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Fic Pick of the Week, w/e 9 April 2010

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Fic Pick of the Week, w/e 9 April 2010 Reply with quote

A Brief Service Announcement
In the interests of experimentation, this week the Bastard has introduced a simple five-point system for judging the quality of submissions:
  • Grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Formatting, i.e. how easy it is to read.
  • The quality of the plotting, the narrative and the use of pacing.
  • The consistency and realism of the characterisation.
  • How well the piece slots into the Halo canon, and how well it changes, manipulates or reinvents canon to its advantage.

So, here goes.

Titans of Warfare- Part 2 by spartan shot
  • Grammar, spelling and punctuation. Mediocre, plenty of mistakes I'd have been embarrassed to see made in primary school. Whilst it is vaguely comprehensible, it is still incredibly distracting and highly unprofessional.
  • Formatting: inconsistent. Decide if you're going to break your paragaphs with an indent, a double line break or both, and stick to it throughout.
  • Narrative, plotting and pacing: The part in which 'the sight began to melt itself into one of his memories.' is bad, bad, BAD. This is not a film, this is the written medium. Such tricks might work if this was film and achieved through some clever editing and camera trickery, but it simply comes across as a lazy, half-baked segué here. I'm kind of reminded of Charlie Brooker's parody song Where's the Paper?, and not in a good way.
  • Characterisation: To all intents and purposes, this piece has no characterisation, and instead consists of a series of one-dimensional foils revolving around a cut-out emo Sue. Furthermore, the central Sue appears to have taken some inspiration in his stream of consciousness from the British sit-com Reggie Perrin, although unfortunately without the segment in which he fakes his own suicide by walking into the ocean.
  • Canonicity and continuity: At the end appears a character who was very definitely dead, twenty-seven years prior to the setting of this story, when he was stood next to a slipstream drive's nuclear reactor as he blew it up.

Unfortunately, it seems very clear here that Mr. Shot has taken note of virtually none of the advice that was dispensed to him in the comment thread for his submission last week. I'm beginning to wonder why the author bothers to keep submitting these pieces: they are showing virtually no improvement between chapters or series, and are about as entertaining as... well. They're not entertaining.

This is not intended to be a slander on the author's personality, although I wish to make the following clear: your work must drastically improve before anyone even begins to even contemplate taking it seriously. And, again, get other people to beta-read it before you submit.

Ch. 2 Alligators and Robots- Saving Lizzie by Harb
  • Grammar, spelling and punctuation. Solid throughout, although there are a few typos I spotted.
  • Formatting: Good.
  • Narrative, plotting and pacing: It's refreshing to see an interpretation of the human/Elite situation that doesn't conceive immediate integration; also, the dialogue is well-written and suitably realistic.

    However, it doesn't flow particularly well in certain places, and the pacing is not very good. Also, it sometimes comes across as being a bit dry, like you haven't had enough fun with the language while writing it. Just a personal observation, there.
  • Characterisation: All characters appear to be reasonably well-realised here.
  • Canonicity and continuity: Post-Halo 3 is something of an unknown with respect to canon, and it's so rare to see a realisation that doesn't screw it up royally - this is a refreshing change from the norm.

Overall, therefore, I was slightly disappointed by this piece: however, it's still a good read, so bon travail. Very Happy

Stargazing by LonesomeMonster
  • Grammar, spelling and punctuation. A few typos, but mostly acceptable. Nothing to instigate an allergic reaction in this particular grammar nazi.
  • Formatting: WALL OF TEXT syndrome here. Please paragraph more clearly, using double-spacing and/or an indent before each new paragraph.
  • Narrative, plotting and pacing: This is good. To be fair, it's little more than a vignette - however, it's well-executed, and that's really all we ask for.

    As Trooper raised in the comment thread, there is an issue with the use of brackets to convey information throughout: remember, show, don't tell. The little tidbits of information you couldn't have shown could probably have done better integrated into the sentences, and this would have the side effect of allowing you to vary your sentence construction throughout.
  • Characterisation: Your characters are reasonably well-defined and they remain in character throughout, but the interpretations come across as a bit generic. The Chief, in particular, is hard to pull off - in our experience, there are two roads you can take when writing him. You can paint him as a neurotic, socially inept and struggling to maintain his facade of professionalism, terrified of failure. On the other hand, you can try writing him as a cool professional with a relatively normal, but vaguely sad personality underneath. (There are various pieces you can go to for examples: my own Bright Green Dot *cough* blatant plug *cough*, Halo: Acheron and Harb's Christmas Eve in the Stars.) Your Chief seems rather too verbose, and also happens to have the wrong eye colour (pedantic, I know, but his eyes are brown.)

    Coming on to the topic of Miranda, and her relationship with the Chief: you pulled it off OK, but the idea is a bit worn and predictable. In my opinion, she wouldn't be that taken aback by what is, essentially, a rather boring face attached to a boring body that just happens not to be obscured by a gold visor any more. In addition, I'm not a fan of the hints of romance: I know it's hinted in official canon that they were secretly *ahem* at it, but personally I find that to be reading too far into it - it's very tenuous, if it's there at all. (Also, I once accidentally stumbled across some appalling Chief/Miranda slash on a certain large fan fiction web site... which I suppose makes me slightly averse to the concept.)
  • Canonicity and continuity: Nothing glaringly canon-busting here, although I (and several others I've consulted with) doubt the Chief would be wandering around at that time of night, let alone out of uniform or armour. Considering he's just been in a massive battle, I'm surprised he's not completely out of it, curled up in a corner (or, god forbid, on an actual bed), blissfully sleeping his free time away.

Overall, this is a good first attempt, but perfect it ain't. As we always say here, practice makes perfect, so keep writing and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next! Smile

And now, the rankings, and a word of warning
An Honourable Mention goes to LonesomeMonster for Stargazing: a very solid first attempt, albeit a flawed one, and there's definitely talent in there.

And, unsurprisingly, that means this week's runaway Fic Pick Winner of the Week is Harbringer with Saving Lizzie! Congratulations, Harbringer: your prize, as promised, is both highly desirable and incredibly rare and difficult to acquire. Therefore, it's my pleasure to present you with the number 70,042.


Being serious again, although both the winners have produced good work, neither of you can afford to be complacent. Both pieces sadly came across as being perhaps a little lacklustre by HBOFF standards, and it's sheer good mood that's stopped me from pulling a Phae again this week and proclaiming there to be no winner.

This is down to two things. Firstly, pickings were very slim this week, and secondly, all submitters (with the exception of one, who should know better) have joined us recently and are perhaps rather inexperienced.

Experience is the only thing that will improve your writing, provided you're able to look back on it, see where you went wrong and correct it. A good way of doing this is to write something, then leave it out of sight for a week or two before coming back to it with a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh mindset. Don't be afraid to ask for people to beta-read your work before you submit it, and be pushy: follow up, ask if there are things that need changing, ask what your editor likes and doesn't like.

Finally, don't forget to read as well. Read other fan fiction from the archives here, elsewhere, and read books too. I'm a firm believer that reading outside your own writing makes you a better writer: you can write a good story taking inspiration from Niven, Clarke, Baxter, Heinlein et al. You don't magically produce a good story by staring at a blank Word document for twenty-four hours, or by playing Assault on the Control Room twenty times in a row.

So, there's a non-exhaustive list of tips: please, take them on board and produce something wonderful. It could be for next week if you're very fast, or it could be for six months from now: it really doesn't matter, as long as you end up with something brilliant at the end. Smile

EB out.
The Elitist Bastard | Writing is the business of professional turd-polishing.
"(don't take this review too seriously) If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS??"
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Great job! That was incredibly precise. Thank you A LOT. This will totally help me out in the future. Admittedly, I did not like my recent chapter... I'll probably have one more before this is over.

Once again, thank you. Very detailed and it helps me focus on what I need to work on. Very Happy
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