Haunting: Voting Thread

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby LordLucan » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:07 am

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 Friday 1st November. 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.

LL
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Rob P » Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:49 pm

Cycle

I titan tale from a titan POV.

I liked the concept. It fits for the short story format. I liked the repetition (the cycle as you’d call it). I liked the way the titan viewed its crew.

I found the word ‘skull’ a bit jarring. It didn’t feel right.

The truth of it

Yup, I like this.

It did take a couple of patient and careful reads to fully grasp it all, but I do feel that it is clear.

I like the first person pov and the style almost gives it an accent.

Not sure if sex with the ‘spirit’ in the woods is just a plot piece or whether there is a Warhammer reference I’m missing.

‘aunted

Ah, the relevance of the picture becomes apparent by the end.

I’m not a fan of ork talk. I find it forces me to re-read each line to make sure I’ve understood it and the context.

That being said it’s pretty funny, it flows well and I feel that you have grasped the character of the orks.


Spirit within

Being perfectly honest I felt that the story was a little too straightforward. Additionally, I felt the first paragraph and fourth paragraph were very clunky. There were some odd word choices too such as ‘5 by 5’ and ‘go with the flow’.

The felt story founds it feet at ‘“Master” Alcaeus cautiously voxed.’ I thought the dialogue and introspection worked and the idea of the novice reaching a sort of harmony with the armours ‘spirits of users past’ was at the very least interesting.

Haunting

This is the sort of style I usually like to write in.

I like the concept and I like the way the telling of the story is explained (if that makes sense).

The problem with that writing style (if problem is the correct word) is that the heavy repetition can smother the story and the intended clever idea of getting over what the character is thinking can cause the writing to take on the persona of the character to its detriment. If that makes sense.

A haunted night

Good title in context. Well written.

The child/mother thing was good. It gets something of a response without having to build up anything of a relationship with the reader.

Personally, I felt the ultimate conclusion was not to my tastes (but that’s unsurprisingly subjective); I would of either preferred a more vague threat/enemy or some physical contact.

Votes:

The truth of it - Pez Yoda - 3 pts
A haunted night - YeOldeGradma - 2 pts
Haunting - ninja101 - 1 pt
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Pez_Yoda » Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:22 am

Thanks for the kind words Rob P. I had a definite idea of what is happening in the woods around the town, but I was trying to keep it only as clear as the narrator could grasp it. It's delicate work, this first person nonsense.

The points:
1) Mossy Toes - 'Aunted (made I larf)
2) Rob P - An old man... (experimental but effective; A mosaic of thoughts. And broken cats.)
3) Ninja 101 - Haunting (I liked the concept of the aftermath of war)

Cheers.
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby TunnelRat68 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:18 pm

Great range of stories this month.

Mossy Toes – ‘Aunted

I enjoyed this one mostly due to the ‘unique’ perspective, not just of an Ork but of a MekBoy too. Some great paranoia between the characters. My only criticism was some of Orky phrases etc that did sometimes seem to be more Reggae that Orky?

YeOldeGrandma – A Haunted Night

I liked this short, it was taut and built the suspense and for a change didn’t reveal the enemy/monster. I loved the strength of the subject child compared to the other child and mother though I did find it a little confusing with the subject and the smaller child so had to re-read a few lines.

GaiusMarius – Cycle

A good pov, the machine, not the crew. I also liked the regeneration of the Titan time and again.

Pez_Yoda – The Truth of It

A funny one this for me. I loved the method of the tale but struggled to carry the story forward. In the end I like the overall story but didn’t like some sections if that makes sense.

Rob P – An old man does his duty

I really enjoyed this story including the complete abstractness that can only be Warhammer/40K; Men to rats and rats to men. My only gripe with this was the introductory paragraph that in essence, ran as a spoiler.

Ninja_101 – Haunting

I think the ‘Chorus’ of this story really set the tone and was punctuated by the pitiful, hopeless efforts of the survivors of the devastation. The all pervading ash and desolation were well described and the tag line adds the final confirmation that all was not well.

Scores:

1st - Ninja_101 – Haunting
2nd - Rob P – An old man does his duty
3rd - YeOldeGrandma – A Haunted Night

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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Mossy Toes » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:13 pm

TunnelRat68 wrote:Mossy Toes – ‘Aunted

I enjoyed this one mostly due to the ‘unique’ perspective, not just of an Ork but of a MekBoy too. Some great paranoia between the characters. My only criticism was some of Orky phrases etc that did sometimes seem to be more Reggae that Orky?
Ya mon, but dat's jus' Loopy Lobgit, who be reeeeeally chill, if ya know what I mean. Aire mon.

(perhaps an unwise choice, and also perhaps slightly inspired by the shamanistic trolls counter to the warlike orcs of the warcraft universe, but it's how the story unrolled out of my head, so I left it, even if I perhaps didn't have the wordcount to make it as clear as I would have liked)
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby YeOldeGrandma » Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:11 pm

Cycle, by Gaius Marius
Old-fashioned 40k, the way we're used to it. Great imagery, though for some reason I thought at first that the battle was taking place on some vast plains, and not in a city. I suppose it's because you list " thousand tanks and a dozen god engines plowing through the smoke" and I automatically thought they'd only fit in a large, open landscape. I'd say that as critic, except 40k might be one of the few settings allowing for that many war machines to do battle inside a city. Or maybe you wanted it to remain hazy exactly what the surroundings look like (since later you describe infantry marching through desert).

You wrote this on your tablet? That may be the reason why there are some minor spelling mistakes, though nothing to diminish my reading experience.
Ethilmars flat surface.

Ethilmar's flat surface
I turn the desert they march into gass.

I turn the desert they march in into glass(?)
Buildings crumble as I pass, drawn to the smell of battle.

Surely the buildings themselves are not drawn to the battle? ;)

Good job, all in all.

The truth of it, by Pez_Yoda

I love the feel of the story, and the images it conjures in my head - the beheading stands out in particular. You've got some great language going; your description of how the villagers react and relate to their fears is beautifully executed.

The vagueness is one of the key elements in this type of story; you choose what to reveal, when to do it and what words to use in order to keep us focused on what's important at the moment, and above all keep the mood going. Just make sure you don't go too vague. I had to re-read a few parts, and while I don't claim to be the most intelligent of readers, I still feel this crit to be justified. Especially since some things are just details added to set the mood (like the ring he keeps twisting, or the surname of the children who've been abducted) and don't truly matter if I fully understand in order for me to get the plot as a whole. If I'm kept too busy trying to figure out every little detail, I'll get thrown off the plot-trail more easily and have to go back and re-read.

And yet, while I'm writing this I realise that there are stories that are meant to do just that, and maybe that was what you were going for in the first place.

Well, I guess I have nothing of import to say then. These have been my comments and thoughts, not of much use other than for you to know how I reflect upon your story.

An Old Man Does His Duty, by Rob P
I couldn't stop imagining Morgan Freeman as the Caretaker... [ref: Bruce Almighty]

Nice take on the 40k mythos. I notice you only give examples of Chaos influence on humans. This is fine, but wouldn't there be a myriad of examples from all over the galaxy (galaxies?)?

'Aunted, by Mossy Toes

Haha, the big Warboss is scared of ghosts, I love it! And it fits the Orks very well.

I had no problem with the orky dialogue (except for one instance, but whatever); I found it very entertaining to read it aloud in my head. Which is why I'd have you consider rewriting this one section:
"Zoggob," he hissed. "Do ya mean ter tell me dat my armor is... 'aunted?" For the last word, his voice rose high and squeaky as a grot's.
Something like "Do ya mean ter tell me dat my armour is..." - his voice rose high and squeaky as a grot's - "...'aunted?"

Now, this way I won't have to go back and re-read his line because I didn't read the last word squeakily enough. It's really a minor thing - only a suggestion, really - and I'm not that serious about it ;)

The fact that Kennik has been controlling the armour since the very beginning of the story is kept vague for obvious reasons, yet it eluded me during my first read-through. Don't really know how you could make it clearer though.

Wheels turned in Zoggob's tiny excuse for a brain, calculating madly. This was better than he could have hoped—and he'd probably even come out ahead after giving Loopy Lobgit the cut they'd agreed on.
When was this deal made? I was under the impression that Zoggob came up with the idea to use the Weirdboy just now, and not before.

Oh yeah, I believe it's spelled "Weirdboy", not "Wierdboy".

All in all, a great story with some nice comedy, while still feeling very much 40k (I suppose that's what the Orks are there for).

Spirit within, by TunnelRat68

I've commented on your entries before, and much of what I've said then is still true today - much, but not all. I definitely think this is your best one yet.

As always, you have that archaic touch to the Marines' speech, with the few odd exceptions like "5 by 5" which do not fit at all. This one also holds a great plot, showing us the spirituality of the super-human soldiers in the dark future. It's really cool, a bit eerie and fits the theme very well.

You've split your paragraphs into smaller, more manageable chunks, which I think is a good decision. This story felt much easier to read. Your sentences are still rather long and wordy, and I still think that if that's the style you want, then that's the style you should keep. However, I personally find it much easier to streamline a story into a better read by choosing fewer words and (some) shorter sentences.

And some of your sentences are a bit weird.
Isocrates the Master of the Armoury walked round the statue like figure of the Marine resplendent in the pristine Armour as new.

This one needs more work. "the Master of the Armory"-bit should ideally be put within commas, thus kept apart from the rest of the text (as if within brackets, but not really). "Statuelike" is one word (I remember first reading this sentence and thinking there was an actual statue involved, and I was really confused). The last two words "as new" can be dropped altogether, alternatively elaborated upon in their own clause/sentence, because as it is now I'm not even sure it's grammatically correct. And it's confusing and clunky.

Also, I found that it was unclear who the POV-character here is. In the rest of the story it's clear that it's Alcaeus (great name), but here it seems to be Isocrates.

Yes, this one sentence is guilty of a lot :lol:
Isocrates constantly guided the novitiate,coaxing him on but also questioning him on every detail. Sometimes updating the armours control processor, turning up gain and filters or amplifying Acaeus’s own inputs through the Armour’s interface.
This should be one sentence instead of two. I get the feeling you're not taking enough care with your punctuation, your spacings and so on (I'll elaborate a bit on this further on). Watch the space between the first comma and the word "coaxing" - there should be a space there.
But still he faltered here and there no matter how hard he pushed the suit, it seemed to fight back until he acquiesced and went with it.
here it seems you've started the sentence in one way and, mid-writing, changed your mind. As I see it you could go two ways:

But still he faltered here and there no matter how hard he pushed the suit. It seemed to fight back until he acquiesced and went with it.

or

But still he faltered here and there, and no matter how hard he pushed the suit it seemed to fight back until he acquiesced and went with it.

As I said, there seems to be a bit of sloppiness with the general writing at times (I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but English is not my first language and these comments take enough time to write as it is).

“Yes......YES, 5 by 5”
- any numbers lower than...uh, actually I don't remember, but it's somewhere around twenty I believe - should really be written out in letters. Also, excessive number of dots - usually, you never see more than three in a row.

Capital letters - I am not a fan of these, unless it can be motivated (say, in a vox transcript, a Titan speaking [ref: Gaius Marius's entry this month] etc). I don't get why you put the main character's name in capital letters. In the last line of your story you can substitute capital letters where used for letters in italics - it conveys the same message and looks neater.

From
ALCAEUS settles into the the skilled exercises and battle routines...
to
After a process lasting months within the heart of the Chapter Battle Fortress Home...
you've changed tense, from past to present.

With all this said, I don't want to diminish the fact that you've captured a rather unique feel of the 40k-verse, which seems so beautifully obvious once put before me. The mood and feel of your story really is great and deserves further exploring.

Haunting, by ninja101

The looping phrase haunts your entire piece. In a good way. There is a great sadness permeating your story, and it gets to me. This is apocalyptic. These are the last men and women alive on that planet. Ok, so I've been reading World War Z recently, which might be why I'm so easily touched by this, but still...

And through it all the siren call of the ancestors, the path they offer for the people, back to their roots, back to the time before the Imperium which has punished them so (or have I completely misread your story?). In the end that path is the only one left for them, despite their attempts to find something - anything - else.

It's so sad. And so beautiful.

As we crossed the plains, following no paths and no roads save those left in our dimming and distant memories of journeys taken in a time which seemed so distant as to belong to another people, native to another place.
The start of the sentence implies a follow-on clause, but it never comes.

Votes:
1st place - 3 points: 'Aunted, by Mossy Toes. Simply because this story is written in what I'd call "the usual" way - no dreamy monologue, no abstract imagery, just plain ol' prose* - AND because it is done to such a high standard.

2d place - 2 points: The truth of it, by Pez_Yoda. It probably didn't come across clearly enough in my crit, but there is a high standard of writing here, and great imagery. I personally think this is easier to do with this sort of writing style (many short sentences, focus on detail to retain the mood, vagueness etc) compared to the one employed by Mossy Toes, which is why I decided to give him first place. Not to diminish your effort; this really is a great piece, too.

3d place - 1 point: Haunting, by ninja101. It got to me, as you already know. It was close between this and Pez_Yoda's piece, but ultimately I think his standard of writing was just a little bit higher.
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby ninja101 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 12:02 pm

I liked

1. 'Aunted - Mossy Toes
2. A Haunted Night - YeOldeGrandma
3. The Truth of IT - Pez_Yoda
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby TunnelRat68 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:32 pm

YeOlGrandma, thank you again for taking the time to give valuable feedback. I did take your advice from my last submission and having re-read with your comments in mind, I can see your points, noted.

Next RIAR topic please.
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:29 am

1st) TunnelRat68 - Spirit within

2nd) ninja101 - Haunting

3rd) YeOldeGrandma - A haunted night
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby LordLucan » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:09 pm

The votes are in, and the results are as follows:

1st Place - 'Aunted, by Mossy Toes, with 9 points.

2nd Place - Haunting by ninja101, with 8 points.

3rd Place - Pez_Yoda and YeOldeGrandma draw for 3rd, with their stories The Truth of It, and A Haunted Night, both achieving 6 points respectively.

4th Place - An Old Man does his Duty, by Rob P, gets 4 points.

5th Place - TunnelRat68's story, Spirit Within, round sout the entries with 3 points.

A nice spread of points this month, and some fab entries all round. So thanks for all your entries and votes guys.



The next RiaR comp will be going up later today, or possibly tomorrow if I don't have time today.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Rob P » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:51 pm

Well done, Mossy.

And thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my effort (and where applicable comment on it).

It might not have been my best attempt (though the effort was there!) at a RIAR, but it was nice to have a go after many months away from it.

In respect of the comments on my story:

@tunnelrat68 - Thank you for the feedback. I agree that the preamble was a spoiler (or ,perhaps more strongly, a cheat). I'm really not sure whether it would have worked better or worse without it.

@YeOldeGrandma - One difficulty I had was deciding whether the caretaker was just a caretaker or whether he would be alternate-Malcador. The second issue was whether the dreams/stories would be the caretaker's with a cube's taint or whether the stories actually come from cube. I never really came to a solid conclusion on either but I felt that a human character with human stories worked for me (though in hindsight an Eldar one would have been pretty cool).

In terms of the writing of the story I did ride entirely on the plot. I liked the idea of stories within a story, which is itself a story that sounds good when spoken aloud. My writing was pretty basic (almost entirely tell rather than show), but I enjoyed it.

Thanks again for reading and congratulations to Mossy Toes!
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Re: Haunting: Voting Thread

Postby Mossy Toes » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:39 am

Huh, that comes as something of a surprise. Not an unwelcome one, though!
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator!
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