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[2008: NOV-DEC] Feedback


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Feedback: The Cost of the Greater Good by Lieutenant (Jg) Iolo Madoc Llewelyn

Wow... Just... Wow...

Our current mission deals with a civil war on a planet, so this topic is a fitting one for my character and personal thoughts. You gave me some good, devious ideas, that had I not been mid-mission, would have made a good thought process. I especially liked the way that you developed the story, telling it from the point of two brothers, a most used thought in civil war stories. One area that I struggled with was the formatting of the story - it was a bit mushed together, but that is more a cosmetic thing than a stylistic thing at all. Essentially, what really did it for me was the humanity of the two characters; you could really understand and believe their point of view and that they thought it was the right. That's something that just about any story dealing with a Civil War follows: I am right, you are wrong.

Fantastic story!

Edited by FltAdml. Wolf
Fixing title
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Feedback: Death of Perfection by Commander Toni Turner

Another solid entry by Commander Turner. The main speaker addressing the Cadets in an auditorium gives an interesting twist to the plot of this story. The personal parallels between the character's fight with his friend, and the battle of the civil wars they fight daily was a great one to throw in, something that Toni does in most of her stories. The only critique I have is that I would have liked to have heard more about this story; what is the civil war that is going on? What are the ramifications? You get some glimpse in the final sentences, but would have loved to read more. That, however, is a shallow critique, as a good writer leaves the audience wanting more of the story, so excellent Toni!

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Feedback: The Other Temple by Major Sakorra Jefferson Reed

Religious overtones in a Civil War are the worst type. There is nothing more sacred (intended word usage) than religion and the battle to keep an established theocratic belief over anyone else. I truly enjoyed the story, and the way that the main characters, again, were really characters with depth and distinction. I also enjoyed the conversations in time and space with the main character, however, this one section of the story was a bit difficult to track with no attribution to the speaker for each of the lines. The concept of Civil War and the affects, making them personal, make this a fantastic story, one that could easily be the basis of a number of episodes.

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This thread is ONLY for moderators to post their feedback as they write it. All other posts will be DELETED.

Remember: you are under no obligation to accept or follow the feedback provided. It is only provided as a courtesy to challenge participants, and only reflects the personal opinion of the person writing it. If you don't like the feedback, we don't want to hear about it -- just close the thread and move on.

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Guest The Envoy (Ventu)

First of all, I want to thank everyone for participating. It's great to have so many solid entries (nine, this time), and even though the caliber of writing I read in this competition makes it hard to judge, I really do want to thank everyone for entering and urge you to keep going!

My reviews, then:

The Other Temple / Major Reed

The immediacy in the action, especially in regard to the story's entry, was much appreciated.

Real dialogue! I knew who these folks were at the end of the piece and I cared about them.

The invocation of the "won't leave dead friend behind" idea doesn't really add much to the trope. Given that it's fairly early on in the story and I have yet to meet Kiarna or Gasper, and I don't meet the dead friend at all, I needed more emotional resonance.

It's nice to see the rules played with, as in "you.will.stand.down."

Overall, nice movement and a good ending - he doesn't win at the last.

The Cost of the Greater Good / Junior Lieutenant Llewellen

Starting off with a block quote is a risky decision, and one that almost tossed me out of the story. Once I knew where I was, though, I was more than willing to stay with you. Ground me (show me where I am, who's speaking, and such) in the beginning, and it'll flow much more smoothly.

I enjoyed the reality of your politics - war doesn't end the Federation, talking does.

I'd like to see some refinement of your tags (he said, she said). Don't over-use adverbs, adjectives, or lengthy explanations. Stay simple - "said," "asked" - with some description of what's happening in the moment if you need it.

I definitely like that your macro-conflict of war ends up as a micro-conflict of family.

If Winston Churchill had a fiction style, it'd be similar to yours. This is neither positive or negative, nor something I want you to change, it's just an observation :-)

With that said, there are too many block quotes. Even though you're dealing with large issues, think of more normal dialogue - don't let your characters eulogize themselves.

The romantic triangle kicked me right on out of the story. It's distracting and doesn't have much of a purpose versus, say, the brother or the parents' deaths.

Quite a good entry!

The Eagle's Cry / Captain Taboo

As long as we're on styles, yours is very much like José Saramago (Blindness). Very flowy, very stream of consciousness.

Among all the dark ones, it was nice to see a lighter entry!

I liked that you played with the idea of the topic, but I'd like to see more play with your phraseology within the piece. For example, what is "a Cheshire cat grin" to you? What does it actually look like?

Well done! In a competition of large, dark pieces, yours was refreshingly concise and light.

Death of Perfection / Commander Turner

First off: Ha ha, a motivational speaker that would depress people. :-)

I had a bit of a plausibility problem with the idea that no one tried to stop a murder in an emptying auditorium.

It was nice to keep the story small, with one man addressing a group, but it still felt to me like the story could benefit from some more centering. What's Tulane really talking about? Has he ever gotten over Jeff? What's that one defining moment he's stuck in? Would he even talk about it? This was a dialogue-heavy piece, but your character was definitely interesting enough that he could've benefited from some more introspection.

A good example of the solid, competent work I've come to expect.

Dread Pirate Jackford / Lieutenant Kolk

You ease me into the story slowly, especially in the first paragraph - thank you!

Either explain it more subtly or leave it out, but don't just drop in things like "the Dread Pirate Jackford (as the Alternate Universe version of Jackford B. Kolk of the USS Ronin decided he was to be called this week)."

Granted, I don't know much about the Mirror Universe, but I found this story fairly implausible, especially since he'd just show up with a new fleet between paragraphs. More below-

The real conflict seems to be between Sheval and Jack. Focus more on it. I mean, you can toss all the fleets and battles you want in as padding, but she's still going to end up with him in handcuffs at the end, right?

Jack's too arrogant for me to really be on his side as a protagonist. I understand the difficulty here, as he's an established character, but I had no real reason to root for him over Sheval or the Romulans.

Still, another good entry. Explain your main a bit more, and I'll be on your side :-)

For the Children / Junior Lieutenant Atimen

Like in "The Cost of the Greater Good," micro-conflict during some kind of macro-conflict is a good way to ground your reader.

Watch the melodrama - "his eyes piercing into Carte's soul."

The Federation executes mutineers? That seems kind of harsh, but I could be wrong.

The dialogue between Amy and Carte when she tries to talk him down is the best real dialogue of the piece.

At the end, I don't understand Carte's motivation. It's skirted around in the entire piece, and no one ever confronts it head-on. as such, I don't care about his choice in the end. Clean up Carte, let him (and you, and your reader) know what's really going on, and then I'll be on your side.

Paradox / Lieutenant Commander Thelev

A bit of a nitpick, but watch the overuse of semicolons (especially in a short story). Remember, they're only warranted when you can replace them with a period or a comma because (", because").

There was too much explanation all at once. Ease me into it, please.

As a whole, the group's pretty one-dimensional. I'd like to know more about all of them, especially why they all haven't killed each other by the story's start.

Why not start in Abby's POV and stay there? I don't understand the switch from David to Abby after a few paragraphs.

I don't understand Xensha's switch, and the dialogue following her coming-out is cliché. Ybin's "betrayal" is better-defined.

Abby's moving towards being a good character, but she gets lost in the shuffle of sci-fi elements, the time travel, and the large cast you have. Simplify, and you'll get somewhere.

Fugitives / Junior Lieutenant Firestarter

Especially in the beginning, what's up with the brogue/dialect? Why is it there if it just gets dropped as the story progressed?

The drunk's both "him" and "her" at some points. I think this is intentional, but I'm not quite sure why you did it.

This piece works as a play, but the end undermines what you're trying to do. Just cut out the last bits of story-esque stuff.

Dialogue's clunky in parts. This is important, especially since you're writing in the format you are.

Bottom line, I really liked the experimental format, but it needs to work more for the characters than for the style of the story itself. Make it make sense, and it'll work better.

How One Captain.... / Kitiganzibi

In a competition piece, don't abbreviate - write out "lieutenant" in dialogue, instead of abbreviating.

Good grounding at the start - the trailing delegates are a nice image.

The Wikipedia citation murders your credibility. This is a short story, not a analytical piece - you don't need parenthetical citations.

There's movement, but no real action. I'm not sure what's different, for me or for the characters, at the end of the story versus at the beginning.

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For The Children

This story was one of the standouts of the bunch. Your characters were well established from the very start of the story. I cared deeply for Carte and Amy and when they ended up on opposite sides of the conflict it tore at my heart to see their pain. But Carte’s motivations just were not clear enough. His sincerity was clear, but like Amy I could not understand why he was doing what he was doing. Without understanding Carte’s motivation I could not understand his sacrifice. Otherwise this was a sound, gripping, and emotional story. If you keep writing on this level, I promise you I will keep reading.

The Dread Pirate Jackford

I love the Princess Bride, so the theme of your story put a big smile on my face. But your hero/anti-hero did not make me want to pull for him. To me he came across as being just as manipulative as Sheval, she just out maneuvered him in the end. I need a reason to care about the main characters, even if it is just a small one. You did get me to hate Sheval by the end of the story though, truly a good job at making a character utterly despicable. I enjoyed your sense of humor, and I look forward to more stories that can make me smile.

Fugitives

I could see where you were going with this one. It has the feel of a morality play with a bit of the unexpected. The style choice was a bold move and suits the up tempo actions of the story. Unfortunately that tempo is broken by confusion. In particular this happened most often with the drunk. The Captain and the Ensign seemed to lose their individual personalities as the piece developed, ending with them both seeming to be the same character. These are both problems that can be easily solved by proofreading and rewriting your work as needed. When proofreading your piece be sure to watch out for unintended changes in your characters. I enjoyed the original concept of the piece, and look forward to what you will come up with in the next challenge.

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