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Thread: A Rickety Old Bookcase

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    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Well to follow on from others, but only deserving (so far ) of a simple old bookcase. Could do with touch of varnish, and frankly the shelf is a little wobbly, what with it being held up by a bent nail, two screws and some plastic widget, but nonetheless it shall suffice for now.



    AAR

    So, my first effort:

    The Glory of Pergamon, My Year 3 History Project

    It's dead as I lost the saves. The premise was a view from a 12 year old boy at school.

    Recently I've started entering the ToTW as a precursor to making another AAR, though I don't have a definite idea for one so just sort of marking time really.


    Winning ToTW Entries



    • ToTW 134 - Sound the Horn


      Sound the Horn

      Ride! Ride! Ride for our doom, our foes dismay, ride today,
      Men of War, your weapons to hand, ride you mighty host,
      Into the maw we thunder, shield at back, sword in hand,
      With mighty roar, the valley walls echo our cries away.

      On! On! On we gallop, through the trees, down the mountains,
      Our horses powerful ‘neath us, the wind in their manes,
      With lance and axe, sword and bow, our burdens they bear,
      Eyes wide open, ears pricked up, with us to war they go again.

      Flea! Flea! Flea you men of the soil, for war takes no heed,
      Farmer, Soldier, Knight, or Child, the battle is hungry for bodies,
      Blood will flow, and guts will spill, the Gods of War and battle laugh,
      The Gods will slake their thirst, ‘tis our blood and yours they need.

      Woe! Woe! Woe to our enemies, for death and despair we bring,
      With mighty crash and fearsome noise, into their midst we charge,
      An assembly of soldiers, fear in their eyes, no match for our onslaught,
      Shield broken, spear and sword thrown down, of glorious death we sing.

      Death! Death! Death in our wake, Hells gates are open, Hood awaits,
      Our enemies struck down, brave riders of our host are all the same,
      More souls his fires to feed, a thrust, a smash, another one dies,
      My sword arm wearies, but another goes to his destiny, death his fate.

      Awake! Awake! Awake my brothers, the battle is fought, the victory won,
      With man and beast butchered, bodies strewn far and wide,
      The Glory is red and bloody, the toll paid is high, friend and brother,
      Lying in their mounds, all pale and dead, but tomorrow still rises the sun.

      Note 1

    • ToTW - 141 - That Day, That Fateful Day


      It was a day to remember but I guess I just forgot. It happens. And life does have a way of lulling you
      into a false sense of security thinking that all is well never noticing the creeping little seeds of worry
      and doubt until, boom! It ups and smacks you in the mouth.

      That day, that fateful day, that is when I had my boom moment and remembered that which I should
      never have forgotten but had. The heavens had opened and rain was pouring down, some demented God
      had put his heaviest boots on and was dancing a jig in the heavens and pounding my head into a nasty
      grey porridge with sound effects. The hangover from a bottle of Whisky probably didn't help, I'd like to say
      it was a pleasure drinking a really decent Malt, but no, it was a corner shop special, £5 a bottle chased
      down with far too large a number of cigarettes.

      Slowly I realised that the pounding in my head was making the door shake in its frame, I guess the final clue
      that just maybe it wasn't all in my head was when the painting fell on the floor – with luck, it would be
      ruined beyond redemption, but it had borne a charmed life despite my efforts to consign it to the hell it
      surely deserved.

      Friday 4th November, that was the date that hazily appeared in front of me, marked with a huge red flag
      so I wouldn't forget. The day that I had forgot. Rent due date. And the hammering was not a good sign.

      I opened the door and blearily peered out. The figure that stood there was enough to scare the meanest
      police dog – 6’ 4” and full of muscles, tattoos down both hairy arms and a moustache you could clean a frying
      pan with. Standing there in her flimsiest nightie, Ms Evans my landlady had come to get her rent, every other
      month I had paid in time, now she was here to claim her rent in “kind”.

      A small ahem appeared behind her, a little bald man, very well dressed, but then in my current state, even
      Boris Johnson stood a chance of looking dapper. “Ahem”, he said again in a quiet little voice that somehow got
      through the gallon of sickly perfume Ms Evans was wearing, “Miss Evans”, I’m sorry for the short notice, Mr Pyke
      here will be leaving with me. I believe £1500 will cover the rent and next months?”

      As saviours go, he was not exactly eye-catching, but saving me from the tender embrace of Miss Evans was a
      man I would follow to the ends of the universe! “Very good Mr Pyke, I believe we might just be heading there
      anyway”, he said. Oddly as I don't recall saying anything in the first place, “First, we need to stop by my
      shop and pick up a certain Miss Jones”.

      Note 2

    • 146 - Urbi et Orbi


      "In the year of Our Lord 2487, under the seal of his Most Blessed Eminence, Pope Gregory XXVIII

      Your Eminence, I pray to Our Lord, his Light Shine throughout the Universe, with due caution and care for there may be circumstances that arise, God forbid, which alter the current situation, but I am glad to report that the Legions of Rome comprising the 8th Swiss Halberdiers and the 44th Florentine Guards have today finished converting New Baghdad to the One True Faith.

      Casualties in the Halberdiers were light as you may well imagine as the new pulse rail cannons and their beetle armour proved far too strong for the Islamists to penetrate and defeat. Archbishop-General De Santos reported that his men were able to take the last few strongholds that the Guards had been unable to overcome. Unfortunately we will need some more conscripts for the Guards, their having been decimated in providing the main attack force. I have given last rites and prayed for their sins to be forgiven in the usual way.

      Let me get to the crux of my report however, and I beg your forbearance for the abruptness of my report Your Holiness, most importantly we were able to divert attention with the Guards attacks and a small unit of Swiss under Bishop-Colonel Schultz have retrieved the Archive of the Faith intact. As we suspected, this document contains encrypted lists of all Islamic agents controlled by New Baghdad including those on Holy Roma and within the Vatican itself.

      I would have expected the encryption to be stronger but we were able to break it within an hour of capturing the archives. My agents will have captured for further interrogation all of the named agents as soon as we are able, and our Apostle Class cruiser fleets are on their way to the last Islamic planets now. As with Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and all the other false doctrines we have defeated and converted, soon too will we be purged of the false prophets of Allah and their followers.

      Holy Father, I pray most fervently that we can finally see through your Papal directive, we truly will have Urbi et Mundum with the elimination of Islam to follow all the other false faiths to the soon to be outlawed pages of history.

      There is only One True Faith, there shall only be One Faith.

      With my deepest respect and prayers,

      Cardinal John O’Connor, Exculpate Defender of the Faith
      #
      Note 3

    • 150 - Run!


      I can taste the fear in the air, a mix of sweat and stale body odour permeates the narrow streets, a miasma of terror underlying the bravado the runners show, trying to prove their machismo to their friends. Look at my Cojones my friends! I ran for Glory, I ran in Pamplona.

      Their terror begins to waft across us, a ton each of muscle and sinew, powerful shoulders to hold our massive heads and horns and drive our hooves into the cobbles, thundering after their puny bodies, to trample them beneath us, toss them aside and gore them with sharp horns, grind their shrieks and shouts into the cobbles with their soft bodies.

      I want to feel them break beneath me, hear their bones snap and see the red blood gush from the gashes my horns make. I can feel my brothers behind me, our force in unstoppable now, thundering along the cobbles, a swerve left and then right, catching a red bandanna and a swift toss of my horns throws another into the screaming crowds.

      Baying for blood, their shouts and yells empower us, pulsating down the alleys, reverberating and echoing off the walls, a cacophony of noise, Ole!, Torro! Careering through the noise, almost a physical barrier, yet still they run ahead of us, urging us to follow them with fear writ large on the faces of those just ahead, gleeful shouts from those at the front as they jumped out of our way, cowardly fools cheering as they escape.

      And now the streets begin to get narrower still, with sound pounding around us, the smell of fear, blood, sweat, the ecstasy of escape and the overwhelming smell from our heaving sides, the smell of power and strength.

      Then, gloriously the streets end and I see a vast circle of sand ahead, escape from these monkeys and their shouting and yelling, my breath shuddering, gasping, gulping in the hot stinking air, but there it is, blue skies and yellow sands, fresh air and the end of these howling humans, we charge into the open space, skidding to a halt as we see rank on rank of them banked high away behind barriers, safe from our anger and death-dealing horns. We have won, only a few brightly coloured ones remain, wafting their flimsy little cloaks in front to try and save them from our horns and hooves.

    Note 1, left Sound the Horn as is, I realise it should have been Flee, Flee, Flee and not Flea, Flea, Flea, but hey, hygiene wasn't probably the best

    Note 2 - The first line, It was a Day to remember is really inspired by a song "It was a night to Remember" by The Men They Couldn't Hang - saw them in about 1986 at Teesside Polytchnic - both of which date me! the year and that Polytechnic's still existed. Also, Men at Work in there too with 6' 4" and full of Muscles from Down Under of course

    Note 3 - I thought of the Jesuits gone mad, and exculpate Defender of the Faith was made up, but exculpate means to show or declare someone as not guilty of wrongdoing, so by making it the title of the military leader, you can then exonerate him of the sins/deeds he is undoubtedly committing.

    ToTW Entries


















    127 - The Prisoners Dream128 - For Love and Duty129 - Victory!
    130 - For the Shogun (disqualified)131 - The Outpost132 - Merry Men of the Forest
    133 - A Brief Respite134 - Sound the Horn136 - For the Emperor
    137 - The Tea Party138 - The Age of Assassins139 - The Avengers
    140 - That Day, That Fateful Day141 - The Good Ship Inner Piece142 - La Vieille Garde
    143 - Split Second144 - They're Taking Over145 - The Gate of Death
    146 - Urbi et Orbi148 - Back Down South149 - The Windmills of Your Mind
    150 - Run!151 - We are the Champions152 - The Ancients
    154 -It has Only Just Begun155 - Spin156 - The Void
    157 - Inspiration158 - The Downeaster Alexa159 - Call of the Legion
    160 - Resurrection161 - It's a New Dawn, it's a New Day162 - The Passenger
    163 - Skyfall165 - Nothing is True166 - The Sword and Quill
    168 - This is...169 - I will wait170 - Fairytale of New York
    171 - We Are Still Here172 - The Year of the Snake173 - Mountain Sound
    176 - Chasing Cars178 - Scotland-
    215 - The Roman Senate216 - The Murky Woods217 - Vitamin Water
    218 - Shield Wall219 - After the War220 - Gauls
    221 - The Red Viper222 - Coronation223 - Enemy of Rome
    224 - Troy227 - Shinobi-



    Duels




    Competition Entries

    • Short Fiction Entry
      Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

      A Love Letter

      You were my first love though I never told you enough. I can still taste your lips and feel their soft caress, the smell of your hair and how you felt when I held you close, breathing your scent in deep. I can smell you now, and maybe it was just a simple perfume it seemed to have been made for you; Even now the faintest trace of your perfume in the air will bring a smile and warm memories flooding back.

      As I think back on those years long gone, of what might have been wrapped up in what could have been, a snatched kiss, a loving embrace, laughing at stupid jokes and longing looks. We met oh so stupidly, my clumsiness in falling over your bag and telling you to not be so bloody stupid. I have never understood why you did not just slap me and tell me to watch where I put my feet, but you just laughed at me. Such a wonderful sound, like the soft drip of spring rain heralding the land coming to life, mirroring my own emotions as you broke the ice and harsh frosts I had protected myself with for all those miserable years. A soft and light laugh and then you said “or you could just buy me another coffee instead of yelling at me”, and then you laughed again and melted my heart.

      In the years before we met, I would have just put some money down, mumbled the briefest, barest apology and left you there. I would have stewed afterwards with bitter thoughts at the injustice that was always besetting me. I do not know what fate or destiny broke through that ridiculous armour I wore back then, but instead of a usual rude put-down I sat down and laughed with you, “you’re right of course, I’m clumsy and you’re out of coffee, would you like another?” How unlike me that was, yet with one smile and one laugh you vanquished the miserable boor I had been just brief seconds before, and left him behind forever after.

      I would have walked through all the fires of Hell from that moment if you had asked for a whisker from Lucifers beard, from that moment on I was lost with you. I had known other women of course, and I thought I had been in love with them, but it was only ever infatuation, lust or just plain convenience. Meeting you was love, it was not heart stopping, no freight train ran me over, no gasping for breath, but after we had finished coffee I knew, and I nearly left only stopped by you laughing at me again “if you want to call me again, you’re going to need my phone number” – what on earth did you see in me then that made you want to ever want to speak to me again?

      I would have called before I got to the corner, I so wanted to speak to you again and maybe that was the first sign that I should have realised it was love. But love is not just the good moments, the laughs and hugs, the kisses and waking up next to each other. Love just plain hurts, love is when you argue about nothing and everything, when you feel physically sick at seeing each other in pain and missing every moment away from each other. I knew I was going to call again, perhaps 10 minutes later might have been less time than is fashionable, but it made you laugh when I called and asked to see you again.

      From a spilt coffee, to dinner, a movie, a play and going out with my friends and your friends and before long it was our friends and we only ever got invited as a couple. I remember every moment of that first night we slept together, the long lingering kiss that started on the sofa and ended up in my bedroom. Maybe it was because we were far from teenagers, no terrible fumbling, and clacking of teeth, we just seemed to fit together and know what was arousing and what was not that it lingers so vividly.

      Well that was then and so many years have passed us by, I thought it would last forever; You were my first love, my love, but I guess I just was not your true love, and while you loved me for a while it was never as I had loved you although I tried to blind myself that you did. I was heart-broken when you left and thought that nothing would assuage the despair I felt, and then I raged at your memory – you know I even found my old armour and wore that for a while – but I guess you broke it and it never felt right afterwards - now it has thankfully gone for good. Thank you for that.

      Maybe it is a form of grief, but now I just recall with delight all our time together instead of picking at scabs to make them bleed. I am married now to a woman who loves me back as deeply as I love her, but whenever I smell the motes of your perfume in the air I think of you and smile and look around to see it if was you who passed by. I am not sure what I would say – something stupid again probably, so in case we ever meet, at least I know I was able to tell you how I felt in a letter. At the very least, I am sure I would buy you a coffee without being asked.
    • Long Fiction Entry
      Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

      The Colmar Misunderstanding.

      It’s kind of ironic, the big planet corporations and governments spend billions, trillions of credits ensuring we all live happy fulfilled lives, or at least those with votes and money to spend. Yet the truly wealthy still need more. The Dobriskey System, one of the central systems, with trade runs going every which way bringing in trillions on trillions of tax revenue. Natural resources they hadn’t even started to tap into. Oh yes, the president of Dobriskey was a very wealthy man – so what had he been doing slumming in Colmar? He could buy it with his own personal wealth many times over.
      Well, now he’s dead and the newsfeeds and netizen commentators are calling it the “The Colmar Incident” – yet more irony, because incident hardly covers the loss of two entire fleets and innumerable other ships from the Apostle Class star cruisers down to battered, ancient planet hoppers. Not to mention the wiping of all life from parts of the Dobriskey system and a number of planetoids and other small “spin-worlds” thrown out of their orbit or spiked. All told, the current death totals is estimated at eleven trillion and they call it an incident.

      Tees Killen, that’s me - the lead investigator attached to the Colmar System for the Federated Planets Treaty Organisation, though who I’m supposed to be leading is something they haven’t shared yet. ”T” – yeah original nickname I know - the boss said, “T, just go find evidence that shows the Ward Brothers Consortium engineered this whole incident to justify them removing Dobriskey”. Yeah, the FPTO really wants an unbiased investigation here. So here I am, an old-fashioned gumshoe in a new-fangled universe, world weary and cynical, but somehow I know that Philip Marlowe never had the dames bossing him around – still I carried a bigger gun so some things even out I guess.

      Colmar, yeah that one you have heard all the bad stories about - an armpit of a spin-world, indeed one of the oldest spin-worlds where an asteroid with right “rugby-ball” shape is put into orbit around some planet and spun along it’s longitudinal axis. Then they hollow it out and the resulting orbital asteroid is then fitted out to be habitable inside. Some lucky citizens from somewhere overcrowded for Worlds like Colmar, or the rich for the really good Spins, are given keys to a shiny new profitable asteroid. Only someone forgot to put Colmar anywhere useful. Oh they thought so when it was spun up. It was put in orbit above an inhospitable ice world with massive glaciers and with water being a valuable commodity in the Spins and outer colonies it looked like a no-brainer – until they found the glaciers had thick layers of rock dust and volcanic ashes that made the cost of recovering the water too expensive compared to pretty much anywhere else and the water shippers moved out taking their money and workers with them.

      So with no profits Colmar didn’t turn out to be the money spinner the owners wanted, but they still had to cover their costs – the banks always get their money - and took the easy way to make back money. If it is unethical, illegal, dangerous, toxic or anything you want kept from prying eyes and enquiring minds, then Colmar is the place for you. The brothels cater for every depravity known, and quite a few that were previously unknown. You want to gene splice an endangered species into your own DNA? No problem. Want to get some exotic, banned poisons for your own needs, Colmar can do that, want some exotic drug? Yeah we can do that too. Want to have sex with a three breasted, blue hermaphrodite – no problem. Those tales you’ve heard? They probably don’t even approximate to the truth down here.

      Colmar will make you feel alive, frequently dead unless you know how to keep your guns ready and be willing to use them without having awkward moments of ethical debate in your mind. But this was my beat and I breathed in its sweet, savoury, pungent spicy life, a heady brew of toxins, bad beer, worse food and a liberal dosing of danger to give it all an aromatic piquancy that was too rich for many. Well that was my opinion, they probably just got scared of looking over both shoulders, straight ahead and behind all at the same time – Amir Smith, my predecessor as lead investigator lost the knack shortly before he lost his life. Shame, good man, bit dull at times but that made me lead – or so they claim anyway.

      Colmar certainly was a strange destination for the President of Dobriskey. The facts that everyone is sure of is that he was on Colmar and he died messily inside a Ward Brothers franchise hotel. Dobriskey claimed they sanctioned their Presidents death, a few hothead Dobriskey Starfleet types took it in their head to avenge their Presidents death. One thing led to another and Ward Brothers vastly superior fleet destroyed Dobriskey’s. As the fighting took place in Dobriskey space the Ward Fleet decided to chastise Dobriskey by burning their inner planets to a crisp. Up until then, it was a local disagreement, but the loss of life (so they said, more like the huge loss in revenue, mean the FPTO couldn’t get a splinter up its collective ass anymore so they intervened with massive force.

      The Ward Brothers fleet was no match for the FPTO fleets, so the Ward Brothers Fleet of old star cruisers and planet hoppers was wiped out by the latest in FPTO naval technology - the loss of a star cruiser or two was an acceptable attrition rate. And now here we are, with the FPTO fleet and every other band-wagon jumping trade federation parked in the Ward Brothers home system waiting to carry out their own chastisement and pick all the nicest juiciest planets and contracts for themselves as a little reward for their efforts in supporting the winners. Some things never change and the corporate vultures circle when they smell death.

      In the interest of “transparency” my job is to show the Ward Brothers to be complicit in his death and therein lies a major problem, because the more I look, the less guilty they look. Sam Spade would not be fooled either. Either they are guilty and they’re just making themselves look so guilty I’d think they were set up, or they’ve been well and truly stitched up. They were probably hoping for some corporate paper pushing investigator to trace a load of papers instead of a real detective wearing out shoe leather following real leads.

      Looks like some penny-pincher hired the wrong people to cover up the crime. The report said he died messily in the Ward Brothers Hilton, but hotel would be a generous description indeed of the establishment Mr President died in – oh they may have left the body at his suite in the Ward Brothers Hilton, but he definitely did not die there. I’d checked it out and the sim created by the local cops. It was messy alright, blood up all the walls and bits of gore dripping from the light fittings – the sim even kept in the retching of the first cop on the scene – but I’d seen worse.
      The blood spatter, broken windows and rifled drawers made to look like a robbery gone wrong but it was too gory a scene, the drawers were rifled too perfectly, everything that could be broken was broken – it just didn’t fit. Someone carefully went through the room and then added a hefty dose of artistic license like they wanted judging on some murder-flic. Even the laziest alcoholic hack reporter would know that finding a dead body in a hotel room hardly made the owners complicit. And so we had yet another Colmar Misunderstanding as we locals called it - an off-worlder makes a final misjudged misadventure in the darker depths of our happy little asteroid and gets shipped home in a neat package – or maybe just dropped out of an airlock.

      It had cost me a few thousand credits, a couple of intimidations and rather more favours called in that I wished I’d not burnt - I had been saving them for my retirement - but now I stood outside the Purple Dragon Massage Parlour and knew I had my real murder scene. Even for Colmar, the Purple Dragon had a bad reputation and that is saying something. A more disreputable, seedier and dangerous place you couldn’t hope to find. Now I’m not saying the Ward Brothers are angels, far from it, but even they would stay clear of a place like the Purple Dragon. Anyone with any brains not in a chemical haze would stay clear of the Purple Dragon unless they had business or worked there.

      I was staying concealed in plain sight. Dressed like an off-Worlder with money to burn and no scruples, I was casing the place from over the road in a street parlour – looking like I was just losing the last vestiges of my morals before entering the place to lose the last of my credits too.
      Their security bots had cased me already and marked me as a potential customer. Mr Wang was heading my way now, mincing over in his improbably high purple boots and fishnets, purring at me in a false mixed accent, part Chinese, part Mexican and parts unknown. “Hi, you look like discerning hombre - you want girl? boy? both? young or old? I have all of that and everything in between. Hells, I can give you all that in same room at once, come Amigo, let me show you a real brothel. You want president special? That cost extra and could be bad for you soul” He laughed a weird strangled castrato - Colmar really did have everything, even that which had been outlawed centuries ago.

      Looks like my hunch was right, yeah like that was a surprise – when in doubt, suspect the worst and you’d be right more often than not - they’d even taking to boasting about it – someone very high and very rich was protecting the Purple Dragon and I’d need every ounce of my Colmar bred smarts to stay alive now. “Lead on Senor McDuff, I have some credits I shouldn’t have, just aching to get spent quick before someone comes looking.”

      I was committed now, I just hoped I could continue to stay one step ahead – if they could kill a President with impunity, a smart-aleck private dick was not going to cause them to lose sleep – but I had one thing in my favour – I was born on Colmar and nothing would surprise or scare me here.

      * I realised after after submitting that the death toll of 11 trillion was vastly too much and it should have been 11 billion - but hey what's a few thousand billions!



    Miscellanea


    This was the start of my original entry against Robinzx, but I hit a wall in where to go with it, the intent is the cats to become people in the last line and each verse progresses towards that but I realised I was a way from the minimum word limit and that's what stopped it.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Cats.
    Too long have we hidden in shadows, shying at the least sound, trusting the untrustworthy,
    Thrice three, our lives are counted, yet we are chased and harassed losing all but one each night,
    Accused and chased, we haunt the dark spaces of night, eyes aglow as we go about our skulduggery,
    With a quick pounce we end the lives of small creatures, capturing and killing with a single bite,
    We are the cats, people.

    Now we rise this night, leaving our hiding places under walls, slinking from beneath the shrubbery,
    Neuter us, house us, cage us, still we prosper and thrive, each coupling celebrated with a howl,
    More of us each day, a few kittens in the basket and a few more under the floors of the scullery,
    And breed we do, black ones, white ones, tabby ones and tortoiseshell, grey ones on the prowl,
    We are your cats, people.

    With charming delightful bundles of fur, our kittens are presented, girls and boys to entrance,
    Purring and bouncing, curling up in snuggly bundles of warmth, fluffily chasing balls of yarn,
    Bouncing, pouncing on a pulled string and lapping milk, each kitten, proof of our harmlessness,
    Yet each pat of a kittens paw, each scratch laughed off fools you and with cuteness we disarm,
    We are just cats, people.

    Three in the morning, all is quiet and a fox stops to sniff the air, the scent of danger lurks,
    with a start and yowl, he turns and runs, he knows we are rising to take our rightful place,

    We are the Cat People.


    I would welcome any critique on these without being too upset.

    Next Update will include summer competition entries. Thanks to Shankbot for the formatting suggestions.

    [update] 18/12/2012 - format changes (like the table? )
    [update2] 08/08/2014 - all ToTW entries, need to update wins, duels and assorted other articles. Also, no idea right now why the ToTW box has such a large space so I need to try and clean that up too. Shanky?
    Last edited by Ybbon; August 08, 2014 at 04:56 PM. Reason: tidying up

  2. #2
    Dark Storm's Avatar saut dans le vide
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    These are excellent, keep up the good work

    Adding you to the list now
    ...treasure, pleasure, leisure, les yeux;
    It's all in your eyes.




  3. #3

    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Nice to see another talented writer pitch his tent. Keep it up
    The Wings of Destiny - A FotS AAR (Chapter 12 - Updated Apr 24)
    Takeda - a Shogun 2 AAR (Completed) Reviewed by Radzeer

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  4. #4
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Great stuff looking forward to seeing the shelf once it's been fixed and varnished
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  5. #5
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Just a quick update. Just found this: http://rhymebrain.com/en very handy if you are trying to do what I just did in ToTW 144, but others may find it useful too.

    On a related note, I thought there was a page which had some useful writers resources (Radzeer's Quill maybe?), it would be handy to get a sticky of things like that no?

  6. #6
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    That site is quite good. I've added it to the list of stuff to add for the Weekly Newsletter, so hopefully people will see it.

    About your second line, there is this, although it isn't a sticky.

    EDIT: There is some stuff on The Information Thread, (yes we have one ) which has just been updated, coincidently.
    Last edited by Shankbot de Bodemloze; June 14, 2012 at 02:32 PM.
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  7. #7
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    This was my entry for ToTW 144, I fear it was a little too Vogon for the voters (for any Hitchhikers Guide fans out there). I would welcome some critique on this, as it was a very odd way to do it, I'm not sure it worked as well as I wanted so just wondered what people thought to it?

    Creeping, slinking, sneaking, little hooves drumming, tapping, stomping,
    Purple manes showing, in the wind blowing, glowing, tails all a flowing,
    Ponies everywhere, in my mind they're growing, into madness I'm going,
    It's a kind of loathing, no joking, these tiny horses imposing, roving, cloning.

    The throng, it's wrong, these ponies are strong, but do they belong? Prolong?
    Lifelong addiction, in my mind infesting, little horses the infection, affliction,
    Contrition, no benediction, the depiction of equine infliction my crucifixion,
    It's an attrition, my brain cells submission, pony fiction, my minds constriction.

    Incorrect, disrespect, no self-respect, in retrospect it's all a disconnect,
    I'm depressed, possessed, by ponies distressed, obsessed, my mind undressed,
    My thoughts suppressed, coalesced to ponies compressed, condensed, repressed,
    It's a line transgressed, a madness guessed, with ponies impressed, expressed.

    Coinciding, confiding, dividing, no peace providing, denying, terrifying,
    A vision of women, arisen, on ponies riding, guiding, striding, flying,
    My dreams invading, occupying, enticing, exciting, women and ponies, magnifying,
    It's a whirling, twirling, ever circling, juxtaposition of images writhing.

    Surviving, climbing, from my nightmares, reviving, rewinding, complying,
    From sleep expiring, the ponies are disappearing, purifying, my mind cleansing,
    Confining, their hooves no longer throbbing, slapping, tapping, pitter-pattering,
    It's a night of sweating, tossing, turning, sheets tying, my body contorting.

    Waking, shaking, dreams forsaking, aching, my body a stimulant craving,
    My bed I evacuate, stairs negotiate, my thirst to slate, alleviate, liquidate,
    Coffee, my brain regenerate, ponies dissipate, no more to intimidate, obliterate,
    Awake, little horses congregate, proliferate, my sanity to subjugate, exterminate

  8. #8
    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Personally I liked your 144 entry - I did vote for it if I recall correctly.

    I was impressed by the amount of effort that would have gone into it
    Last edited by Rex Anglorvm; September 28, 2012 at 05:15 AM.

  9. #9
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Oh I'm not bitter about not winning, I voted for the winner too so no complaint there. I found when I read it back I sort of ended up with a rap feel to how it flowed, and maybe the words used would not work with non native speakers?

    Maybe I'll try the same thing again for a future tale, I have an idea for this weeks.

  10. #10
    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66 View Post
    Oh I'm not bitter about not winning, I voted for the winner too so no complaint there. I found when I read it back I sort of ended up with a rap feel to how it flowed, and maybe the words used would not work with non native speakers?

    Maybe I'll try the same thing again for a future tale, I have an idea for this weeks.
    I can see what you mean about a rap feel, I don't think that would have lost votes though.

    I think you may have a more valid second point, there was a fair amount of English that's not in every day use for a non native.

    I still liked it though

  11. #11
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Oh good, so Vogon poetry next!

  12. #12
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Updated. I need a better design for the winning entries bit. Any suggestions welcome.

  13. #13
    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    The Winner's Circle
    blah

    blah blah

    blah blah blah

    Maybe?
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    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Bumped because I made some changes. Is there a limit in the number of lines in a single post? I think there is and I may need to make an additional bookcase soon - looking less rickety these days if I do say so myself

    [edit]Oh and I will be making Venus and Caractacus into a full CW entry soon.

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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Looks good.

    And that is a lot of TotW entries.
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Critique of "The Colmar Misunderstanding."

    Full critique, but left out a few redundant points. My connection is spotty, at the moment, so I hope the formatting turns out well. Composed offline in notepad... yayz.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Colmar Misunderstanding.
    Interesting choice of title. Some would prefer "The Misunderstanding at Colmar." But, your title formally recongizes that the Misunderstanding isn't just any mundane one, but the Colmar Misunderstanding - Capitalized. While some may think that this is somewhat pedantic, going on and on about this title, I wanted to point out why the choice is significant and what that sets up for readers. Your title makes the story "unique" in that it is about a specific misunderstanding worthy of its own capitalization. Subconscious choice or conscious one, the effect that the choice has is immediately evident when you contrast the alternate title "The Misunderstanding at Colmar." Which sounds more important? Which sounds unique? Which would you want to read about, by the title alone? (Not a big deal, really. Unless, that is, you're actually trying to get a reader interested in your story. Good choice.)


    It’s kind of ironic, the big planet corporations and governments spend billions, trillions of credits ensuring we all live happy fulfilled lives, or at least those with votes and money to spend. Yet the truly wealthy still need more. The Dobriskey System, one of the central systems, with trade runs going every which way bringing in trillions on trillions of tax revenue. Natural resources they hadn’t even started to tap into. Oh yes, the president of Dobriskey was a very wealthy man – so what had he been doing slumming in Colmar? He could buy it with his own personal wealth many times over.
    Well, now he’s dead and the newsfeeds and netizen commentators are calling it the “The Colmar Incident” – yet more irony, because incident hardly covers the loss of two entire fleets and innumerable other ships from the Apostle Class star cruisers down to battered, ancient planet hoppers. Not to mention the wiping of all life from parts of the Dobriskey system and a number of planetoids and other small “spin-worlds” thrown out of their orbit or spiked. All told, the current death totals is estimated at eleven trillion and they call it an incident.
    Grammar matters. The most exciting story will never entertain a single reader, unless they're an idgit, unless it's written so an audience can understand it. English has grammar, like all langauges, and that means it is written in a certain way, according to certain rules, that are indicative of how an English-speaking reader would expect to interpret what the symbols they are reading have to communicate, from the mind of the writer to that of the reader. Writing is business of mind games, a thaumaturgy of crafting memories out of thin air from itty-bitty symbols scratched on page, whether it's with internet ink or the real stuff. "Grammar" means that certain rules are expected to be followed in order to allow for easy interpretation and when it is lacking, the writer puts a speed-bump in the thoughts of the reader. That is ungood. That is not-to-be-done. So, with that being communicated properly, I will just put this one correction, here:

    "It's kind of ironic. The big planet corporations...."


    Or, you could have written:

    "It's kind of ironic that the big planet corporations..."

    But, your opening sentence, as it is written, is a run-on.

    And, a word on openings - NOTHING is more important to you, as a writer, as is getting your opening paragraph perfect. That means that, in this case of a short piece, you have three sentences in which to craft your lure to catch your reader. If you fail, your story will not be read and all your work will be for nothing. You purposefully threw a curveball at your reader by crafting a grammatical error with your opening.

    Because of that, I wouldn't have read any further, had this not been a piece offered up for critique. Understand why? Time... My time is valuable. As a reader, I could spend that time reading someone else's better constructed work! It doesn't matter how "fun" or entertaining your story is if I have to work too hard to enjoy it. Readers are lazy. They want everything spelled out for them an' stuff...

    "billions or trillions" or "billions, even trillions" or, perhaps even "billions - trillions of credits" Though, the latter really doesn't further a concluded thought as it mentions something new. So, the "or" or "even" choices would be best. HOWEVER, this speaks to "style" and "pacing" and it may be that your choice of a comma lends itself to better pacing, even though it brings the previous thought to a screeching halt. (BTW, though I laud it's merits, my own grammar sucks. I know what works rigth, I just forget what the rules are called. )

    "every which way" - No. This is a over-used phrase. Never use over-used phrases unless there's no other way to write it or the use of them lends something to the style of the piece. Here, "every which way" doesn't really lend itself to "science fiction", especially for the character, who as I have read in the next paragraph, should stereotypically be a person who is concerned with details. Don't list the details of Trade, but I would embellish a couple, just for the sake of fleshing out the narrator's personality. This is a short-story piece and you have limited time with which to act to build up your main character. Taking the opportunity, here, for the lead character, who is also the narrator, to exhibit some internal tendencies would be a good choice. Embellish, in a sentence, how "every which way" their trade run went. Or, within that very same sentence, you could list a few worlds and the goods that flowed between them.

    "president" is written capitalized as in "President" when it is a formal title, as in "the President of Dobrisky."

    I tend to abuse hyphens, lately. I don't know why. Perhaps it's because I got tired of abusing commas - They just sit there and don't squirm around much. But, hyphens - They're so dramatic! A big hyphen in the middle of a sentence and, wow - You're on the edge of your seat, awaiting the surprise embellishment to come! Meh... Anyway, be careful with hyphens and use them sparingly, or they tend to act as a distraction more than an encouragement for your reader to read on. (I abuse the heck out of periods in posting on the 'net, though...)

    "they call it an incident." - Should be written "they call it an "incident."" Here, you're setting out the interpretation of that word, "incident", as being unique. See how I enclosed it in that sentence, pointing out your use of the word incident as a unique use by enclosing it in quotes? You can also use italics to delineate words that are being used in a unique fashion. Bolding used to be acceptable, but with all the type sets available, bolding has been reserved for shouted or stressed words and unique interpretations of common words are now more frequently italicized. So, first choice is to italicize them, second is to quote them, next is to bold them and lastly, the worst way is to capitalize all their letters.

    "trillions" - You love the word. Authors will stare at a page for hours, trying to find a way to avoid the repetitive use of a certain word. In my own opinion, and it's not universally shared, you should pay particular attention to the halfhazard repitition of mundane words. In this case, you overuse "trillions" in a blatant and shameless manner! Find another word that denotes "lots" for goodness sakes! In fact, I was hit in the face, repeatedly, by "trillions" of somethings in your opening paragraph. That was distracting.


    Tees Killen, that’s me - the lead investigator attached to the Colmar System for the Federated Planets Treaty Organisation, though who I’m supposed to be leading is something they haven’t shared yet. ”T” – yeah original nickname I know - the boss said, “T, just go find evidence that shows the Ward Brothers Consortium engineered this whole incident to justify them removing Dobriskey”. Yeah, the FPTO really wants an unbiased investigation here. So here I am, an old-fashioned gumshoe in a new-fangled universe, world weary and cynical, but somehow I know that Philip Marlowe never had the dames bossing him around – still I carried a bigger gun so some things even out I guess.
    Kill that hyphen - "Tees Killen, that's me. I'm the lead investigator..." is one way to do it. There are others that may work better with your style. Your choice, but just kill the hyphen.

    Philip Marlow? Gumshoe? Is this guy a transplant from Earth's past? I hope you answer that question. If you don't, just remember I asked it. Any reader who is worth their ink-smudged fingers is going to ask those same questions. If you raise them, you have to answer them.

    And, that is a problem of "reference." See, you refer to something immediately recognizable as a cultural subject within our current time. Yet, this is a far-flung future mystery, right? Is this guy a fan of old pulp fiction? If so, answer the above questions by embellishing here and stating that case for your character. Otherwise, the references you have here act as another mental speedbump and you don't need those. Do not let the reader be forced into a situation where they have to ask themself unnecessary and distracting questions. Keep them reading by being sure to answer those questsions. In a short story, you either need to answer them quickly or build them up to such an extent as they contribute to your finale. If you don't do both, which I don't know yet, not having read further, then you will have introduced an "unsatisfactory" flavor to your story. For instance, when somneone asks the reader what they thought of your story, the reader may say "I liked it, but there was this weird thing about a time traveller dude or something, hell, I dunno, something about some guy that just didn't seem right..." Don't force your audience to remember their questions about your story for longer than they remember the story, itself. (If you answer for this later, then just take the above as general advice when using common references and phrases "out of place" in your setting. Explain them or make them a part of the overall style, don't let them become distracting.)

    Colmar, yeah that one you have heard all the bad stories about - an armpit of a spin-world, indeed one of the oldest spin-worlds where an asteroid with right “rugby-ball” shape is put into orbit around some planet and spun along it’s longitudinal axis. Then they hollow it out and the resulting orbital asteroid is then fitted out to be habitable inside. Some lucky citizens from somewhere overcrowded for Worlds like Colmar, or the rich for the really good Spins, are given keys to a shiny new profitable asteroid. Only someone forgot to put Colmar anywhere useful. Oh they thought so when it was spun up. It was put in orbit above an inhospitable ice world with massive glaciers and with water being a valuable commodity in the Spins and outer colonies it looked like a no-brainer – until they found the glaciers had thick layers of rock dust and volcanic ashes that made the cost of recovering the water too expensive compared to pretty much anywhere else and the water shippers moved out taking their money and workers with them.
    Good embellishment, here, in describing Colmar. Good use of the narrator forcing the imagery of Colmar as being "notable." However, this paragraph needs to flow better. It's written in a "conversational" style, but it jumps and starts, and squiggles around a bit too much. This is also an important character piece as it's the narrator, your lead, taking one of his few moments to relate the backstory and the setting directly to the reader in a personal, first person, view. So, you gotta get it right! Rewrite it for "pacing" and "flow" so one subject flows to the next very smoothly and you contrast the ironies by bashing them against that flow. Much like the use of a hyphen, the sentences should crash against the ironies and then go on to another smooth flow, followed by another ironic clash. Returning to the same subject "stutters" the flow, in my mystically worded opinion, from sentence to sentence. For instance:

    Colmar, armpit of a spin-world. Yeah, that's the same one you've heard all the stories about. It's one of the oldest spin-worlds there is and only those have an asteroid with the right "rugby-ball" shape that can be yanked into orbit, spun along it's longitudinal axis, hollowed out and then filled with habitats for the rich. Oh, some few lucky citizens from some overcrowded world can get in, but it's usually only the really ultra-rich who are given the keys to a shiny new asteroid. Only, this time, someone forgot to put Colmar anywhere useful. Sure, they thought it was a great plan when they spun it up. Big fat ice-world right next door, lots of fresh water glaciers with gigos of creds worth of water trapped within them - Sure, why not? That was before the survey teams figured out processing those ash-laden glaciers was too costly to make the project profitable. Now, the water shippers have gone and their money with them. Who knew survey teams were supposed to know about volcanoes and plate tectonics?

    I don't like doing re-writes (I don't count it as personally desirable etiquette, to do one unasked. Though, I make certain strict exceptions.) and this one may not be as good as your original one. I only re-wrote it to demonstrate how one topic flows to another and how ironies are specifically contrasted before you move onto the next topic, unless you're saving them for a punch-line, like I did. Does mine "flow" easier than yours? Even if factually incorrect, in the setting of your story, it reads to me to flow smoother, not as choppy. Try it on and see.

    So with no profits Colmar didn’t turn out to be the money spinner the owners wanted, but they still had to cover their costs – the banks always get their money - and took the easy way to make back money. If it is unethical, illegal, dangerous, toxic or anything you want kept from prying eyes and enquiring minds, then Colmar is the place for you. The brothels cater for every depravity known, and quite a few that were previously unknown. You want to gene splice an endangered species into your own DNA? No problem. Want to get some exotic, banned poisons for your own needs, Colmar can do that, want some exotic drug? Yeah we can do that too. Want to have sex with a three breasted, blue hermaphrodite – no problem. Those tales you’ve heard? They probably don’t even approximate to the truth down here.
    "So, with no profits, Colmar didn't turn out..."

    MOAR HYPHENSES! KEEL THEY! Get rid of those hyphens. Sure, they're fun to play with, but you'll hate yourself in the morning.

    "and quite a few that were previously unknown" I'd take the opportunity to write "Those brothels cater to every depravity and invent new ones for every tourist season." (Or similar.) and "Those tales you've heard? Those are just appetizers." or something like that. In other words, push it until it stops, then push it some more. It's a short story and you can't afford to be gentle - You don't have the time. Here's an excellent opportunity to "push it until it hurts" in your description of Colmar's vices. Don't do it with more words. Never do it with just more words. Instead, do it with pounding, heavy-hitting descriptions.

    Take some time to think of some real doozies and put in the ones that will end up with your readers reeling in laughter or squirmming around ashamedly in their seats. Slam 'em and slap 'em hard, here. Make this one of the most memorable paragraphs in your short! It's time for a real heavy hitter, here. You've covered the backstory, you've set part of the mechanics of the setting, now you are characterizing that setting. This is important - Nail it! Make good use of metaphor and simile and flavored style. (Note - You got the "sex" innuendos and "physicalilty" in my own instructions to you, right? Do that kind of thing when it comes to flavoring your style of description, where it adds to the characterization of the subject.) Nail it, flavor it, hang it on the wall for every reader to see. This paragraph is your first opportunity for an Oscar Moment in the writing of this short story. The mechanics of the story are just about done and it's time to gift the reader with a reward for wading through them. Give it to them. Rewrite it with that in mind. Work on this paragraph with these few sentences as hard as you can. It'll pay off, big-time.

    Colmar will make you feel alive, frequently dead unless you know how to keep your guns ready and be willing to use them without having awkward moments of ethical debate in your mind. But this was my beat and I breathed in its sweet, savoury, pungent spicy life, a heady brew of toxins, bad beer, worse food and a liberal dosing of danger to give it all an aromatic piquancy that was too rich for many. Well that was my opinion, they probably just got scared of looking over both shoulders, straight ahead and behind all at the same time – Amir Smith, my predecessor as lead investigator lost the knack shortly before he lost his life. Shame, good man, bit dull at times but that made me lead – or so they claim anyway.
    Rewrite this. You went from "almost nailed it all the way" to "wtf?" Don't do that. Rewrite this. The opening is a fragmented sentence, fix it. Don't let such mistakes ruin your story. And, what the heck - "aromatic piquancy?" Hey, I love raiding the thesaurus as much as any big-game hunter, but you can't let that break your "style." Tee's style is not one that includes the liberal use of "aromatic piquancy." If he's going to say it, it's going to be because it's either heavily ironic or is a terrific lead-in for a punch-line. He's not going to use such language conversationally. So, fix it so it is obviously heavily ironic, and lends to the characterization of the narrator/lead or it's the lead-in to the punchline, which does the same, or its absolutely a necessary description for the setting or the story. Otherwise, dump it and choose something conversational and "in character."

    But, this paragraph - How does it work? I don't know what's going on. I don't know why it is here. I don't know what the character is talking about or why. Why did you put this paragraph here? What is it's purpose in the overall crafting of this short story? Answer to that and I can tell you how to fix it. First, though, it needs a run through a grammar checker in order for it to at least have some resemblance to a cohesive portion of communicated rational thought. (Maybe I copied and pasted it wrong? I'm working on this offline, atm, so will try to recheck it.)

    Colmar certainly was a strange destination for the President of Dobriskey. The facts that everyone is sure of is that he was on Colmar and he died messily inside a Ward Brothers franchise hotel. Dobriskey claimed they sanctioned their Presidents death, a few hothead Dobriskey Starfleet types took it in their head to avenge their Presidents death. One thing led to another and Ward Brothers vastly superior fleet destroyed Dobriskey’s. As the fighting took place in Dobriskey space the Ward Fleet decided to chastise Dobriskey by burning their inner planets to a crisp. Up until then, it was a local disagreement, but the loss of life (so they said, more like the huge loss in revenue, mean the FPTO couldn’t get a splinter up its collective ass anymore so they intervened with massive force.
    It's "The facts that everyone are sure of" instead of "is sure of". Plurals - Know them. (Note - There are differences in that regard in American English vs British English (Or, English English if you're a Brit. You figure it out, depending on your intended audience. Always write with diction appropriate for your published/intended audience, but write with as broad a brush in that regard as possible.)

    Another run-on and grammar mistake - "...President's death. A few hotheads.." Instead of your "Presidents death, a few hotheads.." This is hurting you. These is an easily correctable series of mistakes. Here, you even remembered to capitalize "President." But, you ran it straight into forgetting a possessive and smashing up sentences. Don't do that. Always proof submitted work. Sure, a post or three left with errors is fine. Even my review, unproofed for grammar and spelling, is "OK." I'm not submitting for a review. But, if you are, then proof your work. You could have caught these and would have obviously caught your mistake with an uncapitalized "president" earlier, had you proofed this appropriately. These are killing the pacing of your story. Devasting it, even.

    "One thing lead to another and Ward Brothers.." Is this "Ward Brothers" the proper name of an organization's fleet? Is this a mistake with posessives? Or, would a "...the Ward Brother's fleet" be more appropriate?" Since this is the first time that "Ward Brothers" has come up, there is no appropraite prior indication for the reader to know how to take this use of it. Either add the "the" or rewrite it so it's clearer.

    "Up until then, it was a local disagreement. But, the loss of life..." instead of "...disagreement, but the loss.."

    This last part, starting with "disagreement" needs a rewrite for pacing and flow. It's just hand-waving all over the place, not making any concerted effort to be direct. The parentheses are entirely unnecessary. In this particular style, with the narrarator conversationally relating the backstory of the battle, the parenthesis is an unnecessary soliliquy. It's distracting. Rewrite it so that you can separate it out and give the subject there the appropriate attention. Doing so would be further opportunity to characterize the narrarator, which is a bonus. So, let him rant where it is out in the open, here, not hidden in the parentheses. (Also, putting them in the middle of his narrative, right in the middle of a sentence, disrupts the pacing of the narrative. At the end of the paragraph would be better, if you must include this bit in parentheses.)

    The Ward Brothers fleet was no match for the FPTO fleets, so the Ward Brothers Fleet of old star cruisers and planet hoppers was wiped out by the latest in FPTO naval technology - the loss of a star cruiser or two was an acceptable attrition rate. And now here we are, with the FPTO fleet and every other band-wagon jumping trade federation parked in the Ward Brothers home system waiting to carry out their own chastisement and pick all the nicest juiciest planets and contracts for themselves as a little reward for their efforts in supporting the winners. Some things never change and the corporate vultures circle when they smell death.

    In the interest of “transparency” my job is to show the Ward Brothers to be complicit in his death and therein lies a major problem, because the more I look, the less guilty they look. Sam Spade would not be fooled either. Either they are guilty and they’re just making themselves look so guilty I’d think they were set up, or they’ve been well and truly stitched up. They were probably hoping for some corporate paper pushing investigator to trace a load of papers instead of a real detective wearing out shoe leather following real leads.
    Ah, it's "The Ward Brothers." So, add the "the" in the comment I made on it, above.

    Another run-on - "...FPTO fleets, so the.." One sentence ends, the next begins. This is how it works - "The Ward Brothers Fleet was no match for the FPTO fleets. Their fleet of old star cruisers..." Now, some may say that's not a run-on. But, I beg to differ. It's an entirely unnecessary lack of a decent period. Use one, here.

    Also, because of that, you're going to have to change the wording for better flow. Also, leading a sentence with "So" is usually reduntant. "So" means "and it follows" when used in this matter. So, it's redundant, usually. ie: And it follows that it is usually redundant. See? I could just say, instead, "It's usually redundant" as any reader is going to naturally interpret that one sentence in a paragraph will follow another in a paragraph until the paragraph is finished. And, as paragraphs are usually all concerning the same subject, with new paragraphs continuing with new subjects or other lines of thought, then the use of "So", otherwise known as "And it follows". is almost always taken as "understood" for every sentence, even every paragraph, by any but the most novice reader. To use it "conversationally," however, in a certain style of speach where "so" is used habitually, is a diferent case. Tees doesn't seem like the kind of character who goes around starting every sentence with "So." It's a pet peave of mine since I sometimes do the same thing and feel self-conscious about it. So, mabye I'm being a bit hyper about it? Or, and it follows that I may be being a bit hyper about it. Maybe I'm being a bit hyper about it?

    More common colloquial references - Sam Spade. Is Tees a time-traveller? Is he an afficionado of old detective mysteries? Sure, it appears that way, but at what cost do you give him that characteristic? At every mention of these present-day icons, you draw the reader away from your far-future setting. Is the pay-off worth it? More importantly, since you insist on doing this, are you going to make sure that the payoff is worth it? Is drawing your reader's attention back to our present day worth the characterization of Tees being in love with 20'th Century gumshoe detective mysteries? Is it worth it? (I dunno, haven't finished reading, yet. But, neither will you readers know...)


    Looks like some penny-pincher hired the wrong people to cover up the crime. The report said he died messily in the Ward Brothers Hilton, but hotel would be a generous description indeed of the establishment Mr President died in – oh they may have left the body at his suite in the Ward Brothers Hilton, but he definitely did not die there. I’d checked it out and the sim created by the local cops. It was messy alright, blood up all the walls and bits of gore dripping from the light fittings – the sim even kept in the retching of the first cop on the scene – but I’d seen worse. The blood spatter, broken windows and rifled drawers made to look like a robbery gone wrong but it was too gory a scene, the drawers were rifled too perfectly, everything that could be broken was broken – it just didn’t fit. Someone carefully went through the room and then added a hefty dose of artistic license like they wanted judging on some murder-flic. Even the laziest alcoholic hack reporter would know that finding a dead body in a hotel room hardly made the owners complicit. And so we had yet another Colmar Misunderstanding as we locals called it - an off-worlder makes a final misjudged misadventure in the darker depths of our happy little asteroid and gets shipped home in a neat package – or maybe just dropped out of an airlock.
    "Indeed "- This is much too like "Foresooth!" Can't go around having a bunch of foresooth's and indeeds running around... Nope, get rid of it. "Indeed" used in this way - "would be a generous description indeed of the establishment.." - just reads awkward to me. Also, I would separate those two contrasting lines of thought with another period. They cost just as much as a space or a comma, even the same as a hyphen, so feel free to make use of them when necessary. (I hope you understand that I'm joking with you and not purposefully at your expense, when I comment like that. Also, I left out an opportunity for the use of a comma in my own sentence above. I'm trying to quit.. been going to twelve-step meetings an' everythin'..)

    "added a hefty does of artistic license, like they wanted, juding on some murder flick.. " instead of "license like they wanted judging on some murder flick." Do they like to judge murder flicks and were they committing this murder while judging one? Remember - Leaving out important punctuation can lead to radically different interpretations than those you intend.

    It had cost me a few thousand credits, a couple of intimidations and rather more favours called in that I wished I’d not burnt - I had been saving them for my retirement - but now I stood outside the Purple Dragon Massage Parlour and knew I had my real murder scene. Even for Colmar, the Purple Dragon had a bad reputation and that is saying something. A more disreputable, seedier and dangerous place you couldn’t hope to find. Now I’m not saying the Ward Brothers are angels, far from it, but even they would stay clear of a place like the Purple Dragon. Anyone with any brains not in a chemical haze would stay clear of the Purple Dragon unless they had business or worked there.
    OK, good piece. But, you need to polish it up. Here, it had cost him "a couple of intimidations." Was he intimidated or did he do the intimidating? Fix that. Also, you're trying for drama here. In my opinion, I'd go with a punchier "But, now I stood outside the Purple Dragon Massage Parlour. I knew I had my murder scene." Separating that out means - Boom. A leads to B. Setup followed by solution. Since this matters, set that sentence apart. This is the culmination of his efforts and you want that to seem significant, don't you? So, give it it's own special place in the paragraph, not just as some also-ran tagalong, buried in another sentence. You could even use a hyphen here - I know you want to. I bet you do.. you're just itching to use it, aren't you. Well, go ahead, it's right there - The perfect opportunity. (See how that is set up and made more dramatic by being formally separated as significant within that sentence or even separate from it? That's what you have to do in a short-story. You just don't have time for finesse and have to make every word count.)

    "Anyone with any brains not in a chemical haze would stay clear of the Purple Dragon unless they had business or worked there." OK, I get it. I understand what you are "trying" to say. But, do you realize what you have said?

    Riddle me this - Who goes to the Purple Dragon who doesn't have business there or doesn't work there?



    Good idea for the closing sentence and worth working on. But, rewrite it so it doesn't sound nonsensical.


    I was staying concealed in plain sight. Dressed like an off-Worlder with money to burn and no scruples, I was casing the place from over the road in a street parlour – looking like I was just losing the last vestiges of my morals before entering the place to lose the last of my credits too.Their security bots had cased me already and marked me as a potential customer. Mr Wang was heading my way now, mincing over in his improbably high purple boots and fishnets, purring at me in a false mixed accent, part Chinese, part Mexican and parts unknown. “Hi, you look like discerning hombre - you want girl? boy? both? young or old? I have all of that and everything in between. Hells, I can give you all that in same room at once, come Amigo, let me show you a real brothel. You want president special? That cost extra and could be bad for you soul” He laughed a weird strangled castrato - Colmar really did have everything, even that which had been outlawed centuries ago.
    Sentence fragment lead-in, again.. /sigh Don't do this - "..concealed in plain sight. Dressed like an off-worlder with money to burn and no scruples." No, no, no.. Do this - "..plain sight, concealed like.." See? Don't sabatage an interesting story by overlooking the easy stuff. Good grammar is easy. Good writing is hard.

    A bit of another setting breach, here. - Mr. Wang's accent. You have a far-future detective mystery going on here and it's on another world in a system of worlds that could number in the thousands. So, explain, please, how Mr. Wang is going to have a Chinese and Mexican blend of accents? Did he get them by mail-order? Was he raised on Earth and travelled to the armpit of the Universe for funsies? Are there Spanish and Chinese worlds that ban all other forms of language? Come, now, seriously - You should take the opportunity to STAY IN YOUR SETTING instead of constantly grabbling into ours. By that, I mean, you should invent a patois for Mr. Wang. You readers are already going to flavor his speach with an Oriental accent, due to his name. This is why you pickd his name in the first place. That's fine. What is definitely NOT fine is throwing your readers back into their living room instead of letting them stay in your setting and you do that every single time you mention a present-day cultural reference. Either force those references to have significance in your story in order to "pay" for the cost of their use in distraction or get rid of them, entirely. The gumshoe references I can take. But, this is entirely unnaceptable - Invent a patois for Mr. Wang. He's one of the few people in the story who has dialogue, so you may as well make it meaningful. Have Tees describe it using references to other worlds, not cultures on present-day Earth. Otherwise, you're torpedoing the "Suspension of Disbelief" of your readers. As a writer, you must work to foster that and you must not throw rocks at it or hurl potatoes and torpedoes at it with equal abandon. Take good care of it, nurture it, water it, cuddle with it and, if necessary, loose your virginity to it. For goodness sakes don't slap your readers across their Suspension of Disbelief by taking it away from them!


    Looks like my hunch was right, yeah like that was a surprise – when in doubt, suspect the worst and you’d be right more often than not - they’d even taking to boasting about it – someone very high and very rich was protecting the Purple Dragon and I’d need every ounce of my Colmar bred smarts to stay alive now. “Lead on Senor McDuff, I have some credits I shouldn’t have, just aching to get spent quick before someone comes looking.”

    I was committed now, I just hoped I could continue to stay one step ahead – if they could kill a President with impunity, a smart-aleck private dick was not going to cause them to lose sleep – but I had one thing in my favour – I was born on Colmar and nothing would surprise or scare me here.
    "was right, yeah like" - Should be written - "..was right. Yeah, like that.." Another stalled lead line, the most important in any paragraph, killed by a grammatical error. This is killing your story. You realize this, right?

    Ah, so Tees is from Colmar. I didn't pick that up, earlier. Is there a reason for that? Fix it, make it plain. Also, when using hyphens, you'll usually capitalize a complete sentence if it comes after it. So, "...surprise - When in doubt, suspect..." See? In fact, I'd have to refer to my Strunk & White, but I think it's "always" capitalize. Google it. (I'm offline, atm of this writing. Connection issues.) IOW, treat hyphens as a period, for capitalization purposes, IIRC.

    "I was committed now. I just hoped.." instead of "comitted now, I just.." My suggestion, but could be either way, there.

    "smart-aleck private dick" - Wait a sec, he's a Private Investigator? Inconsistancy, here. He's "the lead investigator attached to the Colmar System for the Federated Planets Treaty Organisation." He is NOT a private detective... So, either he's forcing a metaphor or he was hired. Either way, it needs fixing, else you jar your reader's sensibilities and their own internal Continuity Monitor skips a beat. Don't give them that opportunity - Fully wedge Tees in either of the two roles before he gets to this point. Else, the reader will not know the appropriate perspective that they are sharing with Tees.

    Either he was hired as a private investigator by that organization or he works for them, yet has a penchant for overly dramatizing his own role because he loves gumshoe detective stories.. Your choice.


    Comments on the story:


    I liked the story. I liked the setting and the science-fictiony "spin-worlds" idea. (Similar to a couple of science fiction series in the present day.) I liked the plot and liked considering this as an episodic piece.

    However, what I didn't like was the constant grammatical errors. No, didn't like those at all. But, grammar can be fixed easily. You can even get grammar checker add-ons for the most popular word processors. I bet there are some html ones online. In other words - There is no excuse for a submitted work to have these sorts of grammatical errors. Fix them. The story is good, but the grammatical mistakes damage it a great deal.

    What this piece needs is polish. Not the language, but the stuff that makes thing bright and shiny. It needs to be polished for grammar and punctuation, the overuse of present-day cultural references that detract from the setting, a couple of paragraphs that desperately need rewrites and the problem with continuity in identifying Tees occupation. Clear all that up and it would be an enjoyable piece of work to read. As it is, it's an interesting story and I'm glad I read it, but I was not glad that I had to put up with those mistakes in order to finish it.

    Good work, but you can do better than this. Fix this piece and repost the corrected version. If you wish, you can PM me up to three rewritten paragraphs and I will comment privately on those. But, I can not promise when I can do that, as my internet connection is terrible at the moment and I travel quite frequently.

    Good job, polish it up or remember my comments when you write the next installment. There is going to be another episodic piece in this narrative storyline, isn't there? See, you did a good job - I want to experience what happens next to Tees. No writer can ask for more than a willing audience.

    (Note - Written in notepad... and trying to push this through a spotty internet connection. If formatting mistakes occur, I will try to correct them, but no promises until my connection stablizes.)

    Added Note: I picked the short at random and critiqued as I read, because that's the way it should be done. As a writer, you need feedback from the reader as that reader experiences your story, just as much as you need feedback from them when they finish it. You need to know they're enjoying the journey, just as much as you need to know if they liked the destination.
    Last edited by Morkonan; October 06, 2012 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Added Note
    Under the Patronage of Thanatos.

  17. #17
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Well if I was after ego massage critique you certainly didn't do that. It was a little painful as I wasn't aware my grammar was quite as atrocious as it appears to be and I never use semantic checkers where clearly I ought to! Run on sentences seem to be a real area to be careful with and I use hyphens to stop using commas so frequently, but again I should probably be thinking about restructuring the sentence itself, I'm probably using them as a short-cut, but whatever the reason it is not working.

    Trillions/billions was an error, it was originally billions but the story evolved in such a way that was too small so I changed it up but must have not noticed that I left the billions in, likewise the trillions of population should have been billion or maybe million. I wanted the number to be large enough to reflect that incongruity of the title with it being described as a "misunderstanding".

    president - uncapitalised - simple typo - which of course I should have checked properly with a checker. I use Word 2010 so it has in-built checking.

    Oh and two things I probably should have tried to explain that would make it clearer, Tees is trying to be an old-fashioned gumshoe kind of detective so the references to Philip Marlowe etc are supposed to indicate that although he is a corporate cop, he sees himself as a throwback to real detectives. Point taken however that it wasn't made clear.

    The other point, which actually highlights I should have planned this better, originally, it was supposed to be set in the outer limits of our Solar system, so the Mexican/Chinese accents would be OK - the initial population came from Earth - however, that can't be true with The Ward Brothers system and Dobriskeys as these would obviously be much further in the future. Now that is just lack of thinking this through properly on my part.

    The solution would be to put a date on this, if I had said 2167 then Earth accents would not be so unexpected, but if a more likely time frame is say 3400 for example, then they should not exist. Point well made there.

    Lastly, I deliberately left the fact the Tees is from Colmar to the end, maybe it didn't work quite as well as I wanted.

    Actually there was no more, it was just a competition entry, but now you've added your critique, I want to know what happens too!

    OK, I'll try and write the full story, the problem is I haven't really thought it through properly. Well no time like the present so maybe a proper story timeline and outline tonight

    Many thanks, it seemed harsh at times but this is far more useful than anything sycophantic.

    +rep.

  18. #18

    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Quote Originally Posted by ybbon66 View Post
    ....

    Many thanks, it seemed harsh at times but this is far more useful than anything sycophantic.

    +rep.
    Oh, no! I wasn't being harsh - I was being honest and forthright. There's only one way to truly help someone and you have to be honest. I tried to joke a bit, along the way, and add in a bit of flair to underscore some points. But, that's for "effect", not for chastisement.

    If I submitted a story to Asimov's, but misspelled their name, what do you think would happen? There are fifty-eleven writers submitting good work to every publication that you can care to name. How many are round-filed because they can't spell? They may have stories that would change the world, but an editor might not take the time to read them if the first sentence is full of grammatical errors. After all, they've got fifty-eleven more submissions to flip through and they're not going to waste their time forcing themselves to read someone's work who doesn't care enough about it to spell their publication's name correctly...

    I don't want that to happen to you. I don't want that to happen to anyone. Well, maybe I wished that had happened to a few author's who's work now curses the shelves at the local bookstore.. Yeah, I do wish that. But, for you and me, heck no! So, if I submit something, I expect you to point out any errors, development or storyline problems and beat me within an inch of my life with your own keyboard!

    We do these things to each other in the hope that one of us will achieve something worthy of the time and effort that they have put into it. That is why writers critique each others work. That's why I took a couple of hours to critique yours. That's why, when the time comes, I want someone to take the same care and same sort of scalpel to whatever I submit for critique. (Gotta dust off something and polish it up.)

    It's a team effort, while it's here, on the board. But, when you're on your own, you can take some of that with you. If anything I ever do to help you or anyone else ends up putting their work on a shelf somewhere, or even contributes in a minute way to their development as a competent writer, then I am entirely in their debt for allowing me the honor of contributing something that I know will be meaningful to them.

    Anything I wrote in that critique is straight-up, from the heart, no walls in place. I didn't hold back anything because such a discourse between writers should always be an honest one. In that spirit, I felt I could operate freely, without having to guard against someone who's only reaction is to be offended that someone would try to be honest with them. I hope I can still expect that - The Internets is full of amateur "writers" that only want to gather hollow compliments to their breast and hug them close on cold nights.

    Improvement - That's what real writers constantly seek. That's why we practice, that's why we submit work for critique, that's why we discuss writing and seek out any enlightenment we can. A good writer, no matter how well published, never stops learning how to write. They might polish their style, but the day they stop learning is the day their work gets stale. Nobody wants to go out with a final sputtering sigh... A loud shout, a big bang, a tumult, that's what writers want to produce.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading your next installment, there. Keep it up. Clean up the grammar and pay attention to sentence structure and how you handle a particular subject as it rolls around in the paragraph. Well, don't let it roll around - Keep it flowing, clearly, on a specific path.

    The story was good, the ideas were sound, there's just some polish work to do and you can do that, easily. Don't let your story tarnish for lack of common care.

    Note: I pay attention to what I critique. I don't just dump handfuls of critiques all over the place and then fail to act as a good steward of my contribution. If you ever need clarification, feel free to ask me. In answering questions, I might accidentally learn something. That's always a bonus.
    Last edited by Morkonan; October 06, 2012 at 01:14 PM.
    Under the Patronage of Thanatos.

  19. #19
    Ybbon's Avatar The Way of the Buffalo
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    I'm going to need a new shelf on this bookcase for the ToTW entries!

  20. #20
    Rex Anglorvm's Avatar Wrinkly Wordsmith
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    Default Re: A Rickety Old Bookcase

    Wow, you certainly have written a few stories Lord Buffalo, but our seond duel is missing

    Rep+ for some bloody hard work

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