Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Aug 1, 2016.
I noticed the same effect/display problem. Have updated my technical comments.
Maybe its supposed to be that way? It is the most "artistically" written piece, and cutting off key parts of the dialogue makes it more mysterious...
Using a different device I was able to see the whole thing. Seems unlikely.
While i wait for my inevitable win ( ) i go on vacation. For the next days, i will only text from mobile
got it to work too, nevermind.
Lots of great work everyone!
Pity story five is getting all the technical problems - it was my favourite. I had to forcibly restrain myself from voting for it twice.
How is Llama malfunction not a technical problem? Or version control issues with Tehenhuan?
I remain convinced that this is the greatest fan fic community in the history of the internet, and that Lustria is the greatest fictional setting for crafting stories in the history of tabletop gaming literature.
The numbers might be slightly down from last time, but the quality continues to rise, like an unstoppable kraken from the ocean depths. Plus - if we're being honest - it was a blessed relief not to have so many lengthy entries to get through.
I have finally returned from my voyages and have made some time to provide my - as ever - completely unasked for feedback that everybody skips through to get to Bob's next on-point quip.
In general, to repeat, these stories are SUPERB. I really want to encourage all of the authors to consider writing more lizard fic - and not just for competitions! I was particularly pleased with some of the comedy in these stories - by my count there are at least 4 entires with comic elements; all of them made their writing much more engaging!
The Great Game
A really strong story that mastered its thematic complexities. We see a character haunted by the guilt of what he views as his poor choices at key moments. Tension rises as the characters wonder what is going on around them, continuing to obey orders with increasing uncertainty. When the confusion is resolved and the tactics of the Great Game are made clear, there is also catharsis for our protagonist, who feels better about the wisdom of those who have judged him worthy. The structure works, and I liked the detached tone of the narrative that showed a lot with its subtle suggestiveness, but told very little up front.
I think the structure would have been improved if the action at the end had either directly involved the main characters as key protagonists, or directly informed or related to the backstory we have at the beginning. Or if the Tlax had another key moment of choice in which to redeem (or fail to redeem) himself. As it is the river battle is a little boring to watch because there's little sense of tension or danger, or of our heroes doing anything important.
I don't think the use of brackets between dialogue sections adds anything for me. The suggestion is that only the talking matters - but it's not clear why this would be the case more than any other story. If anything the dialogue should be in brackets to show that it's what goes on in the head, not what's said out loud, that matters. But this is just a tiny thing.
Food for Thought
I'm not 100% sure what the old panda is, but I'm very happy for llama to be the new it. As long as Scolonex doesn't get creepy about it, or spawn an even more evil triplet.
This is a fun story, where low stakes are made to feel huge, which is one of my favourite things to see in a story. There was a good use of weather and so forth to create a pervasive atmosphere without laying it on too thick. Although I didn't realise til the end (when she was silhouetted against the moon) that it was set at night, which changes the reading somewhat. The structure - lizard is dissatisfied with station but learns to appreciate it through a key moment of action - is pretty solid although, I'm sorry, what the heck is up with that skink spawning scene?! It doesn't really have much to do with anything else, and the drama of the climax works without it.
Supercool premise but....I don't get it.
I loved the narrative approach through flashbacks, and I like the frantic pacing of the prose mirroring the desperation of a dying man. All of it is really cool and engaging until the end. This might be me being super dumb, but in what way is death a choice in this story? He contracts chaos taint, seemingly by accident, then he's discovered and executed. "Death is a choice" is a very cool line, but it rings completely false. What you need, here, is to make it an actual choice.
You could leave the whole thing as it is, and add a few extra paragraphs, in which, in his last seconds, our man remembers back to a particular event in ostermark, where he met a shady sorcerer who offered him [something he wanted] for [unknown price]. This sinful pact (ie choice) is what corrupted him with chaos, and started off the events that led to his inevitable demise. Then you could say that death was a choice.
Also it would be cool if we felt the chaos was affecting his mind a bit more - he hears the laughter of the blood god in one line but I'd like to see how a madness was slowly overtaking him. It's an old trope but never fails to please (me).
Don't let my hating on the entire point of your story deter you - the ideas here are really really promising and creative, and I enjoyed reading it very much until the end. This is a great example of where just a little more attention to structure can do absolute wonders for a story.
The Rat and the Serpent
This also was a story I thought had some fantastic ideas but could have been improved with a few adjustments to dramatic structure.
The strongest moment is in the middle, when the three prophets see each other and argue. When they then realise the truth of their situation, and learn to accept that they might not be the "true" Tehenhauin, it's a powerful thing. Really this should have been the climax, the ending. Instead we have more fighting and then a philosophical conversation at the end, which doesn't really have anything to do with the drama of the characters. It's worth remembering that in most stories the reader will care far more about some insignificant foot soldier, if you bring him to life, than they will about battles between gods or the destruction of entire planets if you don't dramatise the specific character of the gods or the planets. Here you have three great protagonists and a great villain, but they don't do anything of consequence in the second half except fight as hard as they can and then get unsatisfyingly swallowed by forces larger than themselves. If you're going to tack on an extra scene in this situation, I'd like it to be about the crazy rat prophet berating himself in the afterlife, not the good guys having a pious "and the moral of the story is..." -style conversation. We should be able to work out the moral by ourselves.
Again I'm being way too harsh in order to prioritise learning opportunities - it sounds like I Iike it way less than I do. It's such a cool story for the AoS setting! Really creative use of this new world, and really well put together in terms of the pacing and building up exposition in a way that is tense rather than boring. Excellent economy. It just needs a bit more pinpoint focus on character work and a little less reliance on "sweeping epic" as a crutch.
The Project [finally got it to show right!]
There's always one - this isn't a story, really. It's a gag, and a great one at that. I mean, really great. As a huge fan of the old ones and their needless dickishness, I always love to think of humorous interpretations for their behaviour, and this is my favourite so far, perfectly executed, total genius.
I think it could have been elevated to something even greater... if you made it more of (take a wild guess) a story. I mean the set up is perfect, but in the middle where things start to break down, I'd like to see the differing responses from the different old ones as characters. For example you could have used Xholanka as one of the characters, and then he could leave as soon as things start to go south, earning the taunt "the lost one" from the others. Or there could be some relationship between two old ones, either sexual attraction or long-standing enmity or something, that gets in the way of the project. I don't know, it doesn't need to be a big thing but I think there should be some drama bubbling that eventually gets resolved when the planet is consumed by chaos and they all sod off. I mean, as it is the whole point is their total disregard of the vast, vast suffering they have unleashed - image how much more gutting that would be if it was all over a childish bickering over who gets to use the Gravity Manipulator or something.
Just my two cents. Again, fantastic gag. Basically I'm just jealous I didn't think of it.
The Weight of Our Actions
Love this one - in contrast to some of the others I think the ending absolutely makes it! Such a cool denouement that I didn't see coming at all because of the masterful control of exposition. Not only is it surprising but it's a perfect ending both for expressing the main points about the themes of the story and for revealing the true nature of the main character and his response to the choices he faces. And fantastic use of egyptian mythology which earns a whopping big thumbs up in my book.
Instead, my only complaint here is that the beginning and the middle is much too long-winded. We really don't need to hear about all these battles. Just the key facts, with a tighter focus on the protagonist and his emotional response to them would have been much better. Great writing in general though!
Strength and Conviction
This is a really nice diary entry. To me it feels like the start of a longer story. It established a premise, but introduces no action of its own. For me, it really needs something more to happen to become an engaging story. It's all very well to say that you've made a choice without really demonstrating this in any way. There's a reason I harp on about show don't tell. This piece is pure telling, and it means we come away feeling like nothing of consequence has taken place. But the first person style is great, really capturing a voice. I think it just needs to be continued!
Hexoatl, the Induction Ceremony
Again, love very many of the ideas in this. I love the idea of a quest to find information on how to kill. I love the rivalry between the three inductees. I love how the outward journey is way easier than the return for no explained reason (an example of pathetic fallacy really being used well). And I love that this is used to create understated, comic paranoia rather than a fully-fledged, mind-consuming paranoia, which would have been out of place. I love the ending with its pivotal, blasphemous choice. And I love the lighthearted tone and the fun look at lustrian city/jumgle life.
But I think these elements could possibly have been blended just a tad more satisfactorily. Making a decision to denounce all the gods that you've been trained so long to worship, and thereby turn your back on your entire people, is - possibly - a bigger deal than you portray it. I'd like to feel like this decision is really justified for this character. I'd like him to go through more stuff that makes him question the gods. As it is, I don't really feel that the hero's journey in this story really informs the climax at the end.
And, maybe, I'd like to see the sacrificial rat victim given its own storyline in parallel that could be used to illuminate some of the same themes from a different perspective. Maybe it's really a horrible villainous rat and letting it go will lead to countless more deaths. Maybe it's a shy, misunderstood rat that just wants to get on with its hobby of collecting Lustrian butterflies and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Overall, great work!
A Story of the Stars
Hm. When I said that there should be more comedy in our stories, I didn't mean....blatant trolling.
JK- it made me laugh, so I like it! Normally I'm against 4th wall stuff but in this case it's worth it because it's a good in-joke that knows its target audience.
Nevertheless... I can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment that we don't get a proper resolution to Tik and K'ta's story... it's so well written and the prank totally got me. I was completely suckered. Even now knowing the point of it I still want there to be an epic second and third act! Impressive stuff, really.
OK that's enough for now. Not much left for me to do but sit back and wait for HINT Bob's cryptic guesses HINT.
Bleh, I be late but here's the first trio of review-things. Outstanding work as usual! Also, reader beware... some spoilers lurk ahead!
Story One (The Great Game) : A very apt title!
Let’s start with the good old Ratty Y’ttar special and talk about pacing. For the most part the story is fairly low action until the end. It’s just two very different lizards working together and the Krox confessing his shame, all whilst they are playing a board game. As can be imagined, the pacing is pretty slow and measured. At times it felt like it was dipping mayhaps a little too slow, but overall felt like it captured and maintained the feeling of this lengthy mining and construction work. The pacing during the final battle itself seemed faster, although continued to be highly detailed.
The characters themselves cut an interesting pair. Tlax the Kroxigor seems perhaps a little too intelligent to what I would imagine one to be. He was an insightful and deep character of whom I felt some pity for in his shame and the choices he made. In an rpg I’m currently playing in, my character effectively used to be a villain (he’s now a priest/healer, so go figure) who was hit by the old “what have I done?” moment and is trying to redeem his soul whilst battling guilt for his actions, the belief he cannot find redemption, and wondering if his ‘evil’ side is the true him. And he was meant to be the comic relief character! But I digress. Long story-thing short, I feel for Tlax and really like how the author shaped his character.
Ixtza meanwhile mostly seemed to adopt the role of the questioner. However, as the story went on, he began to take a shape of his own and his own form of bonding with Tlax. I was still left wanting maybe a little more from Ixtza to put him a little more on equal footing with Tlax’s character. Maybe stressing Ixtza’s after battle shock a bit more, maybe even feeling an element of shame for shaking a bit which Tlax could have countered before leading up to the concluding lines.
The author’s use of brackets around non-dialogue paragraphs felt a bit odd to me, but I did like their usage in timeskips. I suppose if I had to find something to critique about this piece, I felt the plotline about Moonbreaker seemed to recede into the background too much and didn’t feel that it was resolved enough by the end, although I did love that ending.
A deep and enjoyable tale!
Seer Ironfur: The might-might of Skryre stopped by rock-things?! No-no, weak lizard-things have not seen the might of Ironfur! Ironfur will crush-slay them like bug-meat!
Story Two (Food For Thought) : Llamas, nuff said.
Oak-hay, I probably need to say more than that. I loved the balance of this piece. There was meaningful dialogue between characters, there was some breath-taking world building, there was self-reflection, there was tense action, and finally a well wrapped up epiphany and decision. The author has carefully pieced together such a rich tapestry with every single stitching working with each other.
The pacing felt right throughout this piece, slow and measured where it needed to be, faster paced when action reared its verminous head, and never felt too over or under bearing.
Characters were enjoyable and felt authentic. Myol’s growth as a character was well teased out and effective. There is the age-old theme of the dissatisfied warrior wondering why they aren’t at the forefront of the war, only to learn their current duties are just as (if not more so) important, however, the author perfectly handled this theme and kept it fresh and fun.
Risolu had the making of a great character and foil for Myol, but while her later absence was explained at the start and was important for Myol making her own choice, I felt like I wanted to see a bit more of her in the story, even if it was in the form of being brought up in conversation or other such references.
I disagree with thedarkfourth’s view on the Skink spawning scene. That scene to me achieved some very rounded world building to the area rather than it just being pretty hills, pastures, and mountains. The Skinks spawning gave an aura of mystery to the location and made it feel very much alive rather than a place for characters to exist in.
Seriously good work!
Brrx Wyrd-Eye: Grimrok-thing had it coming, a user of Skryre-tech need-wants some kind of back up. I must remember to put Llama repellent on my list-thing... You go girls!
Story Three (The Spawn) : It took me a while but I think I get what the choice was and why despite not having any, the man-thing did have some kind of choice. His only real choice was death but he did have the choice of how to meet it. I think...
Ahem...anyway...Pacing! The pacing for this piece is slow and descriptive so that you do get a good image of the two character’s thoughts and memories. I will say that the swap between the two protagonists is a little jumpy and jarring in places. Some kind of separator would have been beneficial I think for this entry.
The man with no name is interesting and had a good grounding background for a strong character. However, I felt myself wanting more from this man-thing. A visible descent into insanity as his ‘disease’ begins to take over his body, mind, and soul, maybe him even standing up to his killer and stating his name proudly and taking a choice in the manner of his death. Nonetheless, as a human of the Empire, he seemed very true to form and relatable.
I really feel that a bit more polishing and expansion could have made this a stunning piece. As it stands, it is an enjoyable tale...I just feel it could have been more.
Tekris Zimkus MD for Clan Moulder: Man-things are poor-poor subjects for modifications. They never accept the gift-things given to them by great minds like myself and Gribble. What do you think, Gribble?
Gribble: Gribble! Grib, Gri, Gribble!
I don't know if the above is completely true, but I can say that I find more constructive and "to the point " the criticisms, reviews and observations made to stories on this site, rather than the ones made on certain (more specific) forums of literature.
I'm growing more as author here, than in all the other forums i've visited in the past. So kudos to all the forumeers and thanks!
I just counted up how many times I have been "to the point" with an observation on LO. Didn't take long - I seem to specialise on "off-topic". Maybe you can point me to one of these other forums so I can make them miserable, too.
Anyway - Critiques. My notes make even less sense to me than usual, so I'm not sure how the structure of the following will go.
Overall Comments - I got to the end of the second one and wanted to scream "This is Warhammer! It's NOT a game!" Just for irony's sake, of course. The two stories using a game as a method of framing the logic of the story was a very strong choice, and each would have been a lesser tale without it. So I'm going to talk a bit about framing and tying ideas together in the critiques.
There were some good (and some good AND subtle hooks) this time, so I shall applaud them.
Wot? No Mazdamundi? He was obviously just a flash in the pan.
1.The Great Game.
I love me a thoughtful Krox. And it doesn't take a much smarts to learn a skill, or to dwell on a single thought. Interpreting events and linking ideas is a higher level of function which this guy has mastered, and he is a good vehicle for distilling the story's message to very simple terms - which is a good thing. We get a gentle sledgehammer of realisation which could be patronising with a different character doing it. I like that the Krox was the one with the life experience - he knows war and he takes charge when appropriate. The relationship between the pair was sweet. They had a curiosity about the unknowable which allowed the author to explore the meanings behind events.
Structure? Good Hook (Tlax the Unworthy). The use of parentheses was unusual ( they are a thing that I have almost broken my addiction for (at least in stories)). (When you have a thought bubble inside a bubble inside a bubble and the sentence ends with ")))" you know you have a problem) I have moved to using dashes to separate thoughts within a sentence - it is a lot cleaner to the eye, and less "modern". But, if I find myself doing it a lot, I probably need to break things up into separate sentences with distinct ideas rather than clutter up one long sentence.
BUT that isn't how the author is using them at all (except for within dialogue). MOST of the time the bracketed text is effectively marking the passage of time. If that text had been italicised it would have still been commented on but made more sense (because bracketed text can indicate a section of lesser importance rather than a section with different story telling meaning. If I was doing a rewrite, I would italicise all of the "time passes bits and unbracket the rest (eg."he was a yellow crested skink..." and I would rephrase THAT sentenceto work it naturally into the dialogue that surrounds it.)
Which brings me to - The Passage of Time. Brilliant. I struggle with non-sequential events big time. The author uses the side references to progress with the game, casual time stamps ( they quarried stone for 6 more weeks) and refernce to activities which were clearly time consuming to make a story that ran for probably 6 months or more and it never broke the pacing. Skillz
Physical elements and their relationships in space were very clear (river bend, sandbank, wall) and the description of the enemy fleet was the right kind of vague to engage the imagination. Very well done. The battle, althouigh well depicted was not the point of the story (they rarely are IMHO) so I was happy for it to be fairly general in nature.
And the payoff? It was one order o magnitude cleverer than a good standard because it tied up so many story ideas (ground, game, wisdom)
Obviously this got a vote. I am stealing techniques as we speak, like some big eared, fluffy hided not-skink.
I'm not sure I can keep up critiquing this hard, but Llamas. Don't forget to head on over to the art comp thread for some random story illustrations.
2. Food for Thought
I love me a bad tempered llama Yay! GURLZ! I stopped to reflect on how different Lustria would be if it was an all female society (bees, ants). Daughter of Bob said it would be more "catty". I can't agree with her, because that would be sexist.
Structure? Excellent - with one hiccup that probably isn't a hiccup. I'll tell you later.
Good hook - "Make your choice..." Reminds me of a theme I once ignored...
Passage of time and point of view changes were super clear and well executed. They were marked by "***" which is nothing new, BUT each section had very similar length and (story) weight which led to a very well balanced and paced offering. ANd almost every section had a good hook of its own - "Nothing to do with me" being the best. For others, the hook was a teasing intro to the new character (see above - clarity of PoV changes.).
Words? The author has a lovely vocab (and viscous saliva - which should have been foamy, but I digress) which was employed to set a mood of miserable dampness and which never got repetitive. My case in point is how often the llamas (Llamii?) were referred to, and how infrequently the word "llama" was used. The injury, the struggle to crawl, the hopelessness of the champion's position were all things I could FEEL as well as visualise.
The battle / skirmish sequence was logical and easy to follow. The story tied up well with a gentle landing and a sense of peace with the character's identity.
The hiccup / or not was the spawning sequence, and this is why I think it was good - Myol later labelled her meadow as "Her sacred place". She could have herded her flock away from the skaven, or avoided them entirely, but the mountain itself was not to be defiled by skaven. Without righteous outrage, her brave-foolish actions don't make sense.
BUT, 2 things. If there had been no spawning, her brave-foolery WOULD have made sense when the Skaven killed the llama, triggering her maternal instinct or whatever (Gurlz, right?). But having the skinks devour a llama in front of her earlier cheapened the skaven brutality later. They could have spawned and skipped breakfast and saved so much ambiguity about motivations later.
The second thing is that it is a pace breaker, as it now stands. I'm not 100% sure what I would do to blend it in - it depends on how important the forgotten pool and blessed spawnings are to the (unseen) metaplot. If they aren't important, I would just have her stumble across a forgotten shrine in the middle of a more detailed section about something else (like she was returning after bringing part of the flock down for harvesting and have her going, "huh this is sacred ground. Is that what the captain meant?". I would preface this by having her captain saying something cryptic earlier about Myol being a custodian of more than just herds - which she would then SEEM to explain by the talk about needing a food supply.
Having got this far, I am fast running out of votes. More critiques later.
3. The Spawn
This story covered a lot of ground very efficiently = powerful ideas + few words. There is a hint of what I think is Euro-grammer - but if English is the author's second or third language, they are very, very good.
I'll agree with others - the tie up / link to theme confused me, leading me to scour the story for where the choice was made. Normally something which demands a read back is good, but I couldn't really make sense of it even after another look. It's a pity because the execution was great except for what was either a forced grab at the theme OR something too subtle for me. If I treat the story as having the theme "This guy is a game for gods" it is more satisfying - and allows me to link to the game motif in the first two stories. It's not a game, guys, please.
Structure - Good hook line (blood stained...) Passage of time was covered in flash back "he felt regret (leaving the moot)", "he thought of this morning", which is a good way of doing backstory without bogging down the beginning. The following paragraph with "A week earlier he had been" was a bit weaker - its sounds narrator like, where the other stuff felt experiential. If that line had been framed in the present e.g. "he studied his tainted blood trail. A week earlier the taint was only on his back, but then he had been bitten....." which propels the reader from the present into a memory with context in the present.
There was no signal that the PoV had changed to the lizard, which is always a speed bump. Given that this character had so much less weight of narrative than the other, his PoV could have been written out OR fleshed out a lot more. His thoughts about why he hated chaos (in flashback, of course) could have been used to balance things out.
Having the Blood God in his head at the end was cool, but I wonder if it had been Tzeentch if that would have given more meaning to his series of disastrous consequences.
Enough nitpick! The imagery and mood of this was very powerful. Every piece of action could be understood and felt - this is some sslick descriptive work.
4. The Rat and the Serpent.
3 Votes used up already? Sheesh.
It wouldn't be a Serophon story comp without an exploration of the memory mechanic - and this is one of the most interesting exploration I have read. (Digressasaurus - notice how I used a "-" in that sentence - each part has equal weight. If I had used brackets, the second half would have been an afterthought.)
Structure? Really good. Brief snapshots demand the reader accept that A) time has passed, and b) that a lot has happened in between. The gaps give enough time to build armies and prepare, without expending words. Adding the prohesied two tailed comet ("That's no ordinary rabbit!" is how my Priest of Taal once described it) gives the plot some urgency - there is a deadline, and it is getting nearer.
Dialogue drives this story. Therefore, either I wrote it or The Dark Fourth did. I would have done it to be lazy (describing is so tedious), The Dark Fourth to Tell not Show. Wait I got that wrong.... Show don't tell using the words and attitudes of the characters to show the meaning of the events while descrbing the events at the same time. Meaning is everything here - or misinterpreted meaning. Ratek? Really?
With hardly any definition, the skaven characters were immediately defined by their attitudes - religious loony and stabby sociopath. The Slann, being true to stereotype didn't need defining (if they had varied from usual form they would have needed a lot of defining)
Plot? Set us all up for an epic history changing showdown , then spun us away on the real beauty of this story - some very big ideas. The take home one for me is that everyone, in every universe is open to being remembered as something other than they really were. The difference here is that the legend can be reborn. Yes, the journey of discovery breaks up the battle and the pace, but for me battles and a smooth ride are secondary to interesting ideas. Does it need fixing? I don't think so, but one way to do it would be to move all of the questioning by the three lizard priests to before the battle proper or after the (non) resolution. The whole explanation would need considerable tightening up, and the do we worship a dead god might need to be dropped. Tricky.
Like the Krox in The Great Game, these Tehees are curious and interested in the "why"s of the world. In the middle of a battle, stretching credulity a little bit, but Hey, theme explored. My feeling through this whole thing is that doubt and uncertainty loses the battle to hope - which is the other way to deal with the ongoing uncertainty.
Aaaand I'm back. productivity destroyed.
5. The Project
Finally a story that doesn't treat Warhammer like some kind of game. No, its a primary school project.
Idea? Theme? Always nice to revisit the creation of the world just to demonstrate that A) things are way off track and, b) everyone takes themselves and their beliefs way too seriously. Not entirely sure how this thing is associated with the theme options, but if I tilt my head enough I can see that there were some choices and consequences.
Structure? Almost an anti-hook - a section of gibberish, which I guess at least makes the reader want to find out what is going on. The framing of the "story" into separate documents is an interesting choice. It allows for passage of time stamps, without "28 days later...", and it allows different characters to have a separate voice - but without actually defining the characters at all. The purpose of the sound bites is unclear until near the end, but they make more sense as you go. Its a shame the technical issues damaged the first readthrough. The punchline, if there is one ends up getting read (unrecognised) before the joke set up gets delivered satisfactorily. Testing of the forum functionality might have sorted this out, or at least shown the author they needed to frame it differently. That said, the "glitch was inconsistent even on all of my devices.
Story? I'm echoing The Dark Fourth here. The norm is for characters to experience conflict and develop in some way. By that definition this entry doesn't fit. Only one character seems to have their nature defined (the bio-engineer), he doesn't grow and the others are pretty much interchangeable. But (dammit TDF do you have to be right all the time?) they are there to serve the joke set up not develop in interesting ways. As for the joke - which is "you all got created by accident" I actually can't pinpoint when the punchline came.
A fun and thought provoking read.
6. The Weight of Our Actions
I don't know my Tomb King fluff, but I have seen the model which is the cloud of scarab beetles, and I love that I can find out more about his motivation and capabilities. What ties it all up is the ambiguity of trying to understand actions - like the Three Amigos in Story 4, the observer can subjectively guess at what motivates, but the true lizard remains an enigma.
Structure? Bookended by not just poetic echoes but by the same line - but by author cleverness and cultural convergence had totally different meanings. Neat. PoV changes were thankfully broken up by "-------" following characters was hard enough! The (complicated) sequence of events was a bit tricky to follow. A raid, an escape, a battle, a force divided, a choice which enemy to pursue, a choice to enlist a dodgy ally, a defeat, an escape, forces reuinted, another defeat, a dodgy ally messing everything up, his motives being exposed and expectations dashed, an ultimately heroic end for the hero and a poetic tie in. Did I miss anything? Yes. Rivalry worthy of "Fireblade's Challenge", a duty ostensibly failed, back history within the tomb kings, a number of detailed battles and many, many character names - some of whom never appeared on screen. There was really too much happening for such a short story, sacrificing a degree of clarity. But who cares? because...
The Theme! Choices everywhere! Dilemmas! Catch 22s! Wrong decisions based on faulty assumptions! And in the end, The Great Plan prevails! Like every other time - when will you lesser races learn?
I learnt a lot and it got me thinking. This would have been 4th vote for sure.
7. Strength and Conviction.
What is it with thought provoking material this comp? So much of it.
Character? This is a very non-stereotypical-saurus like saurus. For start, he is chattly ("let me tell you how..."). His hobby is discussing other army tactics with his buddies. He talks about being offered comfort in adversity by his military superiors, and, in prison while he is doing his sacred duty to escape he is longing for... comfort. This saurus is more human than most humans. This would generally be odd, but by the time I got to the end of my review process I was sold.
Why? because of what the humans in the story want to do to him. They are trying to make him human. I'll come back to this.
Structure? Very short, tight and logical. A bit of now, a bit of backstory a bit of dread for the future and a slab of strength and conviction. He is not going to be broken anytime soon, warp pills or not. The images are strong and well delivered. The confusion of the brief battle sequence and the uncertainty about the outcome is my second favourite way of dealing with battle. My favourite is not writing them at all.
"But I digress". The author actually wrote that! That is what Y'ttar and I do all the time. Digress. I'm doing it right now.
Story Elements? There were a few minor inconsistancies from my point of view, and a saurus steg rider wasn't one of them:
The captors are humanoid but I can't tell if they worship a dark god + the saurus recognised Empire steam tanks + they feed captives warp juice and do revolting experiments = I can't connect all of these things unless the lizard was captured by a third faction (which is quite plausible)
The escape attempts range from subtle sneakery to fighting off hordes. If this lizard fought off hordes once, I don't think he would be given the opportunity again.
Warpstone + anything a saurus might call humanoid.
The lizard being knowledgeable enough to identify a steam tank, but unsure about the nature of his captors.
None of these are deal breakers, but just describing the steam tank and leaving it to the reader to identify it would have fixed about three of them.
Now I'm going to go all Dark Fourth / Scalenex-ey and say there was more to be explored about the character. The real horror of the situation is being made human, but the character never gives tyhere perspective of what is so bad about humans, assuming that we might have met some and formed our own opinion.
This is where I could see the story going: (I'm going to substitute the story's use of the word human with "warmblooded" for a minute to make this stream of ide-uh make a bit more sense). Given how human the character is, I think it would be fun if they explored what was so fearful and awful about being made into a warmblood. Particularly if the saurus attributed to warmbloods the kinds of negative traits that outsiders usually put onto us poor lizards (inscrutable motivations, casual cruelty, lack of compassion, lack of appreciation of the finer things, frequent digression).
TL;DR Cold blooded is defined (in this story anyway) as noble and connected with kin and a greater purpose. The process of being made warm-blooded would make one into a savage and to be disconnected from everything of value (according to my overly philosophical reinterpretation).
Its getting late, and I am tired. But I digress... (I would award an extra half vote just for that)
I want to see a lot more from this author so I can find out what is below the surface. (OK that sounds creepy)
Nuts nuts nuts.
Scalenex I am going to break protocol and identify my story here.
I am on a single vote so I doubt that it will have any bearing in the contest. I am also happy to be considered ineligible for this. Nevertheless it is clear that Bob & thedarkfourth did not understand the story. I thought that Killer Angel did, but now I am no so certain. And thus I am concerned that no one else will.
It is entirely my fault, I was so extremely busy that it took me literally 25 minutes to write, submitted at the last minute. I was concerned that my point was not clear enough. I asked scalenex for feedback, he was out of time, I was out of time, and thus it sits. I really like my story, I just needed more time, these sorts of things need to be precise otherwise.... well this happens.
Before I go ahead and explain it, I would perhaps look at some of the criticism, to confirm inconsistencies are supposed to be there.
The following things are entirely deliberate:
- A saurus riding a stegadon
- Captors are humanoid, hit by a steam tank, captive warp pills
- Yes the saurus keeps attempting escape, and the opportunity keeps presenting itself
- A very chatty saurus
- A very... unique dynamic with the other riders, yes?
- And most importantly, there is a very important choice that the saurus makes in the last line. Unlock it, it will unlock the story.
I don't think he's a Saurus at all.
His knowledge of lizardmen world and his behavior are odd.
His knowledge about human world is more precise, and he defines human things with appropriate terms.
But I don't know what this thing is.
Was a officier tainted by chaos magic and someone was trying to "heal" him, failing?
Was an experiment, to create a spy "lizard- like" and infiltrate Lustria, but something went wrong?
I don't know, there are so many obscure details...
And there are things unclear (why his "captors" let him try to escape? )
My idea is that there was a plan, and it failed with that final choice, when the subject decided to "remain" a saurus. .. something that goes against the original intentions of the plan.
But what this plan was, i have no idea.
For all I know, it could be the inverse, and the experiment was a success (they are trying to send a living warp-bomb into some spawning pool and they need the subject to be really convinced).
...or maybe we're just seeing the final stage of the madness of a junkie in his delirium induced by warp pills!
OK, so when the author tells me there is something more there, I can sort of squint and see how this is maybe a human who has been tortured by skaven or something until he's gone mad. But I can't *really* see it. Good writing should always prioritise clarity over crypticness.
Even if there is some incredible Fight Club style twist that I'm not seeing, it doesn't change what I said in my review. If you want to write a story where the reader doesn't realise the narrator is mad until the end, that's great, but it still needs to be a story. It's still got to be showing not telling. Instead of saying "I tried to escape a few times", say "I've found a bolt-cutter. I'm going to cut my way through the fence. The ra- humans won't notice till I've gone. Dammit they got me." Create some tension. Dramatise the conflict. Build up to some crucial action where the fate of the character and the big story "twist" are revealed at the same time. And make sure the audience really gets it, without having to squint.
The diary format and the style of writing are very strong, and a good way to build up paranoia, but style alone does not a story make. You should definitely give this one a rewrite because if it was rushed the first time, then there's probably way more you can do with it, and I would love to read a perfected version of this - there's a nugget there at its heart which is pure gold.
I actaully really liked the different interpertations. In my first read through I thought I had it, men and lizardmen fighting as allies against a common foe. A terrible crash or possibly a stolen vehicle and a bit of devastation. One injured man and one injured Saurus (or more likely skink) are taken hostage. The man has some knowledge of his allies.
Long story short the enemy does complete the brain swap, but the man bain in the lizardman body has chosen to be what he thinks a Lizardman is. Then I read the other reviews and was like, oh man, I hadn't even thought of that angle
Darn it, Discomute. You are making me think!
The thing that has happened to you (via me) is what usually happens to me via Scalenex - the super intelligent reader can spot the story elements that stick out, but is unable to see the wood for the trees. Like now (still). Just assume I'm dumb and put the explanation under a spoiler, and then I can claim to have known all along. Everyone's a winner.
I still think it's cool that I can completely misinterpret the work and still get so much out of it. Also, I never would have guessed you were the author because you didn't sacrifice a family member.
But I digress....