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Feign
September 3rd, 2009, 04:09 PM
Notes:

* So obviously this was my entry for the SWC, a bit short, but that's okay.
* It was my first time using 3rd Person limited, as well as using a female main character.
* I wanted it to be quite to the point, hence the abrupt ending at the end.
* Aside from the time prompt, myself and others were joking about other prompts in the lounge, to which point, someone mentioned a few in particular, of which, as a bit of homour (or lack thereof), I included in this fic.
* Aside from the theme of time, to which may or may not have worked as hoped, I had tried to make it a point that the magnet board was a point of their constrained communication, as though they did not speak much to each other.
* Other than that, I hope you guys enjoy the fic, of course one may say they would do it differently now, but that's okay, it was fun to write, regardless of the score.
* And yes I don't mind the judges as well as others critiquing this piece. :)

-----
The Magnet Board

“Ahhhh! What time is it? I better hurry, I only just got home!”

Samantha could hear her mother panicking; she ignored it while she played with her Lego. Her Oddish lazily watched as she placed a small green piece on her now fortified castle. She had a large room, it was painted in bright pink, and almost all the space of it was covered with something. Everything from new fashions to new toys, and even giant plush Pokémon were littered around the room. One of the newest items Sam had been admiring, was her new red purse, now lying on her bed.

Sam now picked up a blue piece. Suddenly her bedroom door swung open in full, her mother standing at the door, staring down at her six year old daughter, her hand still on the door knob.

“Okay, I think I’ve got everything, Radish, take care of Sam won’t you?” And without pausing for a farewell from her daughter, she left the room and could be heard leaving the house.

As though in a change of heart, Sam dropped the Lego piece, stood up and proceeded to her door. Cautiously she poked her head through the door, looking in both directions of the hallway.

“Dish?” Radish said cautiously. It got up from its spot and stood beside Sam.

Sam looked back on her desk; she was gazing at the digital clock. The time read 6:41. Turning her head back towards the door, she looked in both directions again. Appearing satisfied, she began to run down the hall, down the stairs and into the kitchen, her Oddish following right behind her. She stopped in front of the refrigerator, before she opened it however, she looked on the Magnet Board.

The magnet board was where her mother kept various notes and achievements, likewise for Sam as well. The board itself was unassumingly plain, it had a green wooden border in the shape of a rectangle, and was accompanied by small black and white magnets. Currently the board mostly occupied a few of Sam’s Pokémon related tests (marked with C’s and D’s); of which next to the tests, her mother’s wrote on a Cherrim styled note ‘Good job dear’. The rest of the board was filled with cut out pictures of various items such as toys or the latest fashions. Currently a photo of a red purse was still stuck on the board; it had been circled. Smiling, Sam took the photo of the purse, and put it in her pocket. She however ignored the latest note, it read ‘Change of plans, I don’t have time dear, I’ll try to be back at 7:30’.

Taking her eyes off the magnet board, she opened the refrigerator. Searching through its contents, she didn’t see what she was looking for. Thus opening the freezer, she took out a new frozen orange juice can. Filling a jug with water, she mixed the can’s contents and appeared contended. She poured two glasses, one for herself, and one for Radish.

She looked up at the microwave’s clock now; it read 6:55. Taking both glasses to the living room, she placed them on the side table, and sat on the couch. She placed Radish’s orange juice on the ground.

“Oddish!” It said gleefully, and began drinking the orange juice, even if it was a bit awkward, in a cup.

Sam turned on the television. ‘Pokémon Hour’ appeared to be on, discussing recent events involving Pokémon named Dialga and Palkia. She continued watching for a while, staring blankly at the news. Sam took a drink of her orange juice; almost immediately she began to splutter and cough. Looking at her orange juice disdainfully, she got up, taking the glass with her. She reopened the refrigerator and poured back the juice she hadn’t drank, into the jug. Holding the jug, she moved towards the sink to pour the contents out; she seemed to change her mind however, as she put the jug on the floor. Her Oddish looked up curiously at her, as though wondering what she was up to. Sam seemed to have come to a decision.

Taking the jug, she went to the front door, got her boots on and opened the door. The cold wind rushed in like a crashing wave. Sam shuddered but proceeded outside. She was already beginning to shiver; after all, this was one of the coldest nights in the year, as the news had said. No sooner had she left the threshold that she tripped over her untied boot laces, spilling the contents of the jug. She turned back to look at the front door and saw Radish watching her. Taking a deep breath, Sam got up, picking up the fallen jug. She looked at the contents at the door’s entrance and sighed. She appeared not to be concerned with it though as she now decided to look if anything was received in the mail box. She pulled out a flier to the town’s local department store. She hugged the magazine as she ran back into the house, closing the door behind her.

She sat back down on the couch and eagerly started flipping through the magazine. Finally she stopped onto the page that interested her the most, the swimsuit page. Her eyes lit up in excitement. Radish, also curious about the excitement, jumped onto the couch and saw what Sam had been excited about. It was the departments store’s newest line of swim wear. Some of which were inspired Pokémon designs, and others were generic colours.

Jumping down from the couch, Sam ran back to the kitchen, opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of scissors. She cut out a picture of one of the girls wearing a bikini outfit and placed it on the magnet board. Smiling softly, she backed up from the board, to admire it. She looked at the clock again, it now read 7:21. Her eyes lit up and she went over and hugged Radish. She walked over to the front door in what seemed to be anticipation. She waited there for a few minutes looking out the window on her tip-toes, Radish waiting right behind her.

She decided to look at the microwave clock again, it read 7:34. Suddenly a sound was heard outside. She turned back to the door in excitement, opened it up and stepped out onto the threshold, with a smile on her face. No sooner had she stepped outside however, that she slipped on some ice. Her head hit the ground with a loud crack, and blood flew in the air, some even hitting Radish. Sam wasn’t moving and the blood was pooling at the front door.

“Od- od...“ Was all Radish could say, it stared blankly at the crumpled form of her friend.

Two hours had passed, the time on the clock now reading 9:35; Samantha’s mother finally pulled her car into the driveway. Before leaving the car however, she took out her pen and Cherrim styled note pad, and wrote. When satisfied, she got out of the car, locked it, and proceeded to the front door.

“Ahhhhh!” She screamed. She dropped to her knees unable to fathom the scene in front of her. She could feel herself shaking, indifferent to the cold. Her heart was pumping like mad. She wasn't breathing properly. She crawled towards her daughter in slow desperation, unable to accept the truth, yet wanting to find it out. She felt for a pulse - nothing. The snow continued to fall, slowly blanketing the scene in a soft white sheet.

Her daughter was dead.

Radish heard the sobbing mother, and looked out the window, a note dropped from the mother’s hand; on it, it read:

“I’m sorry I am late again dear, we should spend more time together – Love Mom”

--Submitted by Feign

Bay Alexison
September 3rd, 2009, 05:44 PM
I commend you for able to put time and the other million prompts you mentioned at the lounge. XD; All right, my scores and review:

Grammar:7/10
The other judges are better at this part than me. XD; Well, as far as I can see, you did fine. However, I was able to catch a couple awkward sentences.

One of the newest items Sam had been admiring, was her new red purse, now lying on her bed.
Sounds awkward with that comma I bolded. Omit it and the sentence will make more sense.

She stopped in front of the refrigerator, before she opened it however, she looked on the Magnet Board.]
Not actually sure what you’re trying to say with this sentence. I can think of a few ways to rearrange the wording though to make it better, but this is your story, not mine. ^^;

There were a couple places also you have punctuated the speech wrong. For instance:

“Oddish!” It said gleefully, and began drinking the orange juice, even if it was a bit awkward, in a cup.
When you do dialogue and the speech is not the finished sentence (the sentence will actually go out after that person is spoken), the word after the dialogue can’t be capitalized. The only exception I can think of is if the next word is the character’s name. Punctuating dialogue is actually tricky and there’s a lot of rules to that, so I think the other judges can explain this to you better than me.

Literary Elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.): 7/10
I see you used all the ideas you mentioned at the lounge and still able to do a tear jerker at the end. XD I Have to question though why would a six year old be excited over swimwear? XD;

Even though the note at the end is a tear jerker there and I know you said you would include a death scene where snow is involved, Sam’s death seems to come all of a sudden. Yes, there are accidents and people die from them, but I don’t know. I guess it’s because you made it too gruesome for something as simple as tripping on icy ground. Also, I don’t think you can die by hitting on ice, but then again, I live in California, where there’s no snow during winter (unless you’re going to the mountains :P). ^^;

Also, I feel you went too much description when Sam was pouring the jug. Perhaps you could say what happened with lesser words. When reading that scene I’m like, “when is the next part going to happen?” ^^;

Prompt: 8/10
I actually like this a lot. Nice you mention what time it was throughout the fic. Another thing I like is it seems Sam’s mother is too busy to take care of her daughter. Also, the ending…that note is touching. However, a tiny bit iffy about Dialga (TIME! XD) and Palkia being referenced, but it’s not a big of a deal.

Overall score: 22/30

Feign
September 3rd, 2009, 05:54 PM
Punctuating dialogue, I would say is one of my weaker points indeed. :S

I suppose the only explanation I could offer for the excitement of swimwear, is merely because of how much of a materialist the girl has become, with the absence of her mother.

I think that was the hardest part for me, that because I wasn't including thought, I somewhat had to rely on other things, so I do feel that I over-described certain things. But in a way, I sort of liked how that even though it was a long description, it basically was the instrument to her death (wow that sounds cruel). It's kind of like a long description on a set up of a death penalty sentence.

The Dialga and Palkia thing, wasn't meant to be about a reference to time, in fact quite random, though I think I realized that after reading the fic first round, but left it in there anyway.

It's not often that someone dies from head trauma to the brain (especially in falls), but it does happen. Perhaps if I had made a more detailed fall (like falling down several steps or something), it would have been more logical.

Anyway, thanks for the review :)

Astinus
September 3rd, 2009, 09:15 PM
As a fun note, your story was almost essentially like a short story my favorite writer wrote. Same pretty much everything.

Grammar:

Holy... There are a lot of unnecessary commas here. So many that I found the story difficult to follow in places because I wasn't sure what you were trying to say.

I highly highly suggest rereading your work out loud. As I was reading this to myself, I stumbled over many sentences. It took a few rereadings myself to try and understand what the sentences said.

Brush up on learning comma usage, and try proof-reading by reading aloud. Because this was awkward to read.

There weren't typos, and only one missed word, but the sentences were just confusing.

Grammar score: 5/10

Literary elements:

Plot:

This was all right. What a girl does when her mother goes out. However, the next two sections are where I had problems.

Description/Characterization:

I'm blending these two together for this.

You should have made Sam a better character. She was alone for three hours, alive for two of those. She didn't seem like a human, only some sort of robot that went through set motions. Like getting the juice out of the fridge. Sam didn't act like a six-year-old trying to be a “big girl.”

And Radish... I think he was just there to make it a Pokemon story. He didn't do anything, Sam didn't acknowledge his presence except for one hug. Maybe it's just me, but if I was spending two hours with another living creature that I was on friendly terms with, I would say something to it. Anything. Especially if I was a child.

See, Sam did not seem human at all to me. Like I said, she did one thing, then another, then another, then waited, and had no thoughts or words for anything. What was she thinking when she took the jug outside? Why did she do that?

This is also why the ending felt flat. There was no emotion there because there was no emotion throughout the entire piece. You want that ending to pop, to surprise the reader, to make them feel sorry for a mother losing her only(?) child. Instead it's just not there because it was really a shadow of a person losing their emotionless robotic child.

To improve this, you want to make Sam real. You said she's six. Then think about how a child that age would act when left alone with her best friend by her side. Make Radish a real Pokemon who's at her side all the time. Her little buddy, the one she takes care of. Like with the juice. Have her talk to him, asking him if he wants juice, laughing at him trying to drink out of a cup.

Make both those characters come alive, as if Sam was a real girl running around with a pet/friend. Or like at the end, have Radish do something to wake Sam up. Have him nuzzle her. Have him sit at her side. Something other than “Oh she's dead. Well, I'm just going to go inside!”

Put more in about Sam's relationship with her mother. Is the mother leaving a typical daily event? Use the toys as a sign that they're the mothers way of apologizing for leaving. Have the mother regretfully leave her daughter. Have Sam remark about the swimsuit, how she would use the magnet board to ask her mother for the swimsuit.

The characters in this come off as flat because there was no description of them, and that's this story's downfall. This is supposed to be a character-driven piece. There's supposed to be characterization in this, to make the story interesting. But this doesn't have anything there to make it powerful.

Literary Elements score: 3/10

Use of Prompt:

You used the time that Sam's mother was gone as a set window for the story. And also used it as a antagonist, making Sam's mother too late to save her daughter.

Use of Prompt score: 6/10

Contest score: 13/30

Feign
September 3rd, 2009, 09:22 PM
Oh wow, hmmm thank you very much on the tips of characterization (especially). Reading that part, really shows the short-comings I had on Sam's character. It did have lot's of potential, but no follow-thru. I suppose the writing style I chose too, was a small symptom, but could have been remedied.

Thanks for the review. :)

Redstar
September 4th, 2009, 09:57 PM
Okay. First of all, naming the Oddish "Radish" is absolutely priceless. It was my favorite part of this piece. Now onto my other thoughts...

Your use of pronouns seems a bit much. I realize you need to balance use of the character's name with pronoun use, but after awhile I felt bombarded with "She"s much too much. That's usually the problem writing in third person, so I understand. However, you probably could have slipped in some "The girl" and other descriptors to cut down on pronoun use, plus it would have helped in characterizing the child as something other than a "she".

Your strong point in writing this was I really had an idea of the girl as a six-year-old. I love children and have babysat before, so kids seemingly doing the most retarded and pointless things is common even when there's a purpose in their young mind. You captured it nearly perfectly. It did seem a little rushed, though, so I probably would have fleshed some parts out a little. Kids can be remarkably attentive.

The only thing that stood out as a flaw logically is the Oddish drinking orange juice... Being a plant-based Pokemon, I imagine it would only "drink" sunlight and water, and would probably be sleeping during the evening/night that this takes place.

Finally, the death made my stomach churn and even now, ten minutes later, I feel disgusted. You're pretty sick in killing a child like that, but you're at least a good writer if the whole build-up made me care this way. Keep up the good work.

Feign
September 4th, 2009, 10:18 PM
With jumping onto Limited, I don't think it helped the pronoun use much, which would probably attest to the main problem, as you had mentioned. That's why I like to write in Limited Omniscient. But your thoughts reflect Val's, in that it could have been more of an isolated feeling. Calling her "The Girl" would further show her unimportance.

I wish I had further clarified her age in her actions (again as Asti had suggested), this not only would have given her more character, but further suggested her age. But I'm glad I was able to convey it to some extent.

I'll be sure to keep the cannibalism(? XD) in mind, in the future.

I believe there were only two reasons why I chose a death scene for the child:

1. Because it was an added fun prompt that some of us discussed in the lounge, that I said I would include.

2. Just as you had listed, for that abrupt and pretty much disturbing ending... Illiciting emotions, is an interesting thing for me, of course, not in a troll-like manner, but in a philosophical/psychological, sort of way.

My current fic won't deal with death in the above's obscure manner, but I will attempt to pull away from the norm.

(Man, I hope I don't sound Nihilistic, as I am not trying to do so XD)

Anyway, thanks for the review . :)

Redstar
September 4th, 2009, 10:41 PM
Well "The girl" was just an example to demonstrate there's more than just simple pronouns and her actual name to use. It'd understandably make her more unimportant than would be preferred. I can also see making her more important would be a bad thing. For such a short piece I think you did all you really could without sabotaging the character and how we relate to her, so my comment was more aimed at whatever you write in the future in this particular perspective.