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Fic Pick of the Week (May 1)

 
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CaptainRaspberry
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Joined: 20 Mar 2009
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Location: Littleton, MA

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:01 am    Post subject: Fic Pick of the Week (May 1) Reply with quote

Yes, before midnight on Thursday! I win!

Now some of these reviews might seem harsh, and I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes or offend people. However, I do feel I have a duty to tear stories apart for the betterment of writing, so let's roll up our sleeves and jump right in.

Runner-up: Scoop - Chapter One: Downed, by kr-142616
Cone with Sprinkles, Please: Solid writing, proper foreshadowing, and a novel concept kicked this series off right. KR jumps right into the action, introducing us to intrepid reporter Aaron Hayes just about to drop into combat as a war correspondent. Now I haven't combed through the entire archives, but I'm pretty sure this angle either hasn't been done or hasn't been done quite as well. Kudos to the author, because this might start a whole stream of non-combatant stories.

Cookie Cutter: Novel as it is, there are a few pitfalls such a new concept can't seem to avoid. Stereotypes abound, between the naive Private (seems a little too long in combat) to the gruff-exterior'd Corporal and the drawling and opinionated Sergeant. This isn't so bad, but unfortunately there isn't much else to go on: the story is great because it starts something new, but it ends in a rather unfortunate place. Just before we could see something exciting and original, we're left with only a promise of more. I'm sure the future updates will earn a much higher place in this list, but for now we can only anticipate.

One specific critique: "as you know" is one of the worst lines of dialogue EVER. Forgivable, but it tweaks my nerves like nobody's business.

Second Place: Lovedog: A Seven Days Story, by SeverianofUrth
Shepard of Amor: First off, the top two were really tough to call. Pros for this decision included some great storytelling, wonderful prose, and a complete story. The narrative style of talking to a person is one of the oldest and truest forms of storytelling, and here it doesn't fail (with a few minor exceptions, i.e.: "As you know, I died violently"). As a general critique, it does remove some of the power of the narrator (we no longer think of him as "us" but as another person in the room), but not by much.

Pug of Likeness: There are a few points where the attempt at prose gets a little too florid, overreaching its power enough to leave the reader re-checking the sentences. That can seriously damage the flow of the story, but it happened only a few times of note. Also, the deeply philosophical musings of the character that are so thrilling can also get intrusive and distracting to a major degree. As a result, some of the sentences tend to ramble on as if they just hopped the fense and got into the road.

But Sev's story didn't lose because of its faults, rather because of the sheer merit of the true winner...

First Place: The Day Before Tomorrow, by Azrael
Outtie on the Innie: First off, like most series' on this site, I'm not current on it, so whether my review is more or less biased is up to the reader. However, I have to say that this was an amazing piece of work by none other than Azrael. It may only be one part of a greater whole, but let me tell you it is a great part of what is certainly a still-greater whole. A mix of believable dialogue, realistic characters, and writing so good that I forget that I'm reading something rather than living it make this a true winner, standing out from the crowd with a golden crown. Honestly, I keep a file open to take notes in about problems big or small that I find, but when I was reading I forgot it existed.

A Really Big Fish: Length has never actually been a problem with a story, unless it's a length of crap, so this was pretty standard. If anything, there's just what seems like a temporal problem to me: how can a college junior be drinking a jock under the table one day, and the next be stomping through the streets with a group of Marines? Again, this is a series I'm not familiar with, so maybe it's already been explained. If there had been a year's difference, I might have found it more believable. Added to that is the chapter's killer ending, by which I mean I'm going to kill Azrael for ending it there.

Congratulations, Az.

And because I have notes on all the stories, here are much shorter overviews of each of the other entries. Some where a hair away from making it, others not so much. They're noted below:

Dead Faction Part One, by Staff Sergeant Browns
Crossovers haven't been doing too well lately, have they? This entry is flooded with grammar and spelling mistakes that should have been caught by even the most rudimentary spell-checker. The so-called "twist ending" is lost in this flood. Whenever somebody talks there should be a new paragraph, and there is a serious overuse of ellipses (a personal pet peeve). The sergeant should keep writing and practicing, but probably check out a copy of Elements of Style while he's at it.

Reveille, A Halo Fanthology -- Part III, by (ENS) Rabid_Gallagher
A solid attempt, but the fact is that the letter format is really difficult to pull off. There's just not enough substance available in one letter; if it had been written as a collection of letters showing his gradual descent into bitterness, it could have been much better. There is an overuse of the name "Mich," as well as inconsistent use of either "Mich" or "Michelle." But it's a touching tale, if overdramatic, and probably could have made it if it weren't for the sheer awesomeness of the top submissions.

Worth Fighting For; CH 6: Almost, by DevilsInjector
Ironically in relation to the title, this entry almost made it. Another series I'm not very familiar with, and unfortunately it seems to be the climax. For once, I've read a person who uses too few commas and apostrophes: there are some serious your/you're problems, and the sentences could have been broken up much more gracefully with better punctuation. The story overall was very interesting and compelling and the grammar problems individually aren't significant, but all of them together are overwhelming and seriously damage the quality of the story.

Net, by A Halo Fan...natic
Seriously, I didn't want to put this down here. It deserves its own place as a poem or something, it's so frighteningly original, and I don't know how to properly classify it. But people are afraid of change, and the fact is that - again - the winners this week won through merit, and this one did not lose through fault. My biggest complaints are the fact that the author could have cut down on the logon technobabble and also reduced the netspeak; I know that it's for effect, but come on, it made it really hard to read. Other than that, the format is really good, if unconventional, and when I reached the end I felt a chill run down my spine.
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kabu
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really liked the netspeak/tech stuff in Net. It drove home the idea that theses are real people, like us, just displaced a few hundred years.

Good work, Raspberry, on completing a daunting task. And congrats to the winners.
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SeverianofUrth
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(with a few minor exceptions, i.e.: "As you know, I died violently")


It was a reference to what happened earlier in the series, actually. Still, grats to everyone and a great ficpick.

(fuck yeah my streak is still alive)
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Azrael
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats to all the winners!

And thanks for the review! I was really proud of this chapter in particular, so I was glad people enjoyed it. I'll do everything I can to get the new chapter out and answer your questions Wink

To clarify the drink for drink scene, Rachel's bottle didn't have any alcohol in it. She had planned the humiliation from the start. I probably could have done a better job explaining that.
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CaptainRaspberry
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Azrael wrote:
To clarify the drink for drink scene, Rachel's bottle didn't have any alcohol in it. She had planned the humiliation from the start. I probably could have done a better job explaining that.


No, that was crystal clear. My problem was the fact that it seemed like life was perfectly normal at that point, with college and everything still going on, and the very next everyone seems like a hardened survivor and all of Boston is evacuated and FUBAR. Again, though, I'm missing the context of the rest of the series.
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Azrael
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ohhhhh! Yeah, that's chapters 1-6 Razz
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kr1
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the mention, Raspberry, and good job on your first Fic Pick. Wink

You're right about the stereotypes, but they're all there for a reason. The Texan, because that stereotype is usually pretty invincible (and laughable). The private I have plans for eventually. The gruff corporal I didn't actually realize was a stereotype, I just didn't want them both to be privates to mess with the dialogue flow. And I almost took 'as you know', but I liked the bureaucratic vibe it had.

Great work to everyone else, too, especially Sev for keeping his streak. Razz I thought Phae was gonna beat me out this week.
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Phædrus
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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand, man. Maybe you should just call me the "HBOFF Poet Laureate" or something. Twisted Evil Wink
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