Posted Oct 23 2012 - 01:24 AM
Posted Dec 09 2012 - 06:09 PM
[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Congratulations, Fortnightly Flash Fiction Contest winner! As a member of the Ambage, you earned yourself a review from a contest judge. Better late than never.[/color]
[color=rgb(0,128,0);]At first I thought this was an allegory. Then I read on and, finding the protagonist almost explicitly refer to it as such, thought it wasn't. Then I read to the end and realized it was indeed, brilliantly and almost satirically executed. But if anything it's an undertone, not even relevant to the story itself, which is contained entirely in the last six paragraphs.Not to say that I think everything before that was unnecessary. Unnecessary, perhaps, to the story itself; but not to the storytelling. You could have just said, "So this guy was running around a simulated maze, not realizing it was such, fighting clones that represented his faults in a ruthless conflict to assert his superiority as the one true and whole version of himself. Then he woke up." But I think we can all agree that the eight paragraphs you used in place of this were far better. You didn't focus on what was valuable to the plot at the expense of what was valuable to the narrative, but you wrote what was worth reading, and even then not without forsaking what was valuable to the plot. Excellently done.I have little to say regarding characters because, effectually, there were none. We have "I," nameless, with no personality or backstory. But he didn't need any of that. He didn't need to be a character, just a person. In a metaphor literalized, he killed himself and became an empty husk.I fervently oppose present tense. I understand that some find it more engaging and are immediately pulled into the story by it, but it has the opposite effect on me. It feels awkward and inelegant; it pushes me away. Allow me to illustrate an example of what I mean:
Here's one problem with present tense. Past tense is so conventional that most writers are accustomed to it, and mistakes will happen. I think that precisely that is what made reading this difficult for me; my subconscious was screaming in protest at every verb. If it was a novel I would have put it down, probably before finishing the first chapter--if I ever finished it at all.However, I recognize that there are those who enjoy present tense, and if you call yourself one, so be it.Moreover, I will commend you for sliding gracefully into the tense. It might have been jarring, but instead you started out with what could easily have been a part of a past tense narration. You got the reader reading first, so that by the time the narrating began, they would be knee-deep in present tense before they even realized it. Anything else, and I would have been discouraged and might not have read on at all. Very nicely done.If I have to find something to criticize, it's this:[/color]
"The training was supposed to go on for six weeks more," he remarked.
[color=rgb(0,128,0);]That just didn't feel right. I am an ardent defender of synonymization, and I always approve of rephrasing to make words sound less vulgar and more elegant--but with a prudent sense of proportion. In this case, vulgarity would have been smoother and better suited the narration previously displayed. The simple words tripping him up would have been wholly sufficient.And if that's the worst thing I can say about you, congratulations. This is a fine piece of work here.[/color]
I twist my leg around his and plant my foot on the ground, effectively collapsing his gait.
[color=rgb(0,128,0);]Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith [/color]
Posted Dec 10 2012 - 10:33 AM
I really enjoyed your story. The idea of the labyrinth was a good choice. When you started mentioning him waking up, at first, I assumed it was a dream. Then when you said the word 'doctor', I assumed it was a coma. You then threw another curveball and gave rise to a military training camp. I think overall it was a great decision. Thank you!
Posted Mar 27 2013 - 09:12 PM
Official Short Stories Critics' Club Review
Hi, let's get started, shall we?
When I recall my past in here, it seems--as though a vague mental image--image that it was almost a year ago.
This simile is rather awkward. It already seems like his past is a vague mental image, so to compare it to the same thing just seems redundant. I would try something simpler like "I think I came here a year ago." Still, it seems odd that he recalls this when he has no way of measuring time.
[color=#336699;]My stomach is upset and I slump against the wall, directly across from a doorway.[/color]
Like Nuile mentioned before, this seems too elegant. I would just go with "throw-up," "vomit," or even "puke."
I disagree with Nuile on the tense argument, however. Present tense should indeed be used judiciously (I've seen far too many fanfic writers simply use it to make their work seem "edgy") but in this case I think it works, especially since protagonist has been trapped in a virtual reality.
I'm of two minds about the rest of your writing style. On one hand, I can see why you wanted to make the prose dry and clinical, because the protagonist has lost his ability to feel. On the other hand, I felt like it lacked immediacy. Yes, the character's emotions aren't runny through the story, but he shouldn't be telling us how he feels for our benefit. For that matter, if he has been desensitized, how can he feel guilt? How can he worry about the "moral problems" of killing himself over an over if he has lost his moral compass?
I imagine this would be sort of like watching a first person shooter. Sure, you're in the person's head, but you don't feel anything toward those who are going down in front of you.
One thing I did like was the subtle mention of the smell of burning rubber. It really gave this scene atmosphere and I would like to see you incorporate more details like it throughout. I really think you have something here. It just needs to be cut in some places and elaborated on in others. Best, and keep writing. ^^
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