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Otaku Prose Contest Round 1 (DeLarge VS. Rexikat XVI)


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Round 1
D[COLOR="MediumTurquoise"]E[/COLOR]L[COLOR="SlateGray"]A[/COLOR]R[COLOR="MediumTurquoise"]G[/COLOR]E [FONT="Impact"]VERSUS [/FONT]R[COLOR="White"]E[/COLOR]X[COLOR="White"]I[/COLOR]K[COLOR="White"]A[/COLOR]T [COLOR="White"]X[/COLOR]V[COLOR="White"]I[/COLOR][/CENTER][/SIZE]

[SIZE="1"]Voting is open to ALL Otaku members except DeLarge and Rexikat XVI. Voters, please state your vote clearly. Also, please give your reason for casting your vote the way you do. [COLOR="Red"]Voting will close on Friday, January 23.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER]

[FONT="Courier New"][B][U][SIZE="4"]The Challenge: Do As You Will[/SIZE][/U][/B][/FONT]
Contestants may write...whatever they wish, provided it is longer than [SIZE="3"]100[/SIZE] words.
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[FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"] Even standing there with the evidence right in front of him, he still couldn?t believe it was true. He sank to his knees, paralyzed with shock. [I]I?m?I?m the only one left,[/I] he thought incredulously. [I]Jonathan, Camrin, Nate, Lex?[/I]

He couldn?t bring himself to even think of her name. It hurt too much. She couldn?t be, it just wasn?t supposed to happen this way.

?She?s fine,? he said shakily to himself. ?They?re all fine. I?m just panicking. They?re all fine.?

But deep inside, he couldn?t deny the truth, could he. He knew the truth, as much as he wished he didn?t.

Rising to his feet and stumbling blindly forward, the building crumbled around him as he searched for his friends and fellow soldiers, echoing the destruction he felt inside.

?JONATHAN! NATE!? He shouted, his voice reverberating emptily against the ruined structure. He fell against a partial wall, weakened from his many injuries, yet still possessing the strength to go on, spurred by the smallest bit of hope that someone had survived. Around him, as if mocking his mindless optimism, rested the broken bodies of the dead in cold eternal sleep.

Outside the building, the battlefield was silent, the remaining forces on both sides having agreed to a ceasefire in light of so many casualties. Everyone heard the desperate, ragged cries of the sole soldier inside, searching for the rest of his squadron.

?CAMRIN!? His voice was growing hoarse, and hot, salty tears mixed with drying blood blurred his vision. Ripping off his helmet and the fifty pounds of gear on his back to lessen the strain on his body, he viciously tore through the charred wood and plaster. ?LEX!?

Stumbling to the ground yet again, he couldn?t find the will to get up, and lay there crying for all that could have been, should have been. He sobbed broken-heartedly, a man who had lost everything and anything that ever meant anything to him. ?Kimi,? he whispered, reaching out to the mangled torso that lay beside him. ?I?m sorry. I couldn?t protect you. I?m sorry,? he cried. ?I love you.?

The only sound that followed the soldier?s hopeless cries was that of a single gunshot.[/FONT]
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[SIZE=1]As he wrenched them open, his eyes were clouded with an alcoholic fug that was his sole grim reminder of the previous night. He could barely remember his own name, but the image that met him was achingly familiar. As he stared into the full-length dress mirror, a well of self-resentment throbbed deep within his chest.

He was no longer the vibrant and colourful character that used to thrill crowds. His eyes were dull and glazed over, eerily decorated with a spider-web pattern of make-up that had mingled with his own tears, and his once proud mane of jet-black hair hung limp and lustreless, greasy strands falling over his face and clinging to the skin of his cheeks. His skin, once milky-white and smooth, was deeply pitted with the lines that were an inevitable part of the aging process, and track-lines and faded tattoos from some of his less savoury past-times ran up his arms.

The leather jacket he seemed to wear constantly was wrinkled at the elbows, the black fabric faded to a lifeless grey hue. His boots were in a similar state, once so shiny that they were almost reflective, now as faded and scuffed as he felt, and the enormous ornate belt buckle he wore with such pride was tarnished.

Staggering out of the bathroom where he had awoken just a few minutes previously, he found himself having to contend with the blazing sunshine which flooded in through the windows of his Beverly Hills home. The golden light illuminated the scene of devastation which met him ? bottles and glasses lay scattered across the thick carpet, and stains were spreading slowly through the fibres. Cigarettes had been stubbed out on the walls, the sofas, the floor, anywhere there was space, and the butts had been left abandoned in tiny heaps. Stale alcohol, sweat and the smoke from tobacco and other, less legal herbs combined to create an overwhelming and disgusting odour which he would not be rid of for a long time.

The tiniest of whimpers escaped his mouth as his eyes fell upon the one thing that should not have been touched: a picture smashed from its frame, left on the floor with the rest of the rubbish that was piling up. He plucked it from the debris with fingertips that were caked in his own dried blood, and shook the dust and ash from its surface.

The black-and-white picture was from a long time ago, back when he and the four other men captured had been kings of the world, gods among insects, unstoppable. They each held their instruments in the air, their facial expressions frozen in whoops of elation, a feeling which he had not felt for a long time.

Now he was the only one left: Mickey Radison, the bassist of A-Train, the biggest rock group of the eighties. Now he was washed-up, finished. He settled on the sofa and poured himself one more drink to try and take away the pain, for what else was there to do?[/SIZE]
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[size=1]Both entries were quite good so it was difficult for me to decide, in terms of the writing.

Rex (can I call you Rex?) wrote an interesting piece, methinks, which was quite eventful for one hundred words. The description was good and the character was put across quite cleary - I did, unfortunately, believe the story was a little predictable, especially towards the end. Maybe it's just me but parts of it felt somewhat forced rather than natural writing. It was still a very good read though.

[Strike]Blayze[/strike]DeLarge's seemed to be mostly about description but it was well done and thought out. The picture was painted well but I believe some of the long, winding details/descriptions could have been cut out for something simpler to make the piece more refreshing and less repetitive. It wasn't as eventful as Rex's but I prefer the image that was created here.

I'm pretty drawn to DeLarge's. Both were great submissions but my vote goes to [B]DeLarge[/b].[/size]
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Very nicely done both of you. You both paint a very vivid picture of the despair and hopelessness laid before you.

My vote will go for Delarge for the following reason:

The first post told me how the character was feeling.

The second post explained to me his actions and that in turn allowed me to gauge how he felt.

While the first post did this in a way, Delarge handled the subtle nature of failure and fall from glory very well.
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[FONT="Arial"]Rexikat XVI did a nice job of connecting with someone who had realized that everything he cared for was gone. DeLarge did a nice job of portraying someone who had fallen from what he was. In the end I liked Rexikat XVI's entry better since I felt like DeLarge's relied a little too heavily on descriptions and I never felt a connection to the main character. I vote for [U]Rexikat XVI[/U].[/FONT]
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[FONT=Arial]Critique to follow, in posting order. Voting below.


[COLOR="DarkRed"]Rexikat XVI[/COLOR]: Very nice job of delving into the main character's mind. I felt almost everything he felt, save for a brief moment at the end, and that, in a short story, is the priority, I think. You don't get the same relaxed amount of time to explore the character's emotions in a short story as you do in a novel—a concept on which I'm still working. :p

Now and then a few of your metaphors and descriptions went awry, but that, I think, can be attributed to not hearing your sketch as you constructed it. Here, lemme show you....

[QUOTE][FONT="Lucida Sans Unicode"]But deep inside, he couldn’t deny the truth, [COLOR="Red"][B]could he[/B][/COLOR]. He knew the truth, as much as he wished he didn’t.

Rising to his feet and stumbling blindly forward, [COLOR="Red"][B]the building[/B][/COLOR] crumbled around him as he searched for his friends and fellow soldiers, [COLOR="Red"][B]echoing the destruction he felt inside[/B][/COLOR].[/FONT][/QUOTE]
First, the "could he" takes away from the impact. If you ditch it, the feeling of inescapable shock and despair is intensified because you're saying that he [I]can't[/I] deny it. It isn't possible. With that "could he", you're prompting the reader to answer the question for him, and that pulls them back into themselves and their objective normalcy, and out of whatever the character is feeling.

Second, that's a misplaced modifier; now you have the building as the one rising to his feet and stumbling, and that makes no sense. :p Just a simple rewrite would fix it.

[INDENT][I]Rising to his feet, [B][U]he[/U] stumbled[/B] blindly forward, the building [B]crumbling[/B] around him....[/I][/INDENT]

On top of that, I'm not entirely sure how one feels destruction. Desolation, sure, and also devastation, because one can feel desolate and devastated. But one cannot feel destructed. Destroyed, but not destructed.

I could point out a few others, but you should be able to spot them on a reread. Nicely done.


[COLOR="DarkRed"]Blayze[/COLOR], your scene was gorgeous. Absolutely brimming with intricate detail. I dare say it's your strong point.

With that said, now and again it felt a bit thick, like you were going almost out of your way to cram another bit of color into the image you were painting. And while that isn't necessarily bad, it can cause readers to choke and start skipping around. I mean, a person can only stand in one room for so long before they either need some history about the room, or they need to get out of the room.

One detail before the biggie. You were writing about an American, ja? If you're doing that, I'd almost say to use the American spelling of words, so the reader doesn't feel like they're sitting in Beverly Hills and a random Brit walks by in an overcoat, a derby, and a mutton-chop beard. :p I'm referring to "lustreless", of course; nothing wrong with it, it just gave me a locational turn.

Now. I said your story was pretty. And it was. It was a magnificent scene.

And there's the problem. It's a [I]scene[/I].

You allowed yourself to become so focused on the outer detail that you forgot the inner. Only at the very end did the reader get the barest glimpse into the man's soul—and don't get me wrong, I understand you wanted to save the revelation of what he was until the very end. But that was all you showed us. You didn't look at who he was now; just the outer symptoms.

Point is, I couldn't empathise. And I think this scene would have worked much better in a novel setting, for then you would have had the leisure to work out more bits and pieces of his being as you went. But not here. Here you have so long to connect, and then the window is gone.

Also, [I]"...a feeling which he had not felt...."[/I] is redundant. :p


Interesting that, when given free reign of the topic, both entrants dealt with variations on despair....

Excellent efforts on both competitor's sides. Very good detail, very good nuances. I'd be wary that the nuances don't threaten to overtake the piece next time; in fact, I'd suggest trying to write a short with as little adjectives as possible, and no adverbs at all, to see if you can create the same detailed environment or if it forces you to delve into deeper material.

To that end, though [COLOR="DarkRed"]DeLarge[/COLOR]'s piece was superior in detail, the other captured the character.

[B]Rexikat XVI[/B][/FONT]
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[B]Rexikat XVI:[/B] I think you did a nice job getting to the despair one can feel after losing everyone they cared for. It felt a little rushed at the end but it was still nicely done.

[B]DeLarge:[/B] As much as I like how well you painted the scene, I kept wondering who the hell the person was. The short brief mention at the end was so... well short, that I just couldn't feel connected to it at all.

I vote for [B]Rexikat XVI[/B].
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