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Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:28 am
by LordLucan
Hi guys, this is the voting thread for this month's RiaR competition.

ou have three votes. Your first place vote will receive 3 points, your second place vote will receive 2 points and your third place vote will receive 1 point.

Please be clear when you're voting and please use all your votes.

The deadline for voting this month will be 2100BST on Sunday 1st September. If you want an extension to that, you need to PM me as soon as it becomes clear you won't make the deadline.

Now go forth and vote, review and decide upon your latest RiaR champion, to ascend to the great halls of the RiaR gods, and-

Well, you know what I mean. Get voting, and may the best entry win.


Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:43 pm
by Corrigan Phoenix
Hi all, I'll stick my crit in with my votes here.

First Place; Hour of the Wolf, by Liliedhe. Loved the character of the story - despite not describing themselves, it came across with a very definitive personality. A nice, inventive piece, with some great imagery that helped to inspire the character too. Worked very nicely as a package.

Second Place; Stranger, by VictorK. Quite enjoyed the idea of this piece: alone amongst his own kind. Again has a nice personality from the first person POV.

Third Place; Forsake, by Pez_Yoda. Nice concept - I enjoyed the change in story: that the chaos gods DON'T always grant their boons, or even take note of your efforts in their name. Started off a bit wordy in the description, but you got into a flow after the first few paragraphs and it went nicely from there.

Other Crit;

Marooned; YeOldeGrandma. I really enjoyed this piece, and am sorry that it couldn't be in amongst my votes this month. It develops the picture of the dog-tired duty-bound Imperial very well, and as in Pez_Yoda's piece - shows something you don't see a lot of in 40k fiction - the forgotten remnants of bases in the corners of the galaxy.

Marooned; Rusk. Another good piece, but didn't quite flow for me - possibly personal preference but couldn't pinpoint something particular. Though, that said, I really enjoyed the bleak ending and description.

From The Rear; TunnelRat68. Again personal reading preference knocked this one for me - the paragraphs were too big/blocky for me. Again I liked the idea of someone being alone within their own kind, and you captured the Space Marine persona quite well, I thought.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:45 am
by Pez_Yoda
Hello, I shall follow Corrigan's example:
1) 'Marooned' by Yeoldegrandma: As others have said, this captures the 'grim dark' of the 40k universe. The sense of isolation mixed with claustrophobia worked for me. A good character study.

2) 'Marooned' by Corrigan Pheonix: I liked the way this story built the tyranid's point of view without being too obvious. Although I suspected it was a nid being discussed, I wanted to see what exactly was going on, and that kept me reading.

3) 'Stranger' by VicktorK: For the ideas mostly, but it needs a longer treament. I enjoyed it.

The other stories in order of appearance; Please take my comments as constructive feedback. I am neither expert writer nor critic, so take my opinoins for what they are. I take no joy in offending anybody.

'Hour of the Wolf' by Liliedhe; This was an interesting concept, a kind of drunken rage against the character's concience/ reader, and I enjoyed it but I think it needed more structure, I felt slightly adrift as I read it.

'Marooned' by Rusk: This was an interesting way to add 'marooned' to the bleak roll call of expereiences an Imperial Guardsman endures; alone in a battlefield waiting for death. But it needed more of hook, or something to pull the reader through the narrative.

'From the rear' by TunnelRat68: I enjoy the bravado of an ork smashing dreadnought wading through guardsmen to pummel the greenskins, and it was a good play on the notion of being 'marooned'. However, I didn't feel anything really developed through the story (besides loads of Orks being smashed and scorched, which is always fun).

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:16 am
by Liliedhe
1) Stranger - VictorK, 3 pts

I probably watched too many war movies, but I found the idea of a Tau going native awesome :)

2) YeOldeGrandma - Marooned, 2 pts
3) Pez_Yoda - Forsake, 1 pt.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:36 pm
by Bloody Mary
1. "Hour of the Wolf" - Liliedhe - 3pts
2. "Stranger" - VictorK, 2pts
3. "Marooned" - YeOldGrandma, 1pt

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:26 pm
by YeOldeGrandma
My votes:
1. "Forsake", by Pez_Yoda - 3 pts
2. "Stranger", by VictorK - 2 pts
3. "Marooned", by Rusk - 1 pt (and no, I didn't pick up on any movie reference I'm afraid)

Some more comments from me.

I enjoyed this one, pure and simple. I enjoyed the simple, matter-of-fact telling of the story; you master language and pacing well. It flows easily and the sparse language allows my imagination quite a free rein.

Isn’t Shas’la just a rank and not a name? Or was that intentional?

I have nothing more of import to comment on, I’m afraid. In this case, it’s because your story is really good and I find no real flaws in it.

Corrigan Phoenix:
Aw, I wanted it to be a primarch….

Nice idea, showing a rather logical effect of the Lictors’ bioengineering manifesting as a “feeling” of loneliness. You had me feeling for the poor thing when it “wailed once more in distress and loneliness as the ground rushed up to meet it”. Then again, by that point I had no idea it was a Lictor. As I said, I thought it was a primarch (been reading a lot of Horus Heresy-novels recently).

As for your writing, it’s good and I can’t really find any flaws in it. In essence, there’s nothing wrong with your story, but for reasons I can’t explain there were others I liked better. The arbitrary part of my voting, I suppose.

I second Corrigan Phoenix’s comment about big blocks of text. Also, as I said last month, I’d like you to put the speech into separate paragraphs. Overall, I found that you had a good story about a battle unfolding, complete with sensible details of how attacks and counterattacks were executed. Unfortunately, it was made dull by an absence of… emotion, I suppose. It read like a 40k battle report, with you telling me what was going on without me actually getting pulled into the action.

Some spelling mistakes as well.

Plus points for some suitably pious one-liners, that fit well into the 40k-verse, if a little ponderous to read in text.

Your style is rather different from the rest of the ones I find in this competition. It would be easy to tell you to write more like the others (shorter, less “wordy” sentences, paragraphs broken into smaller segments), but I won’t do that. Your style is your own style, and though I find it needs improving, I still urge you to write in your own way.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:04 pm
by Corrigan Phoenix
Thanks for the crit YeOldeGrandma - I'm happy you enjoyed it, and fair enough with the voting. It's always going to happen when we're limited to what we vote for, especially with such a high ratio of quality entry's!

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:03 am
by Richter_DL
Strong contenders this time. Very strong.

3 points go to Stranger - VictorK
2 points go to Hour of the Wolf - Liliedhe
1 point goes to Marooned - YeOldeGrandma

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:58 pm
by VictorK

I think the comma use in the first few paragraphs is excessive. The flow is very choppy, but does smooth out.

Below him, he knew, were other lights; blinking electro-torches affixed to the hull of the space station.

Remember our semi-colon rule: you need two independent clauses. You wouldn’t write ‘blinking electro-torches affixed to the hull…’ as its own standalone sentence. You used a semi-colon correctly earlier in the piece, I think that you get into trouble here because you’re breaking up your sentences too much and need something new. This happens a couple of other times; the semi-colon usual comes after/before a couple commas.

This is a nice, understated story. There are a lot of good ideas here, especially the spiderweb/cobweb at the end. That’s a very nice touch. It’s the sort of detail that shows way more than you can tell: this guy is so alone he’s happy to see not another living but mere evidence that another living thing had been in the same area. I think you need more little moments like these. It’s very difficult to sustain a story focusing solely around how the character is feeling without evidence of why they’re feeling that way. It seems like at least 60 or 70 percent of your story is devoted to telling us THIS GUY IS OLD LOOK AT HOW CREAKY AND OLD HE IS. So there’s a mix of the subtle and the unsubtle in this story. Sometimes it works, I’m not certain that it quite makes it here.

I would consider giving your protagonist a name. I used to think in the similar way, I went through a phase where I would never give out a character’s name until it was spoken or related in some way in the narrative. But that’s dumb. People glide over ‘he’, they recognize names. Names can characterize all on their own, and your piece is, to its credit, completely about characterization.

Hour of the Wolf-Liliedhe

Wait, when were we allowed to do original stuff? I missed that train! I look forward to this.

Oh god I’m reading this in an airport, and flashing back to the 36 hours I spent in the same airport a few years ago. Oh god.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that there’s no better modern allegory for hell than being stuck in an airport. Dante couldn’t have done better, or perhaps it's Dostoevsky…I’m feeling a bit of inspiration from Notes from Underground.

I like the surreality of the piece, even if my guess is wrong. The characterization is good, unreliable narrators are always fun to play with even if they’re difficult to pull off. This one is largely effective, but you had a few hundred more words to play with, and while conciseness is its own virtue, if my guess is off and there was something else you were trying to go for there’s room for a few more details to flesh it out. But on the whole the piece works.


Sergeant Barbatus, the wrinkled, bearded, thick-set commander of Martijn's unit, his huge form crouched over a periscope on the fire step.

This sentence really bugs me. At first I thought it wasn’t a sentence at all, but I suppose you can have a dependent/independent clause arrangement but it’s really awkward.

But a good use of the word ‘fondling’ follows. A nice example of how a very simple word choice can provide a lot of characterization on the cheap.

My god there’s even a Michelle Rodriguez fiery latina!

I’m of two minds about this one. On the one hand, I’m not sure that there’s enough space to rattle off all of these Guardsmen that you’re just going to off. Then again, offing them is the whole point of the story. So it’s kind of a bind. We have no real attachment to them, and a lot of space is spent on characterization that gets there in some parts but not in others. I liked Barbatus the most. I suppose it’s better than nameless guardsmen, but at the same time it distracts from the protagonist. It’s like the reader is supposed to just assume an attachment because this is a Guardsmen story. You’re leaning very heavily on the tropes of that genre of 40k story to do a lot of work for you. Too much, I think. I would look at some of the stories in past RiaR by commander shadow. I’ve always really liked how he could paint a scene of the kind you’re trying to build here.

That said, there’s not really wrong with the writing. It’s a typical Guardsmen story, not a bad thing if you’re just trying to get back into things. I’m not really good at battlefield writing so take this advice with a grain of salt, but I think in the sort of ‘it’s all going to hell’ scene that you’re trying to write here pacing is just as if not more important than description. Controlling the pace of the narrative is really important when you’re trying to convey a fast beating heart, description just doesn’t do it. That’s not to say that you relied too much on description I think it’s just right, but there are times when I thought that things were slowed down, like this:

He slammed down hard, on his side, and felt something in his arm crack as he smashed into the ground.

I would take out the commas here. He’s falling from the sky, that should be happening quickly in the mind of the reader. There’s no real reason to set the part in commas apart from the rest of the narrative. It’s all one chain of action.


Welcome to RiaR.

Holy alliteration batman we’ve got m-m, c-c, and c-c again three paragraphs in a row! Maybe a bit too thick, as gothic as this story is feeling.

And corrosion kind of rhymes with ocean. Hmm.

I liked the bit where the axe was ‘speaking’, but you go on to use it at least two more times, falling into ‘list mode.’ It can be a nice bit of pacing and a neat way to tell, but it can be overdone.

There’s really a rhythm to this story. I’m undecided on it.

I like how this story ends. I think with a bit more tightening this story could be very good, I get the feeling that the somewhat rhythmic flow to it was meant or could be bent to really convey the way that the champion is unmoored a bit. The story weaves in the past, expectations of the future, and the underwhelming reality. It’s fun to play with story structure to give the reader the same sensation as the protagonist. As I’ve stated I think that the writing is a bit overwrought and could do with some editing to rein in some of the excesses. But, overall, it’s a good effort.

Marooned-Corrigan Phoenix

It was small and faint, despite its superior eyes, but it was definitely there.

The dangers of making the protagonist ‘it’. There are two ‘it’s in this sentence, and readers aren’t as well trained to differentiate between its as hes and shes.

I like the idea here, and I feel that it started out very strongly. But the birthing process took way too long. I found myself losing interest, and the narrative which had been crystal clear and enjoyable to begin with became almost inscrutable. The middle of this piece is bloated; you could have done much more with those words to move the narrative along. I like the transition at the end. I can see why you stretched out the birth; it’s the perfect opportunity to make a shift to the big reveal. Maybe there’s more that can be done with this section of the story.

We have to be able to do better than ‘it’. I know the purpose of the story is to inhabit the Tyranid mind and make the reader deduce that it’s a lictor, but still. It is confusing; it is a word that’s almost derisive for a protagonist. Alas, I don’t have a solution off the top of my head.

From the Rear-TunnelRat68

Any time you have four ‘and’s in one sentence I’d take another look at it.

minutes few

I remember that I had an English teacher who also taught creative writing. There’s a word for this kind of reversal. It’s attractive to some writers because it sounds more ‘authentic’ than ‘a few minutes’ but I don’t think that it’s effective writing. Clarity beats cuteness every time.

Handy tip: punctuation goes inside the quotation marks, generally. I also have to echo what the others have said about breaking up dialogue. As a general rule, there should be a new paragraph every time there is a new speaker, and if words are not actually being spoken, such as someone relaying rumors or the like, don’t put it in quotation marks. It gets confusing.

some 196 metres forward of his current position.

Why are you so specific here? There’s no need. Painting a picture is usually better than specific numbers unless there’s some reason to be specific.

It’s not a bad idea, really. All the stories deal with the theme of isolation in some way, and there’s no reason that a dreadnought shouldn’t be a prime candidate for that lonesomeness.

What the story really needs is structure. That’s why you get bogged down in those big paragraphs. You can paint a picture in a moment, but you haven’t strung them together to create a scene. I don’t know what’s going on, really, except that this guy is kicking some ass. I suppose that’s fine as far as it goes, but that’s not a terribly interesting story. If you want to really convey his loneliness and not just bring it into the last lines, the story needs a structure to support the theme. There are instances where you’re starting to do that, like the detail about how the dreadnought hates his own voice. I thought that was strange when I first saw it, because I hadn’t picked up on the fact that we were dealing with a dreadnought. Maybe that detail was there, if it was I glossed over it because, as the reader, I was inundated with a lot of not terribly important details so it was difficult for me to pick out the details that really mattered.

So I encourage you to rewrite this story. Have your theme in mind from the beginning, and think about how the story needs to be built in order to convey it. A story is kind of like an argument. You have to persuade the reader to buy into your theme, and if you start with the conclusion they won’t be conclusion. At the same time, everything you do has to be aimed towards getting that idea across. Take your reader through the argument: the reader should arrive at your conclusion (even if they haven’t quite put it together) before you state it. Stating the theme is really just the reader’s reward for guessing correctly.

The story as it stands is more about the battle than it is about the protagonist. I find that a lot of 40k and warhammer stories are like that. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it is wargaming fan fiction, after all. But I firmly believe that people respond to characters more than explosions, and you have a good character and a good idea at the heart of this piece. Build the story around them, place them within the scene, rather than having them just be a participant in the narrative. The story exists for the protagonist, not the other way around!

My votes:

1: Liliedhe
2: Pez_Yoda
3: Corrigan Phoenix

It was tough to figure out the order this time around, but I wanted to reward the more experimental pieces from Liliedhe and Corrigan Phoenix while Pez_Yoda would have taken the top spot if I felt that the writing and structure was stronger. He had a great story idea.

Comments on mine:

Grandma wrote:Isn’t Shas’la just a rank and not a name? Or was that intentional?

It's my understanding, and I could be wrong, that Tau ranks /are/ their names. I promise I wasn't (just) trying to cheat the word limit. The Tau in the story is very low ranking, just Shas'la Vior'la. Nothing to differentiate him.

I think that the piece could be longer, but I wanted to de-emphasize the war elements and focus more on Shas'la's development, and I think the word limit helped me focus in like a laser on that.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:19 pm
by Liliedhe
@Victor: Thanks for your very kind words. Just out of interest, what did you think I was going for? Because I was not really trying to be allegorical. ^^ I mean, not beyond the whole marooned-on an island-no man is an island angle^^.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:53 am
by Pez_Yoda
Hey, thanks for the welcome and the critique VicktorK, they mean a lot.

Reading it now with a bit if distance I think that 'overwrought' is pretty spot on. I was going for the epic/ poetic feel but it does need a bit of surgery. I totally overdid the short impact sentence thing as well.

I look forward to next month's challenge.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:51 pm
by YeOldeGrandma
VictorK: Thank you for your extensive, and useful, commenting. It's nice to have ones story analyzed in depth like this, and I wish I myself had the capacity to do the same, instead of just coughing out a "nice story bro". Semi-colon rule will be kept in mind from now on.

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:16 pm
by Corrigan Phoenix
Thanks all for the votes- it's nice to get some at all for a change! Thank you for those who have crit too- useful and good to know. Looking forward to Septembers RiaR!

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:38 am
by LordLucan
Voting closes 9pm tonight! Any stragglers, hurry and vote if you want your voice heard!

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:42 am
by LordLucan
The Results are In!:

1st) Stranger, by VictorK - 13 points

2nd) Hour of the Wolf, by Lil - 11 points

Joint 3rd) Forsake and Marooned, by Pez_Yoda and Yeoldegrandma respectively - 7 points each

4th) Marooned by Corrigan Phoenix - 3 points

5th) Marooned by Rusk - 1 Point

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:53 pm
by Corrigan Phoenix
Congrats guys- I look forward to this month's competition!!!

Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:54 pm
by TunnelRat68
Firstly, an apology for failing to vote by the deadline. I had read all the stories but the family holiday and late return Sunday prevented me honouring my voting vows!

Congratulations to the winners, a close run thing, and indeed all the entrants as I thought they were all great stories on a superb theme. I personally really enjoyed this one and I am very gratefull for the detailed feedback, YeOldGrandma and VictprK especially. VictorK I am going to take your advice and rewrite this with a better structure and concentrate on the character more, I might post the end result back to the main 40K area.

Well onto the next story and lets hope I can meet both deadlines this time!



Re: Marooned: Voting Thread

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:20 pm
by He2etic
Congratulations to VictorK for winning! His story has be placed on the Bloghole.