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[2006: JAN-FEB] Feedback


Rocar Drawoh
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Opening Remarks

Perhaps one of the most successful writing challenge round to date, I was astounded by the large number of entrants (and very very glad that I was not going be one of the people judging them and picking a winner!)

Our resident Judge for this round was Commander Rhys Bejain (USS Kodiak/ Triumphant). The Captain’s Council representative Judge was Commander Robin Phoenix (USS Victory) and they were joined by two guest judges. Lt.Jg Toni Turner (Embassy to Duronis II), our winner of the November/December Challenge and Lt Cmdr Solan (USS Ursa Major).

Below you will find some feedback from the judges. We’ve done things a little differently this time round (due to the growing number of entries and to ensure a quick turn around in getting the feedback out to you) in that each story is now reviewed by one judge and not all three. (Though of course they still each read all the entries!)

I sincerely hope the participants enjoyed writing their pieces as much as I know players throughout the fleet have enjoyed reading. I hope that some of the comments in this feedback will be of help. Remember, when judges sound critical they are really just offering tips and ideas on areas of your writing you may wish to improve. I look forward to seeing each of your entries again next round, where I hope everybody will have a go at exploring what is meant by a "A Poison Apple"

All the best,

~ Captain Rocar

***

I'm Home, Goodbye

By Kaitlyn Rowan

Ms. Rowan opened an aspect seldom discussed, although a very real, and conflicting, issue that exists in countless families. She presented a well-written story, meshing a recent death with a bigger tragedy that had taken place years before, tainting the character’s life forever. She documented the breach in the family and her character’s reaction perfectly.

I could see the torment and resentment of hiding the truth for the families sake, and the battle of being expected to grieve, but not feeling anything but relief in saying goodbye to someone who had betrayed her love of them.

It was a sad story, dark, and perhaps oblique to those not knowing the horror suffered, but it was a story justified in the telling, and Ms Rowen told it oh so well. I only found one misspelled word (acknowledgement = acknowledgment). Beautifully written, Ms Rowen, it was near perfection. I can’t say enough for the writing abilities of Ms Rowan, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Reviewed by Lieutenant Jg. Toni Turner

***

Things to do in Dallas when you're dead.

By Russ Heston

This was a surprising entry; very dark, which is unusual in Star Trek, but

one that captured my imagination. The author writes very well and

evocatively. I liked it partly because of that, and partly also because it

showed a side of life that is very rarely dealt with in Trek. Even in the

24th century, there will be dysfunctional families. Picard's relationship

with his brother was never *really*explored. Here, we have a young ensign

feeling like he's let his family down, and part of that *is* explored.

The only thing I really would have liked is more of a storyline. The entire

plot is let down a little by a 'so what' flaw. It seems like it's part of a

larger plot than a story which stands on its own, a problem plaguing many

writers who write of their own characters.

Still, well done. A very solid and thoughtful entry.

Reviewed by Commander Rhys

***

Home is where the heart is

By Julia Harden

Certainly a story which tells the tale of coming home, albeit in a

more emotional and darkened situated background. The words chosen and

the construction of the sentences make this story easy to read as well

as making the reader forget the time. Yes, even the fact that one is

reading a story at times. There were no more then 3000 words used.

Spelling and grammar are quite good and the story has a certain flow

in it which grants the text a certain rhythm.

Addictively, Harden has tapped into some very basic emotions which she

used to communicate the emotions and thoughts the main character is

undergoing. Fear, pain, loss, loneliness, longing... it is all there

to read and experience as one is sucked into the story about the old

and mangled Admiral who seeks the reason for her still being alive.

I personally always love stories about life and death, especially when

it is written in an enticing manner. Harden managed to build up the

story, explaining the character and her family/surroundings and the

situation she is in. Explaining and really deepening the character's

way of mind, detailed information and psychology. Isn't it wonderful

how such a sad story can leave a reader so content?

Reviewed by Commander Phoenix

***

This Bitter Aftertaste

By David Cody

This was an oddly intriguing story that kept my interest with the mystery Mr. Cody spun. By the time I experienced to the powerful emotion of the ending. I was completely captivated by his storytelling skills and compelling descriptions.

The surroundings were so cleverly intertwined into the sentences, they were almost mini stories within themselves, weaving in sights and sounds. The writer was absolutely unafraid of long sentences with punctuation correctly used. I liked this aspect of the story great deal. It was refreshing, and it showed that Mr. Cody had comfortable command over his thoughts, and knows how to express it in written words. Even his short sentences flow flawlessly giving emphasis to points that he made and making the reader stop to consider each one carefully.

I found the word usage excellent, painting concise pictures that Mrs Cody designed, oh so vividly. Molding his story around an unsolvable mystery, drew this reader into the misyt of the plot, but gently left me feeling that the future would looked brighter for the character he use.

Reviewed by Lieutenant Jg. Toni Turner

***

A home isn't what you make it, it's what makes you

by Pedro Ramirez

The first thing that struck me about this story was the appealingly intriguing introduction. From the onset it is not clear who the protagonist or narrator is and this mystery helps build-up for a good story. The description is just enough to clearly conjure up an excellent mental image of the setting and intrigue runs throughout with an eerie feeling something will happen. Indeed nice descriptions of the space, as “he” looks at something and remembers it from the time when he’d lived there. Nice descriptions of family relations, we get a strong sense of a character who did not know where he was going and was weary of the way the universe kept treating him. Extremely well-written, I would have argued this was a very strong contender for winner. I was left hoping Ramirez found his place on the Columbia but also alarmed at how similar this story is to my own real life experience of “heading home.”

Reviewed by Captain Rocar

***

The stars above

By Aresee Ventu

A well-written story that deals with something not often discussed in the

Star Trek universe: that of life after death. Is the counselor's (I think

it's Aresee herself, but it's not made obvious) experience an objective one

that awaits us all when we die? Or is it the complicated chemical reactions

as the brain shuts down?

The story is well and evocatively written. The plotline is, perhaps, a

little predictable. I wonder what would have happened if she'd *really*

been dead? Still, a good, solid entry. Well done.

Reviewed by Commander Rhys

***

To Return You Have To Leave

By Cara Maria

A fascinating story to say the least. From the opening lines, the

author sets the tone for a hazy, almost dreamlike scene. The reader

isn't entirely sure what is happening, but the basic plot line is

still clear enough to follow. The story does a good job of showing

the less-heroic side of Starfleet Officers.

All that being said, there were a few times I felt a few more

details and specifics could have been given. For instance, whom

exactly did the old man catch? How was the prisoner caught so easily?

While these details would have enhanced the story, it's still a very

interesting concept.

Reviewed by Commander Phoenix

***

Homecoming..home finding

By Ben Walker

Ben Walker's story Homecoming.. home finding was a good read. The sentences flowed nicely into each other, and the grammar near perfect.

The storyline was interesting and commanded attention throughout the work, giving the reader time to digest each point before moving on to the next. I also liked the fact he didicated the piece to his crew mates. That added points with me.

The only thing I found that could use improvement is in the possessive nouns, like. . .the pilots words should have been the pilot's words. In another place. "a days travel" should have been "a day's travel.",

To sum his story up, I will use the author's ending words. . . “Well said Mr. Walker, well said indeed.”

Reviewed by Lieutenant Jg. Toni Turner

***

Thought of returning

By Ensign Malcolm Wash

Similar in theme to Heston's "Things to do in Dallas", this story deals with

an unwelcome return home. The writing is darker and angrier than is common

in these entries, and good use is made of description.

But, ultimately, it suffers from the same flaw as Heston's. It's only part

of a larger plot. What did happen to Ben's father's killer? Was he ever

captured? It's a chapter rather than a standalone story.

That limitation aside, this was a good entry, and a well-written short

story.

Reviewed by Commander Rhys

***

The First Promotion

by Sylvie Larocque

It was nice to see two old ships from UFoP history feature in a story that used our SIM format. The use grammar and spelling was good, but the writing style could have perhaps flowed just a little more, for example by avoiding the use of the same words twice in a single sentence. That said, as the story goes on, the narrative seems to find its flow and this really helps build up the reader’s excitement.

Unfortunately, this piece is at least 700 words over the word limit and that can really hamper an entry into the writing challenge. That said, however, the piece contains excellent knowledge of the Star Trek Canon, which makes for a very believable Star Trek story. It was also fully refreshing to see a few familiar retired UFoP character names in the story. This made the character’s more appealing to a reader familiar with their history and added to what was a nicely rounded story which would make a good read whilst ‘relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a fireplace’ ;o)

Reviewed by Captain Rocar

***

Homecoming

By Anthony Creed

A brilliant concept drives this story. The twist at the end caught

me totally off-guard. The author did a good job of bringing the

wistful regret of the main character and still tempering it with a

desire for what is to come.

The relationship between Clarisse and Jasek could have been

developed a little bit more, but I liked their affection for one

another. Overall, a very good story, and an interesting read.

Reviewed by Lieutenant Commander Solan

***

Fear

By Nemitor Atimen

Talking about horror stories, being trapped in a stasis machine for

350 years during which one is conscious. It certainly involves the

essence of coming home, but more on the psychological part then the

actual homecoming. It is written without too many spelling or grammar

mistakes. Also it was written within the 3000 word limit, which made

it easy and fun to read as well as thrilling.

Going through an experience as the main character could indeed be

described as a hell or psychological hell. The turn-around in way of

thinking the character makes as a result is quite interesting and

plausible. Nemitor has really given a great effort to let the reader

see and experience what a mind goes through during such a situation.

Being a great story, it is hard to give pointers how to improve

Nemitor's writing methods. Except from the fact next time it might be

a good idea to explain the character and his inner thoughts and

motivations even a bit more, deepen it a bit extra to give the story

additional background and foundation. Sufficient to say, this is one

tale one would really love to read. And one really would hate to

experience what the main character just experienced... I would.

Reviewed by Commander Phoenix

***

Home for the Holidays

By Jalek

An entry marred by ... you guessed it ... careless writing. Taking the

opening paragraph as an example:

"The chilly december breeze hit the half-romulan's chiseled features.

Closing his eyes, he retained his stoic expression as he pressed on down the

street. As the wind brushed his wavey ebony hair back, Jalek pulled the

collar of his jacket up, and tightened it around him, to keep warm. The

street was a familiar one. One that he had travelled time and time again in

his youth, but those days are long past him. With each pass of his eyes, he

saw the familiar facades of those he once concidered as neighbors. A soft

smile crossed his lips as he thought back in time, remembering those days."

I count three spelling errors (wavy, traveled and considered) and three

grammatical errors (December and Romulan both have capital letters, and the

sentence beginning "One that he had traveled..." is a fragment). Three

paragraphs later, the tense moves from the past to the present. Don't think

I'm picking on you here alone, Jalek, but time and time again I've seen some

great stories marred by this kind of carelessness. You all put so much time

into your stories. Surely you can run it past a spell and grammar checker?

Apart from that, the entry is a little short. I think Jalek is going for a

sort of word-painting here; a vinaigrette that attempts to capture the

essence of a particular time and a place rather than going for a storyline

or plot. It's a brave attempt, but one that fails on the grammar, and

perhaps some slightly pedestrian description. If one is going to go for

such a genre, it's important to have the language perfect. One of my

favourite authors is Annie Proulx. She wrote Shipping News, Accordion

Crimes, and Brokenback Mountain and other books and short stories. They're

terrific examples of descriptive writing because she uses the language so

wonderfully. It's prose rather than text.

I'd like to see you try this genre again, Jalek.

Reviewed by Commander Rhys

Homeward Bound

By Piet Maximoff

Homeward Bound was is a well written exercise in one of life’s dramas. Mr. Maximoff gave us an excellent look at a family in crisis - united by their love for each other, yet still giving a hint to an undercurrent of the public humiliation, and the heartbreak of a breech in affection that overshadowed the relationship between the twins.

The style was crisp, and descriptions heightened visuals into motion, like envisioning the dust from the railing flying about as he clapped his hands together, and "seeing" the ancient key he took from under the porch mat.

The story was an easy read, flowed nicely, and captured my interest from the beginning to end. I particularly like the ending. Mr. Maximoff masterfully drew the reader, not only into the story, but into the family as well, making Erik’s tears emotionally stronger and personal.

Reviewed by Lieutenant Jg. Toni Turner

Edited by Rocar Drawoh
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