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  #1  
Old 12-05-2007, 02:34 AM
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Default VIP Membership Contest - Winner


Before I announce the winner of the VIP Membership contest, I would just like to thank all the entrants for participating. I thought the calibre of writing was very high, and I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to read, and re-read, all of the entries.

There were a few pieces that would have benefited from better presentation, and formatting caused me one or two problems as well. (All those special fonts are not such a good idea when submitting your stories because they don’t necessarily work on someone else’s computer!) But, because I’m feeling so generous, I haven’t taken those little glitches into consideration when making my decision.

And it was a harder decision than I anticipated. There were a couple of entries I thought deserving; but there can, alas, be only one winner. (Special thanks going out now to my Secret Second Opinion for all your valuable advice!)

So without further ado, the winner of the VIP Membership Contest for Her Majesty’s Pleasure is…(drum roll, please)Phiddipus with his story, Hunting Buddies. Of all the entries, his came closest to my interpretation of sinister: that of something ominous suggesting the approach of disaster or great misfortune.

Congratulations! Your VIP Membership will be activated as soon as possible, so look out for a post from Daniel.

Commiserations to the other entrants, but you all did an outstanding job. Thank you for the pleasure of reading your wonderful stories, and poem (Zeb). Individual critiques will be posted to this thread.

Cheers,
Queen of Wands

For all critiques:
red for delete
underscored for needs attention
blue for my comments

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Last edited by Q Wands; 12-05-2007 at 03:36 AM..
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  #2  
Old 12-05-2007, 02:54 AM
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Default Critique: Ablelaz - The Windfall

Hank waited impatiently in the drizzling rain for the taxi to arrive; he carefully gripped the battered suitcase, protective of its secrets. He looked around nervously, suspicious of everyone he saw, particularly the man in the trench coat a block away. He looked like a character out of a Sam Spade novel. He had his trench coat collar turned up against the weather, hands rammed into pockets, shoulders hunched, hat pulled down at the front as if to conceal his identity.

An awful lot of he’s beginning the sentences. It can be difficult when one doesn’t want to keep repeating the character’s name, but beware of over-using pronouns as well. Some of the repetition above could be avoided by restructuring your sentences to begin with a descriptive clause: With collar turned up and his hat pulled down to conceal his identity, the man rammed his hands into his pockets and hunched his shoulders against the weather. Of course, that is just one possible alternative, but should give you the idea.

A blue Ford pulled around the corner to Hank’s left, cruised up the street then pulled to the curb and stopped.

to Hank’s left it isn’t really necessary for us to know left/right; you could leave this in, but equally it could be cut as it adds nothing.

Hank felt the panic start to build;it’s something he couldn’t afford right now. Seeing a break in the traffic, he ran across the street. Mr. Trench Coat was also trying to cross the street.

The it’s changes the tone of the narrative, only slightly, but enough to distract. You could delete it and replace the semi-colon with a comma.

The Ford had pulled out into traffic and turned left at the first street. Hank was watching the man in the trench coat closely as his cab pulled up to the curb. He opened the back door and slid the suitcase between the seats before sitting down. (I inserted a full stop here, and a blank line before the dialogue.)

"You the one called for a cab?" the driver asked.

"Yeah, just drive."

"It’s your dime, (insert comma) pal." He pulled the cab out into the traffic. Hank watched out the rear window as Trench Coat finally made it across the last two lanes of traffic.

"How long have you been driving cabs?"

"Oh, (insert comma) about twenty years give or take a few."

"I guess you would know if you were being followed."

"If I thought I was being tailed, I could soon prove it."

"Okay, humor me and check it out"

"As I always say, (insert comma) it’s your dime."

Hank leaned back in the seat and let his mind run over the events that led up to this. It hadn’t been as if he had planned anything, it just happened. Some would say a stroke of luck, or perhaps an act of God. He had used the deserted broom factory as a shortcut home; it was always deserted during daytime. At night there were homeless people using it as a place to sleep. The evidence was plain to see, old suitcases, and the other assorted junk, that represented the total possessions of some poor wretch.

Then the shooting started, becoming sustained gunfire and it echoed through the old building like a never-ending cascade of noise. Hank peered around the corner, even as the gun fire stopped. In the middle of the floor there was a table and four chairs. Of the men who were present, three were lying on the floor dead or unconscious. The fourth was leaning on the table one hand clamped to the wound in his stomach, the other gripping his gun. As Hank moved into the room the wounded man tried to turn toward the new threat. The effort cost him his balance and the impact of hitting the floor sent the gun spinning away. Hank looked at the table. (insert full stop, capitalise it)It contained two large briefcases.

Gunfire is one word.

One was filled with plastic bags full of a white powder; the other was full of money. Hank’s first impulse was to take the briefcase with the money and leave. But he had heard of these fancy briefcases having built in homing devices. He looked around and saw a battered old suitcase belonging to a homeless person. Hank emptied the contents on the floor. After transferring the money to the suitcase, he stuffed in enough old clothes to fill it up. He slipped fifty bucks under the pillow of the man whose suit case he expropriated. He picked up an old suit coat, dirty and wrinkled, put it on, it was too large but that was okay with Hank.

Suitcase is one word; you have it right in one instance and not in another. Suit coat sounds strange to my ear: I’d either say a coat or a suit jacket, but not sure what you meant here.

"Ford Fairlane, blue, he’s pretty good, (insert comma) hanging well back." the cabby said.

Hank was jarred back to the present by the cabby’s words.

"Can you lose him?"

"Can a duck swim?" he muttered.

"Okay let’s do it."

Hank remembered going over to the window and rubbing his hands in the dust and dirt that had accumulated there. He rubbed some of it on his face then wiped his hands on his pants. Walking to the table he picked up the suitcase and left. On the street he assumed the shuffling gait of the homeless, babbling about bodies, gunfire and hell’s (insert apostrophe) eruption. When he passed his apartment building he veered into the parking lot. At the first opportunity he entered and went straight to his apartment. He stripped, showered and dressed in clean clothes.

Since Hank had lost his tail, what prevented him from entering his apartment building normally? Was he tying to avoid the attention of a nosy neighbour, the doorman? I know this isn’t significant, but at the first opportunity made me wonder.

(new para) Opening the suitcase, he removed everything except the money. The rest went into a garbage bag, along with what he had been wearing. The suitcase contained packs of money, each one with a paper band around it. There were twenties and fifties. Hank counted one of each then multiplied by the number of packs. It came to just a little less than three hundred thousand dollars. He opened one of the packs and extracted fifteen twenties which he slipped into his wallet. Packing some socks, underwear and a couple of shirts to fill up the small case, he closed and secured it. Pulling a bigger case out of the closet, he thoughtfully packed everything that was left into it. He called a cab to take him to the bus depot and left the apartment.

(new para)At the super’s apartment, he slipped one month’s (insert apostrophe) rent into an envelope along with the key and dropped it in the mail box. He dropped the garbage bag into the dumpster and made his way around to the front of the building just as the cab arrived.

Mailbox is one word. And I’m confused by why Hank dropped the key and envelope into the super’s mailbox instead of slipping them under the flat door, since he went to the apartment. Mailboxes are usually locked and not easy to get things into without the key. Again, a minor detail, but you are creating confusion on small details and detracting from the story.

(new para)At the bus depot, (insert comma) he rented a locker to put the big suit case in. He took a bus to Toronto, had a bite to eat, and called another cab. When he went out to wait for it, they were already there. How did they know? What had he done wrong? He couldn’t think of anything.

Repetition of ‘At the…’. This is beginning to sound too much like telling and not showing, ie Hank did this, then he did that. He may be remembering events, but would he remember them as though reliving them, or as though he were reciting a shopping list?

"Okay,(insert comma) pal, (insert comma) we’re clean now!"

Again the driver’s voice jolted Hank back to the present. "You know where there is a used clothing store?"

"I sure do, the biggest in Canada, so they say."

After making a few purchases, Hank climbed back into the cab.

"I would like a modestly priced, respectable hotel."

"Now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one! -- Naw I am just kidding, say thirty a night?"

"That sounds about right."

This section seems a bit forced to me. First, you’re trying to get a lot into a few sentences, but you don’t have to give us a blow-by-blow account of Hank’s actions, with a full explanation of how he found a place to by used clothing, how he found a hotel, etceteras. These small details can be explained in some other way, if necessary, but are ruining the pacing, especially coming right after the mundane details of Hank’s visit to his apartment.

Meanwhile, this cabbie sounds like a real one-in-a-million: he can lose tails, knows the location of shops, hotels – and their rates….

Why not have a break here, and resume the story from the hotel room?

The hotel was in a residential area, taking up the whole block when parking was included.

Extraneous detail. There is far too much in this and it detracts from the narrative.

The meter read just short of seventy dollars. Hank counted out one hundred and dropped it on the seat beside the driver.

"Give me your name and a number, I’m going to need a cab tonight and I like the way you drive."

The driver wrote his name and a number on a piece of paper, handed it to Hank. (insert full stop)"(insert quotes) Ask the receptionist for me, give her a number, I’ll call you, I like the way you pay."

The above is good and witty, but too long as one sentence. How about: "Ask the receptionist for me and give her a phone number. I’ll call you. I like the way you pay."

Hank got a room overlooking the parking lot.

He laid out the purchases; a coat, hat and suitcase. He opened the old suit case. The only thing he took from the drug deal was money. He went over it one pack at a time, and soon found the dummy. It contained a homing device. He wrapped the homing device in a bath towel and put it back in the suit case. The money along with everything else he put in the new suit case. Hank called the number on the card. The dispatcher took Hank’s message and five minutes later Hank received a call.

The purchases sounds very formal for some second-hand clothing. Suitcase one word. Still very tedious, telling not showing.

But, this is also where you could resume if you drop out all the blow-by-blow with Mr Super-cabbie. You could describe Hank finding the dummy, sorting out the suitcases and dressing.

"(insert quotes) I will need a cab(insert comma instead) not your company, to deliver a package to Hamilton. I need you to be standing by; as soon as he leaves, you pull up and I’ll tell you where we’re going once we’re underway." (insert quotes)

not your company… A cab firm is not going to give business away, so a silly request, though I understand what Hank is trying to do.

The first cab arrived; Hank gave him the instructions and prepaid the fare. He followed the driver down to the main floor. Hank stood at the door as the first cab drew away. Trench Coat got out of the blue Ford and it followed the cab out of the parking lot. He headed for the doors to wait inside; he only gave Hank a glance. Wearing a different coat and hat;(replace with comma) he looked like a different man. Trench Coat headed for the desk as Hank made his way out of the hotel. The cab pulled up and Hank slid the case in and followed it.

Okay, maybe I’m getting pernickety, but I would expect a cabbie going to a hotel to pick up a fare or parcel or whatever to do so from the lobby. He’s not going to waste time going to the client’s room because: a) he’s abandoned his cab; b) time is money, c) it’s bloody dangerous since he’d have been an idiot to leave his takings for the shift in the cab, so he’ll be carrying a fair bit of cash.

Meanwhile, Mr Trench Coat has been absent for too long. Where was he when he should have been hovering close by, building suspense?

The two he’s are confusing. I know one refers to Hank, but the other could be either Hank of Trench Coat. This part should give us chills: will Trench Coat somehow suss that Hank has got the cash? Will Hank give him the slip? Instead, it’s a bit confused.

Repetition of different.

As the cab pulled away Hank said, (insert space) " Why don’t you check again and see if we are being followed?"

After several minutes and numerous turns, the Cabby said, "nope, (insert comma) we’re clean as a whistle."
Cabby: no capital; capitalise Nope as it is the first word the cabby speaks.

Hank smiled and leaned back in the seat, closed his eyes, and said, "Be a nice night for a drive to London."

The driver said," It’s your dime, (insert comma) pal."


* * *

This story has the general feel of an old noir film, but there is a lot of explaining, and a lot of telling, when what we need is action. Also, while it had some element of suspense, I didn’t get a strong sense of something sinister. Now, if the suitcase had contained a deadly virus, you might have been closer to the mark. Aborted drug deals are more or less standard crime novel fare, and not truly sinister nastiness.

Also, Mr Trench Coat is a very distant nasty, never near enough to pose a real threat. The one time he and Hank do come close is in the hotel lobby, but the writing was a bit muddled so any suspense was lost.

Perhaps if you re-wrote this as though it was an old film, including fade-outs, then it might work better. Being a visual medium, films focus on actions not descriptions, so this might help to keep the narrative tight and edgy.

On the plus side, I do think you have a strong plot. There’s a real sense of those old nineteen-forties films and stories about shady characters and low-rent PI’s. I would really love to see you re-work this and post it again in the general forum.

I’d also like to say that you did a fine job on your spelling, punctuation and grammar, particularly bearing in mind your dyslexia. Thank you for making such a great effort!

Cheers,
QW
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  #3  
Old 12-05-2007, 03:00 AM
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Default Critique: Starrwriter - Dust Devils

In the afternoon a hot wind swept across the farm, stirring up dust devils here and there in the barren fields. From his chair on the porch the farmer watched the miniature swirling cyclones dance like ghosts rising out of the ground. He was a large man with muscled arms and a tuft of chest hair protruding from the top of his overalls. His steel blue eyes had dark circles beneath them and his cheeks sagged wearily from lack of sleep.

He turned when his wife opened the screen door and joined him on the porch. She was a small, frail-looking woman who wore no makeup and was fond of reading the Bible. She rested her hand on her husband's shoulder.

"You best do it before Nathan gets home," she told him.

Nathan was their teenaged son, expected to arrive soon on the school bus.

The farmer sighed. "Keep Irma in her room," he said. "I don't want her to see this."

His wife nodded solemnly. Irma was ten years old and had stayed home from school that day pretending to be sick.

The farmer stood up and stretched his long legs. "I wish there was some other way, but I know there ain't."

"You just make sure you do it quick," his wife insisted. "I don't want him to suffer."

Leaving the porch, he walked slowly to the barn and swung the door open. He went first to the wide-mouthed shovel, then changed his mind and took the pitchfork from its hitch on the wall. It would be much easier with a gun, he thought, but his wife hated guns and wouldn't allow one on the farm. He would have to make do with the pitchfork.

His daughter confronted him as he left the barn. Irma was frail like her mother and stood barefoot in her pajamas with terror in her eyes.

"Please don't kill him, "she pleaded.

Spacing error

"Go back to the house!" he shouted.

"Please, Daddy, he don't each much."

Should be eat

"Do as I tell you!"

The farmer's wife came running and grabbed the girl, who squirmed to break free. "I'll take care of her," the wife said. "Hurry up and get it over with."

Taking long strides, he walked toward the ravine with the wails of his daughter ringing in his ears. As tears welled up in his eyes, he tried to harden his heart against the awful sounds. Four mouths were easier to feed than five, he told himself. Irma was too young to understand that sacrifices had to be made if any of them were to survive. It was the oldest ritual in the world, the one that whole civilizations had depended upon from the earliest days of farming.

Welled up…it may be colloquial, but welled on its own would do as nicely.

On the forested slope of the ravine the farmer slipped and quickly regained his balance. A creek had spared this useless part of the farm from the effects of the terrible year-long drought and the farmer surveyed it with a certain bitterness. Those dust devils he had seen were mocking him, but he would have the last laugh soon when the rains returned.

Following the muddy creek bed, he could feel a watchful presence and smell the stench of shit and urine long before he saw the wild eyes bulging with fear. As he approached, it bolted and hit the end of its chain with a loud thump. The sight of it had always made the farmer feel nauseous. He was sure that such a thing was not meant to survive. It was a mistake of nature, a reproach against everything that was good and beautiful in life.

When he stepped forward with the pitchfork, it bared its yellow teeth and sprang at him.

The farmer jumped out of the way. "You settle down now," he ordered.

It stared at him with unblinking eyes. The farmer had always wondered if there was any intelligence behind those eyes -- or was it simply blind instinct? He would never know now. He took a slice of bread from his overall pocket and held it out. "I'll bet you're hungry," he leered.

It licked saliva from the corners of its mouth.

"That's more like it."

He tossed the bread on the ground. When it bent over, the farmer thrust the pitchfork into its deformed back with all his strength. Blood spurted and it fell over, groaning and kicking wildly into the air. The farmer leaned on the pitchfork to drive it deeper. When the thing kept thrashing around, the farmer retrieved the pitchfork and in a frenzy stabbed it again and again until he was too tired to lift his arms anymore.

On a second reading, this seems a wee bit confused. The farmer stabs it in the back, it falls over (presumably forward), but it’s kicking wildly into the air. Then, the farmer leans on the pitchfork to drive it in deeper, so the thing must still be on its knees at least, since the pitchfork is still in its back. It continues to thrash and, only now, the farmer retrieves the pitchfork to stab it in a frenzy. I think the kicking wildly into the air is the culprit here. Easily substituted by having the thing pound the earth instead, maybe?

After a moment it stopped moving and its eyes turned glassy. The farmer sat on a log to catch his breath, wiping his sweaty face with a handkerchief. He noticed that he was spattered with blood and felt a strange exhilaration. The long wait was over at last and now things would return to normal. A smile flickered on the farmer's face.

Emerging from the ravine, he spotted a few clouds on the horizon. Maybe you will rain tonight, he whispered to the sky. Nathan and his mother were waiting on the porch when he strolled up the stairs.

"Did you bury him?" the wife asked.

"Nathan can do that," the farmer said, taking his seat.

His son's face was contorted into a look of horror. "Oh my God. What have you done?"

"Don't be such a baby," his mother scolded. "You've buried dead things before."

"I'm calling the sheriff's department," Nathan said.

He tried to open the screen door, but his mother slammed it shut. "You will do no such thing. You will honor your father like I taught you."

Nathan leaped off the porch and landed awkwardly on the dusty ground, twisting his ankle. The farmer rushed to help his son.

"Stay away from me!" Nathan shouted, hobbling backward.

"You stop this foolishness and go to your room," his mother demanded.

"I won't stay in this house," Nathan sobbed, limping down the driveway.

"He was an abomination not fit to live," his mother called after him.

The boy was already on the road. The farmer watched him until he had nearly disappeared from view. "Should I get the truck and bring him back?" he asked his wife.

"Let him go," she said wearily.

"But he's hurt."

"Maybe the pain will bring him to his senses."

"What if he tells someone?"

"They won't believe him."

"You sure?"

"Lots of kids tell wild stories," he wife assured him. "It don't mean nothing."

He should be his

The farmer returned to the porch and slumped into his chair. "I haven't felt so tired in years," he grumbled.

"You'll have to bury him some place where nobody can ever find him."

"I'll do it after supper."

His wife went inside and began peeling potatoes in the kitchen sink. The farmer saw the last dust devil of the day swirl past the barn and disappear into thin air. He smiled when he felt a hint of moisture in the cooling breeze. As the sun dipped below the hills to the west, he brushed a fly away and got to his feet. He lowered his head as if in prayer and kissed a bloody spot on his overalls. He would take a long shower, change into clean clothes, and watch some television until supper was ready to eat.

Since one doesn’t usually do a lot else with supper, I think the to eat is superfluous.

* * *

Well, there really isn’t very much I can say about this other than that’s it’s another brilliant piece of writing from our aptly named Starrwriter. From the first paragraph, with the description of the dust devils dancing like ghosts, there was a sense of something sinister just over the horizon.

The negative: I did think the descriptions of the farmer and his wife, while excellent, were in the wrong place. A brief mention of one or two features would suffice for the farmer. The rest can come in at some later point. Describing the wife, albeit so briefly, immediately after the farmer, seems a mistake to me. If I didn’t know you, I might suspect you were an amateur, and that each character in the story was going to be introduced with a description. But I do know better, so this may be just a case of stylistic differences.

The positive: having grown up on the tales of masters such as Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson, to name a few, I can honestly say this is top-notch stuff. In fact, it’s rather like an American version of the Green Man myth of England. And I liked the way that what the farmer killed was never clearly identified. This allows the reader to decide, which means that I, for one, was still thinking about this long after I’d finished reading it.

Bravo!
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  #4  
Old 12-05-2007, 03:02 AM
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Default Critique: Saphrym - Early November in Friarville

The first thing I have to say about this story is, sadly, a negative. Entrants were allowed up to 2,000 words. This comes in at a whopping 526 words over the limit. Had it been under 100, I might have allowed it, but exceeding the limit by 25% means that this was disqualified. So sorry.

Also, because of its length, I will not be doing a detailed critique. As sole judge, I have eleven entries to read and make comments on. The extra verbiage and work is not appreciated. Again, sorry.

Other than that, it was likeable, although it contained quite a few cliched elements. While this isn’t a negative in itself, a fresh spin on them would have been welcomed. This also had a humourous touch, which went down well, but perhaps because of the humour, this never raised so much as a shiver. The sinister element was severely lacking.

Overall, considering that the piece was greatly over the limit, more could have been done with it. Perhaps you could rework this and post it on the general forum, where I’m sure it will be appreciated.

Thank you for entering my contest.

Cheers,
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:07 AM
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Default Critique: Asferthecat - The Black Dog of Essex

Sam was a Man of Essex, steeped in the folklore of the county, which is why he should never have been alone, in a country lane, at midnight.

In the warmth and brightness of the pub, he had forgotten about the ancient warnings. He had drunk too much, and talked too long, and missed the last bus home. He had hoped that one of his drinking companions might have given him a lift but, what with one thing and another, they had all drifted away, and he had faced the journey on foot and alone.

He hurried along (delete hyphen, replace with a comma) at first more fearful of what his wife would say when he returned so late. Then, as the night grew darker and the village lay far behind him, he began feel a supernatural fear.

Far away, the church clock struck midnight and, in the hedge, the Black Dog of Essex started to form. Shadows merged together into a long lean shape. Sam heard a rustling in the hedge behind him and he quickened his pace, stumbling over the uneven surface of the lane.

The shadowy dog lifted its head and inhaled - long, slow breath, as if it was savouring the scent of death. The sigh, as it breathed out, was like the gentle soughing of the wind.

The moon, seen through gaps between the leaves, formed shining slits of light. Two of the slits seemed to blink and then move like eyes, focussing their luminous gaze on the man hurrying along the lane ahead.

Sam heard the sniffing of the dog and felt its gaze upon him and the blood ran like ice through his veins. On no account, he told himself, must he look back, (insert comma) for whoever sees the Black Dog of Essex will die.

Moonlight shone on tall grasses that grew by the hedge. They looked creamy-white in the pale light, their sharply-pointed (delete hyphen) blades bright against the shadows beyond. Above them the leaves in the bushes hung down and shone in the moonlight like teeth on a snarling mouth. The black dog rolled its head so foaming spittle flew from its gaping, blade-toothed mouth, then it closed its jaws over its gleaming teeth, and all was darkness.

I might consider dividing this last sentence into two, at mouth./Then

Sam’s heart beat in his chest like a thundering hammer, he tried to run but knew that if he stumbled and fell the dog would be on him and he would be lost. He walked on through the night, his knees aching and his breath coming in gasps, determined not to look behind him.

Rounded pebbles lay at the side of the road, their edges like gleaming curves. The gleaming edges moved, for the curves were claws on softly-padded (deletehyphen) feet. As the black dog followed the man its paws hit the ground as softly as a beating heart.

Every fibre of Sam’s being was focussed on the sounds behind him, as he hurried along the lane. His shoulders were hunched, his head was aching with tension, and he felt sick with fear. If only he heart would stop its hammering he could hear more clearly. The rustling seemed to have stopped but he could hear footsteps padding on the lane behind him. Were they footsteps or just the beating of his heart?

The moon went behind a cloud and the foolish man risked taking a look over his shoulder. As he peered into the blackness the moon re-emerged and there, standing in the middle of the lane with glowing eyes, teeth and claws was the Black Dog of Essex.

Sam stood slack-jawed staring at his nemesis. Without a sound the hellish creature took two swift steps forwards and launched itself at Sam. The stinking breath of the beast made his senses reel. Sharp claws and teeth ripped at his chest and crushed his heart. He tried to raise and arm to protect himself but it felt like lead. His scream choked in his throat to become a gurgle and the darkness of the Black Dog enveloped him.

High above, the impassive moon shone down upon the body of Sam lying in the deserted country lane.

"A heart attack," the coroner would say. But why the look of terror on his face? A Man of Essex could tell you why.


* * *

What a wonderful story; I really enjoyed this. Although the Black Dog is a familiar legend, this was well executed.

I liked the way the dog was suggested by the slits of moonlight, the blades of grass, the pebbles. There were a few cliches (ie the blood ran like ice through his veins) but they were not obtrusive enough to detract from the narrative. Other than a few minor niggles, I think this was a well-written piece and eminently praiseworthy. It had great pace, good use of language, and a definite sense of the sinister. And the ending was perfect because it allows the reader to decide whether the Black Dog truly exists, or whether it was simply Sam’s imagination getting the better of him after a few pints too many.

Well done on an almost perfectly executed piece. The only shame is that you didn't give it an original twist to make it your own.

Cheers,
QW
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Last edited by Q Wands; 12-05-2007 at 11:56 AM.. Reason: aargh! missing word!
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  #6  
Old 12-05-2007, 03:10 AM
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Default Critique: Phiddipus - Hunting Buddies

It was still dark when the man awoke. In the front of his van, he could see the dark silhouette of the great hunting hawk, head tucked back in sleep. He stirred to light the stove, and the bird woke. Firelight illuminated her amber eyes and slid along the smooth black curves of powerful beak and talons.

Through the window he could see scattered clouds and a few stars. He was glad. It had rained hard the day he came to the mountains, and (missing for?) two days after that. He had come to hunt grouse with his goshawk; instead, he was forced to sit in his van, passing time as best he could. Today, despite the bitter cold, they would hunt. He watched the hawk carefully as he prepared his gear. She was impatient, gripping the perch with her strong yellow feet. The cold made her hungry and ready to fly. He drew on the heavy, scarred leather glove. The hawk jumped to it eagerly, gulping the tidbit of meat he offered.

It was nearly dawn when the pair of hunters set out across the icy field. They left a trail of darker green in the wet grass. Spiders hung in crystal-spangled webs like bejeweled nightmares.

Great imagery there!

Carefully, with numb fingers, he removed the goshawk's leash and swivel. Holding the bird high on his glove, he slowly walked through the field, kicking at clumps of weeds with his heavy boots. The hawk shook her feathers vigorously. (change full stop to comma) jangling the bells tied to her legs. The man paused when she bobbed her head.

"Ho!" He shouted as she launched from the glove. A rabbit shot from a weedy tangle and hurtled down a slope toward a pile of dead timber at the edge of the wood. The hawk banked, folded her wings, and dove. Hawk and rabbit came together by the woodpile; with a last, desperate effort the rabbit evaded the hawk's talons. The hawk pitched up into a tree. A puff of rabbit fur drifted down in the calm air.

A quarter mile away, the man watched his hawk leave her perch and circle out over the field. He held up a piece of meat on the glove and whistled to her. She wasn't interested in his cold chicken; she was hunting. Ignoring the man, she circled the field again and disappeared over the trees. The man was alone.

He spent the rest of the day futilely searching for his hawk, swinging the lure and calling for her. Often he would stop, listening in vain for the jingling of hawk bells. Finally, cold and hungry, he returned to the van.

(new para) The next morning was the same. He was walking along the border of the woods when he found a wet clump of fur clinging to a twig. Worried, he searched the area for signs of a kill. If the hawk had fed, she would not return to him.

Finding no signs of a kill, he moved on, stopping to whistle and listen for bells. Deep in the woods, he rested on a fallen tree. Far away, he could hear blue jays scolding something and then, the unmistakable ringing of hawk bells. Seconds later, he was plunging through the trees toward the sound. Panting, he stopped and angrily threw down his glove as the bells faded deeper into the woods and disappeared. He stood alone in the silence.

He heard the bells again later, on the other side of a deep gorge. They rang out clearly over the sound of water rushing far below. Once, he thought he saw her shadow flickering through the trees. With new hope, he half ran, half slid down the muddy bank, catching at small trees to slow his descent.

It was cold and wet in the gorge. He slithered deeper, down into the gloom. Suddenly, his falconry bag caught on a snag, making him lose his balance. He pitched forward head-first and tumbled helplessly down the steep bank. Finally he crashed into a pine tree and lay at its base, stunned. He wiped a trickle of blood from his forehead. Slowly he reached out one hand and gripped a branch to pull himself up. When he put more weight on the branch, the tree shifted. Days of heavy rains had cut deep gullies around the pine's roots. In many places the soil had washed away, leaving them exposed. He tugged harder, heaving himself to his feet. As he stood there trying to clear his head, the pine slowly toppled over, knocking him to the ground and pinning him in the mud.

Headfirst is one word according to Webster.

When his mind cleared, he began to consider his situation. He couldn't move. People knew where he was; he'd been planning this trip for weeks. His van was parked on the road, he figured he was about two miles away. Someone would be looking for him soon. He was a day late in returning already, but he couldn't leave his bird in the mountains. Perhaps they would find him tomorrow. He wished he could move his arms, but the fallen tree held him down.

He struggled wildly for a moment in panic, his shouts and screams muffled by the thick trees and the sound of falling water in the gorge.

He lay there in the afternoon with closed eyes, praying the sun would reach him soon. There was a sudden ringing over his head. He opened his eyes. On a branch high above him, the goshawk watched. She looked ragged and hungry. A couple of tail feathers hung askew, broken in a futile pursuit of game. Her wings hung down a bit. She was weary, starving after two days without food. Their eyes met. For an hour, the man stared into those merciless golden orbs.

With growing horror, the man watched his hawk shift her weight from foot to foot, half spreading her wings and closing them again. As a falconer, he knew well the signs. Frantically he tried to free his arms; in his struggles he re-opened the gash on his forehead and blood flowed. The hawk made up her mind. Opening her wings, the bird descended in a steep glide. Presently the screams stopped, and the hawk began to feed.

…he knew well the signs… This is just my opinion but I would phrase this differently. Perhaps: he knew the signs well or he well knew the signs.

* * *

Well, this definitely qualifies as sinister! This was a strong, well-written piece and riveting till the end. Good use of language and steady pacing kept this reader entranced. Even when I realised where this was going, I was so enrapt in the story that my enjoyment wasn’t in the least bit fazed.

Content-wise, I think the somewhat distant voice of the narrative worked well to heighten the sense of the man’s utter alone-ness, and to accentuate the horror of his demise. Since he was so alone, dialogue and characterisation didn’t play a huge part, but the sheer appropriateness and originality of the story more than made up for that.

I had a few niggles with the text, but overall SPAG was very good, and I thought the whole quite competently handled.

My one suggestion would be to consider enhancing the part where the man is trapped under the tree. By expanding this, even slightly, I think it would create a stronger sense of menace. For example, he might think about how long he could be lying there before discovery; what creatures are about in the woods (ie spiders, snakes, small mammals), and whether or not they might cause him harm; whether the rains will return.

Final verdict: a good story well told, and certainly one of the more original tales that were entered. I feel this could be polished to produce a real gem, but even in its present form, it’s an excellent read. Bravo!

Cheers
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:17 AM
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Default Critique: puresnow - Something Sinister

The people of the mountains were divided. Their aged old tradition of having a clairvoyant psychic was debated. The old toothless, shaggy haired, (insert comma)and thin as a bone clairvoyant not only practiced mystic ways, (insert comma) but he was the teacher of their boys, (insert comma) and a doctor to all their illness.


Age old instead of aged old.

Shaggy-haired should be hyphenated because shaggy describes the hair, not the man.

Also, you have two sentences with several listed phrases one after the other. This doesn’t read easily. Perhaps you could use some of the descriptive phrases for the village shaman elsewhere and thin out the first sentence.

But not anymore, the clairvoyant’s role in the mountain was usurped by the arrival of Father James. He was a white priest, a tall brown haired man from the invisible God. He had money and got the men to build a building with a sharp spire for his church. The younger people had embraced this faith. When it was finished, it doubled as the school house for the young boys.


Brown-haired should be hyphenated as brown describes the hair, not the man.

…build a building : unnecessary repetition, perhaps erect a building?

The younger people had embraced this faith. This statement doesn’t belong between the building of the church and its finished purpose. Perhaps combine this with the last sentence: When it was finished, the younger people embraced this faith, and soon it doubled as a schoolhouse for the young boys. Not perfect, but a bit better.

However, before the boys could enrol into this school, the parents themselves have to be converted and embrace this new faith. The boys now went by the names of the white man’s religion, John, Tom, George etc.

Usually, we say enrol at a school.

have to be converted and… First, you’ve changed tense. Then you use the ‘embrace this new faith’ again. Perhaps: However, before the boys could enrol at this school, the parents had to convert.

…etc….Not really good to use in a story, maybe say : and so on.

"They even have to give up their own names.(comma, not full stop)" George’s grand father complained.

Grandfather is one word.

One day out of seven, the children didn’t have school but were asked to invite their parents, uncles and aunts and grandparents to come. They listened and watched this white man, in a flowing white robe with a purple cross in front of it, perform his rituals and mumble in a tongue, (insert comma) which he didn’t normally speak.


I would delete the white describing the robe because you’ve used white to describe the priest. That first one belongs more than the second; the colour of his vestments is not important, but I would say: in a flowing robe with a purple cross on it….

The clairvoyant argued, "It’s all mumble jumble, how can you worship an invisible god?"

I think you mean mumbo jumbo.

The people put it down to his jealousy, The priest was also a shaman to the people.

Okay, either delete the comma and insert a full stop, OR delete the comma, add since, and change the capital T to lowercase t in the The.

(new para) He had magic pills and liquid in little bottles, (insert comma)which could help cure headaches and stomach (missing word, how about ailments). They no longer have to be subjected to the whims and fancy of the clairvoyant when they went to him to seek treatment. The new Shaman’s potions and pills were all free of charge and didn’t have a bitter (insert space) after tasteafter his patients had taken them.

He: The last he you mentioned was the village shaman; now you are talking about the white priest. You have to be specific here, he will not do as it is misleading.Aftertaste is one word; the rest is unnecessary and repeats after.

The mountain people were won over very quickly, "That’s the power of white man’s invisible God."

The clairvoyant remained in his little hut, "You short sighted people, you abandon our thousands of years customs of worshipping our deceased ancestors, they will be angry, mark my words.

…thousands of years….has a quaint colloquialism, but ancient might sound better.

When the boys had finished their primary education, the white priest, Father James arranged them to go down to MioMio town to have their secondary education. The boys came back twice a year during their holidays.

We already know the white priest and Father James are one and the same so use on or the other here.

Suddenly half white and half brown babies were born to the women. They sought Father James’ medical advice. They thought these babies had some sort of skin disease. But it wasn’t just their skin tones, it was their facial features as well. These babies were ostracised that the babies were from the evil one.


Half-white and half-brown are hyphenated.

The underscored sentence needs a little help. Maybe: These babies were ostracised because it was thought that they came from the evil one.

Father James had another explanation, "Not to worry, the Holy Ghost had appeared to the mothers, (change comma to semi-colon) they are the chosen ones."

The clairvoyant exclaimed, "Holy Ghost! My Foot! Something sinister is happening, (missing and) I am going to find out. I warned you all, your ancestors are rocking in their grave(s)."


Great exclamation, but I would write it: "Holy Ghost, my foot!…

The village chief asked, "What are we to do?"

"First everyone must come to my hut, and we will have a cleansing ceremony, every family must bring a rooster."

A bon fire was made in the centre of the clairvoyant’s compound. He had a sharp machete. He called the head of each family and his wife to come with their rooster. In one split second, he cut the head of the rooster, and dripped its blood over the couple. Then he collected some blood, spat into it and made the couple drink up the blood. Then he threw the still live rooster into the bon fire.


Bonfire can be written as one word.

…up the blood…. Lots of blood here! Maybe change this to it.

The procedure went on until every family was exorcised from the curse of their angry ancestors. The mountain stank of burnt feature, blood and chicken meat while they turned into charcoal. The clairvoyant led them in a possession to jump into the river to cleanse of their bodies caked with chicken blood. The river turned red.


Feature: not sure what this should be!

The White Shaman took at a corner, sniggering to himself, "How stupid of these people to believe in such primitive beliefs."


…took at a corner…: Again, I’m no sure what you’re trying to say here. (Stood in a corner?)

Much to everyone’s dismay, another mixed child was born.

The clairvoyant explained, "Thatthe woman was already pregnant when the great cleansing was carried out."

True to his words, babies born (after the cleansing) were brown babies,(change comma to full stop, capitalise T in the) the people rejoiced and the clairvoyant became popular again. But they rejoiced too soon. The mixed babies were born again.


Um, born again has certain connotations and I know that’s not what you mean. How about: Soon, women were giving birth to mixed babies again.

During the holidays, Tom, one of the boys came home from the town school, (insert comma) and having learned quite a bit of biology decided to investigate this weird phenomena. He had two sisters, the older, Ma’ata was married and had a mixed child.


one of the boys…because Tom comes ‘home’, we know he is one of the native people, and because he comes back form the town school we know he is a boy.

phenomenon is the singular, phenomena is plural: so either this weird phenomenon or these weird phenomena

Together with the clairvoyant, Tom sat in the dejected healer’s hut.

Tom told the clairvoyant, "According to my sister, Ma’ata, (insert comma) and my cousins who have mixed children, the White Sharmanhad told them and my parents and uncles and aunties that the girls were the chosen bride of the Holy Ghost."


them and my parents and…Goodness! That’s far too many people! How about just saying told the family…

"Did he?"

"He said, if the Holy Ghost chose them and came to them, they must keep this a secret otherwise the Holy Ghost would be angry with them. On the night before their weddings, they were invited to a special room behind the church. In the middle of the night, there was a funny smelling smoke, then ‘we don’t know anything after.’"


Change them to the girls, otherwise it sounds like the priest told the whole family. If the priest had said such a thing to the families, surely someone would have figured out what was going on already.

In the middle of the night…This is a bit confused because Tom is telling the shaman what happened but then you have him quoting the girls. How about: It was late at night and there was a funny smelling smoke. The girls felt drowsy and they don’t remember anything after that." This also helps to suggest that the priest was incapacitating the girls before having his way with them.

The clairvoyant shook with anger, (insert space) "I knew it! I knew it! The scoundrel did it."

"What are you talking about?" Tom asked.

"That White Shaman,(delete comma) is not man of God. He is the devil. He’s been raping our young brides on the pretext of the Holy Spirit visiting them in his church the night before they were married."

"How can you be sure?" Tom asked.

"Have you noticed, all these mixed children are born within one year of their marriage?"

"We got no proof, what are we going to do about it?"

Got should be have.

"Let me go to a retreat, and pray to our ancestors for help. In the mean time, you are to be my assistant and bring food cooked by your mother when I am in the cave. You mustn’t tell anyone our plans?"

Meantime is one word.

cooked by your mother…Unless there is a specific reason his food must be cooked by Tom’s mother, I would delete this.

Tom went home hatching a plan to ask his mother for extra portion of food without causing suspicion why he needed them.

"Mum, my teacher in town said that I need a lot more food than I have been eating. I intend to go to the bush everyday to hunt. Do not look for me." Tom said.

"My! My! My big boy goes to town and thinks he knows more about food and growing up than his mother." Tom’s mother chuckled to herself.

Every morning, Tom pestered his mother to cook his breakfast. When the food is cooked, he made a dash to the clairvoyant.

"Did anyone see you? My cave would be useless if it has been contaminated by other people trampling on it." The clairvoyant said.

"I was very careful."

"Good, I always knew you were a smart boy."


You really don’t need all this part about how Tom gets food for the shaman. It doesn’t help the story along, provides no clues, and slows the pace. I would seriously consider deleting all of the above up to my last comment.

On a full moon, the owl was hooting. The Clairvoyant kneeled facing the sky. He wore only a loin cloth. He had smeared his face and his whole body with ashes. He used the charred end of a stick and made markings all over his body. He prayed to the spirits of his ancestors to help him save the mortality of their descendants. Then he got up to wait for Tom.


On the next full moon, the Clairvoyant kneeled, facing up to the sky.…wouldsound more dramatic. You can add the hooting owl here if you like.
Loincloth is one word.

"Tom, our wise ancestors have told me to beat the White Shaman in his game."


We usually say at his game.

"How???"

Just one question mark will do.

"First, We will pretend that your sister Sisa is getting married."

"She is just a baby."

"This is just a pretend wedding."

"Will my father and mother agree?"

"They will have to, sooner or later, (missing or) she will be raped by this pedophile."

I’m not sure paedophile is the right word here. Are all the young women getting married so young? If not, then this label doesn’t apply – unless and until he rapes Sisa or another child. If the villagers believe the young women are of sufficient age to be married, then surely the shaman would not call another man a paedophile for having intercourse with a girl deemed old enough to engage in that activity with a husband. I realise the word adds an emotive quality to the story, but it doesn’t appear to be warranted, especially when Sisa is allowed to marry the young man at the end of the story.

"We will get one of the boys to marry her. So we need your parents and the boys and his parents to know our plan."

"How are we to catch this bastard?"

"We will get your sister to dip her hand in tar before she goes into that damned room. When the "Holy Ghost" comes to her, ask her to touch him all over his face."


A sudden appearance by Western swear words, and I must say they appear out of place. Even if Tom would use language like that with his schoolmates, I can’t imagine he would speak that way in front of a respected elder in his village.

It’s always confusing to use quotes in quotes. I realise the shaman is making a point about the supposed Holy Ghost, but if you want to accentuate it, use single quotation marks, ie ‘Holy Ghost’.

"How does that work?"

Excuse me, but Tom is meant to be a clever boy, so surely he can work this out. All this explaining of plans is wreaking havoc with your pacing.

"If it is genuinely a Holy Ghost, we resign our fate that we have mixed children for ever and ever. But if the "Holy Ghost" is actually the rat bag, we will beat him to a pulp and he won’t dare set his foot here again."

Forever is one word.

Holy Ghost should be ‘Holy Ghost’.

…rat bag…Again, this is very Western and seems completely out of place here. Although you haven’t set an actual time for this, the location would imply a country or island that is not completely in the twentieth century. You have to bear these things in mind when you write dialogue. The people must use a vocabulary that is true to their time, location, level of education, and so on.

The clairvoyant invited Tom’s parents and his friend’s parents to a meal in his hut. There he told them what they suspected and their plans.

They should be he, unless they suspected this as well, in which case the whole village should have been planning the priests exposure.

"The bastard, I want to take a machete and lop off his head. (change full stop to comma)" Tom’s father Orm said as he stormed out to find the White Shaman.

See comments on language above.

"Don’t be hasty, listen to our wise old clairvoyant first. (change full stop to comma)" Tom’s mother caught hold of her husband’s hands, (insert space) "You are always such a hot headed and hot tempered man."

…hot-headed/hot-tempered…use one or the other, but not both.

Tom’s friend Anak said, "I am very happy to be the bridegroom to catch this wolf in sheep’s clothing.(insert quotation mark)

The plan was made carefully, the wedding date was set five days from the day.


five days from the day….Five days time would sound better.

"We must plan it so that the wedding preparations would look genuine."

Invitation was by word of mouth, and the whole mountain was busy with food preparation. Nobody apart from the planning group knew what was going on.

The white shaman laughed to himself. He went to talk to Tom’s parents that the Holy Spirit could come to Sisa that night.

"Please get Sisa ready and dressed in white and (missing ask her to) wait in the little room.(change full stop to comma)" Father James told them. He smiled to himself and thought, "Another little lamb brought to the slaughter house."

Thoughts are best shown by using italics; use quotation marks for spoken dialogue. Also, this sounds a bit melodramatic: a lamb to the slaughterhouse. He’s not planning to kill her, but to rape her. I don’t think a rapist will think of his victim as a beast to be slaughtered. In his warped mind, he probably sees himself as doing the Lord’s work, or offering sacrifices. So again, you are using an emotive image that doesn’t quite fit the situation.

On the eve of her "wedding day", Sisa’s parents and Tom told her to remember touch the Holy Ghost’s face. The clairvoyant had given (missing her) a potion which he had concocted to counter act what ever smoke which he thought Father James would use to make Sisa fall asleep.


"wedding day"…Single quotes vs double quotes again,; I’d say use single or better yet, add supposed or pretend before the words to make it plain that it’s not real.

Sisa’s parents and Tom told her to remember…It might be easier to say: Sisa was reminded to…

I would delete the bit in red because we know, without being told, that the shaman would have concocted the potion; after all, he isn’t going to buy it in the village shop!

Counteract is one word, as is whatever. But (here I go again!), this sentence gets a little muddled. Why not change this to something like: to counteract the effects of the smoke Father James used to make the girls fall asleep.

When the Holy Ghost came in the little room, Sisa was waiting. Sisa was all over him with affectionate touching to his face. He thought he had struck gold with this little girl actually reciprocating his sexual advances and he was highly aroused.


The underscored bit sounds awkward. How about: Sisa was all over him, stroking and patting his face.

In his aroused state, he had not noticed the door open ajar, and in slipped Tom and his father Orm.


…when Tom and his father slipped in.

Orm and Tom had a big stick each, and they clubbed Father James on his head.


about the head sounds a bit better, but that’s just personal choice.

"Call on to your Holy Ghost to help you. (change full stop to comma)" Tom and Orm said in unison.

"This is for my sister Ma’ata."

"This is for all the girls of the mountains that you have raped."

"This is for all the cheated husbands who thought their wives had betrayed them."

"This is for all the mixed children whose lives have been ruined and ostracised through no fault of their own."

"Tom, Orm, you (missing have) got to stop. Otherwise you will kill him." Ma’ata said.

"Yes, she is right, the White Government will jail you for killing one of their white man. (change fulls stop to comma)" The clairvoyant urged them to stop.

Father James crouched at the corner. His face was covered by tar, an evident of his crime when the white man’s police came for them.


…in the corner….

…an evident…should be proof…

"We have the perfect medicine for him." The clairvoyant moved his loin cloth and exposed his penis, and sprayed a stream of hot pee on him. Tom and Orm followed suit. Tom never felt so good relieving himself so good, he used his penis like a hose and shot pee all over Father James. The hot pee stunk the bruises and made it hurt like hell.


I think we could do without all the penises. Explicit language is best avoided.
Stunk should be stung; it should be them, since you are talking about plural bruises.

The pretend wedding became a real wedding. Anak had secretly been in love with Sisa, (missing and) asked his Mother to ask Ma’ata if he could have Sisa’s hand in marriage.

There was more celebration. The girls who had mixed children were welcomed back to the fold.


Maybe: There was even more to celebrate then. Afterwards, the girls who had….
* * *
Well you certainly have an interesting story in the making here, but it does need some work to improve it. The pacing is interrupted in a few places when you get bogged down with great, long explanations. Instead of explaining to us what will happen, tell us the story as it unfolds so we discover it for ourselves.

Also, I think you need to work a little on dialogue. It’s all too easy to lapse into modern parlance, and a lot of authors make this error. But when you write a period piece, or about people who have had little contact with Western culture, you must be careful to avoid using modern speech. You don’t have to write in dialect, but keep the language simple.

Other than that, I know you have made great efforts with grammar and punctuation. It’s not perfect, but practice will see you continue to improve. Meanwhile, thank you for trying so very hard!

So, all in all, I liked your story. I’m not sure I would say I enjoyed it, only because it has such a terrible betrayal at its heart. But that gives it great power and I certainly admire you for tackling this subject. Was it sinister? Yes, most certainly, in a very cruel and human way. For many people, the word sinister will conjure up daemons and monsters, but sometimes the worst monsters are found in human form. Thank you for reminding us of that.
And thank you very much for entering my contest! I’ve really appreciated reading your entry.

Cheers,
QW
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  #8  
Old 12-05-2007, 03:23 AM
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Default Critique: Devon - The Dark Master

Slit her throat from ear to ear…slowly. Let her feel the pain. Let her writhe in her own life blood.

Lamont slid within the shadows of the manor house's stone corridor toward the opened study door, where light from a single lantern spilled onto the floor planks. His large hand rested upon the hilt of the dagger sheathed at his waist. The familiar black mist swirled before him, though he needed no coaxing. He had killed for it once before; a second time would make no difference.

…within… Hmm. Actually, the opening sentence is clumsy throughout. How about: Keeping to the shadows, Lamont slid along the corridor of the old manor house toward the open study door. A single lantern within spilled light onto the planked floor.

Just shy of the doorway, the blackness curled back upon itself to wreathe Lamont's head like a virulent crown. Again the voice rasped.

Slip in. Slip out. Be silent. Let them find her body. You shall get your reward.

Personal preference, but I would say have.

The dark-haired youth peered around the edge of the doorpost. His eyes narrowed. Pathetic excuse for a female.

The underscored phrase is obviously what Lamont is thinking. Since you are using italics for The Dark Thing That Possesses Him, more italics are awkward, but if you leave this as is, it doesn’t look right. You could just say: What a pathetic excuse for a female, he thought. This would distinguish his thoughts from those of The Dark.

There, at the writing desk near the arched window, a young girl busied herself with her study-work. She kept her back to the door, her shoulders hunched and head bent over the ancient tome from which she copied her lessons. A wooden lantern glowed beside her. A thin blue ribbon held her gathered red curls from her face.

…study-work. Hmm. Why not say study or work, but the hyphenated hybrid isn’t working for me.

She works late. More advantageous for you.

Lamont's lip curled. Indeed. He knew his half-sister never worked this late into the night. The second sun had long since set; the pink Roseate moon had crested the eastern horizon. He glanced behind him. The corridor was empty. Where was the girl's Keeper? Surely she was ever-watchful, but now? Such a valuable seven-year-old, the only daughter of their township's leader, should not have been left unguarded. No matter. He was twice the heir's age and strength; he would see to both of their deaths if needed.

never… But she is working that late. Maybe change to seldom worked so late

…Roseate… No caps.

Personal choice again, but I’d say if need be.

Lamont pressed back against the stone wall. He clutched his dagger's hilt. Before him, the black mist had expanded into an amorphous mass that undulated and pulsated with a fervent desire. Its angered heat radiated against his skin. Its quickened breath rasped. It wanted to feed. Now. With his free hand, Lamont stretched his pointed nails out to the blackness.

"I am at your mercy, my Dark Master," he whispered, and he girded himself for the impact to come.

A violent screech pierced through Lamont's head. He convulsed and fought against the give of his knees as a heavy weight poured into his body through his fingertips. It coursed through his blood like a searing toxin to taint his flesh and foul his mind; it hissed and spat in a maddened whirl, clawing at his soul, clambering down his spine, sinuating through his limbs. His face twisted into a fierce mask of pain. His teeth gritted. He clutched at his midriff.

He convulsed against the give of his knees…Nope. Not working. Try reworking the whole sentence: He convulsed against the heavy weight that poured in through his fingertips, willing his knees not to buckle.The rest of this paragraph is well written, though. Like the use of sinuating; seldom used as a verb, but valid nonetheless.

And then there was silence.

Lamont slowly opened his eyes. A fine darkness shrouded his vision. His chest rose and fell with great difficulty. His legs felt leaden and his head pounded with a savage ache. A vile taste had flooded his mouth. But he knew of his Master potency. As it had been before, so it was now. He was omnipotent!

…knew his Master’s potency.

Baring his yellowed teeth, Lamont yanked free his dagger. Then, from inside his head, a gritty voice demanded: Kill her! He bolted through the doorway.

He was upon her in a trice. With one arm wrapped about her shoulders, he dragged her from her chair and pressed the sharpened point of his dagger against her throat.

"Make one sound, my dear sister, and I will thrust this through your neck."

The young girl whimpered. He could feel her trembling against his body, hear her labored and frightened breaths. She clutched at his arm, her grip tightened. He pressed her closer, tucked his nose into the nape of her neck and inhaled. The scent of her fear lingered thick and sweet in his nostrils. He let out a low growl, licked his lips and shivered with a heightened excitement.
What are you waiting for? Kill her!

Lamont flinched, then he chuckled. Kill her indeed. Why kill her when torture was far more rewarding?

"All alone, I see," he whispered. "And what exactly are you doing all alone, playing pretend? Pretending to study for a leadership you'd never been destined to take? Well, let's see how well you play pretend with your older brother."

…you’d never been destined to take? The tense here is convoluted in the extreme. Try simplifying so the reader isn’t befuddled. Maybe …you’re not destined to know…you’ll never have…something like that.

And he pulled the dagger tip lightly across her throat. The blade nicked. A small bead of blood grew and trickled down her skin. Lamont wiped at it with his fingertip, then drew it down his tongue. The blackness writhed in frustration. He knew it could taste her.

…dagger tip… Why not just say the tip of the dagger…

Do it now! Kill her! Kill her!

The girl began to weep.

"Please, Lamont," she said, "please don't kill me. I'll do anything, anything you say. Just please, don't kill me."

"You'll do anything I say?"

"Yes."

His brow lifted as he paused in contemplation. The blackness lurched inside of him. A sharp tingle spread down his arm toward the hand that held the dagger. His fingers began to burn. Lamont tightened his grip on the hilt. He held the dagger firmly; he wasn't going to let this end before he wanted it to.

Don't you fight me! I gave you power, now you give me her soul!

"You'll do anything I say," he repeated.

The young girl nodded.

"Would you grovel on your knees for me to spare your life?" he said.

"Yes."

She sniffed. He tucked her closer.

"Would (missing you) carve my name into your flesh over your heart?"

The girl choked back a sob. Again she nodded. The blackness snarled.

Kill her! Kill her now!

Lamont's muscles strained against his vehement Dark Master, who hissed and spat, screamed and gnawed at his insides. His hand shook. His arm ached. He had known the Master once before and that time the Master had been in control. But this time . . . no, this time—this girl—was his. He crushed her to him, avid with his lust for domination. His voice uttered low and gravelly into her ear.

Gravelly is a word, but it’s not a very good one. Maybe think about replacing it.

"Would you even murder your own father?"

The girl gasped. A high-pitched shriek sliced through the air. Lamont spun round. There, in the doorway, stood the girl's Keeper, her gray eyes wild with rage. She sputtered, then lunged forward.

The thick-set woman came at him, hard and fast. The girl jerked away. Lamont raised his dagger, expecting his Dark Master to surge through his arm and plunge the tip into the heart of the oncoming fury. But instead he doubled over, retched and vomited. A thick, black ooze splattered onto the floor and seeped into the cracks between the planks. His vision cleared. A chill gripped his spine. He felt the Keeper seize him by the shoulders, whip him around and thrust him through the door.

"Out," she screamed. "Out, you vile whoreson! How dare you threaten the life of the heir and future leader!"

Now, wait a minute. He has a knife, he’s threatening to kill his half-sister and the Keeper lets him go? I don’t think so….

In a cold sweat, Lamont staggered down the corridor to his bedchambers in the wake of his half-sister's terrified wails. He sheathed his dagger, spitting black gobs onto the floor along his way. His face wrenched. He had gotten greedy. The Dark Master had abandoned him, left him weakened and unable to fight back even against a female! Stupid. Shameful. Pathetic.

…gotten… should be got.

Lamont collapsed at his room's threshold just as the leader's bedchamber door clicked open. He closed his eyes and, trying to catch his breath, he listened, just listened.

Ahem. The leader is the father of the half-sister, and presumably Lamont as well. At the very least, he is Lamont’s step-father so why not say so. The leader’s bedchamber door just sounds so awkward.

Behind him, he could hear the girl's father's voice, frenzied and intense, then heard his heavy footfalls approachinghim. He already knew his fate: exile for treason. But it didn't matter. He knew the blackness would search for him again, empower him again, let him experience his maddened lust another time against his half-sister.

Repeat: Lamont and the girl are related, what is his relationship with this man?

The Dark Master did, after all, need a human vessel in order to feed.

* * *

I’ll go for the positives first. The writing is good, the SPAG is good, and the use of language is very good. And it certainly qualifies as sinister, no doubt about it. The dialogue is also well handled, for the most part and it moves along at a steady pace. No dull moments here. So very likeable, with plenty of tension to commend it.

On the down side, it feels like part of something larger. The setting is unclear, both place and time, and the characterisation is almost non-existent. The relationship between Lamont and the girl is explained, but the Leader remains an enigma, as does the question of why a seven-year-old girl would take precedence over a fourteen-year-old boy. If I am right, and this is part of a greater whole, then these would not need correcting, but if this is a piece in its entirety, then it falls down, I’m afraid. Personally, I’m hoping for the former because this is an idea that deserves to be developed more fully.

Cheers,
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:25 AM
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Default Critique: Crystalwizard - Nemesis

I found it sitting on my desk, staring at me with eyes as black as the night between stars. Silent. Motionless. Evil. Large pink ears protruded from its head like malicious radars, siphoning every sound into its gargantuan brain. Soft fur -- grey with white speckles -- coated its body. Fur that begged to be touched. Stroked. Cuddled.

Radar is both singular and plural so this sounds odd. I suspect you mean antennae or aerials.

I sat in my chair staring back at it while I struggled with my socks. I swear it laughed at me, though I heard no sounds.

Evil. Pure evil. And it had landed on my desk.

I dragged my pants onto my shuddering body, picked the monstrosity up by a tuft of its fur and flung it out the open window onto the newly mown lawn.

A soft step caused me to stiffen and turn. Behind me, an innocent child took her thumb from her mouth and said, "Dad? Where’s my Furby?"

* * *

Oh, now I feel like a grinch, because this is so wonderfully humourous and original – and, really, Furbys do seem like quite sinister things. But this really isn’t what I had in mind. But thank you for a marvellous piece and for making me laugh!

By the way, I did see this posted on the general forum, and I also love the idea of taking this another step: to see what the blasted creature gets up to out on the lawn….

Cheers,
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:27 AM
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Default Critique: Zeb - Desperation

Desperation



The cold steel pressed against the soft flesh,
And soon a bead of blood trickled along like sweat.

The sensation was exhilarating and made him feel alive,
He soaked in the pleasure of pain, felling the power of pain inside.

I think that should be feeling.

He slowly licked the crimson liquid away from the pale skin,
Letting the taste settle on his tongue, a flavor of tin and kind of sweet, interesting.

He knew that next time it would take more, that he would have to go deeper,
But for now, this moment was the only moment.
Nothing else mattered, not one cared.

Not one or no one?

A slight re-write:

Cold steel pressed against soft flesh,
And soon a bead of blood trickled along like sweat.

The sensation was exhilarating, made him feel alive,
He soaked in the pleasure of pain, feeling the power inside.

Slowly, he licked the crimson liquid away from the pale skin,
Letting the taste settle on his tongue, tinny, sweet, interesting.

He knew next time it would take more, he would have to go deeper,
But for now, this was the only moment.
Nothing else mattered

* * *

This was the only poem entered in the contest, much to my disappointment. I thought the theme was well suited to metrical ramblings.

All the same, you have come up trumps with a wonderful piece. I know I did my wee re-write, but that’s just me. I did actually like what you’d written, as you’d written it. My version was just tightening up that vision by removing some of the small, unnecessary words.

So very good poem, and well done on keeping it appropriate to the theme. Overall, a highly commendable effort.

Thank you!
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:33 AM
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Default Critique: jonahj - Office

The narrow street was unfamiliar, yet imbued with some resonance she couldn’t identify. She was about to turn and retrace her steps when she saw him. He was standing, legs apart, one arm flung high, the other holding a microphone. As she approached the gorgeous creature set in a shop window she saw that it was a life-sized replica of Elvis Presley, manufactured entirely from chocolate. The detail was extraordinary. But for the colour of his flesh it could have been Elvis, in his later years admittedly, but the undisputed King nevertheless.

Was this some part of paradise;(change to comma) the two great loves of her life conjoined and placed right in front of her? Had God finally admitted that He’d been giving her a mean deal and was presenting her with the balance of justice, or had she simply died and gone to Heaven? Elvis; (change to colon) the only man she’d ever loved who hadn’t broken her heart, (insert comma) and chocolate; (change to comma) the only true consolation in all those broken-hearted times.

As she stared at the wonderful statue, (insert comma) she became aware of a pair of eyes watching her intently from the relative darkness of the shop behind the exhibit. She smiled nervously and began to turn away from that penetrating stare.

‘Magnificent, isn’t he?’ the man said from the shop doorway.

‘Yes, he is. It’s a pity that it’s the old Elvis though,’ she replied.

‘Sadly that wasn’t an option,’ he said with a smile, ‘but you get more chocolate this way.’

She laughed and he pressed home his advantage. ‘I see you are a connoisseur. Would you like to see some of the other pieces we have?’

As the street seemed to be part of some distant memory, so did this man. He was short and dark-skinned with a thin moustache and beautifully white teeth, seeming all the more so against the darkness of his face.

‘I am Xavier, possibly your guide to a perfect place.’

He had an accent she couldn’t identify, Spanish perhaps. His face was rounded, the nose hooked, the brown eyes slightly oriental. He stepped to one side and held out his arm in a welcoming gesture towards the shop door.

‘Come, see, you do not have to buy.’

Wondering whether she was being foolish, (insert comma) but too intrigued to walk away, she stepped into the shop.

‘My name’s Catherine,’ she told him.

He smiled and bowed as she walked into the main room to find herself surrounded by statues, all made from chocolate. The wonderful smell was almost enough to drive her out of her mind.

‘They’re beautiful,’ she whispered as she approached each in turn to study the similarly extraordinary detail in each face, moulded so perfectly that the personality seemed to have been captured in the process.

‘Each of these people loved chocolate,’ he told her.

‘Including Elvis?’

‘More than most. Some will tell you that chocolate killed him but I say that it afforded him a release. It has many extraordinary powers.’

Catherine nodded and continued to study the various faces around her.

‘I am a chocolatier,’ said Xavier grandly, ‘and if I may be permitted to dispense with inappropriate modesty, possibly the finest chocolatier in the whole World.’

She laughed out loud at that.

Xavier smiled back and his dark eyes widened. ‘I see you require proof, Miss Catherine.’ He turned towards a dark blue velvet curtain hanging on the back wall. ‘This is not so unreasonable, for you hardly know me.’

He pulled aside the curtain to reveal a large work-room, filled with the tools and appliances of the chocolate maker’s craft. Worn but gleaming pans were arranged on large tables, some with electric warming plates under them, their contents bubbling like slow lava flows. Now the delicious scents were enough to draw her to the very edge of reason. This was Paradise indeed. She felt breathless and unable to speak.

Workroom is one word, according to the ever-reliable Webster.
The Worn but…isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t add anything to the description really. By starting with Gleaming…you have a more interesting description and one that is visually more accessible.

Her guide didn’t seem mind her silence. He took some powder from a jar and poured it into a mortar, he added another powder, some drops of liquid and four leaves, ground them all together and smiled at Catherine as he poured the mixture into a dark metal goblet before adding water until the goblet was half full. ‘This,’ he told her with near-comical gravitas, (insert comma) ‘is the drink of the gods.’

Oh, my! But that is one hell of a run-on sentence! Let’s see what we can do.
Taking some powder from a jar, he poured it into a mortar before adding a second powder. Some drops of liquid and four leaves joined the powder. He ground these all together, smiling at Catherine as he poured the mixture into a dark metal goblet. Then he added water till the goblet was hall full.

So saying, he picked up another similar goblet and poured the liquid from one to the other several times, lifting the pouring goblet as high as he could each time. Once the foam had built up on the surface of the liquid, he handed the goblet to Catherine. ‘Drink,’ he told her. ‘This is your Paradise.’

Catherine hesitated as she regarded the dark liquid, so he enfolded her hand in his and slowly lifted the goblet towards her lips.

‘I charge you nothing for your first experience because I know you will want to be part of this place.’ Again he gestured towards the work-shop and its many statues. ‘You will wish to become one of my children.’

…work-shop: as before.

‘Perhaps.’ She took a sip of the chocolate drink and was surprised. It was bitter and peppery.

Xavier noticed her expression and sat down on the table in front of her. One by one he switched on the bank of heaters under a huge pan of solid chocolate.

‘That which you have in your hand is the original chocolate. This is what the royal Aztecs would drink. Montezuma himself drank this chocolate. The god-kings and the priests prized this as highly as gold. Sometimes they even dissolved gold into it. This is called "precious thing" in their language. You are privileged to drink such a marvel.’

She smiled and sipped a little more. Now that she had got used to the idea of the strange bitterness, she was beginning to acquire a taste for it.

Xavier smiled even more broadly. ‘You see? This is not the common chocolate of the common people.’

Languidly he dipped one long index finger into the bowl of melting chocolate to test its temperature. He sucked slowly at his finger as he watched Catherine and she found herself becoming breathless once more.

‘This is wonderful,’ she whispered as she took another sip and looked around the work-shop. ‘Will you make a statue of me, one day?’

‘Perhaps I will.’

Catherine found herself singing Love me Tender. It seemed appropriate to her, not a strange thing to do in front of a stranger in a strange shop. ‘Are you an Elvis fan?’ she asked.

‘Naturally. He once made a film near my home and I went to watch.’

‘Which film was that?’

‘Here they called it Fun in Acapulco.’

She laughed out loud and swayed as she tried to balance the goblet. ‘Hah! I’ve got you! You’re Mexican!’

He smiled broadly at her, his lips stretching back to reveal his beautiful teeth. ‘You are correct. I am from Mexico. I am a direct descendant of those royal houses that once drank that very chocolate.’

‘And there’s chillies in it too,’ she added, once she had drained the goblet.

‘Chillies, coca leaves and just a little mescaline,’ he said.

Catherine didn’t know what mescaline was or even the significance of coca leaves, she simply enjoyed all the delightfully unusual sensations surrounding her. This was more than the simple pleasure of taste, it was a celebration of all pleasures. The dark room was now flooded with golden light as she looked at Xavier’s smiling face. He was an arresting looking man and in this new unreasonable light he seemed almost to glow. She smiled and felt herself glowing back at him. She put down the goblet and sighed again as he took her hand and led her over to the vat of melted chocolate. She noticed for the first time that it was the shape and size of a bath.

‘May I go and stand next to Elvis?’ she asked him as she sat heavily down on the edge of the bath. ‘I was his biggest fan you know.’

‘I have a place reserved specially for you, right next to him.’

Catherine tried to stand but found that her legs wouldn’t obey her. ‘Oops!’ she giggled. ‘I think I must be drunk or something.’ She tried hard to focus on the glowing face in front of her. ‘Did you spike that drink?’

‘Dear Catherine, I would not dream of doing so. You are now experiencing the rapture of conjunction with the gods.’

Catherine steadied herself and looked around the room. The smell of chocolate was making her head swim. There was gold everywhere, the walls were golden, there was golden light reflected from the floor. She stood and smiled at Xavier.

‘Am I going to meet Elvis now?’

‘Of course.’

She looked at the bath of chocolate before her and took her clothes off. The gold-bedecked priests standing around the bath were smiling at her as they chanted the ancient words of power. Even though she was naked, the room felt soporifically warm. The chocolate caressed her as she stepped into the bath. It clung to her, possessed her, drew her into its inner self. She was joining the gods and they were going to take her to Elvis. She began to drift away. You can’t say no in Acapulco.

Not sure you can use soporific as an adverb. Webster doesn’t think so. How about soporiferously; he likes that one.

There was a slight awakening as the dark warm liquid filled her nostrils but then she fell back into the taste and the comforting warmth of his presence.

One last sigh and then the sweet darkness poured in.


* * *

Well, this was definitely one of the most original, if not the most original, of all the entries, I must say. The punctuation is a little off, but the spelling and vocabulary are excellent. You’ve also done a splendid job on the characterisation, and the dialogue is good.

The pace is fairly steady throughout, perhaps slowing down just the slightest bit, near the end. Or maybe that was just the effect of the cocoa and mescaline.

My only disappointment is that there is almost no sense of menace, no tension or sense that something sinister is happening. Catherine is so pliant, so complicit in her fate, that Xavier never seems threatening, even though we know she must die in order to be immortalised in chocolate. And yet, I’m loath to say that I would want you to change this because it works so perfectly as it is.

So a very likeable and commendable effort, lacking only that truly sinister element to set it off perfectly.

Cheers,
QW

PS In future, for the convenience of those who read your work, would you please separate paragraphs with spaces (as I have done above). Large blocks of undivided text will turn weaker individuals away.
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  #12  
Old 12-05-2007, 03:35 AM
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Default Critique: big_fn_dirty - Walk

"Walk"


We are joined by the gentleman as always, found in the same state as usual. Nothing changes, but what could? He has lived thus for ages of ages. His limp has become more defined over time as his injuries intensify. Leaning on his stick as if it were holding up his soul alongside his body he progresses, but he knows that cannot not be. Feet continue trudging through the dirt and the grass. The pain screams up his legs with each step. He can never cease.

He thinks, (insert comma) as he often does, (insert comma) back on the days when the deal was struck. He had been fooled but never having been a gifted thinker he was not completely surprised. It was wrong to do his own negotiating during the thing. Not that he was certain an intermediary would have been allowed, but certainly what could it have hurt to ask?

He dances around the crux of the issue thus. Never admitting even after so many years that he was wrong to seek the deal in the first place. A man accepts his circumstance. A man plays the cards he is dealt.

But then, had he been a man? What kind of man cannot stand? Cannot walk? Cannot go to work and provide for a family? Lay with a woman to produce such a family? He convinced himself that his heart had been right. That he had made the right choice. He pushes the issue away. Ever weakening steps carry him on.

Eyes blur a bit as the anguished protests of his feet, his legs and back throw him off center. He remembers the conversation. The research it had taken. The blood which had been spilt and paid for in hard cash. The struggle to learn a name to speak. He remembered the ritual, the summoning. The broad black back of the beast as it appeared to him in his cottage. The sad smile on the startlingly human face.

"Oh, (insert comma) of course. Absolutely. I understand why you would mourn your circumstances. Come then, lets make a deal. I am certain there is some agreement we could come to. A mutual understanding."

Things like that should not exist. The way it placated. All reassurances and the warm feeling of home. How could something like this be anything but good? Surely it had his best interests at heart.

But then, why the blood? Why the deaths? Why would something like this only come in response to such darkness? Why only in the absence of the sun? Part of his mind had cried out for him to acknowledge this before it was too late, but was shouted down by years spent feeling insufficient, broken, less than whole.

Doubts set aside, (insert comma) he had begun his conversation with the thing. Terms were set. He had read about being exact. He had been advised that you had to be very clear in matters such as these. So when the thing asked, (insert comma) "How long?" he of course replied with a mind to precision:

"Forever."

The smile was not mocking. It did not laugh. It nodded soberly and agreed to the terms.

Hands were shaken. Contracts signed. Souls surrendered. And then the gentleman rose from his chair. Delight written all over him he took faltering steps forward. The muscles took time to develop in his legs. It was painful but welcome. Incredibly welcome.

The thing nodded. It was pleased with its end of the deal and it was rare to see a client so pleased with his. The gentleman strode around the room, soaking up the sensation. Every step a new fulfillment. How much he had to do. He would head to town directly. He would be dancing in the taverns by nightfall and when asked he would shout, (insert comma) "Miracle! A Miracle!".

Encouraged, he grabbed his hat, cloak and stick and strode out the door. Of course he said goodbye. He shook hands with the beast on his way out the door. A bounce in his step all the way down the road. The shock would not come until he reached town and tried to sit to have a drink. It was then when his legs refused to do anything but go forward that he would realize it had been too easy. That he had gotten the raw end of the deal. Because when the thing had asked him what it was exactly that he wanted he could only state, lips trembling with anticipation:

"I want to walk."

He reflects on this anew as he trudges forward. Forward as always. Nothing changes.
* * *

A nice twist on an old theme, but very likeable for all that.

SPAG is good, as is use of language, but I did find the abundance of questions off-putting. The occasional query in a piece of prose is fine, but many questions tend to minimise impact; rather like using too many phrases.

My only other comment must be one I have made for a few other entries: while this is well written and enjoyable, the sense of something sinister is lacking. In such a short piece as this, we work out very quickly what has happened. We know the man has bargained with the Devil, and we know he will be tricked because the Devil always comes out best. So there is no anticipation, no suspense, nothing to give us that little frisson of terror.

Overall, a well executed piece of writing, and most enjoyable, but missing that vital edge to make it a winner this time.

Cheers,
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 03:40 AM
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congratulations Phiddipus I look forward to reading this. Will it appear in Writers' Club mag?
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:03 AM
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Josie,

If you don't want to read the versions with my comments strewn all about , then you can read the entries on this thread:

http://www.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=11809

As for whether the story will be publsihed in the next issue of Wrtiers' Club, I haven't a clue. It would be nice, but I think it would be up to Cordatus and Iccy.

Cheers,
QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:23 AM
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Congratulations, Phiddipus! Well done.

Thank you so much, your Majesty! That was a lot of work on your part, but I know the members appreciate it.
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:35 AM
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Grats Phiddipus!

Also, thank you to Queen for reading through all of our work. Your comments were much appreciated.
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:06 AM
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Congratulations Phiddipus. Good work.
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Old 12-05-2007, 06:39 AM
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Congratulations to Phiddipus!

If all parties agree, we'd be happy to include Hunting Buddies in the next issue of WC.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:05 AM
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Congratulations, Phiddipus!

And thank you, QW, for the wonderful job.
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Old 12-05-2007, 09:33 AM
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Congratulations to Phiddipus, I better go and read your story again.

And well don’t to all the other entries.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:54 AM
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Default Congratulations

Congratulations to Phiddipus! A well deserved win!

And, thank you, QW for your comments (that was certainly a lot of work on your part, to critique all of those pieces). You were right, mine was part of a larger whole and something I'm planning to develop in the future. Thank you for giving me a chance to participate in the contest. It was fun.

Devon

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Old 12-05-2007, 12:10 PM
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Devon, you are very welcome for the critique, but thank you for entering my contest. May I say that you obviously have talent and quite an imagination, so it would be very nice to see more of you around the forums. Don't be so shy!

QW
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Old 12-05-2007, 12:13 PM
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Congratulations Phiddipus on the win!
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Old 12-05-2007, 02:46 PM
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Hooray Phiddipus! Excellent. I loved your story. Congratulations. Wonderful job on the judging, Queen of Wands. Very thorough.
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Old 12-05-2007, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Queen of Wands View Post
Devon, you are very welcome for the critique, but thank you for entering my contest. May I say that you obviously have talent and quite an imagination, so it would be very nice to see more of you around the forums. Don't be so shy!

QW
Thank you, QW. And I'll certainly be around soon.
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Old 12-05-2007, 10:16 PM
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wtg phiddipus!!!.... anyhow very nice works all... was fun to partisipate
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Old 12-06-2007, 01:30 PM
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Congrats Phiddipus. Looking forward to your next work.
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Old 12-06-2007, 02:19 PM
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Here's hoping Phiddipus logs in soon to discover his victory. I have e-mailed him, so fingers crossed...
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:30 PM
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Congratulations Phiddipus and a big thank you to Queen for organising this contest and gving critiques to all the entries.

I enjoyed writing my story, and I realise I need to edit and edit before I submit my entries.

Thanks again,

Puresnow
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Old 12-09-2007, 11:51 AM
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Default Oh my Gosh!

I'm speechless! (an unusual state for me)

Thank you so much, what a pleasant surprise! And yes, it was a surprise. I'm not terribly confident, having gotten so very many rejections from both online and hard copy publications.

I'll shut up now before I start babbling. But, thanks again!
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