The Seventh TvTropes Writing Contest:
edited 6th Oct '12 1:20:01 AM by danna45
Comments: Regarding the conventions score, the two biggest problems you had were verb tense (you kept dropping into present tense, particularly towards the end) and capitalization in the wrong places. The setting was interesting and imaginative; I would have liked to have seen a bit more of how the android dolls actually impacted the lives of their owners and of how Nona and Richard interacted in their normal times. The final buildup and resolution was strong; however it took a bit too long to find its focus, so the first part of the story felt like it was meandering all over the place and going nowhere. Also, watch your sense of time in the story. You had several years pass, and then Richard went back to school for presumably the first time (or why else would Nona react so negatively, if it was something she was familiar with from the past years?) despite the several years, and then you had several years pass again, even though it felt like you were probably referring to the same set of years as the first time. It was a sweet story, though.
Total: 17/25 Entry 2: Complexity
Comments: I liked your descriptions; they were solid and interesting and gave a nice sense of what was around the character without dragging on to tedium. You had a nice strong plot which drew me in and structured the story; however, there were two main issues which pulled the score down: transitions and the ending. Regarding transitions, it would have been better if you picked a single way of dealing with the switch between waking and sleeping and stuck with it. As it is written, sometimes you didn't do anything, sometimes you put a section break, sometimes you gave textual indicators. I realize that you may have been trying to capture Jaana's sense of confusion, but the inconsistency made it hard to track the story. So, in future, pay more attention to your transitions and make sure that you're letting the reader know when you're switching scenes (unless you're deliberately trying to blur the lines). Regarding the ending, the problem was that there wasn't one. The story just cut off. There was no conclusion, no resolution, just "THE END". This was the biggest thing that hurt your score. Stories have to have proper endings. With more work, I think it could make a very interesting story, even if it does end in tragedy.
Total: 17.75/25 Entry 3: The Long Nightmare
Comments: It's been said before, but I'll say it again: you could really use an English-speaking beta reader for when you're writing in English. While the overall score is mostly independent of the grammatical quality of the writing (as the grammar is reflected in the conventions score), the fact that certain sentences were nearly impossible to understand didn't help. You also need to work on your characterizations, mostly in consistency. Jessica's feelings about her employer seemed to jump from hating her to neutral to liking her to disliking her, without any reasons. Also, I felt like there was no real motivation for Jessica to have started liking Cam as much as she did: even an adventure of that sort wouldn't be likely to bring them so close together and build such strong trust immediately. I also wasn't sure whether or not I should like Jessica: you seemed to be presenting her as a likeable character, yet she was untrustworthy (slacking off at work, snooping, etc.). And Jessica becoming the maid-of-honor at the end makes no sense—wedding parties aren't rearranged the day before the wedding. Another thing which needs work is creating a single, coherent, streamlined narrative. Things need to be introduced to the reader in a linear manner, and only after the proper build up. Dropping things into the story as if the reader should know them (such as suddenly switching from Cam to Camila in the narrative, without having the name introduced between the characters first) makes life more difficult for the reader and destroys the story's sense of wholeness. You might want to try outlining, either before or after the first draft (or both), to make sure that you're introducing story elements in a logical order and with the proper background established. That said, I do think the plot itself was interesting and would make a good story.
Total: 11.75/25 Entry 4: Theodore Eddington and the Diabolical Plot
Comments: Strongly plotted, well-written, with wonderful, delicious descriptions. I absolutely loved the twist at the end, particularly how it rescued the story from utter tragedy (I'm the sort of person who prefers happy endings). I really liked the story. I did notice a couple plot holes at the beginning, though: If he's been up there for hours, why in the world didn't he use the clock earlier? Also, as they are tracking from Russia, through France, to London, why are they over the Atlantic? It's rather out of the way.
Total: 23/25 Entry 5: [no name]
Comments: Carefully plotted, well-written, with strong descriptions and a very good job at Show, Don't Tell (which can be difficult in first person narration). You really made me feel the story, and I liked the parenthetical asides. They teased towards the ending without actually giving anything away, and helped establish the narrator's personality, as well. I can't say I liked this story—I'm too fond of happy endings for that—but it was very well done. There was one mistake I noticed, though: at the end, you say that is was "Midsummer's Day again." Midsummer's Day is at the end of June (generally around June 22, give or take a few days), so the first encounter was not even near Midsummer's Day, so the second encounter, on Midsummer's Day, is not an "again". I don't know that I would have really paid much attention to it, except for the fact that it was at the end, so everything sticks out more and seems more important there.
Total: 22.75/25 Thanks for participating, everyone; I enjoyed reading your entries! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.
edited 7th Oct '12 1:40:39 PM by Nocturna
edited 7th Oct '12 2:06:27 PM by FallenLegend
General: 10/15 First off, let me just that I find the idea of a jealous robot doll highly amusing. I really enjoyed reading Nona's antics. It's actually kind of sad at first, all her attempts to get Richard to play with her stem from trying to live up to her perfectly known, purpose in life. She knows why she's there and it annoys, then really hurts, her when that purpose is overlooked. Her epiphany at the end about how even if the circumstances have changed she can still be friends with her now mature owner was a nice touch, especially the way it tied into the Gameboy incident earlier. I have more issues with the writing though. The beginning was really infoey. You could have done a better job at putting that information into the story without dumping it all at the top. The part with the tooth felt tacked on, even with the callback to the end. Overall it had a rather unpolished feel to it. I felt it could have benefited from a more in-depth approach to all the scenes. Total: 18/25 Entry 2 - Complexity
General: 9/15 This was engaging and suspenseful. I think the short lines and brief descriptions really worked for the story here. The style stayed the same regardless of Jaana being asleep or awake, something I liked since it kept me focused on her rather than the vague strangeness of the dreams. That bad part here though was that I sometimes had trouble figuring out when the scene jumped from being awake to dreaming. If that was your intention then it didn't work very well, if it wasn’t then you could have done better. Some of the theme items just felt like last minute additions. I almost didn’t even notice the part about the whistle. Lastly, it was really cool watching Jaana. I went with her through her dreams, going from “What? Cool! Uh… WTF!?” alongside her, watching her growing concern about the dreams right up until the climax. And then nothing. No real end, like someone left out a page. I loved the story, but it feels like an incomplete story. Total: 16/25 Entry 3 - The long Nightmare: She was destined to know true happiness...
Conventions : 1/5
General: 7/15 Link is a farmer? Didn’t know that. Trivia aside, I already know who wrote this so I’ll spare you what you already know about your spelling and grammar. Have you considered getting a proofreader? I’m sure someone around here would be happy to edit your work to get it up to snuff. You actually integrated the theme items pretty well, kudos for being able to work them into the story like that. The story itself was interesting, though the setting gave me headache while trying to figure out just where it was. Eventually I concluded it was some sort of fantasy modern land mixmash. I actually love that kind of setting but this wasn’t very clear in your writing. Which brings me to my next criticism, the story was very sparse with pretty much everything. It seems more dialogue was written at the expense of details of people, places, things, feelings, thoughts, and so on. I know people are always warning others of avoiding overly long and cheesy prose, but half the story was like I was reading a script. Getting passed that though, I liked that unexpected reveal of Cam’s. I was really amused by Jessica, who is so thoughtless and yet capable of selflessness when the need arises. She really does remind me of old adventure heroes in games and fantasy books. Total: 12/25 Entry 4 - Theodore Eddington and the Diabolical Plot
General: 15/15 Thanks to prior knowledge that a Gameboy had to be in there somewhere, I have to confess I had already figured out the twist ending before I got to it. Nevertheless, I found it hilarious. Poor Eddington, doomed to constantly be freezing outside a blimp because some kid can’t do anything without a guide. Honestly, I can’t see much wrong with the story. It was well-written, wonderfully with words, and without errors as far as I can tell. Eddington’s story was lively and enjoyable to read. The items were all there and contributed wonderfully with their presence. Of lack thereof, in the tooth’s case. I kinda want to knock off a point just in case I missed something, but that’d be silly. Total: 25/25 Entry 5 - It all started that summer
General: 15/15 Woah, this almost ended up being a horror story. And even if it wasn't the ending left me with shivers. Excellent work on the mind of a 14 year old. Or a 16 years old remembering being 14. Creative use of the Fair Folks' tendency to screw up people's lives. The narrator has my respect for realizing just how messed up things got and going out to try and fix it in the end, though that last sentence had me concerned. All in all, great work. I think I saw a word missing or two, but that's pretty much all I have to say negatively. Total: 23/25
edited 9th Oct '12 9:17:02 AM by FallenLegend
edited 9th Oct '12 8:28:47 PM by FallenLegend
edited 10th Oct '12 1:54:31 PM by Nocturna
- searches around*
- Theme: 5/5. You incorporated all of the items, and pretty seemlessly, too. They all fit into the story pretty well, and they all played a distinct purpose.
- Conventions: 4/5. I spotted a few errors here and there. Pretty clean overall.
- Assessment: 6/15. On its own, I think the concept here has potential. An obsolete piece of technology trying to prove itself worthy in a modern era? Pretty interesting concept, no? I think the execution needs some work, however. The prose is pretty straightforward, and there's a lot of telling as opposed to showing going on here. The dialogue is a bit awkward at times. And while this is supposed to be a character-driven piece, some of the character actions, such as Richard's, feel a little empty. Nona does some pretty surprising things (like taking the $50 bill or stealing the Game Boy), and I was surprised that there were no real repercussions for her actions. They weren't even really brought up again. I felt like the story was trying to make a point about jealousy, but since Nona was never punished and nothing was really made of the things she did, the theme falls flat. Similarly, even though the end made a point about how Richard would always be her friend, I didn't really "feel" it. I think it would have much more power if Richard did something that truly showed the power of their friendship, like doing something for her or making a reference to something only they would know about. A "friendy" thing, if you will.
- Overall: 15/25. I think it's a good concept, and you did actually incorporate all the theme objects pretty well. But the story itself needs some polishing.
- Theme: 3/5. You did incorporate all of the necessary objects, which is good. But the story feels more like it was written "around" them than about them; their inclusions feel more like necessary cameos than an important part of the story.
- Conventions: 5/5. I didn't spot any errors!
- Assessment 10/15 This story starts off quite promising, with a unique and intriguing premise. It really makes us wonder what's happening to this girl, and it makes us crave answers. The prose is pretty tight, too. It has a good flow to it, and it has good "voice." It starts to fall apart near the end, however. Mostly because those answers we crave don't really appear. What's happening to her? What's the significance of her dreams? And what does the tooth mean? None of it is really explained. As a result, this feels less like a full story and more like the beginning of one, and the place it ends is unsatisfying because it doesn't tell us anything. A little ambiguity isn't always a bad thing, but ambiguity is (usually) best applied when there are a number of distinct ways something could go. Here, there isn't enough information given to make one possibility more likely than the other, or even for us to really know what our possibilities are. The writing and concept aren't bad, this just needs to be "finished."
- Overall: 18/25. A longer, clearer version of this story could have real potential! As it stands now, though, it feels a little unfinished.
- Theme: 3/5. The Game Boy and alarm clock were woven throughout the story, and made critically important. The tin whistle and tooth, not so much. I felt like the tooth made the most "sense" in its implementation; the whistle felt a little off, though.
- Conventions: 1/5. This needs some serious editing. There are multiple errors with capitalization, proper use of punctuation, and others. This story could have used a couple re-readings to correct all of these errors.
- Assessment: 4/15. This story tries to have a lot of things going on in it for a short story. The maid's character, the princess, the man, the sorcerer... Unfortunately, due to all the things going on, a lot of these aspects feel pretty shallow. The story sort of jumps around and rushes through all the different aspects, as if it's trying to get done on time. Because the prose itself is also very straightforward, and some of the dialogue is stiff, it also means a lot of these aspects fail to evoke the feeling they're supposed to. This story really wants to be epic and romantic, but because it's so short, and because the writing itself is lack, it misses its mark. The setting is also kind of odd—this is a magical kingdom, but there's modern technology like Game Boys? It confused me a little. That said, there are some good aspects here. The maid herself has a pretty good character, especially in the way she tries to relate everything to video games. The bit with the dress shop was actually a pretty good bit of foreshadowing, and I like the conclusions the maid draws from it—incorrect, but natural. Also, although this is just me: I think the story would have been a lot more unique and different if the old man had been the lover of the Prince, and maybe the curse was something like the sorcer had stolen his youth or something. But that's just me.
- Overall: 8/25. This needs a lot of work. Editing, trimming... the works. That said, there's good points here, and you actually got a lot of use out of most of the theme objects.
- Theme: 5/5. From clock bombs to telling teeth, you got a lot out of this motley collection of stuff.
- Conventions: 5/5. I didn't spot any errors!
- Assessment: 12/15. Wow, this was a fun one! We have a fast-talking Guile Hero with Mac Guyver-esque sensibilities considering weaponry, a dastardly opponent, action, verbal jousting, and a delicious steampunk-flavored candy coating. This story is a little bit campy, but I wouldn't have it any other way! This story is just plain fun. My main complaints are that the action scene stops a bit too quickly; I would have liked a little more buildup before Theodore gets thrown out the window. This story is pretty short, so adding more actions would have been well within the wordcount limit. The other critique is that, given the title and the theme list, the ending is a little bit too telegraphed and obvious. Perhaps that's an unavoidable consequence of us knowing the contest rules, but I think the phrasing of the title could maybe be toned down. Otherwise, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride!
- Overall: 22/25. In some ways, "MOAR ACTION''' is as much of a compliment as it is a critique, right?
- Theme: 3/5. Some of the items are better implemented than others. The whistle is very important; the Game Boy gets a lot of time on-screen, but I feel like it doesn't "amount" to much. But they are all there.
- Conventions: 5/5. Lookin' pretty solid, pal.
- Assessment: 11/15. Right away, the prose in this one starts off pretty good, and the first-person narrator has a strong voice. This one has an interesting promise, too, and I will admit to being a sucker for The Fair Folk. The story starts out with a mundane but sympathetic promise, and it's quite intriguing when it turns magical. But then the story ends, very abruptly. I feel like the effects of the protagonist's Blessed with Suck "curse" never really have time to develop, so we never really have time to feel for their plight. Given how much buildup the Game Boy is given and how much space is devoted to it in the story, I also kind of expected it to play a bigger role in the story. I was sort of surprised that it "only" turned out to be the metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back. But to end on a positive note, I do rather like the style of prose used in this. The writing itself is pretty good; it's more or less just the story that needs improving.
- Overall: 19/25. Your prose itself is good! It's just the plotting and pacing that need work here.