Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, Nov 1, 2018.
If it can help, i am going to vote for it...
I also like the story, in fact it is the one that I wish I had a fourth vote for. I basically tossed a coin to decide between it and the story I gave my third vote to.
So much talent here.
Six days of voting to go. We don't have an actual tie, but we have a tight race, so it's premature to call a winner.
Haven't had much traffic with commentary the last week or so though.
Yeah, I'm deply sorry but I won't be able to write a review of all the stories.
I can say that my votes went to:
"It came from above": a nicely structured story, with a sort of backward development, that shows how we came to the conclusion we already know. I've also liked the humor, with so many priests "obsessed" by mystical interpretations, that fail to see the most obvious and mundane one.
"Orders are Orders": we have unquestionable faith and total obedience to the Slann, we have a sense of doom, and epic battle and a great conclusion, with the doomed protagonist that spells the destruction of the enemy, as predicted by the wise Slann. Plus the Comet of Casandora, which is a classic spell. Probably my fav. story.
"The Darkest Hour": i've always liked stories that deal with the background of named characters. And the title is totally cool.
I've put your previous post in a spoiler tag, given that we shouldn't reveal who's running for victory. We don't want to influence voters…
Oh sorry lol I didn’t realize lol.
That's why I set it, so you cannot read the votes until after voting. I cannot prove it but I'm 90% sure our past ties have been motivated by game behavior.
I deleted the post, but to show no hard feelings I have liked your post to replace the like @Paradoxical Pacifism gave you.
Lol sorry I forgot that you could only see what votes were for what after you voted. I didn’t mean to spoil it.
That's because everyone is working on their art entry for the Winter Solstice Art Contest (Summer solstice in Australia I guess). Only 24 days to go.
Bobliographical Comments and Critiques
General statements first – this would have to be the comp with the best adherence to theme eva! And it was a lot of fun. The fantastic quality of all entries goes without need for me to add to other’s comments.
Bobpinions about short stories – Scolarz would say that a story of any length has some requirements to qualify as such. One widely touted essential is the three act structure, which I will overly complicate by simplifying my interpretation of this. Act One sets the scene (characters, general situation). Act Two defines the problem and escalates the conflict (the ticking timebomb, the Dark Lord overrunning the last line of defence etc) and Act Three is the resolution (Bob saves the day in an unlikely fashion…again!). Scolarz would consider this to be a prerequisite for a plot. They also want characters, arcs and conflict and probably other stuff.
Pish and Tosh, I say to so called ”scolarz”! Bob says there are other valid story formats which work particularly well at short story length. Here are some categories I just made up several years ago. (Bob also specialises in conceptual time travel. No extra cost).
· The Texture Piece: intricately and hypnotically details a character or setting – in the presence or absence of any discernible plot. Pirates of the Dragon Isles by @Warden springs to mind. Lots of @Slanputin pieces lean this way. In this comp the most beautiful example is Fallen Leaf.
· The Shaggy Dog Story: Elaborate set up (heavy on Act One and Two) with a very short, sharp punchline or reveal. The punchline IS the resolution / ACT Three and it can validly exist outside the Fourth Wall. An esoteric and Bobcentric example is Totally Anonymous Entry. In this comp, Entries 1, 4, 6 and 8 qualify, and 7, Looking for Limza is difficult to categorise as anything else. Importantly – the punchline / reveal closes the story (even if the story could be continued / further resolved, the punchline still satisfies – or appalls if the ending is a terrible dad joke). Execution can be difficult – the place where the plot needs to resolve and the joke pays off can be different, which can destroy the comic timing. Story 1 dodges this by placing the events of the plot resolution at the beginning of the story, leaving the punchline to stand (or fall) by itself.
· The Chapter One: It is all Act One, with a little bit of plot to keep it moving. By the end the reader should be hooked by the situation or the characters and be ready to turn the page for the rest of the novel. About half the critiquers on L-O hate unresolved short stories, but Bob finds them exciting (along with nematomorpha worms, but that is a long story). The potential for an interesting character to go on to a heroic or villainous denouement (a big word for ending) is the exciting bit. Bob has been known to go on and write other authors’ “Chapter Twos” for them. Other Authors have been known to not return Bob’s calls. Examples of Chapter Ones here are stories 3, 5, 10 and 11.
· The Cliff Hanger: Similar to “The Chapter One,” but at the end, the question “what happens next?” is not answered with a whole book. Given we are in the Warhammer universe, typically what happens next is likely to be, “and they had a short and brutal end.” Optimistically, the best they can hope for is, “they survived to live out their allotted time in futility and existential torment.” The answer is never, “and they all lived happily ever after.” Story 10 would be a cliff hanger if it wasn’t for the fact that the character is so well portrayed as a survivor. She’ll get out of this situation for sure. Sea turtles mate. Sea turtles.
· The Road Movie / Quest: The plot moves with intent towards some location or goal. Some stuff might happen, some characters might come along for the ride. The goal may or may not be reached – none of these seem to be essential. The Road Movie is all about the journey, which probably corresponds with being mostly Act Two in its narrative function. Story 6 is obviously this. 4 and 8 have Road Movie Elements.
· And Many, Many More…
Given all the possible variations, measuring all entries by the same yardstick is impossible. But not impossible for the Boblogically gifted. Read on with quivering anticipation…
Story One: It Came from Above
Very thin on characters and development. I can’t remember if any were named. None of them died (except rats, and they only count in the Scalenex cup in the case of a tie). The plot was linear and predictable, but structured in an intriguing manner with reverse dates and a slow reveal of the circumstances of the introduction section. Texture-wise, the author jarringly contrasted a dark descriptive style with a light treatment of the banality of Temple City life. The punchline echoed the subtle but recurring “it came from above” theme, but for me the real joke is that the banality of city life is being supernaturally used by the Old Ones to further the Great Plan – the brutal ends being achieved by even the most mundane and unlikely means.
Spoiler: Story Two: Orders are Orders
This was all about character: Krikt wrestling with obedience and doubt, and ultimately dying with a smile and a song in her heart with her faith vindicated. Light on Plot as such, but what was there was structured very poetically with regular references to the absolute will of the slann. As for “what next?”, despite the open ending, I am not expecting a Chapter 2 this side of the End Times
Spoiler: Story Three: The Visitor
Oh my. Characters established just to die messily. Cup contender here, Scalenex! Otherwise, it does seem a bit wasteful. The mysterious enemy, sadly gets no definition or development, although I might have understood its murderous motivations if I knew my Death Robots From SPACE! Lore. The plot was linear and clear. The texture was supplied in the interrelationships of the (doomed) characters and in the exciting and detailed fights (I don’t particularly like fights BTW). Dividing the structure into 3 phases covered jumping between distinct points of view adequately and allowed for a staged reveal of the thing. I started hoping it was a Predator. In the end, I wanted it to be another cyborg Kaleesh, like General Grievous. I’m informed it was a Necron L This is a Chapter 1 that could have a novel behind it, but I don't know enough Necron lore to see what LM and Necrons could have to strive over. Educate me!
Spoiler: Story Four: A Dispatch in the Night
A lovely exploration of character and the “memory of a memory” problem as @Bowser would see it. The light touch of the slann was beautifully inserted, reflecting that the slann retrieved a favourite servant for that servant’s individual virtues and that the slann took joy from giving Boqhan “life” again. The plot was the simplest of road trip / quests and barely intruded on the mostly smooth textural flow between location, memory and physical action. The one lumpy bit was the last part of the journey, after the eavesdropped conversation – lots of extra sneaking was truncated into 2 summary sentences. If that section was expanded it wouldn’t have added to the key concepts of the story and may have slowed the story down too much, but compressed it was a bit of a jolting change of pace and style. Moving the Hooman’s conversation to just before the delivery scene would have fixed it. The “punchline” was the Starmaster’s reflection. The final quote “The old world may be gone, but we cannot afford to forget.” Is a powerful and poignant statement for Age of Sigmar deniers like myself. No Chapter 2 required.
Spoiler: Story Five: A Brutal Life
This is the One-iest Chapter One EVA! Characterisation was basic and brutal – I’m badass and I do good speeches. Development was zero. Except then the PoV changed and the author explored character / courage / fallibility / propaganda among the invincible and inscrutable Sigmarines – just so they could provide a historical and bloody double underline to Orayszheld’s badassery. (The Sigmarines story might have been a better one that Orayzheld's) The overall plot, as such, was just a vehicle for the ending twist, the setting could have been anywhere with an absorbent floor and the structure fell under the slashing Skullgouger – what do you mean only 1 paragraph of fighting to the last man with Seraphon? WTM? Good fights tho! If this doesn’t have a Chapter 2 it would be a shame. There is so much to explore about the Suicide Squad the Starmasters seem to be assembling. How could he be enslaved? Who would be the other experimental allies? What unlikely allegiances could be forged or broken? Who will be betrayed? When and how will he revolt? Lots of material here!
Spoiler: Story Six: Excitement
Road Movie Alert! The characters are a likable and generic set of stereotypes (not a bad thing) and one, at least, actually has some development which is well executed by Mu-Lat’s sarcastic punchline. Well done, author. The plot and structure are linear in time and geography. Each section is of equal “weight.” Character and environment texture were efficiently and entertainingly supplied by the heavy use of dialogue (which is my second default style). There was an opportunity to differentiate characters in a smaller ensemble cast by giving them different stereotypes (the optimist, the whiner, the coward, the religious fanatic, the love interest). Killing a few off would have probably killed the sweet innocence of the story. I understand why they arrived for the rehearsal – it was to set up the punch line with the other wide-eyed skink. No Chapter 2 required – this is a complete story.
Spoiler: Story Seven: Looking for Limza
What a lot of fun this was. Characters built with mysteries, lies, half-truths, reveals, and more mysteries. I know the characters weren’t really clarified, but I care enough to want to know what is below the next layer of intrigue. I have no idea if there was a plot. The structure is rollercoaster without the slow clicking-ratchet build of tension at the beginning. More of a rocket-powered-spooky-confusion-coaster. I would pay 6 bucks for that ride. And waste 11 bucks on the hotdog and thick shake I consumed a few minutes earlier. The punchline is a groan inducing destruction of the fourth wall. Did I really just navigate this maze of intrigue to discover it was an elaborate set up to regurgitate the theme? The author is a genius. The cool thing is that the story and characters could easily continue with new shaky alliances, betrayals, maybe a few more McGuffins, another secret society, a lucky escape etc etc. Please write MOAR!
Spoiler: Story Eight: To Escape Fate
Yup, a full on Shaggy Dog Story, and the more elaborate the set up the better the pay off with the very snappy punchline. The contrast of long descriptive paragraphs with the one liner at the end makes it all the sweeter. The characters motivations and duties were clear. The plot had balanced, identifiable Act One and Two and a false resolution which helps to open the reader to the sucker punch. Texture and theme-wise this was similar to Orders are Orders as another exploration of obedience in the face of doubt and self-interest with a side helping of the immutability of fate and the problem with foreknowledge. The battle was incredibly efficiently done as a backdrop to the internal struggles – 2 paragraphs to sum up a graphic melee AND put both main characters in the thick of the action making their personal struggles and heroism real to us. How much better when One-Eye is abruptly slaughtered. Better for Scalenex, anyway. Plus, no need for a messy, ambiguous ending or a disappointing second chapter here. No wonder our local Lord of Death prefers not to carry the baggage of main characters all the way to the end of his slaughter-porn.
Spoiler: Story Nine: Fallen Leaf
I voted before critiquing, and boy, do I regret not having one more vote to give to this atmospheric gem. This was a texture piece with a focus on the character balanced with a dreamy surreal fight sequence. From first reading I pictured the fight as just like the ones in Hero (Jet Li, Zhang Yimou) – watch it, it is beautiful and tragic. Despite a static plot, the saurus had a massive, yet unresolved character change. This lack of resolution is what leaves me begging for chapters 2 through to 18 to explore how he/she responds to his superiors / his cohort / his next mission / his next enemy / the temptation fall to chaos or despair. The structure was brilliantly executed – blurs of action balanced in word count with quiet introspection, each thought leading logically to the next, the autumnal backdrop providing the saurus with clarity at the last moment. It is crazy that this one has so few votes. It gets Bob’s Sheer Art Award.
Spoiler: Story Ten: Starlight and Shadows
Has a cliff hanger ending but for me this is a Chapter One just because of the resilience of the really well portrayed Sabine. And speaking of efficient character definition, the paragraph about mercenaries / treasure hunters / sailors told us practically everything we needed to know about the girl and her companions in 3 sentences. Wow. The plot was well structured with one of those slow rises in tension, leading to a climax which was a blur of seen and unseen horrors and blind terror. I realise that I’ve got this far into my CritiBobs without any specific complaints, so don’t take this too hard, Dear Lizard, but… Was the Boss’s knife the only option for cutting her bonds? Nope, any rock will do. (I would have used a burning stick from the fire while she was unattended – opportunity + need = ouchy last resort). I would like to see this character again, not even necessarily in a sequential next chapter. Her back-story or how she became Queen of the Amaxons would be equally compelling, just as long as there is a mighty reptilian warrior with an eggshell helmet included in some heroic and gosh-darn good looking role.
Spoiler: Story Eleven: The Darkest Hour
A Chapter One with a Chapter Two that we all know and love – that makes this an Origin Story, I suppose. As such it is about a character journey and this one answers the “how”s and “why”s. Kroak’s incredible power / arcane knowledge is emphasized by the fact that he brought himself back – and although this was possible, he was the only one whose sense of duty compelled him to. All of the other fallen frogs would have been laughing it up in Slanhalla by this time. The plot was well served by starting in the midst of battle and then making things get worse and worse. What could possibly be worse than approximately six dragons? No, not exactly six, nor indeed seven dragons …it’s Dreadblade the Uber High Exalted Super Daemon! Just in terms of sheer mass difference, you can’t see much chance of Kroak hopping away from this encounter. I felt this story was really linear and clear, to the extent that nothing really felt surprising – which is funny because the obvious tension of the scenario didn’t really translate to tension in me. Perhaps identifying Kroak by name in the first paragraph was a mistake. I want to read more from this author but writing something less constrained by the shackles of history or with a bit deeper insight into the protagonist’s heart.
Overall - what a great comp! Kudos to everyone and probably @Scalenex for the complete absence of proof reading type errors. Its not that they bother me when they are present but there absense demonstrates our collective evolution as authors of cold blooded fiction.
Don't miss the seasonal art comp!!!!
Your meta critique and the critiques of the individual stories are pretty kewl
thx, bob <3
It's never too late for others' kewl critiques, so...
get on with it!!!
@spawning of Bob great critiques! You are down to the point lol no sugar coating. I was quite happy to hear your critiques of my story (you will find out which one later hehehe). And I definitely will think through what you said. Ty!
So simple and yet so brilliant.
You never disappoint me.
@spawning of Bob is a legend. Nice job on the critiques!
And the polls are closed!
This contest was down to the wire, but the winner is "Looking for Limza" by @thedarkfourth
Special thanks to everyone who entered. We had five first time contest entrants: WhenTheSkinksMarch , King Dust , TheCrazyKhorneGuy , Paradoxical Pacifism, and Deathbringer125.
I am pleased I did not win. This was an exciting poll. I was in last place for a while then surged to second. Then there was quite a race for second and Looking for Limza got dethroned from an early lead only to reclaim it in the last 48 hours.
This contest was pretty fun - nice job everyone!
and congrats to @thedarkfourth !!
It was VERY tough to figure out how to award the Scalenex Cup this time around.
As Bob pointed out, Savinne is such a survivor she was probably NOT doomed. That takes story ten out of the running.
I liked Story Three for the deaths of named character but I didn't like how everything was split into phases with different characters in each one. Essentially the brutal deaths were just stalls to let the Slann do his thing. This takes story three out of the running.
That leaves stories Two, Eight and Nine. The reason we make the contest anonymous is because of author biases. Now, if I am on the fence between two or more stories, I tend to try to throw my support for the newer writer. I'm sure @Y'ttar Scaletail will write things that make me cry for years to come, but if I don't support the newcomers the forum may lose a source of tears!
I award the Scalenex Cup to @Paradoxical Pacifism. While I do like how @WhenTheSkinksMarch had the Skink accept her death, the reason PP edged you out for this coveted award is that there is someone alive left to mourn the dead and said Saurus is also questioning the rightness of his doing his duty. Without being too humble, I like to drizzle that sort of angst all over my stories when I can.
Congratulations to ALL the winners!
To quote Count Dooku: “Now... it is finished.”
Many congrats to @thedarkfourth to his excellent story, full of twists, turns and double-dealing! It really was a close thing this time, but I’m very pleased your story got the deciding vote. I eagerly await the theme you come up with for the next contest!
Haha! I fooled you! The reason that Star Wars reference is in ‘the Visitor’ is because I put it there!
The reason I didn’t elaborate on it in my critique was because I thought that if I pointed it out before everyone else, it would give me away too easily because if you frequent the Off Topic threads you’ll know that I’m a big Star Wars fan.
Now onto my story. Joint 4th place isn’t too bad, although the Visitor was joint second for a long while. There was one stint in which it broke away from the main body to be joint second only alongside ‘Excitement’ which was great, but then the next one who voted chose the other three stories who had only one vote less and I was almost immediately shoved back into the main pack. Never mind, I’ll just have to focus on writing shorter stories it seems
I am a little surprised the Visitor only got 4 votes, and also for it being deemed ‘unnecessarily long’ despite having written slightly more for One Man’s Meal in the previous contest, but I’m also pleased that everyone thought it was a dark and gritty story as I tried to pull out all the stops to give a dark and gritty feeling in this one, compared to One Man’s Meal which was more of a Hobbit-style adventure. Indeed my story is based on Predator, as while I was writing One Man’s Meal I had an idea - ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if I wrote a Lizardman take on Predator?’. I had originally thought of using a Tyranid Lictor as the Predator-style antagonist due to its chameleonic skin and expert stealth abilities, but remembering my Necron lore I decided to change the antagonist to a Necron Lychguard before stashing the idea back into my mind for a future contest. When the theme turned out to be ‘it came from the sky’ I then realised that that was the perfect theme to write my Predator-based story for, as of course the antagonist does indeed hail from the sky, or rather, outer space. I am also going to be treating everyone to a ‘Special Extended Edition’ of ‘the Visitor’ very soon, as I kept the original draft of this one before I trimmed it down for purposes of entering it in this contest. It features additional dialogue from the Skinks, additional contemplations from the Slann and a whole fourth Phase featuring the Necron Lychguard as he re-emerges from his stasis crypt after being ‘killed’ by the Slann!
For the benefit of @spawning of Bob and any others who don’t know their Necron lore, the Necrons were originally a race called the Necrontyr, who were a race of living creatures with living bodies and were embroiled in civil wars aplenty, as the various ruling families, or Dynasties, were all intent on fighting one another despite the attempts of the Silent King and his council, the Triarch, to keep everyone under control. It was around this time that the Necrontyr encountered the Old Ones, who of course created the Lizardmen on the Warhammer world at some point in their travels and had now returned to the Milky Way. The Silent King saw the Old Ones and their servants as the perfect excuse to unite all the Dynasties through war, so the War in Heaven began. On one side were the Necrontyr, on the other side were the Old Ones and their creations, the Eldar among them, hence the bad blood between the Craftworld Eldar and the Necrons in the 41st Millennium. Initially the united Necrontyr front proved a strong opponent, but gradually the Old Ones won more and more victories, and knowing defeat was at hand, the Necrontyr Dynasties reverted to their old ways and started to fight each other once more. Knowing that his race was now in an even worse position than when they started out, the Silent King at the time sought help from another race of gods called the C’Tan, who also disliked the Old Ones. The C’Tan bribed the Necrontyr to undergo a process called biotransferrance into living metal bodies to achieve immortality. Thinking that that would be the best course of action for his people, the Silent King agreed, but he failed to read the small print and it wasn’t until it was too late when he discovered that while it indeed made the individual immortal, the biotransferrance process also lent the risk of destroying the individual’s soul, which it did for the majority of the Silent King’s underlings. Nevertheless, the newly-created Necrons were now far stronger and with the aid of the C’Tan they eventually defeated and destroyed the Old Ones, which is why they never returned to the Lizardmen after leaving them alone on the Warhammer World. The Necrons would later rebel against the C’Tan and break them into dozens of demigod fragments of their former selves called Shards in retaliation to them trying to essentially use biotransferrance to enslave them, but that’s another story.
In any case, well done to everyone who entered the contest (I was especially impressed at the sheer number of entries produced this time), and I will hopefully be back for the next one!
Congrats to the winners!
So many good entries, and by new authors to boot!
These contests are so much fun because they have so many different and exciting stories to read.
Some day I might enter one as well. My main problem is that I tell stories too long winded so it will be hard for me to keep them within the allowed limit.
@Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl you really got me there. I should have known because I know you like the prequels a lot and you are (like me) an Obi-Wan fan.