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Contest April-May 2020 Short Story Contest Reading and Voting Thread

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 1, 2020.

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

Poll closed May 31, 2020.
  1. Story One: "Bowl of Blood"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  2. Story Two: "Abomination"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  3. Story Three: "Awīak"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  4. Story Four: "Lost and Found"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  5. Story Five: "Return of the King"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  6. Story Six: "Fire of the Old Ones"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  7. Story Seven: "Prayers for Vengeance"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  8. Story Eight: "Tipping the Scales"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  9. Story Nine: "Praying for Reasons, Praying for a Purpose"

    3 vote(s)
    17.6%
  10. Story Ten: "The Ritual"

    7 vote(s)
    41.2%
  11. Story Eleven: "Blooded Water"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
  12. Story Twelve: "The Bloodswamp War (part 1)"

    2 vote(s)
    11.8%
  13. Story Thirteen: "Ask and It Will Be Given"

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  14. Story Fourteen: "Tzeentchian Rituals"

    5 vote(s)
    29.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. LizardWizard
    OldBlood

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    "The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice." -Brian Herbert.

    Not everyone can do everything. But everyone can get better at doing that thing with practice. You might never be equal in craft to Mozart, but you can still learn to compose and grow in that skill. Everyone starts at a different skill floor and can achieve a different ceiling. Practice is merely the deliberate effort to grow a skill set.

    Your notion that practice in a creative field is wasted time is wrong. I have never know of any master of any craft who didn't put significant effort and time into honing and developing their art. Finding peers who appreciate the same field as yourself to soundboard off each other and grow together is a hallmark of many of the most skilled in their art. Why do you think so many philosophers gathered in Athens. Or why so many poets and writers shared the same circles. Art is not required to be a sojourn. Peers can be as critical to the learning process as instructors.
     
    Warden, Lizerd, Imrahil and 2 others like this.
  2. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.

    But this is not everyone's opinion. If you do your research on writers, you will find a ton of successfully published authors who didn't start out as fantastic masters of writing. Who worked at it, hard, and then made it.

    Each of the writers that I have seen on this competition has great promise and (if they so chose) with practice and dedication could make something of it.
     
  3. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

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    when will the reviews start again? :bookworm:
     
  4. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    I'm sure they will! :woot:

    Mencken didn't care? good for him. Other "great ones" pay a lot of attention to critiques, including writers that won Faulkner and Pulitzer prizes.
    Everyone is entitled to like or not reviews.
    We care about reviews. We like reviews. we like to know if our stories have been appreciated, why, and why not.
    We don't write for a living, we write for our own pleasure and for the pleasure of the community. Feedbacks are good.
     
  5. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Ha! :D Because you know that yours is next!!!

    Yes, @Killer Angel has unleashed a bit of a monster... I’m mid yours and then have to do mine, probably this evening.
     
  6. LizardWizard
    OldBlood

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    Agreed. Being skilled at a task and being a good human being are not causal.

    Just because someone can link one word successfully to next in the performance of syntax doesn't make what they have to say on the subject worth reading. His philosophical works are rodunt with circular logic and bad faith arguments. He starts under ill considered assumptions and ends at even more ill constructed conclusion. Menchen, for being a stated mathematician, couldn't put one and one together.
     
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  7. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    From now on, any further political or Out of Topic posts, will be instantly deleted, and it will be done backward for the rest of them.
    There won't be other warnings.
     
  8. Carnikang
    Carnasaur

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    Something something pizzas in hand, returning to the apartment on fire...

    Anyway. Waiting on those neat reviews.
     
  9. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 9 – Praying for Reasons, Praying for a Purpose

    It’s always great to see a new perspective. Thankfully I know enough about Lizardmen in AoS [spits to one side] to appreciate @Paradoxical Pacifism ‘s story.

    TECHNICAL: As I said above, a new perspective in a story is always good. The author has a good one here: the Seraphon are the mystical protectors of the realms, combating the forces of Chaos but… Did anyone tell the locals? Of course not, so it is left up to folklore and mystery. The perspective of the humans that are being guarded even without their real knowledge is a good take and is described well.

    As in several of the stories above, there is a missing step on orientation. When Mara is walking through her house, you have to fill in the details yourself. Is it clean? Tidy? A hovel? Even a sentence or two to describe this will let the reader’s mind fill in the blanks. In the best fantasy/fiction that I have read, the author doesn’t lay it all out in a sledgehammer-to-the-face manner but invites the reader to fill in the blanks themselves.

    The action descriptions were decent and the reactions of the Seraphon to being questioned were good. I’m not sure what the word count was of this one, but even these could have been done a bit more.

    Visualize the action: Mara walks into her kitchen and the milk is thrown at her. If she was surprised, then she wouldn’t have noticed the initial movement of throwing. What would she have seen first? You possibly have an actual memory of something like this happening. It would be something like: “As she turned into the kitchen, she had a flash of her brother before a wave of whiteness crashed into her. Spluttering, she dashed the milk from her eyes before glaring at her brother.” I find personally that it helps if you take a minute to visualize the sequence of what would happen. Like a bouncy ball on steps. Get the picture of it in your mind and then describe it. In successful authors that I’ve read, they’ll either leave out part of it, or just give the reaction. As in the milk throwing above: “Mara turned in to the kitchen and have a flash of white across her eyes. Wiping the remaining milk from her face, she suppressed her immediate rage and grabbed at a nearby towel.” If you balance the descriptions of action and situation so that it doesn’t become tedious you give enough that the reader can fill in the rest.

    Of course, this is simply my idea, how I’d like to THINK that I write (;)) and A STYLE. There are many authors who have different ways of doing it, but they are all going on the basic point of giving enough data so that the person can really conjure the image for themselves of what is happening.

    The storyline was solid, I felt with more descriptions it would have been really good. Like I said above, the description of the Seraphon was good (including the “beam me up Scotty” moment, nice one!). The levelling of the rifle and the struggle were also good. Possibly the author started with this as a concept (a human stumbling upon this fight) as this bit seemed to be better described to me.

    PERSONAL: Right, I really liked the storyline. I love this kind of viewpoint thing. A bit like what they did with the first Transformers Movie. You get the perspective of a third party. There isn’t much else I would say about this, other than the fact that (apologies in advance) I didn’t get what Mara realized (hard) at the end. I didn’t mention this in the technical section above as I felt there was drama, punchline, etc. but possibly for the thicko’s out there (i.e. me) it could have been made a little clearer.

    Maybe they were trying to bridge the gap between unknown and known? Trying to establish an alert system for daemonic presence?

    Either way, good stuff my friend.
     
  10. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Now I have to confront my own daemons... (pardon the pun)

    I'll re-read my story from a different viewpoint and then do my review.
     
  11. Sudsinabucket
    Skink Chief

    Sudsinabucket Well-Known Member

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    Congrats to everyone, especially the winners :)

    As my first entry Im very happy with my 2 votes lol I was worried I wouldn't get any since there are a few things not totally explained that will have light shed on them in part 2 which will be more from Acattopa's point of view rather than the human point of view.

    I've been building Acattopa as a character in my head for about a year now, so it felt good to finally get a real story shedding light on him out there in public. He has a lot of anger and vengeance seeking in him, as he was around during fantasy so he remembers Lustria. Bringing that out in rituals which he had a hand in designing for his Blood Moon cult was interesting to think about for sure.

    Very much enjoyed the contest and hope to participate again sometime in the future!
     
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  12. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 10 – The Ritual

    This story seemed very familiar to me.. Most likely some kind of plagiarism of my works… Well, I’ll get my legal team onto him.

    TECHNICAL: I had a very, very dark chuckle to myself as I was reading through the story. I have been banging on and on in previous reviews about giving necessary details to the surroundings… and then find I mahrlected it up in my own story!!! :oops::eek:

    [Clears throat, reassumes haughty, Oxford-English-Professor sneer and holier-than-thou expression and continues with absolute, but utterly unfounded, confidence that he knows that the hell he’s talking about ;)]

    The author does do good descriptions of the actions being done and some basic characterization with the changing protagonists. Some descriptions of the environment are also done, but in reading through the story it is actually lacking on where the actions are taking place. It’s not terrible or anything, but it would have made the story much better if some short but poignant descriptions had been added. At some points it’s quite good, as in the temple being described at the beginning, but the flashback doesn’t give a good picture of where this is.

    The actions being taken are good and the descriptions of the fighting is good, without being overbearing.

    The dates don’t make sense and possibly lead to a different understanding of the story.

    The story has patches of characterization, with some good points on the first Old Blood and the Slann towards the end of the story, but it’s actually lacking for most of the protagonists which could have drastically improved the story. It is a shame really, as given the setting is Warhammer even a sentence or two would have fit the bill considering that everyone on Lustria Online knows what a Slann is, Old Blood, etc. It actually [and I’m being particularly harsh on myself] comes down to lazy writing. It’s not a good habit to get into, where you assume as the author that someone is going to know what your character is like. It also detracts from your story. Maybe the author was trying to pick out this particular Saurus in some way, make him special. Well, it would certainly have had to have some of his thinking and emotions, enough so that anyone reading the story could have duplicated who this person really is.

    The drama is there, a punchline and enough action to make it punchy, even with the above lacks.

    There is evidently some research done by the author and some nice creative license used on emotions, concepts and phrases for a follower of the sun god. It is a little thin, as there is not a lot of the lore used in the story.

    PERSONAL: This, for me, was almost impossible to do objectively.

    I love a good heroic sacrifice story. The idea of a Saurus saving a Slann from certain death at the hands of a Bloodthirster… Marvelous. I also like the idea that the author is using (which I don’t know if it was evident to anyone else, but I still got it from reading the story from a different viewpoint), that the reason that the Saurus arrive fully cognizant and battle-trained is that they are in fact reincarnated through the magic of the Slann accessing the ley lines that the temple cities are built on.

    I even more enjoy the idea that a friendship between a Slann and a Saurus would span centuries, with the Slann looking out for when his old friend dies so that he can find him again in the next spawning.

    o0o

    It’s not often that I can read my own story and produce an effect on myself. But this story really did that for me. Even re-reading it now, with an intent to find the technical errors in it and give it an impartial review, I actually enjoyed reading it which is very rare for me.

    Contrary to what has been stated on this thread earlier, I absolutely believe in practicing something improving your ability. I think that you just need to have a bit of faith in yourself, ignore the voices inside your own head telling you that you are not good at _____ (whatever it is you are doing) and make sure, in the words of William Gibson: “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

    ;)
     
  13. Warden
    Slann

    Warden Tenth Spawning

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    Happy to see the contest went so well! Congrats to all of you who participated, really great work.

    Excellent!
     
  14. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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  15. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Ha! I've been a little busy, but should be able to restart today.

    (It's also a bit intimidating when you have to review the capo di tutti capi's story ;))
     
  16. Killer Angel
    Slann

    Killer Angel Prophet of the Stars Staff Member

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    You already did scalenex's :p
     
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  17. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    @Scalenex is not the capo di tutti capo.

    He’s the Godfather. Or Scale-Father.

    Scaglie di tutti scaglia maybe? ;)
     
  18. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    Story 11 – Blooded Waters

    This was my other vote. @Carnikang does a terrific job here of evoking vivid imagery of Sauri being spawned. Really, really well done piece in my opinion.

    TECHNICAL: As above, I thought the author did a fantastic job on the descriptions of the actions and of the characters. There is just enough to get me imagining and not too much that I felt like I was being berated by the descriptions.

    The initial water “scene” was good. The descriptions were random and this correctly communicated a number of Sauri bumping and clashing as they strove to the surface of the spawning pool. I thought the descriptions of the newly spawned lizards lashing out in fury were well done, as well as the actions of the Skinks and Sunblood.

    In terms of descriptions, I felt the space itself should have been defined more, possibly even switching between the viewpoint of the Sauri under the surface of the pool and the waiting Sunblood. This would have been an excellent chaos compared to order type of back and forth and would really have juxtaposed the randomity underwater versus the serenity of the temple area outside.

    This is genuinely me taking a really hard look at the piece, as it didn’t affect my reading through the story.

    The wordage was good, in that it was varied in descriptions and quite poetic on some of them which I particularly appreciate. I particularly liked the starting line: “Agony ripped through the world like fire through oiled cord.” Fantastic stuff.

    There were two points that didn’t make sense. First, was the great lord being wounded, but that another (Quezatle’Gar) would lead them. It’s uncertain who the great lord is, when I first read it I thought it was referring to the Sunblood being injured. Possibly could have been made clearer. The other is the Skink Priest’s eyes roll back into his head and then his pupils are described as dilated. Just for forms sake, it should have been the other way round (as when rolled back they are no longer visible).

    PERSONAL: I thought this was a really good depiction of what it is like in the spawning pools and with the vivid descriptions is why this was the second Story of Renown for me. Great vocabulary and descriptions of them coming out, being brought to order and then issued commands to bring war to those threatening the lands.

    As I said, this was my other voted story and I thought it was really good. The points that I had attention on were:

    The Sauri were manacled and chained, but within a couple of minutes broke the chains. Didn’t really seem to add up: restrained for all of the time that it took for the Skink Priest and the Sunblood to speak to them and then they break their bonds with seeminly no effort? Doesn’t really make sense. As a reader, all I knew was that I didn’t like that bit because I don’t like the idea of Sauri in chains (Grrrrr in the words of @Imrahil). Reading through this for critiques, this caught my attention. What I mean to say is, it didn’t detract from the delivery of the story artistically. So, no harm, no foul ;)

    The other point (which is obviously the author’s legitimate poetic license) is that the Lizardmen lore definitely talks about the spawnings coming out and being very orderly. So crosses a bit with the story line.

    With all said and done, thought it was a fantastic piece and the other Story of Renown.
     
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  19. Carnikang
    Carnasaur

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    I got you fam. The Story is an AoS one.

    They are Sauri of the Koatl's Claw, which is why the Slann is wounded and they are led by a Sauras leader (The name of the plainms near the end of the story drives that home). The Chains and manacles are precautions while the Skinks do their work, meaning to be broken in the frenzied fury of being strung out with religious fervor and the intoxicating incense. Restraint, but able to be cut loose when it was time, without all that key fiddling.
    Said manacles would essentially be the bands and bangles we see normal Sauri wear, but with links of chain attached.

    Thanks for the review!
     
  20. Lizards of Renown
    Slann

    Lizards of Renown Herald of Creation

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    No problem. Don't get the wrong idea! I thought your story was wicked and I voted for you!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2020
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