February 2010 Flash Fiction Voting Thread A

Discussion in 'Writing' started by NickeeCoco, Feb 20, 2010.

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February 2010 Flash Fiction Voting Thread A

Poll closed Feb 28, 2010.
  1. Prophecy of Secrets by Brenda Pernack

    10.0%
  2. Abyss and Fire by MrBF1V3

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton/Dwagginz

    20.0%
  4. Tower of Elves by bobnagga

    10.0%
  5. The Princess and Fire by Richard Dickson/DailyRich

    70.0%
  6. The Wiard and Shadows by Carin Marais/marshwriter

    20.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

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    Welcome to the February 2010 Flash Fiction Contest Voting Thread A.

    For those of you who’re just joining us, this month’s theme was Fantasy Clichés. The contestants had to choose their title from a random title generator and base their story on the title they received.

    Rules of the Game

    1. Read all the stories in Thread A, Thread B and Thread C.
    2. Vote for up to three stories in total. (Between Thread A, Thread B and Thread C.) You may not stack your votes.
    3. Please take the time to provide a bit of feedback to each of the entrants. That’s the main reason they’ve entered.
    4. Voting will take place until February 28th when the voting polls close.

    The Entries

    The Prophecy of Secrets by Brenda Pernack/venustar

    Abyss and Fire by MrBF1V3

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton/Dwagginz

    Tower of Elves by bobnagga

    The Princess and Fireby Richard Dickson/DailyRich

    The Wizard and Shadows by Carin Marais/marshwriter
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2010
  2. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

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    Could a moderator find some kindness in their heart to sticky this thread, please? Thank you. :)

    Oh, and peeps, I'm gonna be out of town this weekend. I leave in an hour. I'm off to Toronto to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. Woot!

    So, if there's any pressing concerns before monday please talk to Sterling13. There shouldn't be any problems, though. This contest is running the same way the last one did and the one before that.

    Oh yeah, hope you don't mind, Sterling. Haha.
     
  3. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    The Prophecy of Secrets, Brenda Parnick
    And now, at last, I see what you were driving at. It took me another read, ma’am, and I apologize for that. I am not as swift as I was in my youth. So, we go from present/future to present to present/future and back to present. It’s there now that I’ve discovered it but the first time through the flashbacks didn’t flash for me. Now that I get it, I really like the story and what you’ve done with the title you were handled. Making Secrets the name of the town was clever. Well done and a contender for my vote.

    Abyss and Fire, Mr. BF1V3, aka subsequent to the prior to
    So, even elfin teenagers reach untenable positions for which they are uniquely unqualified. That is such a good lesson to learn I am forwarding this tale to my grandsons. I am a bit surprised at you, though, Mr. Bingo. It is un-B5-like to have a sentence reading: Do you think there might be a reason for that?
    OTOH, why is it always the princess who is suspicious of their plans, their progress, and their eventual fate? Some day I’m gonna write a tale where the princess drags the prince off to some ill-fated adventure.
    A contender for my vote, though, as seems to be a habit with you.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery, Michael Morton
    I enjoyed the story though it engendered in me a couple of questions: Are the tales and legends the folk told themselves and their children the prophecy? Okay, it’s a stretch but I can make that work. All those tales constitute a prophecy. Now, tell me about the sorcery. Is that what happened when she recited her spell and got shunted off to the beach? I can see that as sorcery, of course, especially since it must have been put in place by those wizards and wizards is just a polite name for sorcerers. I can see that. Now, how is it that the prophecy is above the sorcery? That one I have more difficulty making work.
    Also, as a side trip, can you explain the difference between traps and potential ambushes?
    Little usages like that, sprinkled through the text, are a bit disconcerting when first encountered.

    Tower of Elves, bobnagga
    First, thank you for bringing defenestrate into the issue. It has a really appropriate sound for a tower of elves. But, then, you gave me some less plesant lines to consider: what does it mean to finally overcome ages of animosity in order to attack the tower?
    I feel there just may be an issue of a deadline involved here: He could still come to rule the world if he had time to complete his ritual. He would still need time, though, and time was in short supply.
    This is a three-armed wizard as he is simultaneously wielding a bared knife, shi staff, and the box holding the essence of eternity.
    But, you tell a tale, sir, and the imagination explicit in the setting and plot are commendable.

    The Princess and the Fire, Richard Dickson
    Ah, sure, it’s you again. Nice tale well told. But, you know what? This time I noticed something and the noticing began to be distracting. What do you notice about these lines?
    “,,,the kind that other rocky holes would have offered a blanket and cup of hot coffee to if they'd had the chance.”
    “…its water the dull brown color of spit tobacco, only with none of the charm.”
    “…for every intricately thought-out excuse he'd come up with for not going there had been an equally well thought-out slap to his head.”
    “…sounded as if a large bird was being sat upon by another large bird that was having a third large bird painfully inserted into it..”
    “His head swam in confusion. Actually, it was more a dog-paddle than honest swimming, and the dog was drowning.”
    There is a pattern there that becomes very noticeable. You might want to consider a bit more variation in the delivery.
    Still, a contender.

    The Wizard and Shadows, Carin Marais
    The language of magic read pure and well though I understood not a word of it. The tale read pure and well starting with the prophecy of 1985 – I like that a lot - and I find the rest deserving of a vote. There was one line that momentarily threw me: he leaves the inn and searches the town and then thinks this must be the village. I had to re-read it to get the flow proper.

    I conclude with six contenders and only three votes. It’s easy for me this time because three stories stand out in my mind. Thank you, Michael, Sally, and Carin. And thank to the rest of the contestants for giving me a fine two days of reading and thinking.
     
  4. txshusker

    txshusker A mere player

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    Do I not get to participate?:(:eek::mad::confused:;)

    I've been HE'd!
     
  5. Hereford Eye

    Hereford Eye Just Another Philistine

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    Wow! I've finally had something named after me. I can see it now - on my headstone - He of the HE.

    txshusker - Your story flows nicely and you managed the title you were gifted with with dexterity. You'd be a contender for my vote because of the polish with which you played it out but, the ending, sir, was telegraphed from the moment the ladies-in-waiting asked their questions. That does not diminish the talent you display but it makes it possible for me to vote for three others. And, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the punch in the mouth.
     
  6. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I'll gladly respond to the best of my ability.
    1) The prophecy was that only one person could open the chest to claim the item, and that it had become one of the tales that the Elders speak of due to the history around it.
    2) That's where the prophecy was "above sorcery". It required a bit of thinking but basically the prophecy cannot be cheated by using sorcery - It is "above" the use of sorcery, if that makes sense.
    3) Of course, I think this is possibly because of the amount of gaming I do. An ambush (to me) is like when a bunch of thieves drop out of a tree onto you, whereas a trap is something physical/magical - Like if you stand on a certain flagstone and you're frozen in place.
     
  7. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader Staff Member

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    Sorry about that. I have to say I was rushed when I posted everything. I kinda forgot I had to get this up and going. It got lost in the priorities of getting ready to go out of town. Again, my apologies. You've been given a thread all of your own.
     
  8. marshwriter

    marshwriter Marshwriter

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    To Hereford Eye

    :D:D:D

    Yay! Thanks for the vote... As for a hint to the language... I used Afrikaans. A little in-joke using the youngest Germanic language as the 'ancient tongue'.

    For those interested I will place a translation... though it did seem cliche enough to leave it untranslated in the piece :D

    Marsh
     
  9. Sterling13

    Sterling13 Registered User

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    Crap... I had all this power and didn't even have the decency to abuse it... for shame...
     
  10. txshusker

    txshusker A mere player

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    No worries. It happens. Thanks for fixing it.
    :)
     
  11. Sterling13

    Sterling13 Registered User

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    Alright, here we go...

    The Prophecy of Secrets by Brenda Pernack
    I’m not digging this sentence for some reason: ‘I kept the unfounded fear at bay by recalling who I was.’ I understand the purpose, to get some background of the character with the next few sentences, but randomly recalling seems a strange way of doing it. Perhaps Oba could call him ‘Jewel of Secrets’, which then leads to the explanation?

    Overall I really enjoyed this one. I love, love the “Don’t go” warning from the main character that ties back into Oba’s “Don’t go” at the beginning. I think the backstory in the middle of Jewel’s journey to find the doctor could be cleaned up a bit, but the dialogue and the descriptions as Jewel journey’s to find the doctor are very well done.

    A contender.

    Abyss and Fire by MrBF1V3
    ‘Varilantoncea’ – I completely stumbled over this name more than a few times.

    ‘She slept on the far side of the tent, keeping him at arm's length.’ – Why? They’re “lovers” running away together, right?

    ‘…the Crackpyre mountains, Varilantoncea was an expert…’ – I think that comma should be a semicolon or a period.

    This response doesn’t fit the question asked:
    ‘“What if there are humans?”’
    ‘“Of course not,”’

    I LOVED this exchange:
    “Look,” Varilantoncea said pointing across the precipice, “a chasm.”
    “Look,” Jzaereh said pointing downward, “an abyss.”
    But the sentence that follows doesn’t feel needed.

    By far the strongest part of this story is the appearance of the wizard and their following decision. I really like that part. An overall solid entry.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton
    I like the little backstory on the amulet at the beginning, but from there I kept waiting for it to get into some sort of action or dialogue. There was just too much (brace yourself, I’m about to use the almighty evil word) “telling”.

    Now, all telling can actually work in a flash piece due to its length, but I think this story may have been better served with a little dialogue.

    Tower of Elves by bobnagga
    “They come.” – Who is saying this line, the dark wizard or someone talking to him?

    “Leave him,” the wizard snapped impatiently, “Prince Yarkan. So good of you to join me. – I believe it should be a period after impatiently, and a comma after Yarkan.

    'He raised the knife, and plunged it deep into the princess’ breast. But… he didn’t. His arm stopped before it bridged half the distance to the elven girl’s bare chest.' – Not a fan of the ‘But he didn’t’ part.

    Alright… I really liked the beginning. I loved the battle shown from the point of view of the dark wizard. Everything there works. My only issue is why the wizard leaves Yarkan alive… why not just chuck him off the edge? Unless you were intentionally going for the cliché there… in which case… well, that’s pretty perfect.

    A contender.

    The Princess and Fire by Richard Dickson
    ‘…the dragon circled over…’ – When I initially hit this line, I was picturing Firendorus looking at the dragon, not that he IS the dragon. Perhaps you need to mention his wings prior to this line?

    Love the dragon’s description of the princess. Perfect.

    Just all around well done. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    A contender.

    The Wizard and Shadows by Carin Marais
    ‘…he could feel their taint…’ – He... oh, nevermind… I’m just a dirty, dirty man…

    Took a little long to get going, but was overall solid in its execution. Standard wizard finds the prophesized boy sort of thing – enjoyable, but I would have liked to have seen a little deviation from the cliché.

    I’m a little confused at the end – When the wizard speaks in the ancient tongue, the boy asks him what he’s saying. But, in the end, the boy speaks in the ancient tongue.


    So, I have 3 for my final list from this bunch. On to thread B!
     
  12. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

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    For a so called cliche contest the stories in this first group are great. I am in a bit of a brief mood this month - my apologies. So without further ado...

    The Prophecy of Secrecy by Brenda Pernack
    I really liked this story. It was well written and engaging from start to finish. I got tripped up a little right at the end as to whether she was having a day dream but I think I sorted it out right that she was the one recieveing the prophecy via a vision of the future so to speak - and if so - nice.

    Abyss and Fire by Mr. BF1V3
    Just plain old funny and original. Well done - I laughed. I really dont know what else to say except how much I enjoyed it.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton
    Some really good stuff here - I love Elves. Told with a nice pace. I did not get a sese of the Elf's motivation. I wanted to know more about her and why she was out adventuring and why the pull to the treasure b/c she is pretty powerful in her own right if I read rightly.

    Tower of Elves by Bobnagga
    I really liked the concept you had for your story especially given the theme. Loved the dragon and the death scene. Perhaps too much describing that kept me from getting totally into it.

    The Princess and the Fire by Richard Dickson
    That was well...Rich. Too funny. I dont know that I would change a word. I really liked it. Brilliant ending. You sir are frustratingly talented.

    The Wizard and Shadow by Carin Marais
    Man - another great story. Top notch. My only nit is the overuse of the old tongue. I was a little frustrated with it. A little less of it would have been much more for me. But I gotta say it sure did look great.

    And now a whole other thread and a bit eh? Well this was the easiest bunch of reading I have ever had for this contest so I am looking forward to it. :)
     
  13. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    Prophecy of Secrets -
    I'm going to be honest and say that on my first read I was left very confused. The paragraphs seemed to be cut up into short blocks for little reason and this made it harder for me to read the story. However, in fairness I returned and my second read was a lot better (I'd obviously missed out important points, and for that I apologise). I found the imagery quite vivid, but at the same time I did end up a bit confused - Namely at the end of the story after the "finding" of the doctor. What I can't work out is if it was a dream (i.e. the events of that night) or if there was something else.
    A good read where I understood it, and I think it could benefit from being a longer story. You're clearly a capable writer, don't get me wrong, I just think this story could have been better if it was longer and the "time jumps" were a bit clearer.
    Apologies if my reasons only apply to me, it's just my honest thoughts.

    Abyss and Fire -
    Quite a light hearted romp, I felt. I noticed clichés like Dragons, Wizards, Elves... But I was slightly confused by the ever-so-slight modern twist that was pulled (College and Cookie Factory) but it wasn't overbearing at all. The title was held to in a very loose fashion but given the story and its progression (and the fact the title was quite a hard one to really link) I don't think there were many alternatives.
    A good read, nonetheless.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery -
    Well, this is just the best story that's ever been written! :rolleyes:
    In all seriousness, I was quite glad I managed to get something done given my title and I did enjoy writing this. I don't think I lived up to "fantasy clichés" as much as I could have, however. Would like to thank DaddyDarth for taking the time to proof read it and give me some feedback on it - It's really appreciated!

    @Sterling, thanks for the feedback. I completely understand where you're coming from, and I think in a way it's linked to my low confidence in regards to writing dialogue as well as I felt that adding dialogue to the tale would nullify the pseudo-prologue. I can write it, I just find myself repeating things like "said" or ending up with very short conversations. It's certainly something to work on and I appreciate it being a concern, it shows it's something I should work on.

    @DaddyD, again, thanks for the feedback. It's something you can easily do when writing your work and reading it. You might know the motivation and as such not notice the lack of a decent explanation. To me the mention of its power or value would have been motivation enough, but I can see that expanding this would have clarified it a lot more as well as writing more about the elf. I'll take it on board and hopefully work better character development into the next one.

    Tower of Elves -
    Very rocky start at first. I noticed (what I felt was) some poor grammar and sentence structure which made me a bit dubious. Whilst it holds together well, I think that the overall appearance and flow would benefit from using paragraphs. I liked how you worked the word "defenestrate" into it, I felt like it was an unnecessary addition that didn't really fit and that it was added just to set up a punchline at the end.
    Another small gripe of mine was what the wizard was doing with his hands - One moment he was holding a dagger and fingering a box, the next minute he was using a stave as an offensive weapon then was using his fingers to cast, and I couldn't see how it worked in my head.
    Whilst I regret not being able to give this story my vote, I will suggest that you open this story back up and expand it. It would certainly work as a longer piece (maybe not a novel) and if you could work out the logistics (how is the princess restrained? how is the prince restrained?) and worked on a few things (I doubt the tower would shake to that great a degree if it was being rammed) it could be a very enjoyable read. I could imagine reading it in a collection of short stories.

    The Princess And Fire -
    I chuckled throughout reading this. It was a very, very enjoyable read and I have to say it's in my contenders for a vote. There was wit, there was good dialogue. It felt a lot shorter than 1180 words but maybe it's because it was very well flowing. No real complaints that I can think of except that I felt the use of similies/metaphors/whatever they are at the start were a bit overwhelming. I do it myself and whilst they can be really nice to write, they can detract a little if used too much.

    The Wizard and Shadows
    My last one before I take a short break and move onto Thread B :)
    Whilst it's a good read, I felt the sentences ended very prematurely in some cases or didn't flow naturally. One such example is "...wary of travellers and even more wary of the strangers that arrived daily and even sometimes slept in the muddy streets". I didn't think that second even was necessary and it upset the flow a little. I liked the story and how the burn the wizard sustained helped him "detect" the presence of the shadow beings. It could easily lead on to further stories and I would say if you feel more stories coming then go ahead and write them.

    Hope those comments were alright and not too harsh or anything.
     
  14. Sterling13

    Sterling13 Registered User

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    Don't be afraid of "said"! Forgive the lack of a link, but, essentially, its one of those "invisible words" - readers pass over "said" without even realizing its there. You'll create far more stumbles for the reader by trying to come up with a new word for "said" in each and every instance.

    In addition, by using our simple friend "said" instead of "bemoaned" or the like, you may find yourself describing the movements or reactions of the character rather than telling the reader by replacing "said".

    Bug one of our real author guys on this forum - I'm sure they could put it better than me :)
     
  15. Daddy Darth

    Daddy Darth Boba Fett Lives

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    Here is my list of finalists this month & long it seems.
    MrBF for a quick homourous tale. Daily Rich b/c as ever he writes so well and tells such good stories - this being no exception. Carin Marias for good old fashioned great story that hooked me. Mr. Matrunick for a gripping tale that left me wanting more. Sally C for a thought provoking look at an old favourite. HE for a solid, modern story with a surpise ending. Chris Allen for a brilliant story and lastly Mr Banker for a sweet fairy tale.

    This is going to be hard. Good job folks.
     
  16. venustar

    venustar Lost in Devaland

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    Abyss and Fire by MrBF1V3
    Ha! Cute. I think I would run home too.
    You did well with the theme and your title. Good job!

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton/Dwagginz
    So the prophecy really did prove to be above the sorcery. Very well done.
    I had some issues with a few heavily worded sentences, but the writing was rich, overall. I really liked it!

    Tower of Elves by bobnagga
    This one was interesting. You did a great job bringing your wizard alive- just the sort of character that everyone loves to hate. I think it would have benefitted a bit more with some more detail regarding the elves, and of course some clarification of the wizard’s actions (as has been pointed out).
    I think it was a pretty strong entry!

    The Princess and Fire by Richard Dickson/DailyRich
    I LOVED THIS! I loved this, I loved this, I loved this.
    I love your wit, and your writing.

    The Wizard and Shadows by Carin Marais/marshwriter
    “To lighten the mood, one of the less sober gents began a rendition of Bring me another partridge or I'll drink all of? your? beer.”
    This sentence needs a rewrite.
    I can’t quite place why or which one, but this reminded me of a manga I read some years ago. I think it was the scar reacting to the shadows. No matter, not important.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the read. There was some minor clunkiness, but nothing that detracted much from the story.
    Good job overall!


    Okay, between catering to a sick kid, catering to a bored kid, and offering my less-than-stellar feedback, I think I'm in need of a break. Will be back for the other threads soon!
     
  17. bobnagga

    bobnagga Registered User

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    Abyss and Fire
    Man, I don't know. I just didn't get into this one. I mean it's well told and everything, but it seems like you were just trying to throw out every single cliche you could think of in passing. There's nothing wrong with it, That sort of thing's just not my bag, baby.

    Prophecy of secrets
    This one took me a minute. It's good. I didn't figure it out until the end that it was a vision. I bet that's what you were going for, huh? I couldn't really find the cliche part of it, though. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but whateva. It's pretty solid.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery
    It's really too bad about these 1200 word limits. I'd love to see where this one was going or where it came from, you know?

    Tower of Elves
    Man, it was difficult after reading Memory Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams. It's like fate said "Ha, ha, here you go. No plagiarizing, now!"

    Princess and Fire
    That was pretty funny. "Don't start leaking again" Someone said something about it was hard to determine the Dragon was the dragon. I don't know where that came from, I got it immediately. FIREndorus? Though I don't see a dragon's trouble with a gorge. Anyways, I like it.

    Wizard and Shadows
    It was alright, that language, though, just threw me off. I couldn't stay with the flow if it after all that. I don't know. It was just too short for gibberish, ya know? Maybe if you had the space to... talk right? it would have fit the story better.

    Now no one take any of this personally, it's just a matter of opinion and preference, they were all well written and I think that most issue is from the fact that they all need more than 1200 words... I guess that's where the challenge comes in. Anyways, I'd like to see all these expanded upon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2010
  18. marshwriter

    marshwriter Marshwriter

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    Here are a few comments – in no particular order…

    Prophecy Above Might
    I really liked this one. The idea was very well executed… no pun intended... I loved having the “hero” just standing to one side, waiting for a deux et machina to instate him as ruler and having the Norns’ words actually keeping him from doing what he would have done otherwise to keep his crown.

    A Prophecy above Sorcery
    Though it was a good idea, and I liked it, I feel the execution could have been better. It took too long for me to really get moving. I think you could trim some more, make it tighter, and then it would work better. The beginning is too long and the ending too short to my liking.

    Tower of Elves
    Kudos for using the word “defenestrate”! Nice touch also in letting the princess be the one to let the wizard lose his grip and not the hero…

    The Princess and Fire
    Thanks for a good laugh, Richard! Your style is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this quirky story. You definitely have my vote!

    My votes go to The Princess and Fire, Prophecy Above Might and Tower of Elves.

    I hope to have some more comments in the next day or two…

    (Thanks to all for the helpful comments! To those that are interested, I have put up a version of "The Wizard and Shadows" with the 'ancient tongue' translated.)

    Marsh
     
  19. DailyRich

    DailyRich Damn fool idealist

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    The Prophecy of Secrets by Brenda Pernack

    I wonder what it says about my perceptions that I assumed the narrator was a man, so much so that "ripping the fabric of my dress" threw me for a bit of a loop. Even being called "The Jewel" didn't tip me, since the definite article there implies a title, not an actual name. Didn't affect my enjoyment of the story one way or another, just an interesting observation.

    Abyss and Fire by MrBF1V3

    Maybe it's just the way my mind works (or maybe it was seeing there weren't a lot of words left to go), but as soon as the wizard started describing the test, I knew they were going to chicken out of it. So a little of the surprise was lost on me.

    A Prophecy Above Sorcery by Michael Morton

    I think the last paragraph could have used something a little more concrete to show that it was the prophecy that sent here there and not simply a spell gone awry. And I didn't mind the wordy style -- it sort of reminded me of the style Tolkien employed in The Silmarillion, a deliberately formal wording to give the impression of some sort of canonized tale.

    Tower of Elves by bobnagga

    Something nags at me -- if this wizard is powerful enough to summon dragons and open huge chasms in the earth, how was this elf army ever a threat? Seems like he had the power to deal with them quite easily, and simply doesn't because there wouldn't be a story if he did. Stylistically, there are an awful lot of paragraphs that could be combined into one. As it is, it makes the whole thing seem rather scattered.

    The Wizard and Shadows by Carin Marais

    My take was that the boy speaking in the other language was merely the dying wizard perceiving it that way. As for the story as a whole, it did seem to hit a lot of the cliches head-on, and while I do think too often we look for a twist -- so much so that sometimes we don't always appreciate a traditional story told well -- I think this could have used just a little something more to make it stand out.
     
  20. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I didn't intend to draw from The Silmarillion (not actually read it :eek: ), but I would think that's a compliment. I like to think my sometimes wordy style comes more from reading Lovecraft than it does Tolkien :)
    As for the last paragraph; I wasn't overly sure what I wanted to do with it. I tried to convey that the chest "reacted" to the spell and teleported her to a seemingly random destination as a consequence. By the time I was coming to do the last bit of the story I was very close to hitting the word limit and my reluctance to trim things probably was a factor in the weakness :)

    If that makes sense :D