Forum: Elena Tiriel - Star Gazings

Discussing: [Inactive] Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

[Inactive] Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi everyone!


NOTE: If you look at this story again, I have edited it to do two things: first, I added a paragraph to the end, and second, I restored the paragraph structure. My sincerest apologies for any of you who tried to read it without paragraphs -- they were intact when I last edited the story.

My first story, Fortune's Paradox, was declined for the HASA public archive. I have posted the results (edited for length) in the first reply to this message, in case you are curious.


If you reviewed Fortune's Paradox, thank you for taking the time to read it! I take my responsibilities as a reviewer/gatekeeper to the public archive very seriously, and you appear to, also.


However, I would very much like to learn more about why you made your decision (whether Accept or Decline) so I can improve my next story. If you reply to me in this forum (or via email at Elena Tiriel @ hotmail . com), I will thank you, but I will not ask for further clarification (unless you tell me that is acceptable).


I have posted a few questions here to get your thought processes going. Please feel free to answer any one or more of them, or just to give me your free-form thoughts.


- Did you read the Author's Notes? If so, did the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Author's Notes create an expectation that the body of the story would be humorous?


- Could you tell what the OFC/protagonist was feeling? Did it seem reasonable for someone in her situation?


- Did the dialog seem forced to you?


- Did you notice any foreshadowing?


The end of the story was a) unexpected, and b) ambiguous. The next three questions pertain to the the three short paragraphs at the end of the story, titled "Back to the Beginning":


- Did the first two paragraphs effectively evoke a dream-like feeling? Or did they just seem like unfocused writing?


- Did the last sentence shock you? If so, did the contrast in style between that sentence and the previous two paragraphs contribute or detract from the shock value?


- When you reached the unexpected ending, did you care enough to formulate a theory as to what happened? If not, why not? (Extra credit: If you did have a theory, please tell me what you believe happened... my beta readers have taught me that there is more than one possibility!)


And, last but not least:


- If you were a writing teacher and I your student, what one suggestion would you make to improve this story? This could be something as small as a suggestion to change one word or sentence, or it could be a larger observation ("The thing that bugged me the most about this story was..."), as you wish.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! I will greatly value any feedback that I can use to improve my next writing!


Best regards,
Barbara


P.S. For whatever reason, all the paragraph breaks in this post disappeared (which made it unreadable), so I put them in manually. If it seems to have too much space between paragraphs, that is why!

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Fortune's Paradox - Status: General


Reviewer #1 - Approved
Capsule Reason: Good addition to genre
Reviewer Comments: All I can say is what the - ?! Good story, but what happens? Guess that's the whole purpose of the ending, huh? Really well done for a first time writer. Especially found the Author Note's quite entertaining in and of themselves! Thought for a moment as I was reading that this was going to turn into a Mary Sue, but seeing that she got only 15 out 170 on the Litmus Test, she's safe. Hope this gets into the archive.


Reviewer #2 - Approved
Capsule Reason: Strong writing/Good style
Reviewer Comments: An interesting viewpoint that flows and twists well. I reread several times to understand what was happening. A good use of Fortune and the events caused by this trickster.


Reviewer #3 - Approved
Capsule Reason: Effective/Creative use of JRRT's works
Reviewer Comments:


Reviewer #4 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Undistinguished writing
Reviewer Comments:


Reviewer #5 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Inappropriate modernisms/Too much non-JRRT
Reviewer Comments: This was a very interesting read, but the leanings on Fortune, who may or may not wield such power in M-E, made it seem rather non-Middle Earthish. I got the irony, though. ;) And your Author's Notes were fascinating in and of themselves.


Reviewer #6 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Weak plotting and/or weak ending
Reviewer Comments:


Reviewer #7 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Undistinguished writing
Reviewer Comments:


Reviewer #8 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Undistinguished writing
Reviewer Comments:


Reviewer #9 - Declined:
Capsule Reason: Undistinguished writing
Reviewer Comments:

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi Elena,
I read this story when it was up for review but didn't check it out.
Why not? I think because I didn't have strong feelings either way, I didn't immediately think 'I really like this' nor did I think 'oh no'. It would have taken quite a lot of thought to get to a decision so I took the coward's way out.
I certainly wouldn't agree with the 'undistinguished writing' since I think the writing is good. I would be more inclined towards 'weak plotting/ending' since it took me several reads to work out what I thought was going on.


- Did you read the Author's Notes? If so, did the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Author's Notes create an expectation that the body of the story would be humorous?

I did read them, but after the story, so while they made things perhaps a little clearer, they didn't set up expectations for the story itself. However - pet hate - a story should be able to stand on its own, with no explanation in Author's notes needed for it to make sense.


- Could you tell what the OFC/protagonist was feeling? Did it seem reasonable for someone in her situation?

Yes, her fear and confusion followed by relief and surrender seemed quite clear and acceptable to me.


- Did the dialog seem forced to you?

No, I found it quite natural.

- Did you notice any foreshadowing?

Yes, but I had to go back two or three times and look for it: 'you will yet be a child at the end of your days', fortunes wicked sense of humour, and nearly running off the edge of the talan at the beginning.

The end of the story was a) unexpected, and b) ambiguous. The next three questions pertain to the the three short paragraphs at the end of the story, titled "Back to the Beginning":


- Did the first two paragraphs effectively evoke a dream-like feeling? Or did they just seem like unfocused writing?

Yes, I got the dream-like feeling


- Did the last sentence shock you? If so, did the contrast in style between that sentence and the previous two paragraphs contribute or detract from the shock value?

I assume you mean last paragraph. Shock, no. Confusion, yes. It took me a few reads to come to a satisfactory conclusion over what had happened.

- When you reached the unexpected ending, did you care enough to formulate a theory as to what happened? If not, why not? (Extra credit: If you did have a theory, please tell me what you believe happened... my beta readers have taught me that there is more than one possibility!)

I think this may have been why I didn't check out for review, I would have had to think of a theory! I had thought perhaps that it was all a dream taking place in the few minutes before her death - but that theory doesn't fit with the third party view of the three Elves at the end. Then I went with the idea that she should actually have died at the beginning, but Fortune intervened to extend her life, but then decided to rescind the gift - because she was enjoying it too much? Not grateful enough? Just for fun? The 'wicked' sense of humour?
Then when I re-read the last paragraph again, and looked at what she felt, and what the brothers saw, I realised that she's stepped off the edge of the flet (while sleep walking? or day dreaming?)


And, last but not least:


- If you were a writing teacher and I your student, what one suggestion would you make to improve this story? This could be something as small as a suggestion to change one word or sentence, or it could be a larger observation ("The thing that bugged me the most about this story was..."), as you wish.

Paragraphs!!! In the same way as you needed to manually format the forum, you need to do it for the story too. The reader is faced with a lump of indigestible text, never good.

I would add a sense of falling to the last paragraph, then perhaps more people will get it first time. Perhaps also, set up where she is, as we last see her in bed, then she is dreaming. I was trying to work out how she could be spreading her arms while lying in bed!
When reviewing for the archive, I think readers are likely to go with their first impression, rather than re-read several times, which I had to do to get a satisfactory understanding.

best wishes,
Enros



 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi Enros,

Thank you SO much for responding! Your thoughts are extremely helpful!

I, too, always read a story before checking it out, and have sometimes taken the easy way out when I just didn't know what to think...

Then when I re-read the last paragraph again, and looked at what she felt, and what the brothers saw, I realised that she's stepped off the edge of the flet (while sleep walking? or day dreaming?)

I'm *really* sorry for not editing THIS thread to warn you, but I added the paragraph about what the brothers saw AFTER the review period. So, your remarks tell me that the extra paragraph does explain a bit better what happened -- I was just worried that changing from the first person to the third person would be bad. (Of course, a dead person can't very well explain why they're dead...)

Paragraphs!!!

Oh, NO! I'm *very* sorry that the paragraph structure didn't come through. HASA seems to be having intermittent problems with losing paragraphs. When I posted the story and checked it, the paragraphs were fine.

I've got to say, though, that the fact that you continued to read the story without paragraphs is impressive... thank you for your dedication and perseverance!

Enros, it will take a while to digest your very thoughtful comments, but be sure that I will learn from them. Thank you so much for your help!

Best regards,
Barbara

P.S. I just checked the story and edited it to restore the missing paragraphs. Will report the problem to HASA, since I'm involved in the testing.

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi Elena Tiriel,
Thanks for fixing the format. You know, it happens here on occassion, it is likely related to the testing.

I read this. I decided not to read the author's notes and plunge right in. I did not understand it. I have a coupleof other observations. Would you like them here or in email? Let me know.

I did not check this out for review. I don't review a lot anymore. It possible that the summary did not grab me, or that I couldn't orient quickly and so decided to pass it by.

Thanks, Lindorien

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi Lindorien,

I would be delighted to hear *any* comments you have whether you reviewed or not. This forum is probably the best, since I'm collecting all my feedback and framing, er, saving it.

Thank you for offering to share your observations!

Best regards,
Barbara

P.S. The problem *was* due to the testing. I had edited it -- and checked the result -- on the new site, which handles breaks differently than the old one.

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Okay, I am going to concentrate on what may have caused the 'undistinguished writing' declines, since those are your most prolific. IMHO, the 'too much modernism' even with the explanation indicates a strong preference on the part of the reviewer rather than any indication that the reviewer did not like your story.

Your prose tends to the purple, which may be a put-off for some readers.

Bereft, I laid my cheek against the smooth bark and finally released my sorrow-laden tears.

This might be a bit much. Having said the protagonist is 'bereft', the reader presume that the tears are sorrow-laden.

Slumping to the mossy ground, depleted, still clinging to the tree, I let my leaden eyelids fall.

In the first paragraph we are told her arms are sluggish and the protagonist clings (a word I might choose over 'held', BTW) to the tree with her last drop of strength. Therefore we know she is tired and depleted. This sentence seems overkill. Perhaps:

Slumping to the mossy ground, I allowed my leaden eyelids to fall.

Or something like that. Either that, or reconsider how you word that first descriptive paragraph.

Recklessly, I flung off the blanket 'Where did that come from?' and bolted.

I've no problem with the flinging off of the blanket. As the reader, I know she didn't have one before, so now I am intrigued as to why she has one now. The term 'recklessly' might be a bit much. I do not know what would be reckless about throwing off a blanket.

The orc imprisoning me bellowed a command in a strange language. 'It will kill me if I continue to struggle!' I weighed whether to keep resisting (and perhaps earn a mercifully swift death) or to doom myself to unending agony, but then came the heart-stopping revelation: I had no choice -- no power -- over either my body or my fate. Fortune had deserted me. My stomach lurched.

In this paragraph, I sense you want us feel the protagonists panic, but the use of a 'cool' word such as 'weigh' after the panic of the previous paragraph seems off. Perhaps it would be best to stay inside your protagonists head in this paragraph. You are describing a lot. If she is thinking frantically of a way to escape, perhaps it would be better for us to hear her fevered desperation. You have already told us her heart is pounding and she is panting. we know she is panicked. Let us hear what she thinks, as she panics, instead of describing what she thinks. Does that make sense?

"Oh, Eru, no!" I gasped involuntarily, terror contorting my face so forcefully that it felt split into two halves. Inextricably bound, I let my head drop, surrendering to my despair.

As your protagonist does not have a mirror, you seem to step outside her to tell us about her face contorting. It also increases the breathless quality and is not necessary. We already understand she is scared to death.

Let me explain -- having established she is tired, there is no need to reestablish that fact until something changes. If you establish that she is panicked there is no need to tell us again until something changes. In this way your prose will move more quickly forward and your pacing will improve. If the orc tackles her, that is fine. That such an act would scare the bejeezus out of her is a given. We already know the orcs have her scared.

The orc shouted directly into my face, over and over again. I tried to shut the noise out, dreading its ravings. The orcs that had overrun our farm days before had shrieked their bloodlust during their butchery and had grunted unceasingly over my mother and sisters. All the while, I had clutched desperately to the branches of my favorite yew tree, trying not to hear any more, afraid to move, afraid to breathe, afraid to cry, afraid to fall, silently beseeching Fortune to allow me to die, too... 'But, oh, Eru, please! Not by their loathsome hands!'

This is where you grab my attention. Now I have the reason for her nightmares. Perhaps this would be better towards the beginning, as a scene remembered and not as a scene recounted, if you understand what I mean.

I think it would be a better use of your angst to show us what happened with the orcs, even if only as a nightmare. Then you can drastically shorten up her rather prolonged reaction to being woken (wakened?). I think this will help your pacing.

I don't think the bolding is necessary.

I am not certain I really understand what happened in the end. Was all of it a dream? A dream within a dream? Did she have the nightmare of orcs, then have the dream of understanding they were not orcs as she plunged from the tree? Is the irony that she missed the future that might have been?

It is an interesting concept. Most of the rest after those first sections is quite readable, although a little confusing. Often, when describing very scary or strong experiences, less is often more for the reader will fill in the rest.

I hope this helped.

best,
lindorien



 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi, Elena ~

Sorry to possibly disappoint you, but I didn't review this either. However, I did reread this newest version, and saw your request for input, so thought I'd stop by and demonstrate to passersby what a receptive and and good-spirited author you are. ;-D

::gets out the trusty pocket watch, faces the masses::
...you are feeling generous with your time and insight... you are feeling selfless and helpful... you want to comment...

Achem. To address some of your questions:

- Did you read the Author's Notes? If so, did the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Author's Notes create an expectation that the body of the story would be humorous?

I did read the Author's Notes, but while they were lighthearted and amusing, that didn't give me the expectation that the story would be or was supposed to be humorous. The reason for this is simply that in my experience, I've found that Author's Notes are frequently lighthearted and amusing, regardless of story content.

To use my own stuff as an example, I wrote a parody/humor piece, and the Author's Notes were likewise silly in attempting to fulfill their purpose of preparing the reader for the aim of the story. But I've also written drama, and still made light of whatnot or the other thing in my Author's Notes, because although the piece might be 'serious' in tone, I don't take myself that seriously when making casual notes about this or that.

So, I guess my impression from the Author's Notes would be that the author has a sense of humor and is clever, but not necessarily that the tone of the story is going to be a reflection of the author's personal commentary.

The end of the story was a) unexpected, and b) ambiguous. The next three questions pertain to the the three short paragraphs at the end of the story, titled "Back to the Beginning":

Ambiguous. Of course, it was unexpected too, but I'd sooner say "unexpectedly ambiguous" than "unexpected and ambiguous".

- Did the first two paragraphs effectively evoke a dream-like feeling? Or did they just seem like unfocused writing?

Yes, I'd say the dream-like feeling came through. I noticed a definite shift in tone, and guessed something was about to happen/change.

- Did the last sentence shock you? If so, did the contrast in style between that sentence and the previous two paragraphs contribute or detract from the shock value?

To be honest, I was never what I'd call 'shocked' -- I think I wasn't into it enough to be jarred out of it, if you know what I mean. Which isn't to say there's anything wrong with it, just that I wasn't immersed deep enough to be blown out of the water.

- When you reached the unexpected ending, did you care enough to formulate a theory as to what happened? If not, why not? (Extra credit: If you did have a theory, please tell me what you believe happened... my beta readers have taught me that there is more than one possibility!)

I'm going to use an example here, which might not mean anything to you depending on your taste in entertainment; we'll see. Have you watched the Matrix trilogy? I did, unfortunately. (FYI here's my advice: watch the first Matrix. Only. Ever.)

Anyway, by the end of the third installment, I had a choice. *I could think about the series, and decide upon what I want to believe it all means.
...or...
*I could think about the series, and decide to agree with that it was supposed to all mean (that is, what the filmmakers intended it to mean).

Well, I thought about it for a while, and decided I didn't want to come to my own conclusion about someone else's film. So I decided instead to figure out what the filmmakers wanted it to mean, so I could agree with them and get on with the day.

But then a funny thing happened. I realized, or decided to believe I had realized, that even the filmmakers themselves hadn't decided with certainty on what they intended it all to mean. At that point I lost interest. If the filmmakers had a point to make, I didn't get it. If they wanted me to decide for myself, I want my six hours and twenty bucks back.

Point being: I like knowing, or at least believing I know, what the creator of the piece intended. Then I can go "yes, I agree, and furthermore, I think X, Y, and Z have extra meaning to boot", or I can go, "well, OK, but it just doesn't do anything for me".

- If you were a writing teacher and I your student, what one suggestion would you make to improve this story? This could be something as small as a suggestion to change one word or sentence, or it could be a larger observation ("The thing that bugged me the most about this story was..."), as you wish.

Well, I would rather speak as the student than the teacher. My question would be: what was it supposed to mean to me (which could be interchangeable with "what did it mean to you?") What could I have said about the story to which you would have replied "Exactly! That's exactly what it was supposed to mean!"?

-AE

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi Lindorien!

Wow, that was incredible feedback! Thank you!

It will take me a while to digest it all, but I really appreciate the specificity of your comments.

Best regards,
Barbara

P.S. I've been told that I should never wear purple -- I'll have to pass that advice along to my prose...

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi AfterEver,

This is great! You really gave me valuable answers to my questions. Thank you!

Of course, it was unexpected too, but I'd sooner say "unexpectedly ambiguous" than "unexpected and ambiguous".

Do you by any chance have Elvish blood in you?

Are you participating in testing the new site, also? I ask because your lovely, long, and detailed post is missing paragraph breaks.

If you get a chance, would you mind editing your post on the old site? (All you have to do on the old site is edit the post, and then save it without making any changes. At least, that restored my paragraph breaks on another forum.)

Thanks again, AE!

Best regards,
Barbara


 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

You are most welcome, Barbara. I have bucketfuls of purple prose I've been trying to dump cheap, but can find no takers.

Shall have to donate to a charity for those at a loss for words, an affliction which has never thought fit to grace my doorstep.

best,
Lindorien

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

If you get a chance, would you mind editing your post on the old site? (All you have to do on the old site is edit the post, and then save it without making any changes. At least, that restored my paragraph breaks on another forum.)

Love to, but I can't seem to log in to the old site presently. AOL is, well, evil, and I'm apparently overdue for some kind of sacrificial ceremony to reaffirm my loyalty to the All Powerful Acronym. I've gone back and added paragraphs by way of HTML tags. Is it better? If not, I'll try the old site again later, after the obligatory Ritual.

-AE, mumbling: cookies... gotta be something to do with cookies...

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi AE!

That worked great! Thank you again!

Barbara

PS The only good cookie is the kind you can eat...

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Hi!
Just wanted to let you know I was one of the people who reviewed your story and approved it. I liked it as it was, but the last paragraph does add to it. I don't know about other people, but I liked the Author's Notes.
*shrugs*
I guess people just have different tastes. I enjoyed reading it. It was different and refreashing, and I especially liked the jolt it gives you at the end. Totally unexpected.
Arquen

 

 

Re: Fortune's Paradox - Declined for the HA Archive

Thank you, Arquen!

That means that you are one of the reviewers who left comments, too. I would like you to know how much I appreciate your feedback, both then and now.

(I've had several comments from people who liked the Author's Notes... Makes me wonder if the story would have been improved if I had stopped there... )

Best regards,
Barbara

P.S. I just this morning realized that I had used the work "peaked" when I meant "peeked"! I'm a stickler about misused words -- I actually keep a list (with several HUNDRED entries) of examples from LoTR fan fiction... but I didn't notice this error in my own story for two months... DOH!)

 

 

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