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Letter from a prey


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#1 Offline The Renegade Emperor

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Posted Aug 14 2012 - 10:46 AM

Letter from a prey

If anyone will ever read this, my name is Kadr. As you may have noticed, I left some white space from the top of the page. Actually, I still have to give this paper a title. And I can’t find one that fits what I’m writing on it, since I don’t know what to do.I suppose I should start explaining that the tombs near the place this letter will be put in contain the remains of Sh’leh and Tirqas.The grave on the left, watching from the door, is Sh’leh’s. He’s been the first victim of Ygnwush’s splendid idea. “Let’s take the way through the old sewers!”, he said. And here we are. We were running behind him when that beast appeared and attacked. Sh’leh, who was the last of the row, attempted to defend us, but his pocket knife wasn’t perhaps the best weapon to use. Now I don’t think it will cut anything again. Well, maybe some dead corpses in that beast’s belly. Actually, Sh’leh used it when he had to cut his meal. And he usually ate meat, so, nothing different would happen, if it will cut some decaying dead warrior.Then, the other tomb, opposite to the door, the one with some shreds of clothes on it. It’s Tirqas’. I put those shreds on it for a simple reason: she loved those clothes. She thought they would have been useful. “We’ll need to protect ourselves from the cold, on the Circling Mountains!”, that’s what she told us. They were quite elegant, and elegant clothes always have been her passion. Ah, if she ever knew they would have been her end. Yes, her end, because, as she attempted to take the clothes without touching the body of the unfortunate owner ( “Bleah! It’s rotten!” “It’s natural, Tirqas. He’s dead.” “Shut up, Kadr. Almost do-“ ), as she was almost done, here’s another spider! Poor Tirqas, you didn’t even see the trap. We escaped, just like she told us to do, but she was floating in the air, her leg caught in a rope. Now her body lies under a pile of rocks. Only the body. Arms, legs, head… they probably have already been digested.I couldn’t get Ygnwush’s body. As soon as he found that his wonderful idea led us into a no-exit trap, he left to search our friends’ bodies. I stood here for what seemed hours, then he came back. He carried them both without any difficulty: he’s always been very strong, I must admit this. But I always thought that he was all muscles and no brain. “Here. At least, they’ll find peace, now. So, you’ve found any clue to an exit?”, he asked me.“A clue? If by clue you mean the heaviest and biggest rocks I’ve ever seen, yes, there’s lots. We won’t survive.”“Kadr…”“Huh?”“Kadr, I was serious.”“Me too. We’re doomed, Ygnwush. We’ll never get out of this sewers.”“Never say never, friend.”He should have said “never”, instead. Because, as soon as he ended the word “friend”, a sting stabbed him and one of them took him. And then I was alone.…Hm, well, I’m still alone. I’d like to go on this way, other than sharing the floor with those spiders.Yeah, them. I can’t figure where they came from, but I guess it’s a bad place, where life is hard. They’re very resistant.Uh, maybe I could call this "Story of a Glatorian and his friends: from hunters to preys". Nah, too sophisticated.What was that?Oh, I can hear them coming! Their hissing and chattering is very loud. So, they’ve found me. I suppose I might try to fight them with this rope and that girder. If I only could tear it off of the wall…Nothing. I’ve spilled blood out of my hands to take it, but it was all vain. All is lost. I can’t fight those creatures with a rope. Well, farewell, world. I’ve loved you very much. And, King, I’ve served you with loyalty. May the blessings of the Elements save you and the City. Farewell, Circling Mountains, may your snows never melt until Everything ends. And, invaders, may you be cursed until you’re all dead, no matter which will be your death.Farewell, everyone and everything. I must go now. I must go and fight, because that’s what I did for a whole life, and I don’t want to go down without fighting. I must go and fight them with this rope… A rope. They’ll laugh in front of me when they’ll see me with that in my hand. Do whatever you want, spiders, laugh, but I don’t want to fall into your talons. Therefore I’ll fight with this rope!Wait.This rope. And that girder. Ah, at least there’s one good thing in this whole adventure: I’ve found a title to this letter. “Suicidal note” will be perfect.

Edited by The Renegade Emperor, Aug 26 2012 - 06:59 AM.

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#2 Offline L'Etranger

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Posted Aug 14 2012 - 01:24 PM

Well, that was certainly different than your normal work. You took a chance and did something new, something unexpected.And it turns out to be, in my opinion, the absolute best story you've ever written.It's short, it's surprising, and it's very, very well writen. We readers didn't really get to know anything about the characters, but from the way the story was handled, a first-person survival/horror story, it didn't bother me as much as it normally would have. Still, I would have liked a couple more sentences about the other characters that had already died. Congrats, you've written one of the best stories I've ever read, anywhere. Please keep this new (It could just seem new to me, but still) style, I'd love to read more stories written with it.
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#3 Offline The Renegade Emperor

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Posted Aug 14 2012 - 01:48 PM

Well, Darkon, what to say? It seems that this time the experiment has gone the right way.Yep, it's a relatively new style for me, and I might consider writing the others I planned to write. Actually, I was considering to get strongly directed towards this style, with cliffhanger endings and thriller-like atmospheres. The only thing I can say about the characters remaining quite faceless is the fact that this letter was meant to be written by a hunted protagonist who has nearly no time to salute the world. But you've got a point, maybe it would have been better if I put more info about the other characters.I'm extremely happy of the result and I'll be surely relying more on this style. I hope you understood what happens to the prey, because that's what means the most for me.Glad you liked it! Thanks for feedback and support, too!
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#4 Offline Cederak

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Posted Aug 24 2012 - 09:09 PM

Hello, Renegade Emperor, here is your official SSCC review. I read your story a few times and I definitely felt this fell short. One of my chief concerns was rooted in a question I kept asking myself. Would this story be just as appropriate in CoT? Once I searched for any trace of Bionicle influence (or a trace of any sort of Lego fiction as the Library welcomes it all), my search ended on an empty-handed note. Even your character name choices could easily be swapped into sci-fi or fantasy or some such genre. That's what this story felt like to me anyway, a dark fantasy piece. Now, does that label take away from your story's plot or message? I don't think so, however, that's not to say it wasn't lacking in some respects.In terms of spelling, your work was golden. Nice job there. Also, I only found a single grammar error.

other than sharing the floor with them spiders.

with those spiders.You described this as an experimental piece. I love experiments…a chance to test and try something new, to dabble with the unknown. And there are few experiments safer than taking your writing in a new direction. If it works, it works. If not, you still have the familiar to work with. Not that a failed experiment should deter you from branching out in the future. I would hope for quite the opposite really, to take a shortcoming as a challenge to be overcome and eventually conquered. Now because this is a critique and not a dialogue, I cannot imagine whether you think your experiment was a success or not. Though I would suppose you found some degree of success to this piece, otherwise, why post it? As a critic, I would say this experiment backfired. More than that perhaps, I just didn't like it.If I ended my review on that note, I could understand you sending a complaint off to Velox. A complaint that would be entirely warranted. It's so easy to tell someone their work is great, or that it works, or that it had everything the critic was hoping for. But when a critic takes a negative stance, well, an explanation is in order. So I'll give you the best I've got."Letter from a prey" felt to me a lot like a ring without a finger to wear it. There's a noticeable void right in the heart of the story, an emptiness that needs filling, completing, if you will. The ring itself is solid and strong, it represents the general idea of your plot. A team of characters lost in a sewer system and strategically hunted down by a horde of spiders. Finally, outnumbered and outmatched, the writer of the story chooses not to give his attackers the satisfaction (I seem to have made your spiders even more sinister by suggesting they take some sadistic pleasure in bringing pain to their food) and puts an end to things in very direct terms. So what is it that's missing? What is the ring finger of our metaphor? Unfortunately, it's precisely the element you intended to draw back on, and one that became a drawback to the overall piece. Namely, characterization.There's nothing very interesting about your characters, because they weren't given much to work with. Kadr is flat, hopeless at the end of the journey to the point of suicide. Without knowing more about him, I can't say that conclusion affects me much. Quite frankly, I don't care. I don't care because there's nothing that makes Kadr feel like more than a name. The same can be said of Sh'leh and Tirqas. The story skips the characterization of a good thriller/horror tale that makes the entire ordeal more personal on a dark level. Suicide is such a heavy decision to make, and yet Kadr chooses it with a one-dimensional ease. It resonates with the audience when they really know the character you're killing. That didn't happen here, but for the sake of experiment, I can understand why. Not that attempting a new style excuses poor storytelling, I will only say that I understand.I'm not done exploring our missing ring finger yet. I can't in good conscience overlook the unexciting delivery of your scenery and the description of what is occurring throughout the story. Everything feels washed of its color in your piece, dismally black and white, devoid of any emotion. I think it's worth arguing with myself to say that "dismally black and white" is a fine way to color a horror story if done properly, but let's not ignore that last bit - "devoid of any emotion." You can fill your written world with as many vague proper nouns as you like, but without giving description of the here and now, without pouring color and life into otherwise one-dimensional characters, it ultimately comes off as a puzzle that shipped with only some of the pieces. And that's because all the components are working toward running the gestalt of a fully-realized short story. If your detail looks bad, it makes the whole product look bad. Simple as that.Given the specificity of the Library's intended work, I should also remind you that future pieces should hold some sort of connection to a Bionicle-esque world or a Lego fiction one if you plan to post them here. With more information about the characters, I may have been able to assume they were biomechanical. Instead, I could only conjure mental images of faceless, gray entities (humans really) that seemed to serve the minute purposes of furthering your plot. At present, this "dark fantasy" would be just as fitting in CoT.I need to emphasize what a fine idea is behind your little experiment, the basic premise being so sound. It has a world of potential and I think you could've given it much more, really expanded upon the setting you constructed here. What's done is done though. I can only hope you'll take my criticism to heart, fully explore future work and construct a finger to wear the ring. Keep at it, Renegade.

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#5 Offline The Renegade Emperor

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Posted Aug 26 2012 - 06:55 AM

Thanks for the review, Valixia! I can perfectly understand what are you complaining about. I understand that characterization here is completely absent and I'll keep in mind to give characters a soul, or whatever gets closer to it, in my future works. Here, I can't do much to correct its absence, for this should be intended as a paper written while being hunted by cruel creatures, when you have no time to write about that. Still, I understand that this way it looks like a colorless, emotionless world populated by gray figures with blurred shapes. It's true. Stories have to involve the reader, and it didn't happen here as it should have done.However, if there's something I can do to fix it, it is adding a reference to the BIONICLE world. Again, you're right, I didn't put any references to Glatorian, Toa or stuff.I repeat, I fully understand your reasons to judge this as an experiment that backfired. I suppose that I should start writing the related Epic, for the sake of this Short Story ( and of the others ). I should provide more backstory and understanding to those.I'm satisfied of your review, though it wasn't a completely positive one. Still, it's been very useful and I won't stop writing and trying to improve my skills. I'll keep at it.Thanks again for the precious review!
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#6 Offline Yukiko

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Posted Aug 29 2012 - 09:09 PM

Thanks for the review, Valixia! I can perfectly understand what are you complaining about. I understand that characterization here is completely absent and I'll keep in mind to give characters a soul, or whatever gets closer to it, in my future works. Here, I can't do much to correct its absence, for this should be intended as a paper written while being hunted by cruel creatures, when you have no time to write about that. Still, I understand that this way it looks like a colorless, emotionless world populated by gray figures with blurred shapes. It's true. Stories have to involve the reader, and it didn't happen here as it should have done.However, if there's something I can do to fix it, it is adding a reference to the BIONICLE world. Again, you're right, I didn't put any references to Glatorian, Toa or stuff.I repeat, I fully understand your reasons to judge this as an experiment that backfired. I suppose that I should start writing the related Epic, for the sake of this Short Story ( and of the others ). I should provide more backstory and understanding to those.

I think I would have to disagree with your reasons. Writing a story as a letter should be an exercise in characterization, not an excuse for the lack of it. A letter is a rather extreme form of first-person viewpoint, and we should hear that characters voice throughout it. It's especially important in this case to consider Kadr's motivations for writing the letter. Who does he hope will find it? You have to consider that considering his situation he's not going to write in every detail, only the ones that seem important to him. (I would think he would at least mention his relationship to his companions.) This letter doesn't have to be linear either. In fact, I'm surprised we don't see more garbled sentences and lack of a coherent plot. Kadr's not really in a situation that is ideal for coherent story telling.

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#7 Offline The Renegade Emperor

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Posted Aug 30 2012 - 04:44 AM

Thanks for the review, Valixia! I can perfectly understand what are you complaining about. I understand that characterization here is completely absent and I'll keep in mind to give characters a soul, or whatever gets closer to it, in my future works. Here, I can't do much to correct its absence, for this should be intended as a paper written while being hunted by cruel creatures, when you have no time to write about that. Still, I understand that this way it looks like a colorless, emotionless world populated by gray figures with blurred shapes. It's true. Stories have to involve the reader, and it didn't happen here as it should have done.However, if there's something I can do to fix it, it is adding a reference to the BIONICLE world. Again, you're right, I didn't put any references to Glatorian, Toa or stuff.I repeat, I fully understand your reasons to judge this as an experiment that backfired. I suppose that I should start writing the related Epic, for the sake of this Short Story ( and of the others ). I should provide more backstory and understanding to those.

I think I would have to disagree with your reasons. Writing a story as a letter should be an exercise in characterization, not an excuse for the lack of it. A letter is a rather extreme form of first-person viewpoint, and we should hear that characters voice throughout it. It's especially important in this case to consider Kadr's motivations for writing the letter. Who does he hope will find it? You have to consider that considering his situation he's not going to write in every detail, only the ones that seem important to him. (I would think he would at least mention his relationship to his companions.) This letter doesn't have to be linear either. In fact, I'm surprised we don't see more garbled sentences and lack of a coherent plot. Kadr's not really in a situation that is ideal for coherent story telling.

With this, I'm starting to think I'll have to edit this story, somehow. I can see what lacks in it. It's too fast, isn't it?

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#8 Offline Yukiko

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Posted Aug 30 2012 - 10:35 AM

With this, I'm starting to think I'll have to edit this story, somehow. I can see what lacks in it. It's too fast, isn't it?

Actually I feel that it's not fast enough. You have a bunch of an inordinate details that don't matter to the character, while you leave out details that would help flesh him out. In this case it's not really how much you write but what you write. Less is more, especially when you're faced with a character in a desperate situation who doesn't have time to record every single detail.Such a character doesn't have time to think about plot. I would advise you to think about Kadr's situation and then just write without stopping. Don't think about telling us exactly what happening or writing a story that makes sense. This will help recreate the spontaneity of a character who is writing a letter with no time to think about it.

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#9 Offline The Renegade Emperor

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Posted Aug 30 2012 - 11:09 AM

With this, I'm starting to think I'll have to edit this story, somehow. I can see what lacks in it. It's too fast, isn't it?

Actually I feel that it's not fast enough. You have a bunch of an inordinate details that don't matter to the character, while you leave out details that would help flesh him out. In this case it's not really how much you write but what you write. Less is more, especially when you're faced with a character in a desperate situation who doesn't have time to record every single detail.Such a character doesn't have time to think about plot. I would advise you to think about Kadr's situation and then just write without stopping. Don't think about telling us exactly what happening or writing a story that makes sense. This will help recreate the spontaneity of a character who is writing a letter with no time to think about it.

I see your reasons. I wrote all those details to give the feeling that Kadr was trying to tell eventual survivors of the catastrophic event what lies there. What happened to them. If someone will ever find that letter, they'll know that those ruins host a dramatic past. But I get what you mean. What do you think I should do to correct the story?

Edited by The Renegade Emperor, Aug 30 2012 - 11:10 AM.

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