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Registered: 04-2006
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Old Warrior's Writing Career


I thought I might as well make this a new topic, since I will be posting related things as they come up. I will copy and post here what I posted under the Off Topic Things topic as well.

I am fairly seriously beginning a project to write an entire fantasy novel - hopefully to be published in the near future upon completion, but we shall see.

In the mean time, I have joined a writer's message board, Scribe's, where I hope to learn much about the whole process of writing a novel and getting published. I have entered three challenges (monthly writing contests) there so far.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


If anyone wants to enter any of the writing challenges at Scribe's message board, be sure to read the board rules and introduce yourself first. Anyone who writes and wants to write (I think) can join.

Scribe's Message Board Rules topic

Scribe's Introduction Area topic

Last edited by OldWarrior, 7/Jul/2008, 9:32 am


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THE QUEEN -- A Little Writing Contest


I thought some of you might be interested.... (perhaps Starfighter could get some inspiration for his writing career emoticon)

I have written and submitted a very short fictional story (200 words or less) for a thing called Flash Challenge. There is one of these every month in the Scribe's message board. It is a message board for writers but anyone can visit and read in most of the forums there.

After the time deadline of June 15th (midnight in Australia I think), there will be a poll topic where people will vote on which story they think is best.

I really like the fact that the voting takes place without people knowing who wrote which story. After all the votes are in (meaning after the poll topic is closed), then the winning stories are listed and the writers' names are revealed. The secrecy aspect is why I am not going to share anything here about my specific story until after the challenge is over.

June's theme is "THE QUEEN".

Here is the link to the forum: The Flash Challenge

I will try to remember to post updates here on what happens with this month's challenge.

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Isabel's Reprieve - Second Place


I got second place in the 200-word story I submitted! Woohoo!

You can see my story by clicking on the link/name: Isabel's Reprieve

EDIT: Well... the story is soooo short that I might as well post it here. There was a 200 words limit. Of course, I just had to use all 200 words!

quote:

Isabel's Reprieve
by OldWarrior




Isabel, the Queen, keeps court while her younger sister rests from her journey to come and visit.

“It is true, Jasmine, sister dear, the king has been gone for five days now. He is out hunting the elusive dragon, Ragnoth. He needs time away from the pressures of running the kingdom.”

Awaiting her queenly sister, Jasmine watches her quickly and effectively dispatch one item of business after another. A few hours later, after settling two disputes, assigning extra soldier patrols for crime reduction, cutting taxes for an upper class in exchange for their assisting the poor, and negotiating with a neighboring kingdom, the queen finally declares that her day of work is done.

Jasmine offhandedly comments, “The burden of rule must be much heavier with the absence of your husband.”

“Actually,” responds Isabel with a contented sigh, “my day is only half as long as when the king is present.”

“How can such a thing be?”

“Well, you see, I usually must spend half my day deciding, and the other half convincing the king that my way is best, and then persuading him that they are his ideas and that he should have the credit for making such wise decisions!”



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How Do They Grow? - Poem Entry for June 2008


June's Poetry Challenge ended with only two entries and therefore no voting. Here is the poem I wrote for the June's theme of FRUITION.

quote:

How Do They Grow?
by OldWarrior


The patch destroyed by a boy's fire the summer before
Yields now a veritable garden of strawberries galore!

A boy digs in the loosened soil,
Inserts the young plants with sweaty toil.
Before long comes the yellow buds,
Then green, then red, delicious tomatoes softly thud
Into the metal pail or plastic dish pan.

But, I've not mentioned the man
Nor the marvel of his perception.
Yes, at first he is but a wish or desire.
Then an act of love, hopefully true, brings a small conception.
His little form grows while his mother does perspire.

Then, with Mother's pain beyond his later understanding,
He escapes his safe haven to live a life his little self makes so demanding.
Soon he walks and talks and is the life of the house.
Next, he's running, climbing, bouncing and torturing a mouse!

Off to school, the years seem so short!
How tall he becomes how much clothing he aborts!
Then to work and college out of home he goes,
But, we trust not far from parents' heart and love.
How on earth does this boy so grow?
The boy is gone, realization brings a jolt and a start.

His life onward and upward does move
Along the crowded streets,
Until someday perhaps he meets
A woman much like his mother, but also much younger.

A twinkle, a look, a stare or gaze,
Soon the words and life they share
Their hearts they do amaze.
Together they grow and soon we shall see
The cycle renewed with a brand new baby!



Last edited by OldWarrior, 7/Jul/2008, 9:38 am


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Flash Challenge for July 2008


The challenge is to write a story in 400 words or less in which each sentence begins with the same letter with which the previous sentence ended.

Example:

Maria watched as the cat made his way along the ledge. Each time he reached a section that had crumbled away, Maria held her breath, wondering if this would be the fatal leap. Perhaps she should call the fire department, she thought...

Anyone wanting to see the details of the topic go here: July 2008 - The Challenge

I will try to post my entry here after the voting is over at the end of the month.

------------------------

ENTRY STORY SHOULD APPEAR HERE (end of July or in August)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


If anyone wants to enter any of the writing challenges at Scribe's message board, be sure to read the board rules and introduce yourself first. Anyone who writes and wants to write (I think) can join.

Scribe's Message Board Rules topic

Scribe's Introduction Area topic

Last edited by OldWarrior, 7/Jul/2008, 9:41 am


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Re: Old Warrior's Writing Career


might try this when time permits. chuckled at your queen is king for a day story. emoticon
17/Jul/2008, 3:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to shaggykorean   Send PM to shaggykorean
 
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The Helpful Critiquing of my Conflict of the Ages Intro Story


To see the story as I submitted it to my critics follow this link: Conflict of the Ages: The Evil Witch, Gaglianus

Now here are the comments -- as found in a private forum in another message board somewhere in the world... (Warning: This is long. lol)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Critic #1

Firstly it's worth noting, I know English isn't your first language. You speak it beautifully, far better than I can speak any other language, but at times it seems your flow is less than fully natural. The only ways of getting around that that I know of are firstly, bouncing things off of native speakers like you're doing now, and secondly, more immersion into the language (kind of like what you're doing now). I know that must be tremendously frustrating to hear that comment, especially from someone standing where I am, but I may as well be straight, you're just going to have to watch out for that as best as you're able.


I play a lot of RPGs, so I'm pretty familiar with the setup; go into an inn, get a job. It is a little cliche and I try to avoid it when possible. For instance, in the one D&D game I ran, the game started with the individual PCs getting captured by slavers and having to escape. That was their introduction to each other. If you can turn the beginning from 'here's a job, you can take it if you want!' to 'things explode around you and you better act PDQ or you're goign to die', I think your players may enjoy that.

Similarly, your background seems pretty cut and dry, black-and-white. Some players like that, some do not. Figure out what your players want and address that. If your players want an excuse to slaughter things, the current setup is fine. But if I were playing, I'd see the 'mysterious dark forest' and the 'unredeemly evil witch' and wonder if I were in a children's fairy tale. No one is redeemly evil, and it's unlikely any country will have a forest so dangerous they call it something unnecessarily spooky like 'Blackest Nightfall Wood' (muchless, build a jolly inn right next to it). If you asked the innkeep, he'd probably say the forest is called 'Joe's Forest', because everyone knows Joe lives a few miles in there, or 'Wolf Woods' because wolves live in there. As a player, I'd want to go find the witch and see if she's hiring, because clearly whatever she's doing, she's far more successful than the local government is, and hey, maybe she's just stealing money from the local lord. If you make things too black-and-white, again, it gets cliche.

If you do want to keep the forest name, I'd change it to 'Nightfall Wood' and drop the 'Blackest'. Can you imagine asking directions and the guy says 'oh yeah, take 83 to Blackest Nightfall Wood and...' People don't like names which are 5 or 6 syllables long, except when they're telling stories.

Related to the above, how long can a witch live in the forest? If the witch is only 40 years old, why didn't someone explore the forest before the witch moved in? Now, if this is a medieval setting, it's quite acceptable to say no one has fully explored the forest because, really, what are you expecting to find in a forest? But it seems like saying generations of people have never done something because of someone who moved in 20 years ago has a logical flaw to it.


Moving along...

How does the messenger recognize these people, and where is the messenger from? Did he burst into the inn? Was he waiting for them? That tells us a lot.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

a powerful witch

------------------------------------------------------------------



For some reason this bothers me. Either:
1) Gaglianus really is a powerful witch, in which case presumably everyone in the area knows who she is already and this introduction is just for the players (in which case, at minimum, the messenger should say "THE powerful witch from...", unless there are multiple powerful witches in there, which sort of detracts from the whole thing).
2) Gaglianus really has pretty lousy PR and no one has heard of her, in which case, if this is her introduction she's programming into the guy, she'd probably make it more interesting. She'd describe herself as the mistress of men, wielder of great power, so on and so forth. No reason not to take advantage of free advertising, right?

Regardless, I'd consider dropping the scroll. It's much more spooky for the messenger to be 'programmed' somehow, speaking a monotone recording, and it would explain better how he isn't more absolutely crazy at this point.


On to the poem...

Consider your word choice carefully.
Warriors? Why would she all them that? If they're her enemies, that gives them too much honor. She wants to discourage them, so she'd call them something more denigrating.

Stupid - this word just doesn't have the strength, and seems out of period. Call them swineheards, call them a goat's mother, but don't call them 'stupid', it sounds too modern.

I like the rest of the poem though. Sort of mysterious. Neat.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

I will give you a few well-deserved and spiteful taunting remarks.

------------------------------------------------------------------



Again, why confirm that? It's like your going up to a bully and saying 'honored sir, I shall now deliver unto thee insults, that while you crack my bones, I may wound your spirit'. No, you just say 'hey drek-for-brains, that your face or did your neck throw up?' She should be denigrating, insulting, haughty, confident, and shouldn't waste words saying she's about to say something.


I could go either way on the personal insults. Some are sort of weak (haha, I'm going to nag you, Wizard!) but they seem sufficiently period and appropriate.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

Sincerely NOT Yours, for you are all MINE!

------------------------------------------------------------------



I'd change this line.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

signed, Mistress Gag

------------------------------------------------------------------



Does the messenger actually say "signed, Mistress Gag"?


Messenger turning to worms is a cool touch. Too bad he doesn't fall to pieces and get some on them. That said, it would be smarter if she planted a bomb or a poison in him, to kill the warriors while they're still in the inn.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh dear! I am afraid we are too late again.

------------------------------------------------------------------



There is a dessicated body on the floor of a man he's been tracking for who knows how long and he says 'oh dear'? Related, he's struggling to save a man's life, and he and his men "step through the door"?

Shouldn't they burst into the door shouting "DON'T READ THE MESSAGE", step in cursing and shouting and beginning to check the party that they're okay?

I think most of what the constable says needs to be rewritten. It sounds pretty flat.

Also not sure how an official bounty parchment proves sincerity.

"presumably by killing her, "

If the first line of the parchment is 'wanted, dead only', I don't think he'd presume they need to kill her. He knows they need to kill her.

Is 2,000 gold a lot of money? Doesn't sound like a lot, especially for someone who has killed 'countless' warriors. Related, if the party isn't yet pursuing the witch, why did they get a message from the witch saying 'your idiots and I'll kill you when you try to pursue me'?

The warrant is a bit more wordy than it needs to be, and it detracts from the mood. I'd probably write it:

WANTED, DEAD
GAGLIANUS, WITCH

2000 gold coins shall be awarded to he who returns the head of this foul woman, practitioner of the dark arts of witchcraft.

Reward may be collected from the constable.

If the party is too stupid to realize what 'head' and 'returned' mean, they deserve no money (and seriously, the gov't doesn't WANT to pay the reward. If they get someone too stupid to bring a receipt, that means they get the service done for free). Also, specifying three times they need to go as a party is sort of silly. These guys are professionals, they should determine that on their own (or they'll be rolling up new characters). The first thing they should do is say 'hey Constable, tell me about this witch. Can I take her on alone?' to which he'd laugh. Don't stress about teling them how to do the mission. That's their job. Your job is to set up the world for them to play in.

~ ~ ~ ~ My Response ~ ~ ~ ~


English truly is my native language. However, in dealing with Role Playing online, I have been using much of the British spellings for many words, especially since the particular game uses British spellings thoroughout its documentation. This may be partly where you got the idea that English is not my native language.

I think that the way I think (literally) may have much to do with the less than natural flow of my writing that you mention. I believe that I may at times become somewhat disjointed and perhaps I get hung up on details a lot.

Thank you very much for taking the time to critique this story. Your comments are very helpful to me. I can see many areas for improvement.

...

Here is another word about context (Warhammer Quest game itself). The 2,000 gold coins is enough gold for one warrior in Warhammer Quest to train from Battle-Level 1 to Battle-Level 2. Most first adventure games have much smaller rewards, though I think there are a few which grant 500 gold to each warrior. So, for a first adventure game it is actually a rather decent reward.

~ ~ ~ ~ Critic #1 Again ~ ~ ~ ~


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

OldWarrior wrote:
English truly is my native language.

------------------------------------------------------------------



Ack, I sure feel like a jerk now :P Somehow I thought you had said something in another thread about being from a non-English speaking country (and your location would also suggest it). I do apologize.

You're welcome to use British spellings, as long as you apply them evenly (consider going into Word and changing the dictionary from American to British, so it'll catch your accidental Americanisms). My problem was more with disjointed things and, for example, in your other thread where you said "This is a very infantile work at present". Infantile means childish. You probably meant, 'this work is in its infancy'. An understandable mistake.

I also tend to get hung up on details when I write, and when I read back over I find sometimes it reads like I started with one sentence and ended with another. I've found two answers for this;

1) Put it away, read it OUT LOUD in a week. That catches 90% of the problems (although that brings it from 'bad' to 'mediocre', so not a great solution).

2) Close your eyes, search within, catch the EMOTIONS you want, then just let it flow. This is tougher for me because I have kids who like to interrupt, but for instance, I will go out back and just type with my eyes closed (I open my eyes maybe once every five minutes to make sure my fingers are still on the right keys, but that's it). By virtue of my not getting caught up on what I just wrote or making corrections, and just holding onto that thread, I write far better. That's where I get my best poetry from. You may want to try that and see what happens (granted, it's contingent on your being comfortable enough with the keyboard to be able to type without looking).


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much for taking the time to critique this story. Your comments are very helpful to me. I can see many areas for improvement.

------------------------------------------------------------------



I hope I wasn't too rough. Sometimes I am, but keep in mind, I'm saying these things because I want to see you come out with something spectacular. It's only through pain that we come to learn


If 2,000 gold is a small fortune and 500 is average, keep in mind that the final reward for your group is 400 gold per person. So basically, these guys are getting paid slightly below average. That is not necessarily bad. When I run games, sometimes I pay my characters dirt for very tough jobs, and sometimes I give them fortunes for fairly easy jobs. Thems the breaks. Just be aware, they may decide that 400gp/person isn't covering costs and they might walk away. But you know the game and your players better than I .


~ ~ ~ ~ My Response ~ ~ ~ ~


No problem. I am probably one of the most misunderstood people in the world anyway. Haha! My location "The Old World". This is actually a region of the Warhammer World where most of my Warhammer Quest gaming takes place. Apparently, I have chosen a designation which matches a place here on earth. *laughs* I wonder... does this refer to Europe?


Very correct. I was thinking that infantile actually meant "infant-like". Your words are the more accurate: 'this work is in its infancy'.

Both of your solutions sound like they may help me. It will, however, take some serious discipline to type without looking. I am always second-guessing myself as I type.


quote:

------------------------------------------------------------------

I hope I wasn't too rough. Sometimes I am, but keep in mind, I'm saying these things because I want to see you come out with something spectacular. It's only through pain that we come to learn

------------------------------------------------------------------


If I had received your critique ten to twenty years ago I might have been crushed by it, but I have much bigger shoulders now.


Actually, I meant to say that the whole party might only get 500 gold to split between them at the end of an average Battle-Level 1 adventure.

As for my players staying with my game(s), there are very few people hosting Warhammer Quest games online. It takes so much work to do it that I think most give up trying before they even begin. This may have contributed to my lesser quality work in my story telling. I have gotten spread a bit too thin at times trying to host about fifteen or so such games at the same time. In many of these games I also control a warrior or two myself.

I have a lot to learn. One thing I know, but must put into practice more, is that I cannot write a perfect piece in basically one draft with very little editing.

Thanks again for your assistance. I am thinking of combining your helpful input and that of the other critic's, and re-writing this story/game introduction. If I get that done, I will post it here to show off my improvements.

Now, I should attend to another critic's good comments.


~ ~ ~ ~ Critic #2 (with my responses interspersed) ~ ~ ~ ~


The thing that stands out to me is lack of sentence variety, particularly with the first word in the sentence. The first five sentences start with one of two words: The, The, It, It, The. This is probably slightly a result of this particular style, but it strikes me as a very passive, narrating style (none of the 'showing' we've been discussing in the other thread).

~ ~ ~
My Response: Most definitely I must agree. I think I will show you a few things if I rewrite this piece.
~ ~ ~


As you pointed out, there isn't any characterization of the warriors because that is handled by the players. However, I've been involved with play-by-post RPGs for a long time, and what the moderator has control of is the setting and the NPCs, such as the constable. While a minor supporting character, every element of the story is important and deserves more than just a passing remark. While I agree with nezumi that "Oh dear" sounds a bit meek, it brings to mind an overweight donut-eating constable who isn't used to any more crime than the local kids knocking over a fence post. Regardless of whether the constable is actually supposed to be a milktoast or not, we need more details to help frame the proper style of the character (i.e., his sword is buckled improperly, he's out of breath, his hands are quivering, etc. to demonstrate that he is a weak character). He has an awful lot of dialogue and no personality.

~ ~ ~
My Response: I think I will remake the constable, either as you suggest above or as a different sort of character altogether.
~ ~ ~

My final comment would be to interject some more action. The best bit is the messenger exploding into maggots (and I am not usually a maggot-liking girl), because something happens. Perhaps rather than have the constable read the parchment, the adventurers can be fighting over who gets it or who has to take it, if they're concerned that they may explode next!

~ ~ ~
My Response: Notice here that the parchment the constable reads is the bounty notice (or poster) whereas the parchment read by our beloved messenger is the notice from the witch.

But, most certainly I will try to get more action into this story. Resetting the scene and giving a little more animation to the warriors as well may help me to make some remarkable changes to this piece.

As I mention in the above reply to the other critic, I will post the re-write here if I get it done.

Thanks again for your helpful remarks.
~ ~ ~

Last edited by OldWarrior, 23/Jul/2008, 2:34 am


---
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Shorelick Helms and the Hoodlums of the Baskin Robins


This was my entry for the July 2008 Flash Challenge in Scribe's message board. The challenge was to write a story in 400 words or less (mine is 400) in which each sentence begins with the last letter from the previous sentence.


Shorelick Helms and the Hoodlums of The Baskin Robbins


As Shorelick paced about his ship, The Detectagator, his trusty Watchman noticed a gleam in his eye and a spring in his step. Perhaps the cause of invigoration was the fine meal at the Baker’s Shore Inn. No, this could not be, for Shorelick also stamped upon the deck. Knowing his captain’s demeanor more likely showed that he scented a lawless scandal wafting across the sails, Watchman asked, “Is everything alright, my Captain?”

Notwithstanding his shipmate’s apparent lack of observational skills, Shorelick answered, “Yes and no.” Only then did Watchman feel the wind shift. Trying to decipher it, he moved to the rail to rest his arm. Meanwhile, Shorelick continued, “Something about the air tonight seems unusual.”

Longing not to focus upon his ineptitude, Watchman replied, “Is that all? Late am I to notice, for I cannot tell that anything is different about the air tonight.”

“There in the distance. Each time I see it, it grows a bit brighter and larger!” exclaimed Shorelick. Kindly pointing Watchman in the right direction, Shorelick explained, “It is the secret signaling of The Baskin Robbins.” “Surely,” answered Watchman “you cannot know just by a small pinprick of a distant light. There must be a hundred ships in the bay all with lights swaying and flickering in the sea-misted darkness.”

Soon they paddled a landing boat to The Baskin Robbins. Springing over the ship's rail, they were immediately “arrested” by the fierce crew.

When face to face with Captain Mordhelm, Shorelick only smiled and shouted, “Now would be a good time, constable, to apprehend these hoodlums!” Several uniformed men jumped out of the ship’s shadows and the matter was soon resolved.

Determined to inquire further once aboard The Detectagator, Watchman asked, “Captain Shorelick, how did you, .. I mean how could you…?” Understandingly, Shorelick explained, “While dining, I read in the paper that The Baskin Robbins was missing. Greyhounds, three hundred of them, had disappeared about the same time.

"Ever alert to smells, when the wind shifted I could detect particular hound scents in the air. Relying upon my knowledge of the elements of the sea and of the methods of hoodlums, I signaled the constable. Even though you may not have noticed, I attached a small lantern on the stern of our little launch. His men followed, and you know the rest of the tale. Elements, my dear Watchman, it was the elements.”

Note: at the time of this post it seems that my story will win first place (less than a day before the voting ends).

Last edited by OldWarrior, 1/Aug/2008, 12:38 am


---
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