That was quite entertaining, actually. I like the interplay of magic in the daily lives of your characters. As for mine: this is an Alternate History set during World War II in a world where Russian Revolution didn't happen (at least, not the way it happened in real life. details )
“Emperor Alexis, please do not trust this man. I am asking you both as Imperial Advisor and friend.” Anton Fyodorov looked up at the Emperor. The monarch was in his 30’s, but the stress of ruling an empire from an age when most young men are barely starting to leave home had aged him. The years had been kinder to his Imperial Advisor, who in his early eighties still had the presence and appearance of a man half his age, save for his snow-white hair. “They will invade whether or not we sign the treaty, Anton, ” was Alexis’ reply after a long period of silence. He could get away with using the advisor’s first name in private. “But with this, we can count on them being off our backs for enough time for us to get ready. I hope.” Fyodorov knew he was right, but the thought of signing a treaty with the toothbrush-mustached freak of a German dictator, Adolf Hitler, still made him sick to his stomach. And the thought of the boy—he still thought of the emperor as a boy—he had raised as his own son going to war made him sicker still. “You ask me not to trust him, and that I will grant you, ” Alexis said. “I don’t trust that toothbrush-mustached freak any further than I can throw him, but what is looming over Russia from Budapest to Vladivostok is war, any way you slice it, and no matter what direction we may take. You’ve heard both his rants on world conquest and his seething hatred of the Slavic people. Conquering Russia would be achieving his greatest ambition. We cannot let that happen. We will not survive as a nation, and we will scarcely fare better on an individual basis. “All that is left is to agree to his pact and open up talks with Britain and France. Perhaps the United States as well, should the Americans be so inclined.” Russia had enjoyed reasonably good relations with all three countries since the end of what was about to become merely the First World War, and they could all see the threat Nazi Germany posed. “Naturally, of course, the Germans must not find out about our talks with the Westerners.” “Of course, ” Fyodorov replied. “We’d be begging for an invasion.” “We do that merely by being Russians, I’m afraid.” Alexis sighed. “At any rate, the pact must be approved by the Duma. Make your case, Anton. They will not listen to a monarch, but one of their own is a different story.”
edited 19th Jun '13 4:43:50 PM by somerandomdude
Wenn man nicht die Fresse halten kann, einfach mal Ahnung haben.
turning and turningI'm certainly intrigued by your alternate history premise, probably enough to keep reading. Out of interest, how did the Nazis come to power in this scenario without being able to exploit the massive fear of a Communist revolution caused by the Russian Revolution? Thinking about it, the formation of the Weimar Republic probably would have been very different; if the SPD hadn't been so worried about the revolution turning Communist they probably would have gone a lot further in reforming the army, etc. It's definitely a fascinating idea for your story. I also already like the character of Alexis. You establish a few details of his character quickly, without becoming unsubtle, and I can see how the shut-in-haemophiliac-turned-emperor could be a really interesting character to follow. Your writing style is okay. I think it could be polished a lot, but there's nothing I particularly dislike about it. There are a couple of things I'd pick you up on, though:
Scepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
- Clarence Darrow
Poke2201Well, lets just revive this thread here. It was pretty interesting. Normally I dont read more fantasy novels, but the beginning would let me read more into the story. I wish I had some criticism for this piece, but I see nothing that I would do better. I like the scenario. However, it doesn't lend much to the imagination. Sure you just change the communist government with a monarchist government, but wheres the tension? Racial issues is a sticking point, but not a firestarter to war. But I do agree that Alexis is interesting. His character shows political intelligence, but it makes me wonder, will he survive?
Here's a story I've been thinking about, its not fully fleshed out yet, but I have a gist of the main plot. I'm just hoping the plot device will be interesting enough
What would it be like to die? What would it be like to eliminate a pitiful existence? What if... No. There's no reason for that. Don't take me wrong, I'm not suicidal or depressed... I'm just... normal. If you could call it that. But what if indeed... I finished packing up my things from my small room with my grandparents and headed out. They were the nicest people I've been with for a long time, and yet, I'm not going to miss them. Such kind people deserved to be missed, but I felt nothing. They smiled at me with that kind smile they've given me over the years; since I moved in with them, first day of school and its last. Yet, I never smiled back at them. I couldn't. I didn't feel anything. I still respect that though. Having someone live in your house for almost 10 years without giving you a smile is something respectable indeed. It would have driven lesser people mad. “Hey son, ” My grandfather said quietly, “Are you ready to go?” I nodded. Most of my other things were already packed into a car. I just needed to do one more thing. “Give me a moment.” “Alright. We'll be waiting in the car.” He left the room. I looked at my cell phone, wondering if I should call the only friend I had ever made in high school. After a few seconds, I called her number. “Hey... Amy....” I started. “Hey... John...” “I'm heading out soon...” Silence covered the other line. I wondered if she even heard me. “I said-” “I know.” She said finally. “Don't you wanna see me leave?” “I don't know anymore.” That's right. She had fallen in love with me in freshman year of high school. I didn't even know until she walked up and asked me out. We lasted throughout all of high school. I thought I did everything right. I watched romantic shows and everything, yet... She broke up with me right after graduation. “I can't go out with you anymore... We're going to different colleges after all.” “But... I still want to be with you.” I said. “Thats the problem... You don't have any passion for anything. I mean, I've been obviously cheating on you with Greg and other guys since Sophomore year!” I stared at her. She continued, “I mean, guy after guy took me away and I looked to see if you'd come do something, but no you just stood there and let me go! I didn't want to be branded a slut by the other girls, so I just pretended to stay with you until now.” “Oh.” That's all I could mutter out. “Thats it?! We're done John.” I just stood there as she walked away. I sighed as I muttered, “Same as the rest of this world...” and walked home alone. We made up the next day, with her mostly apologizing for being mean. She promised to see me off when I left for college. “Yeah... I don't think I can keep that promise.” “...” I didn't say anything. “I'm sorry.” She hung up. That was the last I heard of her. I lifted my bags and walked to the car. My grandfather turned on the car and we drove off to college. The college I got into wasn't a large college, but it had a decent amount of people in it. I applied only to this school, so I was lucky to get in on the first try. The dorms themselves looked inviting, but nothing more than that. In short, it was an average school in an average town. I moved into my room quickly, I didn't have as much stuff as other people did. I had a co-ed dorm, so both girls and guys were packed into one floor. My grandparents helped me move in and left quickly, as they had to be in the the next town in a few hours to catch a flight or something. They seemed happy though. I saw them off and walked to my room. That's where I saw her. It was a girl with dark brunette hair, she had a teddy bear in her hands and she was walking with a few friends, evidently her roommates. The other girls looked at me and quickly walked off, gossiping about how creepy I was. However... She didn't. “Hi! I'm Lily!” She stuck her hand out. I nodded and walked into my room. “Hey, don't ignore me!” She barged in. “Whoa...” “What do you want?” I asked. “Your room looks so... bland.” “Thanks.” I said sarcastically. She smiled. “That was the first time you spoke to me! Who are you?” I gave in at this point. I just wanted her to leave. “I'm John.” “Hello John. Meet my teddy bear, Marius.” Little did I know that teddy bear would change my life forever.
edited 1st Jul '13 7:30:22 AM by poke2201
"Love is like war: Easy to begin but hard to end." - Anonymous
Well, I guess first off I should say that I think that rhetorical questions are a terrible way of engaging the reader. Especially some melodramatic "what is life? a pitiful pile of existence" type talk. I also feel that the narrator is a bit too self-obsessed. It seems almost every other sentence includes the words I, me or my. It makes the story seems like a 'woe is me and my pathetic life as a narrator' and nobody wants to read about how much the narrator thinks he sucks. I think I would prefer it if the narrator made a few more observations about his surroundings and the people he's interacting with rather than just focus on himself. Also "little did I know that teddy bear would change my life forever" seems kind of cheap. Like "hey, you better keep reading, you won't believe how this teddy bear thing pays off". Also, there's a few too many ellipse. They become less dramatic the more they're used. Sorry if this comes across as really negative. It seems like the story itself kind be kind of alright. Here's the first two paragraphs of a short story I started last night... In his office, detective Harvey Lee Robinson sat intently, his tall, lean figure draped in a brown tweed jacket. The upward slant of the cigarette clamped between his teeth hinted at his total absorption with what he was listening to. Nestled between his jutting cheekbones and the brim of his fedora, his sharp eyes stood fixed on the figure at the other end of the desk: a seven-foot reptilian humanoid. Droplets of thin white liquids bled from the pores in its forehead, running between the buds on its brow and around its big black eyes as the creature shivered in its sit. With its rubbery appendages acting as a hand, it took a few frantic drags from its cigarette. "It's all The Worms, " the creature exclaimed, “The Worms broke in.” Harvey struck a match and held it in his cupped hands, lightening the near-dead cigarette. He squinted and turned his attention back to the creature. “Who are they? These ‘Worms’, I mean.”
Impudent UpstartMany thanks to those who provided feedback! Glad to know it has an interesting start. @Somerandomdude: So far so good. You set up plenty of plot points to be intrigued about in such a short space (Will the Germans honor the treaty this time around? Will the secret talks with the West be discovered? Will the people go along with Alexis’ plan? How will the preparations for war go?) I’d want to read until the end of the first chapter before deciding to stick with the story, but the characters seem interesting and the premise is promising at this point. No real concrete critiques with what you have so far. I’ll second cityofmist’s comment about the ‘Toothbrush-mustached freak’ comment. It took me out of the story, made it sort of obvious I was reading something written by someone who had a historical perspective of the man. I’d watch out for characters knowing things or having insights which would be out of place. @poke 2201: Honestly, I have a hard time deciding if I’d keep reading this or not. You definitely made me believe the main character has an apathy problem, but the rhetorical questions and “Same as the rest of the world” type comments made him feel obnoxiously pretentious to me as well. When I encounter such a character its usually a tossup if I keep reading to see if he’s got some sort of redeeming (or at least interesting) quality, or figure, well, if the rest of us people are so uninteresting he probably wouldn’t want me reading about him anyway. It’s a difficult thing to balance, so that’s something to watch out for. His thoughts about his grandparents made me feel a bit more sympathetic toward him though. (Though I gotta admit, when I heard they were catching a flight my first thought was “probably going on a well deserved vacation after getting this kid out of their house ) As for the rest, a few comments: First, I didn’t realize that his conversation with Amy was a flashback at first until you mentioned John staring at her. As for the character of Lily: she only showed up at the end, but from what I’ve seen you’ll have to be careful if you want to avoid her being a mere Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Just what about boring John makes her feel she wants to introduce herself to him and be separated from her friends? Focus on dialogue, especially with Amy, seemed somewhat wordy and unnatural. A few more details would be nice. Not too many, he doesn’t seem like the detail oriented type, but the name of the college at least. Teddy bear as a hook has me somewhat intrigued, but honestly I’m more curious as to what John’s excuse for being so mopey is. I have to admit it caught my attention; it definitely was a change in tone from the rest of the opening. All just my opinion, of course. @WSM: Well I’d definitely keep reading from this start. Gotta find out more about the worms! That being said, I’d have to read more before committing to the entire thing. Not many comments since it was somewhat short. Good, detailed writing, just needs a little polishing and maybe a closer look at some word choices. Example: his eyes ‘stood’? Or the creature shivering in its ‘sit’?
edited 1st Jul '13 4:17:14 PM by LittleBillyHaggardy
Nobody wants to be a pawn in the game of life. What they don't realize is the game of life is Minesweeper.
Poke2201Ahh thanks for the feedback. @WSM It's fine. I wanted to place an establishing character moment for John, but its hard to balance apathetic with plain depression. Though I do wonder how you think he's self-obsessed when its a first person story. I'm actually pretty bad at starting stories, which explains the rhetorical questions. @Little Billy John's supposed to be apathetic, but its thanks to certain traumas that get revealed throughout the story. And yes, Lily is a crazy Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She is a more mysterious character; I wanted to make the reader be more "Why?" at her presence rather than "Oh those two are going to get close". I'm probably going to do a rewrite of this, because I wrote myself into a corner with the hook here. There were somethings that I wish I could have added now that I had time to think and take in the feedback.
edited 1st Jul '13 9:46:00 PM by poke2201
"Love is like war: Easy to begin but hard to end." - Anonymous
UNREAL BLACK THINGS@WSM, although I read through the whole thing and didn't get bored, I feel that it kind of gets to the point a little too fast to my taste. Other wise, good writing, I'd definitely read more. Time for mine, I guess? Full thing is actually around 1.5k words, but I found a good stopping place so its only 900-ish words.
How does one define the term ‘friendship’? This question is something that has been touched upon very often by media, whether it be by anime, manga, light novels, films, social documentaries, and even by philosophers in real life, even if that last part doesn’t count as ‘media’. Nevertheless, it’s an abstract term created by mankind whose definition of it changes depending on whom you ask. Of course, before one attempts to answer that question and define friendship, one must look at who is asking the question, for the only people who would really ask said question out loud are usually people who themselves don’t have any friends. People who have friends often don’t even think much about the question, mostly because there is no need or reason for them to. The need to define friendship is as illogical as the very definition of friendship. Now, consider me, since I’m the one asking this question, albeit to myself. Does this perhaps imply that I don’t have any friends? At the time when I asked the question, that was definitely true. However, it was ten years ago since I found the need to ask that question. Ten years ago, back when I was in my first high school year, wasting my life on the internet chatting with anonymous people in anonymous chat boxes. Right now, ten years later is a different matter though. After graduating from school, realizing how harsh life and work is, as well as the fact that I’m not actually the loner or emo I thought I was back in high school, I’ve realized my place in society eventually, found work, and I can now interact with people normally. And thus, I have no real urge to answer the above question. Nope, definitely not at all. As a high schooler with no siblings, living alone because my parents are overseas, I never really interacted with anyone. That eventually led me to thinking that I’m an introvert with no friends, and thus I tried to liven up to my own self-esteem, tried to isolate myself from others because that’s what I thought loners all do, and that caused me to really not have any friends at all during high school. In short, during high school I was friendless. That’s what I would say if someone were to ask me to describe the me back in high school. However, that statement was at least a partial lie, now that I look back at it. Even back then, I did have one person I considered a friend, although there was no guarantee that he or she ever had considered me the same. Heck, I’m not even sure it counts as friendship, considering the anonymous nature of the Internet. Back then I was very obsessed with anime and manga, and would often go into forums dedicated to the subjects, and discuss it with other people online, with youtube playing music in another tab on the browser. During my ventures deeper into the world of the internet, that was when I met him…or her, I was never quite sure. For the sake of convenience I will refer to him as him, because it’s easier that way. Not that I’m a sexist or anything, but chances are that person you met on the forums is a guy. I believe his net handle was ‘Shion Titor’, unless memory serves wrong. If you’ve heard of that famous time traveler John Titor, then great, because apparently his name’s based on that bloke. I guess I could see it work, since Shion sounds somewhat like John if you corrupt it hard enough. Anyways, he was a pretty strange guy. Hm, how do I say this? Thing is, on the internet, nothing is ever quite certain because it could all be a facade. That girl you know and talk to occasionally could turn out to be a guy, or vice versa. For some reason though, I have this absolute feeling of trust in him, like I could believe anything he said. He gave off this feeling of reliability. The way he typed and acted was pretty girly, and most people would’ve thought he was indeed a girl. The fact that he didn’t mind and played along with whichever gender people assumed didn’t really help either. The more I talk with him though, the more I feel as if he could be either gender. It’s as if the very connotation of the word ‘gender’ could not describe him or his personality, so in the end I decided to go for him since it was slightly easier to type ‘he’ than ‘she’. He was more or less the only reason I even stayed in that forum for so long. The place was okay, but the other members were annoying and stuck-up as hell, and most of the time I just lurked in the chatbox until he arrived, ignoring the occasional ‘Yo, sai. wassup?’ that other members would say sometimes. We were pretty close. Heck, I might even dare to say we were closer than two best friends, even though we never met each other. I don’t even know what he looks like in real life, and I’m pretty damn sure he doesn’t know what I look like in real life. Despite that we were...good friends. We have the same tastes, think pretty similarly when it comes to anime, and he was the first person I met who I could discuss about all those old niche RPG games I’ve been playing for ages then. Sometimes I really wonder how come a bond forged through the internet can be so strong. It wasn’t.
"And you must be Jonathan Joestar!" - Sue
Tolkien freakDefinitely fascinating! I want to read more about the narrator's friend. (Don't know if I posted this before, but here is something that's a bit on-and off. It's inspired by a Billy Joel song called The Downeaster Alexa, prompted by the thought, "What were the fisherman's family thinking?" And the Bering Sea's crab and fishing industry include small-boat fishermen who are threatened by overfishing. So this is the story of the fisherman's daughter.)
Alexa Sokoloff, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island, Aleutian Islands, AK January 11 Discovered this on my dad’s blog, where he writes his logbook every fishing and crabbing season. Says it’s a good way to track how much he’s earning. But I know he does mainly because he wanted us to be able to find it easily and get updates on what he’s doing every day. He doesn’t say it of course. It’s not his kind of thing to say. ''We left Dutch nine days ago, at first light. I hope for a larger catch by the end of this month - last year’s season the number of crabs we hauled in barely paid enough to keep us working for the next two years. We hauled in 1000 king crabs so far, but I’m hoping for a bit more. I’m trying to make it worth going out, as it might not be worth it to pay the cost of repairs at this end of this season, due to the size of our quota so far. There’s enough food for extra supply stops to be unnecessary. So far, there hasn’t been much ice on the deck, but Rob, the latest greenhorn, is prepared for the situation. He says that he plans to stay here for a few seasons. Dinner tonight will be spaghetti and meatballs, which should be good. Emilia’s a great cook. If my family’s reading this –Alexa, we’ll talk about getting you a job as a deckhand in three years when I get back in three weeks. Natalya, your meatballs are better than Emilia’s. No disrespect to her of course, but it ain’t the same. I’m praying that the numbers won’t drop, that I’ll get back safe at the end of this month, and that nothing happens to you.'' -Captain’s log of the Alexa Dad loaded up the Alexa’s deck just before Thanksgiving for king crab season. He went again last week at the beginning of opilio season to meet his quota. We’re having another snowstorm. The snowflakes are all I can see in the blackness looking out the window. It’s sleeting too; been like this since morning. Last night he told us the repairs on her were done and he was going to try and get some sleep. “A good crab boat captain can’t fall asleep. The ice might thicken or a storm might creep up at any moment.” He’ll send us an email if the radio, Skype or phone onboard don’t work. The last time that happened was when I was ten, three years ago. I’m going to copy his logbook entries in here so I know what he’s doing. It’ll help me when I can’t talk to him. It’s practice for keeping the Alexa’s log when I leave school. There ain’t nothing I’d like to do better than be a crabber like my father. I’ve always loved the feel of the cold wind on my face when I go on deck during the crab seasons and salmon, halibut and rockfish seasons. Dad told me that thousands of years ago, before the Russians came to Alaska, our Unangan ancestors used bone hooks, spears, and lines and sinkers to fish. He said he’d teach me if he had time. He’s already shown me how to gut fish, and one of my aunts showed me how to clean and smoke it. It’s nine-ten and I’m writing this at the desk in my bedroom. This red-covered journal with gold leaf on the edge of its pages was an early Christmas present from Mom. She gave it to me after night prayers on December eighth, with an Orthodox cross. After we got back from church in Unalaska, I was so tired I flopped down on my bed and spent a few minutes listening to the living room conversation. She handed the cross to me in a little brown box and placed the journal in my other hand. “I decided to give it to you ahead of time. I figured you wouldn’t want to wait. Don’t worry, I won’t read it.” “Thanks.” This morning when I went out to collect the eggs from the shed in our yard, it was sleeting. My face stung, so I pulled my red North Face coat tighter around my shoulders and pushed the hood up my head, hiding my wavy black hair. Luckily I’d put on socks and my favorite pair of Bunny Boots. A few seconds ago, we were on the couch listening to the radio. The sea’ll be up to 50 feet and the winds are going to be about 40 knots for the next two weeks or so. I sat there for half an hour. Well, it sure seemed like it. I had pins and needles in my legs. At least my fingers aren’t numb. Joel spent a minute fiddling with his shoelaces and looking at the clouds. Mom started humming under her breath. Some old song. I looked up from my sewing. My fingers bled already. Why do I have to do this? Because my mother’s a bit old-fashioned and thinks I should learn how to mend my clothes. Maybe it’s because girls used to have to do that, and Yup’ik girls like my grandma and great-aunt Esmeralda even sewed with bone needles. Grandma Tatyana went to boarding school in Oregon where she learned to speak English and sew “like a kass’aq girl, with steel needles. I hated it as much as I hated sewing at home. I used to rush through it and mess it up, and then I got the cane. They wanted us to speak English more to make it easier for us to learn to be more like whites. But they didn’t stop us from speaking Yup’ik. Once, a teacher said that I should cut my hair, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to get sick. It’s how things were back in those days. ” “What?” I sucked the blood off my finger. It’s not an experience I want to repeat. Lena asked me about Dad- the question we all wanted answered. “Is Dad gonna be OK?” I wanted to say “Yeah”, but what’d I say? “Maybe.” The answer no one wanted to hear. Hate to say stuff like that. Mom should’ve said it. Or even Joey. Mom’s calling me. I need to brush my teeth in a few minutes. Maybe Dad’ll call later. He usually calls around the time we get to bed. Sometimes he calls after one of us wakes up- usually Mom. It depends. Wish I was listening to the waves and seagulls on deck. There’s been lots of storms. I always remembered the one when I was three and Joey was five. It was dungie season. Crabbing seasons usually mean that our family spends time aboard the Alexa. She’s 40 feet long and red, with the name ALEXA painted in black on the hull, and a huge deck for the crabbing pots. Dad’s family’s had it for years. This season we’re not going, because Dad thinks we’ll fall behind on schoolwork. We’re coming for fishing season though. Our parents bought us presents when we docked, including a blue coat for me and a train set we were forced to share. When we got up in Dad’s cabin next morning, there was rain on the window and the sky was covered in grey clouds. Kept hearing sledgehammers on deck, pounding off the ice. Thud. Thud. Thud. 13 January There’s a storm coming. It’ll probably be worse than the last one, if the forecast’s right. The waters seem to be calmer as I’m writing this, but they might change at any moment. This morning I heard on the radio that the cloud cover is estimated to be heavy for the next few days. Our haul has increased today. If it continues to grow or even stays at this number we’ll have a better chance at filling the quota. Captain’s Log of the Alexa I’ve been in the loft for hours, reading and writing in this journal and reading the logbook. He’ll have a story to tell at the bar. But he doesn’t need to; it’s not important. We’ll hear him do it anyhow, when his friends visit. Or see it when he comes back from the bar. It’s quiet in here, sitting on the floor next to a pile of books which were brought up here because our basement’s cluttered up. It’s funny how life goes on even though Dad’s been gone for two days. Maybe he’s just busy resting because of the size of his catch. The day before yesterday he wrote that he hauled in the same number of crabs and it took him hours to type up his log entry. I copied it down on the top of this page. I haven’t written anything because I’ve been catching up with vacation work, working through questions on of our class novel and math problems. Joey’s initials are written inside my “new” math textbook cover. “J. B. S. 7F. Dutch Harbor Amaknak School”. I had a blueberry jam sandwich for breakfast, made using the leftover jam in the fridge. It was the best one I’ve made. It’s still cloudy and pretty windy. I’m really worried about Dad. I think Mom is too. There’re lines all over her face, and it’s got nothing to do with her job at the cannery. Maddie Evans’ father… don't think about that anymore. After feeding the chickens this afternoon, I went for a run around the docks. I can see the hills and more clearly from there. There were puddles and snow on every inch of the ground. I don’t think they’ll stop any time soon. My legs are aching. Something else happened a few minutes ago. There was a noise up in the rooftops when I first woke up this morning and now it’s come back. At first I thought I was imagining it. But Lake Iliamna isn’t that far from here. It was a hammering sound, like something’s trying to get in through the window. Also it was pitch-black for two hours. The light dimmed then went out permanently. I’ll tell Mom. A fingerless sea monster can’t turn off the lights.
edited 2nd Jul '13 7:08:20 PM by MorwenEdhelwen
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
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