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Old October 8th, 2012, 03:32 PM
Mizan de la Plume Kuro's Avatar
Mizan de la Plume Kuro
Bass, Bass Everywhere!
 
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Bonjour. First piece of creative writing after a loooong hiatus here. I've left it mainly unedited from the original SWC entry in the interest of... fairness and laziness I suppose. Mainly fairness. >_>

In any case, second place isn't too shabby. Special thanks to the judges, icomeanon6, Astinus, and Dragonfree for their efforts at judging. Also to Dragonfree(?)* for that wonderful review that I enjoyed reading as much I enjoyed writing this piece.

(*I'm assuming zhe wrote it)

Also, no one else posting their entries? I still have Dragonfree's(?) reviews saved and left unread so I don't spoil anything.

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you:
(Oh hey, that rhymes.)


The Promise I made to You


I can’t tell what you’re thinking.

Your face is smooth, normal, even fairly human, but I still can’t understand it. Your lips are an impassionate line stretching from one end to the other; your eyes betray nary a trace of desire. When you wring your hands together it is not of excitement nor of worry –you are only reacting to the cold. You react to good news nonchalantly; you react to bad news with surprising competence. Your actions are mechanical and oh so predictable –you take the most efficient course of action. Your grasp of the situation seems much more comprehensive than mine considering that I’ve been doing this for much longer.

We are walking now across the construction site. The clearing stage of the Goldenrod highway project is progressing as it should. The trees are removed and a foundation is laid. Concrete spreads through the former forest floor like a bacterium. We watch it as it grows ever so slowly every day, slicing a path through the earth for the momentary convenience it will afford commuters.

Another tree falls in front of us and the steam exhaust of the mechanical harvesters screeches loudly through the artificial forest clearing. A flock of Hoothoot clear out of a distant tree far away from the construction site. The timber corpses of previous victims lay strewn across the forest floor, torn up from the ground and left for the collectors. The homes of countless generations of creatures destroyed within seconds. We can’t have relocated all of them.

I spy some blood leaking out from under a log and I point it out to you.

“Probably another Pokémon,” you reply.

You leave it at that. There is work to be done and people to be organized. I thought that bringing you to the site would make you remember, but, of course, it hasn’t. I don’t doubt the words of your previous self, but I cannot betray my own feelings that maybe, just maybe, there is something deeper that drives you beyond pure rational instinct, a remnant of your past self perhaps.

“We were supposed to relocate all of them,” I say to you, hoping to elicit, I’m not sure, guilt?

“A few deaths are to be expected,” you respond. “No one can build a case against us on a few measly deaths. It’s all part of the job, and you should know this.” You stare at me momentarily with those impassive eyes of yours. I can’t tell if you’re trying to read me the same way I try and fail to read you.

The moment passes and you return to overseeing construction. I suppress a shudder. Your glare is as cold as ice. The only warmth I glean from it is probably imagined. I would love to hope otherwise.

***

You once told me to stop you if you went astray; I have not kept that promise.

I am conflicted inside. It should no longer be a promise if one of the parties to the agreement no longer exists. However, the fact is that you do still exist --do still think. The problem here is that this is a different you. Is the promise still binding? Have I withheld the truth for far too long?


The obvious answer is yes.


***

We are in the on-site trailer now and it is night. The stars shine brightly on Ilex forest like it does on all of Johto, but I wonder for how much longer? Will the lights soon to be erected flood out the stars like it has in Kanto? Am I at fault for being party to this? I feel no guilt at snuffing out the stars, as it were, but I cannot say the same for you. Do you, can you, feel guilt?

You are taking a break, resting against the walls of the trailer and looking out into the distance at the forest construction site. The mug of coffee in your hands remains untouched. I suspect, I have always suspected, that the bitter beverage is not to your liking but that you drink it because it is the most logical course of action –something which will give you enough energy to finish the project in the least amount of time.

I edge closer to you, wanting only to see your face. I pretend to sift through files and look at charts --you do not move. As always, there is only impassion on your face as you stare out at the ravaged forest before you. I wonder what you might have said before this. This was what you wanted to prevent was it not? Why are you being party to the thing you hate most? Am I at fault? Whose wishes should I respect? The dead you or the living you?

Again, the obvious answer.

You sip your coffee and I note a rare moment of expression.

Disgust.

***

You once told me, a complete stranger of obvious ill-intent, that out of one of the many possible futures, one was becoming more apparent by the day. You said you saw a grey snake which ripped through the forest like a scar. You said that Ilex was dying and this was merely the beginning. You said that this future was one of invisible pain and intangible suffering but that it was only the most perceptive of us that would notice it.

I was not one of those perceptive people, and I knew that you knew that.


However, you chose me to be your guardian nonetheless. You told me that something would have to be done, something only you could do at a great cost to your own personal being. I would have to be your shepherd.


You explained it to me, but I didn’t understand. Never mind, you said, it would become apparent. It would be obvious once I understood.


I still don’t understand your plan.


I don’t think that this was it, however.


***

Work on the clearing progresses slowly. The timber from the day prior has not been collected and the harvesters are finding it harder and harder to move. You and I are cooped up in the on-site trailer, trying to sift through the mess that has become of the project.

“We could get the workers to do two shifts instead of one to make up for lost time,” you say.

“The unions won’t allow it,” I respond. “And it is a bit cruel,” I add as an afterthought.

“The unions are slowing us down…” You pull down a critical path chart and make some adjustments. “There must be another way to make up for lost time.”

“If there is, I’m at a loss.”

“What about this?” You bring out a topographical map of Ilex forest in which the highway’s top-down plan is clearly outlined. Your finger traces a path through the woods. “Why don’t we cut through here instead of curving around the current path? It won’t take too long to issue a slight path correction, and it’s more efficient this way.”

I frown and stare at the map. “That’s a protected zone,” I say. “They’d sue us if we built through there.”

“I’ve checked,” you say. “Ilex was never classed a heritage site. The most we’d be fined for would be deviating from the plan. The cost cutting from the deviation, however, would be far more than enough to recuperate losses.”

I note the path you’ve traced out. It seems all too familiar and I wonder briefly if you are thinking the same thing I am thinking.

***

I know you act like this now because you said you would. You said you would act rationally. Logic would dictate that you would do what was best and I would only have to watch. In retrospect, however, I don’t think you understood what logic was. How could you have? You were not like us then. You were innocent. You knew nothing of how humans really were. You assumed logic was objective because you held the truth of life to be self-evident. You were an enlightened being.

The truth of the matter is that humans are far from logical.


I think on some level you must have known this. I think that you must have predicted the small chance that you would deviate from your plan based on the rules you’d set out for yourself. That must have been why you entrusted me to be your guardian.


Indeed, I never forgot the promise I made to the past you; I just ignored it.


Why? I don’t know why.


You aren’t happier this way. In fact, nothing ever pleases you. You react accordingly because I think you feel you have to act in a certain way. You have carved for yourself a hollow purpose, and I sit here, content to watch you whittle your life away on, what I’m sure your past self would have called, a trivial pursuit.


And it can still be avoided, but I choose not to. I still keep the truth hidden, and I don’t know why.


But I know I’m lying even to myself.


I know full well why I do this.


***

“Where are we going?” you ask as we pick through a much denser part of the forest. There aren’t many Pokémon left here but the ones that are left all withdraw in fear at the site of us. Times have changed and the forest is dying.

“This is a scouting mission,” I say. “We can’t delegate this to an official scout because it’s technically illegal, so we’ve got to do it ourselves.”

You nod understandingly and don’t question my actions. It is as logical a course of action as any.

We proceed in silence and eventually we come across a small, grassy glade. Golden light filters in through the canopy above, giving the place a magically warm glow. There is a crude rocky structure resembling a shrine in the middle of the clearing and it’s covered in moss. I turn to you and notice that you are a bit more tense than usual. Something about you seems amiss –I cannot tell.

“Take a look at that,” I say, pointing at the shrine, “Do you think we could knock it down?” It pains me to say it this way, but I know that is the only way you would ever approach it.

“It doesn’t seem that sturdy,” you reply in passing. You’re ignoring the structure completely and instead you bend down and take measurements of the soil’s consistency. I feel like you may be trying to avoid it but I cannot be sure.

“Just check it out, will you?” I press.

You turn to me and I shy away from your gaze, pretending instead to look busy by taking down notes. I cannot face you because then I would be showing weakness; I would be interfering, not that I haven’t before.

I hear the short shuffle of feet through grass and look up ever so slightly from my clipboard. I notice that you approach the mossy shrine with trepidation. You don’t stride confidently as you normally do, and you hesitate to touch it. I begin to feel that my theories were correct. Somewhere deep down, the former you is still there. Hiding, just under the surface, guiding you ever so slightly, forming the core of what you are.

“Isn’t this where you found me?” you say. I notice a slight tremor in your voice. It’s barely perceptible but it’s the first true emotion you’ve shown in a long while.

“Yes,” I respond with bated breath.

You move closer to the shrine, frowning as you do so.

“Why are we really here?” You turn to me and fix your gaze to mine. This time, I don’t turn away. Your eyes are accusatory, and you look at me with slight contempt. The mask of impassivity has faded and I can finally see something beyond what you show. I can see fear and I can see doubt.

“Why are we here?” you repeat. It’s without confidence this time. You know that something’s afoot and that I’m at the centre of it all.

I shrug. “To scout the area.”

Inside, I am furious with myself. So close to the truth and yet I still cannot bring myself to do it. Why can’t I tell you the truth? Why did everything have to be so complicated after I met the current you? You are more human now, more than ever, which makes it so much more difficult because I know, and this is the truth I accept now, I know that you will leave me if you ever find out. You will die and you will be reborn as your past self. I do not want that to happen and yet I am bound by the dying wish of your past-self to see you die too.

You turn to the stone shrine and kneel before the altar. There are inscriptions there. Inscriptions that tell a story in an old language that neither I nor the current you will ever understand.

“What are you doing?” I ask. I realise that I am more like you in this moment. Impassive, stone cold. Content to let fate run its course. I cannot let you go, but I will not stop you if you do. Deep down, I know that this is also a lie.

“These carvings…” you begin.

“We are not archaeologists.” I hate myself more and more by the moment. Try as I might, I cannot avoid from steering you away from the truth.

“I know that, but—“

“Is it sturdy? Can it be knocked down?” I press you.

You are ignoring me and you continue running your hands over the inscriptions, feeling rather than reading the message left there. I fear that this is it –the moment I lose you is finally here. Your memories must be returning.

“Are you listening to me? Can it be knocked down?” My voice is rising to an unnatural strain. “Celeste?” I croak.

You seem to pause at the mention of your own name and my world stops as I feel something change. Physically, nothing is different, but I cannot shake the feeling that there has been a shift in perspectives, that your mind has finally transcended. Your confusion, your fear, is instantly replaced by a frown. I note the displeasure upon your face. You know. You must know. Carefully, you place your hands on the altar and push yourself back up on your feet.

I shudder.

I am scared, I admit. I am scared that you have died. Scared that you are merely a walking corpse for the inevitable rebirth that is soon to occur. Scared that you are more deity than mortal now. I do not care that you might reprimand me for reneging on our promise. I couldn’t care less about your past self. All that I fear for is that you might leave me. The you of the present.

Then, you kick the stone altar and it collapses.

My fear instantly evaporates at the imagined scenario.

“Weakness in one of the columns,” you explain. “Neglect meant that it was only a matter of time.”

I nod weakly. You are still the present you, and I will live another day to see you and me together. It is selfish, I know, but I have never claimed not to be a selfish person.

***

We begin to leave, and in doing so, we both agree that this is as good a place as any to cut through. Your brief display of emotion is quickly forgotten and neither of us mentions it, though I am sure it is not forgotten. Had I left you for much longer, I am sure that you would have remembered what you set out to do. I curse myself for the intervention, but I am simultaneously relieved.

We leave the glade behind, but not before I recall my first visit here those few years ago when I first met you. The promise I made to you. The promise I have broken and now continue to break by withholding the truth. There is so much to be said about how much I have wronged you, but I do not dwell.

I know you are unhappy.

I know you feel that you have a greater purpose in life.

I know you feel that I am hiding something from you.

But as long as I have you by my side, I don’t care. The forest, the former you, the dead you, the God you, and everything else is irrelevant.

I don’t care.
__________________
.F i c t i o N.
Havisham
"Break his heart, Estella. Break
his heart..." - Cutlerine
---

.F a n f i c t i o N.
The Promise I Made to You

SWC 2012 Second Place
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  #2    
Old October 10th, 2012, 01:18 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
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Well, now this has been a long time coming. You've been conspicuous by your absence for quite some time now - I think the last time I saw you post a story was, what, a year ago? More?

Although I have to say, the wait seems to have been worth it. In a way, I'm quite glad I didn't get a chance to enter the SWC this year, because I don't like my odds going up against a story like this. It's like a thin, fragile swirl of dark powder across glass: I have no idea how the events within it happened, I don't need to know how the events within it happened, and I'm now struggling to justify a simile that made no sense.

Joking aside (as if that could ever happen), it really is a great story - far better than Havisham, at any rate. Your central character is no Patrick Bateman, but for some reason I can't help thinking of American Psycho when I read it, especially the line: "I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust." I have no idea why - this doesn't strike me as particularly relevant; your characters are not psychopaths - but I thought I'd share it anyway, because, um... just because.

OK, joking finally aside (hopefully), let's peel the skin back and take a look at the meat. The main idea is great - the sense of a seismic shift in their relations is there, like a wound just barely scabbed over, and I think your decision to not elucidate the great secret works better than any revelation would; it allows the reader to build castles in the air that (I know from experience of having people predict what's going to happen next in my stories) are usually wildly different from what the author imagines, and often more satisfying for each individual reader.

Actually, that reminds me of the time I bound a story together with a twist of metal wire because I ran out of staples, and accidentally ended up adding another layer to its meaning - but that's irrelevant. Sorry, I have a propensity for digression. Where was I? Oh yeah, the half-hidden secret.
Yeah, so that's great.

The characters are well-realised, too - although there were a couple of moments when I was reading through that made me think, "Really?" The most prominent ones are, in no particular order:

Quote:
Your lips are an impassionate line stretching from one end to the other; your eyes betray nary a trace of desire.
Nary. Nary. Nary. Nary.

OK, so I'm overreacting, but nary? I know there's often a temptation to use the word 'nary', but honestly, it always comes across (to me at least) as hideously pretentious and the mark of a character I can't take seriously - unless it's used in an intentionally humorous way in dialogue or something. The whole way through the story, I was thinking to myself, Remember, this character is the kind of guy who says 'nary' seriously - and that kind of spoiled his character for me. I found it quite a bit harder to sympathise with him, because that - and a few other bits of literary pomposity that crop up in his narration - make him seem to me to be the kind of person whose presence I can't actually tolerate. That's not to say it wasn't a good portrait of a person overall - it was - and perhaps you intended him to come across that way, to give him a little more three-dimensionality. It certainly gives another aspect to his - wait, am I even criticising anymore? I'm not sure. Hm. I may come back to this point.

On a similar but unrelated note, Celebi's first line of dialogue is... well, frankly, it's pretty wooden, which is surprising given the way you handle the rest of it.

Quote:
“A few deaths are to be expected,” you respond. “No one can build a case against us on a few measly deaths. It’s all part of the job, and you should know this.”
In sharp contrast to the main character's dialogue - and in fact Celebi's later dialogue - this is flat, stilted and kind of uncomfortable. (As I believe was once said about a particularly ill-made chair.) I'm not really sure why it happened; I suspect it's just one of those things. You know. Things. That happen. Those things.

Um... let's see what else I noted down... ah. I seem to have accidentally deleted my notes. I shall have to play the rest of the review by ear, then. Let's see... oh yes. I should probably have put this part at the beginning for reasons of good style, but this story is very you. Despite only having read one or two things by you before, I seem to have a fairly comprehensive mental diagram of your style, preferred technique, lexis and areas of interest somewhere in the back of my head. I mention this not only as an aside, but because I think this story marries your approach with the subject better than others of yours I've seen; this isn't so very important in the context of this single story, but it does indicate (to my mind at least) that a development of your skills has occurred since Havisham (and that other one I don't remember the name of). So... yeah. Well done, I guess.

Hm. I'm going to have to break it off here. Without my notes, there isn't much more I can write. I'll just have to apologise for the brevity of this review, thank you for a good story, thank the gods that I didn't put one of my stories up against it, and leave.

F.A.B.
__________________

For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
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  #3    
Old October 19th, 2012, 01:57 PM
icomeanon6's Avatar
icomeanon6
It's "I Come Anon"
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Okay, sorry I'm late, and extra sorry that I'm going to have to be brief; my workload fortunately held off on spiking until after judging was over, but it has definitely spiked. Anyway, on to your entry:

I thought this was a very solid, enjoyable read, particularly in regard to atmosphere and a commendably appropriate use of subtlety. You do a good job of evoking a somber, cold construction site; the reader can really feel the impact the road is having on the forest and on the narrator. I also liked how the reader isn't beat over the head with the whole Celebi aspect and the inner workings of the drama between the two main characters, rather you leave more room for the reader to make connections and use their imagination.

Not sure exactly how to phrase this, but I found that these two elements complemented each other uncommonly well. It's like how if your story had been all subtlety/mystery and no atmosphere it would have been too dry a read, and if it had been all atmosphere but no mystery it would have been too shallow, but since you got both elements down it's enjoyable to read but also keeps you thinking about what you're reading.

One more thing:

Quote:
“Take a look at that,” I say, pointing at the shrine, “Do you think we could knock it down?” It pains me to say it this way, but I know that is the only way you would ever approach it.
Really liked this bit. I love how it can be interpreted as either "can we physically knock it down," "can we morally knock it down," or both at once.

You mentioned scoring in your VM, so I feel some justification is called for. I reserve the tenth point for when a particular category seriously knocks my socks off relative to the other entries (or when it takes me tremendous effort to find any spelling/grammatical errors). On another year when Jax's entry wasn't in the mix, I might have given you a 10 for relevance instead of a 9. The secret was interesting and very well integrated into the narrative, and I have no complaints in that regard. I was this close to giving you a 9 instead of an 8 for plot/characters/description, but I thought the description could get a little overwrought in places. (For instance, like Cutlerine, I found the word "nary" was kind of a red flag. Reminded me of the one time I used "nigh" in a contest without irony. -_-) If I had to judge again today, I might give you a 9 anyway because the climax of the story has grown on me since I first read it, but eh. I'm out of time.

My verdict: Visceral and intriguing. Very good, and a solid second place.
__________________

My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

One-shots:
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place) (New!)


Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
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  #4    
Old November 1st, 2012, 09:22 PM
Mizan de la Plume Kuro's Avatar
Mizan de la Plume Kuro
Bass, Bass Everywhere!
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Airstrip One, Oceania
Gender: Male
Nature: Calm
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And this has completely slipped my mind. Apologies, Cutlerine/Anon for not responding earlier, and thanks both of you for the reviews. It’s much appreciated. Now, I’ll probably do a point by point response, though I may not catch all points, because it seems easier and faster to do that way. Then I’m going back to get back to work and cry for a bit because of the work.

But yeah, anyway:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutlerine
Well, now this has been a long time coming. You've been conspicuous by your absence for quite some time now - I think the last time I saw you post a story was, what, a year ago? More?
Yeah, I’ve been busy the past year. Coupled with me dropping off forums in a big way, this kinda lead to my hiatus of sorts. I usually only go online in the forum world to keep up with some VM conversations, and they’re not necessarily on PC, mind. Anyway, the fact that you’ve noticed my absence speaks volumes to me, if I’m not being too presumptuous, so there’s a thanks from me.
Quote:

Although I have to say, the wait seems to have been worth it. In a way, I'm quite glad I didn't get a chance to enter the SWC this year, because I don't like my odds going up against a story like this. It's like a thin, fragile swirl of dark powder across glass: I have no idea how the events within it happened, I don't need to know how the events within it happened, and I'm now struggling to justify a simile that made no sense.
I’m sure you would have done amazingly. I’ve always held your stories in high regard to begin with.

Quote:
Joking aside (as if that could ever happen), it really is a great story - far better than Havisham, at any rate. Your central character is no Patrick Bateman, but for some reason I can't help thinking of American Psycho when I read it, especially the line: "I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust." I have no idea why - this doesn't strike me as particularly relevant; your characters are not psychopaths - but I thought I'd share it anyway, because, um... just because.


OK, joking finally aside (hopefully), let's peel the skin back and take a look at the meat. The main idea is great - the sense of a seismic shift in their relations is there, like a wound just barely scabbed over, and I think your decision to not elucidate the great secret works better than any revelation would; it allows the reader to build castles in the air that (I know from experience of having people predict what's going to happen next in my stories) are usually wildly different from what the author imagines, and often more satisfying for each individual reader.

Actually, that reminds me of the time I bound a story together with a twist of metal wire because I ran out of staples, and accidentally ended up adding another layer to its meaning - but that's irrelevant. Sorry, I have a propensity for digression. Where was I? Oh yeah, the half-hidden secret.
Yeah, so that's great.
I was actually labouring under the impression that the current fic wasn’t as fleshed out or as emotionally-involving as Havisham, if that could be said about Havisham, but the ambiguity and the first person seems to have worked to my advantage at least.

Quote:
Nary. Nary. Nary. Nary.

OK, so I'm overreacting, but nary? I know there's often a temptation to use the word 'nary', but honestly, it always comes across (to me at least) as hideously pretentious and the mark of a character I can't take seriously - unless it's used in an intentionally humorous way in dialogue or something. The whole way through the story, I was thinking to myself, Remember, this character is the kind of guy who says 'nary' seriously - and that kind of spoiled his character for me. I found it quite a bit harder to sympathise with him, because that - and a few other bits of literary pomposity that crop up in his narration - make him seem to me to be the kind of person whose presence I can't actually tolerate. That's not to say it wasn't a good portrait of a person overall - it was - and perhaps you intended him to come across that way, to give him a little more three-dimensionality. It certainly gives another aspect to his - wait, am I even criticising anymore? I'm not sure. Hm. I may come back to this point.
*Cringe*
Yeah… this little bit of literary pomposity is going to be on my mind forever. And not just because it’s bad practice, it’s also because I’ve been the biggest protester against intellectual elitism in academia (the things I’ve seen) for the longest time and also because I was complimented just a few days prior for not giving into the temptation of using the thesaurus in my writing (which wasn’t a fic). It’s this little bit of self-hypocrisy which stings the most. Ugh… *headdesk*
Quote:
On a similar but unrelated note, Celebi's first line of dialogue is... well, frankly, it's pretty wooden, which is surprising given the way you handle the rest of it.
Quote:
“A few deaths are to be expected,” you respond. “No one can build a case against us on a few measly deaths. It’s all part of the job, and you should know this.”
In sharp contrast to the main character's dialogue - and in fact Celebi's later dialogue - this is flat, stilted and kind of uncomfortable. (As I believe was once said about a particularly ill-made chair.) I'm not really sure why it happened; I suspect it's just one of those things. You know. Things. That happen. Those things.
Ah, well, this bit’s surprising, to say the least. That line was, uncomfortable to write, because, as you say, it draws a perfect analogy to an ill-made chair. But I felt that way about almost all of the dialogue in the fic, even the end which was supposed to be the most ‘emotional’ part. I mean, I felt the dialogue was the weakest part of the whole fic – it was supposed to stand up on narration instead. This isn’t an excuse though; this is just my mild surprise at the criticism not being spread to the other bits of dialogue around the fic.

In any case, I’m attributing this to the less than two days deadline I seemed to have found myself in when I remembered the competition a bit too late in the week. :/
Again, not an excuse for shoddy writing, but yeah… it’s an excuse.

Quote:
but this story is very you. Despite only having read one or two things by you before, I seem to have a fairly comprehensive mental diagram of your style, preferred technique, lexis and areas of interest somewhere in the back of my head. I mention this not only as an aside, but because I think this story marries your approach with the subject better than others of yours I've seen; this isn't so very important in the context of this single story, but it does indicate (to my mind at least) that a development of your skills has occurred since Havisham (and that other one I don't remember the name of). So... yeah. Well done, I guess.
To be completely honest, I’m a bit disturbed by my style. I’ve tried to vary it (to, you know, get a bit of diversity in between stories), but when there’s a deadline bearing down on me, the best I can do is to play to my strengths. The mental diagram bit is fair because I’ve also kind of built up a mental picture of your writing style. It’s unique. So much so that I can say quite confidently that ‘yep, it’s Cutlerine’ even if it isn’t, because whatever the writer it is that’s written like that has got to be channelling you in some form. Okay yeah, that’s a bit out of line, but you get what I mean. I guess seasoned writers develop their own style over time.

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Hm. I'm going to have to break it off here. Without my notes, there isn't much more I can write. I'll just have to apologise for the brevity of this review, thank you for a good story, thank the gods that I didn't put one of my stories up against it, and leave.
And thank you for taking the time to review this story of mine. I look forward to seeing you in next year’s competition. Or at least the Halloween or Christmas competitions if I can find the time to compete or, indeed, get on.

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Originally Posted by icomeanon6
Okay, sorry I'm late, and extra sorry that I'm going to have to be brief; my workload fortunately held off on spiking until after judging was over, but it has definitely spiked. Anyway, on to your entry:
It’s just that time of year. Apologies are unnecessary.

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I thought this was a very solid, enjoyable read, particularly in regard to atmosphere and a commendably appropriate use of subtlety. You do a good job of evoking a somber, cold construction site; the reader can really feel the impact the road is having on the forest and on the narrator. I also liked how the reader isn't beat over the head with the whole Celebi aspect and the inner workings of the drama between the two main characters, rather you leave more room for the reader to make connections and use their imagination.
I seem to be getting this reaction quite a bit, as you can see, and this kind of makes me happy that I didn’t add those other lines which were supposed to explain the whole how they came to be together bit. I mean, the fic was supposed to be vague, but how vague was a completely different matter altogether. I realised partway through that trying to explain the plot was really just me digging a deeper hole for myself because I don’t think I ever really thought about what Celebi was actually planning. Her whole escapade was just a framing device. It worked stylistically, but I do wonder about the what-ifs.


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Not sure exactly how to phrase this, but I found that these two elements complemented each other uncommonly well. It's like how if your story had been all subtlety/mystery and no atmosphere it would have been too dry a read, and if it had been all atmosphere but no mystery it would have been too shallow, but since you got both elements down it's enjoyable to read but also keeps you thinking about what you're reading.
The atmosphere and narration was one of the scariest bits about writing this. I was trying to avoid sounding too pretentious with the narration, which I’ve heard has been said about Italo Calvino even though he’s a brilliant writer, but at the same time I wanted it to have some sort of impact, not just another descriptive piece working much like a movie would.

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Really liked this bit. I love how it can be interpreted as either "can we physically knock it down," "can we morally knock it down," or both at once.
Huh, I’ve never actually thought about it this way. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept of morally knocking something down, but it is interesting to consider.

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You mentioned scoring in your VM, so I feel some justification is called for. I reserve the tenth point for when a particular category seriously knocks my socks off relative to the other entries (or when it takes me tremendous effort to find any spelling/grammatical errors). On another year when Jax's entry wasn't in the mix, I might have given you a 10 for relevance instead of a 9. The secret was interesting and very well integrated into the narrative, and I have no complaints in that regard. I was this close to giving you a 9 instead of an 8 for plot/characters/description, but I thought the description could get a little overwrought in places. (For instance, like Cutlerine, I found the word "nary" was kind of a red flag. Reminded me of the one time I used "nigh" in a contest without irony. -_-) If I had to judge again today, I might give you a 9 anyway because the climax of the story has grown on me since I first read it, but eh. I'm out of time.
Oh no, I didn’t mention scoring as one of the negative points of your judging. I was just pointing out that you seemed to be more critical than the rest, which was good. The marks you gave me at the time are nothing to be contested; I accept those with no complaint or hints that complaints are in order.

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My verdict: Visceral and intriguing. Very good, and a solid second place.
And for this I thank you kindly.
__________________
.F i c t i o N.
Havisham
"Break his heart, Estella. Break
his heart..." - Cutlerine
---

.F a n f i c t i o N.
The Promise I Made to You

SWC 2012 Second Place
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  #5    
Old November 3rd, 2012, 07:07 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
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Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
I’m sure you would have done amazingly. I’ve always held your stories in high regard to begin with.
You're too kind. Believe me, I've read the competition, and I'm pretty sure that between you, Jax and bobandbill my offering - which is still in development - would have been beaten into a cocked hat.

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Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
I was actually labouring under the impression that the current fic wasn’t as fleshed out or as emotionally-involving as Havisham, if that could be said about Havisham, but the ambiguity and the first person seems to have worked to my advantage at least.
No, it isn't. And that's exactly why it's better: Havisham was a little clunkier; it beat the reader over the head in places. This is subtler and much more ambiguous - and in a story that deals with the kind of stuff that this and Havisham deal with, that has so much more impact. It's like the difference between a lightning ink sketch and a fully-finished oil painting: so often, I prefer the sketch above the complete work. It has immediacy and verve; it hasn't been overworked. Sure, it could use a touch-up here and there - but this story does in fact have a charm that Havisham doesn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
Yeah… this little bit of literary pomposity is going to be on my mind forever. And not just because it’s bad practice, it’s also because I’ve been the biggest protester against intellectual elitism in academia (the things I’ve seen) for the longest time and also because I was complimented just a few days prior for not giving into the temptation of using the thesaurus in my writing (which wasn’t a fic). It’s this little bit of self-hypocrisy which stings the most. Ugh… *headdesk*
Ah. That must sting. I sympathise, though - despite loathing deliberately convoluted language and academic elitism, it's sometimes very, very difficult to express an exact opinion in a way that can't be misconstrued without resorting to the language of the oppressor. And I'm going to leave it at that, because I can feel some Liberation Theology from two years ago bubbling into the back of my head, and I have no desire to go off on a rant about reversal.

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Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
Ah, well, this bit’s surprising, to say the least. That line was, uncomfortable to write, because, as you say, it draws a perfect analogy to an ill-made chair. But I felt that way about almost all of the dialogue in the fic, even the end which was supposed to be the most ‘emotional’ part. I mean, I felt the dialogue was the weakest part of the whole fic – it was supposed to stand up on narration instead. This isn’t an excuse though; this is just my mild surprise at the criticism not being spread to the other bits of dialogue around the fic.
All right, so it can be applied to the rest of the dialogue, if you're being really harsh - and I suppose I should be. It's just that that line left a particularly bad taste in the mouth. Eye. Whatever.

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Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
To be completely honest, I’m a bit disturbed by my style. I’ve tried to vary it (to, you know, get a bit of diversity in between stories), but when there’s a deadline bearing down on me, the best I can do is to play to my strengths. The mental diagram bit is fair because I’ve also kind of built up a mental picture of your writing style. It’s unique. So much so that I can say quite confidently that ‘yep, it’s Cutlerine’ even if it isn’t, because whatever the writer it is that’s written like that has got to be channelling you in some form. Okay yeah, that’s a bit out of line, but you get what I mean. I guess seasoned writers develop their own style over time.
Why disturbed? I'm genuinely curious about that. There's nothing wrong with it.

As for my style... I guess it must be fairly distinctive by now. It's absorbed so many influences that it must bear only a faint resemblance to each individual author.

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Originally Posted by Mizan de la Plume Kuro View Post
And thank you for taking the time to review this story of mine. I look forward to seeing you in next year’s competition. Or at least the Halloween or Christmas competitions if I can find the time to compete or, indeed, get on.
The pleasure's all mine, I assure you. Whatever and whenever you next post a story, I'll be waiting. Like an assassin. No. Wait. Like a familiar house. That's a much better way of putting it - or at least, a less threatening.

Man, I really ramble on if there's no one to interrupt me, don't I? I'll shut up now.

F.A.B.
__________________

For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
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