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Friday, 2nd July, 2004, 09:30 PM #191
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What, the C.S. Forrester/Pat Califia crossover? I don't think Eric's grandma would like that....When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended for self-flagellation solely. (Truman Capote)
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Friday, 2nd July, 2004, 09:50 PM #192
No, Arwink and I had agreed to have them posted at 8pm last night.Originally Posted by alsih2o
Friday, 2nd July, 2004, 11:27 PM #193
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Blast, then you have my utmost apologies, I could have sworn it was Friday morning.Originally Posted by yangnome
EDIT: Yep, went back and foudn it as a Quote in Arwinks post. I am really sorry.
Last edited by alsih2o; Friday, 2nd July, 2004 at 11:35 PM.
Saturday, 3rd July, 2004, 12:58 AM #194
Novice (Lvl 1)
Saturday, 3rd July, 2004, 01:14 AM #195
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Woot! Go Greywolf!Originally Posted by Graywolf-ELM
Avatar by Sialia!
Now with name shortened from BardStephenFox
New Ptolus Campaign in Albuquerque, seeking players
Ceramic DM FAQ for Fiction
Ceramic DM Winter 2007 Contest
Saturday, 3rd July, 2004, 04:55 AM #196
Novice (Lvl 1)
Retract my last statement
Ok, I am ready, but my wife smacked me on the nose with a rolled up paper and told me not to be so eager as to post the story as soon as I have it written. She's right, I should proof it after having slept on it overnight, and post it tomorrow. Now where is that pesky story hour update that needs completion.
Sunday, 4th July, 2004, 01:14 AM #197
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
orchid blossom "Journeys"
"I trust the magic, it's the technology that makes me nervous. " -- key line that tells me about the kind of story I'm about to read.
"the people who seemed to populate this outer perimeter " -- the people who populated it or the people who seemed to -- weird distinction.
This story has nearly everything it needs. The writing is simple but precise: "the moist chill of antiseptic swabs" -- "every man in the room turned into a ten-year-old". Nice and neat. The characters are well-sketched and distinct -- you'd never mistake Devon for Brendan. The ideas are fun and presented with a minimum of expositorial clumsiness.
But it's like a car with fine detailing and comfortable seat that doesn't have an engine under the hood. Looks good, but it won't get you anywhere. Your plot has no tension, no urgency and requires no effort on the part of your heroine. She doesn't have to struggle to accomplish anything, she doesn't have to give anything up, and so there's no oomph to the tale.
The use of pictures is pretty good, although both the ship and the man are really extended throwaways. They don't feel like throwaways at first but by the end of the story one is left asking, "Who cares how they dock their ship?" "What difference does it make that the fellow identified her as a magician?"
There's good writing here, but a lack of story-telling. My playwriting instructor talked a lot about creating tension in scenes -- he said that every scene must include one character trying to accomplish a goal in the face of some resistance. The more important the goal, and the stronger the resistance, the more exciting the scene. Short stories aren't quite like plays that way, and you can get away with less rigorous displays of tension, but the principle is a good one.
We don't know what Jeanelle is trying to accomplish, which is a bit of a problem because it makes it hard for us to judge how important it is AND to evaluate what obstacles are presenting themselves. We can judge from her behaviour and discussion with Brendan and Lynn that whatever she's about to do is pretty important, but in the course of the story she's not presented with any resistance to doing it at all. If we knew what she was doing, AND if we saw her overcome (or fail to overcome) some obstacles to doing it, this story would provide a much more exciting ride.
This story suffers from extremely poor copyediting. Please check your usage. I've listed some of the more egregious errors below:
"Sponcer" = sponsor
"Science was easy, getting someone to pay for it was hard." -- comma splice
"todays data" -- today's data
"The scientific journals occasionally had articles about them, but few studied the things. They didn't do much... they were just there." -- "they" might refer to the journals, the things or the few who study them.
"The machine here had been built on top of this ripple though, completely by accident, which made it unusable for more standard quantum research, but absolutely perfect for his own." -- missing comma before "though", and run-on sentence. Break into two.
"That was can calculate things to thousands of decimal places? Well we can. Except, not for any specific atom. " -- ? Even if "was" is supposed to be "we" this doesn't make sense. Should that be "we can't" rather than "was can"?
"stimulants" should be "stimulus" or more likely, "stimuli"
"The camera pulled back slightly, and two oceans of water are shown" Tense problems. This paragraph suddenly turns into present tense. Why?
All these errors have the cumulative effect of annoying me to the point that I'm hardly paying attention to the story anymore. Further things that drove me crazy included:
Exclamation points. Please, I beg you to stop. No exclamation points. Ever.
Problem was, his research wasn't flashy. -- The only reason to emphasize "wasn't" is to draw a distinction between something that had been previously described using the form "was flashy" -- you're using the emphasis to draw the reader's attention to the different state of the "to be" verb in this case. Since there is no preceding element of that form, the emphasis here is needless.
"Allow me to set the scene." Wait a minute? Allow who to set the scene? (note the use of emphasis) Who's this suddenly talking to me? And where does he go after this sequence? If you're going to introduce an intrusive narrator, do it for a reason and let your reader know what the reason is. This whole sequence is problematic, largely due to the unspecific terminology: "vaguely ethnic", "funny accents", "ethnic", "vaguely ethnic", "vaguely ethnic" -- EVERYONE is "ethnic" according the primary definition in the American Heritage Dictionary : "Of or relating to a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage." The word can also be used to refer to non-Christian or non-Jewish people -- "heathens." In either case, it is a very imprecise description. Do you mean Arabic? Muslim? IndoChinese? To whom do their accents seem funny? To our suddenly intrusive narrator? To the well-dressed man who is apparently NOT ethnic (is he Jewish or Christian, I wonder)?
Be specific. Your accent is probably pretty funny to someone.
Overall, the story lacked a plot and our hero never seemed to struggle to accomplish anything. Does it matter that he has a son? If not, then why bring it up? The picture use, as well, is spotty -- it takes too long to get to any pictures at all, and the boat and robot pictures are definitely throwaways. And as for the "assembling the atomic bomb" picture, I would find it worthy of comment that an atom bomb kit included a live snake that needed some fluid extracted from it. I would definitely find that worthy of comment.
Less development on the early stuff, less exposition, and more on the parallel tracks of the guy with the lamp and the guy with the black hole. Connect them somehow.
Decision: orchid blossom
JOURNEYS (orchid blossom)
Good picture use overall, though the picture of the man opening his
jacket was a bit forced in an otherwise smooth narrative flow. The very
matter-of-fact combination of magic and technology was well-handled, and
the burns and Devon's hesitancy about magic were explained without any
unnecessary exposition or blather. The same goes for the background--we
get that magic is matter-of-fact, but not everybody likes it much, so
they take precautions.
So it was frustrating to see such an intriguing story run smack into a
wall. The ending was very abrupt--what happens now? Did we resolve
anything? Where did "I like snakes" come from?--and the tension with
Devon isn't entirely explained; there's something going on other than
his fear of magic, but we never get much into it. I wondered if orchid
blossom had accidentally cut off a paragraph or two at the end.
There's a good narrative in here....more than one, which is unfortunate.
We start off with a good scientific premise that turns into a problem
with a djinn to a disaster--there are a lot of pieces that aren't woven
together well enough to fit, and the use of the ship picture was very
weak. The story also jumped around in narrative style; sometimes
descriptive, sometimes the scene is set by an authorial voice.
There are good parts here, but they feel like puzzle pieces jammed
together, blocking the narrative flow.
Judgment for this round to ORCHID BLOSSOM.
Orchid blossom- First picture use rocks. I like how tech and magic are mixed together. This whole scene is well done.
Second picture feels a bit like an out. But a lot of Ceramic DM is finding a good out. This one at least reinforces an underlying theme- the predjudice against magicians. Good effort, but not the strongest pic use. Although I have to admit that I was thrilled and entertained by the idea of sitting in a boat, just waiting for the tide to come in.
The next scene is a little confusing, with me wondering about the moving jeep, Devon at her elbow, then getting in. This was a little distracting, but a good use of the picture. I also liked the visual of the clenched jaw at the beginning.
The last picture, the robot (made completely from Cooper Mini parts IRL) is integral to the story, but then we find out it isn’t a story! I was kind of shocked to see the bottom of the page coming. Here I was grooving on the world, digging the cool characters and wild possibilities and then it was over. I hate to reference comics twice in one round but if I am gonna read all of Issue 1 I wanna see a fight. J
Darned good picture use, a real way with words. I would like to think that with more than 3 days and 5000 words this would have kicked butt…but Ceramic DM is about stories and adventures (I think) and less about just establishing concepts.
Fieari- This is very confusing. There is a very interesting premise surrounding a ripple, and then I am lost. Our writer seems much more comfortable with discussions of the technology than the people. I really think there is something in here, but it obviously needs a lot more time to come out.
Judgement- orchid blossom
Decision- 3-0 for orchid blossom who moves on.
Sunday, 4th July, 2004, 04:20 AM #198
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I agree. As I was writing it, I was afraid of getting too melodramatic. Consequently I ended up leaving out a lot of what would have created the tension. Also, I realized as I was writing that it wasn't Jeanelle that had something to accomplish, it was Devon. In retrospect, I think I would have changed to his point of view in the second section.Originally Posted by alsih2o
I'll have to add that to my list of writing rules. Right behind #1, No preaching. (I'll post comments from the other list after this, see them for rule #1.) Sounds like a good solid rule to me.Originally Posted by alsih2o
I hate that ending too. Honestly, I had no idea what happens next. Still don't. As in not getting into the tension with Devon, same as above in not wanting to get melodramitic with the ex-romantic relationship angle. I definitely need to reconsider that one, I think.Originally Posted by alsih2o
This is where my weakness is in writing, especially in a forum like Ceramic DM. Even sitting here now not one wild possibility has popped into my head. Hopefully with more experience I'll be able to see the wilder ones more clearly.Originally Posted by alsih2o
Thanks to the judges for thier valuable comments, and thanks to Fieari for a story filled with ideas that never crossed my mind.
(Apologies if my comments are a bit confusing. We had a nice, long day out at the Ren Faire and my brain is a bit sun-scrambled.)
Last edited by orchid blossom; Sunday, 4th July, 2004 at 04:27 AM.
Sunday, 4th July, 2004, 04:26 AM #199
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Reposted from the other thread. I hope BardStephenFox doesn't mind.
I agree here. Yes, the guy would not be there at all if not for the pic. I originally had some very different ideas where that pic was more important. However, when my brain finally flashed on the final idea it didn't fit as well. I had a hard time working it in smoothly (which I don't feel I did, and now of course I just thought of a way to make that smoother if not more important. lol) In end I hoped that the occurence being a catalyst for Jeanelle to show the hurt side would make it at least notable if not as important as it should be.Originally Posted by BardStephenFox
Originally Posted by BardStephenFox
The thing I end up doing with the pictures I just can't seem to integrate is try to turn it around and base the story on them. I was laughing when I saw the tires at the shoulders. I couldn't think of any reason for them to be there unless it was..... A Transformer! And who doesn't love a transformer?
The implied histories was done completely on purpose. I have a tendency to meander in writing and to want to preach (i.e. explain everything) to the reader. It makes for long, boring stories. So when I signed up for this, I made my first rule "No Preaching!" It's a handy rule, and it's tightened up my writing considerably. Plus it forces me to slide in the necessary information without a lot of author's exposition.Originally Posted by BardStephenFox
I agree about the end as well. I was finishing up on Monday night (ok, I started and finished on Monday night, lol) and I didn't like that ending. I knew that the goal of the story had been accomplished. Devon just took the first all important step to forgiving himself and accepting the whole messy world. Now I had to get out of this story. The no preaching rule said no expounding on the moral/theme. I was stuck with the abrupt ending, which I didn't like, and anything a bit longer I tried to write seemed totally unecessary. I haven't solved that one yet.
Sunday, 4th July, 2004, 06:03 AM #200
Novice (Lvl 1)
Ceramic DM – Summer 2004
Round 1, Match 8, Taladas vs, Graywolf-ELM'
Fildon ForgeHammer stared at the piles of reports covering his desk, his face a picture of mute disbelief. The pot-bellied and grizzle-faced mage stroked his braided beard and ornamental beard hammer absently. The desk was hand carved from green granite with elbow grooves, and flagon holders inset. Fildon’s chair was also hand carved, this from stout Oak with four solid posts, with concave fittings at each base allowing it to rest on smooth round stones. An old battered shield hung, on the wall behind the desk, in quiet representation of an early and long stint at Seeking, in the Hammer’s younger days. He grumbled his displeasure at the crystal globe mounted in the center of the ceiling. It emitted a soft white light throughout the room and clearly illuminated the accursed stacks of reports.
Fildon glanced at the door, expecting his assistant to come rushing in with a new batch of reports and complaints at any minute. Giro XornBite was not your typical Forge-Mage’s assistant. At a young age his left foot was grabbed and phased into solid rock by an angry Xorn. Giro’s friends managed to hold him from being pulled further under, but he’d lost the foot. Giro and his friends had been mining all of the gems in the Xorn’s favorite snack supply.
With a resolute harrumph, the old Dwarf released his beard, and snatched up a letter for examination. It was written on parchment, of obvious human make, with dibble-berry ink laid down by quill. The hand was strong and purposeful; it began:
My dear Master Fildon ForgeHammer,
It is with great sorrow that I must write this letter to you. If you recall, our town commissioned a work of magic from your esteemed family of Forge Mages. If you recall, we are a small town and saved the earnings of all our divers for many years to pay for your services. Everything worked fine until Three days ago. The diving apparatus that we desperately needed to harvest the giant clams and deep-water delicacies has failed during an expedition to claim pearls. The young woman Ellistia Waterstil perished in the accident.
Fildon paused for a moment, remembering the young woman who was testing the diving apparatus. Fildon has insisted on being there when the magical suit was tested the first time. Three human men were instructed from the shoreline in the proper procedure for donning of the suit. The brave look in her eyes and the tender touch exchanged between her and the other diver, her heartbound. The poor woman, she was a brave one.
He shook his head to clear the thoughts, and continued on with the letter.
The apparatus was found with Ellistia inside, using the old diver’s bell. Testing has determined that all traces of magic have stopped working. We understood that the magic was to be permanent for the benefit of the entire town. The only way we have been able to compete with the other towns is through the use of this suit.
The letter went on to request repair of the suit, and wergild for the remaining heartbound man. Fildon made notes to have the wergild sent, and the apparatus returned for examination. Parting with the gold would be difficult, but this had to be investigated, all of these would need investigation.
Flipping the letter over into the depressingly-small completed pile, he reached for another one. This one was penned with a Dwarvish quill of never-ending ink. By the color and texture it was made by clan SilverHand. The wood-pulp material was made by the same artificers, but non-magical. This author was somewhat less levelheaded than the previous. In a swift, determined, and angry hand,
I Delacy ni Calendess, declare undying hatred for you and your clan.
Fildon sat back in his chair, eyes wide at the war invoking nature of the letter. Allowing himself to calm down a little, he returned to the letter. Grief could make a man say or write things he would regret later.
My beloved Benicia is dead because of you. She loved the dancing assistant you devised for her, not knowing the pain and sorrow it would cause. You stood in my very home, and watched her first performance with that horrid device. Guiding her through dance steps, balancing her during flips and spins. She was gorgeous that day in makeup and silks; your eyes should be plucked from their skull for what you have done. The last you saw of her, she was standing in front of your creation. My last sight of her, was the crushed and mangled body being pulled from that monstrosity. It crushed her in the middle of a performance, with hundreds of people watching. She may yet be raised from the dead. I am petitioning all of the good churches in the city. Though it leaves me coinless, I am hiring a champion to seek you out and carry out my vengeance. You have been warned! The writing trailed off at this point, only to be followed by a tirade about the Dwarven quill failing, this in a different ink.
Having read enough, Fildon wrote some comments for Giro to have the construct tracked down for study. It would not do for this thing to kill others and bring more shame to the ForgeHammer name.
Fildon set the paper aside and looked at the incoming stack of letters, “Something is horribly wrong with even my most potent Runes.” Making a decision, the dwarf pushed back against the table, his chair easily sliding on the its’ stone feet. Easing himself down to the floor he reached up under the desk, and tripped a hidden trigger. A Forge Hammer fell into his hand with a familiar smack of flesh on leather-bound handle. The head of the hammer was squared, angling down from the haft to a business area of 3in x 3in square. Runes adorned the haft and both sides and top of the ancient Hammer. It was old when Fildon ForgeHammer was still young. The aura radiating from the old magical forger of weapons was still strong after centuries of use. Hefting the welcome weight up to his shoulder, Fildon heads out the door, only to find Giro rushing towards him.
“Master ForgeHammer, there is a problem in the secondary workshop, something is terribly wrong.” Every other step is made with the soft thud of a solid mithral foot, the lack of a metallic echo due to the Xorn hide affixed to the bottom. “Please this way sir.” Giro leads the way to the leatherworking shop to show Fildon what sent him in such a hurry. “The hats of disguise, of charm, and of change. Master, none of them work. All their magic is non functional.” The Dwarves working here look up from their shoes and hats. “What has happened?” Giro is on his way to a frenzy at this point.
Ignoring the frantic state of his assistant, Fildon waves to his assistant. “Come along Giro, I go to the forge to seek answers.”
Climbing down stairs, opening hidden doors, with no visible seams when shut, and across a rope bridge, the pair finally arrive at the forge. The sacred clan forge had been handed down generation to generation, for nearly three thousand years. There were improvements to the bellows, back in the time of Gilly ForgeHammer, and a new anvil just a generation ago by Fildon’s Father. So well built, are the dwarven forges, that they rarely need repairs from normal use. Fildon directed Giro to the bellows. “I need a four beat-er Giro, no more, no less.” Fildon raked the coals, and set the hammer down to load up the forge with fresh coal. After several shovels full, Fildon picks up the hammer and points it at the coal. “HADAREN”. The Dwarven word for fire is spoken, a rune flares on the side of the hammer, and fire leaps up to light the coals. Reaching over, Fildon grabs an iron rod and stabs it into the coals to heat up. Giro dutifully and rhythmically pulls on the bellows to heat the coals in the Forge.
Soon the coals and iron rod are white hot. Fildon slides on the gauntlets hanging by the forge, and brings the rod around to the anvil. He takes up the hammer and begins tapping out an even rhythm on the rod and anvil. Some say Dwarven Rune Magic is like any other, a call upon the weave with the right runes, similar to a call using bits of diamond or animal parts for spell components. Others know the truth of it. A melding of Arcane and Divine magic with strength of will to gather them together is a more accurate depiction. The runes help focus the will and the magic.
Fildon begins chanting along with his hammering. Sometimes louder, at others lower, and never deviating from the rhythm of the hammering and the bellows blowing air. The chanting continues in a deep dwarven rumble and runes flare up as their powers are called upon. He could cast the spells himself, but the aid of a good bellows man made it much easier.
“Gods of Fire and Light
Gods of Earth and Dark
Vessel worthy to Mold
Bring me out from Cold
I forge weapons to fight
Bringing forth your spark
Vessel worthy to Mold
Bring me out from Cold
Hammer made of centuries
Deliver me answers please
Vessel worthy to Mold
Bring me out from Cold
Hammer made of centuries
Deliver me answers please.”
Giro watches the old mage continuing to hammer, and reheat the iron when needed, his casting never stopping. The old Dwarf goes into a trance, and with all outward appearances of forging, begins communicating with the hammer that holds the spirit of his family.
“WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE OF ME FILDON, LAST OF THE FORGEHAMMERS?”
“Gilmtor ForgeHammer and ancestor, I seek a boon. What is happening to my magic? Help me to find the reason behind my failure.”
“EASY ENOUGH FILDON. THE ANSWER IS IN YOUR PAST AND YOUR WILL.”
“How so ForgeHammer? I have led a long life of Seeking when my goals did not match those of my family. I returned with new ideas, and brought prosperity to the guild.”
“YOU LOST YOUR WILL IN THE CAVES OF ILL MUIR. YOU STRUCK A BARGAIN THERE, WITH A MONSTER IN HUMAN GUISE.” AND NOW YOU USE FORGEHAMMER TO MAKE TRINKETS TO SELL. I WAS CREATED FOR CRAFTING WEAPONS NOT THIS IGNOBLE FATE.
“What? How is that possible? I did not know. That was two hundred and fifty years ago. Trinkets? I craft wondrous items with you.”
The memories start flooding back, to a time when the Dwarf was off adventuring with humans in the Caves of Ill Muir. Falling down a well-disguised chute, the dwarf landed in an inhabited cave. He looked like an old human shaman of some kind, sucking on a pigs knuckle, and he spoke to Fildon in perfect Dwarvish. “I see you dwarf, falling in my cave. Will you die today, or shall we strike a mutual bargain?” The presence behind the eyes filled the stout dwarf with dread. Some time later Fildon was pulled from the chute with the aid of a rope, his friends none the wiser about his encounter.
“YOU TRADED SOME OF YOUR WILL, LATER IN LIFE, FOR BUSINESS KNOWLEDGE, TO BRING HOME FOR YOUR CLAN. NOT MUCH, BUT JUST ENOUGH TO AFFECT THE FINAL BINDINGS OF YOUR RUNES. ”
“I didn’t know. This has ruined my honor, and the reputation of my clan. How do I regain my will, and my honor if I can.”
“YOU MUST TRAVEL TO THAT CAVE AGAIN, AND REMEMBER WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A DWARF. YOU MAY NEVER USE FORGEHAMMER TO MAKE TRINKETS AGAIN. ”
With that pronouncement in his mind, the next blow of the hammer leaves it cracked in half like a ripe melon on rock, the sound in the forge, like that of two Iron Golems trading hits. The dwarf comes quickly out of his trance with pain and shame evident in his eyes and etched upon his face.
“Giro, prepare my armor, and the old shield. I have something I must do.” As he stalks by the shaken assistant, four words startle the dwarf even further. “The Forge is yours.”