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A Recluse's Dilemma

FFFC The Queens

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#1 Offline Greninja #0579

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Posted May 04 2013 - 01:41 PM

“How am I supposed to decide…”

 

The question wasn’t aimed toward anyone—in fact, he was the only one in the room.  Propping his head up on one arm, he stared intently at the computer screen.  Two windows were open, both of which displayed a figurine with a rather outrageous price tag.

 

One figure was a woman with long blonde hair, clad in heavy, gleaming armor and brandishing an elegant sword.  The other was a slightly younger woman, this one with short red hair and wearing a flowing pink dress.  Both wore the same golden crown and stood upon a circular base.

 

He leaned back and ruffled his hair in frustration.  “Come on, Jim, just pick one!  Don’t let the opportunity go to waste!”

 

The sound of the door opening nearly made him jump out of his seat.  Looking over his shoulder, he saw his sister and brother enter the house—he waved, and then turned back to the screen.

 

“You haven’t even moved from that spot, have you?” his brother asked.

 

Jim mumbled, “I’m still thinking.”

 

His sister approached and leaned over his shoulder, studying the screen.  “Oh, you narrowed it down to these two.  They’re from that video game, right?”

 

Jim nodded.  “My two favorite characters—the Queen of War and the Queen of Light.  With the cost of shipping it overseas, the gift card only has enough money on it for one of them.  It’s a very difficult decision.”

 

Jim’s brother shook his head.  “Jim, you’re such a loser.  Why don’t you spend that card on something that actually has a use, you nerd?”

 

Quietly, his sister asked, “Do you want me to correct him?”

 

“Why bother?” Jim sighed.  There were a lot of words for what Jim was—nerd, geek, escapist, hikikomori—and none of them had an especially positive connotation.  The last term bothered him the least, but that was solely due to its Japanese origin.

 

Addressing his brother now, Jim said, “It’s my card, I get to choose how to spend it.  I don’t expect you to understand the value of collectibles, but it’d be nice if you’d stop insulting me just because I do.”

 

“Whatever,” his brother scoffed.  “Do you even have room for any more of those lame figures?”

 

With a solemn look, Jim answered, “I’ll have to put one into storage when the new one arrives…but for now, I need to focus on the more pressing matter.  Now if you’ll excuse me…”

 

Jim returned to the screen.  His sister left the room, somehow managing to drag their brother along with her, allowing Jim some peace while he weighed his options.

 

They’re going fast.  I have maybe an hour before they both run out of stock.  The craftsmanship is equal, so it’s a question of which character I love the most.

 

He sighed.  And that’s what makes this so difficult...

 

Taking a deep breath, Jim calmed down and resolved to make a decision.  Accessing a video hosting site, he replayed a few scenes from the game featuring both candidates, doing his best to gauge his feelings for them both.  When that was done, he closed the computer and walked into his room.  It was lined with shelves, each stocked with figurines of all shapes and sizes.  Closing his eyes, Jim pictured himself walking in to see one of the new figurines sitting there to greet him, and then did the same for the other.

 

As she passed by, his sister poked her head in.  “Any progress…?”

 

Jim slowly nodded.  “I’ve made a decision.”

 

His sister offered a compassionate smile and continued on her way.  Jim returned to his computer and brought up both windows for the last time.

 

Queen of War…I’m sorry.  Maybe some other time.

 

Summoning all his resolve, Jim dragged his cursor to the top of the window and closed it.  In an instant it was gone, and only the Queen of Light remained.

 

The Queen of Light…so kind and caring…she’s someone I want to be able to see every day—someone to come home to, to wake up to.

 

Pausing only to maximize the window, Jim clicked the button to add the Queen of Light figure to his cart.  Proceeding to the checkout, he punched in the code on his gift card and smiled when the tracking number came on-screen.  The Queen of Light had begun her journey, and soon she would arrive at his door.  There was no doubt in his mind that the anguish of making this decision would be worth it.

 

Jim shut the computer off and returned to his room.  The Queen would not arrive for at least another week…but it may very well take him that long to find a place to display her.


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#2 Offline Yukiko

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Posted May 25 2013 - 10:05 PM

Official Short Stories Critics Club Review

 

Let me first say that I really like your narrative flow.  Your transitions from dialogue to description and back felt very natural and there was no point where I felt like you had awkwardly stuck it something.  Saying that, I would like to see you expand on your basic structure, which is a bit bare-bones at the moment.  You included some very nice details, like Jim talking to the computer/himself (I do this; well, I shout profanities at the screen when it beats me in Civ 5), but I would still like to see more, especially when he comes to the point of decision.  What does his room look like?  Does he associate any of his other figures with certain memories?  I know that you want to keep his final decision in suspense for as long as possible, but I would have liked to see some of the videos that feature the Queen of War and the Queen of Light.

 

What follows is just a suggestion for a few sentences that could be modified, mostly by cutting way unnecessary words. 

The question wasn’t aimed toward anyone—in fact, he was the only one in the room. 

The other was a slightly younger woman, this one with short red hair and wearing a flowing pink dress.

 

Keep your descriptions parallel to each other.  Adding the "this one" throws of your flow. 

Quietly, his sister asked, “Do you want me to correct him?”

 

Try:

 

“Do you want me to correct him?” his sister whispered.

 

Just as a last note, I found it odd that his brother and sister are never addressed by name.  I only really refer to my brother as "my brother" around people who are not family, but perhaps it is different in your household.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and keep writing! ^^


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#3 Offline Greninja #0579

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Posted May 26 2013 - 09:35 AM

Thank you for the review!  Since I was writing for a word limit I may not have been thinking about being more specific, so I may redo this piece without that concern.

 

As for the brother and sister, a part of me was just lazy and didn't want to come up with names, but they're also meant to be a little vague in the hopes that they'll be viewed a little symbolically.  The brother, who insults Jim and thinks he's a loser, is supposed to represent the part of Jim (or any recluse/nerd) who is embarrassed and ashamed of his own activities, and thinks that maybe he should put an end to them in order to fit in.  His sister, on the other hand, is very supportive of him, and meant to be the part that says, "You know what, to heck with that.  I enjoy it, so I'm gonna let myself enjoy it."  In fact, his siblings may not actually be real.


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