RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

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

Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Big Barney Ross » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:51 pm

Raziel4707 wrote:You really don't take criticism well, do you?

Not when the criticism is a bunch of bs. You will notice I did not say a word about the other part of Atlantic's critique; I just referred to the bs part of it.

And besides, I only said the truth. Prose without adjectives to describe the scene and the characters is bare-bones and dry. Now, why your prefer that kind of prose, my dear Boltholers, is beyond me. I described the place in three sentences. Not 5, not 10, not 15. Three. It's OK to leave something to the reader's imagination, but you've got to give him at least a rough sketch to build upon. Then I proceeded to describe my only two characters in one, and two sentence(s), respectively. Again, excuse me for wanting to give the reader an actual character to imagine, and not just a blank face on a blank body.

Maybe this would've been more to your liking?

The man and the demon stood in the void. The man spoke.
[the monologue here]
The end.


But now that I read it, I find the words 'man' and 'demon' too descriptive. Also, 'void' is rather suggestive, right? So how about this?

The first being and the second being stood in a place. The first being spoke.
[the monologue here]
The end.


Hmmm... still not quite right... maybe I should just leave a blank (virtual) paper, and let the reader's imagination fill it in, eh?

Now before the mods start reprimanding me again for being rude and abrasive towards unselfishly helpful people, I'll remove myself from this topic. Goodbye.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Thu Mar 24, 2011 8:35 pm

I think most people who post on these boards recognise that, in doing so, they're opening their work up to criticism and comment from other users. There's no requirement to act on that advice, of course. It's freely given and can just as freely be ignored.

It is common courtesy, however, to acknowledge when that advice is given - even if you don't agree with it (which reminds me, thank you, Atlantic, for the crit - I haven't had the chance to consider it properly yet, but I will soon enough). To refer to advice (particularly when it's clearly been well-considered) as 'bs', though, strikes me as a bit mean-spirited. Surely, it'd be simpler to acknowledge the useful advice and ignore the rest?

I'm not interested in 'reprimanding' anyone, but I would remind everyone that they have a responsibility to treat everyone with respect and courtesy - even if (particularly if) you don't agree with them.

Regards,

JDD
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby cjphillips » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:49 pm

Atlantic wrote:cjphillips - red revolutions

this is quite good.


Thank you! And good shout on the active/passive voice thing, by the way - one of my worst writing habits. The passive voice should be avoided, as they say. Hopefully I'll get chance to add feedback of my own over the weekend. 'Til then...
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:49 pm

When a writer publishes his work, and displays it in a public domain, his work(s) is given free reign to be analysed by the readers to review the story at their own leisure. I think people should be pleased to get any feedback at all, as it is an acknowledgement of sorts that the reader has took the time to read it. It hurts when the feedback doesn't result in the way you want it, but if people seriously want to be writers, critism and bad reviews go with the territory. But there is some good to them, for besides helping to develop tough skin, it also provides you another opinion of your work for you to find the flaws you missed. Only through trial and error can problems be found, and erased for next time.

If you have a disagreement with someone's opinion of your story, you are entitled to ask why and learn of the reasons. I like to think the discussion between me and JDD to be an ideal model for a discussion over mistakes errors made. As long as people maintain a degree of politeness and decorum, then there shouldn't be any need for unpleasant or harsh words.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Commander Shadow » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:15 am

I'd like to echo what Stuart and JDD said. People will respond based on how they interpreted your work, its a dialogue between you and them and just as in real-life conversations things might not come across how you mean them to be said.

Don't take this the wrong way. Your response seemed quite defensive. No one is attacking you, just offering advice in a helpful way. This is a writing (for the most part) community after all.

@ Tyrant

I really enjoyed this peice, very powerful especially without the fighting-action (well, direct fighting at anyrate). It reminded me of some of the Vietnam books and stories i've read in some small part. (Tired grunts heading back to hell). I especially liked the sergeant's little "pep-talk" towards the end. very realistic.

One small thing: The first talking that Arun does threw me off a bit. I was unsure who was speaking right until he repeats himself after the second paragraph. Apart from that nothing major that i can see.
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:52 am

Commander Shadow wrote:Don't take this the wrong way. Your response seemed quite defensive. No one is attacking you, just offering advice in a helpful way. This is a writing (for the most part) community after all.


Adding to what Shadow said, if you react in that way towards people when they give feedback, it will disuade people from ever giving feedback completely. If you want feedback, you have to accept that the feedback might not to be to your liken.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Pyroriffic » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:42 am

Enough said on the matter from all sides. Resume regular RiaR activity now.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:23 pm

Atlantic-

re paragraph nine: I think it works, in so much that these guys are very war-weary, almost despairing. They served their time, retired, and now they've been hauled back into the fighting by necessity. I'll look at what you said about "really" in the next paragraph.

Commander Shadow-

I think it should be clear who is speaking, he's the only named character up until that point, and the first sentence of the third paragraph should make it obvious I think. But then I would think that, since I wrote it.....I'll give it some thought!

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Jelboy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:36 pm

Emperor slit my throat, but I find formatting awkward on here. Please forgive slight formatting problems.

Word count 1124

The Flask

Brucke fought to match pace with the Collector as they passed from the bustle of the concourse to the under-city, where the roofed alleys swallowed their shadows.

“Can’t be trusting a sod down ‘ere you can’t,” he said, looking left, looking right, as they passed beneath a keystone shaped in the fashion of a claw. He wrapped a handkerchief around his head to ward off the bloated smells and he cursed the flickering gas lights that leant a strobe look to the pale faces in the gloom. “These ‘ere lost every annual fight they ever fought, and should know their place, but,” he paused, letting the faint echo of his voice die, “they keeps like rats in a pack. Are you armed?”

“Do we go left or right,” said the Collector, as the alley split, ignoring Brucke’s question. Again, that voice, it missed the ears and slid direct into the mind like a burglar of the night, all the more surprising considering he towered over Brucke. One would expect a baritone that shook the air.

Brucke glanced at the hard angles pushing through the man's cloak, listened to the quiet whine of servos and felt the thud made by each footfall. All in all, intimidating. He guessed a marine or storm-trooper strode beside him, and the cloak disguised none of this. And he wondered to himself why the elite soldiers of Chaos would need to cover their exact identity here. Unless of course…

He held that thought, hawked and spat at the cobbled stones and decided that ignorance might be a life
saver later. “We turn into this tunnel, where the shadows and the stench deepens.”

Ghosts crystallised upon approach into pale Scrimshaw-Urchins who glared at Brucke and the Collector with moon-eyes flickering with reflected torch light. Something heavy rumbled high above, presumably on a road, and brick dust glided down, and the children ducked, whisking their whittled bones away. Brucke pulled his gaze from them and ignored too their master, the stained-apron pie seller, who stood there bloated, fat pie balanced on palm, right in his path.
A healthy face sat on a squat neck below neat trimmed hair, but the Pieman's eyes held tortures. Brucke knocked the man aside as he strode by, and the pie fell to the cobbles with a ripe splat . The pie seller shouted: fetid expletives, dire warnings, and curses, and Brucke just laughed aloud, leading the Collector onwards to where steam hissed from the rusting vents of underground furnaces.

They passed a ‘lady’ who lounged against the soot covered brick, her finery limp and gaze bled of life, the scales on her arm a unique marketing point. Burke winked, she scowled and he chuckled. He was ugly, he knew that. A misshapen nose plastered on a nondescript face, atop a body suited to this City of Fights: all muscle and bone. 'Burke the Ogryn' they'd taunted in his youth.

He wondered in the quiet of parts of the night to the truth of this. How long ago might an Ogryn have come to this world, by dint of accident or cult affiliation, and forced his ways on a human woman? How had that one act changed the fate of that woman’s descendants, and how many descendants had there been? Either way, it had been a good deed that, done so long ago, for it gave him an unusual strength that served him well in a world where the warp swirled in the air like leaves on a breeze.


His thoughts returned to the present and this oppressive under-city and he felt contempt for the people here and their surroundings. Contempt for the lamps fuelled by human fat whose glow lit the grasping faces of the pie sellers. For the scriveners in their cages huddled over their hoards of bones. He felt contempt for the rope-makers with their baskets of matted scalps, and for the denture crafters with their tubs of teeth. What a degenerate and soulless bunch crept around down here; craven slaves and their masters, scum bettered by their fear into accepting this dismal life rather than progressing in the annual fight games to something better.

The alley widened, as from a throat to a stomach, to become a bustling square and from here he could see the sky. He craned his head back and took a deep breath of the air, once again clean and cool. He stared up at the towering hab-blocks that soared like dark Chaos gods to the clouds. Then his gaze rested on the worn cobbles at his feet and it occurred to him that this was the oldest part of the city. When the Imperial heretics spread out across this world so long ago and hacked hovels from the rock, perhaps they first struck their pickaxes where he stood now.

“We’ve arrived?” asked the Collector, in his non-voice.

Brucke nodded as he stared into the square and the hell within it. Bodies lay entangled in mounds, guts and intestines slithered into vats, and blood, blood was all.

“Yes, the business of death begins here.”

The silver of butcher’s knives flashed throughout: rhythmic drums of chop chop, sharp blades hacking cadavers on stone plinths. Blood swirling, gurgling down drains; flesh, bone and sinew stacked in oozing piles for transportation to clients.

“You wanted busy sewers,” said Brucke, forcing back vomit. “They be here. Or at least, 20 spans beneath our feet.”

“Ironically fitting,” said the Collector and from the shrouds of his cloak a blue gauntleted hand appeared, holding a flask. Plates of armour covered each finger segment of the gauntlet reinforcing Brucke’s suspicions he accompanied a space marine. Blue armour? He had heard of orders of marine that donned blue, and the thought of guiding any loyalist marine raised the hairs on his neck. Only temporarily though, business was business. And there were other blues too.

The Collector unscrewed the cap of the flask and poured a green powder down a nearby drain.

Brucke watched suspiciously. “What is that?”

“Ork spore,” came the non-voice. “Spreading now throughout the sewers. How does that make you feel, Brucke? That your home city will soon be infested?”

Brucke blinked at the news, before coughing phlegm and spitting to the cobbles. “The world is Mlaxos, stranger, and about us is the Maelstrom. War, treachery and death rule here. Your deed shatters no dreams with I, nor brings anger or sorrow as the coin you paid is a daemon's ransom. I could tell on 'ee, but methinks the profit of that would be my death. No, its time to take an holiday away from 'ere, for a while. Fare thee well.
Last edited by Jelboy on Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:23 pm

Jelboy (The Flask): You really did a great job of building a world of corruption and poverty here. My only problem is that the ending felt rather abrupt and no real explanation was given for why the (I assume) Alpha Legion astartes would deposit ork spores.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Jelboy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:56 pm

Tyrant: Yes, probably crammed the ending in a bit! :shock:

I was hoping to imply (without spelling out explicitly) that Ork spore dropped into a decrepit sewer system awash with blood and full of dampness would lead to a nice crop of Orks growing within X amount of time. The Ork spore was an act of terrorism. I failed terribly! :roll:

The identity of the Collector is irrelevant for this short piece. Could be chaos marine, loyalist marine, or some other power armoured dude (probably not a Ultra smurf though).
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:28 pm

Jelboy- I got the idea of it being terrorism, what I didn't get is why he would do that rather than anything else. In the Maelstrom something chaotic/war-based would have seemed more logical, especially given the kind of place they were in. Are you planning to write any more about that particular world? It is pretty interesting.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Jelboy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:52 pm

Not now!

:lol:

Seriously though, I don't get so much time for BL writing and I'll probably be working on a Gotrek and Felix short submission, plus A N Other short submission for the Submissions window, over the next month or three.

As for the Ork spore drama... I've always been fond of Ork spore as an easy means of terrorism. Plus, I like the idea of a fairly technological chaos world where each of the prime cities have different means of advancement in their society - one duels, one assassination of an immediately higher ranking person, etc. A world moderately 'evil', but too, more sophisticated than just endless mutations, hordes of fighting armies, endless plagues and so on. Sort of a 'light touch' chaos world. (possibly such a world would be 'gone bad' within the Imperium rather than located within a chaos infested part of space).

The terrorism in this case would probably be between cities.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Eremite » Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:40 am

Not too happy with this - for the first time, I'm tempted to expand this one into a proper story, if people are interested, as I really don't think I did the ideas justice in the minimal words I had. I wrote this during a period (which isn't over) of a disturbed sleep cycle. Take 'disturbed' however you lilke.

***

The Sound of Wings
1067 Words

It began with the Dreamers.

A new sickness swept across Ikelos. A plague of sleep. A plague that struck after it had spread. The first to fall were the last to be infected, the wave of disease travelling backwards. Millions of isolated cases appeared across the globe, filling hospitals overnight before the sickness spiralled inwards, localising to a continent, an island, a city, a district.

When it reached the nexus, when patient zero closed their eyes, the dreams became nightmares and the Dreamers woke up.

They came back changed, their bodies warped into horrifying new shapes, but this was nothing compared to what had become of their minds.

Overnight, the world changed. The streets of every city rang with screams. Every hospital and infirmary became a charnel house. The Governor’s successors sent out for aid and we answered.

A strike cruiser was sent, carrying the Seventh Reserve Company. My company.

At first we made a difference, driving the tide of mutation and madness back alongside the local militias and planetary defence force. They fought well, for mortals. Then a fresh horror, a new tragedy, befell Ikelos.

The entire population, soldier and civilian, began to die in their dreams. The handful that awoke became Dreamers themselves, reinforcing the hordes that haunted the cities and stalked the forests, steppes and deserts.

We were forced to watch as exhaustion sapped the strength, will and sanity of our allies, our brothers-in-arms, watched them kill themselves to escape. The last of them, Inquisitor Aisling, died a week after the first few isolated cases. She had come to discover the true nature of the Dreamers, driven to drugs and assailed by fear and paranoia as she fought off sleep. Perhaps when she finally opened her eyes she succeeded in her aim. She killed two of my brothers before we took her down.

Her final words haunt me. She whispered that she could hear the approach of great wings.

Since then we saw or heard nothing of the people of this world, save the leprous hordes of Dreamers that swarmed the barricades. Conceivably we were all that remained, then. There was no way for us to know. We lost contact with Dorn’s Promise - perhaps the serfs in orbit sleep eternally. Perhaps the ship is overrun with Dreamers.

And then we were trapped here, on a dead planet, without reinforcements, aid or rest. The Catalepsean Node protected us, but it was never intended for prolonged use. Even Astartes physiology has its limits, a fact I know all too well. Our efficiency fell daily, our accuracy almost human in its decline.

I wondered if we Astartes would die in sleep, consumed by nightmares. Did not the Emperor say ‘And they shall know no fear?’ But I saw fear in the hearts of my brothers, saw resolve and discipline eroding.

Even I am not immune. My eyes itch and my head aches. When I am distracted my armour targets things not real, unspoken nightmares transmitted via neuro-linkages from my mind into the machine spirit itself. I have taken to administering doses of stimulant from my armour’s reservoirs, but these have run dry. I have nothing else; I practically emptied my narthecium to stave off Aisling’s nightmares.

I remember standing with Artemidoros over the bodies of the fallen, armour warped and torn by the claws of the Dreamers. Beneath the ceramite of their helms, were their faces filled with tranquillity of eternal sleep? Or twisted into the crooked grins of the Dreamers?

“This is my nightmare, Caedmon. My brothers, dead at my feet. I must atone for this.”

“Their lives were their own, brother, their deaths moreso.”

“No. They died under my watch, my command. Their lives were my responsibility, their deaths my fault and my failure. I have been haunted by their deaths for days, now. I see you all dying in the dirt before me. Is this nightmare, or precognition?”

“In all likelihood? Both,”
I replied, blunt in my exhaustion. “I advise you refrain from speculation.”

“Of course. I will observe the rites, brother. You should attend to your own duties.”

“So I am, brother. In His name.”

“In His name.”


I remember a Dreamer staggering from the field of bodies before our barricades, mass-reactive shells reducing it to a bloody pulp.

Brother-Sergeant Rashiel continued to fire until his bolter was empty, reaching for a fresh magazine.

I ran over to him. Clasped his wrist in my hand.

“Apothecary! The Dreamers-”

“Are dead, Rashiel. You are firing at empty air.”


It took him a moment to register this, shoulders sagging with shame. “I... apologise, brother. I...”

“It is no matter. I will take your watch.”


Under any other circumstance I would have discharged him from active duty. This was the first of many such incidents, until the only help I could offer my brothers was the harsh mercy of my carnifex.

I will die here. Half of my mind in sleep, half anchored in the waking world, with monsters on either side...

I recall when I first heard my brothers talking to themselves. When they died silently and without warning. When others went insane, howling within their helms, running out into the wastelands or tearing away at their flesh to atone for the sin of failure. When Rashiel turned on us, though whether madman or Dreamer we never knew. When I witnessed the ultimate blasphemy; an Angel of Death taking his own life in cowardice.

I remember when but two of us remained. When Artemidoros ritually carved the names of every fallen brother into his flesh to maintain his focus. My own grisly ritual was a holy one; retrieving the geneseed of my brothers, save two. Rashiel and the coward whose name I will never speak.

I remember scant hours ago when two became one. Artemidoros’s final prayer before he fell from the barricade and the words that came after.

“Caedmon...”

“Yes, Chaplain?”

“I hear it...”


Now only I stand atop the ruins of our barricades, alone and yet surrounded.

My visor glows with threat runes. The field of bodies below rise to their feet as one. I fire into the press of bodies, but the bolts do nothing to the Dreamers before me. I see some of them wearing the steel-grey armour of my brothers.

They smile their mocking smiles and beckon with their talons.

And then I hear it.

The sound of wings.
Last edited by Eremite on Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:17 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:56 am

Eremite: They didn't use the Sus-an Membrane? :P

Nice story, still. An interesting use of a lesser-known Astartes modification.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Eremite » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:31 pm

Mossy Toes wrote:Eremite: They didn't use the Sus-an Membrane? :P


Didn't you notice the Dorn reference? Or the obsession with mortifaction? They're a successor Chapter. The Iron Knights, specifically. I could make that more explicit, I guess.
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:32 pm

Ah, right. And here I was only remembering the IFs to be missing the Betcher Gland...
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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:28 pm

Eremite (The Sound of Wings): Really loved this piece. It's original, it's very atmospheric and you get a very real sense of everything falling apart. This will definitely get a vote from me!
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Valerion

I think Valerion could stand toe-to-toe with the best of Gaunt's Ghosts. I loved it. Gundi Da Grot

The sense of threat that permeates the entire piece is fantastic. xrayex

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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby Commander Shadow » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:45 pm

Sound of Wings

I really like it. Very deppressing (your way of describing it was very good). The ending honestly scared me a little bit. in a good way.
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

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Re: RiaR March/April: Shattered Dream NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:45 pm

Hello there, good people!

This is just a quick note to remind people that there's only about 28 hours left till the end of the competition. Get your stories in soon, if you're planning on entering.

All the best!

JDD
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