Jump to content

Time until Halloween Avatar Contest closes. Get in costume now!

The Halloween Avatar Contest has closed! We'll announce the winners next week! 

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

[2006: MAY-JUN] Feedback


Recommended Posts

These are the reviews from last month's challenge. Sorry it took a few days to get them to you all.

Captain Rhys

-------

A window of time, by Lieutenant Xoet

Interesting. In reading it, I was reminded of the Sanscrit lyric poetry type, the Kavya. I'm not sure if this is what you were going for, but the resemblances are remarkable. Then again, there are other aspects of interest, common to some modern western literature, for example, the shape of the blocks of text themselves. The one in post #5 with a wedge shape is too obvious to be a mere coincidence. The stream-of-consciousness writing, which you've used, has also been used by Gertrude Stein, Patrick White and James Joyce.

You've worked hard on this, xoet, and have a right to be proud of what you've done. There are a couple of points that occur to me in the reading that you may not have considered in the writing, and I'll outline them here.

Firstly, ok, grammar is way out of left field, but this may well be intentional. I'll give you an example from post #5

"Your values are off xoet said to itself in the window of time

go to your future of you not the past and me were we will see…

technically, should be

"Your values are off, xoet said to itself in the window of time.

Go to your future of you, not the past and me, where we will see…"

Now, I appreciate that your decision not to use grammatical points may be deliberate (though it makes for some pretty tough reading) but the use of "were" instead of "where" is careless and unforgivable. Further, sometimes everything is in lower case, for example, the first person singular – "i" instead of "I" – and sometimes it's not. A good editor would pick that up, but you don't have that luxury here. Unfortunate, and careless.

Related to this, it's actually quite a hard read, partly because of the lack of consistent grammar, even of grammar entirely in some parts, and partly because I'm not entirely convinced you're entirely comfortable with the vocabulary you've used. An English professor of mine used to have a sign on her door, which read "First Draft – 'Well, you know, I just don't know if I should kill myself or not, you know.' Final Draft – 'To be or not to be, that is the question.' W. Shakespeare." Ok, it's a little cheesy, but it does show the value of rewrites. If you're not absolutely comfortable with the language you've used, your writing can come off as pretentious, and yes, sometimes here it does. For example: "the window of time split and exploded into and infinity of windows where every moment of xoet's life it could see…" What is an infinity of windows? Here you have a noun (infinity) modifying another noun (windows). An infinite number of windows is more accurate, and would have been picked up by a rewrite. Essentially, what you've achieved is to make long, slow reading essential to pick up your meaning, alienating many of your readers.

I was disappointed to have the whole thing written off as merely a dream. There is not always a necessity to have things rationally explained away. Yes, believability, yes accuracy within the parameters we write (Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek), but sometimes it's ok just to present a story. I could scream with the number of stories I've read over the months I've been judging this contest, that have used this hokey dramatic device. It's the literary equivalent of a transporter malfunction.

If I've been unduly harsh in my criticism here, xoet, there's a reason and it is this: this is one of the most imaginative uses of language I've seen in this forum. It's ambitious, and mostly thoughtful. You've tried to achieve something quite remarkable and (within the confines of the forum) largely succeeded. I enjoyed reading what you've done here. The way to keep improving is to just keep writing, and I'm sure you will. Well done.

Captain Rhys

-----------

Transparent desires, by Lieutenant Walker

Gargh! The stories I'm assigned always seem set on investigating the duality of sleep and wakefulness, dreaming and reality. Ok, fair enough, it's a fascinating area that's haunted humanity from the moment they started writing, but still...

Ok, rant over with. A good story, Walker. Initially when I was reading the Borg bit, I was apprehensive. The language was over-the-top bravado, but as a dream that's ok. You covered a lot of ground here. The story is strong, and the characterisation of Alison Cadney is good. The technical aspects of the writing are strong, and it's clear you've taken some care with the rewriting.

That said... (you all must hate those words more from me than a starship crew hate the words "report"), while you've written to the word limit, again, it's quite a story you've attempted to cover in 2,500 words. It is ok to write smaller stories, folks! We're used to star trek covering an entire mission, or a theme. But you don't have 40 minutes here. You have 2,500 words. You've done a better job than most, Walker, but keep the stories interesting, but smaller!

Now the theme for this month's entries was a window. The window on your story seems bolted on crudely, and was, I believe, the weakest part of a good story. I had to read the section a few times to see if I was missing something. Shame, as it's the last bit of the story one reads, and the image that stays with one.

Apart from that, a good story, technically adept and marred by a couple of problems. You're all getting so good, it's making our lives as judges harder and harder! Stop it now!

Captain Rhys

-----

Sacrificial Choice by Lt.Jg. Nemitor Atimen

Good overall, but I had trouble connecting with Foster. He seemed to swing from one extreme to the other: he'd hardly interact with his crew, but then he'd decide to go into much more detail than was needed on his explanation. There were some nice touches; since we're in Foster's third-limited POV, it was nice to see his subordinates as only "Lieutenant" and "Ensign" in the text. However, it falls apart with him; we're told straight off the bat that Foster prefers protocol, and it makes sense that he'd view himself as "Commander," too, but in the third paragraph, he's suddenly "Foster" without the reader being told that Foster is his name, and after that, the two are used interchangeably. The delivery seemed rushed at the end, although this may simply be because Foster knows what's coming.

Lieutenant Ventu

----

Musical Interlude by Lieutenant J.G. Pedro Ramirez

The title describes this piece perfectly, in my mind. It does have a sense of, "So what?" to it, since it really doesn't go anywhere. If done in first person, it would be good as a personal log, but as it is, I'm not altogether sure what exactly the point was. In regards to the song: The first rule I learned in Poetry 101, and the only one I really remember, is the end rhyming simply for its own sake should be punishable by death. I found myself counting syllables and trying to figure out how "gone" rhymed with "one" and "redemption" with "Federation" rather than simply enjoying the piece.

Lieutenant Ventu

------

Reflected by Lt.Jg. Daniel Cody

Wowza! After I read this one, I knew I had my winner in mind. The plot is great, the dialogue is believable without being trite, and the execution is nearly flawless. There were a few grammar edits to nitpick, but that's about it. This entry should be used as an example of how to do an in-character writing challenge.

Lieutenant Ventuu

-------

The Broken Pane by Lieutenant Toni Turner:

I really enjoyed the amount of expression contained throughout this piece. The idea of shattering a window then trying to repair it piece by piece is certainly a powerful metaphor. I think we all understand the feelings of smashing something we love in a moment of anger, regretting it instantly and then trying to repair the damage. As such, Toni addresses the theme of a Window in an original and intriguing way, which was on the whole very well approached.

This piece suffered, however, from occasional weak moments in its use of the English language. For example "subserviency" is not a word. Presumably "subservience" was what was meant? Also, there was some very odd tense usage and conjugations. Eg. "she could not see the wealth that lie before her"? This should be either, "the wealth lying before her" or "the wealth that lay before her" or, at a push, "the wealth that lies before her".) Since recent competitions have all seen some really strong entries it has become harder and harder to pick winners. As such, judges often look for whatever they can to make distinction between the stories. Everyone should take time to run a spelling and grammar check on their stories before submitting because such errors sticks out like sore thumbs and it's a shame to loose points because of them. On the whole this entry could have done with being somewhat more substantial in length (the maximum number of words is 3000 -try and use them). Although shorter stories sometimes work, in this case I felt the piece was concise to the point that it left too many areas unexplored. For example could the overall metaphor not be expanded slightly –do the pieces of glass not cut and cause pain when Talon tries to pick them up? Are there occasionally pieces missing? Pieces that don't fit together? Despite these prominent flaws, the focus was certainly interesting and the overall window metaphor very original and extremely clever.

Captain Rocar

------

The Window by Lcmd Julia Harden:

This was another excellent piece in this month's challenge and a strong contender for winner. From the onset the story stands out as different because of the First Person narrative, which sometimes can make for a clumsy read, however, Julia works this technique well. Kedon reminds me of myself when faced with a doctor in RL and it was certainly amusing to see the scenario playout, the narrator having the same stubborn streak we've seen in all the Star Trek series' CMOs. It was nice to have the Starfleet setting in contrast to a civilian scientist as the piece moves on to a sci-fi scenario as "the window" appears. Oddly enough I pictured this scenario in almost an Original Series style (partially helped by the mention of the commodore but also because a TOS episode plot would often be built by some neon-light effect thing hovering above the officers!) The pace and excitement running through this story is good and the writer builds up a great level of intrigue –what is this window? Why does it want Harden and Kedon? Will Kedon be pulled in? Essentially a piece with all the qualities of an excellent sci-fi classic and the ending (without specific explanation as to what the window is) makes it all the better! Maybe one day one of the UfoP's ship can go on a mission to this planet and find out more?

Captain Rocar

----------

Shattered Windows by Ensign Cara Maria:

I loved the opening introduction to Cara Maria's entry and liked the notion of the mind meld being presented from the point of view of the recipient. Indeed, the idea of the Vulcan mind melds being windows into someone's memories was particularly nice and well executed in this story. As the story moved on I presumed the story was going to simply move on to some enjoyable memory in the character's past. Reading the start of this (a teenager arriving home) I ignorantly presumed that the story would now move to a enjoyable scene depicting a UfoP character's teenage years and thought to myself that I'd end up writing something along the lines of: "this pleasant memory of childhood offered some insightful backstory and depth to the writer's main character." Sat in the sweltering summer heat with a mountain of work on my desk (I'd been reading and reviewing stories as breaks during what is an endless summer of writing. As such I was somewhat grouchy, tired and not to enthusiastic even after my 8th coffee) I continued to read, and was frankly amazed with how the story continued. Anyone who has not yet read this entry ought to do so now, as it was quite simply excellent and definitely one of my favourites this month. Its impossible for me to list everything I thought was great in this story and I could never express their qualities as the story does itself when you read it.

The narrative structure of the story is not only different but also incredibly well executed. If you look back at challenge reviews from the past year you'll see I have often advised writer to consider the structure of stories and the narrative point. A traumatic experience expressed in writing should not simply be an unsettling scenario but, to truly be trauma, should generally trouble/haunt the protagonists many years later. As such there needs to be jumps in the narrative as demonstrated by this piece, yet there is no need to indicate them with **** or a stardate etc. RL means I read a lot of (often traumatic) literature on a weekly basis and often find flaws when "video writers" decide to deal with difficult subject matters, however, this story is not only troubling but also deeply moving. It is written exactly the way anything of this genre should be and truly does offer great depth to this UfoP character. The father was described perfectly in a style similar to father figures in works by James Joyce, the mother's situation strikes a chord and the narrator describes the teenager's situation and viewpoint perfectly. Cara… if you have spare time over the summer then you should go expand on this scene and write a novel!

Captain Rocar

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ever have one of those moments where you want to be that fly on the wall listening to what the Judges' are saying to each other? (*wry grin*) Let's see what we can all come up with this round and give 'em a harder run...

Link to post
Share on other sites

ok this time there will be many a rewrites... I want to thank Captain Rhys for their comments and agree with all of them except the similarities with Sanskrit lyric poetry ... I am not sure if I have read that stuff or not although during the writing of the "poem" I was also reading the lotus sutra so that might of influenced the "poem" the next writing will be in SIM form and I have already started on it but I also know it needs a few rewrites before I read the review... Just my first Writing Challenge and I wrote it on the fly and It can be considered a first draft ... I may do some rewrites and put it in the poetry cafe forum section if that is allowed?

Link to post
Share on other sites
----

Musical Interlude by Lieutenant J.G. Pedro Ramirez

The title describes this piece perfectly, in my mind. It does have a sense of, "So what?" to it, since it really doesn't go anywhere. If done in first person, it would be good as a personal log, but as it is, I'm not altogether sure what exactly the point was. In regards to the song: The first rule I learned in Poetry 101, and the only one I really remember, is the end rhyming simply for its own sake should be punishable by death. I found myself counting syllables and trying to figure out how "gone" rhymed with "one" and "redemption" with "Federation" rather than simply enjoying the piece.

Lieutenant Ventu

------

The point was to do something different than talking about a window because it was in the subject... As for the lyrics that are not up to your standards, well excuse me for not being a poet in real life, nor a song writer. If you lose time to count every syllable or check every rhymes to see if they fit together in every song you listen too, you have a lot of time on your hands. And if you notice, I did say at the end it wasn't supposed to be a good song, that it just felt good for Ramirez to do it. It wasn't meant to prove that I'm a good song writer, which I'm not, it was just for the fun of it. But obviously, you seem the be the kind to drain the fun out of simple things...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote:

There is not a more disgusting spectacle under the sun than our subserviency to British criticism. It is disgusting, first, because it is truckling, servile, pusillanimous—secondly, because of its gross irrationality. We know the British to bear us little but ill will—we know that, in no case do they utter unbiased opinions of American books ... we know all this, and yet, day after day, submit our necks to the degrading yoke of the crudest opinion that emanates from the fatherland.

Author: Poe, Edgar Allan

Link to post
Share on other sites

No one here is obligated to consider or practice any of the feedback that is volunteered for you. You are, however, obligated to accept it with grace. I find the responses to the feedback appalling.

These judges took time to critique the stories and give you their idea of how you could improve. It's called constructive criticism. If you are unwilling to hear criticisms of your own work, then you should not be posting your work in any kind of public forum. Get yourself a journal, because it's clear that you do not have the poise or dignity to let your work into the wild where others will read it.

Writing is a two-way street.

Anyone who behaves, in the future, in the manner that I have seen in some of the posts above will no longer be welcome to post their creative writing in any of the challenges, contests, or creative writing forums we have in this community. You are more than welcome to defend your tactics and techniques so long as you conduct yourself in the manner becoming of an adult. I will not entertain any further childish behavior.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing is that it's been two consecutive challenges that the judges that supposedly read my entries don't seem to have actually read it. They somehow missed the point of things that were almost textually explained in what I wrote and I must say I'm not really excited about it.

In this particular case, it went further than just analyzing what I wrote, it became a gratuitous dissing of my text. I'm absolutely for constructive criticism, but not being told that what I write is pointless and that I'm not as good at writing lyrics as a poet or a songwriter would be.

Constructive criticism is what Rhys did for Xoet and he definitely showed he wanted to help him (if the grammar thing wasn't voluntary of course) even though he was a tad tough on his choice of words. I'm sorry to say that the comments Ventu said about what I wrote is pretty much just bashing at it.

Edited by Nerreht
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hold on a sec, everyone.

The key thing to remember here, they’re stories we choose to share. (*smile*) Because end of the day, TPTB don’t need to do this. They do it because it’s fun, and it’s a chance to share our work in what’s suppose to be a fun, friendly competition to encourage a community of writers/simmers. It’s not about who wins (although I’m sure everyone who’s participated is somewhat motivated to win), it’s the process of submitting contributions for everyone to read and enjoy.

In life (and I can attest to this personally), I have sheets upon sheets of rejection letters going back to 1986. I’m lucky if I can get any sort of feedback at all (I miss having C.G. editing the stuff I write to sell for me… big time). Believe me, feedback’s a curtousy, so before we complain about something, remember they don’t have to do this. I don’t get it right (probably easily 99% of the time, it’s the 1% that keeps me going, and readers… ). And if it’s constructive criticism we’re after, you need to keep in mind that’s a skill that’s developed with training and education, and a great deal of patience.

I’ll make a deal with all of you. If you truly are looking for a constructive forum to grow and learn from on what you’d like out of the feedback, I’ll ask FlAdm. Wolfe to set up a subforum and I’ll do it after the deadlines (meaning, entries are all in and in process of judging). I’m not always a hundred percent right, and I do get a few things wrong, but I’m a much better coverage report writer on other works than mine. :)

Heck, you can even disassemble anything I write and comment on what works or didn’t work.

The only thing I ask in return: I need quotes from you simmers here in SB118 for an article I’m working on. Fun, friendly quotes on your experience with SB118.

What say you, fair ladies and gents?

Link to post
Share on other sites

A few comments on this, made in the best interests of pouring oil on troubled waters.

Firstly, to xoet (who I keep wanting to call zoet for some reason). The comment about Sanskrit poetry was an observation only. I've not read the original myself (sanscrit's a hard language... and two foreign languages are my limit, thank you very much... although I can order a beer in at least a dozen.) But I have done a fair bit of travel, and it did remind me of some translations of some of them. Still, I'm glad you found my comments, on the whole, helpful. Yes to rewrites! Yes yes yes!!!! :)

Toni: I was a little confused at your reference to Poe. He was a writer of extremely high standards himself. Also a highly prolific one. You seem to be objecting to Rocar's and my nationality? He is British and I am originally of British/Irish extraction? This confused me as the quotation is actually an unusual one of Poe's, who had also been known to write

". . . one is pretty sure to hear the most ridiculous and exaggerated misrepresentations, one way or the other, for or against American authorship.... But if we would not over-cuddle the young American writers; kill them with kindness turn their heads with our trumpeting, or produce a fatal revulsion in the popular mind let us never make a prodigious fuss about any American book which, if it were English, would produce little or no sensation. "

Poe wanted American writing to live up to the best of British at a time that a lot of the Brits were panning Americans writers. We in Australia suffered a similar fate a hundred years later. But I am scratching my head as to how Poe's quote applies here.

Nerreht, I don't think that Ventuu set out to deliberately diss your work. Everyone has different reactions to people's writings. Over the years that this has been a part of UFoP, we've developed a system that takes into account everyone's views, and enables the most productivity seeing as all of this is volunteer work. I get no kudos or recompense for doing what I do. I'm glad to do it, because I enjoy reading what you all come up with. But do try to accept what is written with, as Admiral Wolf says, grace. Who knows? Maybe next time I'll draw your story to review. (Are you shaking in your boots yet? ;) )

Folks, criticism can often be a bitter pill to swallow. I know. I've been a university student and a university lecturer. (I'm much kinder to all of you than I was to my students, let me tell you!) So I do understand the comments that have been made. But do believe, Rocar, I and (in this case) Ventu do this only to further the cause of the UFoP, and to try and achieve as high a level of writing within the group as possible. There are no vendettas or unnecessary put downs while doing it.

With kind regards

Captain Rhys

Commanding Officer, USS Triumphant

PS. It's "courtesy", not "curtousy", Cody! LOL.

::Sees Cody with a large cream pie and a menacing look and feels the need to duck and run::

Link to post
Share on other sites

::blink, blink:: What? My spell checker conspired against me??

::starts munching on the cream pie as he gives MS Word a 'talkin' to::

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe it was the choice of words, but somehow I feel that it was plain ol' bashing. Other than that, I don't see what is supposed to be contructive in what has been said in my case. And it's not because of the choice of words because I recall Rhys' commentaries about my first ever entry in the challenges where he noted some details in his own personnal way never gave me any problems. But in the current situation, I was insulted because I don't see the "constructive" part of that criticism.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Captain Rhys, sorry that you took the quote personally. That quote was used because of Poe's use of the word "subserviency" (which I bolded and underlined). It was not used because of what he had said. Rocar had said that "subserviency" was not a word, and indicated that spell check needed to be used. I did use spell check in Word Perfect (American version), and "subserviency" came up as correct. The word (or non-word) "subserviency" has also been used to describe Jesus's relationship to God.

Toni

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all,

First of all, thank you for the review. Good/Bad/Ugly...it all comes down to a set of opinions... and my story is worthless if no one reads it. And even a poor review means that it's made an impact.

(And yes..I repeat that every time I get upsetting or frustrating reviews...*chuckle*)

I do very much appreciate the time all the judges take...and any responses I get from additional questions I ask after the reviews..;)

that said...(To quote from the review itself..*smile*)

Now the theme for this month's entries was a window. The window on your story seems bolted on crudely, and was, I believe, the weakest part of a good story. I had to read the section a few times to see if I was missing something. Shame, as it's the last bit of the story one reads, and the image that stays with one.

Actually..I was going for a dual message in the story. Allison was the "window" that everyone else in the universe/Federation viewed her ships actions. The use of the "window" as a means to experience your deepest desires was semi-intentionally "clunky" or more precisely blatant..:) It is unfortunate that I was not able to correctly, or at minimum completely, express that point. However, I'll use this forum..(no pun intended) to explain it..;)

Again, thank you for reviewing...past and present....good and bad. Cuz personally, I would rather hear a thousand bad comments than only hear the good. Cuz I'll never improve if I only hear the positives..:)

Walker

Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say that the criticisms were a bit more on the criticize side than the constructive side this time around. Watch that for next time, judges. Enough.

Toni, I was enthralled with your story. The ending made me sit back and go, "WOW". Just wanted to say it in public. I didn't think it would be a story that the majority of people would enjoy, however. The concept was reflective... Is that the word I want? Introspective maybe?

I thought for sure you, David or Ben would win. Since I can't join the challenge this next month, do me proud, guys!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Julia. I really liked your story too.

Introspective? Maybe some of it, but I'm still putting pieces together, and someone else broke the window. *lol*

I suppose all writers face the question of mass appeal, but as they say, "You can't please everyone..." I just hate trying to please one who can't be pleased with my work. I'm my worse critic, but still feel that writing is the best way to express myself.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I'll admit Toni and Julia here have inherited a fan of their respective writings from what I've read of them to date. :)

Ben here as well... but I get a chance to read his contributes daily, which are always a tribute to some well laid plans and work (of course, in simming). I'm still getting to know others' respective styles and voices.

Nah... I made a critical mistake which I didn't catch until well after. The topic was windows... not window (or glass) reflections. LOL

Edited by DCody
Link to post
Share on other sites

You also have a fan, David. I always look forward to reading your stories. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a fan of your respective stories..I must find a way to destroy them..destroy them all..leaving only my stories to lead...to win! Of course if I lose at that point it'll be embarrassing..;)

Seriously, it is always great seeing the directions everyone takes their stories. I'm always impressed at how different the stories tend to be...especially with the same kernel of inspiration to start.

(And not slightly worried as I try to determine a story that will stand out amongst that august body)

Now...I just gotta figure out a way...

:whistling:

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no way I'm going to win this time, but my last month's one I really liked.

Congrats you two! and good luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.