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Contest April-May 2017 Short Story Contest Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 17, 2017.

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Which Story or Stories Do You Like Best? (choose up to three)

Poll closed Jun 10, 2017.
  1. Story One: Awakening

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  2. Story Two: Blood for the Blood God

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
  3. Story Three: The Knife

    6 vote(s)
    42.9%
  4. Story Four: Castoff

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
  5. Story Five: Freedom Part Two: The Name

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  6. Story Six: Into the Starlight

    4 vote(s)
    28.6%
  7. Story Seven: Duty

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
  8. Story Eight: Torn

    5 vote(s)
    35.7%
  9. Story Nine: Heartbeats

    2 vote(s)
    14.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Torn

    Is either a prequel or a sequel.
     
  2. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    In the poetry comp I have changed my votes at least six times. (Good job I know nothing about poetry** then...) But I thought it was always one voting pass and done.

    Things working differently = confuses.

    **I could go break the tie on a whim.
     
  3. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    You were able to in the past, I thnk Scalenex changed it to prevent last minute ties.
     
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  4. Stormscales
    Saurus

    Stormscales Active Member

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    Very well put. A fight scene is not compelling in and of itself. Problem is, we don't have all that many points of reference for other types of scenes, because a large part of the fluff in the GW books is fight scenes. As I've noted in another thread, the Seraphon rulebook for Age of Sigmar says nothing about how they actually live, how they interact with one another, etc. There is not even a single line of dialogue. It's just Seraphon killing stuff. I understand the necessity to showcase what the army is supposed to look and act like on the battlefield, but the writers could have done much, much better.

    I fully second the Fury Road love.

    And thanks a lot for your review of my story! (Not telling you which one it is, of course.)
     
  5. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    If someone miss-clicked, I can temporarily enable vote switching, but Bowser is right. I do not generally allow vote switching to prevent last minute ties. I also opted for not being able to see the results until AFTER you vote. I want people to vote for their genuine favorites and not be motivated by a desire to effect the outcome of the winner.

    We can probably open a literary discussion on this. Regardless if you have Lizardmen, Seraphon or even one of the lesser races the key to making an interesting fight scene is to have at least one character involved that the reader is invested in. Having high stakes for the battle is good too, but a small personal stake is generally more interesting than a large impersonal one. For example it's more interesting to have a human protagonist defending his daughter than to have a general abstractly defending 10,000 peasants. At least in my opinion...
     
  6. Stormscales
    Saurus

    Stormscales Active Member

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    Only 7 people have voted so far... Is this normal at this time of the contest? Is there a last-minute flurry of votes?

    I hope so, because right now we have a lot of ties. What happens if there's a tie? Do we do a second round?
     
  7. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    I kinda save mine until I have written reviews... :p
     
  8. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Usually a few but not many last minute votes, that's why I cut down the voting period from the usually 30 days.

    In the event of a tie, we have traditionally left it as a tie.
     
  9. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

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    I usually save mine until I have read the entries (curse you real life!)
     
  10. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Come on, you can do better than this. :D
     
  11. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    I have not voted. Yet. Not sure I have read them all.
     
  12. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

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    Not long to go now, still a 5 way tie.
     
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  13. tom ndege
    Skar-Veteran

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

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    Two of my votes involved in the tie... is that good or bad? o_O
     
  14. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    If it was like the poetry madness you could move your votes around and make it look like a race...:joyful:
     
  15. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    Such a small number of votes is weird... but what I would like to see, are reviews!
    Come on guys! ;)
     
  16. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Ripperdactil

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    Bit of a tricky time for me as i'm flying out to the States to go to a wedding and then almost straight away flying back to ol' blighty. So this will be a tricky week for me to do much. Maybe next week.
     
  17. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    If you insist. If my reviews are typo-laden it's KA's fault for rushing me.


    Let me preface by saying I only do critiques to help writers improve their craft. In pretty much every case I really had to reach for something negative in these pieces and in all cases the positives outweigh the negatives.


    Story Nine, “Heartbeats”: What a piece! I’ve rarely seen a piece do so much with so few words. First off, this qualifies as a short story telling a complete story with an introduction, middle, and end. It also covered the theme of martial honor quite well. At the same time, it could have been a strong contender in our recent poetry contest and I would have likely have voted for it or at least spent another ten minutes agonizing on how to assign my three poetry votes. Also, I usually wait till the end of the contest, but it’s hard not to give this the Scalenex Cup for heaping misery and pain on a likeable character with line.

    Hard to criticize. While I was impressed with how it did so much with few words, I would not be opposed to a longer piece here. Maybe that would have broken the pacing but a couple more heart beats would have been nice.


    Story Eight, “Torn”: I can attest to what TD4 said. This sequel was not written by the original author. The prequel to this piece can be found here.

    “Food for Thought” is one of the more memorable olde short stories in my opinion, Its fun to see a fresh take on what I call Llama-verse. (I hear TD4 groaning, excellent). It fits the spirit of the source material but I can see the author’s fresh take. A Saurus speaking in a folksy country accent was a risk but I think it paid off. I liked the set-up, structure, pacing, foreshadowing and characterization.

    I just have misgivings with one line. “There’s got to be at least thirty of them! Professionally trained. The llamas won’t help us here. And we don’t even have weapons!” I know it’s weird to use the phrase “suspension of disbelief” when I’m dealing with a setting with folksy-sounding seven foot tall bipedal dinosaurs defending llamas against mystic creatures of Norse folklore. They could have weapons. The fact that they were unarmed moved this struggle from impressively heroic to moderately implausible.


    Story Seven “Duty”: When I see a piece with both a warm-blooded and a cold-blooded main character in the same story I look for balance. Comparing and contrasting the two main characters and their viewpoints. This did not disappoint. We established both main characters as duty-bound loyalists to their cause willing to suffer indignities including but not limited to pain and death. Both are willing to pursue unorthodox plans even if it leads to them losing face with their comrades. One place where the two main characters are different was the human projected utter certainty in his actions and the saurus seemed to hold reservations, which of course made him even braver for his actions.
    :
    What would I have liked to see differently, I would have like to see more about the human. The human’s and saurus’ similarities and differences played off each other well, but it a little off-balance. Both the human and saurus were well-developed but the saurus got more attention.


    Story Six “Into the Starlight”: It’s always a challenge to have a Slann as your protagonist. The Slann’s pondering was both relatable as a personal conflict and it hit on the notion of cold-blooded honor. I liked his exile to a relatively nice place, but it’s still a sad exile. That seemed very Slann-like. It did a fair job showing the Slann as being alien enough to be exotic but not so alien as to be un-relatable.

    I would have liked to see a little bit more balance in the pacing. Introduction, conflict, resolution. The introduction part was a little bit lengthy and the resolution seemed a bit short and rush and overly condensed. Maybe I’m too picky. Slann themselves think a lot before acting and the future of this story looks like it was meant to be uncertain and scary which is easier to pull off with brevity.


    Story Five “Freedom Part Two, The Name”: An interesting story, unique premise, and excellent characterization. Not many pieces uses a Kroxigor as a main character or protagonist but this piece did. This piece portrayed the alien and relateable-ness of Skaven and Kroxigor well with nice contrast between someone simple and honest and someone scheming and dishonest.

    This one is weird. It’s a sequel but part one has never been posted on Lustria-Online. The only people who read it are me and the author. I think Part One would have been a stronger entry. If one is going to post a sequel in a short story contest, it should relate to the previous piece but it should also be able to stand alone and I’m not sure this does that. Also, part one hit the themes of the contest better. By part-two, the decisions have been made and the main “Man versus Self” conflict has run its course.


    Story Four "Castoff": We seem to get a fair number of sea epics in our contests. This one weaves the contest theme into it very well. I got a very good sense of the protagonist’s cold-blooded honor. The introduction (need to atone, conflict over how to serve duty, setting as the sea), conflict (fight on the ship) and resolution (found duty by taking ship) was well structured and well-paced. We don’t get a lot of first-person narratives, so that was a nice change of pace. Covered both halves of the contest theme very well.

    The advantage of first-person narrative is a very deep immersion in the protagonist’s thoughts and senses. The writer covered the narrator’s gills and sharp teeth. We had a good evocative description of a bone crunching. That’s good imagery but I wouldn’t mind a bit more. The protagonist seemed rather human. Too human. I want more primal savagery, reptilian sense of smell and taste, hyperawareness of the outside temperature. The sea was a bit quiet too. In literature the sea can be gentle, it can be harsh. The sea is nurturing and destructive. In literature the sea can be anything. What the sea is or isn’t doing or being can be used to enhance a story.


    Story Three, the Knife: Another contender for the Scalenex Cup. I’m all about Lizardmen reluctantly and poignantly killing themselves or their loved ones for duty. My first read I thought, maybe this piece could have used more exposition. Since the piece was about a fall from grace we could use more exposition on the “grace” part that the protagonist fell from. Then I realized, the exposition/introduction is pretty much perfect as is. The exposition is pretty succinct and that’s hard to do when writing fantasy. More importantly, the introduction set the story’s tone immediately. Not only was the story well-paced and structured but the emotional slip and slide was well orchestrated.

    Ll’st. I do like double “l”s they are llama-rific. But I do not like apostrophes in names. Fantasy names should be exotic but they shouldn’t have mystery pronunciation just to make the name look sci-fy. In my opinion, gratuitous apostrophes are a cliché, not a trope. The lack of vowels does not make me happy either. Thanks to my two semesters of Spanish, I know the double “l” is pronounced similar to a “y” in English, so it’s basically “Yah IST” or maybe Yah-click-stah. If we go Welsh pronunciation it would “thah IST.” I do not like mystery names because either the reader pauses and breaks immersion every time she reads the character’s or the reader papers over in her mind “That Lizard Guy.”


    Story Two “Blood for the Blood God”: Grinnorarcen is a daemon I enjoy reading about. When describing the thoughts, feelings and motivations of a fantasy or sci-fi creature it’s a tough balance. Too alien and the audience won’t care about him/her/it. Too human and it makes one wonder why the writer didn’t just make the character a human. This daemon was well-balanced and we share a similar opinion. If the Serphon (and Daemons) just keep re-spawning when killed, why should we be emotionally invested in their struggle. This character was engaging enough that I was interested in its struggle. The Saurus and Daemon made great foils for each other. Each were wise tacticians with a strong sense of faith and duty but whereas we got a long-winded explanation of Grinnocrarcen’s thought process, the Saurus summed up everything in one line. “One Ones be praised.” Suck it daemons! We didn’t get a whole lot of “Man Versus Self” but the great showcase for two separate yet eerily similar honor codes was superb.

    I did enjoy the unique and unusually cerebral view of a Khorne Daemon, but I wanted more gore. Blood and guts. Roars and battle cries. Maybe smells too, though I have no idea what a Seraphon bleeding light would smell like…um ozone? I understand that the Khorne was disappointed with an unsatisfying opponent but I think its desires and characterization could have been enhanced if it had glimmers of indecent satisfaction at the violence it was inflicting and witnessing. The title is “Blood for the Blood God” after all. Give me the blood! Even if it’s only figurative.


    Story One “The Awakening”: I like the characterization of the mage and the Skink. There was a satisfying build up to an exciting conclusion. The piece had both politics and metaphysics, that’s complex fantasy to stuff into a short story, but it was woven organically through the piece which is impressive. The ending was also very well delivered and fit into the title well. Portrayed the theme quite well.

    This piece was originally submitted well over the word limit. I’m not sure the trim I gave this piece did it justice. There was a lot of good prose I had to cut. I guess the main thing the author needs to work on is using an economy of words.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  18. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    It seems to me that you did an excellent job, nonetheless... :)

    And we have no more that "mass tie"! :D
     
  19. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Umm, how massive was the mass tie? I finally voted, and well...
    :oops:
    After I was done I noted a three way tie for first (at 5 apiece) and a three way tie for second (at 4 all).
     
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  20. Wolfwerty33
    Cold One

    Wolfwerty33 Active Member

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    We apologise for that short outage. We now return to your regularly-scheduled mass tie.
     

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