. From typos, to homonyms, to incorrect punctuation, to contradictory statements. You wrote the word "draws" three times, when it should have been drawers. You used it's repeatedly instead of its. I just felt like you didn't bother at all to give this any attention when looking back. And I do think you would have caught the majority of the mistakes.

    Clutching his cloths instead of clothes.
    Capitalizing Red Cloaks in some places and not in others.
    Attemopting instead of attempting.
    Dragged away by her captives instead of captors.

    You also later repeated the same thing back to back about clearing away moss and dirt. Literally the same paragraph almost twice back to back because of changes you were likely making and didn't succeed at cleaning up.


    I want to give this section particular attention because quite frankly it was hard to even finish this thread given the volume of errors. The volume of mistakes was so high that it was genuinely disruptive to my desire to read the thread or my ability to enjoy it. It felt almost insulting, and I had to push through to the finish. It's like you invited me over for dinner, but hadn't bought the ingredients and your apartment smelled like feces.



    Wildcard

    You're almost level 15 and I want to believe you have a firm grasp of writing elements, of spelling and grammar, as well as have a good idea of what kind of product you were putting out. And that's what upsets me. If you just banged this out with the background idea in mind, but didn't bother giving it a once over, it would have been better suited as a no judgment. As it stands, you were putting this product in front of the eyes of others for feedback, but it didn't feel like it. It felt like you did this just for the 65.

    Maybe I'm wrong about that, and if so I'm sorry.


    You're a talented writer, you have good ideas and stories swimming through your mind, with great vision and ability. You have the narratives and events in place. I firmly believe that if you proof your work, clean up your errors, and consider how a reader may interpret your work, it might give your output a tremendous oomph. I genuinely started thinking this was so good that it should have been submitted for full rubric so it could have been a JC. Then as I went, it felt like your effort slowly slipped out of reach, which is a tragedy.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks Art. I stuggled to finish the thread, and it sat in a document unfinished for a few months. That is one reason the start was stronger than the end. The story I re-wrote, and there are a lot of unfinished elements that I had at the start and then didn't end up following through.

    The mistakes with spelling and grammer I wish was because I didn't check it. I steuggle to get mistake free writing. It is a lot better than it used to be, but I make a hell of a lot of mistakes when I write. If I don't proof my threads they are unreadable. Still, I need a better method to catch them all. Cloths rather than clothes is one I know I do without thinking. Le sigh... thanks for reading it, even if you weren't thrilled with the result

  5. #5
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    I bestow upon thee the fruit of my cynical bosom.

    Verily, suckle forth upon its bristly teat.


    Story

    The opening poem was straightforward, and pretty neat. It was maybe a bit slow to front-load Ana's backstory, but it was interesting enough. She seems pretty subservient to Talen, as evidenced by her fear to even move when he reacted in the 'comin' onto mah woman at the bar' scene. Brot's death was pretty clever, and well done. However, why does he have an extra copy of the map? Especially if they both apparently lead to the same place, since Seph meets them there. If one had been a fake, I could get it.

    Without mentioning Seph's dark skin at first, it was also confusing as to who he was when he was introduced by name afterward. The reveal that he just so happened to have been mapping out the building seemed pretty convenient, as well. Though his character comes through in his dialogue, it takes quite a while for the reader to learn his motivations. That may have been intended for suspense, but it was really just confusing.

    The way Ana suddenly gets possessed or something, to survive what was described as dozens of knives thrown at her, and gains the strength to crush a skull bare-handed, is never explained. I dunno if you wanted Ana's death to be tragic, but I was glad to see her gone. Her only character traits were bad ones, and her backstory was sprinted through eleven posts ago. It doesn't matter how tragic her backstory is, without some kind of redeeming characteristic, her death isn't very emotional. The reader has to want her to live. Her having at least one or two admirable traits would've lent her death much more impact, I think.

    That dialogue between Ana and Talen was odd as well. At this, presumably the emotional crux of the thread, I still don't know anything about their relationship with eachother other than her obsession. I don't know if Talen ever even tried to save her. Everything I've seen of him so far in this thread leads me to believe he's possessive of her, so it kinda sounded like he just didn't want to bother. It just doesn't fit the Ana or Talen the reader has been shown so far. The ending was mainly confusing and strange, like I was missing out on half the story.

    Not sure why you cut to Seph in a hospital bed, then right back to the fight at the final moment. The suspense of the new post right before they struck eachother was well done, but to stop the action like that kinda spoiled the ending just before it happened by letting the reader know he lived. This was a pretty interesting read at first, but the ending threw me off.


    Setting

    Much of your description of the underground bar was passive and tell-ish; a lot of 'were's and 'seem's. The setting was mostly done in a set-it-and-forget-it manner, with a few exceptions, and was pretty light over-all. I think avoiding passive description and using more techniques like metaphor and personification would help sharpen the imagery. Developing the habit of 'checking in' with the setting every now and then, and trying to keep those details steady and often, would improve this category a lot.


    Pacing

    You kept a mostly uniform post length, and you used that new-post split often and well for your transitions, though you succumbed to the same pacing shifts between sections of prose and dialogue that a lot of people do. A bunch of back and forth dialogue running into a wall of description can be jarring without some bits of description mixed in to smooth the transition.


    Communication

    You did a decent job of showing Seph's personality through his dialogue. You showed more of Ana through what she didn't say, which was fitting. Talen said very little, however, and since he wasn't the point of view of the reader, we got very little insight into him and his motivations. This was the main detractor to the emotional impact of him getting sealed into the sword; we didn't know him well enough to care.


    Action

    Most of the action was done well enough. I don't think wire is sturdy enough to be used as a lockpick, but that's just a small detail. The scene of Seph holding the doorway was a little tropey, with them entering one-by-one like a bad action movie, but it was described clearly enough. There wasn't a whole lot of action, but I had no major issues with the way it was described.


    Persona

    The introduction of Seph was pretty bare-bones and out of left field. Since you didn't mention him having dark skin, I had to assume he was someone other than the man who took the map at the end of the previous post. It seems a bit off that you only introduced this character after establishing him as an enemy of Talen's enemies, and showing that he knows both Talen an Ana, but you don't explain his relationship to them. Tying him back to the man who found the map on Brot after the fact also makes him seem unrelated, yet he knows them.

    We got pretty much nothing of Talen this whole thread, other than he doesn't like people hitting on Ana at bars. We got very little of Ana as well. She seemed like a one-dimensional stockholm-syndrome case, but then she flashes a toothy grin right after losing her master. Her reactions were fairly contradictory, and the weird dominating side of her that came out at the end didn't seem to fit the rest at all. Given that she was the point of view, you could've hinted at that more in her thoughts and internal reactions to things earlier in the thread.

    Aisgust was probably the most interesting character. We don't know Seph's motivations, but Ais' are clear by his actions. His death was pretty lackluster, and seemed kind of out of character. This was a man who apparently had gone to great lengths to trap Talen, and was cautious in his public dealings. It seemed like he could've played a greater role, but he blindly charges some demon lady expecting this reluctant friend of hers to join him, just based on his word.


    Mechanics

    Mainly, you need to remember to add commas after 'and's and 'but's, and also at pauses. The best trick I've heard for this is to speak the sentence, in your head or out loud, and put commas where you would naturally pause. There are certainly plenty of typos and whatnot, I've listed the ones I found below, but I'll refrain from giving you a second ribbing. Best advice I have there is to find something that has spell-check, and be very careful when re-reading to look for homonyms, those words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Just keep adding things to that editing checklist, and I'm sure these issues will disappear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Notes
    I left out the ones that repeat what Artemis said.
    Post 1: "The cobbles stones"
    Post 2: "then I’d be have been free"
    Post 3: "among the frozen builds around us."
    "Icy clung to the door frame"
    "The short, sharp rap of Talen’s knuckles against the door were a signal" - Subject/verb agreement.
    "their eyes, remembering myself looked away hurriedly."
    "Talen seem unimpressed"
    "and green eyes between mattered blonde hair."
    Post 4: "at the show of force and lent forward."
    "Talen and the Drow seemed unphased" - 'unfazed'
    "of which the Drow liberated a few of the into his pocket"
    "going to spill out of me chest"
    Post 5: "Humans taken anything offered to them"
    Post 7: "Talen pushed passed" - 'past'
    "My footsteps were muffled as I walked, the sides and bottom were covered with moss" - Clause describes subject 'footsteps,' because it's the most recent subject.
    "and a day of slowing being put back together"
    "A slight shimmer, illuminated by what little light made it’s way down the tunnel, then the rush of gallons and gallons of water." - Incomplete, because 'shimmer' and 'rush' are both subjects; neither have a verb.
    Post 8: "A figured made small"
    Post 9: "His feel moved one after another"
    Post 11: "Each thing more useless than the last." - No verb.
    “Why the hell are undressing?!”
    Post 13: "The green skin jumped" - Lack of hyphen makes this confusing.
    "a dozen knives were loosened" - 'loosed'
    Post 16: "from the swords blade." - Lack of 's for ownership.

    Clarity

    As Artermis mentioned, the continuity of your details wavers fairly often. Understandable given the timescale of the thread, but still a habit that is very detrimental to clarity. I have learned to go back and re-read parts I'm unsure of, to make sure details stay consistent. It doesn't come easy, but it's a very helpful routine to develop.

    We don't learn Ana's name for a long time, but Seph is called by his name before he's even placed in the scene. I can understand wanting to introduce her name naturally, and it didn't really matter in first person, but it still seemed odd. Also a bit odd to call him Seph, then only refer to him as 'the figure' for a full paragraph. Sounded like you meant someone else. You eventually tied him together with the man who found the map on Brot by describing his skin, but it was so long afterward that I expected them to be separate people. I still don't think I know what his relationship was to Ana and Talen, and why he followed them.

    My only other point of confusion was that Talen was a 'misty' and 'ghostly' visage in one scene, then solid enough to appear normal later, despite apparently running out of time to keep his form. He even carried a man to the hospital somehow.


    Technique

    There was a fair bit of passive voice in the opening paragraph, but it still sounded good, and had some decent imagery. You used mostly short thoughts and sentences in the second post, strung together with commas, which kind of gave Ana the impression of simplicity. The transition to the more descriptive prose in the next post made me question if it was still from her perspective at first.

    Your switch to third person mid-way through the thread was odd, and some pronoun replacements are direly needed once Talen is out of the picture. You almost exclusively call Seph and Ana by their names after that. Repetition is a recurring issue, using the same word like 'twisted' twice in the same sentence. Another habit that is useful to develop, is to search for repeated words like that, and swap in synonyms. It's a good way to develop vocabulary as well.

    You did first person pretty well, but your third person was better. My main advice is to perhaps focus more on imagery, using metaphor and whatnot to make scenes more than just the backdrop for drama. You could also consider trying to change your word choices based on a particular scene's tone. Your prose was pretty similar in dull and dramatic moments; using more dramatic adjectives and verbs can help sell some of those emotional moments. Of course, be careful not to get too cheesy.


    It wasn't a bad thread all in all, there were a few cool ideas, and some spectacle, the story was just confusing and under-developed, kind of like a cheesy action movie. Can't be helped given the circumstances, but I still enjoyed a few scenes, especially the death-gem. I'm sure not all of this applies to your normal threads, but hopefully some of my feedback has been helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a PM.
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  6. #6
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    Hysteria's Avatar

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    Thanks for the feedback, I was trying to contrast Ana's first person with an objective narrator when following Seph. It was difficult to introduce the idea that when Ana was speaking as the narrator she saw things through a particular lens, one that was very much subjective. She plays the victim, but in reality he was always this monster standing over Talen. Perhaps there was a better way to contrast the points of view during the thread, such as Ana and Seph having their own part of the post throughout. However then it lacks the 'sudden reveal' that I was going for.

  7. #7
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    Hello! Thank you for choosing the workshop and for giving me a chance to comment on your story! Given the quality of the comments above mine, I'll try to keep my contribution short and sweet.

    ***

    Story: Your opening four / five posts did a great job of setting up the dynamic between Talen and Ana, and of establishing Aisgust as the antagonist. I'm afraid, however, that this promise didn't carry over into the second and third acts. Your reveal of Ana's true identity was not underscored by her previous actions and thoughts, making her character more convenient plot device than tragic victim; Aisgust was underused as the primary antagonist and threw his life away for no reason (and with no real hint as to his story), and Seph served more as distraction and intended recipient of the Golden Sword than as a character we could relate to and get behind.

    Your choice of Ana as primary narrator undermined Talen's action sequence in the second act, as we were forced to observe it passively from afar. Switching to Seph for the finale, again with little to anchor us to his character, only then diminished the impact of Ana's daemonic transformation. Given that you started out so well in Ana's viewpoint, my suggestion would have been to explore her psyche a bit deeper during Talen's fight, and then remain there as she falls apart during Seph's rescue attempt / her transformation against Aisgust. Done well, this might have given this thread the emotional impact and coherence that I feel it deserved.

    Background: With regards to setting, I did appreciate your opening lines - they established the fact that the thread takes place in wintry Corone without sacrificing pacing - but I feel again that you failed to build on that. Writing in the first person gives the character in question plenty of opportunity to explore their surroundings via interaction, in place of making it more difficult to take an objective, panoramic view of the environment. Unfortunately you didn't really take advantage of this, and your passivity in what little you did give me ('seemed', 'looked like', etc.) made it difficult to get a handle on the backdrop to your characters. I barely got anything for the setting after you left the tavern.

    Your choice to give us Ana's backstory in post 2 would have worked well if you had kept revisiting it in Ana's thoughts / motivations throughout the thread, and then it had somehow tied deeper into her eventual transformation. As it is, you presented it, and then abandoned it altogether... which, admittedly, is more than we got for Seph or for Aisgust. I also got no hint whatsoever regarding the Order of the Crimson Cloak and their motives, which contributed to the second and third acts ending up as a muddle of action with no context.

    Characters: The strongest character here was Aisgust - his dispatching of Brot in post 5 was easily the highlight of the thread, and his actions hint at a deeper motive that unfortunately you never explore in depth before his untimely and anticlimactic demise. Talen exists only on the periphery of the narrative, and Seph is given no characterisation beyond what little he displays while Ana and Talen both take advantage of him.

    The biggest problem is Ana - in the first act she is very much a doormat to Talen and everybody else around her, which makes for a poor protagonist unless you can somehow convince the reader that her internal thoughts are of interest. Her eventual transformation suggests that this might have been the case, but once again you fail to explore this at all. I'm uncertain whether you wanted her 'grin' in post 10 to hint at her hidden persona, but I'm afraid it came across as completely out of the blue and out of character; from then until the end of the thread, I had no clue what was going on inside her head.

    Technique: Between Sir Artemis and Ebivoulya, the reviews above mine covered much of what I noticed - misspelling, misuse of homonyms, dialogue punctuation, errors in grammar, and so forth - so I won't touch upon that so much. One thing that I might add is your early inconsistent capitalisation of "Orc", "Drow", et al. - I'm not in favour, since you wouldn't (and don't) capitalise human, dog, horse, or even goblin, and it draws unnecessary attention to the race of the character rather than their personality.

    That said, I do understand how difficult it can be sometimes to proofread your own writing, especially after you've spent so long trying to craft the story in the first place. I'm certain that I'm not the only person on the site who'd be willing to do a readthrough pre-submission, so if all else fails, I wouldn't hesitate to ask somebody else for a fresh set of eyes!

    ***

    In conclusion, I feel that this thread started off strong in story, but failed to meet that potential in its second and third acts. I can only hope that you don't take this critique too harshly, because it's not to say that there weren't elements that worked: Aisgust's murder of Brot was well written, and Ana's transformation could have been devastating if presented properly. If I'm honest, it's almost as if you lost sight of the tale that you wanted to tell - Ana's fall - and instead got caught up in what you wanted to happen in terms of character development - Talen becoming a sword, to be wielded by Seph. And unfortunately your mechanics and technique made it even more difficult to discern the true intent, both of you as a storyteller, and of the characters involved in your story.

    I can only hope that some of my comments above are of use in your future writing!

    ***

    Post 1:
    Spoiler:
    Great poem. The imagery of your opening lines is evocative, but the random placing of 'Our story starts...' detracts.


    Post 2:
    Spoiler:
    Frontloading character history in first-person past-tense is an interesting literary choice. I can see how you try to inject personality into the facts thus related, but this comes at the cost of story context - who if anybody is she relating this to, and why should we care?


    Post 3:
    Spoiler:
    I like how you establish the relationship between Talen and the narrator in two paragraphs, without sacrificing the setting. One suggestion might be to iron out some of the passive voice, alongside verbs such as 'seemed' and 'looked' - although it emphasises the narrator's submissive nature, writing every sentence in this way makes it difficult for readers to discern the key phrases within your writing that they should focus on.


    Post 4:
    Spoiler:
    The strength of this post is how it allows you to write Talen from the perspective of a third party who has nowhere near his experience or skill. There's little unexpected here, but story-wise I felt it was well executed.


    Post 5:
    Spoiler:
    I'll note it here since it's where it first became annoying, but some of your dialogue comes across as unrealistic. Some of this is because of your choice in punctuation, and some of it is the immersion-breaking use of parentheses and a new line for translating the goblin speech (although kudos for writing it out in goblin!). Agree with Ebivoulya, though - Brot's death was well written.


    Post 6:
    Spoiler:
    Given the integrity of everything that's come before, the mid-post jump here is quite jarring. Also, who's Seph? Why should we care about him? Why are you introducing him into the thread here?


    Post 7:
    Spoiler:
    Here's where the relationship between Ana and Talen begins to break down - I can understand that to start with she stuck with Talen for survival, based on the events you described in post 1, but why is she still with him? Does she really have no thoughts or initiative of her own?


    Post 8:
    Spoiler:
    Again I'm left wondering why we keep up with Seph at this stage, with no idea of his backstory or his motivations. I'm also confused now as to the environment in which this is taking place - you haven't revisited Talen's and Ana's surroundings, either via description or via interaction, for some time now.


    Post 9:
    Spoiler:
    And here is where writing the main story from Ana's point of view starts to hurt. I really have no idea what's happening at this stage with Talen, and although we finally get insight into Seph, it's difficult to see how it advances the story.


    Post 10:
    Spoiler:
    Why is Ana so antagonistic to the Crimson Cloaks ("freaks of the depraved church")? - is making adamantine such a crime? I can understand that Talen and Ana acted in self-defence up until now, but Ana's reaction seems to suggest something else that hasn't been explored. I'm also not sure about how quickly she turned to cooperation with Seph - both her personality in this post and Seph's seem out of context with what's been written before.


    Posts 11-17:
    Spoiler:
    From here onwards, the clarity of your story begins to suffer in your rush to get the the end. We know very little of Seph, which makes it difficult to empathise with his viewpoint as he tries to get Ana through the Crimson Cloaks. Most glaringly: why is he helping her, even at the risk to his own person?

    The reveal regarding Ana is an interesting one, but not utilised to its full potential. As Artemis and Ebivoulya have both pointed out, you didn't foreshadow it enough despite the possibilities inherent in the first person presentation of her thoughts.

    Finally, I didn't get anything out of the final three-way skirmish between Aisgust and his goblins, Seph, and Ana. There was no sense of the stakes involved, and Talen's involvement seriously underwhelmed.
    -Level 10-

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  8. #8
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    That's a hella lot of good feedback Flames!

    Thanks for focusing on the way the characters interact. I think that the constant re-write really stuffed up the character's backstories in the end. Originally I had Seph coming in later, more out of the blue. Then when I changed it so he was in the tavern I ended up cutting out more of a set up later. I really should have stopped the story at a key point (when Ana was caught), then started it against with Seph. Even if I then put him in the tavern and jumped backwards in time, it would have allowed me to properly introduce Talen, and then I could have added more info around the existing story covered by Ana. Perhaps then I'd be able to better contradict Ana's thoughts with her behaviours.

  9. #9
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    Well this is a somewhat bittersweet thread for me. I’ve spent quite a lot of time with Talen, from when he was a fresh faced boy-thing back in the Ixian days to the latest LCC. I suppose that it’s a good thing to be here at the end, witnessing a legend’s finale.

    But was it a good ending?

    Story: This story didn’t really come together until the last couple of posts, as if you weren’t sure exactly how you wanted to put it out there. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be an adventure or a spy type story what with the shadowy characters, secret plots, and backstabbing. That’s not to say that this wasn’t an interesting story, but it did feel a little scattered.

    Setting: The bar and the temple were the two main set pieces in this story, and the rest was simple road filler. The bar was evocative of a clandestine creature feature, but all of the cloak-and-dagger involved with it didn’t seem to fit. Aside from being a place with non-human patrons and shadowy deals, why was it so cloistered? For the other area, the temple, I got a feeling of a building façade erected over a more massive, corrupt place. Entering the building and the water tunnel trap were cool and brought my into the story as a reader, but once inside it was just another featureless large stone location. Nothing about the inside of the temple evoked any meaning to the red cloaks other than generic magic bad-guys.

    Pacing: I liked the slow buildup from Ana’s point of view at the beginning. It gave a bit of depth to who I believed would be the narrator. This went well through the bar scene, but the “shadowy figure following” lines at the ends of the next few posts felt really out of place. There wasn’t enough there to add to the story other than to tell me that someone else was on Talen’s trail. And it was so short and jarring that it really broke the flow of the rest of the posts. Once into the temple, when Seph became a real character, things went back to being on an even flow until the final confrontation between evil-Ana and everyone else. Then things sprang into hyper-mode and the final scene simply ended. It made for a bit of an anti-climatic finish.

    Communication: For some reason, the goblin-speak in the bar with the translation felt awkward. It wasn’t just the language, it was the overly formal way that the goblin spoke. From the description you gave of when Ana first encountered them, I expected something a bit more quick and snippy to the way they talked. Talen’s non-committal grunts didn’t do much to portray his character or to set up his true motivations. Ana seemed to go from frightened, overwhelmed, and worried when she was captured to quippy and petulant once Seph freed her. Seph was good, pretty consistent and pleasant to read. The Red Cloaks chasing the two of them on the other hand didn’t read as a realistic way of reacting at all and it felt more like I was reading pre-scripted NPC lines from a game.

    Action: Most of the action in the story was really short and choppy, as expected of powerful characters. These were executed with mixed results, however. The first thing that really caught my attention was Talen tentacle-grabbing Brot. Ok, I thought, this gives me something to latch onto. Talen is playing it emotionless but really cares about Ana. Unfortunately this really didn’t go anywhere. Immediately after Talen returns to quiet brooding, then becomes a sword, then says “sorry, but I wanted to kill you because you’re an abomination and it’s my fault.” I feel that showing a stronger bond between these two would have made the end a much more emotional affair than simply “ok, now you have to die.” Ana’s actions in the temple once Seph freed her were also jarring, and the way she was written went from worry to snippy to afraid to insane in the space of a couple of posts. I can see her actions as her being unstable post-reading the story, but while reading it the first time there wasn’t anything to set that up and it was a really jarring read. On the other hand, once Seph was fully introduced he was the delight of the story and I really enjoyed reading him. Everything he did felt natural for what I knew of the character and I found myself pleased as he became the narrative focus. Also, breaking a man’s fist with your bicep is awesome.

    Persona: The crux of this story revolves around Ana becoming corrupted and turning into evil-Ana and in the end that was just really confusing in how it all came together. Though she mentioned being corrupted by Talen simply through following him and the fact that they’d travelled all over the world together, plus her necro-healing blight, I never got the feeling that Ana was a corrupted creature until “surprise” she was. Talen’s complete nonchalant nature throughout the thread didn’t help this. Using Talen to foreshadow this would have helped greatly. As it was Ana went from completely helpless to unstoppable monster within the span of half a post and seemingly completely out of the blue.

    Mechanics: This thread was all over the place, but none more so than the little snippets of the “shadowy figure” following Talen and Ana. You only barely briefly discussed why he was doing so and in the end it made no difference that you kept his identity a secret. If there’s no reason to keep something a secret from the reader, a surprise of some sort, then simply lay it all out up front.

    Clarity: Here again you would lose points with me because of the way that things were laid out. The shadowy figure strikes again. Also, since there was so little setup of Ana’s heel-turn I had to stop and reread when it happened to know exactly what happened between “I can’t defend myself I don’t know how to fight” and “Ana SMASH!”

    Technique: I can see the outline of the idea that you wanted for this thread, and you tried to put together a noble end for Talen, but neither Talen nor Ana really ended up the focus of the thread. That honor fell to Seph, and he was my favorite part of the thread, but the rest of the thread doesn’t feel like that Seph’s focus is intentional.

    Wildcard: 0/10 for no more Talen, though 10/10 for the potential for William to go find his now-sword former comrade and steal him for shenanigans.

    All in all, it feels like this thread was full of emotion and the conflicting nature of that came through in the writing. It’s sad to see Talen off in such a way, but sometimes the only way to get something this heavy done is just to finish and let it go. Aloha Talen.
    "I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me." - Call of Cthulhu

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  10. #10
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    Hey Hyst! I enjoyed reading Flowers, you put a lot of important character development into this thread and that development fairly carried it along. You took some definite risks, and while they did not always pay off, I truly commend you for putting out a strong effort and trying different things. Hopefully this review will help you gain a new perspective on some of the choices you made, and help you build toward even better things in the future. If you have any questions or want further clarification or feedback on anything, feel free to PM me. Without further ado, on to the rubric!

    [top]Plot


    The opening poem was intriguing, and the paragraph following it set the stage for the thread in a lovely way. Overall the opening post could have provided a stronger narrative hook, had the poem seen a few more edits, and had the paragraph contained a bit of action or something else to pull the reader in. Remember, the goal with a narrative hook is to give the reader something to sink their teeth into, something so appetizing they won't want to let go. While the opening was strong, it lacked that certain it factor that would compel a casual reader to continue onward.

    The middle of the story evolved quite naturally, raising the stakes with Talen's disappearance and continuing to raise them as Ana and Seph attempted to escape. The climax started off strong, but then ended a bit abruptly and led into an only semi-satisfying conclusion. Ending the battle scene with a blackout and then skipping straight to Seph in the infirmary felt like a bit of a cop out, but was well managed. While most of the threads of this story were gathered up in the ending, it was a fairly basic conclusion that failed to spark much intrigue around what would happen next.

    Despite jumping character perspectives several times, and shifting the pace of the thread regularly, this story flowed quite well, hurrying past unnecessary details and lingering over what was important. The only thing that marred your pacing was a few clarity issues, which will be discussed in the Prose section.

    [top]Character


    The character development was really what drove this thread. The multiple perspectives of Ana, Seph, and the dark elf Aisgust were managed well, and all played their part in building the tension as the story wore on. That said, more background on the characters (Ana in particular) would have helped earlier on. The initial description of her life pre-Talen was almost entirely devoid of details, so there was really no tangible change between "old Ana" and "new Ana" for the reader to appreciate. As the plot moved forward however, more information was provided, and each character developed their own unique identity.

    Overall the communication was strong; the dialogue served up some spice along with exposition, and different characters had distinct ways of talking. Ana's internal dialogue was equally well written. There were, however, a few communication based issues. The most glaring one was the overuse of "scream sounds", for lack of a better term. Having Ana say "AAAAAAAHHHH!" really added nothing to the story, and this occurred on multiple occasions. Rather than including repeated wordless dialogue, in the future try describing screams. Something like "Ana let out a bone-shattering scream" would have served a much stronger purpose than simply "Aaaaah."

    While the action was mostly well written and easy enough to follow, word repetition occurred frequently enough to be jarring. When re-reading posts, watch out for any words repeated in the same/adjacent sentences, and either use a synonym or find a different way of describing the action. This can be difficult in scenes where you need to describe the same body part more than once. Here's an example from the thread:

    "Ana’s head flopped to the side as she met Seph’s eyes. The golden sword had sliced through her arm impaling Aisgust and partially into her chest. The Drow fell to the floor and the pale woman lifted her remaining claw like hand towards Seph.

    “No…. no,” she muttered, clawing at the sword blade embedded in her chest, “NO!” "

    Referring to Ana's hand as being "claw like" actually weakens the subsequent metaphor of her "clawing" at the air. There are a number of ways that this section could have been modified to omit the repetition; it's just a matter of noticing it as you edit and then re-thinking what was written.

    [top]Prose


    Mechanically speaking, this thread featured a number of repeated errors. While it seems that a closer editing job (preferably reading the text out loud to yourself) could have captured most of these, I will go through how some of these problems can be repaired.

    Capitalization: This thread features a number of out-of-place capital letters, most notably on the word "drow". When deciding whether or not to give a word a capital, ask yourself whether or not it is a proper name (drow is not). It can also be helpful to think in comparative terms. For example in this case, would you capitalize the word "human"? Likely you would not, and the drow race is no more deserving of capitalization.

    Word Confusion: It was difficult to tell at times whether some of these were typos or actual mistakes. You spelled "drawers" as "draws" several times, wrote "Talen pushed past" as "Talen pushed passed" in post 7, and "a metre of so" instead of "a metre or so" in post 8. For more examples, I'd encourage you to take a gander at my rough notes, which will be in a spoiler tag at the bottom of the judgment.

    Several nice metaphors appeared throughout the thread, but if there were any examples of foreshadowing or other high level literary technique, I failed to notice them. Be careful when using similes and similar metaphors. While the devices you used provided nice word pictures, they often fell in the middle of muddled sentences. Here's an example from post 7:

    "I didn’t respond, even with the touch of doubt running fingers far colder than the frozen air down the back of my neck."

    This was a nice piece of personification, but the sentence surrounding it made the picture it provides slightly muddy. An easy rewrite would have been "I didn't respond, even with the frigid fingers of doubt running down the back of my neck." In this metaphor, you're comparing a feeling (doubt) directly to the sensation of someone's cold fingers running down the back of Ana's neck. Adding a second comparison (the coldness of doubt compared to the coldness of the air) really only serves to confuse the reader and spoils what was otherwise a beautiful piece of imagery. When writing such advanced techniques, remember that your sentence structure is incredibly important to their success.

    There were a couple of clarity issues which impacted the pacing of this thread, most notably the switch from Ana's perspective to Seph's in post 6. This was a short post, further divided into two by the change in characters. Remember that your reader will need a chance to "settle in" to the new perspective every time you switch. In most instances you handled these transitions well, but in post 6 it happened quite suddenly, and only lasted for a few lines. Overall I think if Seph's part of post 6 had been longer, it would have flowed better, giving the reader a chance to adapt to the scene.

    Wildcard "Jomil's breath it's cold!" I really enjoyed this original Althanas idiom.

    My rough notes:
    Spoiler:
    Rough Notes

    Post 1: I enjoy the idea of starting a thread with a poem - even did it myself once. I liked the poem; I'm not used to criticizing poetry, but I do feel like it could have used a bit more attention. Any time you are using very few words, those words should be carefully considered, and I can point out a couple of changes that would have made it better from a purely technical point of view. The third line of the first stanza should read "Carry away my thoughts" not "Carries," in order to be grammatically correct. The second line of the third stanza would read much more powerfully as "Dying slowly upon the horizon", putting the verb in a position of power and giving more value to "slowly". Overall though it was an illustrative poem with a good cadence.

    The paragraph following was equally strong, as a piece of description. However, it did not provide much of a narrative hook, and in fact it caused some confusion due to the use of second person. If you decide to continue experimenting with this point of view I might recommend getting it up front a bit more, using a "your" closer to the beginning so it doesn't come as a surprise. If switching from first to second person mid-post was an intentional risk, I applaud you for it, but I don't feel it benefitted the writing.
    cobbles stones = cobblestones

    Post 2: disease sprung up = disease sprang up
    ...spider queen's energies followed out = energies flowed out
    I really feel like this post could have used... something more. I wanted some information on the narrator; all I got was that she was a girl or young woman who suffered at the hands of a militia. It would have been nice to have some detail of her life prior to this, so that the reader could connect emotionally with the loss of innocence and corruption coming from her relationship with Talen.

    Post 3: Two problems with your opening simile; I'm fairly certain that cotton and wool are two separate things (cotton is a plant, wool comes from animals) and neither are particularly hollow. This sounded cool, but a second after I read it I stopped and went "wait, what?". Be certain that your comparisons make sense in some way.
    foot falls = footfalls
    "My shoes were good" - in what way? Describing the materials and the make could have been interesting.
    Rather than saying it was "very, very cold", this could have been a great spot for a metaphor. Using 'very' is a phony intensifier at best. Using it twice is even phonier.
    Avoid starting sentences with "Yet,", this one would have read better without it.
    non-descript = nondescript
    Icy clung = ice clung (I'm guessing)
    decrepid = decrepit
    I caught one of their eyes, remembering myself looked away hurriedly = I caught one of their eyes, and remembering myself, looked away hurriedly.
    Talen seem unimpressed = Talen seemed
    No need to capitalize "Orcs", much like you wouldn't capitalize humans.
    Nice description of the orcs and goblins.

    Post 4: No need to capitalize Drow (same as above)
    lent = leaned
    ... of which the Drow liberated a few of the into... - there's a word missing here, but I'm not sure what it is. Coins, maybe?
    If the proper name is "order of the Crimson Cloak" then Order should be capitalized.
    adamantium = adamantine
    me chest = my chest
    At this point in the story, I still find myself wanting more information on the narrator. The comment "This was my life now" reminded me that I don't know anything about where she come from, or any details about what she's been going through recently.

    Post 5: Good transition to the perspective of the new characters.
    drink. out on a table = drink, out on a table
    Humans taken anything = Humans take anything
    Interesting way of expressing the gobbledygook. I have a feeling it could become cumbersome in lengthier dialogues, so I might recommend doing a line or two this way and then switching to the translation along with "said in gobbledygook," or some such.

    Post 6: Should read "At sunrise the next day," or even better, "We set out at sunrise the next day."
    Why is traveling by horse her least favorite method? This would have been a great spot for a little more detail.
    Out thick cloaks = Our thick cloaks
    The switch to Seph's perspective was fairly sudden and surprising - writing a bit more here might have helped ease the reader into the change.

    Post 7: Talen pushed passed = Talen pushed past
    fed over the years by of water and dirt - unnecessary "of"
    completely ignored = completely ignoring
    "even with the touch of doubt..." this was a nice simile, but the sentence you used it in was a bit busy, muddying the word picture.

    Post 8: A figured = A figure
    I'll be honest, I had to re-read the first couple paragraphs of this post in order to get an idea of what was going on, and I'm still not a hundred per cent clear on that. Be really careful with sudden scene transitions like this, and throw the reader a bone by providing some more information.
    nothing to brace ourselves against, all we could do was try to brace ourselves and wait. - Using "brace ourselves" twice in the same sentence is repetitive and reminds me that I'm reading a story.
    Moments seem to stretch = Moments seemed to stretch
    a metre of so = a meter or so

    Post 9: white binds = white bonds
    "Everything hurt, and what didn't was numb." - try to avoid contradicting yourself like this, it's confusing for the reader.
    Just after the switch to Seph's perspective "cleared away the moss and dirt" gets repeated from one sentence to the next. Really try to work on getting rid of these repetitions.
    His feel = his feet
    The ending of this post seemed awkward and out of place. More than halfway into a thread is not the best time to start providing character background.

    Post 10: "I couldn't think, all I could do was think about my Lord..." as before, try to avoid having the narrator contradict herself like this.
    one moment dragging out = one moment dragged out
    attemopting = attempting
    The final action here was confusing because when donning a cloak, you don't pull it over your head.

    Post 11: Saying "Ana paced backwards and forwards" makes it sound like she is actually walking backwards half the time. Saying "Ana paced restlessly" or "Ana paced back and forth" would have worked better.
    Ana's shout made no sense to me, I don't understand why she shouted or what about.
    "Sound an Alert!" - no need to capitalize Alert
    draws = drawers
    the door started banging - this doesn't really make sense. It could have worked better as "the door shook beneath the banging" or some such.
    draws = drawers
    The next Seph caught his arm as he entered - this is a very awkward sentence and begs to be split into multiple smaller sentences.

    Post 13: The description of action at the beginning of this post is a little straightforward and repetitive. For example, you used the word green to describe the goblins three times in as many sentences.
    passed = past
    Were the goblins throwing daggers at Ana? It was difficult to tell, "unleashed" is not a particularly descriptive verb and you used it twice to describe the same action.
    It seemed odd that Aisgust was yelling to restrain Ana, and then stabbed her.

    Post 15: at the form he has played a part = at the form he had played a part
    Ana's wordless outbursts are fairly offputing, I would recommend using descriptive language for such outcries in the future (ex. instead of "YAAAAAH", "she screamed brokenheartedly."
    Post 16: Opening sentence is missing a verb, perhaps "casting" would have worked
    rouge = rogue
    I had kind of forgotten about the earthen fists at this point, keeping them more present could have been helpful.
    Roaring "Fuck! Fuck!" (or anything for that matter) after being smashed so hard in the chest he skidded backwards, seems unlikely for Seph. He could have maybe panted it, or gasped the same.
    swords blade = sword's blade
    Again, the "Aaaahhh!" doesn't really add anything to the moment. Starting the sentence "Ana screeched as dozens..." would have been stronger.
    ... They fell to him as prey to bluefin
    for the Jya's warriors knew not how to swim...
    13-3-2

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