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In the Mourning


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#1 Offline Voltex

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Posted Oct 05 2012 - 03:25 PM

They sat stretched out on the soft grass of the hilltop, un-obstructed by anything such as a tree or a lamp post as they stared up at the night sky. Him leaning back, supported by his arms, her lying on top of him, her head twisted so that she too could see the stars.“They’re beautiful tonight, aren’t they?” She asked.“The stars are always beautiful.” He replied.“What about me? Am I not beautiful too?” She asked, pushing herself up to look him in the eyes.“Comparing you to the stars would be cliché. You’re worth so much more than that, and the stars have nothing on you to boot.”She giggled and relaxed again, leaning against him with her mask underneath his chin. She sighed with contentment as she gazed upon the stars, and gasped, stretching an arm out to point at a particularly pretty one.“Look,” She breathed, “The star is red!”“It stands out.” He replied. “I like it... it sparkles.”“Do I sparkle, brighter than the stars and the sun? She asked teasingly.He blushed, going red enough that his Kanohi was tinted pink by the action. She laughed upon seeing this and poked him in the shoulder.“I’m only teasing.” She said.“I know, I know.” He said, staring up at the star. “What do you think it is?”She was about to answer when the star emanated brightly, shining so much that the stars clustered around it were forced out of sight as the mysterious star seemed to grow larger in the night sky.He opened his mouth to comment on the occurrence when countless beams of light shot down from the strange star, one colliding with her. He cringed and closed his eyes, waiting for intense pain, but none came. He remained like that for several long minutes, silently, before slowly opening his eyes.She was gone, not a trace to be found. He scrambled onto his knees, his desperate gaze searching all over the hill for a friend that was more than just a friend, but a search he knew must be doomed to failure. She was gone.*-*-*-*A shaking, withered hand gently nudged a photo frame that had been placed on an oaken desk, taking care to not let it fall. The ancient hand withdrew just as carefully, moving up to rub at an equally old chest with a flashing yellow beacon. The chest rose once and fell softly, without a sound. The hand continued its journey upward, to adjust a mask just ever so slightly crooked. The hand shifted upwards to dab gently at an eye to dry it.The Turaga dabbed both of his eyes slowly as he stared at the picture, one of a laughing and happy Ga-Matoran. He took a deep breath to calm himself, so that he would not fall into a fit of tears that had been far too common over the years.“Oh how I miss you...” He said his voice barely a whisper, “It has been so long... I have searched so far... but to find you is impossible.”The Turaga’s voice cracked and he bowed his head. A droplet of water dripped down from his brown mask, landing on his foot and splashing across the dark gray armour. He sighed and turned away, trembling as he reached forward with his kohlii staff and began to hobble away from the desk. He passed a worn-down bed and reached the old wooden door of the hut. Reaching forward with a shaking hand, he twisted the squeaky knob and pulled the door open slowly and weakly.As he stepped out into the dark day, he glanced up at the storm clouds overhead, waiting to let loose a deluge of water on the small village. He stiffly shuffled down the street, ignoring the muttered greetings of Po-Matoran on the street as he made his way towards a long familiar hilltop, now adorned with a statue of a Tahtorak that a powerful Toa had defeated long ago.Memories of times past, battles fought, and legends made swam through the Turaga’s mind as he pushed open the metal gate to the hilltop with a creak and hobbled on up. He was out of breath upon reaching the top, and he stared at the statue with an air of contempt. A dull plaque at the bottom of the statue had long been eroded of any text, but the Turaga knew it had commemorated the achievement of a Toa called Hewkii.Oh my sweet Macku... I hope you have been well.He lay down at the base of the statue sadly content, his breathing beginning to slow, his eyes closing. Hours later, several Po-Matoran would discover the Turaga as he’d been in his final moment, peacefully falling away into the eternal abyss.This was written for the currently running Ambage-hosted Flash Fiction contest. :) Although I need to work on the "flash" bit of it, because this ended up being four words over the limit. owell.
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#2 Offline Toa of Winds

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Posted Oct 05 2012 - 08:51 PM

So sad... :( :(AND YET SO GOOD!Great job, ibrow. I didn't think you had a romantic side...but, there you go. This deserves :winner:, for sure.Although I haven't read the others...might want to do that nex.~MN~
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THE ASHES - Chapter 2 and some clarification is up!

 

THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF TAHU - Chapter 4 is up!


#3 Offline Voltex

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Posted Oct 05 2012 - 08:55 PM

So sad... :( :(AND YET SO GOOD!Great job, ibrow. I didn't think you had a romantic side...but, there you go. This deserves :winner:, for sure.Although I haven't read the others...might want to do that nex.~MN~

There are no others; this is a story set on its own. Also, I've always had a romantic side, I must admit. >.> Ssssh, it's a secret to everybody.Also I enjoy writing stories like this one, assuming I have succeeded in making most readers feel that way after reading.-ibrow

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#4 Offline Chro

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Posted Oct 05 2012 - 08:58 PM

Very nice emotional story. Interesting idea, including Hewkii as the protagonist, though we don't find out immediately, which is another aspect that I like. All in all, nice writing, ibrow. :)

Although I haven't read the others...might want to do that nex.

There are no others; this is a story set on its own.

I think that he meant he should read the other entries to the contest. :lol:

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#5 Offline Voltex

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Posted Oct 06 2012 - 09:00 AM

Very nice emotional story. Interesting idea, including Hewkii as the protagonist, though we don't find out immediately, which is another aspect that I like. All in all, nice writing, ibrow. :)

Although I haven't read the others...might want to do that nex.

There are no others; this is a story set on its own.

I think that he meant he should read the other entries to the contest. :lol:

...good point >.>Glad you enjoyed the story - I'm glad the emotional message got across, and I'm also glad you liked the reveal of the main character. I like writing stories like that.-ibrow

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#6 Offline Cederak

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Posted Oct 08 2012 - 10:22 PM

Hello, Voltex, and welcome to the last official SSCC review I'll be doing. I must say, when I discovered that this would be my last assignment, I felt a little disappointed, like being a child that has to finish all his vegetables before dessert. That feeling didn't stem from anything about you as a writer or otherwise, but because I realized I would be reviewing flash fiction. I have a process, an approach, to critiquing short stories that doesn't exactly mesh with such condensed work. That said, much of my usual criticism is going to have to be thrown out the window on this one, because the scale of your story is intentionally limited. I suppose we'll get down to business now, starting with grammar.First off, I want to tell you that I appreciate consistency in a story. I've jokingly said in the past that a single error is a mistake, but the same error throughout is style. Putting my strange humor aside, I noticed that you capitalize the first word after every piece of dialogue in your work. I believe it was sixth grade when it was pointed out to me that it's grammatically incorrect to do so, and I've been fortunate enough to have retained that info ever since. Now I'm passing it on to you with the hope it sticks to your memory like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth, or something similarly sticky if you aren't partial to peanut butter.

Him leaning back, supported by his arms, her lying on top of him, her head twisted so that she too could see the stars.

I think if this sentence were connected to the previous one in some way, starting the way you did would make sense. Because it isn't connected, I would recommend changing it to "He was leaning back" and go from there.

“Comparing you to the stars would be cliché. You’re worth so much more than that, and the stars have nothing on you to boot.”

And here I encountered the issue of creating a cliché by intentionally trying to avoid one. I would say to remove it and have it replaced, honestly. We'll talk dialogue in depth later.

“Do I sparkle, brighter than the stars and the sun?

Missing an ending quotation mark - easy fix.

She was gone, not a trace to be found. He scrambled onto his knees, his desperate gaze searching all over the hill for a friend that was more than just a friend, but a search he knew must be doomed to failure. She was gone.

This felt abrupt…too abrupt, even for flash fiction. The solution would be in a more proper description of the situation. You tell me she was gone, and give me further clichéd detail of how your main character reacts, but that isn't enough. This felt like an omelet without salt or pepper (you're probably wondering "how many food references is he going to make?" by this point) - it needs more sensory detail, a deeper look at how his entire world feels. I don't just want to see the world through his eyes, I want it through his audio receptors, through his hands, so that it feels like a complete moment, or flavor, if you will.

now adorned with a statue of a Tahtorak that a powerful Toa had defeated long ago.

This passage sounds rather awkward to me. Writing it as "now adorned with the statue of a Tahtorak a powerful Toa had defeated long ago" seems to flow better.With the grammatical addressed, time to dig in (there I go again) to your actual plot. The setting is a nice, calm evening when suddenly, disaster strikes. Does the reader ever learn why the Red Star zapped Macku away? No. Should the reader need to know? Absolutely not. This story isn't about why Macku vanishes, it's about the fact that she does vanish. I mean, sure, your ending is slightly ruined by the recent Red Star news over in S&T (not sure how close you follow canon news like that, but suffice to say, the information certainly downplays the event quite a bit), however, it plays all the importance for your main character. Also, having glanced at the comments for this flash fic, I'm not sure if you wanted the lead's reveal as Hewkii to be a shocker, because as soon as I saw the name Macku, I immediately assumed the other character to be Hewkii. That's one of those relationships that keeps coming up among Bionicle fanfiction writers, so I can't really be held too responsible there. I recognize you wanted to tell some kind of romance story (I think?), but this falls short. I'll come back to wrap up the second half of your plot, because for now, I want to explore your characters and their dialogue. A romance lives and dies in characters and their words…it's all they have, ultimately. So let's see why the ideal didn't turn out to be reality.Hewkii and Macku. The canon has certainly given us enough to work with in terms of their characterization. Being flash fiction, I can't hassle you too much for not taking full advantage of that. But I want to hassle you for a moment, because this didn't feel like Hewkii and Macku at all. Romance is a genre that is easy to create clichés in, to let characters fall into certain roles and let them play out the way they might in a book, a play, a movie, etc. Those outlets further reinforce a narrow spectrum of what romance can be, and how it can be portrayed. That definitely took center stage on this one, allowing what was a pivotal part of the story turn into a discussion the likes of which often appear in made-for-tv films. So if we're going to push canon aside, if you're going to tell me Macku was "more than just a friend," then I want you to deliver. Don't force feed the audience a played out chat, read your dialogue back to yourself, and consider how it feels to you. If you can't feel your words, the audience can't. A writer's work is like a heater, and you're sitting right next to it. The audience is a distance away, and unless you crank the heat, the reader won't be able to feel it. I hope that makes sense. Regarding romance, write dialogue as though you were speaking to your own love, with the jovial passion of a person who cannot live the same without that other person. Make me believe that Hewkii and Macku share a special love, not because you give them a few cheesy lines, but because you pull from yourself everything you know about love, every loving relationship you have ever known romantically or otherwise, and let it shine and reflect in what you write. Writers should come with a warning sign that reads "Anything you say can and may be used in my work," because we have the opportunity to draw from everyone and everything and turn it into stories. In short, art imitates life, and if you want your written artistry to feel alive, it needs a stronger dose of reality than you provided to make that happen.Into the second half of your story, I think it's fair to say that things improve. Hewkii's words remain as cliché as they were in his youth, but this is the delivery I was waiting for, like when a pizza finally shows up at my door. I'll promise you that's my last food reference because you're really going to want to listen to this next bit. In the second act, you gave me an aged Hewkii, marked by a life that had to endure losing Macku. The scene displays Hewkii's strength, like that (symbolically) of a stone. He did not end his life to join her when he fell into despair, he did not lose his sanity when mourning was all he knew, he remained. You gave me a glimpse into the final moments of a Hewkii that chose to simply remain, to dignifiedly suffer the burden of loss and live out his days until his heartlight could no longer support his decision. Despite the hardship, despite how he must have grieved, Hewkii is remembered as a Toa worthy of commemoration, noble to the end. I found what I believe to be an unintended commentary that even heroes know anguish at times and that they are as mortal as the rest of us. And yet we honor them for brave action or courage in the face of insurmountable odds as though they were more than mortal, more than some of us could ever dare to be. Within the aforementioned provision of canon we have to work with, Hewkii may possess all of these strengths, because he has dimensionality if we allow him to have it. Whether canon or not, don't sell your characters short. Let them know adversity and misery. Let them know anger and resentment. Let them laugh and love. Most importantly, let them live and breathe.I've been told to never go to shopping at the supermarket when I'm hungry. There were some good examples of why not to review something when I'm hungry sprinkled through this critique. And while you may find them distracting or annoying, I like my reviews to feel natural, to let the ideas come and the words flow, much like my writing at times. On the flipside of my earlier statement, sometimes life imitates art. More to the point, I want to remind you that much of my criticism could be applied to larger short stories (and epics as well) in terms of description, characterization, and dialogue. I would recommend keeping my advice near the forefront of your mind next time you're writing (whether on BZP or elsewhere), though that's the typical bias of a critic talking. While we can't demand a writer hear us out, we would hope those who make a request from us choose to keep an open mind about our suggestions. Obviously, after everything I've said, it should come as no surprise that I wasn't too impressed with much of this story, though the second act came with more reward than the first. I'm sure you know that writing improvement is not an overnight process, so take some time to focus on your "weak areas." I understand that you're an Ambage member now, so it would be wise to utilize that group as an outlet for your writing improvement. Best of luck.-Ced

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#7 Offline Grant-Sud

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Posted Oct 09 2012 - 10:12 AM

I can't give out as much detail as Cederak just did and my review won't be as long. But I'll give a short review with a few little points.The dialogue, sorry man but it sounds pretty bad. :/ I just can't imagine two people who are so close ever needing to ask questions such as "Am I as beautiful as the stars?" and then the other person even needing to answer. Love is shown more in meaningful moments and being willing to give instead of take, not just words like that. The fact that they were together watching the stars, honestly that should have been more than enough for the reader to see they were close and more then just friends. And a few parts of that romance are a little awkward, such as Macku saying that she's just teasing yet obviously serious since she's asked twice.Anyway, besides that, the rest of this story isn't that bad. I do like the fact that Hewkii lived on without Macku. Man if you had had him kill himself over her death or something like that, ugh, that would have just been terrible. But no, this guy kept being himself and moved on despite his loss. And yeah, there were some decent details in the second half. It ended on a sad note, but also one of closure, since he did the best thing he could possibly do and simply hope for the best.Keep writing Voltex, you obviously care about it a lot and that means you should stick with it.

Edited by Quote (Mr. Traveler), Oct 09 2012 - 10:13 AM.

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#8 Offline Voltex

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Posted Oct 09 2012 - 06:59 PM

To save my eyes and my sanity, I won't quote your post Cederak. But I'll do my best to reply, I suppose. First thing is, yes, it's lacking due to the length. Had I been able to expand it, I would have extended both scenes and been able to do what I wanted with the first; there was a reason I didn't end up entering most of the flash fiction marathon. :|Grammar errors are my typical silly mistakes. I need to find someone to dump my stuff onto so that they can pick that stuff out, because I obviously don't catch it. =PThe Red Star news does kind of ruin the ending. I should have found a more... subtle way of having Macku vanish. That's something that, with more time, and more room to explain it a little, I would have improved if given the chance. You're also correct in that the story is about how she does vanish and not why, although I can't tell if you're saying that's good or bad in the context of this particular story. The cliche stuff... yeah, I dunno. I don't write romance often, so I'm rough with it. I'll keep that in mind though; important advice for anything I might write. I'll keep all that romance stuff in my mind.The second half was my favourite half to write, and you're correct; Hewkii's identity isn't supposed to be a big reveal. I almost wasn't even going to explicitly name him, but decided that doing so would benefit the story in the end. However, I knew that the references to a Toa of Stone, and specifically the Matoran being Macku, would be enough to point readers in the direction of Hewkii if they knew anything about Bionicle. Commentary... can't tell if you're saying it's good or bad. I wasn't explicitly thinking "MUST WRITE MESSAGE RARGH", but I did want that general tone to get through so... half marks?Ambage shall be used, once I can actually get myself into a write-off. >.>Also about the capital letters after quotations... well, I started trying to stop recently, but my word program automatically capitalizes them. And I have no idea how to stop it. .__.-----The teasing thing... she was joking both times, but after the second she was more making fun of Hewkii and his sappiness for her. Something I would've expanded were it not flash fiction (ugh, I feel horrible using this excuse :( ). She's not being serious about the questions at all, but I guess I didn't manage to get that across. I will admit the first half is on the awkward side though. Ugh, I would never have a character kill themselves over some lost love. Kills the storytelling for me. I think it's more impactful emotionally for both the reader and the character if you force the character to live on with their sorrow and move past it to continue living their life. That's what I did here, but also his dying moment when he was at rest and at peace in the very same spot.-ibrow
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