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Prelude to Darkness

Short Story FFF Contest

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2 replies to this topic

#1 Offline L'Etranger

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Posted Jun 10 2013 - 06:23 PM

[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]-Prelude to Darkness-[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]He stood silently, his face a mask of impassivity, watching motionlessly as the golden orb of light sluggishly sunk behind distant rolling hills. The shadows seemed to whisper dark, cruel promises of pain to him, as the crept from the undersides of objects, shades of life born again in darkness.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]Warmth had turned to cold, happiness to sorrow, dinner jackets and tuxedos to sackcloth and rags, riches to poverty.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]His cigarette butt glowed, incandescent. The smoke curled from the tips of his mouth as he breathed, inhaling and then exhaling death. All was silent, all was in cloaked in the abyssal shadows. [/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]The hand grasping the bottle shook slightly, tremors of uncertainty, barely contained fear of the unknown seeping through a façade of dispassion. The vodka inside sloshed around, the lapping of waves against cliffs of glass.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]No  tears fell, no strangled cry broke the silence. He inhaled. He exhaled. The gray, smoke lazily swirled skywards, reaching towards the crescent moon above. He watched the stars appear, dots of light in the indigo night sky. [/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]It was cold, bitter, biting, cruel, and numbing. The half-melted snow lied; Spring had yet to come. Winter’s icy grasp still had an iron core. The twinkling stars above seemed so cold in their brightness, and the moon so dismal and small, that is was little wonder that both light and heat was scarce.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]As he trudged through the snowy streets, devoid of life or warmth, the mere half liter of vodka continued to slosh, the dinner jackets continued to be sack cloth, and the riches he so fondly dreamed of continued to stay cloaked in dreary, bleak poverty.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]As he stared at the vacant stores’ displays, half-empty and half-rotting, vestiges of a better time, of happiness and money, he took another smoky breath, and another gulp of the fiery water known as vodka, the distilled potatoes that served as a feeble alternative in the absence of a warm embrace, or the smile of a friend. It was a small comfort, a layer of callous numbness to suppress the gnawing hunger and the turmoil of emotions. [/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]He continued down the derelict avenues and alley ways, he dwelt on half-forgotten things, memories and dreams, best left suppressed. The dreams, they hinted at better days, and teased him with previously forgotten memories, happy daydreams of the past, and then brutally tore them from his mind, leaving him painfully empty. The memories were of fire and rivers of blood, screams and pain, loved ones ripped from his arms as he stared on, unable to act as he watched their faces contort with an agony unspeakable. [/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]The skyscrapers stood as lonely sentinels of the night, no longer adorned with flashing and twinkling lights, their pride and beauty removed, as absent as their previous caretakers. Beneath their shadows, he laid down to sleep, a broken man finding refugee beneath a broken roof.[/font]
 
[font="'times new roman', times, serif;"]Night gave way to day, and he awoke to the tingling of the sun’s heat on numb, frozen skin. It wasn’t a comfort to a dying man; it merely was a cruel promise of one more day of pain and heat, one more serene sunset of lukewarm emotion, and one more night of death and cold. It wasn’t the nights that hurt the worst; it was the sunsets, the remembering of terrible things, and the prelude to darkness.[/font]
 
* * *
This was literally flash fiction; I churned it out in less than half an hour. Don't be any less critizing because of that, though. A writer needs all the critiquing they can acquire.

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#2 Offline Grantaire

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Posted Jun 18 2013 - 07:54 PM

Official SSCC review!

 

First off, despite what you may say, this was a good story: I very much enjoyed it despite the comma overuse. *cough*

 

If I had to mark a primary part of the story, it would be the descriptions. They were vivid and gave it a very nice mood.

 

Of course, emotions take immediate second place: they might even tie. I swear though, your writing sounds eerily similar to mine. Also, you fit in very well here: your stories appear to be nice and depressing.

 

There wasn’t much of a plot, which in a story like this is not a gripe: the vagueness only adds to the feeling; specific details might serve to bore the reader rather than to captivate them in that little bit of a person’s life you let them see.

 

However, this story’s main flaw was its various errors. Starting first of all with too many commas.

 

The shadows seemed to whisper dark, cruel promises of pain to him, as [color=#ff0000;]the[/color] crept from the undersides of objects, shades of life born again in darkness.

 

[color=#282828;][font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]I would advise revision of this sentence as it really does not sound right. Also, they, not the. [/color][/font]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

His cigarette butt glowed, incandescent. The smoke curled from the tips of his mouth as he breathed, inhaling and then exhaling death. All was
[color=#ff0000;]silent,[/color][color=#282828;] all was [/color][color=#FF0000;]in cloaked[/color][color=#282828;] in the abyssal shadows. [/color]

 

[color=#282828;]First you might want to edit ‘in cloaked’. Second, you might want to put a colon or semicolon after silent.[/color]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

The hand grasping the bottle
[color=#339966;]shook slightly, tremors of uncertainty, barely contained fear of the unknown seeping through a façade of dispassion[/color][color=#282828;].[/color]

 

[color=#282828;]Perhaps “the hand grasping the bottle shook slightly with tremors of uncertainty and barely contained fears of the unknown seeped through the man’s  façade of dispassion.” Or something like that.[/color]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

[color=#339966;]No  tears[/color][color=#282828;] fell, no strangled cry broke the silence. [/color]

 

[color=#282828;]Double spacing between no and tears.[/color]

 

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

As he stared at the vacant stores’ displays, half-empty and
[color=#339966;]half-rotting, vestiges[/color][color=#282828;] of a better time, of happiness and [/color][color=#339966;]money,[/color][color=#282828;] he took another smoky breath, and another gulp of the fiery water known as vodka, the distilled potatoes that served as a feeble alternative in the absence of a warm [/color][color=#339966;]embrace, [/color][color=#282828;]or the smile of a friend. [/color]

 

[color=#282828;]That’s a nice 57 word sentence you’ve got going there… I suggest maybe a semicolon after ‘half-rotting’, definitely a period after ‘money’ and most certainly no comma after ‘breath’ or ‘embrace.’[/color]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

He continued down the derelict avenues and alley ways
[color=#339966;], he dwelt on half-forgotten things, memories and dreams, best left suppressed[/color][color=#282828;]. [/color]

 

[color=#282828;][font="helvetica, sans-serif;"]‘He’ would do better as ‘his mind’ or something other than a repetition. “…dwelt on half-forgotten things: memories and dreams best left suppressed.”  Might be another good revision.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

The skyscrapers stood as lonely sentinels of the night, no longer adorned with flashing and twinkling lights, their pride and beauty removed, as absent as their previous caretakers.

 

[color=#282828;]A tad too many commas, perhaps replacing the comma after removed with ‘and’?[/color]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

Beneath their shadows, he laid down to sleep, a broken man finding refugee beneath a broken roof.

[color=#282828;][font="helvetica, sans-serif;"] No comma after shadows please.[/color][/font]

 

[color=#282828;][/color]

Night gave way to
[color=#008000;]day,[/color] and he awoke to the tingling of the sun’s heat on numb, frozen skin. It wasn’t a comfort to a dying man; it merely was a cruel promise of one more day of pain and heat, one more serene sunset of lukewarm emotion, and one more night of death and cold. It wasn't the nights that hurt the worst; it was the sunsets, the remembering of terrible [color=#006400;]things,[/color][color=#282828;] and the prelude to darkness. [/color]

 

[color=#282828;]No comma after day or things.[/color]

 

But those aside, it was a good story; it just needs a liiiiiiittle editing.


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#3 Offline L'Etranger

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Posted Jun 21 2013 - 01:01 PM

I'm really glad you liked the intrinsic foundation of the story; vivid description and suggested emotion. I'm even happier that you found so much to edit, seeing as I have a hard time finding errors on my own. I agree whole-heartedly that I abuse and misuse commas; it's one of my biggest issues, working with a horrendous overuse of "telling" (in place of "showing") to make readers miserable. 

 

Thanks for all the time you put into this review; I really appreciate it. As always, the SSCC and its excellent critics have provided quality critiquing. 


Edited by Replicant, Jun 21 2013 - 01:06 PM.

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